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Friday, 14 September, 2012 Go West Quick Takes

Better Coast Quick Takes

1. Recently I seem to have caught a raging case of “West is best,” a weird form of homesickness, if that’s what it is. I am pretty darn acclimated to the East Coast and my life is here now. I don’t feel driven to buy plane tickets and head back, but I would like to point out all the superior things about California and specifically the Bay Area that I currently miss:

Picking blackberries

2. The wild amaryllis (or “naked ladies”) that bloom every year around the time when school begins again:

3. Real hills. Everywhere.

Crockett, CA photo taken yesterday. (See, the sky is often clear in CA.)

Above the color late summer; below the color of late spring.

Walnut Creek/Lafayette, CA taken from Mt. Diablo.

Suddenly when I look at the CA pictures that pop up in my facebook feed, I am really struck by the hills for the first time in my life. When I lived in the Bay Area, the hills were beautiful, but unremarkable.

4. Redwoods

5. And manzanita

6. Fog that pools like the sea between the hills

via flickr.com

Aaand

7. Superior drivers’ education. No, really. After having my life repeatedly threatened this week, both behind the wheel and on my bike, here are 4 items taken from the CA drivers’ handbook (DC doesn’t put out a drivers’ handbook, so that explains a lot) that based on my observations, DC drivers are unclear on:

-Obey all traffic signals

-Yield to traffic and pedestrians already in the intersection or just entering the intersection. Also, yield to the vehicle or bicycle that arrives first, or to the vehicle or bicycle on your right if it reaches the intersection at the same time as you.

-Pass traffic on the left. You may pass on the right only when:
• An open highway is clearly marked for two or more lanes of travel in your direction.
• The driver ahead of you is turning left and you do not drive off the roadway to pass.

-Treat a bicycle lane the same as other traffic lanes.
• Do not turn into the lane if there is a bicyclist in the bike lane.

Right                                  Wrong
Vehicle properly passing a bicyclist.                  Vehicle improperly passing a bicyclist.

Just saying.

Read more Quick Takes at Camp Patton this week!

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Friday, 31 August 2012, 7 QT’s Garden After pictures

Almost a year ago when I started this blog, I was going to convert the wilderness that was the  back yard at my house into a reasonable approximation of a garden.  10 months later…

1. The back garden before

Fallen tree obscuring the right hand corner of the yard – March 2012

and more before

The other side of the yard before

I wish I had taken more thorough “before” pictures.

2. The back yard “during”

It has been a long road fraught with obstacles to get to “after” pics!

What happened the last time I was (almost) ready to post “after” pictures:

Hard to tell, but this is the same angle as the original before picture

and

3.  Ta Da!

The path to the back – August 2012

On the garage roof: my veteran geranium, zinnias, Italian parsley (apparently this is the spot it likes), snap dragons. I have ambitions fill the edge of the roof in future.

The back yard – August 2012

This is my best “overview” shot. That vague shape of mulch is my path and everything on the outer edge is a bed.

From the other angle

I have ambitions of encouraging the moss in the center so much it becomes a moss lawn. That brown patch in the front was an experiment with buying sheet moss – didn’t work, sheet moss is definitely dead.

The Tour

4.  heading straight ahead from the path behind the garage, first

Vinca and the blue column

The vinca is a “found” plant – I didn’t plant it, just encouraged it. Also pictured: wild violets, current bane of my existence.

And

Cyclamen

which I hope will be hardy outside.  Not pictured because it’s dormant, I planted a bleeding heart on the other side of the column. There will be snowdrops, bluebells and daffodils in the spring, too,  if I’ve managed not to disturb them too badly this summer.

5.I planted hostas in the right-hand shady corner, against the back fence and under the pretty but highly invasive trumpet vines, that I am tolerating.

Blooming hosta

Ferns and begonias in the left hand corner

The bamboo is creeping back over here

6. Annuals along the lefthand side of the fence – this is the only consistently sunny side of the yard.

Zinnias and ageratum (floss flower)

Next spring, I will plant some chrysanthemums in the ground in this spot and fill in with summer-blooming flowers.

7. Here’s my little “raised bed” – the food section of the yard

Veggie corner with Cana lily

I can’t figure out how I want to hang/install my wine bottle tiki torches which is why they are dotted all over the yard.

Tomatoes and a pepper (in black pot) – I’m afraid they’re not going to ripen, though

and

A little patch of nasturtiums, courtesy of my sister

And bamboo on the garage wall brings the tour full circle

More Quick Takes over at Conversion Diary. Happy Friday!


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Monday, 27 August, 2012 The Garden After – part one

I think I’ve delayed long enough, it’s high time I started posting “after” pictures of the garden.

So, here we go:

Here’s the herb/flower patch “before”

March 2012

In this case, I feel the “before” pictures are a little unfair. There’s just not much that’s planted in this bed that comes up in the spring or is evergreen. And everything I’ve added will be gone next spring too.

Nonetheless here are some current shots of that same area.

August 2012

In pots: tomatoes, alyssum (not currently blooming), a 3 plant mixture at the top of the stairs and the purple flowers by the railing (lower pic only) purchased at the hardware store – names not known, purple basil (!) and there’s lemonbalm (lower pic only) hiding off in the upper left corner. In the ground, from left to right: basil (x 3) and some pathetic parsley (not the spot for it), oregano #1, green onions, in the back zinnias, more oregano with some spearmint pushing through, a marigold, another zinnia, rosemary and over by the gate some bachelor buttons (also not blooming and apparently not very happy.)

From a different angle

This bed is in a happy stage of growth. Because I started everything late this year, it seems many of my plants are at a late-June stage of growth here in late August. I don’t mind so much, except it means I may not see more than the two tomatoes pictured ripen all the way.

I’m really liking the pairing of the zinnias with the onion flowers. Something to do again next year.

I’m still very proud of getting rid of the trash can that used to stand back there.

Way before