A Garden’s Friend

As dog is man’s (and woman’s) best friend –


I find that Lavender is the garden’s. A loyal giver, and a hard worker – it offers much to its surroundings. Its strong sturdy stalks support delicate sweet flowers.


Its soft blue grey goes along and gets along with everyone.


It rebounds well from adversity, spreads heavenly perfume…


expects little, and gives a lot.


Happy to be a supporting player –


but fully capable of leading the charge.


It is a perennial friend…


and a gracious host to all.


Lavender. Friend to the garden. Qualities to emulate with friends.

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” ~ Dalai Lama

Elfin Magic

There are elves among us.


I don’t know where they hide, but they leave their mysteries and mischief all over the garden.
Bunnies that rearrange themselves to better smell the flowers…


beautiful sayings that magically appear in the beds…


stepping-stones crafted by small hands…


wind chimes and bird houses that find their way into trees…


and trees that are mysteriously deposited without so much as a note.


Can anyone identify this tree so we know what to do with it, please?


Each week, they leave little surprises in the garden to bewilder and bemuse. And gifts…they bring us gifts.
They brought us sweet, sugar-faced Hudson with his ever-outstretched paw,


And darling Nikki, also recovering from surgery.


They delivered Winston to us, with his crazy legs that go every which way but forward.


And magic. With barely a drop of rain and little water, they still manage to bring us flowers…






and butterflies.


There is elfin magic here.


“The universe is full of magical things, patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” ~ Eden Phillpotts

If only for a season

At the rescue, people and dogs pass through our lives. Some we know only for an instant; others stay on for years. Each makes a special impression – often in often unforeseen ways.


I was touched and honored this week when a woman reached out to request a copy of a “going home” day photo I took earlier this year. I remember the day so clearly. The woman was 80; the dog she chose was also in her sunset years. I will never forget the look of sheer joy on the woman’s face and devotion on the dog’s. The connection was instant; captured in the click of a shutter.

While she and the dog are both in good health, she is making her final plans so her family will be spared that responsibility when the time comes. She would like the photo to be present at her parting because it “reflects so much of my life.” I cannot share the photo here as she wants to keep her plans secret for now. But I told her I would happily provide prints – which I hope she will not need for a very, very long time. I had no idea that our simple meeting would present such a gift to each of us.

In the garden, some blossoms last but a season –


others return year after year.


Annuals fill in when perennials take a much-deserved rest.


What would this Feather Grass be without Amaranthus?


Or the purple of Barberry without the compliment of Cosmos?


Or summer without Sunflowers and Dahlias…though there stay is always too short.


With new volunteers, you’re never sure if they here for a moment, or will return season after season.


They require the same amount of initial nurturing and care – an investment of time and effort, and a bit of a leap of faith – not knowing how long someone will stay. Yet, you never know what gifts they have to share.


I have tried on lots of different volunteering opportunities in my life. In fact – I tried on Homeward Bound years ago. It was the wrong time to be the right fit. I wasn’t even an annual; I lasted about as long as a cut flower. When I returned three years ago, I found my place. And it found me. I want to continue to be a welcoming “perennial” – finding room for, and appreciating, those that come in and out of our effort – even for a short while.

“Some people come into your life for a season, because your turn has come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. But only for a season.” ~ Ritu Ghatourey

Brown is the New Green

This summer, it seems the weather forecast is always wrong. Friday was 110. This weekend was supposed to hover near the century mark. Instead, someone ordered up a breeze and clouds. Rainless clouds. But clouds, nevertheless. We have been surfing temperature waves all summer. Peaks and dips. They are taking their toll on the garden.


The USDA declared a drought disaster for California, now listed as being in “exceptional drought.” Fires are breaking out everywhere. The forecast calls for a warmer than normal September through November. While our friends in the east endure soggy – we sizzle. And pray for rain.

In my favorite public gardens, you will find casualties of city-imposed water cutbacks.


Brown is the new green.


In our Memorial Garden, we have reduced our water use by nearly half.


We’re fortunate to have established trees to provide more shade…for the plants – and the dogs!


The soil contains a good amount of clay to hold the moisture in…and drought tolerant plants combined with heavy mulching have kept the losses to a minimum.


In sharp contrast to the brown, dry dog walking paths at Homeward Bound –


is this strange sight: the lush green of flooded rice fields which surround us.


Don’t ask me to speak with authority on this embarrassment of riches. Apparently, if you are a farmer high enough on the water rights ladder, you have the option of paying dearly for the water you use (up to ten times the usual rate) or letting your fields go fallow and selling your rights to someone else.


Those that are less fortunate are on long waiting lists to dig ever deeper wells – hoping and praying that the ground water will be replenished this winter with rain. If not – we are all in a world of hurt.


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” ~ John Muir

Brown is beautiful and all of that. But please send rain.