Will You Bee My Friend?

I used to be terrified of bees mainly because I’m allergic — which is certainly a plausible rationale for fear, but I have so many bees here at Casa de Enchanted Seashells–they love rosemary and lavender and other herbs, that I’ve decided to quell my anxiety and bee friendly.

Bees are incredibly valuable to sustaining life on Earth; they deserve our love and protection, along with a healthy respect for their ability to cause pain. Angel Boy 2.0 and I spend quite a bit of time researching bees.

This little guy took a rest on the deck from his hard work saving Planet Earth and was perfectly amenable to pose for a series of photos and then he buzzed away. More flowers, more pollen, more honey!

Dandy Lion

I used to think that was how it was actually spelled and that the humble and sturdy dandelion certainly was a very “Dandy” Lion.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Thoughts of my Angel Boy sneak up on me around Mother’s Day. I especially cherished the bouquets of dandelions and other wildflowers (or weeds) he’d gather for me. Could there be anything more lovely than knowing my angel wanted to gift his mom with what his mind and heart considered to be treasures? I don’t think so.

The name dandelion is taken from the French word “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth, referring to the coarsely-toothed leaves, so I wasn’t totally wrong!

The hardy little dandelion is the only flower that represents the three celestial bodies: sun, moon, and stars. The yellow flower resembles the sun, the puff ball resembles the moon, and the seeds resemble stars.The dandelion flower opens to greet the morning and closes in the evening. Every part of the dandelion has value: root, leaves, flower. It can be used for food, medicine, and dye for coloring. Dandelions have one of the longest flowering seasons of any plant. Seeds can be carried as far as five miles from their origin.

I’m nodding my head. It’s fitting that the dandelion represents celestial bodies as my Angel Boy is still and always has been my sun and moon and stars.

Close your eyes, blow the seeds from the puffball, and make a wish. BELIEVE.
_________________________________________________________________

Simply stated by Walt Whitman/Leaves of Grass:

The First Dandelion

Simple and fresh and fair from winter’s close
emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics,
had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter’d grass—
innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring’s first dandelion shows its trustful
face.

Seed Magic

I don’t think there’s anything that enchants me more than a volunteer plant.

Where did you come from, my lovely friend?

Whether it was born from a seed scattered by the wind or bird or a garden angel, a volunteer plant seems to be healthier and grows more vigorously than others.

I didn’t plan for this California poppy, but here she is in all of her shiny, orange, exuberant glory!

In my fantasy-driven universe where animals and growing things speak, it’s like she selected this perfect location between a rose and lavender, and says, “Here I am, Princess Rosebud, aren’t I so very beautiful?”

Yes, it’s true. You are a very beautiful child of the universe and thank you for choosing me to care for you. I am grateful!

Happy Monday!

Spring Garden Tour

I took a look around and thought it’d be fun to share my other gardens at Casa de Enchanted Seashells.

The little side yard next to the driveway…See the gigantic ceanothus to the left of the flowers? I thought it had died and now it’s taking over that entire space.

.

This is one of my favorite places; a rose arbor with a hideaway pond/waterfall along with chairs and a table, perfect for morning coffee or afternoon tea.

This sweet smelling herb garden under the bedroom window is starting to bloom, too. Sage and flowering borage, also known as starflower:

Borage
Edible sage

We haven’t had any measurable April showers that would bring May flowers; such is the life of a SoCal garden. We’re halfway through the month with no rain in sight. We’ll need to enjoy these flowers until the summer heat and drought turns everything brown and drab.

DIY Garden Paver Project: Stepping Stones

This simple DIY project reallyreally exacerbated my OCD issues. However, I was determined NOT to give up until my inner demons were soothed.

The fifth time was a charm, at least I think so. I’m not good at math but I used sixteen pavers with the exact same distance between each one. The middle of the arch aligned perfectly with the big living room window and that made me SO happy. It’s a nice transition between the pygmy palms and the ponytail palms and my dry river bed. I realize the standard rule is to leave 24 inches between each paver or stone, but I’m short and that’s a big leap for me, ergo the reason why they are so close together.

I have an unending supply of these adorable little mounding succulents that are ideally suited to completely fill the spaces between the pavers. If I remember correctly, it’s a kind of spreading sedum and seems to love it in my backyard garden. It won’t take long for them to grow.

I thought about painting or stenciling the gray concrete but it would have spoiled the theme of the dry river bed. The rest of my front yard is planted with California natives; coyote bush, sages, buckwheat, and this gigantic Rhus integrifolia, also known as lemonade sumac or lemonade berry. It began life as a one gallon plant and must really love it in that spot because it’s as big as the house!

(I probably don’t need to tell you that you wouldn’t want to be here when I hang a picture on the wall.”Move it just a bit to the right, I mean to the left; up a tiny bit. OK. PERFECT.”)

Have you ever gone on a pub crawl?

Confession: I never have, but I did something SIMILAR…a garden nursery crawl!

SO MUCH FUN.

The get-together was originally planned for last week but I came down with a mysterious and debilitating migraine and we postponed the outing for a week.

I was picked up in a snazzy (does anyone even use that word nowadays?) metallic blue Tesla, and we were off.

Our itinerary included places I had never previously visited–hidden gems in SoCal– and I wasn’t disappointed. An added plus is that it felt as if things were almost back to pre-Covid times.

We weren’t offered a menu of wine and cocktails at every stop on our crawl; instead I found Marzano tomatoes (best for homemade sauces) and orange mint and perpetually producing spinach; more strawberries, Yerba Buena, wasabi mustard greens, and an exotic hot pepper, plants not usually found at corporate garden shops.

We saw adorable and friendly goats and followed secret garden pathways that revealed exotic and delicious edible veggies, fruits, and herbs.

If I wasn’t under constant assault from aggressive squirrels and bunnies, I would have brought every single one of them home with me, but first I have to figure out new ways to outsmart those little critters.

When we returned home, we sat in the shade and enjoyed fresh herbal water festooned with nasturtium flowers and chatted about the next day when we’d plunge our hands in the soil to put these babies in the ground and watch them flourish.

A pub crawl would be fun too, but we woke up with clear heads and zero hangovers, so it’s probably a much healthier activity than to to go from one bar to the next and get progressively more drunk.

PS I’ll post a recipe for the herbal water tomorrow. It was amazing!

Confession: Secret Talent

One of my proudest skills is the unexpected ability to propagate plants. Currently I’m propagating lavender, rosemary, roses, and a variety of bushy daisies.

Another simple (and thrifty) joy of mine is to go to the section at the nursery where the sad unloved plants are piled up and sold .50 cents to a dollar. I call them my “rescues”. Sometimes all they need is to be transplanted, maybe cut back, offer a bit of care and tenderness, and they’ll thank me by bouncing back and thriving.

A couple months ago, I “rescued” six Autumn Sage one gallon plants. I transplanted them to serve as a border around the deck.

Leaves on Salvia greggii are narrow, leathery and aromatic. This low water need perennial boasts a long flower season. Blooms appear from spring to fall.

They responded to immediately and have now grown into gigantic, beautiful plants with lipstick red flowers. Butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds are happy, too! Even better, I pinched off some new growth and have successfully propagated them to another part of the garden and the little babies are also healthy and flourishing. Success!

Shades of Purple

The word “purple” is not a pretty word. Say it out loud. It doesn’t even sound pleasant, right? I looked up the etymology of the word:

Old English (describing the clothing of an emperor), alteration of purpre, from Latin purpura ‘purple’, from Greek porphura, denoting mollusks that yielded a crimson dye, also cloth dyed with this. (From Oxford Languages)

I like these words better:
-lavender
-lilac
-mauve
-periwinkle
-plum
-violet
-amaranthine

As much as I noticed all the sunny garden yellows a couple weeks ago, now THIS color palette caught my eye, and the bees are happy, too!

Vernal Equinox/Spring is Here!

It began at 2:37 a.m. Pacific Time.

The sun crosses the celestial equator south to north. It’s called the “celestial equator” because it’s an imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator.

If you were standing on the equator, the sun would pass directly overhead on its way north. 

Can you feel it?

How will you celebrate? We’re going to plant a lemon tree and some blueberries to add to the peach, plum, apple, pomegranate, grapefruit, and orange trees already in the ground.

Sadly, I had inadvertently killed my favorite lime tree and was disappointed to learn that no one in my area has any lime trees for sale. According to the nursery, the pandemic caused an explosion in home gardening and it’ll be quite some time before they’ll be back in stock, an interesting phenomenon directly related to Covid.

Those old poets sure knew how to describe the ethereal affirmations of an ephemeral season.

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And ’tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:—
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature’s holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

William Wordsworth