July 19, 2008

My summer garden

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:37 pm by czygyny



Summer has reached its midpoint. It is a summer of opaque, dull skies, opalescent clouds and hazy horizons. It is a summer of choking smoke and anxious days while the wildfires burn tens of thousands of acres. It is mornings of ash covered cars and evenings of sack-cloth dark suns and nights of blood red moons. Mountain skylines are obliterated, the layers of smoke revealing the hitherto unseen layers of coastal range peaks that had been viewed as one seamless line. 

Not much keeps me indoors, not rain, nor hundred plus degree days, nor choking smoke. A day spent inside is a day wasted. So, despite the eye burning, allergy inflaming air quality, I’ve been out weeding, watering, and loving my gardens.

The images above are two views of my front yard. You can see the vegetable garden in the back, and the smokey tree line to the south. ‘Nessie’ my limestone sea-serpent sculpture jealously guards her cache of dog-bones, thrown there to prevent them from becoming deadly projectiles under the blades of the lawn mower.


This view is the driveway strip, a dry, hot buffer between the gravel driveway and the lusher lawn and flowers. Hardy plants like Salvia gauranitica, lavender and germander show off my large driftwood piece.


This view used to showcase my 7′ tall Opuntia ficus-indica, but horrific winter winds toppled it, and now my Opuntia ‘Santa Rosita’ shines in the forground with sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ and various rusty things, at least until my tall specimen grows up again!


Here’s a bit lusher spot of the yard, my perennial beds. Here is Canna Tropicana, hibiscus moscheutos, Stargazer lily and pink phlox.

A bit earlier in the season, the Shasta daisies and pale pink phlox are in bloom with threadleaf coreopsis in the back.


I found the most amazing Calabrachoa, a pale orange with a terracotta center, grouped it with a purple Heliotrope, Amaranthus ‘Joseph’s Coat’ and a stiff trailing sedum, and it became a great focus in mom’s yard.


For a dramatic plant that is hardy, drought resistant and all-summer-long color, Hesperaloe parviflora can’t be beat! The flower spikes are nearly eight feet tall this year! Hummingbirds love it!




This is one of my sunflowers with a honey bee and Argentine ant. This photo just stops me dead when I look at it, for some reason. It looks like it has been drawn with colored pencil. The combination of smokey sky and facing into the sun has washed this subject out and given it a printed poster feel.

The pinnacle of the year, July. A summer we in California won’t likely forget for many years to come. The sweetest of springs has given way to the most scorching of summers. But a bit of beauty can still be found in the unfurling of a colorful petal.



  1. Budd Hodges said,

    Ms. Czygny, I love your gardens. Such a laber of love. I too, have been outside pulling weeds from veggies and flowers while listening to the birds coughing in the trees. We’ll all be glad to see the fire storm of ’08 go away.

    Again, what a lovely garden. You go girl!

    —Budd :>)

  2. czygyny said,

    Thank you very much and yes, Budd, I think there will be many species glad for the cessation of the burning of the north state! The sky cleared yesterday and I saw the stars for the first time in weeks. I had to go out and marvel at them for quite a while.

    And, the cool mornings! It is 59° degrees this morning. I had to bundle up with sweatpants and top when I got up to walk down the road to gather up the paper (yes, I still read it, if not just to chuckle).

    My gardens are certainly a labor of love. I can’t imagine working so hard for anything else, nor deriving more pleasure for the effort.

  3. Larry said,

    What advice do you have for a front reflected sun patio-driveway-street? We have to go with containers, and some are doing well and some just can’t hack it. I think we over water too much, opting for the drought-tolerant plants but giving in to the wife who freaks at the first sign of wilting (unable to convince her that wilting is just a plant’s survival instincts kicking in).
    May I email you a photo of our dilemma?
    Peace, Larry the Twice-Retired and Still Can’t Get It Right.

  4. czygyny said,

    Sure Larry, send me an image if you wish czygyny-at-yahoo.com, I think you know how to remedy the address.

    Actually wilting is not a good thing, Roots tend to die during wilt so it helps the plant’s vigor and health to not allow it.

    Container planting in Redding is challenging. For hot exposures (which I don’t even attempt!) you are going to need a big, heavy ceramic pot. Then use a 50/50 soil/potting soil mix. The heavier soil will help insulate and retain water. Calibrachoas, trailing succulents, portulaca, agastache, and marigolds can be used, among others. I don’t suggest cacti, they are the most finicky plants, I know, I have hundreds and they are all protected from afternoon sun and direct exposure.

    Hope this helps!

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