As we put hundreds of bulbs into the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden for next spring, it was time to raise the summer ones for winter. With more than a week of rain in the forecast, it was time to lift the Dahlias that delighted us for so many months.

To protect them from frost and rot, they will be dried, stored in vermiculite or sand, and then divided next spring, so we can grace the garden again next summer and fall. The space looks so empty, but beneath it waits Allium bulbs for a late spring/early summer show while the Dahlias get started again.

With everything dying back now, I drew a map of the Perennial and Hummingbird beds, so I would remember where everything is. An overlay of tracing paper indicates where the bulbs are planted. Now I have only one problem. Space!

Ina was right. No more plants! My shopping days are over. I swear.

From Whence They Came

Ina shared with me that the beautiful Asters spilling over the Cottage Garden section of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden are actually second generation from the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery. I have lived a stone’s throw from the cemetery for years, but it took a plant scouting trip to finally inspire me to visit. I can’t believe what I have missed.

The Sacramento City Cemetery was established in 1849 with a donation of 10 acres by Captain John Sutter. It follows the Victorian Garden style, and is the final resting place of more than 25,000 pioneers, immigrants, their families and descendants. Among the first interments were over 600 victims of the 1850 Cholera Epidemic.

Today, the cemetery covers 44 acres. The grounds are maintained by more than 100 volunteer gardeners, and a small army of the Sheriff’s friends doing a little community service. An Adopt a Plot program was instituted to help restore and preserve the grounds. This is the structure that finally got our Memorial Garden moving forward. Pride of ownership inspires commitment.

There is a lengthy list of approved and forbidden plants – which allows for variety while ensuring consistency across the acres. The Historic Rose Garden section is also home to some of California’s most noteworthy roses. Unfortunately, most of these were no longer in bloom during my visit – but the perennials more than made up for it.

The Perennial Garden in Hamilton Square was my first destination, and it did not disappoint. The Asters were quickly spotted. They dotted the landscape, overflowing their confines –

including this striking White Aster.

Sages surrounded touching groupings of family stones –

Butterfly bushes grew as large as trees –

and beautiful combinations of foliage and color.

There are many varieties of Sage,


and even Cactus – unusual for these parts.

The deep yellow Rudbekia reaches skyward,

and compliments the blue Plumbago.

But the perennials and plantings are not limited to certain sections. They are carried throughout – turning a short trip into a long stay. I imagine this stone beautifully enveloped in Geraniums must belong to a one-time gardener.

In every corner there is a different find. Ajania Pacifica…

fragrant Lavender…

still blooming Coneflower…

blazing orange Lantana…

and this well-behaved Morning Glory.

Not sure what these mystery plants are…perhaps you can help:

On my way out I stopped to talk with and compliment four of the volunteer gardeners. “You should see it in spring,” they said. I will definitely be back.

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!

What the Garden Attracts

You know the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden is getting better by the sheer volume of visitors we are getting now – two legged and four.

Vonnie and Randy were out early to tend to their Butterfly bed. Vonnie has a new rule which is my favorite: “Come out to do your garden, and work on two others as well.” After weeding and dead-heading their bed, they weeded the Tree Circles and part of Jody’s bed.

We have seen many white butterflies, but few of color or spectacular display. Bemoaning their absence, Vonnie and Randy installed two solar cousins along with the ornament that already graced the garden.

The additions apparently established a welcoming tone – attracting the real thing later in the day.

Pat joined us early as well. She is a dog-walker volunteer who took a shine to our project, and graciously offered to help out. After a walk-through, she graciously weeded Sue’s Grandma’s Garden bed.

Maria arrived mid-morning with a long to-do list. Top priority was leveling some of the settled stones, and planting more of the Elfin Thyme.

What awaited in her Sunflower bed was a grand surprise; a gigantic sunflower measuring a foot across!

A family was getting acquainted with Raffy as a possible adoption. I’ll need to update you later on the status, but they certainly looked good together!

Peggy and Steve came to work on their Iris Bed, installing a scarecrow, and a string of fun dog toys. We hope the scarecrow will send a message to the finches. If the dog toys disappear, I don’t think we’ll be able to blame the rabbits!

In keeping with Vonnie’s new rule, they pitched in on multiple projects; dead-heading the roses, pulling crab grass from the Willow Garden, more weeding of Jody’s bed, and help with the stones and thyme planting. Being a guy, clippers and trowels were not enough for Steve, who quickly wielded an ax on some troublesome roots. When we last left him, he was using the ax to weed. It’s a guy thing.

We had more four-legged visitors than I can remember or had a chance to write down. Mosh and Marie (read their story here)…

Judy with Cisco…

And these Golden beauties:

Trishkin was our last visitor. He is a Sanctuary dog – which means that due to his health issues, he will have a forever home at Homeward Bound. Such a sweetie.

It’s been a long time since we had so many hands at one time in the garden – not to mention paws. We got so much done, that I was actually able to spend time in the Perennial and Hummingbird beds for a change.

There is an old Spanish proverb which says: “More in a garden grows than what the gardener sows.” That was certainly true at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden today.

Thanks to everyone for pitched in or stopped by. It’s great to see you in the Gardens.

Thanks for Sharing

I don’t know which someone(s) linked our blog to their Facebook page, but we wanted to say…

It was our biggest single day for traffic. It’s great to share the chronicle of our Memorial Garden with others; it’s even better when it helps to spread the word about the good work done at Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary.  From what I hear, they have their hands full with the arrival of nearly 20 new dogs this week.

I took the opportunity to bridge the weekend with the 4th of July holiday for five days off of work. Two of them spent in the Gardens working with Maria. I don’t know how many loads of dirt I moved to level out ruts in the paths, but my feet might be able to tell you:

On Monday, we met a whole new group of dog walkers and dogs, including Goldie,


and Isis.

Funny. The dog walkers are just as camera-shy on the weekdays as they are on the weekend. Maria too. Can you spot her here?

Everything else was happily showing off. Bunnies…

birds nests…

and this beauty from the rose garden, which unfolds from deep yellow with a hint of orange, to bright yellow, and then a pale cream.

These country garden beds look so bright and full right now, especially since the Crape Myrtles came into bloom. With luck (and many more loads of dirt and mulch) we’ll have the paths and grassy areas looking equally as good this fall.

On behalf of the many dogs waiting to be adopted at Homeward Bound – thanks for visiting and sharing our blog with others!