Saturday, August 1, 2015

Skyler, the Doberman is Learning Agility...

...and the handler, which is me, as well!

We had a fun dog training class with our rescue Doberman today in the morning. It was the first time that Skylar and I were trying us at agility jumps. Looks like I need more training than he does!

We have Skylar now for about seven months and he is doing great, admittedly after some initial hick-ups with mouthing and jumping, but some minor problems are to be expected when you take in a young rescue dog.

Unlike the vicious reputation of the Doberman Pinscher, Skylar doesn't seem to have a mean bone in his body and has never shown any aggression towards human beings or other dogs. As a matter of fact, he is a very sweet dog, with a temperament that is a little more on the anxious side. My husband and I really love him. Can you imagine that he could have been one of the estimated three to four million dogs and cats that are euthanized in American shelters each year according to the Humane Society of the United States?

Hope you enjoy the video done by my husband!





By the way, if you are looking for a great dog trainer in the San Diego area, I can highly recommend ours to you. Her name is Alexandra Gant (resultswithbehave). We are doing our dog training group classes with her and besides that she has helped us so much with any initial issues that we had with Skylar. For us as first time dog owners her advice was/is invaluable and the training classes with her are always fun for Skylar and for us.

Wishing everyone a nice rest of the weekend.

Christina



Monday, July 20, 2015

An Evening Neighborhood Stroll in Austin, Texas

Sometimes live has its own ways and this weekend it was taking me to a trip to Austin, Texas on short notice. Honestly, I love it when this happens, especially when I get to see a place, that I have never been to before.

As a passionate gardener, what first struck me is that Austin is much greener than I expected. I thought it would look much more deserty, but no, lots of green trees there, especially Oaks, some very mature and tons of Crape Myrtles. And lawns, vast areas of green lawns. One thing was as expected though, it was hot and when I say hot, then I mean hot. Highest average temperatures were around 97 F/ 36 C and lowest around 75 F/ 24 C. At 7:30 pm when we did a stroll through an East Austin neighborhood, where our accommodation was located, it was still 91 F/ 33 C.

I had the camera with me and would like to share with you some shots I took.



This beauty is 'Pride of Barbados', Caesalpinia pulcherrima, which was growing right in the front yard of the property where our cozy, self-catering cottage was located. This plant really seemed to enjoy the climate in Austin. We saw it growing and flowering prolifically in many places and it didn't seem to need much care.



I love how this front yard did go so well together with the house.



Same house, photo just taken a little bit more from the right side. The natural stones that they used for the hardscape looked great.



I guess this is a Rudbeckia growing together with a purple leaved plant, that I don't know the name of.



We saw this purple leaved plant quite often growing in Austin and each time I found it pretty stunning.



Thinking out of the box and growing tomatoes with the lasagna method directly on a regular lawn strip by the street. Seem to work well! Austin is proud to be weird.



I love how this shot turned out. I had to photograph directly into the sun, which usually ruins a photo, but here it is perfect how the sun is shining through the old Oak trees.



There were plenty of well grown Agaves to find in Austin.



Here is a bluish one.



A more modern style front yard.



The way the sun light hits the house and the stone sculpture caught my eye.



A white house I can never pass up without getting excited about it. Love the French doors!



Even sewer caps are decorated with the Lone Star of Texas. 



My husband was longing for a cold local beer after a hot and exhausting day and we popped into the Thunderbird Cafe. Nice cafe with mainly a younger crowed of guests.



They had plenty of local beers there to choose from.



Returning back after a long day to our temporarily home the 'Pride of Barbados', backed up by a red Oleander, still fascinated me.

I can't believe how fast the time flew by in Austin. Now we are already on our way back home and the wait for our air plane to board is a good time to get this post out. Hope you enjoyed seeing some impressions of an Austin neighborhood.

We heard that San Diego got some good rain (unfortunately there was some flooding, too), while we were out of town, which is very unusual in summer and I can't wait to see how my own garden responds to it.

Wishing you a great week!

See you in the garden!

Christina



Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The White Garden Bed in June - Video

Following up my last post, I just want to let you know that I did another broadcast on Periscope about the White Garden Bed, which is now uploaded on YouTube. If you like to get a more vivid view of the bed, like as if you see it with your own eyes, please click on the video below.

One tip: The quality of a Periscope broadcast is very good if you watch it live or on replay on your smartphone, but it somewhat drops when you see it later on YouTube. For that reason I would recommend to watch the video not on full screen, but in a smaller window, which improves the perceived video quality quite a bit.

If you like to see more Periscope broadcasts that I have done or will be doing of my garden or other gardens that I visit, please follow me on twitter, username: @csgardendreams. You get a tweet when I go live on Periscope and if you are not able to join me then, the show will be saved on Periscope for the next 24 hours and you can watch it on replay. You can also go to my YouTube channel and see this video and other videos, that I have done so far, there. 





Thanks for watching. Please let me know what you think and maybe see you next time live on Periscope!

Christina



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

End of Month View - The White Garden Bed June

My apologies for coming in very late with my monthly post documenting the development of my White Garden Bed, but work simply didn't leave me any time to blog prior to today. The photos that I used for this post were all taken on June 29th though, so what you see is really how the bed looked at the end of June.

I have to say that for the first time since I started to take part in this meme, I am truly satisfied with my White Garden Bed. The plants have filled in nicely, there are lots of white flowers and you can finally see that it is designed with a monochromatic white color scheme in mind.

The biggest change that I made last month, I planted a new rose, you can't even see in the first view of that bed, but I come back to that later. Besides that I bought seven plants of Gaura lindheimeri 'Belleza White', which are placed behind the white column with the silver gazing ball. I also took off another layer of fronds of the right cycad, because I couldn't stand to look at the sunburned fronds anymore.


June 2015


May 2015


I think it is justified to call the change between May and June quite dramatic. The Dianthus 'Floral Lace White' are in full bloom and all four roses (from the left to the right: 'Pope John Paul II', 'Chandos Beauty', 'Moonstone' and 'Auckland Metro') are flowering more or less profusely. 



Here is a bud of 'Moonstone', the rose in the center of the bed, that is just opening. Very beautiful rose, but the leaves are starting to become infected with rose rust, again. 



Mature bloom of 'Moonstone'. The flowers are undeniable very pretty, but I am never really happy with a rose, when the leaves are very sickly. 



When I started to participate in the End of Month View meme, this white angle shot was my initial first view. Between the last rose to the left and the Pygmy Date Palm to the very right there was just a huge crater of a hole, which is now filled with a rose and plenty of soil. Unfortunately, you can barely make out the small leaveless canes in front of the dark blue post of the fence.

I had a little mishap with this rose, because right after I planted it, we went to Portland and when we came back all its leaves had gotten brown and most of them had already fallen off. I finished the job and plucked of the last leaves, in the hope that the rose would start to leave out again. I believe it was either over or under watered or it simply suffered from transplanting shock. Even though the rose looks like it is dead right now, I am relatively sure it will survive. I guess next month we will know more. 



In this photo you can see the rose a little better. Initially I wanted to continue the White Garden Bed up to this area, but after much contemplation I decided that the White Garden Bed will become to big in proportion to the whole size of my backyard. So I decided to plant a pink rose ('Memorial Day') here to have a color transition to the area to the right side of the White Garden Bed. I am not entirely sure if this is the right decision, mainly because I have such a hard time to visualize anything. But the good thing is that if I don't like it, I always can change it.


June 2015


May 2015

In my second End of Month View it is very clear that the Hybrid Tea Rose 'Moonstone' has become the star of the White Garden Bed in the moment, but...




...'Chandos Beauty', the rose to the very right, can also produce very lovely blooms. At the time the photos were taken it had only two fully open flowers, but those were stunning. 




I don't know why I am so crazy about this small plant, but I am really in love with Dichondra sericea 'Silver Ponyfoot' (it is the small plant in the foreground of the white garden statue). I think the metallic shine on the leave is just doing me in. For the longest time I thought the plant wouldn't make it, after it had been transplanted from a container into the ground, but now several month later it seems to have recovered and is growing actively. It is supposed to be drought tolerant, exactly what I need with the ongoing water restrictions. 




My bearded Irises 'Platinum' surprised me positively. Both plants to the right and to the left of the rose 'Moonstone' in the middle of the White Garden Bed were blooming. Altogether I counted five flower stalks, which is unheard of so far. I think, Iris flowers are almost as pretty as rose blooms. 


June 2015


May 2015


In my last End of Month View shot you can clearly see how profusely the white agapanthus is blooming. It is really fantastic this year. The leaves of the amaryllis belladonna behind the white column with the gazing ball have completely died back and I removed all the dried up parts. 



Here is a close-up of the white agapanthus. Isn't this a beautiful flower? To me agapanthus in bloom is the substitut for the alliums that we can't grow here, because it is too warm. 



Probably my most favorite rose in the whole garden: 'Pope John Paul II' growing right next to the agapanthus on the right side. 



The flowers are hard to beat in terms of their beauty and for an Hybrid Tea Rose they come in great quantities and the rose has a quick repeat. 



My husband cleaned up the dried up parts of the lamb's ears in the foreground. And they look so much better now. Behind them you see the Gaura lindheimeri 'Belleza White' more clearly. I haven't had time to plant them into the ground yet, but I think they will look quite nice there. 



I am in love with the airy, butterfly like blooms. They are so dainty and seem to flutter if there is a light breeze. Best of all, Gauras are supposed to be really drought tolerant and planting them is another step to help my garden to cope with the drought conditions, but still look pretty.

Even though I am late, I am linking my post to Helen's The Patient's Gardeners Weblog, who kindly hosts the End of Month View meme each month. If you haven't visited her yet, please pop over and see how her's and other gardens looked by the end of June. 

See you in the garden!

Christina



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Japanese Garden, Portland I

My husband and I went for a mini-vacation to Portland, Oregon last week and, besides other things, visited the Japanese Garden there. I have to say that this was quite a memorable experience. We were very lucky with the weather that day, actually during our whole stay in Portland, and the light and the shadows were just so remarkable beautiful when we toured the garden.

It is said that the Japanese Garden in Portland is one of the most authentic outside of Japan. I don't know if that is true or not, but for sure this garden is of extraordinary beauty. My husband and I just felt instantly calm, peaceful and a strong connection to nature, in short, a sense of happiness. I think it is wonderful when a garden can affect a person that way and I am sure, we are not the only ones.

It was created by Professor Takuma Tono in 1963, who is obviously a master of this art, on 5.5 acres and contains five different gardens/garden styles: Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, Flat Garden. To me this garden felt way bigger than it actually is, probably because it is surrounded by a typical Pacific Northwest forest, so you don't perceive where the designed Japanese Garden ends and the natural woods begins.



When we entered the Portland Japanese Garden this is one of the first scenes that we saw and I immediately knew that we were in for something very special. 



I turned back to the entrance gate and spotted this beautiful simple bell.



Also close to the entrance to the right and left side were two Fu Dogs watching over the garden.



I was surprised to find some azaleas still blooming so profusely at this time of the year. 



When I spotted this gardener hard at work, I assumed that she would pinch off spent azaleas blooms and was impressed that they paid so much attention to detail in this garden.



I asked, if I could take a picture of her and we started talking, and I was more than surprised to find out that she wasn't just pinching off spent blooms from the bush, but pinching off all flowers. That was of course a startling discovery, so she was quick to explain that this was a decision made by the "higher level" of the garden management. The reasoning behind it is, that azalea blooms are out of season by now and therefore didn't go with the authentic look that a Japanese Garden should have at this time of the year.



Anyway, I loved these mossy stones with the white sparse azalea blooms.



An especially beautiful pagoda.



I don't think that it is coincidence that the pagoda mimics the tall needle trees behind her.



This area is the Strolling Pond Garden.



I was fascinated by the moss hanging from the branches of this tree. So beautiful with the sunlight shining on it.



One of the many Japanese lanterns, scattered, or better said carefully placed throughout the garden.



Another gardener doing very detailed pruning on a shrub. I wonder how many people are working in this place.



Light dancing on this azalea bush.



A traditional Japanese Tea House, striking in its simplicity. Sorry for the bad photo quality, but I wasn't able take a better shot with the strong contrasts of bright and dark in this area and didn't want to skip showing you this beautiful traditional building.






Moon Bridge in the Strolling Pond Garden. 



The gardeners used what looked to me like traditional Japanese garden tools. They are beautiful by themselves.



One last look at the Strolling Pond Garden, which was one of the most harmonious areas in my perception.





Mossy lantern, so pretty!



There were many Japanese Maples in the garden. This one had very delicate leaves that were glowing in a bronze color in the sunlight.



Scene that seems to come right out of a Japanese fairy tale. 



The Zig Zag Bridge. 



The area around the Zig Zag Bridge was planted with one kind of a blue flowering iris. Unfortunately, the variety is unknown to me.



Close-up of the lovely iris blooms. 



In this area was a nice Koi pond, filled with many differently colored Koi. 




It was lovely to see the fish eating algae at the egdes of the Koi pond. They made slurping gurgling sounds by doing so, which somehow was entertaining and calming at the same time. I found the yellow golden Koi especially attractive.

I took many more photos of the Portland Japanese Garden, that I think are worth showing. So there will be a part II soon. Hope you come back to see more of this stunningly beautiful garden!

Christina