Archive for June, 2009

Photo Hike

My brother Tom and his wife Vickie signed me up for a photo hike on the Piedra Blanco rocks with Chad Ress.  Rocky outcroppings abound in southern California — to my delight.

I thought this rock formation was particularly voluptuous:

Part of the assigned exercise was to photograph people in nature. Chad choreographed this line of hikers.

Being the plant buff that I am, I couldn’t resist a few closeups. Not sure what this plant is, but it was back lit so nicely.

There are many wild varieties of sage in this region. This one was particularly lovely.

I’m still struggling with my fledgling knowledge of Photoshop. There were a number of shots ripe for “clipping masks” … but I couldn’t figure out how to negotiate this task.

A short slideshow can be found here. (slideshow button is top far left) There’s also a “view map” button on the right. Try that and then select ‘satellite’. The white rocks are quite evident.


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Flying High

Okay. I’ve been away on a family vacation. I used to always beam straight north from San Francisco to Portland. Mt. Shasta and the entire Cascade range were right outside my window on the northbound route.

But now I’m flying out of Burbank, CA. So I’m a little farther east than I was before.  Mt. Shasta and Crater Lake were on the other side of the plane. On the up side, I can see the Sierras and Yosemite.

Here’s Half Dome (not nearly so blue in real life):Fly-01(blog)

When I lived in SF, all my return flights from anywhere east came straight over Mono Lake and then Half Dome. Mono Lake is so round that it’s unmistakable.

You can see Mono Lake on top and Yosemite (and Half Dome) on the bottom.

For aerial buffs, you can see all 14 slides here (then click on the slideshow). Although I showed them individually, many of the  Cascade peaks can be see at once. Mt. Jefferson to Rainier, for example. I can’t imagine not flying in a window seat.

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Who knew slugs loved basil? Well, I do NOW.Basil(blog)

I’ve been babying these two seedlings that had such a slow start with our cool spring. They were finally plumping up and I’d created a cloche out of a plastic half gallon milk container to retain more heat.

Everything was going great. You can imagine my dismay when I peaked into the open spout of my cloche! I’d just been preparing gourmet slug food!

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What’s up in June

I have really come to appreciate that  ornamental gardening is incredibly forgiving and elastic. You try something out and if it doesn’t work you just prune, move or replant. “Mistakes” are how you learn.

After taking an ornamental design class with Darcy Daniels last fall, I designed my first flower bed from scratch. The soil was hard as rocks and full of roots from trees and scrubs that I removed. It was back breaking work to dig up the roots and work compost into the soil.

I’ve tried to employ contrasting shapes, direction and size to create interest.

It’s all a works-in-progress — and will surely change and evolve over time. For example, the original focal point was a beautiful tri-colored phormium that sadly, was killed by last winter’s 40-year snow storm. I’ve replaced it with a bronze cordaline.


June is quite a bloomin’ month. It’s not really hot yet and the soil’s still moist from the spring rains. The ceanothus is in full bloom (but not so photogenic) and the spirea are coming on.

I don’t know the name of the ‘pink’ flowers. They were here when I arrived and were a staple in California.

I planted this dappled willow and I’m thrilled with its progress.

I’d collected some California poppy seeds from the “native” garden at Golden Gate Park a year or so before I left. I’d forgotten about them until I saw my sister’s flourishing plants — that she’d similarly sowed from California seeds.

To my great amazement, the seeds I sowed appear to have mulitplied and jumped out of the ground, practically overnight.

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I’ve been planning this for weeks. I’ve got my tripod on my kithcen counter aimed at my bird feeder. This morning I got my shot!

This Black-headed Grosbeak is a rare visitor. I’ve only seen him twice before. He’s very wary and so far, doesn’t stay around long.


My feeder holds 3 cups of feed. With all the new fledglings feeding, it barely lasts 3 days.

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After the Storm

Last night there was a violent but brief  lightning storm. I heard a strange crashing and looked outside to see the tree whipped up in a frenzy. In another 15 minutes teacup-sized raindrops were pounding out of the sky like baseballs. (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Half an hour later it was all over. Today it is eerily still. The finest gossamer mist has coated everything in a heavy dew. It smells divine!

This iris stalk was broken and on the ground.

These rhodie blooms were drenched.

It was the berberis branches “lit up” with droplets that first caught my eye.

But really, there’s nothing like the heuchera leaves to catch and collect dew. Here’s my “Georgia Peach”. It survived last winter’s snow without a hitch.

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Surprise Ending

A year ago this time the iris were at their height. But with the steady temps over 85 for the past 7 days, they’re mostly done now. All the same, I decided to stroll through some older neighborhoods in Vancouver to see what the gardeners were up to.

First find was the brightest honeysuckle I’ve ever seen.

Second was this variegated rose.

These “red hot pokers” are usually red. I liked the change.

I don’t know the name of this dogwood, but it’s a favorite of mine.

As I was snapping away at various blooms and configurations, a car pulled over and informed me of a juvenile raven beside the sidewalk. I approached slowly. I can attest that there was a rank smell about him. It was probably from the regurgitated kills he (or she) was being fed.


At this proximity both parents approached with a great clamor. Junior here went into feeding mode.


I don’t know if this fellow was in danger — or injured in some way. (His right eye appeared to be opaque — but may have just been the angle of the light.) Both parents were in the branches above. I never saw them make contact with him. Just goes to show that you never know what you’ll find.

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