Amaranthus: Prince’s Feather
As Long As There Are Dogs
We have had four full fall seasons since we began our effort of building a Memorial Garden for the dogs and volunteers to enjoy. The garden continues to evolve as foundation plants mature, and the more temperamental succumb to our ongoing drought.
Season One was full of overflowing Zinnia’s and Dahlias.
Season Two was the year of Rudbeckia, huge Mexican Sages and gigantic mums.
Season Three delivered towering Sunflowers and Amaranthus.
Missing this year altogether are the Dahlias, Amaranthus and beautiful purple Basil which never took hold. The Rudbeckia and Zinnias passed through half-heartedly; the Mexican Sage, herb garden and mums are but a shadow of their former selves.
“Despite the gardener’s best intentions, Nature will improvise.” ~Michael P. Garofalo
Still, we have some constants: the roses,
Ina’s magnificent Asters with divides now populating the entire garden,
our faithful Yarrow,
flowing Fountain Grass which somehow survived the winter,
the return of tiny frogs,
Maria’s harvest-inspired decorations…
And dogs. Always dogs.
Going home this weekend: Jenny,
As long as there are dogs that need to go home, there will be a fall garden at Homeward Bound –
in one form or another.
Land of Giants
I don’t usually have a great luck starting flowers from seed. Maybe it is my impatience – or just bad luck. But this spring, inspired to help out the bees, I found a “no-GMO” mix of bee-favorite flower seeds and sprinkled them in the Hummingbird garden where I thought they might thrive. Some Cosmos and Borage surfaced. Little did I dream that the few little sunflowers seeds in the packet would sprout these towering giants – now completely out of place in the small Hummingbird bed.
I planted Amaranthus as I did last year. These fast-growing plants with their pearl-like flower reached only about a foot last summer.
I thought they would be a pretty addition to the annuals section of the iris bed. This year, they look like small trees and are completely ridiculous in their space.
They would look even sillier, if it were not for the gigantic sunflowers that Maria placed behind them. Most of her sunflowers this year are a bit shy on growth. But not these jack-in-the-beanstalk monsters which tower over everything in the garden.
We had to put her on a ladder to give a true sense of their height.
Sometimes big is just too big.
Same for this pup.
When Ned arrived, he weighed in at over 95 lbs. and was experiencing seizures. A charming young woman named Lesley chose this giant ball of fur as hers to take home and care for.
Over the course of a year, she helped him to lose more than 20 lbs. through better diet and exercise. In the process – he also shed the seizures.
She wrote a lovely letter to us sharing their journey. It seems that in rescuing Ned (now Chewie) – Chewie rescued Lesley and was her support through a very tough year. You can read her story here.
Giant size…sometimes too much.
Giant heart…never enough.
Kiss of the evening sun
I arrived late to the garden on Saturday – after lending a hand with the dogs’ last evening run. Peggy had been out earlier in the day. She is a weeder-extraordinaire and her work was evident everywhere.
She happened upon a Killdeer egg. These silly birds have a nasty habit of leaving their eggs in the walk-on bark. The mama bird seeks camouflage – without consideration for the fact that this is a walking path. Peggy surrounded it with rocks to alert all.
Evening is my favorite time in the garden. It is especially beautiful – and peaceful –
as the sun lowers on the horizon and casts cool shadows after a day of baking sun.
“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.” ~ Dorothy Frances Gurney
Eve got a last walk through the garden. Blind – or nearly blind – and clearly a recent mom – she had been found wandering on the road. I wonder if this sweet girl knows how fortunate she is to have arrived here.
By morning, Peggy’s noble effort had been undone by some predator.
Luckily Mama had moved another to a safer hiding spot.
Our work starts anew.
“If the world could remain within a frame like a painting on the wall, I think we’d see the beauty then and stand staring in awe.” ~ Conor Oberst
First Hint of Fall
Every year I prepare for our annual ocean camping trip over Labor Day weekend. It’s how I know that Fall is near. The Memorial Garden seems to sense it too…earlier this year.
The Obedient Plant in Ina’s Cottage Garden is making an appearance.
Maria’s Sunflowers are showcasing shades of gold and red.
The grapes are sun-kissed ripe and wonderfully sweet,
and the Sedum has flowered.
The tiny drifts planted last spring have sprouted a new fountain…and its guest.
And the Amaranthus, started from seed, is spreading like deep red pearls throughout the Perennial bed.
Even Sequoia is dressed in fall colors. This sweet girl was surrendered by a family that loved her dearly, but happened to live in a grove of Eucalyptus trees that she is horribly allergic to. No amount of medication could help, so they entrusted her to us to help her recover and find her a home where she is pain (and itch) free.
I’m not sure that I am ready to say good-bye to summer – although I am very ready to leave the stifling hot valley for a week of ocean air, cold nights and campfires.
The garden – well it does what it will in its own time – ready of not.