Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Garden Visitor

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017


Volunteers in the Succulent Garden

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Where are the succulents? Most are small plants and starts from a variety of sources.

Recent Post Succulent Garden Progress


Hibiscus trionum, Flower of the Hour


Appears and actually smells like a Datura.
Where did it come from?




And Another, may be a Datura metel.


Not a Volunteer. Peony seed found on hike.
May be Paeonia californica.
Bit yellow, but still hopeful it will survive.

Previous post on Paeonia californica

Succulent Garden In Progress

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Because, is a garden ever finished?

Succulent Garden

Succulent Garden in Progress, Removal of Oak Roots Took Nearly 2 Weeks!

Succulent Garden

Succulent Garden From Above
July 5, 2017

I decided to remove the drip irrigation before I started using it. I was concerned that since the line would be attached to the courtyard, the succulents would be overwatered. Easy and enjoyable to hand water.

Most of the plants are small or starts from a variety of sources. I prefer to purchase small plants and allow them to grow and fill the garden.

Succulent Garden

Succulent Garden In Progress

The plant in the central location may become as large as its parent.

Plant Start

Succulent Garden

Parent Plant
The plant has been in the space for several years.

The parent plant is in full sun nearly all day. The succulent garden gets morning and early afternoon sun, then shade.

Succulent Garden

Succulent Garden Detail

Succulent Garden

First Starts of Trapped Cactus
Tall plants staked in the upper right.

Succulent Garden

Second Starts of Trapped Cactus
Staked with a Start of Kalanchoe beharensis ‘Fang’

Previous Trapped Cactus Posts
Trapped Cactus Growth and Buds
Trapped Cactus in Bloom


Why is the chicken wearing a wool yarn flower?

Every time I watered my garden I tripped over the chicken. Why leave the chicken there? It is to prevent the hose from dragging through the garden.

When I placed the rocks and added mulch to the succulent garden, the oxidized chicken became part of the ground. Every time I walked down the steps I tripped over the chicken and knocked it off of its stake. My hope is the bright colors will visually remind me that the chicken is there. So far it is working.

Yes, those are pine needles. We have large pines on the outside of the courtyard and this time of the year there are a lot of needles in the garden. I added mulch to the succulent garden with the notion the dropped pine needles and also the oak leaves would not be as noticeable.

This year I am trying something new. I am planting and then allowing nature to work its will. Also, I am a bit weary of cleaning up after the trees.

Caterpillars on Milkweed

Thursday, August 10th, 2017

Thursday, August 10


Friday, August 11 Early Morning


Milkweed, a Caterpillar, and Lots of Aphids

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017

Last week I noticed that my milkweed wasn’t looking quite right. The lower leaves were turning yellow and dropping. And most of the flowers had gone missing. The heat of the past days?

Milkweed and aphids

I took a quick look and one of the problems seemed to be aphids. When I was nearly finished spraying the aphids, I saw a caterpillar. Concerned that I might have accidentally sprayed the caterpillar, I gave the it a bit of a shower. Shortly after its shower, the caterpillar began to move quickly down the stem. And then it seemed to disappear.


I looked for it for three days. Couldn’t find it until maybe today. I found this caterpillar in the same location.


Coincidence or the same caterpillar?

I would like to believe that it is the same caterpillar. That the spray that I used on the milkweed had not harmed it. And it appears that the caterpillar loves the milkweed flowers.


Unfortunately, the spray didn’t take care of the aphid problem. This is what I found today.


Gosh there are a lot of them, but it is interesting that the bodies are yellow with black legs.

Previous posts on Milkweed and caterpillars–

Monarch Caterpillars and Milkweed

Milkweed and Ants

Planted Seedlings From Unidentified Seeds

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Seedlings From Unidentified Seeds


A Seedling Prior to Planting

In order to quickly see the seedlings after planting, I added a small bamboo marker. The markers seemed to disappear into the garden, so I decided to add a bit of color.


Dipped the Top of the First Bamboo Marker in Paint


Second Marker–Applied Paint With Brush Below Top to Allow for Finger Hold


Popped Brush in Ground to Prevent Contamination


Three Days after Planting
Most of the Seedlings Look Like This


One of Two Survivors

Previous post on a recent attempt to grow plants from the mystery seed followed by a photo of the seed and a plant.



What I Found Today

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Fungi 1

Fungi 2

Fungi 3

Aphids and Other Damage

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

Recently noticed that this plant had aphids.

Plant with Aphids


I sprayed the plant with a solution of 8 ounces of water, 8 ounces of alcohol, and 1 tablespoon of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap.

Succulent Damage

After the Application of Alcohol/Soap Solution

Other Damaged Plants

Succulent Damage

A ding and Suntan

Succulent Damage

Leaf Tip Damage

Succulent Damage

Sun Damage and More

Succulent Damage

Accidentally bumped this plant and two section fell off. But that isn’t really damage.
It is one way succulents can be propagated.

Succulent Damage

Popped the two pieces in the ground. Now I wait for them to root.


Sunday, July 30th, 2017

Today I removed the soil from my Taxus to find this–


Over 20 years in the ground, with plenty of space to spread its roots.

So, why didn’t it?

Maybe it will become part of an art piece.

Restacked Mantel Wood

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Our neighbor gave me a pair of columns that she had been using as part of a table. Each column is 29″ x 8.5″ x 9″ and solid concrete.


Columns on Hand Truck

Before placing them in the garden I made a couple of decisions. The first…the bottom should be the top.


Left Side Was How The Columns Had Been Used
The Right Side is the Proper Orientation

The thin section at the bottom will not be visible. So, the only thing that bothers me is the tulip-like doodad. Just too fussy.

Column Doodad

When I began converting the courtyard form exotic plants to drought tolerant plants, one of the first decisions was to remove the wallpieces and to paint the walls grey. It is difficult to tell from the photos taken in my studio, but the columns were too stark, too bright even in the shade.


The Whiteness of the Columns is Emphasized When Placed Next to the Grey Wall

Originally I wanted to break off some hunks before aging them, but thought I would wait to see how they looked with a found wood mantel. I snagged some ash from a friend’s actual fireplace to use, if I decide to fix the columns up a bit more.

Column Fixed Up

For 4 days, I had 3 pieces of wood stacked on top of the columns to help me decide if three boards had enough visual weight to work with the top of the columns.

Mantel Wood

The boards are not quite as wide as the columns. And they could not sit against the wall because of the wallpiece/trellises. Each layer will have two pieces of wood to make the proper width, with a 2″ overhang in the front.

Planning to strap the wood together with metal…aluminum or copper shim. I can patina copper, but the current appearance of the materials is a bit too clean for my typical gritty surface work. The width of the metal will probably be two thirds of the section at the now top of the columns.

When I was making my morning cocoa, thought I would take one last look before cutting the wood.

This is what I found–

Mantel Wood

The wood is nicely stacked in the opposite order it had been stacked on the columns. Lucky that the stack did not break plants or the stone defining the space for the hearth.

I phoned my husband to inquire if he had moved the wood. He had not. He seems to believe that an animal could have been responsible for the restacking. His best guess–opossum. We did catch a couple opossums over the years in our humane trap when we were attempting to catch squirrels.

This was the most recent captured opossum.

Opossum in Trap

And after it was released–

Released Opossum in Trap


Opossum After Release Stayed in the Wisteria for Several Hours

I restacked the wood on the columns and attempted to reproduce what I found this morning. Every time resulted in a messy stack.

Mantel Wood

So what did happen? Did an animal (opossum) drop down from the oak tree and cause the restacking?



The reddish brown stalk is from a volunteer that I think is a variety of mullein. It is nearly ready to harvest.

I have been fond of mullein since I used it in my Greta piece, part of my MFA exhibition.

An additional note…the garden was sloping when I began planning for the faux fireplace. I leveled it by adding soil that I removed from the now rock/succulent garden. I also added gravel under each of the columns. I had to build up the right side with nearly 4″ of gravel more than uncer the left column.

I leveled the garden area, each column, and the columns together. Then I placed a single piece of wood on the columns and leveled the lot. Pretty sure the faux fireplace will appear level and straight when it is completed.

Can’t wait to see it with snake plant (Sansevieria) inside for faux flames. I have wanted to use snake plant for flames ever since I viewed Blue Velvet.

Blue Velvet Snake Plants

A Quick Screenshot From the Film Blue Velvet

My plan is to plant the snake plant directly in the garden inside the faux fireplace. The weather is so mild, for the most part, on the California Central Coast. And since they will be protected, they should thrive.