There is a reason why gardeners are increasingly moving to native plants.
Unlike fancy hybrids, native plants are uniquely adapted to their landscape. Having developed over time, they are resilient and well-suited to the available soil, water, and sun or shade.

As a result, they thrive where others languish – providing valuable habitat to others.

Today’s designer dogs are much like plant hybrids. Mixed breeds combined in the hopes of a perfect mix of genetic traits. Bernedoodles are apparently the latest rage: a mix of Bernese Mountain Dog and Poodle.

Unfortunately, these designer dogs bred (and inbred) with limited gene pools by unscrupulous “breeders” run the risk not only losing the desirable traits of each breed but also inheriting health issues and undesirable traits from both sides. The result: Forrest.

Neurological damage. Inability to walk. One leg longer than the others. And seizures.

God may work in mysterious ways – but this is a man-made travesty.

Some would call it collateral damage. I call it a grave injustice.

If Forest’s heart could will his body to heal – it would be done.

This guy – with his tangle of legs and constant right turns – is bound and determined to get somewhere. We’re just not sure where.

It remains to be seen if we have a miracle for Forrest. But we will try.
For Forrest’s sake, help us spread the word. Let Mother Nature be.

She knows best.

Yellow: The Color of Summer

Nothing says summer like the color yellow. The spring garden is full of pink, lilac, blue and white. In the autumn, I want depth: oranges, reds, deep purples, golds. But yellow is for summer.

This shaggy rudbeckia grandiflora thrives and returns each year where others fail. It is beautiful in a chaotic, messy way – as if it couldn’t be bothered to fully dress itself or comb its hair in the morning.

“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” ~ Sam Keen

I gave up on the drama of planting huge sunflowers. The jack in the beanstalk varieties required constant watering and staking for big floppy heads that wilted and dried almost as soon as they bloomed. So much work – and they seemed out of place.

The Helianthus annuus – or Delta Sunflower – is so carefree that you will find it growing along the freeways in our region. It loves heat, makes do with little water, is not fussy about soil, and it is poetic in its profusion of dancing stems.

It feels right at home in our garden. I’m sure the birds miss the giant seeds – but they have devastated the grapes again – so they can make do!

Helenium looks like little Mexican sombreros to me.

So happy and sunny – it should be a painting!

The daylilies spread their short-lived happiness – from sunrise to sundown.

Gaillardia blankets the garden from June until September,

while beautiful bulbine puts in repeat performances in spring and late summer.

Yellow flies and flutters through the garden. On dragonflies –

bees –

butterflies –

even this yellow bird has taken up residence in the garden.

I have not seen it before…a Western Kingbird, I believe.

“How wonderful yellow is. It stands for the sun.” ~ Vincent Van Gogh.

And Yellow Labs, too. 🙂 Meet Carter. He’s looking for home.

Life is Fragile

“It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up, we will then begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

This is how our friend B lived his life…each day to the fullest.
He passed suddenly – unexpectedly – a few weeks ago.
‘Have a good day’ turned into ‘goodbye’ in an instant.

He did not mean or want to leave. Departing a wife, two children, and countless friends with broken hearts. He touched so many lives.

If you saw a Super Bowl, Olympics or even a PGA golf tournament in the past 15 years, you saw his work –
his eye for drama, courage, and pursuit of excellence witnessed through the lens of his video camera.

B got to live his dream – on the field and slopes of some of the world’s greatest sporting events.
He had a rare gift: the ability to anticipate exactly where the action would end up.
Every action but his own.

“Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass, crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze.” ~ Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

In life, you’re lucky if you have one or two really good friends; B was one of my husband’s two best.
Everyone knew him for his love of life, his laughter, his ability to light up a room.
My husband knew this about his friend, and more. He knew his struggles, his pains…his darkest days.
Through adversity, the strongest bonds are forged.

It pains me to watch him struggle with the loss of his dear friend. It will take time and tears until he remembers what B would tell him now…

“Count the garden by the flowers, never by the leaves that fall.

Count your life with smiles and not the tears that roll.” ~ Author Unknown

When Someone You Love Becomes A Memory

When someone you love becomes a memory –
The memory becomes a treasure.

Last July 4th, a miracle named Buster was delivered to us.
He stole everyone’s heart – but he claimed one as his own.
He stayed longer than anyone expected…
but it is never long enough.
To his heartsick human mom he would say ‘remember me with the smile and laughter that filled my days with love.’

“He took my heart and ran with it, and I hope he’s running still, fast and strong, a piece of my heart bound up with his forever.” ~ Patricia McConnell, For The Love of A Dog

When You Just Say “Try”

Every single person that contributes to our mission of rescue is essential and valued. Still, there are some donors whose extraordinary gifts over the years have created an essential foundation for our work. Many had not been to the rescue in a decade or more; so much has changed. Since or founding, our facilities and our programs for the dogs have morphed from buckets and tubs and potty breaks to a fully functioning, more modern operation with enrichment programs to support the dogs. To showcase all – and to show this unique group of donors all that they have contributed to – we hosted them last weekend for a Big Dog Brunch.

The morning began with Mimosas in the garden – made beautiful by the return of my wayward gardeners. It looked magnificent.

Despite an unwelcome heat wave, the roses’ second bloom appeared on cue

along with the Agapanthus,

Bee Balm,

Day Lilies,

Butterfly Bush,

Blanket Flower, Yarrow and Verbena.

From there, we took folks in small groups on tours of the facilities including the in-ground, heated swimming pool, senior yard and sanctuary, vet clinic, kennels, puppy palace, yards and training pavilion.

The volunteers were able to share how each resource benefits the dogs and invited them to demonstrations of swim therapy and playgroups.

At the brunch that followed, each received a small book capturing all of the special projects – a take-home reminder of the impact they have made.

Saying ‘thank you’ is one thing; giving people an opportunity to touch, see, feel – and be touched by – all that they support (hopefully) makes a lasting impact and demonstrates our genuine appreciation.

The garden – like everything they saw that day – was a labor of love. A volunteer effort. Created from dirt and weeds, it – and all that surrounds it – are a reminder of what can be accomplished when you just say “try.”