The Senescence of a Rose

And yes, you can infer by this that I’m also facetiously and metaphorically referring to myself.

My camera’s eye followed this beautiful rose’s life on a newly transplanted bush from conception to senectitude (my new fave word.)

As the petals were soon to loosen, wrinkle, fade, and drop, the next gen formed.

The story of Princess Rosebud.


(Slideshow gallery of photos.)

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Strawberries, Sage, and Stevia

Sorry to most of the rest of the country but here in SoCal, our growing season is pretty much never over.

Here’s the raised bed tugboat man built for me the day before he left. I planted tomatoes, kale, red leaf lettuce, beets, beans, and broccoli — I packed a LOT in a 4×8 space. He was supposed to build a second bed, but this is another one of those “such is the life of a tugboat wife” moments where I need to wait until he’s home again.raisedbed

There wasn’t any room for the eggplants or these spicy jlapenos.

jalapenospotI dug a fresh, new herb garden directly under our bedroom window. I’m hoping the lovely aromas will waft up and in.Herb garden

There’s a couple different kinds of sage; basil, thyme, oregano, parsley, lemon verbena, cilantro, and STEVIA.

SteviaDid you know you could grow stevia?

Neither did I, but when I saw a pot of organic stevia at Armstrong’s Nursery, I had to try it. The leaves are super sweet. I’ve seen stevia extract on the grocery shelf as a sugar substitute but I’ve never tried it.

From Mother Earth News, a few facts about stevia:

If growing your own calorie-free, natural sweetener sounds too good to be true, it’s time to get to know stevia.

Native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) produces leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried.

Stevia leaves have been used to sweeten teas and beverages throughout South America for centuries.

More recently, diabetics and dieters alike have turned to stevia to reduce their sugar intake because, unlike honey, maple syrup, agave or molasses, this natural sweetener has zero calories and is not metabolized by the body.

Stevia is especially well-suited to sweetening drinks, fruits, salad dressings, yogurt and most creamy desserts. Stevia can substitute for some, but not all, of the sugar used when baking, because it does not provide all of the multiple functions that sugar does.

Many commercial drink mixes and packaged sugar substitutes are sweetened with a derivative of stevia.

This sweetening compound is called Rebaudioside A and is listed on labels as either Reb A or Rebiana.

These are highly processed products developed by large food corporations. Most of the raw stevia used to produce these products is grown in China. These “natural sweeteners” have been stripped of many of the plant’s healthful properties.

On the other hand, growing your own stevia to produce teas, extracts, and tinctures made from high-quality, whole-leaf stevia contains up to seven sweet compounds (glycosides) and an array of antioxidants. Growing stevia is easy in well-drained beds or large containers, and the leaves can be dried for winter use like any other herb. Stevia grows best in warm conditions similar to those preferred by basil.

Here’s a link to making your own stevia powder and liquid:

Last weekend I hosted a community garage sale for a local nonprofit (post to come) and someone brought a box of strawberry slips. I took a few, quickly dug a bed, and put them in the ground. Since we hardly ever throw stuff away, I found a length of white wire fencing tucked away behind the greenhouse. There’s nothing better than organic strawberries! Yum, can’t wait!strawberrybed

The weather is so crazy here, my apple and plum trees are blossoming again.

During the last few days SoCal broke tons of heat records along with a few drops of rain —and then nothing.

But it was a beautiful sunrise over the lagoon, right?sunrise looking toward lagoon

A Whole Bunch of Dirt, Sand Dollars, and a Riddle

This is a riddle of sorts but there are no clues.


In fact, this probably makes no sense at all right now, but all will be revealed, and even then what’s going on in my head that makes perfectly logical sense to me will still have you scratching your collective heads.

Trust me.

Before he left, tugboat man built this beautiful raised bed so I can plant healthy veggies.


A nice friend stopped by with all of these sand dollars!

If only you could plant a sand dollar so they’d multiply!Sand dollar2

One particular sand dollar is being chased by a several other types of seashells.

sand dollar3

This means *something*.

I promise.

Me, Mostly Naked, With a Hawk

Our bedroom window looks out over the garden. Yep, it’s HUGE, a lot of work with neverending projects, but I love my sanctuary.


This is where I see bunnies and roadrunners and all sorts of wildlife.roadrunner

One day last week, early in the morning, I was getting dressed to go to the gym and spied a hawk perched on a low branch in the eucalyptus tree. I think it’s the same hawk that’s been hanging around for years.

He was facing the pond, quietly and patiently waiting for breakfast to appear.


Therein lies the dilemma. What’s a girl to do?

If I finish getting dressed, I’ll miss this amazing shot; but if I run outside half naked, will anyone see me?

Because we have six-foot fences all the way around our property, I felt pretty certain that no one would catch a glimpse of the real me in my bra and bikini bottoms, so I grabbed my camera and ran outside.

I felt so NAUGHTY hee hee.

This is what I was rewarded with — and do you see how he gave me a shady side eye — so much human flesh this early in the morning clearly offended his sensibilities.


Isn’t he gorgeous? The hooked beak and talons are MAJESTIC.

My presence was distracting (he was looking right AT me) so I went back in the house to allow him to catch his breakfast without further interference.beautifulhawkjuly1620152

Don’t worry, I didn’t snap a selfie in my state of undress; you didn’t actually THINK I WOULD, did you?

If nothing else, this screams the sad fate of my tugboatman-less existence — running naked in the trees to catch a perfect pic.

P.S. Hub was able to make one last call before he was once again out of cell phone range and I told him what I did, just to give him a lasting visual for the final leg of his voyage, and I can still hear his laughter ringing in my ears. At first he thought I had been running around out in the front yard with cars driving by, but once I clarified, he was able to picture the whole scenario as it really happened, and I’m sure it’ll sustain his imagination until he returns SOMEDAY.

Nasturtiums in Orange #WordlessWednesday

So much is upsetting at WordPress…the change in the Reader and the format of the write/edit/publish page–whoever thought one could HATE to see “beepbeepboop” as much as I do — so in order to recapture my ZEN, here’s one of my favorite pictures of nasturtiums from the garden.

Because ORANGE.

It looks like a painting.

Enjoy this mostly #wordlesswednesday

Nastursiums orange

Plant Motherly Milkweed for Monarch Butterfly LOVE

The motherly milkweed provides sustenance to the Monarch butterfly and is crucial to sustain the species.


Everyone who loves butterflies should plant milkweed and since NObody doesn’t love butterflies, there should be enough milkweed planted to sustain the entire cosmos.milkweed7To clarify, I’m not referring to the plural of one my fave cocktails, but the cosmos of our universe.milkweed2

According to Monarch Joint Venture…

Monarchs cannot survive without milkweed; their caterpillars only eat milkweed plants (Asclepias spp.), and monarch butterflies need milkweed to lay their eggs. With shifting land management practices, we have lost much milkweed from the landscape.

Please plant milkweed to support monarch populations, and their incredible migration!

Planting milkweed is a great way to help other pollinators too, as they provide valuable nectar resources to a diverse suite of bees and butterflies.

For a brief how-to flyer on planting and gardening, download MJV’s Gardening for Monarchs or the Wild Ones “Wild for Monarchs” brochure.

As soon as I put the plant in the ground, it became inundated with all the Monarchs in my little part of the world.milkweed6

I planted it FAR away from the vegetable garden so the hungry little caterpillars wouldn’t decide to vary their diet and eat all my veggies.

Reminder! Don’t use pesticides or herbicides. milkweed3Click here for free butterfly garden and milkweed seeds:

More information at Bring Back the Monarchs

Californians can help save the monarch butterfly by restoring habitats where they can thrive. Take action now: Tell lawmakers to vote “YES” on AB 559 to restore monarch butterfly habitats. >>

DIY Shabby Chic Rustic Planters

DIYSHABBYCHICRUSTICPLANTERDETOUR RANT: It’s so annoying. They turned off the electricity in our entire neighborhood for some stupid repairs to transformers or something and that means no internet, which means I had to seek out a public location and buy a carrot/celery/beet/wheat grass juice so I can use their wifi.

This is NOT one of my favorite things to do, especially in the summer when tourist season is in full swing and the entire downtown area is jammed up with whiny children and obnoxious parents WHO DON’T SEEM TO KNOW HOW TO SAY NO.

I’m trying to ignore the coughing and sneezing (please keep them home when they’re sick, OK?) and whinging and FOCUS.


Also, ‘rents? If you could PLEASE teach your children NOT to put their dirty shoes on sofas where people sit, that’d be great.

Back to today’s post after the brief ranty detour to once again complain about untrained parents. It’s hard to blame the kids when the ‘rents ignore them to stare lovingly at their smartphones.

What a sad generation of neglected children we’ve created.


#1 You know by now that I never throw anything away without first trying to find another use for whatever it might be.

We all have variations of those caddies that swing awkwardly from the shower nozzle with those worthless little suction cups, right?

What else are we supposed to use to contain shampoo and conditioner and scrubs?

They’re useful but after a while, the paint flakes off and they get rusty and need to be replaced.

Don’t throw them away!

Instead, transform them into an EASY wall planter for drought tolerant succulents or other plants if you’re lucky enough to live in a rainy part of the world.

I transplanted donkey tails and a variety of other succulents clipped from around the garden.

When these little plants grow and fill in, they’ll cover the plastic containers and spill over to add interest to the fence right off the deck.

I like the rustic look and I didn’t spend a single penny!


#2  When I completely purged my son’s room (Empty Nest Moms, This One’s For You) I found this obsolete artifact from the 90s, a CD holder (remember those?) and tucked it away into the garage until I could conjure up another use for it.

Three little plastic containers (saved from purchasing seedlings) fit perfectly.

Another planter!

So easy! Turn it on its side and line the bottom with a coconut planting mat cut to size (I think I bought the mats at a dollar store.)

More drought tolerant plants, added some Spanish moss, and attached to the fence.


The moral of this story? Don’t throw anything away EVEN if your husband tries to sneak it in the trash. Almost everything can be reused, reharvested, and upcycled.


Around the Garden Photography: House Finch on Loquats

There are plenty of loquats to share and a comfortable seat to soak up the sun’s rays.

House finches love fruit. 


Such a bountiful harvest; where do I begin?


This one looks good and ripe.


How about a profile pic?


A Butterfly Grows in My Garden

…floating effortlessly on the soft breezes, possibly to lift our spirits lowered by the demise of the baby hummingbirds, is a butterfly sprite of cerulean polka dots and bands of gold called Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa).


With a nod to Lizzi @ Considerings who asked the question on her Facebook page and got me thinking about one of my favorite books, Betty Smith’s 1943 novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; here in my garden, although water use is now restricted because of the drought and we can no longer grow brightly colored but thirsty blossoms, there’s still beauty if you look for it.

Mother Nature is amazing.

Catching some rays on the rock garden.
butterflyrock1So pretty…
butterflyrock2 Can I come a little closer?butterflyrock5What grows in YOUR garden?

No Rain But Maybe a Tugboat Man Sighting?

I’m STILL trying to finish up the EMPOWERING series about my recent camping trip and what it’s like to go on a road trip with an adult son and daughter-in-law (funny),  but got news late last night that my erstwhile tugboat man MIGHT be flying home TOMORROW — what’s up with not giving any warning??? — and that changes everything in my world.

I don’t have flight information yet, but all signals point to a positive outcome.

Sheesh, he better not get called back again while we’re driving home from the airport. THAT wasn’t any fun at all. I know that’s the life of a merchant mariner, but it still sucks.

He says he misses me, and I’m sure he DOES, but there’s a HUGE south swell coming this weekend from Hurricane Blanca– we all know what he really misses is SURF.

Ha ha.


Now that we’re down to watering only two days a week and no rain, the grass is already brown and all the other plants look stressed and thirsty.

SoCal gardens might not be as lush as those of yours who have enough rain, but there’s a bit of color to be found if you search for it.


Mandevilla mandevilla2

Artichokesartichokemay2015 Purple Sagepurplesage1 PurpleSage2015 White Sage

whitesageflower2 WhiteSageFlowers1

Lily of the Nile

lilyofthenile1 lilyofthenile2 lilyofthenile3