It's a Blooming Early Spring

Yes, it's dry, it's warm, and now the plants think it's spring. 

We've got the yellow cymbidium at the top open this weekend.

This one is just starting to bloom...

...while this one's been open a couple of weeks now.

In addition, the bougainvilleas never went dormant. While most of them are leafy and green, this bright coral one is in full glory.

We're still picking tomatoes...

...although our cherry tomatoes are twice as big as the regular ones.

This zucchini is making quite an effort, too.

And, always, these super-hot chiles are ready to spice things up.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved 

The Bees Knees

After cutting it back to form a somewhat globe shape last year, our lavender never bloomed again. Recently, I saw what looked like buds on the plant but my wife said "no," those were just more leaves.

Proving I can be right sometimes too, the lavender went ahead and agreed with me. Now, the blooms are opening up spectacularly.

I like lavender for it's beauty and fragrance. People keep telling me you can use it in recipes. When I ask how, I always get "there are lot's of ways you can use it." OK, please tell me at least one...I'm all ears.

My biggest reason for having it, though, is that it attracts pollinators...especially honey bees.  While some shy away from these stinger-equipped insects, I want all I can get so they can wander over to my vegetable garden and help me bring in a good harvest there, too.

This week, we're also experiencing bud break on our grape vine although it never went completely dormant like it usually does. This extremely dry and warm winter means the plants think it's spring. So do the birds...we saw a jay hunting for nesting material and the first swallow of the season over the weekend.

Our camellia bushes are doing well, like this pink one...

...and this red one at the opposite end of the patio.

I'll show you some more flowers popping open a little later this week.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

More pruning adventures for this week. The plumeria, beautiful as it is, is invading our space.

I get my big loppers and take off the canes that are intruding into our walkway. The Cheapskate and his family only have so much room. The plants have to learn to share.

The grapevine has been trimmed back as well. I hope I didn't stunt the crop later on by cutting off the second biggest cane.

All is now ready for the season save the sideyard. I just have to till in some amendment and start some vegetable seedlings to plant here.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved.

Preparation is the Name of the Season

Pruning. That's what this weekend was all about. Cutting back on the plants to make them ready for the coming growing season. Above, the front yard roses have finished their late winter bloom. They're last in line, it's time to cut them back.

I started at the far end of the backyard, pruned a couple of bushes a week, and worked my way over here.

Now, they're all done. I'm soaking the ground so I can pull up the weeds. The smaller trimmings are thrown onto the lawn to get chopped and mulched by the mower.

When it's all done, it looks like this - except I still have to pull up the weeds.

Copyright 2014- Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Shearing and Sanding

Continuing the pruning of the roses highlights this weeks chores. 

Above, you can see Mr. Lincoln halfway through the process. That dead-looking plant next to it is a pot of baby's breath. It comes back each year but I doubt there's any mix left in that pot.

Yep, pretty empty. I just pulled the whole thing up but I bet it will come up anyway from the roots that grew through the bottom of the pot.

Here's our Peace tree rose after pruning.

Another project I started is to sand, stain, and varnish this little table my wife bought for $5 at a yard sale.  

My neighbor, Scott, is a mosaic artist and he's coming up with an insert that I'll install in the middle. It'll become a cocktail table on our patio when done.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

Everything's Coming Up Camellias

Like an alarm clock, the camellias bloom each January and February reminding me it's time to shake of the winter lazies and get back to work in the garden.

These shade loving beauties, of which I have three bushes, grow great with little to no care. I pretty much ignore them except to severely prune them every 3 or 4 years. 

When we bought this house, the backyard landscape was pretty hideous.  95% iceplant and a couple of other items here and there, these are among the very few plants I kept. Everything else was ripped out and started anew.

Now that these and our cymbidiums are coming back to colorful life, it's time to plan this year's garden.

Copyright 2014 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

DINNER TIME! Dutch Oven Beef Stew

It can still get a little chilly at night here in Northern California. A hearty stew is just the thing to take the chill off. This reci...