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Catching Up Between the Rains

Updated: Mar 21


Moss filled topiary rooster frame with weeds

Record rains in Northern California have made weeding and planting difficult, so when there is a break between storms, we are outside trying to catch up on weeding, planting, and transplanting. One sign of the consistent wet weather came from an unexpected hitchhiker on our moss-covered chicken topiary: weeds, a pain to pull, and a pain in the back. But it did help the chicken look livelier.


The sun is out, prompting an explosion of bloom from the Spiraea x vanhouttei (below left). I also see other plants coming into bloom; the old Syringa vulgaris never disappoints, and a pot of purple parrot Tulipa x gesneriana (below center) is preparing a show. During this season, there is always something to look forward to finding in bloom. Even the Euphorbia tirucalli ‘Sticks on Fire’ (below right) is up in flames and wanting to be noticed.

Planting in record time helped catch us up with recent purchases and pot-bound plants needing new homes. Rob worked hard making 16+ gopher cages to keep the pests out of our coveted Helleborus orientalis ‘Sparkling Diamonds’ (below left, the nurseryman we bought them from had to get special approval to let them go); their location under the Betula pendula will brighten late winter with their double white blooms. Relocation to better spots included our one Coreopsis tinctorial,’ a pot-bound Aloe vera, and another succulent that I am failing to remember its name. If anyone can identify it, please comment below….and thank you!


What is this? I can't remember!


One oddity is the mysterious placement of some Muscari armeniacum that have imposed themselves onto our pool patio. Sandwiched between two concrete slabs, this 2” wide spot is an expansion joint, so the slabs do not crack. A piece of redwood should be there, but the wood rotted out long ago. So now we have about three little groupings of M. armeniacum like little soldiers on maneuvers. What a twist…I think we’ll add more and make it a design element.


Finally, while our Beta vulgaris keeps up a healthy harvest, our Vicia faba blooms have missed the bees. The rain has kept the bees away, I’m assuming. They have been enjoying the harvest from the Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ in full bloom, but the bees have not made it into the veggie garden. We need warmer weather before the V. faba are found and pollinated.


Happily, we’re not on the Titanic, but we rearranged the deck chairs. Despite the weather reports predicting yet more rain, we want to be ready to enjoy the garden with our friends and neighbors. The outdoor dining table and chaises are swept and ready. Summer cannot arrive soon enough!

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