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Happy Holidays from the Garden

As the year 2013 winds itself down; I reflect on what was an interesting year and one which I am going to remember for many reasons. I close the year with a few lingering uncertainties; yet, I plan to begin the New Year with a positive outlook, walking (finally) on two feet, and in general good spirits. I look forward to a great year to come.

Feliz Navidad!

Feliz Navidad!

Of all the happenings this year; it is the broken ankle that I think will live with me the longest amount of time. Not just the scar; which will serve as a reminder that I am not immune to injury, but just how humbling an injury like mine can be. I have always been a confident; sometimes to a fault, person and all to often ‘caution to wind’ was a recurring mantra; however, I am learning that ones journey through life should indeed be fun and free-spirited, yet the paths should be tread carefully and with more than the moment at mind.

Ouch! However, getting much better.

Ouch! However, getting much better.

I always look for silver linings in everything and from the ankle injury came the realization (or reminder) that I have a very strong and resilient personality when I set my mind firmly on a specific goal or task. This was definitely the case with my rehabilitating the ankle to regain as close as I will likely get to full range of motion following surgery on October 5, 2013. It was not without A LOT of hard work; including, exercise, maintaining a proper diet, following my doctor’s advice, and a non-stop regime of at home physical therapy and indoor cycle training as soon as I was cleared by my physician.

With hard work; rewards often follow. My reward: Getting the bike back on the road on December 15, 2013 and already putting about 70-miles behind me!

Il Toro~Blu again stretches her legs and runs!

Il Toro~Blu again stretches her legs and runs!

Dec. 23td Ride; I Am Back on the Road!

Dec. 23td Ride; I Am Back on the Road!

The garden continues her slow transitioning into a dormant land of hopes for next year’s garden. A few stubborn holdouts refuse the call to sleep and dot the patio with glints of bright color here and there. Mainly, my primrose plants continue their blooms unabated by weather and cold temperatures. The primrose must be being kept warm and happy by the lone Dragon still in residency on the patio!

Winter Primrose

Winter Primrose

Blue Primrose provide lovely dots of needed color

Blue Primrose provide lovely dots of needed color

A hardy Dragon lurks the Patio

A hardy Dragon lurks the Patio

Interestingly enough; I also have one lone strawberry that is trying her best to ripen! As far as a harvest, it might not be much to write home about; however, a tasty treat would be welcome if I can get it before Mr. Squirrel does!

Almost!

Almost!

Shutting the door on another year; I am thankful for many things: My wonderful family of course, the few good friends I am blessed with, my general good health, and of course, my sweet cat; Miss Gretchen. She has definitely made my apartment feel like home and rekindled some very needed energy that was lacking in the home.

Miss Gretchen stalks her outdoor lair!

Miss Gretchen stalks her outdoor lair!

Until next time….

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~ Noah

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…Oh my!!

Scarlet Pansy greets the morning

Scarlet Pansy greets the morning

Sunday for me is generally my day to get the household chores done, work on the garden, go grocery shopping, and then plan out the work week ahead over dinner. Today; however, was not one of those days at all!

Today, I woke up early, made a fresh pot of my favorite Fair Trade Dark Roast coffee, and began getting ready for my day. My first stop this morning was the garden. The garden in the morning; with a piping hot cup of coffee in hand, a cool seat beneath me, and an explosion of colorful flowers all around me, is easily one of my all-time favorite spots to be in the world. It is eerily quiet here in Oakland at 5:45 a.m., the only sounds are the distant whir of traffic on the freeway a quarter-mile away, the breeze rattling the leaves of the bamboo forest which stands as the privacy barrier the chain link wouldn’t, and a couple of critters scurrying around on the hunt for their morning’s repast.

A field of Scarlet greets my patio entrance

A field of Scarlet greets my patio entrance

As much as I am enjoying my coffee, I know that if I want to get done today all that I have planned, that I must venture back indoors to get ready for a bike ride. I push for Lake Merritt early, I shoot for 2-laps before the inevitable hoards of local residents descend upon this beautiful lake to enjoy a day of walking, jogging, biking, boating, or just people watching and a nosh!

It wasn't cold; however, a snowflake or two was present

It wasn’t cold; however, a snowflake or two was present

I have recently gotten back into cycling after a 20+ year hiatus from any type of riding. At a coworkers suggestion, I bought a 2012 SE Draft single-speed road bike (56cm) and have been riding to work nearly everyday instead of driving the short trip that separates my apartment from my office. It was not long after purchasing the new Pirate Ship (my old ’97 Ford Probe being the original) from my ex-wife that I realized I had fallen into a “drive everywhere” frame of mind. The store is 3-blocks away, down a beautiful residential street lined with lovely gardens in full bloom, yet I still drove! That had to stop, much of the inspiration and motivation for my patio garden came from walking to work and seeing something in someones garden that I just had to find at the nursery. In came the bicycle, realizing that I didn’t want to drive everywhere (plus, with gas prices these days!) and that I could definitely benefit from putting exercise back into my regular routine.

Big, bright, beautiful Crimson Primrose brighten my day

Big, bright, beautiful Crimson Primrose brighten my day

2-laps around the lake (6.2 miles and change) later and it is time to get the golf clubs ready and get changed for a lazy round of 9-holes at one of our local municipal courses. Golf is another sport/game (?) that I played often but had fallen out of playing regularly after leaving my job in the City and moving to the East Bay. I decided that I would pick up another set of clubs (Craigslist to the rescue) and get back out on the fairways every now and again. Today reminded me that I need A LOT of practice! Oh well; like they say, your worst day on a golf course is almost always better than your best day at the office!

Profusion of Pacific Giant Blue Primrose

Profusion of Pacific Giant Blue Primrose

I am now home and I am exhausted! I’m thinking that dinner will involve a call to Lanesplitter’s Pizza and an order a two of their HUMONGOUS vegan calzones, delivery please. One of their calzone should do it for dinner and I will enjoy any remains from #2 for breakfast or lunch tomorrow.

I end the day as it started, looking out on the patio. Now the afternoon sunshine is giving way to the shadowy light of the early dawn. I am too tired to even open the sliding glass door and venture outside to enjoy the last of today’s daylight. No, now I am seeking only the comfort of the couch and continue to fight off my body’s suggestion to ‘lay down and take a nap, old man!.’

Before I close the lid on my laptop for the evening, I share with you some new friends who have joined my family of  plants. A recent trip to the nursery ended when I found the following two members of the Primula family. The newbies quickly bloomed and are now providing a happy, yet muted, splash of pastel color to my indoor space.

These dainty little beauties now enjoy the view from the window box in my living room (they replaced the much adored; however completely spent indoor primrose). The Primula are joined in the window box by a little known member of the Aster (Asteraceae) family; Cineraria ‘multifloral mix’. The Cineraria have yet to set flowers; so for now, enjoy the Primula (apparently she is a dainty cousin of the Primrose).

Primula

Primula ‘Embrace Mix’

Primula 'White'

Primula v. acaulis ‘White’

Say Goodnight Gracie, good night!

Say Goodnight Gracie; ‘good night!’

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~N0ah

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As I was preparing to leave for work yesterday morning, I glanced out through the sliding glass door onto the patio and was compelled to wander outside; Work? Meh; work can wait a bit, right?

The doorway to my personal paradise

The doorway to my personal paradise

This was the vision which beckoned my attention away from the short bike ride to the office and to instead wait a while and enjoy the outdoors for a spell – can you blame me?

Hmm, the planter looks alive this morning!

Hmm, the planter looks alive this morning!

I think it was the ridiculous vibrancy of the Purple Supernova Primrose that first caught my eye – I had to take a closer look…

Purple Supernova Primrose

Purple Supernova Primrose

Granted, the primrose are indeed lovely and their flowers are much larger than I recall my previous primrose varieties growing; however, there was more…

Supreme Clear Scarlet Pansy

Supreme Clear Scarlet Pansy

Yes, there was definitely more! Such as the rapidly increasing population of Supreme Clear Scarlet Pansy which are now dotting my patio and providing an amazing splash of the deepest scarlet color I remember seeing in a flower! All that I have in response to their beauty would be; ‘Good job Mother Nature, good job!’

Closer view of the Scarlet Pansy

Closer view of the Scarlet Pansy

If all of that wasn’t enough, my attention turned again, this time to behold the forming armada of encamped Majestic Giants II – White/Blotch Pansies, poised to strike happiness upon any soul who stumbles upon their lair

Majestic Giants II – White/Blotch Pansy

Majestic Giants II – White/Blotch Pansy

I really could not have expected that I would get this much color, in such incredible combinations, not to mention the sheer number of flowers as are currently gracing my little corner of Oakland! Yet, still there were more…

Helen Mount Viola

Helen Mount Viola

The Helen Mount Viola have begun to explode into being and to produce; in a dizzying array of vibrant violets and golden yellows, their signature bi-colored blooms. I thought to myself; ‘Certainly, that must be the limit of a couple of week’s old starters from the nursery, right?

Nope (not Chuck Testa), these Crimson and Yellow Primrose!

Nope; (it wasn’t even Chuck Testa); it was just these Crimson and Yellow Primrose!

By now, I realized that I still actually have to go to work! As much as I hated the thought of leaving my new mini-paradise found; the bills need to be paid, the cat fed, and the plants nurtured, which dictated that I should concentrate on keeping the day job! The garden will wait for my return.

My travel to work was swift – my Christmas present to myself – a 2012 SE Draft bike, makes for a much nicer (and faster) commute vs. walking or driving and trying to find parking! Yesterday, the Gardening Pixies must have been smiling down upon me;  instinctively sensing that I did not want to leave the tranquility of my secluded garden for the chaotic reality that is my job, and provided a lovely surprise upon my arrival to work.

As I pushed my bike into my office, there was something new… a reminder, a reminder that beauty can be anywhere and everywhere. You just have to be open and to look for it, it can show up even on the desk in your office…

My 2.5 year old Poinsettia; red bracts ablaze!

My 2.5 year old Poinsettia; red bracts ablaze!

The poinsettia flowers emerge

The poinsettia flowers emerge

Well friends,  I hope that you all enjoy your Thursday! There are only two more days until the weekend is back upon us, affording us with the opportunity to go play in the dirt, just like when we were kids!

Some say that you can never go back again… I beg to differ, a garden can bring you where ever you want to go… and right now, I want to go back again!

Is it 5:00 p.m. yet?

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~ Noah

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Well, all except for the cleanup!!  Today,  was primarily spent finishing up the refresh that began last week, seriously got down to business yesterday with the new plants going into their new homes, and wrapped up today with the transplanting of a couple of existing plants into their new homes for the season.

I will wait until the patio dries up a bit to get the overflow dirt and plant/planter debris that is leftover from the weekend’s work cleaned up and return the patio back to its neat orderly self! The plants that were transplanted into new containers are; Ms. Jade, Mr. Big Boy Avocado, and the Pennisetum. And, here they are enjoying their new digs!

Ms. Jade's New Home

Ms. Jade’s New Home

Big Boy Avocado's New Home

Big Boy Avocado’s New Home

The Pennisetum upgraded to the Avo's old container

The Pennisetum upgraded to the Avo’s old container

The new plants have been repositioned around the patio – of course, their final positions may change depending ultimately on how they like their new environs – we will see; however, for now, they are good!

The patio refreshed

The patio refreshed

Two of the newly replanted boxes enjoy the mid-day sun

Two of the newly replanted boxes enjoy the mid-day sun

Planter #3 enjoys his new perch

Planter #3 enjoys his new perch

The 4th planter (round planter w/ new primrose/pansy) join the euphorbia and peace lilly

The 4th planter (back (l) w/ new primrose/pansy) join the euphorbia & peace lily

Even the snowflake seem to have perked up w/ the refresh!

Even the snowflake seem to have perked up w/ the refresh!

Now, I move on to planning Phase III – which is something I have actually been planning for a long time – an overdue and very much-needed cosmetic makeover. I have spoken with the property management company, and they are fine with me doing whatever to the patio – they have seen the garden and understand that I will be tasteful and will likely add value to the property.

The Scarlet Pansy seem happy!

The Scarlet Pansy seem happy!

So, what are my plans for Phase III? You know, I am really not sure, I just know that the patio’s hardscape needs refreshing too. The only thing that I am sure of is that it will involve paint; however, that is as far as I have gotten on that front! Any and all thoughts, suggestions, and tips are welcome!

Have a wonderful rest of your weekend everyone!!

Today's Parting Shot: Purple Supernova Primrose

Today’s Parting Shot: Purple Supernova Primrose

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~Noah

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And So It Begins...

And So It Begins…

Phase II of the Garden Refresh!

Some of you may recall my post of last week; I had finally come to the realization that after 2-years in the garden, my flowering plants had given their all, it was time for a refresh. Nothing that a quick trip to my local neighborhood nursery couldn’t solve and I returned with a bevy of beautiful new flowering plants to bring spring into the garden a little early this year. Not wanting to rush them into planters for the instant gratification of color which I may or may not be happy with later, I instead got down to the process of figuring out what to plant with what and where to put the planters when done?

Yep, those look nice

Yep, those look nice

I am glad that I went with the urge to try something new this time; actually thinking about how the plants would work together. Paying attention to which color combinations I thought complimented each other, are the plants shade tolerant or sun lovers, and finally taking the plants potential size when mature into account (something I missed last year) to hopefully ensure happy results for the long term.

Getting closer!!

Getting closer!!

I really loved the profuse flowering of the plants on my patio over the years, so I decided to stick with basically the same families of flowers as I had; Primrose, Snapdragon, Pansy, and Viola. This years color palette is much brighter and I hope will make a more striking display. That is the thing about plants, gardens, and flowers – – only time will tell, I can only guide. I definitely targeted colorful options to try to achieve the biggest bang that I could with few bucks that I have!

Getting the planters ready

Getting the planters ready

Out with the Coleus - in with the color

Out with the Coleus – in with the color

I must say that I am pleased with the efforts thus far. I completely uprooted three of my 29″  x 8″ x 5″ planters, which formerly contained my June bearing strawberries (will be picking more up sometime this week), my ornamental strawberry (fragaria x. lipstick), and the last remaining vestiges of the prior snapdragon plants. The snapdragon and June bearing strawberry were totally spent – bereft of life, they would flower / fruit no more! The ornamental strawberry will be replanted once I get everything situated a little better – he currently sits in a pile of soil – definitely not dignified (sorry guys!).

Planter #1

Planter #1

Planter #2

Planter #2

Planter #3

Planter #3

Planter #4

Planter #4

As usual, one day just wasn’t enough to bring the vision to fruition and I still have a number of things left to do tomorrow. The rescued Jade plant needs to be transferred into their new Redwood planter box, Mr. Big Boy Avocado needs to be transplanted into the larger pot I bought for him, and then I need to clean, clean, clean! I will of course share more photos and information as I get more done; however, for today, I got as much done as I am going to do.

I leave you with a trio of close-in photos of  a few of the patio’s new additions that are in glorious bloom.

Today’s Parting Shots!

Supreme Clear Scarlet Pansy

Supreme Clear Scarlet Pansy

Majestic Giants II – White/Blotch Pansy

Majestic Giants II – White/Blotch Pansy

Purple Supernova Primrose

Purple Supernova Primrose

So, until next time…

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~Noah

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Mayan Apocalypse – asmockolypse!! Welcome to the  New b’ak’tun baby – or as I shall humbly refer to it, the New Year 2013!!

Day One: 364 to go!

Day One Down: 364 to go!

With 2012 now just another old calendar heading for the recycling bin and 2013 12-new pages of various images to look forward to, I look both back and forward on this the first day of the new year.

Blooming Primrose Welcome In 2013

Blooming Primrose Welcome In 2013

2012 was a pretty good year overall – my job is great and I love what I do! I was given the gift of being able to provide a home to a wonderful 8-year old cat and we have bridged the early challenges of her new living situation. When I moved to my apartment here in the Adam’s Point neighborhood of Oakland, CA, I was wholly not confident of my ability to make it on my own. It seems that I have always had someone to help me make it – for many, many years that person was my ex-wife, she would manage the books and ensure that we were making it from month-to-month. After the divorce, I spiraled out and ended up taking a 3-year State sponsored vacation thanks to my inability to do the right thing. When I came home, I quickly found another partner and after 2-years – nearly one of living together – it became apparent that it was not the right time for us to be together, hence the move to my apartment. I had no idea how to manage a budget of my own – I can balance a large Corporation’s departmental budget to the penny for years with ease; however, my personal philosophy on life and my own finances had always been something along the lines of: “What do you mean I’m broke? I still have checks left!”.

New growth welcomes the New Year

New growth welcomes the New Year

Well, it has been 2-years now that I have been on my own and I must say that I have surprised myself in my ability to manage just fine. Deep down, I knew that I could; however, it was always easier not having to and the easy path has been an M.O. of mine for a long, long time. I guess I needed to finally take the proverbial “left turn at Albuquerque” and manage it on my own, if for nothing more than to prove to myself that I could. Now; at the start of a new year, I am for the first time in a long time not worried about the next step – I have the right gear within me for any hike, so now, I just get the enjoy the journey!!

Bright and Happy Things Are Upon Us!!

Bright and Happy Things Are Upon Us!!

So, what’s in store for 2013? You know, I really don’t know and I am not going to worry about it or plan too deeply either. I have learned that often the best vacation or road-trips that I have taken were those that were not rigidly structured, the itineraries and paths were made between the destinations. I have a great job, I have a handful of great friends, and usually a couple of cold beers in the fridge – what more could I really need?

The kale are still adjusting to the New Year

The kale are still adjusting to the New Year

So friends, welcome to 2013 – another 365-days to explore everything and nothing at the same time – it should be a fun adventure, can’t wait to share it with you all!!

HAPPY GARDENING FRIENDS!!

~Noah

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