Hark At The Rain


The most amazing thing happened in our parched Northern California valley: it’s called “rain.”


A gentle soaking rain with moments of sunshine peaking through the clouds…


which turned the garden electric.


“And now, hark at the rain,
Windless and light,
Half a kiss, half a tear,
Saying good-night.” ~ Edward Thomas, “Sowing”

Stormy Sky_IMG_0213

Goodnight from wonderful, rain-drenched California.

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.


Doing our Part

Our garden not only provides a welcome place for rescued dogs – it supports them through donations for commemorative bricks in our Memorial Garden Path and plaques on our Garden Wall.

This is Sally.


This young, puppy-faced dog has already had a lifetime of breeding. Those days are over. Pampering and TLC are our orders for her moving forward.


But pups are not the only creatures helped by our garden.

Monarch butterflies have a symbiotic relationship with Milkweed – their host plant.


A female monarch lays its eggs on a sprouted milkweed plant. The eggs hatch in four to five days producing tiny yellow, black and white banded caterpillars which feed solely on Milkweed. After three weeks of voracious munching, the caterpillar enters the pupa stage and gradually changes into an emerald-green case ringed with golden dots. After five weeks old, the transformation is complete and it emerges as a butterfly.


Two or more summer generations might be produced in the North before the migration begins for over-wintering in the South. Their principal winter vacation spot is Mexico, with some finding warm refuge in Florida, Cuba or Southern California.


Today, Monarchs are disappearing in huge numbers. Their habitat is being lost due to development, overuse of herbicides, climate change and roadside clearing programs. Once common, this beautiful butterfly is on the verge of collapse. We can all help by creating Milkweed “way stations” – which is exactly what we have done in the Memorial Garden.


While it is a perennial, hardy for zones 3-9 – the Milkweed we planted last year did not reappear. So we reinvested and have installed a couple dozen more plants in small patches throughout the garden.


The brilliant Gulf Fritillary, which flourished in our area until the 1960’s actually became extinct in our region.


For reasons unexplained, it made a reappearance around the year 2000. Its host plant is the Passionflower vine – which graces one of the entries to our garden.


The Gulf Frit has a particular taste for the nectar of Lantana, Mexican Sunflower and apparently, Verbena.


It’s no surprise that it has found a welcome home here.


And then there are the bees. Colony collapse is threatening honey bees everywhere. Honey bee pollination is critical for tree nuts, berries, fruits and vegetables. The loss of Honey bees threatens crop production and other species who depend on it as well.


There are many theories surrounding the cause of the disappearing bees, but little certainty. We can support them now by improving their health and habitat – and reducing the things known to be hazardous to both. Give up or severely limit the use of pesticides. If you must use them – avoid applying during mid-day hours, when honey bees are most likely to be out foraging for nectar and pollen on flowering plants.


Plant bee-friendly plants – those that are good sources of nectar and pollen such as bee balm, coneflower, goldenrod, aster, borage and sunflower.


Finally, there are those that we unintentionally support in the garden. Bunnies, lizards, snakes and birds are welcome guests – as long as they keep a respectable distance or don’t eat more than their share. The birds – which have been knocking off the grapes and gobbling them up – may be pushing their luck this year.


They better watch out. I bet we can find some bird-dogs around here somewhere!

Lifting Power

Hummingbirds are considered a symbol tirelessness, perseverance and joy.


The fact that one took up residence in our outdoor alcove was probably a good sign for this week which required the first two qualities in spades and ultimately led to the third.


When one of our previously adopted Reservoir Dogs got loose from his home, our team sprang into action and our community came together. With temperatures unseasonably warm and hovering around 100, there was no time to spare. The call went out through social media for help and our Homeward Bound volunteers answered in force. Social media is an amazing tool in the rescue toolbox, but when your pet first goes missing, there is just no substitute for old-fashioned boots on the ground. Volunteers searched from early light until very late at night, driving, walking and crawling through bushes in parks, cemeteries and alleys. And so it was – at 5:30 on a Saturday morning – that our beloved Michael (now Cooper) was spotted hiding in an alley by one of our volunteers. An hour of so later, he was safely home.


Tirelessness…perseverance…and joy.


There was joy for two other Reservoir Dogs this week – Joshua and Grandpa Buddy went home as well.


Only Hunter remains. It is just a matter of time and right fit for this special boy.


Back in the garden, we have a crisis of a different proportion to attend to: Spotted Cucumber Beetles have invaded.


With the surrounding rice fields flooded and the heat dispensing with the rest of the field weeds, they have come to the garden to dine and multiply.


I read that Tangle Trap in upside down paper cups with use of Oil of Cloves as lure can help reduce the population without insecticides (which would be harmful to our bees, butterflies and ladybugs). If you have any experience with this – please weigh in to rescue our beautiful garden before it is not!








To all of the volunteers who follow this blog and helped in the search…thank you. I’m so proud to be a part of this team.

“It is a fact that in the right formation, the lifting power of many wings can achieve twice the distance of any bird flying alone.” ~ Author Unknown


Rain Glorious Rain


Rain. Glorious Rain.


A Pacific storm – an atmospheric “river” we refer to as the “pineapple express” – dumped a more than generous amount of rain in Northern California setting a record in Sacramento for most rainfall in a 24 hour period. It helped our nearby Folsom lake to rise nearly 3 feet in a single weekend, and the Sierras above us were topped with more than four feet of snow. While we are all soggy and practically swimming in it – we are rejoicing.

Homeward Bound might well be renamed “On Golden Pond.” Our banks have overflown…


And our parched Memorial Garden is a bit under water.


But what a glorious sight it is.




All the dogs got out despite the weather…


and Rocky, Lisa, Zoe and Eleanor managed to get adopted by devoted families that made their way to us despite the downpour.




The trees are practically bursting with joy.


“Rain is grace; rain is the sky condescending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life.” ~ John Updike

These Pacific storms – which have been absent all winter – typically deliver about a third of our annual rainfall. While this one only puts a dent in our deficit, it is a welcome gift and a hopeful sign of good things to come.



So many have shared a prayer and a rain dance for our golden state. Thank you.


Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.”

Hopes Planted

The skies teased us this weekend.


Dark clouds moved in, raising our hopes for rain. But a sprinkling was all Mother Nature had in store for us.


Days like these are perfect for curling up and napping, dreaming of the warm months ahead – and that’s exactly what the garden is doing.


If you look very closely, you’ll find the tiniest treasures under the blanket of grey and brown…





including these two sweet faces…



And this wonderful pair of dogs who have been cared for by a generous neighbor in a house left vacant after the owner died.


Just four of the 10 dogs – all treasures – who found their way to us in a single day.


“Hopes are planted in friendship’s garden where dreams blossom into priceless treasures.” ~ Author Unknown.

We’ll do our best to fulfill our treasures’ hopes – and keep very busy until the cold subsides and the rains (hopefully) arrive.

Brought here, by you

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” ~ Beatrix Potter

Gardens for Goldens passed a small milestone this week; 1,000+ followers. When I began this blog two years ago this month I envisioned a simple journal of our efforts to create a place of peace for Homeward Bound’s extended family while hoping to inspire a love of rescue. Through the process of chronicling the garden, I have been blessed to be joined by all of you.

You’ve shared in watching the garden grow from vision to reality…


and in the delight of seeing dogs go home. Yesterday, it was Shaggy Bao – a Old English Sheepdog masquerading as a Golden. He came all the way from Taiwan with his amazing two-colored eyes to find his forever home.


Sometimes, we share in sorrow. This week, it was Sarge, who passed unexpectedly and quietly without a hint to us that it was time to say ‘goodbye.’


Despite the sometimes difficult times, there is a tremendous sense of joy and purpose in what is accomplished here. From seeing new arrivals like Amber,




and Maggie coaxed into trust,


to creating a place of quiet and contemplation.


Another blogger I follow described a garden as a relationship…between a person and a bed of soil. For me, the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden and Gardens for Goldens has been about a relationship with all of you. And I am better for it.

“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” ~ John Ruskin

Thank you.

Grey Skies

Saturday, the skies turned dark, thunder clapped, and we were treated to a brief downpour – unseasonable for us this time of year. The garden is loving it.


With the cooler temperatures and extra drink, everything burst forth in bloom.



The light was different and the colors more subdued – but beautiful bathed in warm grey.


Love the sound of these wind chimes in the rustling trees. My idea of church.

I’m really pleased with how these drifts have developed.


Inspired by something I saw in Fine Gardening magazine, and purchased as 3″ plants from Digging Dog Nursery, they have grown to full size in one season and now provide a bridge from Ina’s Cottage and California gardens to Maria’s Herb and St. Francis beds.


I was very pleased to meet this gentleman as well.


His name is Renji and he is a total charmer. Wish he were mine! I suspect he’ll be scooped up quickly.

I heard a story on the radio today. Jerry Saltz, an art critic for New York magazine was talking about Jackson Pollock, the painter. When he made his first famous drip painting, he supposedly turned to his wife and asked: Is this a painting?

That’s how I feel about these. ‘Are these photographs?’ Or simply disasters?



I dunno. Something made me save them from the ‘delete’ folder. Maybe someday, my disasters will be as sought after as Pollocks’ drips. A girl can dream.

The sun will be back tomorrow…and you know where you’ll find me.


Orange is a warm and happy color – more intense than Yellow and less aggressive than Red.


In color meanings, it is positively associated with gregarious, exuberant, youthful, adventurous, and creative.


A little Orange energizes. Too much orange can feel overly flamboyant, loud and crass.


Orange in nature is associated with heat, fire, sunsets and sunrises, and of course, autumn.


In crystals, Orange is a power and healing color. It stimulates appetite as well as enthusiasm and creativity.


To Native Americans, Orange represents learning or kinship. In Eastern philosophy, the Orange Chakra is in the abdomen and the creative center.


It was also the source of ridiculous jokes as in “Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?”


Orange in the garden is sometimes criticized as too bright and garish – not tasteful. But I think orange brings life to a garden. I use it at home to create tropical heat or add brilliance to an otherwise dark space.

Orange Leonotis leonurus

We use spots of it in the Memorial Garden to add warmth while accentuating other colors.


From deep, near-red burnt Oranges,


to the more fragile Salmons and Apricots…


you’ll find every shade of “Orange” in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden.


Orange you glad you stopped by?

Welcome Relief


9:09 PM. 94-degrees.

Today is supposed to mark the end of a seven-day stretch of 100+ temperatures in the Sacramento Valley. By some miracle, we are supposed to get to a high of only 95 tomorrow. Someone, please grab my parka!

The flowers in the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden are more than ready for some relief.


Pups too. This is Bailey. She’s hot.


This lucky dog has found his relief; not just a shady spot, but a long-awaited home.


Tom came all the way from Taiwan and has been with us awhile. He’s another dog with sight impairments,


but he has no problem following his ball, does he?


He is going home with Kevin next week. A former adopter, a veteran, a man with an obvious passion for this well-deserving dog.


Kevin says he knew the minute he saw Tom that he was the one. He has visited with him constantly while waiting for a family commitment to conclude before Tom can go home.


They both obviously look forward to that day. We look forward to a breeze,


and a much-needed break from this sweltering heat!


Here’s hoping for our promised 95-degrees and a 12 mph breeze. Wind chill of 92 anyone? We’ll take it!