Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In a word

What word comes to mind when you think of spring?  For those of us that spend our free time in the yard, tending a garden, or wandering the aisles of the nursery, I'm sure that there are hundreds of words that could spring to mind depending upon your mood.  Whether it's the name of an iconic flower like the tulip, or perhaps it's the name of the first bird that shows up, or maybe what you think of is having more light, more warmth, or more energy.

When I think of spring I think of those things too.  But I think we all think of it on another level.  We not only think of what spring looks and feels like.  We think about what it means.  And what it means to me is faith, hope, and love.

Those of you who are Christians may be immediately familiar with that trinity of words as they are found in the Apostle Paul's first letter to the Corinthians.  He wrote, "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  And the greatest of these is love."

Granted, I'm taking these completely out of context when I apply them to my view of Spring.  But the words remain apt.

I think of faith when I see the trees bursting forth into bloom and into leaf.  We had faith that the winter would not ruin us, that the bleak times would end eventually, that sustenance would be provided again.

How can you not feel hope when you see a bud about to burst forth?  Or when you see new foliage on the rose bush that has been little more than a barbed set of sticks for month?  Our faith was tested and found to be true and now we reap the reward of hope.  Hope for what is coming soon.

And then there is love.  The greatest of all.  The all-encompassing love.  We love our flowers.  We love the colors.  We love new life. We love our alone time.  We love our dogs, our parents, our spouses, our children, our friends, and our own selves.

May love fill your garden this spring and may it fill your life in the rest of your seasons.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

A Change of Color

Spring has come to Sacramento and I took advantage of our beautiful, sunny and low 70s weather and did some painting over the long President's Day weekend.

I always forget what a pain painting can be.  And the older I get the more literal I mean that.  My quads have been on inactive duty since around October so after just a few hours of squatting, stretching, bending, and climbing I was feeling like rubber.

Although I'm a big fan of color - who isn't - I'm also becoming a disciple of the school that says gardens should have a limited color palette.  To that end, I'm trying to move toward the classic brown, white, and green color combo.

That meant that my red and white shed would need a latex bath of Behr's Sweet Molasses.

This is the view from our back porch.  The shed dominates the scene in all weathers.  While many guests (and at least one member of my family) have remarked about how quaint it looks, I found myself wanting to notice it less often.  I want the plants to be the star when they grow in.  

After a couple days, this is what I ended up with:

It still holds some visual weight, but I think that's more of a result of its size than its color.  

Growing up on either side of the window are climbing roses that will someday cover a majority of the shed in profuse white blooms for months on end.  I'm looking forward to that.

One more thing: I had a poetry teacher that used to tell us that we needed to know the rules before we could break the rules. Well, if my rule is a color palette of green, brown, and white, I broke that rule with abandon when I let my daughter pick out the paint color for our Adirondack chairs.  

We went from weathered (which I liked) but dirty (which no one liked)

To this eye-assaulting pop of color:

I really wanted to paint these a matching brown, but since this was a family project, I deferred to my daughter's choice.  One of the best things about painting, and gardening, is that you can always change your mind.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

More Fall

Fall in Sacramento, when it comes in all earnestness, is a brief and sometimes wonderful few weeks.  In the last few days the autumn season has come on strong.  And today, being an overcast Veteran's Day, was a perfect chance for me to take the camera outside and spend a few quiet moments making some digital memories.

The mulberry tree doesn't produce much in the way of fall color but what it lacks in color it makes up in quantity.

I believe this is a Chinese pistache tree but I haven't been able to positively ID it yet.

More berries.  I once came "this close" to tearing out this frequently ungainly looking bush but the berries make it worth it keeping.

A struggling fuschia on the left and a slow-growing Japanese maple, 'Red Dragon' on the right under planted with some mondo grass.  This vignette will be reworked some day next spring, I think.  But for now it's good enough.

The liquid amber tree . . . it's a true love/hate relationship.  A tall, stately, columnar tree with beautiful fall color and interesting seed pods - that also act as hidden mines when they fall to the earth.  Bare feet beware, these guys mean business.

One of my favorite Japanese maples is this 'Koto No Ito' which means something like golden harp strings.  The inspiration for such a name is fairly obvious this time of year.

More fuschia.  Some blooms still hang on while others have given up the ghost.

More of the ubiquitous mulberry leaves and a succulent planting I'm rather fond of.

Crepe myrtle leaves:

A borrowed view of fall; over the neighbor's fence.

Not every plant and tree is on the same schedule.  Even here, a single branch can't seem to make up its mind.

Japanese maple 'Seiryu' went from total green last week to this:

The plum tree is a bewitching mix of orange, red and green:

And, finally, a word from my family to all the Veteran's out there:

Thank you, and happy Veteran's Day to all who serve and served.