Late Summer’s Tiny Gems

After a blazing hot summer, the garden is in that in-between moment when the summer riot turns tiny and quiet until the fall steps forward in all its glory. You have to look closely in a sea of green for the garden’s little gems.

Hummingbird-loving Cuphea ignea.

Butterfly favorites Jupiter’s Beard,


and Butterfly Bush.

The purples and pinks of Pentas,



And Cosmos bespeckle the beds – their large drifts long gone.

Dainty Veronica tries to stand tall,

while bright Rudbeckia hides under the White Orchid tree to escape the hot sun.

Only the Dahlias and Sunflowers dare to be bold.

And if you look very, very closely – you might just find some other tiny little gems hidden in the garden.

But that is a story for another week. Stay tuned.

Perfect Fits

In a garden, it’s important to think ahead about a plant’s attributes, needs, and the space it will fill (not to mention a gardener’s skill). For example: Ina’s green thumb and her grasses…another path lost!


These weed trees (even the arborist couldn’t identify them!) were planted before we arrived on the scene at the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden. Over the course of three seasons, they grew to a height of about 20 feet and they were still headed skyward. Scraggly, branches shooting out in all directions, with roots as big as their trunks.


Without a lot of forethought, a Mulberry, Rosebud and two 20-feet (and growing) weed trees were planted in one garden bed. Something had to go! Ina felled the middle one a few weeks ago; covered it with a black plastic bucket and left it to rot. Since we planned on replacing the one on the end with a pretty “Purple Pony” Flowering Plum, the stump and roots had to go. Three people (thanks Maria and Frank!); two saws; one power tool; and a sledge hammer later…we were ready to plant.


This Flowering Plum variety is a dwarf cultivar and will max out at 12-15 feet. Its flowers will be beautiful in the spring; its deep purple provides the perfect complement to the adjacent yellow and pink roses. The birds will feast on its fruit.


I’m sure the weed trees had their purpose – somewhere else. But they were not a good fit for our garden. Understanding their nature would have spared my aching muscles and their sad end.


With dogs, it is equally important to assess characteristics and personality in order to find the right fit. While we struggled with the tree, a parade of puppies was being taken to the adjacent yard for assessments.


These are the same tiny things I showed you a few weeks ago – now full of spit and vinegar, and ready to go home! To make good matches, we need to understand their unique personalities and temperaments. Do they play nicely;


do they come when called; do they chase a ball…and will they return, or bogart it?


Do they like to cuddle? Or will they squirm if held?


Do they prefer the company of humans or dogs?


You can read about the test and the pups on the Homeward Bound blog (linked here), including a gallery of the individual puppies and a touching video capturing their very first days. Two have been adopted as of today. Ten more to go! We’re hoping for perfect fits for all!

Vignettes from the Garden: May 2013


“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson


“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” ~ Anatole France


The Divine Miss Bea

When Beatrix needed a few days of fostering before her new family could take her, it was easy duty to sign up for. Who could resist this face?


It was really less fostering than babysitting. This little one-kidney girl needed a watchful eye as she healed from her spay surgery, and a little big-dog socialization wouldn’t hurt considering she would be sharing her new home with an adult Homeward Bound alum.


Jackson is our mellow boy; he has never met a dog he doesn’t like so I had no worries at all about him. Despite his serious face, he is a lover, and took to her immediately, acting as her protector –


an ever-present, watchful knight.


Bella is our princess girl. And while she loves and shares with her brother freely, she was unimpressed with this cute little bundle of joy,


and not exactly overjoyed about sharing her house,


her Daddy,


and definitely not her toys with little the brave little Miss Bea.


While Bella generally behaved herself, she was clear that there is room for only one princess in this house!


All of this was good preparation for her introduction to her new big brother, Charlie. Apparently he is as tolerant as Jackson. A good thing for this rascally girl! Puppy got your tail?


It was a gift to have her for a few days. She left behind a mountain of laundry, two exhausted doggies, and took with her a tiny piece of my heart.


Wonderful life, little Beatrix girl.

Down the rabbit hole

If you think plant names are challenging – try coming up with unique and memorable names for thousands of rescued dogs. Lately, we have resorted to “months” – artist month, musician month, etc. This is writer month. Which is how this sweet little girl acquired the name Beatrix Potter.


She is a breeder surrender with only one functioning kidney. That makes her imperfect in a breeder’s eyes – but certainly not in ours, or in the adoring eyes of the family that adopted her today.

It is fitting that Beatrix Potter’s namesake should be represented in the garden today. The author of the Tale of Peter Rabbit must have inspired the return of our bunnies who have tunneled two burrows under our prized blueberry bushes. You might remember that this was the former site of the dreaded blackberry bramble. As fate would have it – the bramble served as the bunnies’ previous home. They have apparently returned to take their revenge!


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


The Memorial Garden is like that. Begun with a desire to contribute to the rescue’s mission, it has taken us down the most wonderful rabbit hole of friendship and extended Homeward Bound family.


Today we met to re-work Randy and Vonnie’s butterfly bed. All but the roses were lost in last December’s deluge.


So we regrouped; raised the bed; and planted a host of perennials for attracting butterflies: Bee Balm, Milkweed, Sage, Yarrow, Coreopsis, Penstemon, Lantana, and more. The bed will be quite a showpiece in a month or so – befitting its position in the center of the garden.


Then, it was time for a doggie parade.


Dressed to impress with colorful collars and leashes donated by the generous folks at Lupine, we took photos to create an appropriate “thank you”.


Some of us were more into hamming it up and cuddles than modeling, but everyone knows that looking good is important to a dog’s self-esteem!


When you look good, you feel good…and you never know where that will lead a rescue dog. Maybe even to a forever home!


How Hot Is It?

You’ve heard of the dog days of summer? So just how hot is it in the west this weekend?

Here’s a hint.

I made a quick trip to the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden this morning to water the fence-line Roses which we didn’t get to yesterday. While I waited on them, I decided to remove the birch tree that we accidentally drowned.

I filled the hole, graded the surrounding area to prevent a recurrence, and cut the water to its companion for a bit. It still has some buds, so fingers crossed please.

Temperature is rising. Too hot to work anymore. What to do? Puppy Play Date!

In the pen next to the Garden were three cuties; two from a litter delivered last January at Homeward Bound.

Puppy Play Dates are a great way to socialize your young one. To ensure that things didn’t get too out of hand, they were joined by Bella, the grown-up in the group.

Come on little pups…I’ll show you how it’s done.

There you go! Now it’s time for a nap…

and dreams of catching squirrels.