Winter, January 2013

Our house- entrance to the vegetable garden

Our house- entrance to the vegetable garden

It is now winter, 2013, January 7th.  What is lacking in color in the landscape surrounding our house in its dormant, twiggy clothing of browns and greens, was smashed open by a sunrise in brilliant orange and pink fading to every shade of lavender and salmon. There was no other world besides sky.  The dark outline of the hills served only to frame the stupendous show. The unaccustomed color brought back memories of summer, which was a brilliant one indeed. Below are some highlights of the areas of expression:

Melissa Garden summer 2012, the former lawn with annual sunflowers nepeta, calamentha, lavenders and caryopteris

Melissa Garden summer 2012, the former lawn with annual sunflowers nepeta, calamentha, lavenders and caryopteris

The Melissa Garden   The garden is so different each year.  The main Melissa Garden determines its own future by what annuals decide to seed themselves between the perennial plants. This year the wild annual sunflower, Helianthus annuas, the Delta sunflower sprouted magnificently on one side of the garden, small sprigs becoming 6-10 foot explosions of the sun- and attracting native and honeybees all summer. No shirking beauties these, they bloom from mid-summer until the fall rains begin. In the other side of the garden, cleome in pink and purple shades hovered like colored mist.

Melissa Garden, a haze of cleome

Melissa Garden, a haze of cleome

 

In the former lawn garden, the annual sunflowers also created a domination of yellow.  We thinned out a number of them, so they wouldn’t take over the garden, leaving enough to create an overcast hue of yellow over the delicate blues of lavender, nepeta, caryopteris, and the white froth of calamentha. Huge spires Verbascum olympicum and Helianthus giganteous and Helianthus hirsutus add to the uplifting feeling.

View over the vineyards from the tasting room terrace at Lyn Mar Winery in Sebastopol.

View over the vineyards from the tasting room terrace at Lyn Mar Winery in Sebastopol.

Lyn Mar Winery   This year was deeply hued, with smears of orange cosmos and tithonia, deep burgundy amaranth, purple, frilly, redbor kale, purple cabbage, yellow sunflowers, bronze fennel, purple cleome, orange quinoa, and as an accent, white cosmos.  The whole composition was a perpetually singing opera outside the tasting room doors. The planting was filled with honeybees, native bees, beneficial insects and finches all summer, almost every plant contributing to the profusion of life.

An explosion of bronze fennel and amaranth at Lyn Mar Winery in Sebastopol.

An explosion of bronze fennel and amaranth at Lyn Mar Winery in Sebastopol.

A colorful bench at Lyn Mar Winery in Sebastopol.

A colorful bench at Lyn Mar Winery in Sebastopol.

Amaranth, redbor kale, tithonia, sunflowers, ornage cosmos and purple cabbage

Amaranth, redbor kale, tithonia, sunflowers, orange cosmos and purple cabbage

The old truck was devoured by a confetti of gourds, morning glories, cobea and  mina lobata this summer.

The old truck was devoured by a confetti of gourds, morning glories, cobea and mina lobata this summer.

The English Garden at Lyn Mar Winery, a favorite hidden retreat.

The English Garden at Lyn Mar Winery, a favorite hidden retreat.

Stone Edge Farm   The borders of Calamentha are one of the main summer attraction for honeybees there, the visitation of them easily audible. This engaging and giving plant in the mint family has copious nectar production from mid-summer through the fall, and requires no care of deadheading until winter.

Prime summer honeybee nectar forage

Prime summer honeybee nectar forage

Shokawah Casino in Hopland    We renovated the landscape at the casino this summer turning it into a six-month long explosion of color greeting guests- from the highway on 101 around the sign, to the front entrance of the casino.

The entry garden at Shokawah Casino greeting guests with uplifting color.

The entry garden at Shokawah Casino greeting guests with uplifting color.

Our House    We had several projects this summer at our house and nearby at Terra Savia Winery.  We planted 200 hop plants there to test them for possible production. Hopland, until the 1930’s was a local center of hop production in the fertile river valleys until economics drove production mostly up to Eastern Washington.

An experimental hop patch at Terra Savia Winery in Hopland.

An experimental hop patch at Terra Savia Winery in Hopland.

We also planted a large garden of winter squash and pumpkins, using many heirloom varieties from Baker Creek Seeds.  Some of the highlights were a number of varieties of Japanese pumpkins, small pumpkins with yellow flesh, delicate flavor, and the most exquisite sculptural form. Banana squash also did extremely well, growing to gargantuan size.  Spanish pumpkins and Italian rugose butternut squash, the most delicious of all, also did well.

Winter squash and pumpkins from our garden at Terra Savia Winery.

Winter squash and pumpkins from our garden at Terra Savia Winery.

In our home garden, we grew giant pumpkins for our grandson, Jace. He wrote his name on his in his finest script. He also helped us harvest our giant cabbage. The greens continue to be a mainstay for us- Japanese, Italian bitter chicories, a kaleidoscope of chard, kales, spinach, and collard greens.

Our grandson Jace with a giant cabbage from out garden.

Our grandson Jace with a giant cabbage from out garden.

The borders and plantings continue to grow in size and floriferousness.  This year we have begun clearing out some over-mature roses, invasive Heliathus giganteous and fruiting mulberries.

A naturalistic composition of perennials, shrubs and trees creates a feeling of place at home.  All are habitat plants.

A naturalistic composition of perennials, shrubs and trees creates a feeling of place at home. All are habitat plants.

Chickens   This spring I ordered chicks from Murray McMurray.  We now have a beloved flock of a number of mixed varieties of hens: cuckoo marans, wyandottes, cochins, golden campines, lakenvelders, araucanas, ever evolving.  The chickens have the run of the vegetable garden this winter and are de-snail and slugging it. They eat some of the greens but there is plenty for all of us.  Their favorites are the pac choi, broad leaf chicories and orange chard.  Their eggs are deep orange and extra good.

Spanish pumpkins and delicious heirloom tomatoes in our garden.

Spanish pumpkins and delicious heirloom tomatoes in our garden.

Our beloved dogs, Louie and Millie- at work.

Our beloved dogs, Louie and Millie- at work.

 

 

 

 

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