Monday, June 28, 2010

California Quail Update and Mountain Quail

Saturday we checked on the status of the California Quail and her clutch of 15 lovely speckled eggs we had photographed the previous weekend.

Likely she knew we were not there to harm,
for she stirred not the slightest.
Isn't she simply lovely?

And now look at who else is in the garden gathering seed
in the wee hours of the morning?
A pair of Mountain Quail appeared last Wednesday,

but currently only he arrives to eat and eat and eat,
hop down, skedaddle for a few moments and return to gather more.
We must have another nest close by with eggs. Hm... wonder where.

What happened to my food?

Something must have knocked it down during the night,
but not to worry... we'll fix that today.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Full Moon Partial Lunar Eclipse

Waking morning and near the horizon, a full moon magnified
half a diameter obscured by the earth's shadow
a Moon, Sun and Earth not completely aligned

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Cornus Kousa Skywatch

Our Cornus kousa is heavily laden with blossoms

For beautiful skies from around the world
be sure to visit SkyWatch Friday .

Monday, June 21, 2010

Last Weeks Harvest and Cedar Waxwing

We had a wonderful Father's Day weekend and hope that goes for you as well. Additionally, we celebrated our granddaughter's birthday. Megan, we cannot believe you are 11 years old!

Last Weeks Harvest

1.5 lbs Zucchini BlackBeauty
2.8 lb Cabbage Stonehead
o.4 lbs Asparagus
0.5 young Walla Walla Sweet Onions
2.6 lbs Potatoes

Good things are happening in the garden: most of the tomatoes have blossoms, a few fruits, and are clamoring for sunshine (they are supposed to get it this week); one beautiful and compact head of cabbage was picked; the Sugar Snap peas are forming lots of blossoms and rather than pick the few nice peas that were hanging on the vines and take them to the house, we decided to simply enjoy them right there while working in the garden; the wild kale just keeps giving; several of the broccoli Graffiti are in the almost stage. What a beautiful color!

Unusual occurrences: Our Early Wonder beets have begun to bolt sans anything to show for it underground; the leaves of cauliflower Bishop and cabbage Red Acre are robust while the formation of heads is minimal; half of our kohlrabi plants died while the other look about ready to pick. Potato vines on three more pots have died, and although there is not a large amount, it still brings a smile as to their loveliness. We cannot ascertain the failure of some of these potatoes growing in pots, but I do know that those in the ground, the Yukon Golds and red potatoes we have not planted for three years, continue to excel. Hm. Clearly, the shift in our weather has contributed to some of these occurrences.

And just as I was about to push the send button, this striking Cedar waxwing appeared for just a few moments. Again, somewhat unusual to see it here so early in the season.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

GGW Picture This Photo Contest

This has been quite a challenge, but a thought provoking, subjective and enjoyable one: this month's Gardening Gone Wild Picture This Photo Contest is being judged by Josh McCullough of Phyto Photo, whose words include

... give me your best ever. That’s right, the BEST FRAME YOU HAVE EVER CREATED. Your favorite. The one that means the most to you, that conveys what skill you had to bring to bear at its creation and now as you ascertain what it expresses... garden or plant related... The image itself has to stand on its own.

After reviewing years of photographs, I finally narrowed the selection: there were individual blossoms with raindrops and/or bees, birds, and several landscape photos from our garden, whereby a particular mood was captured. The following is one of the images to which I kept returning, the one that still causes me to linger even after having taken it several years ago.

As the morning fog begins to lift from the earth's surface and reveals this fall canvas of color, I am there. It is still one of my favourite images: a composition that also represents an accomplishment of our work over the past 17 years, an open field transformed.

28 June 2010 Update:

I am quite excited about being a Silver Winner for the above photo and relative to this wanted to add Joshua McCullough’s comments:

Diana at Voice in the Garden places highly with a broad and complex landscape. I find the more elements competing for attention in an image the more difficult it is to pull off and this is quite simply well done. The statue and clipped hedge complete the foreground with balance and and exclamation point of a tall narrow conifer brings the eye into the distance to appreciate the fall color and a nicely faded treeline beyond. A bit of contrast and saturation adjustment would bring it to an even higher level.

Thank you Joshua and GGW Picture This Winners for June.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Fine Weekend

It finally happened: the rain stopped. Truly, there was sun in the Pacific Northwest sky during the weekend, and although the temperature changed drastically from a Friday high of 61 degrees F to 80 on Saturday, we won't complain Grace (wink... she and I have been emailing about this confounding weather of ours). Many of the blossoms tilted their heads in rejection of the sudden heat, but nothing could be done, and we headed out early to begin the day's tasks.

First however, let us back up a bit. On Thursday of this past week, as my husband and I were finishing some work in the garden, we walked along the lower path in the southern section. In the distance is a grass, barely visible in the center of the photo to the left, but as we approached the Helictotrichon sempervirens, we were confronted with something quite unexpected.

Remember the California quail I wrote about last week? Now we know from whence he came.

There were three startled beings: my husband moved swiftly afoot, I let out a squeaky gasp, and the California Quail was raising cain with his warning pips while running off. Such laughter! Little did we know this spot had been selected for nesting. My husband gently raised the front of the grass blades with the rake handle so as not to disturb, and there was this discovery: a clutch of 15 lovely speckled eggs.

Back to early Saturday morning before the heat of the day, I picked what lettuce and spinach needed harvesting - 1 lb each. Rinse, spin dry and store. It was time to get ready: our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren, Megan and Nathan, were coming to visit, and we were looking forward to a fun weekend.

Despite the temperature, there remained a slight cool breeze throughout the day, a wonderful characteristic of Pacific Northwest summers, and once they arrived, much of the day was enjoyed outdoors:

We all walked the paths and enjoyed the beauty, color and fragrance of the landscape; the vegetable garden and raised beds were of interest to our son-in-law as he suggested they might be a better substitute for their too many roses; on several occasions the children and I walked along different paths in discovery of what might lurk around the mature shrubs, dense foliage and evergreens; Grandpa took Nathan down the hill to find a piece of wood upon which he could whittle.

Grandma monitored the grandchildren while playing hide-and-seek in the garden. (I won't tell you that I showed each where to hide, nor will I admit to having finally disclosed (gestured) the area in which the other was hiding following an unsuccessful search. Our garden area is quite large and mature at this stage, and one could get lost in it.). They knew the south side of the garden was off limits.

Megan played Malagueña beautifully on the piano, as well as other songs; we worked on a new puzzle; as we relaxed around the pond in the late afternoon, Nathan did his normal jumping in and out of the water.

Before they left on Sunday, vegetable plants... tomatoes, zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber... were selected, and the children picked a box of blossoms from R 'Graham Thomas', all to accompany them on their journey home.

Ah yes, we told them about the quail and promised they could see the eggs before they left. So before they departed on Sunday, and although we had prepared them, a walk along the southern garden path gave them quite a startling moment as the quail flew from under the grass and into the air. I think they may talk about that one for awhile.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Weekend Harvest and California Quail

We took advantage of a beautiful yesterday, working outside and enjoying the cool breeze, the warmth of the sun, and a pause for lunch in the gazebo. We have had so much rain, unusually hard rains, and with only intermittent periods of sunshine.

While returning home on Saturday, my husband was listening to a radio wine interview show in Oregon: the spokesperson was voicing concern about the amount of rain/lack of sun we have had relative to grape crops and the plant's ability to put on blossoms in order for there to be a good harvest. He stated that if we do not see an 80 degree day by the 10 of June, it would be an historical event. Since that happens to be 2 days from now and with today's cloud cover and rain forecast the next 2 days, we may experience history in the making. I enjoy history, but that kind is not music to my ears. He added that the weather is shaping up to be like 1983, a year without summer, and everyone is quite concerned, as are we, for harvests of all kinds, and especially our vegetables.

Early in the Spring we started more varieties of seeds, thus expanding the garden, and to say the least, strange things have occurred. April saw some 70 degree days and plants responded with beautiful growth - summer must have arrived, but with night time temperatures periodically nearing freezing over the course of several weeks, the plants began bolting - fall must be approaching. A similar fluctuation in temperatures occurred in May.

Vegetable garden behavior:

Sugar snap peas have just now put on blossoms.
Many of the Bush beans that were about to emerge several weeks ago are no longer.
Shanghai Bok Choy bolted in one of the raised beds, but those I planted in the main garden and several weeks later, came on beautifully.
Broccoli (Packman) was harvested over a week ago, and we continue picking the smaller side shoots as they grow, but there is no sign of any cauliflower, planted at the same time as the broccoli and in the same bed, but with massive foliage only.
One head of cabbage is ready to be picked, but others are either far behind or have barely begun to form, and again, all planted at the same time.
Peppers are forming and doing well, but I have kept them indoors.

The potatoes are still growing in pots and have not yet blossomed. How could they without sunshine? For the most part all seem to be doing well, except for two of the containers: the Purple Viking foliage was dying, so we decided to empty one and found not many (slightly less than one pound), but a beautiful purple-skinned potato with pink splashes of color. Since a few of the tiniest were still clinging to a vine, we repotted them in 4 inches of soil. Let's see if we can start the process again.

The greens have been robust due to the rain and cooler temperature. And look at that beautiful 'Merlot' (lettuce).

The last several days of harvest include:

0.25 lbs Asparagus
0.5 lbs Broccoli
1.9 lbs Chinese Kale
1.0 lbs Potatoes
1.0 lbs Salad greens, plus spinach
9.0 lbs Shanghai Bok Choy *
1.2 lbs young Texas Sweet Onions
2.2 lbs Wild Kale

* Note: Having enjoyed some of the produce are neighbors, as well as friends who joined us for dinner over the weekend. I am still amazed at how so few seeds yield such bounty. I wish we could share some with Thomas at A Growing Tradition who gave us those seeds, but if you look at his amazingly productive garden, my guess is he won't be needing any of ours.

It is what it is I often say. Not much can be done except be thankful for the amazing harvest thus far. Currently being forecast for our area: beginning Saturday, a stretch of sunny skies with a pop to 78 degrees, then to 70. Let's see how that goes.

As I came up from the garden yesterday, my little buddy here paused for a photo op, and we conversed a bit, but when I gave him my normal ka-cow-cow, he seemed to be saying, that's not quite it. Or with that look he gave me, was he saying you're weird lady, talking to a quail?

Don't you just love that forward curving black plume of the California Quail?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Morning Rainbow

Without the rain, there would be no morning rainbow.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Rains Keep Coming

Wednesday evening's break from the persistent rain...
clouds hover across the valley and along the coastal range

Yesterday's satiated afternoon landscape

Even my soppy little friend, the Evening Grosbeak,
is hoping for Saturday sunshine

For beautiful skies from around the world be sure to

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Garden Harvest, Hawks, and Evening Grosbeak

Garden Harvest

Despite nearly three weeks of rain, we have harvested 18.8 pounds of fresh vegetables in the month of May, up from April's total of 4.2 pounds. Last week's pick included:

2.5 lbs Wild Kale
2.4 lbs Broccoli
0.4 lbs Asparagus
1 tiny strawberry
2 tomatoes!

That's right, two tomatoes. Remember when I bought this tomato plant back in February? We have had such fun over it. Granted we would have had more tomatoes by now, but without sunshine, we are surprised that these actually ripened.

And look what is coming on. Do you recall when I started some older yellow squash and zucchini seeds at the end of February to see if they would germinate? They did and have continued to grow until I finally put them outside several weeks ago. I do believe we will be grilling zucchini in a week.


Sunday evening as we returned to the house following a quick jaunt to the vegetable garden, my husband looked up into the gray and continually misting sky and pointed.

I ran for my camera for who would have imagined that hundreds of feet above and into the darkening evening sky, she hovered; we counted four little hawks that were being monitored, chaperoned, trained in flight.

Then there were two adults, and three, then two,

soaring higher and higher until they finally disappeared into the evening sky. And with that the turkey vultures returned to ride the evening currents.

Evening Grosbeak and Others

The Mourning Doves have been coming to visit as have the various and numerous finch and goldfinch, and two weeks ago, right outside my studio window, the Evening Grosbeak decided to honor me with his presence. What a beauty!

The White-crowned Sparrow was anticipating a bath.

And just as I was about to hit send, this Pileated woodpecker was attempting to wreak havoc on the tri-colored beech right outside the window. No, no, no!