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Meanwhile, In The Garden, Light Comes And Goes


The back yard is green. It’s hydrangea time. Yeah, they are leggy, pruning mistake. Lesson learned.

Leslie asked me how my white roses are doing. In truth I neglected them to deal with my mother’s Alzheimer’s-provoked move. The poor guys responded by sinking into a despair of black spot, rust, and unnamable blight.

But a couple of good sprayings with oil from Indian tree seeds and back they’ve come.


A little bitten, a little cock-eyed, but still roses and on the whole white.


You might also remember I had planted a butterfly garden. The plants are flourishing, the butterflies scarce to date but welcome.


By the way, it’s not called milkWEED for nothing. This stuff spreads. I like to call it an optimistic plant. But I’ve made a morning ritual of picking out the tiny sprouts. Keeping some space clear.


Now native sage, yarrow and mint surround my olive tree like girls in bright dresses around a gawky friend. Bokeh, you party crashers. Light is such a prankster.


That yarrow, by the way, was supposed to be white. Surprise! I prefer the rosy pink, in fact, and the sage’s creature-like habit adds a little bite to the sweet colors.


Elsewhere, some of the stuff in my garden, man, I have no idea what it even is. This stalk turns red eventually.


And the general unruliness. Some plants, privet, for example, grow where they are not wanted. Out of my fern, you wanton sprout!


Some plants, although invited, decide to take over. There will be thinning oh Japanese anemones, you have been warned.


Fortunately, some daises I transplanted brushed off neglect and decided to grow tall and spectacular. By themselves,


Or, in dappled context,

next to neighbors. Boisterous, lace-capped, pink-flowered neighbors. Lurking grasses, necessary menace.


Thanks, you plants, my friends. Just what I needed.


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44 Responses

  1. Your commentary makes me chuckle. In my garden at our farm, we have menacing poison ivy! In fact, things are so overgrown (dangerous in snake country), i dare not even venture around. We’ve called in reinforcements and by the end of next weekend, I might have good news to report.

    Your flowers are beautiful. I love what you said about the yarrow.

  2. I believe your mystery plant may be arum italicum. Lovely photos – thanks for sharing.

    1. @Susan, Thank you so much. I do not get blooms on these things, just the red pods. But, Google search confirms. Are the red things the flowers in fact?

  3. My garden grounds me (no pun intended :)). I have a friend who is a CASA volunteer. Her garden seems to always get vigorous attention after she has to attend court for for her cases.

    1. @Susan, Oh gosh yes. So grounding, so calming. I even find myself liking to walk barefoot out there on really bad days. Fallen plums are a risk, however;).

  4. Even during dark times a garden can bring comfort and beauty. Yours is lovely.

  5. How lovely, text and photographs. Yesterday I hiked for two hours at Coyote Ranch between the Dumbarton and the San Mateo bridges. It’s already California rolling-foothill yellow, but there are white pelicans—I love those beautiful, big-beaked birds—white egrets, brown specked lizards too brazen to scurry out of the sun, and an assortment of other flora and fauna set against the stunning join of the bay returning from salt ponds and the land returning from farms. There were a pleasing number of butterflies as well. It was perfect weather: clear blue sky, sunshine, a cooling breeze. It’s almost July and we are remaining quite habitable. Happy Friday. Enjoy your paradisal yard.

    1. @Katherine C. James, Such a perfect day! It’s been hot here on the Peninsula, hotter than usual, so I am glad that by the bay we’re staying cool. I do so enjoy your writing.

  6. Thank you for sharing your white roses….and your garden is looking wonderful thick with lush greenery and lots of interesting plants.
    Pottering about in the garden is so soothing….it has helped me maintain my sanity and perspective during many a crisis.
    Your photos look fabulous!

  7. The green stalk that turns red looks like what we in England call ‘lords and ladies’ – a type of arum lily. Watch out – the berry-like seeds are poisonous

  8. Beautiful Lisa. I have the same garden issues! I hope you are well. Sending good thoughts to you about your mom. We are dealing with the same with my mother-in-law. It’s not easy. Enjoy your weekend. Kim

    1. @kim, Thank you. Good luck with your MIL. We probably should get together and compare notes:). I’d like to, at least.

  9. So much solace to be found in a garden’s resilient beauty. Yours is maturing into a lovely, tranquil space, with a kindly, if watchful, tolerance for interlopers. And your photos of it are exquisite. xo

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, Thank you. And yes, it is maturing, I think that’s exactly it. Room for change at the margins, without disrupting the whole. Rather like your place on the island, I imagine – and now a new way of urban gardening awaits.

    1. @JB, I have put a glass plate out behind some milkweed, and I fill it with water every morning. Do you think that’s sufficient? And orange slices, well, OK then!

  10. Your garden and your plants are the real friends-beautiful and calming when needed,always there,sharing their grace :-)

  11. What a lovely space! I’m making a habit of breakfasting and lunching outside when working from home (and when it’s not raining, which isn’t often). Especially on fraught days like this morning when I work up to find that a small majority voted for England to leave the European Union.

  12. Those white roses!!!! Love them and all your other lovely flowers. I love hydrangeas but especially the lace-caps. I have one called Lady in Red.

  13. Your garden is flourishing so beautifully. I adore hydrangea and love your gorgeous, full pink ones!
    Everything is so vibrant and peaceful, infusing strength and calm into your life.

  14. Gardens are very rewarding. Always thriving. As you say, some plants like to take over (just like some people). Glad to see you spending time in your garden! Nothing better than a little R&R time surrounded by beauty. Susan

  15. luff this new gardening you. How good are shastas? How come bare earth and no mulch? I have to use a thick sugar cane mulch to keep the earth damp and the weeds down.

    Keep up the good work x

    1. @Faux Fuchsia, I don’t think we can say “new” any more! And the large Chinese elm always provided a leaf mulch. Now that it caught a root fungus, and we had it cut way back, I probably should mulch more intentionally.

  16. What is the “oil from Indian tree seeds” that you sprayed on your roses. my roses are a bit in need as well.
    thank you for your lovely writings and photos!

  17. Gorgeous!!! Gardening is one of my favorite things to do. I only have a balcony right now, but I still manage…it is container-laden and I enjoy cucumbers and peppers, herbs, flowers, plants with beautiful foliage…

  18. Hi Lisa, I, too, have a large garden with many butterfly-friendly plants. I noticed that they seem to prefer the flowers that are in the sun. Your garden looks a bit shady to me. Perhaps that is simply the time of day when you took the photos.

    Anyway, here are some tips that may help bring more butterflies to your garden:

    Smiles from Charlotte Des Fleurs

    1. @Charlotte Des Fleurs, Thank you for the link. The garden gets a lot of sun, too much to take a photo in fact due to the brightness! My current theory is that the butterflies need a longer swath of milkweed to really know its there, and to make the flying over a fence thing worthwhile. We shall see:).

  19. So peaceful, lovely and friendly, your garden photos. I feel cool and welcome just looking at them. My yarrow is supposed to be white also. Mostly it is, but there are a few pinks and even a bright yellow.

  20. Beautiful garden, even though I am in the land of abundant rose gardens, mine are sickly weaklings who cough up two or three blooms then go back to wither on their chaise longue

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