California back roads and back garden

May 23, 2014

We went to southern California for a short visit and on the way home decided to take the back roads, just love it when we have time for that.  We left Simi Valley and took the 118 through Somis and Saticoy, then the 126 to the 101 where we traveled on the coast for a bit.  At Santa Barbara we went inland with the 154 through the San Marcos Pass to Solvang for a late smorgasbord lunch, then north again on the 154 until it met up with the 101.  It was a lovely drive.  California does have beautiful back roads that tend to be quieter, slower and far prettier.  If you're in no hurry, try it!

This morning I took some random pictures of the garden and picked a few posies.  The magnolia below is so fragrant, just one blossom makes the house smell like I baked a pie.  For a bit of nostalgia, I searched out my grandmother's etched glass basket vase for the sweet peas and my nana's cut glass vase for the nasturtiums.  An old fashioned flower needs an old fashioned vase.

The garden is keeping us busy.  Every morning I take a walk and nip the weeds before they get too comfortable.  I walk through the entire yard, hat on head, hoe in hand, no weed can hide from my eagle eye.  My husband tends to the watering, and if we spend a little time every morning we don't get too far behind.  We are harvesting carrots and scallions right now, herbs too, but not much else.  We have planted everything we plan to; tomatoes, onions, leeks, fennel, beans, beets, squash, cucumbers, peppers and eggplants.  Not in large quantities, just enough for us and a little to share.  We have not been water rationed but still we have managed to cut our water from last year by 25% and it has not been that difficult.  Our garden is smaller and we are leaving a few beds unplanted.

This year the hydrangeas have gone mad.  They are simply huge and threatening to grow as tall as the house.  They will be quite a sight when they're in full bloom in a few weeks. We have a dozen bushes in the back perennial bed and another half dozen in the front of our house.  You can see in the last picture that they are completely covering our front porch.  There is a front door hidden behind there somewhere.  We had the idea that we would trim them very sparsely last winter, but I think we were perhaps a little too light handed.

Have you been knitting the Martin Storey afghan?  Week 6 is available a few days early as it is a bank holiday in the UK on Monday.  Go here for the free download of Little Doughnuts. 

Hope you have a sunny weekend!  xo


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  1. What a beautiful post. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
    Your garden is beautiful. The magnolia is magnificent. I was not aware that they had a fragrance. I will definitely check this out the next time I see one in bloom. They hydrangeas are bigger than I ever remember them. Good fertilizer?

  2. They're beautiful photos Kristen. I love to see your photos of California and of your garden. You must work so hard keeping your garden so lovely :)

  3. It's as if your hydrangea bushes are on steroids!!!! They're so pretty and full and lush!!! I tried my hand at growing one once, and I killed it within the season. I'm pretty sure I didn't have the right balance in the soil. And I probably under-watered it. And it was probably set in the wrong place. And....!!! :-)

    You're so smart (and loyal!) to tackle the garden daily so it doesn't get out of control. I don't have gardening space anywhere even close to what you have, and I find it hard to do that daily work!!! It's kind of like exercise with me. I'm all into it the first few days, then it starts to dwindle off, and then within a month or so I don't even recognize it as a part of my life! :-)

    Hats off to you! Or should I say hats ON to protect your skin? Have a great weekend!!!


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