December 11, 2014

In the spirit of Christmas, I’m focused on other people’s gardens rather than my own. Specifically, I’m thinking about the yard where I grew up. My mother passed away during the summer, but even before that she was too frail to care for the place. My father still lives there, in a yard that was first overgrown and then parched by drought. This is in Los Angeles County. My sister and her family are trying to rehabilitate the place, so Dad can enjoy his yard again.

My contribution, from 1,000+ miles away, is to send seeds. Now, even though they’ve had rain in recent weeks, LA has always been semi-arid. I think it’s important to use native plants that will hold up in those conditions. Another factor is that Dad grew up in Kansas, where tall grasses waved in the wind. So my fall has been spent in researching California’s native grasses.

This year’s Christmas gift will be a selection of seeds. Red Fescue can be mowed like a lawn or left alone for a meadow-like appearance. Vanilla Grass and Rice Grass will make showy clumps. I just have to round things out with a few wildflowers for color. With any luck, my Dad will have a more appealing yard over the next year.

Our first snowfall was on November 21st, a mere dusting. We’ve had less than an inch of snow so far. The start of December featured bitterly cold weather and a bit of freezing rain. Now it’s wet and mild. Although driving is more dangerous on snow and ice, I’ll be a little disappointed if we don’t have more snow before Christmas.

Indoor Forest
The Christmas Cactus I got as a cutting from my neighbor is starting to bud again. The flowers are bright pink with some white at the center. It will liven up our dining room table for sure.

Looking ahead to next year’s garden, I’ve started saving the 1′ square PET containers that pastries and such come from the deli in. They’re just the right size to hold peat pots, and I can replace the tattered planting trays I’ve been using.

As more birds have discovered my feeder, I’ve found a few new friends. Oregon Juncos had joined the finches and sparrows. The flock normally is between four and eight, not too much of a crowd. We also had a Northern Flicker exploring a telephone pole for insects. I haven’t heard it much lately, though. It may have returned to the nearby, undeveloped Beacon Hill area, where Ponderosa pines climb the basalt outcrops.

To all of you, I wish a peaceful holiday season. See you in January!


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