I was standing on a ladder, tying the passion flower vines up along one of the side gates to the patio. And this was hanging right in front of me. At first I thought it was a twig, part of the passion flower vine. But then I saw how it was gripping onto the stem of one of the leaves, and something told me this was some kind of creature. It was a very windy afternoon and the creature, which turns out to be a Geometrid Moth caterpillar, firmly grasped onto stem with its front l
It's that time of year for some rare hermit thrush sightings. I only have seen these birds in the winter, on the patio, both here and where we used to live, in the Berkeley flatlands. Usually I've observed them foraging around potted shrubs such as salvia and lavender. Not only does this thrush here forage in the patio plant beds and potted plants, but it also bathes in the bird bath. These photos aren't so great because I took them quickly through a glass sliding door. But I
What do you do when you have a big Meyer lemon tree in the backyard, producing hundreds of lemons? Of course, you can do the obvious, make lemonade. That's what our next door neighbors did with a bag of lemons I gave them. Or you can bake lemon meringue pies, lemon bars, use the lemons for cleaning, or as part of a delicious vinaigrette. My colleagues at work are happy to be the recipients of these delicious lemons. And now, for the first time I am preserving the lemons, Mid
Our neighbors have noticed what an avid gardener I am. And they have seen the results of our hard work for the past year. A couple of weekends ago, our next door neighbors asked me if the owner of the house would allow me to plant a few rosebushes. Because my experience with the rose bushes at our previous home was good - once established they basically needed no water in the summer, and still thrived - I figured it would be okay. In no time, the neighbors carried over four p
There are so many ways to prepare beets and this is the easiest: Rinse excess dirt off three or four beets. Place the whole beets in a pot large enough to accommodate them and add enough water to cover the beets. Bring the beets to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for half an hour to 40 minutes. Test after half an hour to see if the beets are tender by poking them with the tines of a fork. When the fork can easily pierce the flesh, they are cooked. Place the cooked, cool
We only have a couple of plants indoors, a couple of phalaenopsis orchids and an aloe vera. It took me many years to realize how easy it is to care for orchid plants. They don't seem to like much fuss. So I just give them very little water, once a week. They are growing in small pots on top of bookshelves, with light filtering in from a window. Now both plants are producing buds, one with a new spike. This is so exciting, and just in time for the Chinese New Year. The Phalaen
While pulling weeds in the front yard, I decided to rest. And there it was in front of me, a mining bee visiting one of the lavender plants. It's the first mining bee I've observed this year. And it really loves this lavender plant. It kept returning to the same plant, which as you can see is full of new blossoms providing delicious nectar.
The front garden with mostly native plants currently has a lot of yellow blooms, which is always a cheerful sight. Above are blossoms from one of the Tidy tips Layia platyglossa plants next to a borage plant growing from seed. Behind them is one of the Lambs Ear's plants. Tidy tips are native to California. The blossoms have a lovely sharp white margin around the tips of each petal. They are growing much bigger and taller in the cool temperatures than during the summer months