Angelica tomentosa producing another stem

The Angelica tomentosa "Wooly Angelica" is still doing well, growing slowly but surely. You can see a new stem growing at the base of the plant, about to unfurl another set of leaves. It is growing in a partially shaded area in one of the patio beds. This California native can grow up to three to five feet tall. The flowers that bloom in summer months provide habitat for many native beneficial insects. The main reason why I planted it is because the leaves provide food for the Anise Swallowtail butterfly larvae. Let's see what happens this summer.

Ooh, the Apricot Blush Hellebore is thriving

I am so thrilled that the Apricot Blush Hellebore is doing well in the garden bed. It is one of our few ornamental plants growing among California natives. This is the very first Hellebore we ever planted, and it was an experiment, because you just never know if a plant will be happy where it's growing. We've had it for a year now, and it looks like the cold temperatures and plentiful rain is just what the plant likes. The large blossom has been blooming for weeks, and the other two buds appeared a few days ago. It is growing in a bright shade area, in rich, well-draining soil. I provide it with compost made from egg shells, banana peels, used tea bags, and occasional grape seed compost.

More plants!

It's that time of year to plant...more plants! I needed to replace a blue sapphire salvia in the front yard because it just wasn't doing well at all, no matter how much care I tried to give it. We went to Annies Annuals to buy "a few" plants for a replacement for the salvia, as well as some annuals, and ended up with twenty four plants. Yes, you know how that happens, and it can especially happen at a nursery like Annies'. Here is one of the purchases, a replacement salvia plant, the native Pozo Blue Salvia leucophylla x clevelandii a tough California natural hybrid, sometimes called the "Native Butterfly Bush". The lovely blue flowers provide nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds. AND i

Cuphea 'Minnie Mouse' flourishing

This wonderful Cuphea plant produces cute little red blossoms with brownish "Mouse Ears". We have two of these shrubs growing in one of the patio plant beds. And they seem to be growing in just the right kind of light and soil, in bright shade with good soil. I fertilize the soil around the shrubs throughout the spring, summer and fall, with eggshells, banana peels and used teabags. These plants are native to Mexico and South America and produce blossoms throughout the year. Hummingbirds constantly feed on the nectar in the blossoms.

Yellow-rumped Warbler visiting

I was observing through a window the American robins feasting on ivy berries in the backyard. And look who suddenly flew in the yard to take in the warmth of the sun, a female yellow-rumped warbler. She landed on a tomato cage, where there are some old tomato plants still growing (well, sort of). I had no option but to take the photos through the window glass, because she would certainly have flown away if I had gone out to the patio with the camera. She appears to be a young Audubon Yellow-rumped Warbler. Look at those distinctive yellow patches on her head, throat and breast. And her feathers look so soft and fluffed up. After relaxing in the sun for about fifteen minutes, she climbed to t

Golden-crowned sparrow in the ivy

The golden-crowned sparrows seem to have found a nice winter home around our garden. I look forward every winter to seeing these cute little visitors. They seem to always find food in the patio garden beds and the yard. And when the robins take a break from their ivy berry meals, these sparrows like to just soak in the warmth of the sun between rainstorms. This sparrow spent at least fifteen minutes just relaxing on the ivy vines. At the onset of summer, these sparrows head for the tundra and shrublands of British Columbia and Alaska, where they breed. Apparently, little is known of their breeding habits there.

Sunshine Blueberries in the Rain

All those rain showers bring the flowers, and look at these lovely Sunshine Blueberry blossoms. Today, since we had some sunshine and no rain, the yellow-faced bumble bee was back pollinating these blossoms. It looks like we should have a lot of berries, but they probably will be gobbled up by the birds. And that's okay with us. We like to provide native wildlife and pollinators with food. I think I just like to grow things, especially native plants.

Pandora poppies on the patio

The Papaver rhoeas 'Pandora' poppies are getting a lot of rain, which is great because they thrive in the cool temperatures and winter rains we have been experiencing. A year ago in the spring, I planted a couple of these as seedlings in one of the patio garden beds. They did well for a few months, producing a couple of lovely blooms, but they didn't produce much foliage or grow very tall. Eventually they shriveled up and perished. Last autumn I planted two Pandora poppy seedlings in larger flower pots on the patio, to see how well they would do. So far these two plants have grown to at least fifteen inches tall and are producing a lot of foliage and buds. I don't know if it's been too cold

... and more raindrops on the Hellebore

Ah, the lovely Helleborus orientalis 'Double Peach Blush' blossom. I am so happy to see this plant blooming. It was purchased from Annies Annuals as a seedling last year. Although most of the plants in the garden are California natives, planted specifically for the pollinators, now and then I do plant something just because it's so lovely, especially when it blooms in the winter. It definitely isn't a shade of peach or apricot, but very delicate in color. I had my doubts about this plant last year, because it only produced one small leaf late last spring, remaining three inches high. But I still nurtured it, feeding it with grape seed compost as well as banana peels and used tea bags. And no

Raindrops on roses...

It's that time of year when raindrops cling to new blossoms, looking like jewels until the sun dries the drops or they fly off in the wind. Here is a China rose slowly opening in the brisk temperatures. It is a Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' plant that we purchased on a whim from Annies Annuals last autumn. These lovely blossoms first are orange buds, opening to a shade of yellow, and finally turn magenta. This blossom is currently in shades of salmon and magenta. These roses have a lovely subtle scent and when we have warmer temperatures I often see flower flies and bees on the blossoms.

Cedar waxwings greeting the early morning sun

What a treat to see in the morning! Early in the morning I heard the cedar waxwings singing high up in the redwood tree. Usually I just hear them but can't see them when they are on top of the tree. But now a large group of them, at least twenty birds, were perched a little lower, facing southeast. They seemed to be enjoying the first rays of the sun. Some of the birds were preening their feathers, as if preparing for the day. I think they are such beautiful birds, with their black masks, prominent crests, peach colored chests and pale yellow bellies. And look at the bright yellow tail feathers. I know they are monitoring the ivy berries down below.

Anna's Hummingbird perched high atop a tree

It's quite brisk outdoors these days, very typical for February in Northern California. And when it is sunny there's a lot of bird activity. Here is an Anna's hummingbird that flew high up above our neighbor's tree and landed on a twig right in the middle of the tree.

Everyone in the bath!

If it's not raining, birds are constantly visiting the birdbath, sometimes just to sip some water, but usually they can't resist at least standing in the water. After a feast of ivy berries, this American robin decided to drink some water, then stand in the bath for a few minutes before it flew away. But before the robin got into the bath, a Golden-Crowned sparrow spent a long time splashing in the bath, often diving in to get completely soaked. Here it is, just after creating some big splashes. Then along came another Golden-Crowned sparrow for its turn in the bath. It patiently waiting until the first sparrow was done. Meanwhile, a hermit thrush waited for its turn in the bath, a few feet

American Robins feasting on Ivy Berries

Yesterday morning I noticed a flurry of activity going on in the backyard. A dozen American robins had flown down from the redwood tree to the ivy vines laden with berries for a feast. A few hours earlier that morning when I was on the patio, checking the water level of the bird bath, I heard the robins chirping and chattering high in the redwood tree which is growing in our neighbor's yard. I could see the robins flying to and from the top of the tree, and for about ten minutes observed two of the birds sitting quietly on outer branches, while the others were hidden under thicker cover of branches and needles. Maybe they were keeping an eye on me, making sure I wasn't going to take their be

bees in the bay breeze
 

For years I have been sharing ideas, gardening tips and recipes  with family, friends and colleagues.

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