All the little things…

So some of you may have noticed it has been many months since my last blog post. There are a few reasons for that.  First of all I am not, and will never be, a fan of late summer and early fall. Too many memories of “back to school” as a child.  Most of my unhappiest moments took place in school and I carry those memories with me even as an adult.

But aside from bad childhood memories I’m also a bit gardened out by the end of summer.  All the mistakes I have made in my own garden are on display and it is really too late to do anything about it. All I can do is take notes and make plans to fix things in the fall and winter. Here in California the mistakes are even more evident as we have now gone about five months without rain and the garden is looking parched and dry. It is too early to start new plantings so I must wait patiently for the rainy season to begin.  Does anyone else have a least favorite time of the “garden year”?

I also received some very sad news this summer. In the interest of privacy, I won’t go into any details, but I have felt distracted and in a bit of a haze.  My creativity is low and I certainly wasn’t feeling very bloggy. I tried to talk myself out of my funk by thinking “This is a part of life and you know I really have had it pretty good. There are plenty of people who have faced far worse things that me in their lives.”  Well that wasn’t a very good idea. That just made me feel really awful for those people. So instead I am going to try to just focus on all the little things that make me feel joy and wonder. Things that bring me comfort or make me smile.

First of all my family! My father had a big party in August to celebrate retiring from his private practice.  That is my dad in the red shirt. I’m in the purple and my brother is the other skinny chap with glasses (people say we look alike but they are wrong!) and my sister is in the white dress. My father’s brothers are on either end and that is his sister in the blue. And my lovely cousin, next to me in the black, who I met for the first time that night. Even though I live thousands of miles away and even though they sometimes drive me crazy they are hugely important to me.

But this is a garden blog so it needs pictures of the flowers that make me happy!  Impatiens tinctoria has bloomed on and off all summer.

Hummingbirds have visited all summer and always bring a smile to my face!  Salvia sclarea ‘Piemont’ and Nictotiana mutabilis were their favorites.

When I returned from my trip back home this Echinopsis ‘Spring Blush’ bloomed for the first time. I am not really a big cactus grower. I just have a few but a bloom like this is making me think I need to add a few more to my collection.

And here is a side view so you can see just how ridiculous the flower is in comparison to the plant!

Pelargoniums are best known for the common red “geraniums” that people grow in planters and window boxes.  But the family is quite diverse and has all sorts of interesting oddities. Like this Pelargonium tetragonum, I grew from seed this year, flowering for the first time. The plant is mostly wiry, succulent, stems with a few small leaves. Kind of an odd ball but with beautiful flowers.

Pycnostachys urticifolia started blooming in August and should continue to do so through the winter.

Does anyone know what this little guy is? Lizards are pretty common in California but not at my house. I think it is too cold here most of the time for them to be out and about much.  But on a hot fall day (it got to about 94 degrees which is 30 degrees more than the usual average temp) I found this little critter hanging out by my front door.

It is that time of year when I start coaxing my summer dormant mesembs back to life. I’ve shared pictures of this Monilaria moniliformis coming out of dormancy in the past and it is always such a joy to watch. Maybe this year I will get flowers for the first time?

And speaking of flowers for the first time, my first Frithia pulchra finally has its first flower bud!  This is the little plant that first got me interested in growing succulents from seed.  Since I couldn’t find any for sale I decided that growing from seed was my only option.  But it would have been silly to just order one pack of seeds.  So a new obsession was born. These little plants are almost two years old and finally I am going to get a flower.

Titanopsis primrosii have been much less stingy with the blooms.  I have about twenty plants and most of them have been blooming on and off since May.

I believe this is an Echinopsis. I’m not sure though because it was a plant left by a former tenant.  I haven’t really paid much attention to it since I lived here. I tend to be a bit negligent when it comes to caring for plants that don’t have an emotional attachment to.  So It got shoved in a corner and now and then I would splash a bit of water on it if I was watering my own plants.  Well now that I have seen it in bloom I think maybe I will lavish a little more care on it.  OK plant. You got my attention!

One of the things that really helped get me out of my funk was a garden that I designed way back in February that was finally installed in early October. I’m pretty excited about it.  It is a beautiful space, the clients were a delight to work for, and it has three different elements.  A succulent bed in the front of the house (pictured above getting ready to go in the ground), a mediterranean garden along the side of the house, and a shrub border and Carex lawn in the backyard.

Here is a panorama of the mediterranean garden.  Kind of fun how the new panorama feature on the iPhone distorts the image. This area is actually rectangular and not L shaped like the photo would have you believe. But it was a fun way to get it all in the same shot. I really enjoyed designing this garden and the installation came at the perfect time to cheer me up. I look forward to going back and taking pictures as the garden progresses. I think it is going to be really beautiful.

And one more panorama of the Morro Bay Sand Spit. I have to remind myself how much I love it here. I’ve had some crummy things happen both times I moved here but in the end it is all going to be OK and I think I’ll be really happy here on the Central Coast.  At least I have scenery like this to cheer me up, right?