Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Desert in December - 1 / 3

In late December, with family visiting, we drove all around the Mojave  desert area. In three days, we saw three completely different views of "the desert" in december. For fun (and because i can only share so many pictures of piles of trimmings...) I'm sharing some pictures from all three days.

The first visit was out near Victorville. If you wonder why we visited Victorville, it's because we went to go look at a parking lot:

specifically, one of the storage facilities of recalled diesel Volkswagens
there are also some airplanes:
mostly in storage, and hard to see. You can't really get closer
As the pictures show, it was a blue sky, light overcast kind of day. It was about 70 degrees F.
the desert - brown, blue, mountains, and joshua trees
Once we were done looking at parking lots, we visited a bottle tree farm. One of those random, only the Western US, middle of nowhere-ish kind of places.
it was actually very cool!

the clear desert sun light really made everything sparkle!

one person did a lot of this work - both the bottles and the metal sculptures
Perhaps this video gives a little better idea of how cool and eerie this place is:

the legacy of aerospace being a major area employer
december in the desert!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Something Different - Wednesday Vignettes From Above

I spend a lot of time on airplanes (for work). Usually, these trips happen at night, and i'm either sleeping, or watching some horrible movie. Or falling asleep while watching some horrible movie. During the day, with that annoying in flight wifi, i'm usually working. But earlier this year, i had a flight during the day, with no work, and a window seat. Here are some views of Nature at 35,000 ft.

I have no idea where this is?
We were flying from the East Coast to LAX, and this is looking south.

it was a late afternoon flight, so the shadows made the terrain jump out

pretty much no signs of humans

or water, for that matter

after a while, it started getting a little hazy. 
then there was snow!

These pictures are in flight order (so heading more west as we go through the post).
more snow

a river! (which one?)

snow, and more haze. 
Sometimes it worth looking out the window! And while i understand there are lot of downsides to modern air travel, i'd much rather fly over all that than go by covered wagon... Which is a good thing to keep in mind when my next flight is delayed by another 3 hours.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Garden Visit - Wineries in Morgan Hill

Every once in a while, I visit Northern California with family, and that usually involves a visit to the winery! These pictures from the last visit to Clos LaChance seemed like the perfect thing to cheer up this wintery weekend:


vines & hills

the roses were a bit past their prime, but still gorgeous

hills and oaks and vines and flowers
These are some of the pictures i think of when i think of winter in California !

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Garden After the First Rain (Wednesday Vignettes)

I found these pictures on my phone today, and even though they are now a bit old (from Nov 2018), I really wanted to share them here. This was the first (significant) rain we'd had since 2017, and the combination of clouds and time of day made the light look very strange...

the stock pond filled up

everything looked almost pink (this picture has no filters!)

agave "Royal Spine" with rain drops


xMangave "Tooth Fairy" with rain drops

clouds, wet DG and all the happy plants

the pond in a larger view
So far (Feb) this winter has been wetter than the last few, which has been great. The light has never been quite like this again though!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tell the Truth Tuesday - sad agave...

Allison at Bonney Lassie has been encouraging everyone to share the not-so-great parts of our gardens. While i haven't been doing a lot of gardening, a break in the rain this weekend left some time to address the truth that one of my agaves didn't look so good:

...that doesn't look good!
Much to the delight of all my neighbors, that's in the front garden. This poor agave (unidentified when it was planted) had been declining for a while. The first part of cleaning it up just exposed more of a mess: 
pretty sure i know what/who the culprit is!
Since rot doesn't usually cause dirt to migrate into the center of the agave, it looks like the gophers are back. Sigh. 

Thankfully, a replacement candidate was waiting in the back garden pipes:
its been here for a while, gaining size
This is agave franzosinii 'Lost Wax', from the Ruth Bancroft garden. It was high time for it to get out of the pipe, before it takes over like Mr. Ripple has. A few moves with a shovel and some new gravel mulch, and it's in the front garden:
where it will have plenty of room to grow
The blue works well with the blue ball decoration and everything else. It's on a slope, so the rain shouldn't bother it too much. I will be upset if the gophers eat this one, although there's another pup safely protected from them.

Some other things i got done this weekend while the rains held off:

  • trim back all the roses
  • start to trim back the butterfly bush ( get to the roses)
  • debate whether its too early to cut back the grasses...
Any of those situations could have made for good "tell the truth tuesday" pictures, but sometimes cleaning up is the best part. Is it spring yet?

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Cleaning Up the Back Garden

One of the projects that i completed in 2018 that seems like a small change, but is paying huge dividends this spring, was the change to the path at the bottom of the hill. Here is the before:

Hillside with path
This hill used to go straight up from that retaining wall, with no clear way to get anywhere. A few years ago, i had access paths installed using railroad ties, with a path on the top and bottom. The top path (which runs along the block wall fence) was just dirt, and the bottom was compacted decomposed granite (DG). The top path got replaced with a gravel path to help with weed suppression and better access.

The bottom path with DG worked for a while,but over time, lots of weeds would grow in it. Also, as the plants on the hillside grew, they grew over the path. That was great, but then they started growing through the DG. So finally, last summer, the landscapers came in and dug out the DG, and replaced it with gravel, matching what is on the top path:
it's about 3 inches thick.
It worked great! And right now, weeding the gravel is much easier than the DG path ever was. The plants are already growing over the path again, without growing into the gravel.

On a side note, i can still never get over how full the hillside is now versus just a few years ago. Here is the view from the other side:
looking south
While the landscapers did that, i also had them clean up and put a new top coat on the main DG in the back garden. While i don't have them do this every year, it makes it look so good...
clean DG - no weeds and no annoying gopher holes!
They also trimmed up the Palo Verde, so it resembles more of a tree, and less of a blob:
the agave ovatifolia can breathe!
One of the biggest adds was the new stock pond, which i'll share lots more about later!
stock pond added
Of course, looking at these pictures now makes me want to call them back for a spring refresh of the DG! But if i did that now, i wouldn't have poppies later this spring, so back to hand weeding it is!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

MidWest in the Fall - Wednesday Vignettes

This whole winter, I've been spending time in the midwest, where it's been cold, especially for my desert-adjusted blood! Earlier this fall though, these trees outside my hotel caught my eye with their brilliant fall colors...

I wanted to remind myself of these colors during my last visit, when it was 19 deg F!

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Agave Close Ups

This weekend, I marvelled at how unique the agaves look from above. Because that was better than marveling about how giant my pile of trimmings were, even though i still had so much to go!

agave parrasana

agave shawii (plus many pups!)

agave 'Cream Spike' (still looking for pups)

agave 'Crazy Horse' 
I've been looking at the plant catalogs and websites... i think more new agaves will be joining the garden this year!