Spring in the Garden with Goldens

Spring has arrived at the Homeward Bound Memorial Gardens. Things are popping up all over, including weeds. We’ve come too far in taming this garden to surrender even an inch. Today’s mission in the garden: eradicate! Since the bed I share with Deb is still is in good shape, my efforts were focused on helping others with theirs. I’m not sure that anyone really enjoys weeding, but it was a great excuse to be in the garden, and in the company of Goldens, on a beautiful spring afternoon.

I wasn’t alone. There were volunteers everywhere walking and playing with Goldens, all enjoying the warm sunshine. It’s so nice to see them wander in and enjoy the garden with their four-legged friends. I met Jim, who has volunteered at Homeward Bound for four years. He is one of those special people who foster Goldens – and has 29 to his credit. There was a great article in the last newsletter (page 3) about how the rewards outweigh the heartache of nurturing, and giving up a Golden to its forever home.

I met this lover boy who is in need of a home. I think his name is Snooky. He is super sweet and very well-behaved, posing so nicely for a snapshot!

I was also introduced to two blind Goldens – one who is a permanent sanctuary dog. The other is staying at Homeward Bound while its mom is deployed. Their resilience and ability to adapt is inspiring. Sort of like our memorial garden…a jungle of weeds last fall, now happily pushing up spring flowers. All it takes is a little time and TLC to bring out the best in gardens and Goldens.

Counting Our Golden Blessings

Our own Bella had surgery today for a ruptured disc on the lower spine. We are grateful for to our very astute vet who believed us when we said she was not right, even though she did not consistently display the typical clinical signs. We were referred to a specialist for a full workup including MRI. The MRI clearly revealed the issue and she went immediately to surgery.  She is, thankfully, doing well, and should come home on Friday to begin many weeks of recovery, including confinement. That won’t be fun for any of us. She has a huge heart for play!

Our vet gave props to us for being willing – emotionally and financially – to do what is best for our pup. We never gave it a second thought. However, I am reminded through my experience with Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary, that is not always the case. Far too often, the result is abandoned dogs – or worse.

We’re blessed that we are in a position to help her without hesitation, with savings to cover the costs, and flexible employers who understand how we feel about the four-legged family members. For those in the unimaginable position of having to surrender their ailing friends, we are grateful for rescue organizations like Homeward Bound and the amazing work they do.

Unexpected Delights in the Garden

Today’s trip to the Memorial Garden at Homeward Bound was purposeful. The task at hand was moving crape myrtle trees from the perennial bed to more fitting homes. While every garden is blessed to have trees, nine crape myrtles in one bed is a little too much of a good thing! I feel good (and tired!) for accomplishing the task, but as usual, the greatest delights are the unexpected things you find in the garden.


Thanks to recent rain and warm temperatures, bulbs are pushing up everywhere…and I encountered my first snake! Welcome to country gardening. We were warned!

This guy looks like he had a pretty recent meal, and he was about as happy to see me as I was to see him!


Volunteer and Dog
Tasha with Summit


But the biggest delight of all was meeting Tasha and Summit. Tasha is one of Homeward Bound’s amazing volunteers. She specializes in working with the older goldens, and today, she was accompanied by Summit, a beautiful 10-year old boy who arrived just a day ago from a shelter in Fresno.  He was surprisingly calm and attentive, considering all the upheavel he has experienced recently. Surely Summit never expected to find himself here at this point in his life. He is lucky to be at Homeward Bound, where their mission is to rescue and heal displaced, homeless and abandoned Golden Retrievers and Golden/Lab mixes no matter what their age or health. I imagine that Summit gave someone many years of love and loyalty. With his big heart and desire to please, I also imagine he will be an unexpected delight for someone looking for a gentle and generous friend. I hope that they find each other very soon.

A beautiful early weekend, so, naturally, I went to the garden nursery.  It took every ounce of self-restraint not to walk out with a car full of items on the planting list. My garden sister assures me that planting this early in the season somehow sends a signal guaranteeing six more weeks of frost. That may be a bit of an exaggeration, but point taken. Patience…patience.

Our Homeward Bound garden leader, Laure, shares regular updates to keep us motivated. Maria has adopted the “Bed Bed” seen here. She plans sweet peas this spring and Sunflowers that she promises will wave to our Dahlias this summer. It will make a perfect country vignette.

Chris has planted a Garden of Whimsy. Susan and Jeff cleared another tree circle for planting, and Peggy weeded the Iris Garden. Ina continues to expand the Cottage Garden, and Dick built a St. Francis House and installed it in the Container Garden.  St. Francis is the patron saint of animals; so fitting for the garden. Finally, Jody has made a special memorial spot in the Birch Tree Bed for one of her Goldens that she recently lost.

Laure marked four of the nine crape myrtles in our perennial garden for transplant. A productive and timely diversion to keep me from plant shopping!  In the meantime, my own Jackson is helping me clear the dropped oranges in our backyard garden! Jackson loves oranges!


Took a late January trip out to the Memorial Gardens at Homeward Bound to see how our weeding stood up to the rain last week, followed by six warm sunny days. To my delight, there were only a few sprouts attempting to poke through our bark cover. They were quickly dealt with.

I ran into a dog-walking volunteer who had not seen the gardens since early fall. She was amazed at the progress. A new Cottage Garden has been laid out at the entrance to the shed. Should create a lovely little vignette and a welcoming path to the beds beyond.

A new board has been installed in the shed, with a list of chores to support the our fellow gardeners.

No Giving Up

Great news this weekend for the Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue Memorial Garden…the irrigation system has been pushed through and approved! It took a few tries, and a very generous donation from one of our volunteer gardeners, but it now appears to be on its way! This simple, but critical element, means that the gardens will truly have their best chance of long term success. In return, we hope they will someday soon, help to generate financial support for the Golden Retrievers waiting for homes.

Perseverance will ultimately pay off – for gardens and for dogs in need of rescue. Today I met Harlow – an incredibly sweet girl who, I understand, is without a home because she was not house-trained.  This loveable Golden is now in need of rescue for lack of human patience and perseverance. I hope she will connect soon with someone who will take the time to help her over this hurdle. In return, I suspect they’ll be rewarded with the unconditional love and gratitude of a very special girl.

For the love of Goldens…

Our eclectic group of volunteer gardeners met together yesterday at Homeward Bound to talk over plans and needs for the rescued Memorial Garden, but mostly to have the opportunity to touch base. We work independently, each of us responsible for our own garden bed. While the results of everyone’s hard work is clearly visible with each visit, we rarely see each other.

We come from all over the valley, with different levels of gardening expertise and strengths. Happily, we have multiple members with irrigation experience. Previous tactics apparently included manually moving oscillating sprinklers. Not only is the method time-consuming, it’s tough on sensitive plants and very beneficial to weeds! A well-planned system along with regular TLC should keep the star thistle at bay for good.

Laure shared that the plea in the Fall newsletter was her last-ditch hope for help after two years of start and stop efforts. Close to throwing in the towel, she was overwhelmed with the enthusiastic response. Even better is the action that followed. The gardens were quickly whipped into shape for the winter, and now sit prepped and ready for spring planting.

Dog SculptureAlong with introductions, we each shared our tie to Homeward Bound – a place where hundreds of abandoned, broken and special needs Golden Retrievers find homes each year. Most of us have adopted; someone fosters; one couple is on their fourth Golden.  Seems like we all know from experience how hard it is to lose our beloved friends. Still, another one finds its way into your heart. We all love our gardens, but this is why we are really here. For the love of Goldens.

Getting Ready

Our volunteer gardening army has grown to more than 20. The progress at Homeward Bound’s Memorial Garden reflects it. Visiting last weekend, I was amazed at how much has been accomplished in the middle of winter. While we desperately need some rain soon in our Sacramento Valley, the dry December provided an opportunity to get the gardens and paths caught up for the winter and ready for spring planting.

Most impressive is the progress made on the entry path and arbor. Entry ArborNow laid, bordered and ready for the memorial stones ready to be placed. The messages tell of the amazing bonds between families and their golden friends. You lose one, and you don’t think your heart will ever heal. And then one day, something furry saddles up beside you, a paw is offered, and soulful eyes pierce you. When you’re ready, the amazing placement team at Homeward Bound is ready for you.

I even see tonight on HB’s website that sweet Jack, who I met a couple of weeks ago, is ready for adoption. I hope he finds the right family soon.