Milo and Lea saying their vows in the Cambria sunshine.
My youngest son, Milo, was married in our garden last week to the lovely Lea. She stole his heart a couple of years ago and now they are beginning a new chapter in their lives. The sun came out in time to shine on Lea, as she walked with her parents from the new garden room to the deck. The pair stood before the pastor, to receive blessings and say their vows. Birds were singing and flowers were blooming and it was a joyous day for the couple and their families.
As some of you know, I broke my hip in February, it was a bad break and I will be having more surgery in June. I’m still in a wheelchair. Never the less, I participated in the wedding as much as I was able. Husband Don spent a week before the wedding getting the garden in shape and we hired a couple of laborers to do weeding and trimming. I am a little worried how the garden will survive without my nurturing touch but we can’t always control our lives in the way we’d like. A lesson I’ve had to learn in the last months.
Garden Room May 2013
We incorporated the garden into every aspect of the wedding. A couple of dear friends did all the flower arrangements, as well the bridal bouquet and corsages and Lea’s mother did all the food preparation. The cake was flower studded and quite beautiful.
This most special day was one I’ll remember forever. All three of my sons were together (see picture above). Utilizing the garden as the backdrop saved money and gave the wedding an intimate, personal ambiance, as if all of us were embarking on an adventure together. It gave Don and I great pleasure to share this day with the bride and groom and most welcome guests. Because the ceremony took place overlooking a garden that plays such a large part in our lives made the day even more special to us.
A wedding cake for a garden wedding.
Flowers from the garden with roses from the farmers market
"Are you all right?" Marilyn, lower right says.
I had a bit of a mishap in my corner of paradise. Early one beautiful morning in late February, I took a spill and broke my hip. I’d taken the labradoodle puppy, Marilyn, the one that had been returned for further training, into the garden bed that I’d selected for her to do her “business”. When she’d finished, I turned one way and she turned the other. As I stumbled backward, I stepped into our river rock drainage ditch and just couldn’t stay upright. The tall pine trees and blue sky rose up as I mentally reviewed the list of chores I needed to get done in the following day, week, month etc.. I had plants waiting to go in the ground, was in the middle of pruning the deciduous shrubs and trees, and was preparing for my “youngest offspring’s” garden wedding in late April. On the way down, I knew it would be a bad fall and I was preparing for the worst.
I’ve had my first round of surgery now and am recuperating at a rehab center. I miss my husband, my home, my garden, my dogs, my old hens, crisp winter mornings, green hills, and, of course, people of Cambria. I’ll try to keep up on my garden blog and my chicken blog so you’ll know what is happening in Cambria and in my nest.
Lee saying goodbye to Labradoodle puppy "Starboy".
It’s February in my coastal garden. Time to get out in the sun, or overcast, or fog, and get those weeds pulled while the soil is moist. I’ve put off some fall chores this year and the fruit trees need pruning (husband Don does the big ones and I do the small). The roses need pruning, some shrubs need pruning, the salvias needs to be sheared and the climbing roses and jasmine need cutting back.
I like to alternate garden chores. I do about an hour of bending chores (pulling weeds) then go to work on vines and tall shrubs to give my back a rest. I can’t garden on my knees anymore as I’ve had knee replacements and my knees are tender. I just have to get along with bending and stretching. Today I’ll do my garden in the morning so that the husband and I can watch the Superbowl in the late afternoon. We’re from the North Bay so we root for the 49ers. Go Niners! Hey, I’ve got a life beyond gardening, you know.
Rose hips on the Berries n' Cream climbing rose added color in the winter.
I had to adopt a relaxed schedule of gardening in the fall because of our first litter of Australian labradoodles. What fun we had with these six little bundles of energy. The garden suffered but except for a few sleepless nights, we enjoyed raising them and seeing them go to wonderful homes. Our black doodle “Maddie” was bred to a boy from Pennsylvania last month. We’ll see if this long-distant relationship turns out. One of the gardening chores I let go, was deadheading the climbing rose called Berries n’ Cream. I loved watching the rose hips turn from green to red and resemble little red Christmas bulbs; one of the perks of “casual gardening”. Now I need to get out and do the pruning so I’ll have a flush of vibrant pink in a few months.
Most of the leaves have dropped from the deciduous trees. Because our climate is so mild, I sometimes have to hand-pick of the few remaining leaves on some. Our poor naked trees don’t get much of a rest in the winter. Before you know it, we’ll have spring green surrounding us.
Asian pear glowing in the after sun in late December.
I took this picture of the garden from the deck in the light of the setting sun. The orange glow in the background is an ancient Asian pear tree that we don’t have the heart to take out. It still produces giant pears but the squirrels usually get them before they ripen so we don’t enjoy as many as we’d like. This picture of the Asian pear was taken just after Christmas. Now the tree is bare. It has been pruned. It’s time for it to rest and get its required number of chill hours. Chill hours are the number of hours the weather provides under 45 degrees. With the necessary number of chill hours when the tree is fully dormant, the tree will be ready for renewal. I’m going out early today and see how much I can get done. Happy gardening.
Wine Painting by artist Milo DiVincenzo
Another Cambria event worth checking out. This weekend, January 25, 26 and 27, 2013, the little village of Cambria is gearing up for the popular Cambria Art & Wine Festival. People come from all over California to enjoy Central Coast wines at a three-day event. We like the wine tasting each day and enjoy trying wines that we may not have even heard of. There are hundreds of wineries in our central coast area. When we moved here to Cambria, there were only a handful. Now you can spend days in the beautiful rolling hills of Paso Robles visiting picturesque tasting rooms and sipping the finest Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, and lessor known varieties.
Cambria is somewhat of an artist community so pairing the Art & Wine is special. There is an Art Show, Silent Auction, Wine and Cheese pairing, an elegant dinner at Linn’s with Hearst Wine and then there’s a label making party at Moonstone Cellars. Something for everyone. For all the details on this event, visit CambriaArtWine.org or call the Chamber of Commerce at 927-3624. See you there!
Fuju Persimmon and Spinach Salad
We can’t grow persimmons along the coast. We don’t have enough chill hours in the winter to set the blossoms, and heat in the summer to ripen them. But I have a few friends that bring them to me because I love them. There are two varieties that are both delicious. Each variety has a purpose.
- Fuyu Persimmons (or Jiro or Sharon fruit) are short and firm. They’re crisp and the skin can be eaten or peeled like an apple. They are great in fruit salads. These tomato-like ones are the better variety for eating fresh.
- Hachiya are more “peach-shaped”. They are eaten when soft. You can scoop out the meat with a spoon. I like these for baking.
Here’s a great use of Fuyu Persimmons. It’s an easy-to-make salad and great on a buffet table as it is a salad that will keep for a few hours without wilting.
Persimmon Salad with Spinach & Pecans
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons orange marmalade or orange zest
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Salt and pepper
3 quarts baby spinach leaves (1 lb.), rinsed and crisped in refrig.
5 firm Fuyu persimmons (5 oz. each), peeled and sliced into wedges
3/4 cup glazed pecans
In a large bowl, mix vinegar, marmalade, and sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Make a bed of spinach. Put persimmons and pecans on top. Pour dressing over top. Mix gently to coat with dressing.
Note: The dressing and persimmons for this salad can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead; wrap fruit bowl with fruit and chill. Assemble the salad shortly before serving.
How to make glazed pecans:
1 Tbls. butter
3 Tbls. dark brown sugar
3 Tbls. maple-flavored syrup or real maple syrup
2 cups pecan halves or pieces (8 oz)
Heat oven to 350°F.
1. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper. In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add brown sugar and syrup; mix well. Cook until bubbly, stirring constantly.
2. Add pecans; cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until coated. Spread mixture on to parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. Store in tightly covered container.
Next time you have an abundance of Fujus, make this salad and let me know what you think.
Wander through lighted paths leading to the Cambria Christmas Market
Cambria’s newest event, a German Christmas Market surrounded by garden paths lit with thousands of Christmas lights was a delight, even in the rain last night. The event has gone on every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night for weeks and we just couldn’t fit it in. I’m sorry I didn’t get to this event sooner so that I could tell my readers to go.
The festival is in its first year. I’ve heard there will be triple the booths next year and many more edibles offered to browsers. At home, we celebrate a “Scandinavian” Christmas so the German style Christmas atmosphere felt familiar. Tomorrow (Sunday) will be the last night of the event this season.
Germany’s famous Christmas markets, dating to the 14th century, inspired Cambria’s Christmas Market, which is lighting up the Central Coast town for the first time this year. Thousands of colored lights illuminate the path between Cambria Pines Lodge and the Cambria Nursery, where choirs, bands and singers regale shoppers browsing booths filled with artisan candles, toys, glass, Christmas ornaments, jewelry and other gifts-in-waiting. Santa drops by each evening, and sustenance from four food booths includes German classics such as brats and Gluhwein, a traditional hot spiced wine.
Info: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 23, 4-9 p.m. Free. 2905 Burton Drive, Cambria. (800) 966-6490, www.cambriachristmasmarket.com.
It’s too wet to garden and I’m spending my time raising six Australian Labradoodle puppies. Mind you, I’m not complaining about the rain. We who live along the central coast don’t complain when we get rain. It is so desperately needed to keep our gardens growing and our Monterey Pines thriving.
I Thought my readers might be interested in how the puppies are turning out. Living with six bundles of energy takes up most of my time when I’m not outside digging in the dirt. So if you’ve been following my blog, you know that Matilda (Tillie) has given birth and is now weaning her fluffballs. They’ll be going to new homes at the end of the year. Little pieces of my heart will go with them.
These puppies come from a long line of hypo-allergenic, non-shedding service dogs. They are gentle animals, intelligent, easy to train, and make loveable pets as well as working dogs. The breeder, Elizabeth Ferris of Country Labradoodlesships them all over the world. It is my job to ready them for the journey and, hopefully, an opportunity to bring love and joy to those around them.
"Twinkletoes" is curious, lovable, happy, and well, adorable.
"Starboy" Big and beautiful. Smart and gentle. He'll be about 45 lbs.
"Scooter" is small enough to crawl into my lap and fall asleep.
"Hoagie" is a "lover". Soft, gentle, gorgeous. He'll weigh about 45 pounds when grown.
Angel is one of the smaller girls. Active and fun-loving.
"Marilyn" Blond and beautiful. A face to die for.
Country Matilda Lil Miss Q "Tillie"
Thought I had better explain why I have not been gardening or posting on my garden website. I’ve also ignored the hens a bit. You see, I’ve been helping our lovely labradoodle “Tillie” with her six puppies, born in our bedroom on October 21. The little beauties, three cream-colored and three chocolates have their eyes open now and are toddling, discovering the world around them.
We started out as simply lovers of Australian multi-generation labradoodles, not breeders. We were given two pups from a breeder on the condition that she would be allowed two litters from each of them in payment. This arrangement is termed “guardianship”. The conditions were that the breeder would breed each one of our girls to one of her beautiful studs. We would care for the pregnant girl until time for her to deliver the pups. The drawback we found; we couldn’t bear to give up one of our wonderful dogs while she gave birth and nursed her young. My husband and I decided we would like to do it ourselves. What an experience!
Tillie nurses her newborns.
Our girl Tillie was in the first stages of labor for 12 hours. She searched the garden for a private spot to make her den. She dug holes 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep while we followed her around with a flashlight to be sure she didn’t drop a puppy into them. She panted, she paced. If we sat, down she’d climbed onto us. When we crawled into bed at midnight, she crawled into bed with us. Finally, the last stages of labor began at 7:00 am. We put her in the whelping box that Don had built, and one by one over the next 4 hours, she delivered the most beautiful little chocolate and vanilla packages into her whelping bed.
For three weeks I’ve helped her watch over them. I try to go out into the garden each day to water, to rake, and to continue my fall clean-up. But my mind is on the little pups that will go off to their homes at 8 weeks. I can see their little personalities. I can see their gentleness and sweetness, like their mother, and I can see their fun-loving nature.
Tillie's first litter.
The breeder does the business transaction for purchasing, but I would be happy to talk to you about the breed and these precious puppies if you are interested. The breeder has some beautiful pups non-shedding that are nearing the weaning age now. Email me for information on our pups and I’ll be happy to put you in contact with our breeder Country Labradoodles.
We call him "Star"
The sun is shining and it is another glorious day in Cambria. Time to get outdoors and see if it is too late to plant some winter greens.
The 2012 Cambria Scarecrow Festival, presented by the Cambria Historical Society, is in full swing. We had our first light rain of the season, the dust has settled, the sun is out, and it is a beautiful sunny day in our little coastal town.
To see the “ladies, gentlemen, and creatures” come anytime during the month of October. The artists of Cambria are displaying their talents and have created colorful displays for the enjoyment of all. Each year this event has grown. This year there are over 300 “scarecrows” on display. Bring your camera and take a walk down Main Street between the East Village and the West Village. Then drive out to the seaside Moonstone Beach Drive. You’ll never think of a “scarecrow” in the same way again.
For more information visit http://www.cambriascarecrows.com..
Below are some of my favorites. Remember they are only several of 300!
A Cambria Gardener. This gal was made by one of the Cambria Garden Club members. She has on some Garden Club handpainted overalls. She looks like she may have a little knee trouble. She loves gardening!
These bicycling "scarecrows" are actually pedaling.
A Cambrian walking her dogs. My friend Leanne made this.
A Cambrian Priest welcoming visitors.
A Cambrian couple waiting for the theatre to open.
Anyone for bridge? These look like friends of mine.
This dancing Elephant Seal moves. Visit their colony while you're up here.
This one makes me think. Did the lady beat the crow to some eggs?
This was a favorite last year.
What a happy bee!
Late Summer in My Garden
My garden exploded with color this late summer and I’m out in it every morning. I enjoy the rising temperature as the fog lifts and fades. I want to burst into song and sing John Denver’s “Sunshine on my Shoulders Makes me Happy”. But I don’t. My neighbors may not share my enthusiasm for the morning hours.
The hens join me, clucking and scratching around my feet as they dine on juicy grubs, earwigs, and weed seeds that are exposed. I’m able to let them “free-range” now that the Labradoodles are a mature 2 years of age. The dogs consider the hens curious creatures, but requiring too much effort to chase down, pluck, and debone, when kibbles are so available.
I’ve been patrolling the garden each morning for green-spotted cucumber beetles. I’ve put hundreds of notches in my belt.
We’ve had more than our share of bird visitors this year. Several families of yellow finch nested nearby, along with the usual sparrows, finch, juncos, bushtits, jays, towhees, woodpeckers, crows, and doves. Hummingbirds buzz by my ears letting me know their feeder is empty. Coveys of quail scurry through the garden with little ones in tow. How tiny and vulnerable the chicks are, and how vigilant their parents.
Our sly neighborhood fox has been cruising but we haven’t seen her kits yet this summer. The vultures soar high overhead as the fog lifts, occasionally leaving a “Jackson Pollock” creation on our deck. I hose it off and continue my morning stroll, coffee in hand.
I recently wrote this in my gardening column in The Cambrian. People seemed to enjoy it so I’m sharing it with you.