Perennial Progression

Here is another in the series of garden bed transformations at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.

When we read about the need for volunteer gardeners in the Homeward Bound Newsletter last Fall, a group of us showed up to see and select “beds” that we would assume responsibility for. It was a little hard to find the beds! This is how the Perennial Garden began.

Soon to be garden
The (very loose) vision. We wanted a palette of intense color, breaking every garden design rule.

Garden Watercolor
Work gets underway.

Tulips surprise us in early March, poking up through the bark that keeps the weeds at bay.

Planting day finally arrives in early April after rain delays. The plants looked pretty puny in nearly 400 square feet of space.

Two weeks later.

In May, the plants are loving the moisture-retaining clay soil. Deb installs branches for Dahlia stakes in anticipation.

Things are filling in. Watch how the flooded rice field in the background changes over time.

Early June; not looking so puny anymore!

Mid June. Still waiting on the Dahlias, but the Coneflowers are magnificent. Look how the rice field has turned a brilliant green.

And July.The Dahlias have arrived, joined by Delphinium, Bee Balm, Coreopsis, Cosmos and a few Zinnias that snuck in.

On the other side you can see the Yarrow, Dianthus, Lavender, and Salvia.

And on the corners, Verbena and Gaillardia. OK…so maybe we went a little crazy this year.

All in all, not too bad for a first year effort. Just imagine what next year will bring!

Mid-Summer Update

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

In the hot Sacramento months of July and August, the garden is best tended to in the early morning and early evening. I snuck out to the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden late yesterday afternoon and early evening to get some of our weekly heavy lifting done, knowing that Sunday would also be over 100 – and that Maria, my Sunday gardening partner, refuses to quit as long as there is something more to be done.

So today, with the weeds largely beaten back, the deep watering done, and the heat turned to ‘high’, we enjoyed a more relaxed pace in the garden.

Our newest volunteer, Pat returned this weekend (yeah!) and did an amazing job of dead-heading all of the roses along the fences. She claimed to be a novice at the task, but with a little instruction, that is no longer the case! This is a zen-like, but time-consuming job – so we are very grateful for the extra hands.

Pat is a dog-walker, soon-to-be-adopter.  She lost her own Golden a bit ago, and is now ready to open her heart to another.  Well almost.  She has a trip planned in the coming weeks, but after that, she’ll be on the hunt. In the meantime, she is afraid to look, for fear of falling in immediate love. We’ll keep her busy in the garden until the time is right!

I swear we have magic soil in this garden.  Things grow so quickly and brilliantly in these beds.  We found this gigantic Johnson grass weed hiding in the Daylilies. A week ago it was small enough that its blades were camouflaged.  A few days later, its height has given it up as it towers over the bed’s rightful occupants.

This sprouted in the Willow Garden since last weekend as well. I have no idea what it is, but the larger stalk is already a foot tall. It looks like an Amaryllis, but this is not the right time, or place for that…and two stalks? (Magic soil?) I’m sure that it will reveal its identity to us soon, but if you know, please advise!

The grapes have begun to ripen…

along with the apples and pears.

The birds are enjoying the seeds of the spent sunflowers in Maria’s bed, while new and amazing blooms still appear.

The Bee Balm is thriving…

the neighboring Coneflowers are the beneficiary…

and Jody’s garden is on its way to ‘full and tranquil.’

No Goldens visited us today. Too hot. They were happy to go out for their walks, jump in their pools, and take their wet bodies inside to the air conditioning! Can’t say as I blame them!

I laughed, however, as I watched Rob try to coax two new arrivals into posing for pictures. Imagine how strange and nervous these pups feel when they first arrive. They don’t know that picture-taking is just one of the steps on their road to a new forever home. Rob is one of the dedicated Homeward Bound team members that I see almost every weekend working with the dogs. He has a special “dog-whisperer” way with the ones who need the most help. The many volunteers like him make me proud to be a small part of this special place and mission.

NBA Draft Day Close-ups

It is NBA Draft Day, an official holiday in my house. In other words, I might as well be invisible. So I took the opportunity to make an evening trip to the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden to get up close with some of our blooming friends – beginning with Deb’s first Dahlia’s of the season…

Susan and Jeff’s Miniature Dahlias…

Maria’s Sunflowers,

Vonnie and Randy’s Roses,

Sue’s Marigolds,

and a host of others:

Next up…wide shots of the garden as the sun sets. Y’all come back now.