Front Door, Back Door

Kate at Our Red House tagged me to share the views from the front door and back door of Rosehaven Cottage. She mentioned that when she was tagged she felt a bit embarrassed to show her "ordinary" views in comparison to the person who tagged her. Well, I have to say that I was feeling the same way (which is why I didn't post these earlier).

But I'm being brave and posting the two views anyway.

Front Door View

The shade in this photo (sorry about that) is because the front our house faces east-southeast and unless I photograph on a cloudy day the light shining right in the lenses or the house is casting a shadow across half of the front garden.

Anyway, the gently curving path is lined by assorted rocks that I found in a pile that was buried under composed fallen leaves in our back garden when we first moved here. The previous owner had been a rock collector, and I found his rock pile! It was a wonderful find.

The path is pea gravel so it's nice and crunchy when we walk on it to go and get the mail from the mailbox that sits under the pergola tucked in the vines of the Red Japanese Honeysuckle on the right. Our Princess Diana Bower Vine grows up the left side.

Incidentally, both vines came with us from our apartment patio in pots when we moved here. The pergola and picket fence were already here with just bare dirt for a front garden. I knew the vines would be perfect next to the pergola. It was like the house was just sitting here waiting for us and our transplants.

Back Door View

The back of our house faces slightly west-northwest. The only door to the back garden is on the southern end of the house so the view from the back door is only of the flagstone leading up to the fish pond. We will be doing more construction of a deck over the next year or so which is why there is an expanse of sand and dirt before the flagstones. The deck will help connect the house visually with the back garden. We are really looking forward to the day when our contractor tells us its our turn in his queue. You see, good contractors are hard to find and good ones have long waiting lists. After almost 8 years of hard lessons in renovation and remodeling, we're perfectly willing to patiently wait for a good one.

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The Miracle of the "Elsie Poppies"

If you haven't read the post
"The Poppy Seed Experiment",
reading it first will provide the context for the following post.

Left: The packet of Shirley Poppy seeds that were dated for the growing season in 1970.

After sowing the seeds from the above packet back in February, and subsequently writing about them and their significance, I have waited and waited to see if the seeds would grow. I had already determined that if they did grow and bloom, I would dub them "Elsie Poppies" after my Grammy (the original owner of the seed packet).

In our region of the U.S., seeds can go in very early in the year since we usually don't have frost after the last of February or early March. Poppies are really happy in our climate if they're given an extra headstart, so that's why the seeds went into the ground in late February. That way they would get the benefit of the spring rains to help them germinate.

I watched and watched the bed where I'd sown the seeds. Soon I saw little sprouts coming up that looked like they might be poppy seedlings. I couldn't be sure if they were the Shirley Poppies though because there was a chance that they could be Red Oriental Poppies or some other volunteer poppy from others I've had in the garden previously. I realized that I would just have to wait until each plant actually bloomed to see if they were indeed Shirley Poppies. If they had a black center, then they were Red Oriental Poppies. If they didn't, then they were Shirley Poppies.

So I watched and watched some more. Finally, last week they started to bloom! I have hesitated to post. Why? Because none of them had black centers and I'm still in awe. They all had light centers! They are Shirley Poppies... ahem... "Elsie Poppies"!

There are some things in life that can only be classified as miraculous. I count this as one of them. Seeds that were 38 years old sown into the ground still remembering their purpose and mission is a miracle to me. Somehow inside those tiny black specks were the instructions that made these beautiful blooms possible.

What is more miraculous for me is that these seeds were purchased by my Grammy. She had hoped to put them into the ground and see their lovely blooms so many years ago. But instead, the seeds weren't sown until 38 years later, and now I am enjoying the blooms that my Grammy would have seen had she planted them. There is a poignancy to this reality that I can't quite find the words to express. The only word I can use is "miracle".

And so, I share with you the "Elsie Poppies" from my garden. They are small, but they are beautiful. And they are really here! And you can bet that I'm definitely collecting the seeds from these precious blooms.

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Secrets of My Sweet Peas

Two years ago, I planted sweet peas in the large pot next to our front door. It gets lots of morning sunshine so it's good for sweet peas and morning glories. When the blossoms were spent, I let the sweet peas go to seed and then collected the seeds into an envelope.

This year, I found the seed envelope in the bottom of my seed tote. It had fallen down into the deep recesses of the bag, and I had promptly forgotten about them. Upon discovering them back in January or February, I decided to poke them in the soil and let them sprout.

I discovered the first blossoms from those sweet pea vines late yesterday afternoon. When I went to photograph them today, I realized that I don't remember the previous sweet peas (from which these seeds came) being a deep blue-purple. I remember them being in light pastel shades of white and pink.

Okay... I know the genetics and breeding of certain flowers often result in the seeds from a flower not producing the same color blossoms as the parent plant. Could this be what has happened with this batch?

Then I noticed another blossom on the vines that was even more puzzling. I know I didn't have any two-colored sweet peas in previous years--especially deep purple ones with delicate pale yellow edges!

I don't know how it has happened. I'm certain that some horticultural expert out there could probably give me a more educated answer as to how.

But sometimes the "how" isn't as important as "it happened".

And for a lover of all blue and purple flower, this serendipitous delight is a real treat. So let the sweet peas have their secrets.

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After the heat is over...

After the heat is over as the sun slips over the western horizon and the moon comes peeking through the branches of pomegranate blossoms...

...the garden remains awake and alive for every last second of light.

The bees take their last sips of water at the pond's edge to take back to the hive where they will rest for the night.

Oreo, the garden kitty, emerges from her cool napping spot that has kept her protected from the day's scorching heat.

She patrols her garden before nightfall, pausing to take a little drink of refreshing water from the pond before she moves on to sniff all the smells she missed during her daytime slumber.

Although it is getting dark soon, the bougainvillea are happy after having soaked in a good dose of heat and sunshine throughout the day.

The Bells of Ireland stand green and cool as if the heat didn't even touch their corner of the garden. Green and lush reminders that spring was not so long ago, these bells must be quietly tolling the day's end for only the garden to hear.

The Japanese Water Iris in their stately purple robes stand majestically against the twilight in the western sky.

The deep cool tones of blue and purple will soon be mirrored in the summer night sky.

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The Intrigue of Artichokes in the Harvest Basket

With records temperatures hovering at over 100 F (38 C), there isn't much I can do in the garden. The San Francisco Bay Area is under a health advisory because of the heat that is upon us. Even if I could stand working in the heat, it would be extremely unhealthy to do so right now.

I ventured out this afternoon despite the oppressive heat, to top off the pond with water so that all the critters that use it as a water source have a plentiful supply of cool water to drink. Since I had to wait for the water to finish, I decided to fill the harvest basket with this year's harvest of artichokes.

I don't know why I think artichokes are so visually intriguing. I wrote about them last summer in my post "The Beauty of Artichokes". With this year's harvest in my basket, I had to take the time to photograph them again and try to capture all the things that make them such a fascinating form to my artistic mind.

In the past, I have photographed the artichokes while still growing on their thick silvery blue-green stalks. I haven't ever harvested the artichokes all at once. Instead, I usually ask Hubby if he feels like having artichokes for dinner (he's the only one that likes them) and then I go out and harvest the biggest and nicest one or two. Usually, the artichokes are staggered in size because the start at different times and don't grow all at the same pace. But this year, they are all coming to their peak at the same time, coincidentally, right before we are going to see friends and family tomorrow that might also appreciate some artichokes.

That's why I had a full harvest basket of artichokes to photograph. And I'm so glad I did because I'm finding their forms even more intriguing en masse. I hope you all will agree. I think the way the light highlights and shadows the petals and layers of each artichoke is captivating. As I mentioned in my previous post about artichokes, who was the first person to discover that these odd looking blossoms were edible. That person must have been extremely hungry! To me, the artichoke looks more like a succulent cactus than a vegetable. But for artichoke lovers like my Hubby, they are a delicacy not to be missed.

Now the harvest is soaking in covered bowls of cold water in the kitchen sink. Since I'm an organic gardener, there are quite a few critters that hide in all those nooks and crannies of the intriguing artichokes--mostly earwigs and ants. After a good soak out of sight of Hubby (who gets a bit squeamish), this harvest will be ready to be steamed or given away to friends and family tomorrow. In the meantime, I can enjoy them in the way I love best--photographing them.

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A New Restaurant Review

We just posted our latest restaurant review over at the Rosehaven Cottage Health, Wellness and Food blog.

Please head on over to take a look at the great new place we discovered that may actually have a franchise in your neck of the woods--Elephant Bar!

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May's Parade of Roses and Blooms, Part 2

May is the month of roses here in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens, particularly in the front garden where most of the rosebushes reside. Over the next couple of posts, let me take you on a photographic tour of our front gardens in all their May splendor. All the color makes this one of my favorite times of the year.

Above: My Dover Beach bearded iris is a late-bloomer this year compared to the rest of the bearded iris,
but I'm glad it is so that I can enjoy its cool blue loveliness all by itself.

Above: One of my favorite flowers is the biennial foxglove with its leopard-spotted throats and tall stems.
I first remember seeing them growing in the landscaping along the queue at Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction, and foxgloves have always reminded me of Disneyland ever since.

Above: Little touches of white blossoms are garden essential, in my opinion.
Right now the My Fifi rose (left) is covered in petite white blossoms and looks far more mature than
I thought it would be since it just joined the garden as a bareroot in early 2007.
Over the past 8 years, the Princess Diana bower vine (right) has draped itself
all of the front pergola that welcomes visitors to Rosehaven Cottage.
I brought it in a pot from the apartment we lived in before coming here. This bower vine has become a symbol of the act of putting down roots somewhere and finally having a home of our own.

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May's Parade of Roses and Blooms, Part 1

May is the month of roses here in the Rosehaven Cottage gardens, particularly in the front garden where most of the rosebushes reside. Over the next couple of posts, let me take you on a photographic tour of our front gardens in all their May splendor. All the color makes this one of my favorite times of the year.

Above: Oreo, the garden kitty, sits on the stepping stone path between the My Fifi rose (left) and the Cherry Parfait rose (right).

Above: The Irish Creme rose is a rose that loves cooler temperatures so it does better in the shadier part of the front garden.

Above: This lovely rose lost its name tag, and I have been unable to reidentify it properly. Anyone recognize it? It looks a lot like my Angel Face rose that it the same age but not as ruffly. I think it had something like "mystic" in the name.

Above: The Gold Medal rose seems to glow in the sunlight.

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Lucy Update

At about a week shy of 7 months old, Lucy went into heat on Sunday.

Unlike all our other kitties, Lucy's spay operation had to be put off for many months due to her fragile state early in life. Her harsh beginnings made it so she has battled wheeziness, itchy ears, and runny eyes for a large portion of her small little life. About a month ago, things started to clear up enough that we thought it was about time to make the appointment with the vet. However, she's such a skinny thing, we wanted to wait a little longer.

Well, on Sunday evening when she started uncharacteristically going around the house chortling and then performing "kitty arias" to anyone who'd listen, I knew she had gone into heat. None of the males in our home are intact so all her carrying on was for naught. She was particularly interested in gaining the attention of Tom Tom and "flirted" incessantly--rubbing and showing off her spotty leopard tummy.

The vet was called first thing Monday morning, and first thing Tuesday morning, little Lucy was off to the vet with Hubby at the wheel. Hubby reported that she was extremely well-behaved in her carrier with not a yowl or peep during the drive to the vet. Her operation went well and now she is back home in her carrier and rather groggy but still bright-eyed as usual.

Oh... before the surgery, Lucy got officially weighed at the vet. Lucy weighed in at 5.5 pounds! That's pretty good since at her last visit (when she was 8 weeks old) she weighed in at 1.5 pounds. She's the most petite cat we have... and the spunkiest.

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