Monday, May 31, 2010

Square Feet

In my friend's garden,
orange, blue and yellow grow
with green vegetables.

Peppers hang out with
marigolds and lobelia
and other blossoms

summer squash snuggles
in its silver steel wire cage
butter yellow blooms

purple green lettuce
tomatillos vines climbing
clinging to wood poles

happy sunflower
raises its face to the sun
in my friend's garden.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fave Five

Friday Fave Five
This weekly event is hosted by Susanne.  I appreciate her faithfulness to share FFF with everyone.  Thanks, Susanne!  If you want to know more about Friday Fave Five, check it out HERE.

1. Lovely homegrown roses from a student's (mom's) garden.
A thank you gift

2. Willow loves lavender!
The first cuttings from the newest member of the lavender plant family in my garden.

3. The end of the school year.  Because I work with homeschool students, I don't follow the public school schedule.  This week, we finished the writing classes and my tutoring lessons.  Summer break has begun!

4. In celebration of the end of his school year and mine, The Professor and I met after meetings on Tuesday and enjoyed an hour of coffee and conversation.  This has always been one of our favorite little dates, and we try to get out for our coffee dates regularly.

5. On Thursday, I spent a couple of hours at my friend T's home.  Her backyard square foot garden (Garden Three) was featured in the local garden tour last month.  Before we settled down to do a declutter session, she showed me around the garden so I could see how much the veggies have grown. I love how T combines flowering annuals and vegetables to create a bright vibrant color palette.  Her garden is a feast for both eyes and mouth!

I've shared my faves for the week.  What are yours?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Mystery

This beautiful rose bush

What's its name?

Is it Eglantyne?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Glimpses of a Normal Week

How was your week?  Did the days fly by or were you just plodding along through the slowly moving hours?  It's important to remember with gratitude the moments of your days.  Here are five little events that cheered me up.

1.  Long lasting farmers market flowers.  This bouquet is still freshly blooming after more than two weeks.

2.This hat, which I knitted this week:

 in dark chocolate acrylic yarn
for a friend who is allergic to wool

3. Sometimes the writing class students greatly amuse me.  Three gems from this week's writing assignment:

 A new word (ala Edward Lear who put made up words in his poems)-- factivity: a favorite activity.

 "Everyone but teenagers, because they don't like anything, will appreciate this book."

 "Although your mother may not approve, ask your grandpa.  He'll buy it for you!" (about Captain Underpants)

4. Relaxing at home with a perfect cup of coffee.

5. A Sunday afternoon walk with The Professor up the hill near the local golf course.  At the top, we could gaze over the tangle of cactus plants, beyond the back half of the course below, toward the Santa Monica Mountains to the south.

A word of caution to those who hopefully will be more careful than I--remember that if you are photographing thistles in a stand of cactus, you should look before you step to the side or you might end up stabbing your leg with sharp barbs.

I hope you have enjoyed this little glimpse into Willow's Week.  If you want to join the fun of focusing on your five favorites from this week, click on this link to Living To Tell The Story.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cat Tales

The local habitat at Willow's Cottage includes feral cats.  I have identified three young kitties.  They appeared more than a year ago, a light ginger kitten, a black kitty with a white bib, and also a mostly black calico cat.  Because they started at the same time darting around the cottage, up the bank and across the street and were the same size, we guessed that they all came from the same litter.  But other than that, neither we nor our neighbors have any more information about their heritage.  Ginger seems to be the alpha cat in the group. I caught him (her?) wriggling out from under my house one day.  We were both rather surprised by the other's presence.  I took immediate action to adjust the cover over that little hole since I really didn't want a feral cat living under my house.

Since my own grandcats are quite fond of catnip, I grow a pot of it in my back garden.  Harvesting and drying it, I give the catnip as little feline gifts to Touchy, Hobbes, Temperance and Rufus at Christmastime.

Last autumn, I discovered that the feral cats also like catnip.  They completely destroyed the plant I was growing chewing every leaf and branch and digging up the roots. Those cats!

So I purchased a new plant, moved the pot to a table next to my front door, thinking that proximity to the house would discourage Ginger, Blackie and Calico Kit. And so it did. For a while.

One recent afternoon, as I walked from the mailbox to my front door, I noticed that the catnip that had been nearly ready for harvest was eaten off almost to the roots!  Again!  Those darn cats!  I wondered if they got so stoned that the coyotes or hawks caught them lying around passed out and grabbed them for a quick and easy smoked cat dinner.

Just to be sure, though, I exchanged the catnip pot for one filled with peppermint. Then I brought my poor catnip inside to reside by the back door. There isn't any direct sunshine and it's inside the house, but the catnip seems to be reviving and settling in to its hot house existence.

I saw both Black Cat and Ginger wandering around this week, so either they made it back to their lair before completely passing out, or they found a hidey hole where they could sleep it off before heading home.  Blackie boldly trotted across the front porch, hopped up on the table and started to chew on the peppermint.  Then he stopped, sniffed, sat back on his haunches and regarded the mint with disbelieving eyes.  This was NOT catnip!  Disgusted, he jumped down and huffed off.

Evidently, feral cats don't like peppermint.  Have I seen the last of those cat tails around Willow's Cottage?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another Friday

Another week, another Friday Fave Five.  After eighty-eight weeks of participating in FFF, I still look forward to posting on Fridays.  Thank you, Susanne, for your faithful hosting of Friday Fave Five!

1. There are few things more fun than spending a Saturday with a best buddy doing what we love to do: lunch out, a long walk on the beach, coffee at a newly discovered coffee bar.  While we were sipping our coffees on the outdoor patio, I noticed this:

How cool is that?  A Mercedes-Benz bicycle!  Evidently, the Beverly Hills police use these bikes to cycle around the streets and hand out parking tickets.  The man who owns the bike kindly allowed me to photograph it and try it out and he even took my picture!

2. Just in time for Mother's Day, another friend sent me a lovely package filled with her hand made soap.  She knows I prefer her lavender scented soaps to any others. She has recently developed a formula for  shea butter soap.

3. On Mother's Day, all my children checked in during the day to wish me a 'Happy Mother's Day'.

4. The Professor asked what I wanted to do and I debated, oh maybe ten seconds, before declaring that a drive down Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Gardens Nursery was my idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon in May.

5.  Home cooked meals. Fortunately The Professor and I like eating leftovers which means that we cook only a few nights during the week and then we choose what leftovers (soup, stir fry, crockpot meal) we want the rest of the time.  Because most of our food comes from our local farmers market, we're loving our fresh flavorful meals (even on the second or third days!).

I've  shared Willow's Week with you.  Please leave a comment and share one happy, thoughtful, delightful event in your week. You can also join us at Susanne's blog to link up with other FFF blog post.

Have a happy weekend!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

May Seventh, Friday Fave Fives

Welcome to Friday Fave Five!  Do I state this every week?  Do I say, "I love Fridays because of Fave Five?"  I think so!  Join Susanne and friends at Living To Tell The Story to review the points of gratitude in this first week of May 2010.

This may be a record of some sort in the experiences of Willow's Cottage. I did not take one single photograph all week! Carrying my camera around everywhere, I still didn't shoot one picture. (This is NOT one of my faves.) My mind has been elsewhere.

1. One place my mind has been dwelling is in the designing of a couple of sweaters, including the denim wool remake from recycled wool that I wrote about a couple of weeks ago.  Designing does not come quickly or easily to me so I put a lot of time and thought in to it.  In the end, a friend provided me with a copy of a pattern from a magazine that I have misplaced.  I traded her some dried beans I don't plan to use for her time and effort in finding the pattern.  I have kind and lovely friends.

2. Another place my brain has been is in the future, next academic year, actually.  As we plan our next year's curriculum and classes, my boss/colleague and I have been working out plans and schedules.  One result is that it is clear I am going to need a little home office/desk of some sort.  While I've been searching online for file cabinets, cute storage boxes and desks, I've been looking around the cottage to work out how I'm going to fit a desk in here.  Any ideas welcome! I suppose this can be considered a fave because planning and working out an organizing problem is interesting, if challenging, to me.

3. I love my nephews and nieces!  One of them reached a milestone this week.  He graduated from law school!  I'm so very proud of him and it is reassuring to know there's a 'lawyer' in the family.

4. I had been counting weeks until classes were finished for the school year, and I discovered on Monday that I was one week off. I actually have a week LESS left in the semester than I thought!

5. The Iceberg Rose in my garden continues to bloom.  My quick estimate of the number of buds and opened flowers, based on counting a section of the bush, is more than fifty!  This photo was taken last week:

Willow's Week went whizzing and whirling so quickly!  How was yours?

Sunday, May 02, 2010

More Garden Tour

As promised, I am showing more photos of the Garden Tour.  Please be forewarned that this post is picture abundant.

Garden One is a children's paradise.  The owners have five grandchildren who regularly enjoy swimming in the pool, eating marshmallows roasted in the fire pit and playing in the various small cottages located around the property.

The garden is mostly covered with rocks, stones and pathways.  There are patches of ground dedicated to vegetable plots and citrus trees.  Also spread around the pool and cottages are themed gardens such as an English cottage garden and a native Australian garden. Undoubtedly, those grandparents are sharing their love of gardening with their grandkids.

Garden Two is a quiet and tranquil garden that focuses on unusual groupings of Asian plants.  I love this clump of opaque green reeds.

Even the occasional flowering tree displays unusual blossoms.

Garden Three is a happy garden and full of color (owned and designed by our friends), whimsical yet practical.

The family birds greet every guest with chirps and trills of welcome.

I so enjoyed looking at the three raised bed square foot gardens and discussing them with the owners that I forgot to photograph them.  I promise I'll return and get pictures during the summer as the lettuces, spinach, tomatoes and borage flourish and cover each inch of the beds.

Garden Four is divided in to three zones: front entry, entertaining patio (with outdoor kitchen) and a large sloping back garden.  When you have large side areas to landscape, vinca minor can be a great groundcover, especially if you add other plants for interest and variety.

In order to save water in a dry climate, these owners concentrate on planting cactus and other water saving plants.  I don't know the name of this behomoth.  There are at least three of these giants scattered along the pebble pathways leading down and around the perimeter of this very large lot.

The above photo was rather over exposed in the hot afternoon sun.  Focusing closer on the individual columns of small flowers, I was able to catch the brilliant blue more accurately.  I have seen purple versions of this plant around Southern California, but this is the only place I've seen these cornflower colored ones.

I love Garden Tours. Enthusiastically, I gather ideas and become acquainted with new plants that grow well in this mediterranean climate.  An added benefit is unexpectedly running in to acquaintances as we travel between the various destinations.  The best part, though, is appreciating the beauty and knowing I won't have to do any of the watering and weeding. All the fun and none of the work!