End of September Update

The humans were a little sluggish this morning at Homeward Bound. I’m not sure if it was the late-into-the-evening fundraiser for the organization, or the weatherman’s promise of 100-degree temperatures…on September 30th. Enough already! While we pounded coffee, the dogs and creatures were up and at ’em. Bees…



and even the Hummingbird made its appearance!

We created a garden bed just for this fellow, but he has eluded us all summer – until now. More in another blog about how I almost blew his photo, and the interesting Photoshop save and results.

The only thing not moving was this Crawdad that must have made its way from the draining rice fields. The yards have been full of them, but this one was strangely silent.

Not to be shown up, Maria, Pat and I got busy dead-heading and preparing for the paths that will be installed in two weeks. Here’s Pat hard at work!

With the weeds beaten back, we can’t wait to cover this uneven baked clay earth in three inches of walk-on mulch which will show off the beds beautifully.

Once the paths are in, the goal is to expand the beds. Ina will extend the Cottage Garden across the length of the front entrance,

we’ll create some needed space in the over-grown Hummingbird garden,

Sue and Jeff have planned beds of pansies under the trees (once the weather cools!), and Maria was so inspired by the removal of the blackberries, that she has already begun the task of doubling the size of the Herb Garden.

Across the way she dressed the St. Francis bed for fall.

Goldie gave it the once over, and her approval.

And with that, the parade was on! This is Hank Spoon.

A terrible name for a sweetheart of a boy. Maybe someone will adopt him and change it to something more befitting.

Brutus and Sierra came in search of refreshment. They are still looking for their ‘fur-ever’ home together.

Goldie, number two. A beauty with, what look like, Collie ears.

Scout and Huck are new arrivals. Scout is part Golden and part Corgi. One of our gardeners already has her eye on him. Occupational hazard? Or master plan? I’ll keep you posted.

Huck is a people-loving little thing, who will do well with someone dedicated to his training and who can match his obvious enthusiasm!

Bones helped himself to another apple from the tree. He can’t hear, but he can see and smell! (Remember not to let them eat the cores!)

Bo-Bo and Hershey are not available for adoption, so they can call the garden ‘home’.

And finally, Wedo. This sweet pup has led a ‘sheltered’ life and needs someone who will be devoted to helping him discover life beyond. In exchange, you will be the recipient of this adoring gaze!

There is a lot more to catch you up on, but it is late, and I promised to bake triple chocolate cranberry cookies for work tomorrow…so off I go! See you back here soon.

Inspiration from the WPA Rock Garden

I have taken so much inspiration from my fellow gardeners at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. With a season under our collective boots, there is a garden closer to home that I now appreciate even more.

It is the WPA Rock Garden at William Land Park in Sacramento.

This three-quarter acre gem is tucked inside the park,

between the quaint Fairytale Town, Sacramento Zoo, the outdoor theatre in the round,

and the duck pond.

It was originally built in 1940 as part of the New Deal’s Work Projects Administration – thus WPA – and has been our city’s hidden treasure for generations.

But it wasn’t always the oasis it has become.

A well-known local horticulturist, Daisy Mah, took over care of the garden in 1988 after it had been overgrown by ivy. This sounds like a familiar tale to our Homeward Bound volunteer gardeners.

Instead of the typical water-thirsty and shade-loving plants you find in neighboring gardens, she planted drought-tolerant plants from the Mediterranean climates.

The paths are laid with decomposed granite; the beds raised with low rock walls.

The naturalized mixture of grasses and perennials, flower and foliage, light and shadow remind me of Ina’s Cottage Garden…

with little surprises tucked into every corner.

Beginning with a budget that would not even buy you a night at the movies – ingenuity, propagation expertise and, as rumor has it, fertilizer originally contributed by the zoo animals, has created this meandering maze of delights.

Daisy Mah has announced her retirement from the City Parks and Recreation department this year.

What will happen with to the garden remains to be seen, with the economy already severely testing city resources.

A great community volunteer effort has risen to the task of maintaining the park, and some have worked for years with Daisy to maintain this wonder. Hopefully, the WPA Rock Garden will continue with this dedicated group.

One thing is certain – Daisy Mah has created a living legacy.

One that deserves our admiration and our commitment to carry on her good work for the generations to come.

Bringing Out The Best in Buster

As we tackled the blackberries last weekend we uncovered hidden treasure.

To some, this represents a fun game of play;

but to pups like Buster – something more worrying. Buster is one of a few dogs that arrive at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary completely, utterly and totally ball-obsessed.

Lots of dogs enjoy a game of ball, but in some cases it moves from play to something much more. When a dog focuses on the ball to the exclusion of every other kind of human or canine interaction, the obsession lessens their quality of life.

A garden succeeds with variety – of shape, texture, color and contrast.

Too much of a good thing results in sameness.

The magic occurs in mixing things up and uncovering surprises.

Dogs are social beings. They need interaction and variety too, or they can become compulsive, neurotic, or worse. The trainers at Homeward Bound are well-practiced in turning around these pups, to give them a chance at adoption and a happy, healthy life.

There is a must-read success story posted to the website about Chester – now Rudy – who arrived at Homeward Bound very much like Buster. You can read it here.

With the training and dedication, Rudy has found a whole new life beyond the ball.

Buster is still a work in progress – but the progress is really good. It begins with a cleared pen, free of all balls, so he can begin to focus his attention on the trainer. Each look is rewarded with treats and praise.

New activities are introduced, with the ball becoming the reward – instead of the object of the exercise. A look in the eyes is cause for celebration;

a kiss means it’s time to throw a parade!

Buster is well on his way. You can see the change in his face…from a few weeks ago…

to now.

He is so lucky to have the team at Homeward Bound on his side. And it truly takes a team! Trainers, feeders, walkers – all reinforcing the same steps will, with any luck, help the placement team connect him to a waiting family;

someone who will see the golden in him, the way Art and Amy saw the promise in Rudy. Is that you?

Catching Up

Ina sends this note from the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden today:
“As of today, the bramble has had a complete ‘ectomy’ in both beds. Very satisfying work for a gardener with attitude! Onward!”

And no photo – so we are left to wonder just what gift she has left us. For those of you new to this blog, look back at the history of Ina’s Cottage Garden to understand her talent – and her ambition.

Since I cannot share a garden update just yet, I should catch you up our weekend visitors – lest they think they were overlooked!

Sunday was apparently homecoming day in the garden. School was in session just as soon as those pesky puppies cleared out, and we had plenty of alumni returning for additional training. There’s Stella, with Jody. (Jody is the one in the dog-shirt…big surprise!)

Thor and Loki – named after the gods of Thunder and Mischief respectively. Guess which one is Thor.

Henry – a beautiful combination of Golden Retriever and Afghan Hound. Just look at that coat!

Henry is one of those “failed fosters” – which means he went home with one of our gardeners, and they decided to adopt each other.

Hopper and Cinnamon are two of the newest arrivals. Another pair to, hopefully, be placed together. (Update: Another couple, Mosh and Marie who were featured last week, are now in foster care…together!)

Snuffy. This sweet pup is now receiving the TLC and medical treatments he so obviously needed and is on the road to recovery and a full coat again. He would like you to know that he gets along with cats and likes other dogs. And that he has a lot of love to give.

Bones. You may have seen him here before. He may not be able to hear,

but he sure speaks “Debbie” the dog-walker!

There is one more pup to tell you about, but you’ll have to return for that one. I promise you it is a special read in honor of National Dog Week. (Really…there is such a thing!) Hope to see you back here soon.

Puppy Touchdowns

Sundays are great in the fall, because with football on, no one even notices if I am gone for hours to the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden!

I arrived just in time this weekend for puppy socialization class.

Who needs football on TV when you have live action on the field?? Kickoff!



Defense! Defense!

Time out!!

Bench warmer?

The Referee.

Huddle up!

Hey, unnecessary “ruff-ness!”

Water break.

Hut! Hut!

Hut! Hut! Hut!

OK, that’s just piling on!

Game over. Let’s hit the showers!

Playtime in a controlled situation is a great way to socialize your pup to other people and dogs. This Homeward Bound romp was designed for that purpose. Not to mention bringing a smile to our faces, too.

A Thorny Tale

Once there was a gardener who followed a bunny down a messy blackberry bramble.

Her sense of order insulted, she began to scramble!

Though scouts had offered their assistance, she could stand the eye sore no more.

Impatiently, she proclaimed “off with their heads!” – and so began the chore.

Simple, she said. “Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then stop.”

With great determination, she clipped, and tugged, and swore, and chopped.

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get,” she declared while tackling the prickly beast.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” we observed. Will she never cease?

“Oh my ears and whiskers, how late it’s getting!” we decried.
“We will go and go and go,” she would chide.
“But we have mowing and watering and weeding to attend!”

Stubbornly she pushed forward. “We will finish this project, or it will be my end!”

As the sun began to set, she disappeared from view.

Shouts were heard in the distance, “but wait, we are not through!”

With a nod to Lewis Carroll…the blackberry removal project is officially underway at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden! Stay tuned.

Shelby: The Flower Within

“Weeds are flowers, too, once you get to know them.”
― A.A. Milne

When things pop up in places we don’t expect, we call them weeds. “Weeds are bad; flowers are good” – or so we say. Not because weeds don’t possess beauty,

but because we have not uncovered it yet.

If you can move beyond the thorns,

you often uncover the beautiful flower.

Shelby was labeled a bit of a weed.

She had all kinds of thorny behaviors that popped up where they weren’t expected or wanted. She was a girl with a record when she arrived at Homeward Bound.

Yet, Chris – one of the organization’s dedicated volunteer trainers– saw a flower in her.

Shelby can’t tell us all that created her thorny side, but she made clear when she arrived that she was not to be touched, groomed, or trusted.

She had given up on people; but Chris would not give up on her.

Over the course of nearly a year they worked together. “Shake” for a treat turned into permission to touch her paws.

That led to petting, and eventually even to brushing.

Distances between dog greetings gradually closed, until Shelby could find herself walking with other pups.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another” – Walter Elliott

Small victories; occasional set-backs; a stubborn belief in the flower within.

There’s still work to be done. For dogs like Shelby, the work is never really over. But if all goes well, Shelby will soon be leaving for her forever home with Chris and family.

A weed no more; a flower in its place.

Jack’s Plea

Jack here. I’ve hijacked the Gardens for Goldens blog, because we have to have a serious talk.

I was out in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden today, and I saw all kinds of big changes and planning for the future underway. Maria and Ina adding a new Crape Myrtle to the White Garden…

Rock borders being set in anticipation of mulched paths…

And that Ina is getting ready to turn this weed mess into another of her amazing Cottage Gardens!

Heck, I even ran into this gorgeous girl, Shelby. Looks like she is going to be rescued by that really nice lady trainer, Chris, if she plays her cards right (more on her story soon).

Now I have nothing against Shelby. Heck, she’s been here quite awhile.
But so have Hootie,




that cute couple Mosh and Marie,

and that handsome guy, Scrubs.

See, that’s the problem. If dogs like these who really look like Goldens have been here awhile, what are my chances???

I have been here longer than all of them. OK, so I had a couple of issues (don’t we all), but I have worked really hard on them and they are SO much better now. Check me out. I have more schooling than most college grads. I even have a video.

Don’t get me wrong. The people and pups here are swell. But it’s not the same as a home of your own. So while you’re making all those dang garden plans – how about coming up with a plan for me?!?

I’m cuter than any of those old bugs and flowers that you take a gazillion pictures of…and I can still play with you in the winter!

So let’s go Gardeners. I was here when this place was nothing but weeds. And now look at it!

I know what miracles you can pull off. Let’s find me a home, please! I mean, please???

Maybe sometime before it’s really time for the Halloween decorations that Peggy and Steve put out today?

Remember…”Dogs Leave Paw Prints On Our Hearts.”

And I’m one of them that will for certain! Thanks for listening. I now return you to your bugs and bees.

Last(?) Evening in the Garden

I thought we were done with mid-week evening check-ups on the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden until next summer,

but someone turned on the furnace and decided that it should be high-90’s in the Sacramento Valley in mid-September.

Worse, we added fall plants and moved trees last weekend.

So…one more trip!

The trees were being well-watered, but a couple of my Mums and Snap Dragons were rescued just in the nick of time!

All better now. But I found evidence of creatures everywhere. The Butterfly Weed is hosting an aphid party.

This Lady Bug couldn’t be happier.

Someone helped themselves to the two ripe pears…one bored hole in each.

And some critter had the audacity to knock Maria’s “Tick Free Zone” sign to the ground. I hope they don’t take this as a sign that they are free to return.

This one was brave enough to show his face.

There is something magical about the garden in the Fall setting sun.

Just don’t forget to look up occasionally.