The Pineapple Express

This is what the moon looked like a couple of nights ago. (I’m not very good at moon photos, yet – but the sky is what I really want you to focus on. You’ll see why.)


It’s a good thing I dug the Dahlia’s up.


Soaked Garden5_11

Because this is the result of the first two out of three storms we are experiencing. Our poor Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. Not to mention the soggy doggy runs.

Soaked Garden_11

They call it the “Pineapple Express,” or “atmospheric river” – a much more descriptive term, I think. Warm air and moisture move in from the Hawaiian Islands, and dump all over the Central Sacramento Valley and Sierras. What melts in the mountains travels downhill to us, compounding the wet mess.

I can hardly wait to see what the third, and strongest, has in store for us. Does anyone have an Ark?

Heavy Equipment Gardening With Maria

Caution: Before using this tool, read the manual and follow all safety and operating instructions.

Preparation: Dress appropriately when operating the tiller. Always wear sturdy footwear. Never wear sandals, sneakers or open shoes. Do not wear loose clothing that might get caught in moving parts.

Do not operate the tiller under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Carefully inspect the area to be tilled and remove all foreign objects. Do not till above underground water lines, gas lines, electric cables, or pipes drip lines. Stay alert for hidden hazards.

After striking a foreign object, stop the engine, thoroughly inspect the tiller, and repair the damage before restarting and operating the tiller.

The bulbs will be beautiful, even if the planting was a little messy.

Holidays Upon Us: #GivingTuesday

The holidays are upon us at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.

Maria was at the garden late on Monday, expanding and replanting the St. Francis garden; adding more than 200 bulbs; and generally enjoying having the place to herself before the big rains. Four to six inches are expected over the next few days.

She was in the garden late enough to catch the solar light strands make their appearance. A touch of holiday in the garden.

Speaking of holidays (shameless plug alert!) – and in the spirit of today being #GivingTuesday (a national day of giving) the Homeward Bound Giving Tree is live. You can make a donation in honor, or in memory of your pup. By lighting up Homeward Bound’s virtual tree with ornaments, you can remember your special pup – or as a gift for those hard-to-please friends – while contributing to the rescue, adoption and sanctuary of hundreds of dogs each year. You’ll find information by clicking here.

The dogs say “thanks” for considering (me too!).


As we put hundreds of bulbs into the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden for next spring, it was time to raise the summer ones for winter. With more than a week of rain in the forecast, it was time to lift the Dahlias that delighted us for so many months.

To protect them from frost and rot, they will be dried, stored in vermiculite or sand, and then divided next spring, so we can grace the garden again next summer and fall. The space looks so empty, but beneath it waits Allium bulbs for a late spring/early summer show while the Dahlias get started again.

With everything dying back now, I drew a map of the Perennial and Hummingbird beds, so I would remember where everything is. An overlay of tracing paper indicates where the bulbs are planted. Now I have only one problem. Space!

Ina was right. No more plants! My shopping days are over. I swear.

Farewell to Fall

November served up a last magnificent fall weekend at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.

When the sun is t-shirt warm, the garden is still showing off, but the shadows grow long by mid-afternoon, it is a perfect time to get in the last fall plantings in the Sacramento Valley.

Before the December rain and cold arrive, Ina added grasses to the front-facing California Natives garden –

while the rest of us focused on getting our spring bulbs planted. “Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to Spring.” – Anonymous

Susan and Jeff planted Crocus, Daffodil, Freesia and Ixia in the tree circle gardens.

By this time next year, these will be shade gardens; the canopy has grown so quickly!

We received a generous donation of bulbs and divisions (thank you, Marguerite!)

I added more than 20 Naked Lady bulbs to the Willow Garden, along with Crocosmia. To the Perennial and Hummingbird gardens, I added Crocus, Hyacinth, Tulips, Narcissus, Freesia, Anemone, Ranunculus, Ixia and Allium.

Paired with the existing Iris Garden and bed of blooming Daffodils, we should have a riot of spring and early summer color throughout the garden beds. Peggy and Steve were out to tend to the Iris bed and change out the fall decorations for those of the season.

Their message to Santa; a touching reminder of their passion for rescue.

While most enjoyed a long holiday weekend of feasting and football, our dedicated volunteers spent their Thanksgiving weekend at the ranch, walking, bathing, feeding, training and playing with the pups as the kennels are full. This is Rob’s new foster, Brittany. Blind in one eye, but as beautiful as ever.

Scout is a favorite pint-sized Golden mix, who is incapable of taking a bad picture!

Tucker is a new arrival, and thinks sunning in the garden after a bath is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

And this is Mama Bear. Not a golden at all,

but a true black beauty and sweetheart.

Champ was out for a stroll,

as was one of our favorites – Bogey. Blind in both eyes, but that doesn’t stop him. He loves people, walks, and playing “find-it” for kibble in the field. There is nothing wrong with his sniffer!

But the best part of any weekend are the adoptions. Today, Pancho found his home with this young couple from San Francisco. We’ll miss him in the garden, but so happy he has a new family to call his own.

The Measure of Our Thanksgiving

“For each new morning with its light,

For rest and shelter of the night,

For health and food, for love and friends,

For everything Thy goodness sends.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Through the simple act of volunteering to tend a garden – and sharing it with you here – a world has opened to me. For the community I have found, the endless generosity of others, and the countless pups who have touched my heart this year – I give thanks.

Not all of those who visit here share the Thanksgiving holiday. There are other things that bind us. And so, I have one more quote for you today:

“Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ~ W.T. Purkiser

For all of you, and all you do – thanks for your giving – from the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.

Bring the Meeting to Order

Being part of a rescue organization, means dealing sometimes with sad news. But for all the difficult days, there are many more rewards. Lest you think that all are days are tough, I would like to share with you highlights from a recent meeting at Homeward Bound.

Top-dog is a take-charge kind of guy, who definitely knows how to command the room’s attention.

Type A is a perfectionist, excellent note-taker and always on the ball.

This one is a visionary; see the far-off look? Clearly strategizing about the next big project.

And here is our socialite. Knows how to work a room, and definitely needs to be in charge of community relations.

Oops…do I spy a little boardroom competition? Stare down!

Or just bored – in the room? Talk about sleeping on the job.

This meeting has been called on account of nap time. Welcome to the joys of rescue!

When Forever is Too Short

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.” ~ Winnie the Pooh

Shelby’s story of faith, patience, perseverance and love touched us deeply.

The reward for her surrender to trust: she left Homeward Bound for a forever home of her own.

‘Forever’ turned out to be much too short. Symptoms revealed Hemangiosarcoma; and while Shelby’s new family’s belief in her worked miracles on her emotional wounds – it, sadly, could not heal her cancer.

Shelby crossed the bridge this week – at home. For however brief the joy of her homecoming, she was surrounded by love.

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

Shelby took our breath away. Our hearts break for her family – our fellow Homeward Bound volunteers and friends – whose bravery and strength have been so severely tested. Still, we know that Shelby will always be with them.

For Shelby – we say “Run free, girl. Run free!”

When Every Leaf is a Flower

Gardening was called today on account of rain. Lots of rain.

Despite a couple days of dreariness, the trees and plants are deserving of a good soak after another very long California summer of endless blue skies.

All are bowed in gratitude for a refreshing bath.

With the skies temporarily parted, Jackson and I set out to enjoy the autumn leaves and color that cooler temperatures have finally delivered to us.

Here he is posing. Please don’t laugh at his pointy head. He has a complex about it.

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ~Albert Camus

Now he is pretending that I don’t see him eyeing the big fat duck behind him.

Our start and stop pace for photos is confusing to him. As far as he is concerned, if you’ve seen one pretty tree – you have seen them all. Unless of course, another dog has visited it – or a squirrel sits in it.

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree.” ~Emily Bronte

Tomorrow I will head out to the Memorial Garden to monitor its progress toward winter. Between showers and other duties, I hope to add a little more to the mulch pile. Over Thanksgiving, we plan to get spring bulbs in. Another California advantage – planting bulbs until December.

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ~William Cullen Bryant

Enjoy the color while you can. Winter waits behind it.

Laying Out Grounds

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year” ~ Thomas cooper

We officially cannot stop ourselves. Every visit to a local garden – like the recent outing to the WPA Garden and Old Historic City Cemetery Gardens – provides fresh inspiration and undercuts our well-earned fall rest!

This weekend at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden, Ina got busy laying out the first plantings for the entry-way California Natives Garden.

Wordsworth said: “Laying out grounds may be considered a liberal art, in some sort like poetry and painting.”

Ina’s beds are certainly a work of art with carefully selected blue-green Festuca’s, silvery Artemisia, and the deep evergreen of Ceanothus. Soon, she will add feathery, copper-colored grasses – and who knows what other surprises?

Susan and Jeff are busy picking out bulbs to bring spring color to the tree circle gardens; Jody’s garden is sporting a new Erica Heather addition.

And someone needs to inform the Sunflowers and Daylilies that the season is ending.

Today, we were blessed with hidden bounty: The birds must have taken some pity on us.

The nights have turned cold, and the days short. As they fade, so does the garden color. Everything looks a little more subdued since last week.

As if to brighten up the place, a transport of ten new dogs arrived yesterday at Homeward Bound. The garden was literally overflowing with them! Some, like Sheeva and Chickeeto are still unsure of their new surroundings. You can see the worry in their eyes and tucked tails.

But most seemed to get right into the swing of things. Lovers and huggers include River…




And Champ.

Shadow – an old hand at this – can’t figure out what the fuss is all about!

It was a beautiful day to be laying out gardens with the Goldens. Even the squirrels say so!