Archive for the ‘Passion Fruit’ Category

Passion Fruit flower - June 2010

The Layers
by Stanley Kunitz

I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.
When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.
Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!
How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?
In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.
Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.
In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

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I didn’t want to tell the tree or weed what it was. I wanted it to tell me something and through me express its meaning in nature. ~ Wynn Bullock

Wynn Bullock was a photographer from the early to mid 1900’s. Here’s a link to some of his photographs.

Peanut greets the morning sun

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I went outside with my coffee and didn’t do anything else first. There was no coastal fog or clammy cloud cover, no phones ringing or office work calling me, no homework or housework that was urgent or tugging at my thoughts. There wasn’t even a neighborhood dude running a power tool, weed eater or lawn mower. Stepping out onto the cool grass in my bare feet into a peaceful enchantment accompanied by nothing but birds, bees and Peanut: pure unadulterated bliss. These are the mornings I live for and I haven’t had one in a looooong time…thank you Mother Universe.

Cilantro/Coriander blooming with Nasturtiums

Since the sun has finally been shining a little lately and it’s warming up at last, everything is growing in cosmic bursts. I look out the window one day and I have grape vines. Looking out the next day reveals that the grape vines are snaking out all over the back lawn desperately needing to be tied up. So, now that the Moon is waning and the planting is done, it’s time to do lots and lots of clean up work, starting with pulling out weeds.

Borage flowers decorate the grass

Normally, I’m not a weed puller. If it’s green or makes flowers, it’s a legitimate plant and can stay. Morning Glories are considered a weed in many places but I actually spend money on seeds so I can have them growing on my fence. A weed is a weed when I say it’s a weed! Dandelions make good tea. Weeds are good for decoy plants – if aphids are eating a ‘weed’ next to the roses, they’re leaving the roses alone and I’m leaving the weed alone. Some weeds get to grow just so I can have mulch.

things are getting crowded!

However, when anything growing begins to hamper the well-being of another plant, that’s when it turns into a true weed. Right now, I have squash and tomatoes that need Sun and space and WATER! – anything in the way of that is getting pulled or moved. Mostly, I have wayward grass instead of true weeds. It goes in the compost pile. The next thing to get pulled is the Evening Primrose.

Evening Primrose tumbling over the garden wall

It’s beautiful and I love it, but it grows very wild and will take over the garden completely if left to its own devices. At a certain point it goes from being “enthusiastic” to being “pernicious”. It needs to be picked as it spreads and I either put it into vases or the mulch pile.

Passionflower is finally blooming!

So, while this rare and beautiful peace in my life lasts, I will be outside pruning and trimming and pulling, caging tomatoes and make trellises, moving things around to get more sun – or less sun – and breathing slowly so this RESPITE can work its magic.

Agapanthus getting ready to open

Have a safe and happy, but mostly peaceful, Memorial Day!

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Of scenes of nature, fields and mountains;
Of skies, so beauteous after a storm—and at night the moon so unearthly bright,
Shining sweetly, shining down, where we dig the trenches and gather the heaps,
I dream, I dream, I dream.

from In Midnight Sleep – Walt Whitman

Sundays are my favorite day to garden. Lately, I haven’t been able to do much, what with being out of town and it raining so much, and another storm coming on Tuesday. Today was a sunny day and I ventured out to assess the storm damage and see what dirt I could manage to get under my fingernails.

The entire lawn is a swamp with water standing in puddles thanks to our California clay deep down keeping the rain from soaking in any further. The rain bucket (huge trash can) was entirely full and I managed to fill up two more buckets after emptying out all the vessels that were sprinkled around the yard. Next year, or when the budget allows, I’d like to have the whole rain chain/barrel set up…but it’s expensive, and for now I’m making due using the passion fruit vine as a rain chain.
a bucket, dear Liza, of rain
After I got my rainwater situation under control, I dumped the unused dirt out of the wine boxes I used last season for pumpkins. They need a good drying out and then I’ll oil them well with linseed oil and use them again this spring. When the boxes are finally unusable I take the ends off and nail them to the outside of the potting shed. I love wine boxes and can’t have enough of them scattered around being used for one thing or another…mostly books and plants.

Also needing attention was a sorely neglected Malabar Chestnut that I had set outside and forgotten. By the time I got back out there most of it was dead and the dirt had washed out of the pot. Poor Baby!

half dead 'money tree' or Malabar Chestnut
She got a good trimming off of the dead stuff, which left only one small stem with roots

After a gentle re-potting, she sits quietly in the infirmary window.

The broom corn has completely taken over the pot that held the juncus effusus spiralis which I bought on one of the many nursery visits with my friend Andrea, a fellow green thumb. It reminded me of my own hair…anyways, it needed help immediately

broom corn mess

I took the entire clump out of the pot and cut the grass away and divided the juncus into smaller pieces. This is a great way to propagate perennials. I use an old bread knife if I just cannot divide things with my hands or pull them apart with a garden fork. It seems aggressive but most plants will bounce back with a little love.

juncus effusus 'Spiralis'

Now, where there was one, I have five – fabulous!

Other exciting news from the garden today:
The first jasmine bloom of the season – right outside my bedroom window 🙂
The rosemary is blooming – one of my favorite shades of lavender:

rosemary blossoms

The swiss chard seems to be thriving in the stormy weather:

swiss chard

The lemons are squeaky clean. I never pass by my lemon tree without singing the Peter, Paul and Mary song…lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet…

There wasn’t much in the way of storm damage, only a flooded potting shed, soggy broom, and a few decorations blown off the fence. Even the hail didn’t do a lot of damage. Color me thankful and impatient to plant in the soil while it’s still wet.

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I LOVE my potting shed, yes I do. It’s dusty and dark and full of quiet, leggy spiders and sharp implements. Rodents, skunks, possums and raccoons hang out in there, so does Peanut, our feline companion of 15 years. Some of my favorite objects live in there too; the lace curtains I bought in Paris hang in the tiny window, an old and cracked red apple cookie jar my mother-in-law was going to throw out (in which I keep my seeds!), cast iron cauldrons, pots and jars of mystery, favorite pitchfork, dirt, some other stuff I won’t mention for fear the evil Pope will have me burned at the stake. There are herbs strewn on the floor so it smells good when I step and a sign on the front door that says “Pam’s Potting Shed” – a housewarming gift from my sisters-in-law, Gina and Lori, which you cannot always see because of the passion fruit vine. When I go in there, I enter hag heaven.

The potting shed only gets cleaned once a year in the winter or when I can’t get in the front door anymore, find anything, or there’s a funny smell. This year I even took all the empty planting pots outside for a good washing, which doesn’t make a lot of sense since I’ll be filling them back up with dirt and seeds soon, but it makes me happy anyways. Discoveries I had forgotten about: a half bag of gypsum, seed starting mix, a fresh bag of worm poo, leftover seeds which need to be used while still viable, and a trash can full of fireplace ash. I’m ready for spring…and it’s only January!

There have been some incidents…the time I nearly killed myself burning incense in there (cough!) or the time I was standing there potting something, felt myself being watched, only to look up right into the shiny eyeball of a huge mouse: once we both recovered we went about our business in peace!, or when I used to ask my daughter “put this in the potting shed” and I would find whatever it was sitting just inside the doorway on the floor – apparently not everyone loves spiders as much as I do!

When I’m in there, I can’t help think of my grandfather, who always hung out in his potting shed and let me go out there with him when I was little. It was chock full of useless wires (he was an electrician), funny looking gadgets, oily things, and black widows. It was a special place. After he died, my mother brought me an old wooden tool box he had made – she found it in his potting shed. It sits in my potting shed now with garden tools in it. As far as family heirlooms go…well, it’s awesome – and so is my potting shed.

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