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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Obligatory Fall Color Pictures

Fall in Sacramento isn't all that special and we're always way behind most of the rest of the country when it comes to changing colors.  Things are just now starting to change colors for the season.  Here are some shots from my yard tonight.

Looking way up into the crown of a Liquid Amber

Another Liquid Amber.  I think the impact would be greater if more of the tree changed at the same time.

A black-stemmed hydrangea.

We went to a pumpkin carving party with kids and their families from my daughter's school last weekend.
It was fun getting messy and then shaking hands with people we hadn't met yet.  

Harry, on the right, has been a family tradition for about 4 years now.  Every year he gets a makeover with either black or green mondo grass. and then that grass gets planted somewhere in the garden.  Bones, on the left, was a new addition this year.

Acer palmatum 'Orangeola' just beginning to revert back to its namesake color.  

Japanese blood grass hasn't developed that blood red color yet, but it is starting to fill in a bit more.

This fall color is making up for the fact that the birds beat me to all the blueberries on this young bush.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Something's Gonna Pay For This

I was minding my own business tonight after work.  I wasn't looking for a fight.  I was just taking a bag of garbage out when I saw something unusual.  Back by the compost bin I noticed something dark brown on the ground where it was usually light brown.  That light brown is what we drought-stricken Californians call "the new green".  

The picture below is almost too embarrassing for me to share.  It looks so splotchy and gross.  But this is what happens when you can't water your lawn.  The little bit of green you do see is probably just from the veggie garden's drip irrigation.  

At any rate, the dirt you see on the ground just to the right of the fence shouldn't be there.  A closer inspection was necessary.

And this is what I found.  Around the base of my active compost bin, something had been digging.  I have been composting for years and all this time I've been adding kitchen scraps, rotten fruit, and even the occasional dead bug and I've never had anything go after my compost bin other than worms.  

The back side of the compost bin

The front side

A somewhat closer view of the front.

I tried to get a picture of the claw marks I saw.  They looked fairly large but because they were up inside
I couldn't get a clear picture.  
Now I've been having issues with squirrels lately (more on that in the near future) but this doesn't seem like the work of the evil nuisance and bane of my gardening life.  While scratching my head (literally) I happened to notice a hole by the fence line not three or four feet away from the scene of the crime.

Gophers?  Moles?  Voles?  Squirrels?  What do you think this is?  I didn't see any telltale mounds or tunnels because this opening is right at my fence so it's possible that their are mounds or tunnels on the other side.

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Maybe I'm overreacting but I'm suddenly worried that two mysterious plant deaths in my garden weren't just unfortunate and untimely demises.  Perhaps they were sped along their way by some underground spawn of evil?