June 17, 2009

Cactus Crazy 2009

Posted in blogging tagged , , , , , at 10:15 am by czygyny


They are at it again! My cacti garden is bursting with blooms!


Here is the one that started the Echinopsis collection, tentatively identified as ‘Stars and Stripes’.


A nice combo of pink and Schick hybrid  ‘Hot Lips’ red.


This one, I call ‘Pale Peachy Pink’, is a creation of my very own! It can take many years to get from seed to blooming plant.


Not too sure, but I think this is another of my creations. I am not a good records keeper, much to my detriment.


This yellow beauty came from Home Depot. It has a light citrus fragrance.


This is another of my seedlings. It differs somewhat from the original parent “Stars and Stripes’.


Here is another Schick hybrid, ‘Oracle’, an electric fuchsia and red combination I so love in cacti flowers.


Not just Echinopsis are in bloom. This Opuntia Santa-Rita looks like a color pumped image, but its delicate purple and blue colorings and its light yellow blooms look great against the backdrop of a purple variegated barberry.


Lastly is this sea urchin lookalike, Astrophytum. Its very pale yellow flowers with their red rings look like eyes looking back at you.

Only lasting a day in most cases, these cacti flowers are worth rushing out in the early morning to drink up their incredible and fleeting beauty, and they live through my colder than Redding winter temperatures, with the added bonus of not needing much water in the summer, but they do need afternoon shade.

If you would like to try your hand at these beautiful Echinopsis cacti, take a look at these beauties!:



June 8, 2008

Cactus crazy

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , at 6:26 pm by czygyny

I am an avid collector of cacti, I have hundreds! Some of my favorites are Echinopsis and hybrids of Echinopsis. They have some of the largest flowers around, bright and beautiful, and fleeting. Many of them only last one day! Thankfully, a photo lasts forever. After trying to grow them in pots, I decided to plop some into the dry, gritty soil of my rock garden. Wow, am I glad that I did! The collection that is in the ground (yes, they are quite cold hardy) out-did themselves this spring. I want to share some of these prickly wonders with you. Some of these plants are Schick hybrids from Huntington Botanical Gardens, the largest of the flowers are around 7″ long and can be up to 5″-6″  wide.

Check out the luscious blooms of the Schick hybrids:  http://www.huntington.org/BotanicalDiv/Schick/catalogindex.html

April 9, 2008

The ‘sweetest of springs’, continued

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:26 am by czygyny


I’ve been wonderfully busy with my garden these last few day. The rock borders have to be pulled out and reset, thanks to the phalanx of gophers and moles that invade my borders. This year I sprinkled ‘Mole-Max’ underneath the rocks as placed them, and poison bait at intervals for gophers. The bait is the most effective means I have found for control of gophers in the yard, but the most hazardous, so I use it with caution.

I’ve been out and about with my camera, as you can see, here are a few images to share:

Below is another miniature dwarf bearded iris. It has the yummy appearance of lemon meringue pie!


Wood hyacinths with a phlox background.


Striking red tulips


Apple blossoms


The sky-blue MDBI in my rock garden


My ‘bonus’ bulbs, Narcissus ‘Erlicheer’ from a Breck’s double daffodil collection.


The sturdy and striking Cerinthe major ‘Purpurascens’ . These flowers almost qualify for my ‘Thug Garden’, the penal colony for aggressive and overpowering plants. I pull up a lot of these every year, but I leave some where they are, since they go well with my Dianthus pinks (seen in the background) that grow nearby.


And, last but not least, my favorite little ceramic lamb amongst golden Sedum. She is a flea market find. The kids laughed and called her ugly, but I think she looks quite happy in her little patch of plants.



It is another fine day for working outside, I hope to finish up the area down the driveway, and then it is just one more strip to weed and my front yard is done!

Then I need to get started on my veggie garden, because I have been invited to write a column about growing edible plants for Doni’s website! That will mean that my veggie garden will have to be every bit as tidy and eye catching as my yard! It is still too cold to plant, it was 30° this morning, but it won’t be long. We have already purchased some of the tomato and pepper plants. Time to bring out the seed boxes, too. I have lots of seeds, with more on order.

Happy growing!



April 7, 2008

The end enriches the beginning

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , , , , at 7:39 pm by czygyny

This peculiar, and somewhat macabre image is where someone dumped the carcass of a cow last year. When we first saw it, it was still intact and still very identifiable. We marveled at the grisly sight then forgot about it until I went for a lengthy hike with my new camera, yesterday.

It made me think about what has transpired in the last year of my life. The death of something, its demise becoming the enrichment for something new. Look how rich and green and lush the grass is where the body was. Look at the bright buttercups surrounding the bones.


Today, I paid off all my debt. I went to each bank and paid in full. My car, my credit card, odd and ends–zero balance. I took of the old to prepare for the new. It was a liberating feeling, and I knew I had done well.  No, it was better than that, it was quite satisfying and joyous. The funeral of my debt becomes the seeds to ensure tomorrow.

The dying past plowed into the furrows of the future.




April 3, 2008

Sequential fun

Posted in blogging, photography tagged , , , , at 8:22 pm by czygyny


Early this morning Jason and I took a walk down to the creek with our two dogs, Jewel and Ginger. As an experiment, I tried the ‘sports’ function of my new camera. I focused my lens on Jason as he tried to jump across our East Stillwater Creek.



He starts out with a great beginning, those long legs can carry him a long distance in short order.



Jason is 6′ 7″, a long and lanky kid, he can run like the wind.



With that heavy dark hoody he likes to wear, he looks something like a big, looming condor taking off in flight.



The jump is doomed from the start, however, when his foot slides in the wet gravel at the start of his leap. Jewel the rottie comes into the picture in the last two frames, looking incredulously at Jason as he makes a big splash at the end.



The image below is one of the best of the 142 pictures I took on the walk. Look at that beautiful redbud (Cercis occidentalis) in the foreground. The mountain in the distance is Bear Mountain, a fascinating year ’round photo study, its layering and folds always make for great shadows and texture. And, look at that, everything is turning green so fast!

We’re still getting below freezing at night, but spring is definitely here! The frogs sing at night and crickets are starting to chirp in the evenings, and the birds serenade all day long.

The sweetest spring.


March 31, 2008

A gift to myself.

Posted in blogging, garden, photography, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 4:22 pm by czygyny


I bought myself a gift today.


It is a Canon EOS 40D digital camera with an awesome 18-200mm lens.


I have taken about a hundred images in just a few hours.


And there was an AWESOME 22° halo that was a perfect picture frame for my oak. For a time it had an upper tangent arc and parahelia with tails, and a brief circumzenithal arc.


Also takes great indoor images like my terrarium, without flash! (hey,  that is a real running waterfall in there)


And showcases my large cactus collection quite well. I am having a blast!

Stay tuned for more…

March 26, 2008

The sweetest of springs begins

Posted in garden tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 6:51 pm by czygyny


As the sweetest of springs unfolds, I thought it might be nice to share some of my favorite Miniature Dwarf Bearded Iris.


This image has a single purple/white iris and dwarf narcissus.


Miniature Dwarfs are generally no more than 8″, and perfect for rockgardens. These purple ones have already crowded out their rocky niche.

The last ones are my pale blue MDBI, it is a repeat bloomer. All of my stakes and tags have mysteriously disappeared, so I will have to do some sleuthing to find all their names, again.

My rockgardens tend to get a bit cluttered over time, since I am always bringing home more rocks, sticks and rusty things. Bits of broken crockery, glass and also tacky plastic lizards, dinosaurs, giant ants, etc. that are only seen in the dead of winter when your eyes are desperate to see anything bright and colorful.

This little Olympus digital camera isn’t too bad, but I can’t wait to get my digital camera.


March 23, 2008

What’s blooming now!?

Posted in blogging, garden, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 7:08 am by czygyny


Time to put work aside, no DISPARAGEMENT* here! My gardens are starting to wake up, and it can’t happen soon enough!
Above is a springtime treat, Euphorbia myrsintes sandwiched between two Phlox sublata. This euphorb stays low to the ground, has lovely evergreen blue-green foliage, and shocking, long lasting chartreuse flowers. It adapts well to dry situations, and lives through our unusually cold (for our area) winters, where we often get down to 25-28°. The only downsides to this hardy plant is its irritating sap, common to euphorbs, and its prodigious seed crop. It is best to remove all seed pods soon after setting–and don’t forget to wear gloves!

Phlox is a long-time early spring favorite, blankets of color, star shaped flowers of magenta, pink, white, lavender or striped pink, spilling over walkways and rockery with abandon. It adapts to rock gardens, full sun or partial shade, and average water. It takes light foot traffic, as well. During the remainder of the year, it is a tidy, evergreen mat of sharp needle foliage, prune around the perimeter to keep in within bounds. It likes to overrun my James Kelway pyrethrum.

.                                     trillium-chloropetalum.jpgThis beauty is Trillium chloropetalum, a native to our higher foothills and mountain meadows. This one was gathered at Shasta Marina in a washout area of a creek, unearthed by the recent flooding. I’ve had it for about five years and it never fails to bloom for me. I have it on the east side of the house, under the protection of the eaves, with rocks around it to protect it from inadvertent digging, since it goes dormant as the summer heat climbs.

primula-x-polyantha02.jpg Here is another little gem of mine, a yellow Primula x polyantha. I find that these are short-lived in our hot climate, but planted in a moist north facing bed you can get most of the common primula to hang in there a couple of seasons. This one was a knockout from the start. It is taller than most of what is offered in Redding, and this pot of primulas is five years old! It gets wheeled to a very protected spot during the summer and winter, then gets showcased with volunteer purple violas and the chartreuse leaves of Veronica repens ‘Sunshine’.

.                             drum-planter.jpg Anyone who has visited my gardens knows I love succulents, and I love ‘found’ items, the rustier, the better. This ‘pot’ is a brake drum from an old car, found at the scrap metal yard. They are heavy containers, but are very sturdy and perfect for smaller sempervivums. I find that sedums don’t do as well as semps in these containers. Look how the cobweb semps drape over the side!

hemingray-42.jpg Not all that blooms has color in my yard. I love old glass insulators, and these Hemingray 42s are my favorite! There is just something about that wonderful aqua blue color. I created a mini ‘power pole’ to showcase my collection, and when the evening summer streams through them, it is beautiful. To those ‘in the know’ my Micky Mouse Hemingray enjoys the safety of my window sill.

.                                the-garden.jpg       Here is my yard, still sleeping for the most part, but the rosemary in the herb box is abuzz with bees, the euphorbia characias (I have lots of euphorbs)  to the left is showing off its acid green blooms, a phlox and Iberis sempervirens blooming low in the perennial strip. (This is where my peonies are) and my river of grass is dark and lush. It is still too early to plant the annual boxes, last year I tried to start too early and I was out placing row covers out on them every night. I’m waiting until next month to plant them. It is still getting down in the high 20s in our micro-climate, down in the ‘holler’.


My gardens are my pride and joy, stay tuned for more…


My oldest ‘child’ Jason came home with a digital camera, so, as you can see, I’ve been out snapping images right and left. I am in the market for a Canon Rebel, as I already have lenses. Soon I will be looking for the right deal. This camera is sufficient for many instances, but I need that macro!

*I am under a non-disparaging clause for my remainder of time at work. I would like to remind any members of ‘The Company’ (you know who you are) that anything written in this blog, with any hint of a disparaging remark was placed here well before my termination inception. I have been very careful to not name names and sensitive information. My remarks have been a general industry-wide concern. Many people face what I face, in today’s world.  Act with ethics, care, empathy, concern and patience with us all, whom you oversee, as is fitting for someone in your position.


February 27, 2008

Spring fever

Posted in blogging, garden tagged , , , , , at 8:18 pm by czygyny

.                                  me-hiding.jpg

One wonderful reason that I love living in this great north state is the early promise of Spring. Here it is, only late February, and the pink petals of the purple plum tree are already peeking out of their buds, Bradford pears and almonds burst forth, and crocus and daffodils have already made the scene. If you are blessed enough to live close to the hills, the rich, honey scent of manzanita blossoms fill the evenings and the Pacific tree frogs are singing their courtship song at the creeks and and wet spots at night till they wind down as it gets cold.

If you are a scent-lover, you cannot be without Daphne odora marginata this time of year. Never failing a February show, this shrub will utterly delight you with the most heavenly scent that falls somewhere between orange blossom and Fruit-Loops. Its best grown in a large pot in our area, the gophers love the roots and they are picky about drainage, but if you have an east or north entryway, its creamy white edged leaves and pinky white blossoms are a must have to greet you when you get home. Make sure to pick a handful of the blossom  sprays and bring indoors. They will fill your room with delight.

If early spring color is something you pine for, johnny-jumpups are a good bet. Once they get established in your flower beds, they will rise up in every little spot, but their cheery purple and yellow flowers never fail to make you smile. Pansies are great this time of year, if the rain (or hail) hasn’t pummeled them to mush. ‘Tiger-Eyes’ are one of my favorites, it is halfway between a pansy and a viola in size but look at those ‘whiskers’!

.                           tiger-eyes.jpg

If you are a succulent lover, sempervivums are a must for the dry shade in your garden. This is the time of year that the purples, blues and reds glisten from these hardy perennials. One of my most satisfying gardens are my rock gardens, and the sempervivums are the rock-stars of the gravel beds.

.                                     semps.jpg

Now is the time to get that vegetable garden ready, too. We have ours rototilled, but haven’t done much in way of starting the seeds. It doesn’t help that I have hurt my back (chiropractor says I have too much stress in my life, imagine that?) and can’t sit or bend forward comfortably for any length of time, so the seed starting must wait.

Here is what our garden area looks like: how-it-starts.jpg 

And this is what it will look like when summer is in full swing:garden02.jpg

Also, it is the time of year that I can get a minute or two outside after work, as the days lengthen once again. The back of winter has been broken and spring can’t be held back. Soon those all too short weeks of unbelievable green will flush the landscape, brighter than any memory can hold, before the heat hardens everything into the greys and blues of a scorching Redding summer.

Don’t miss it!          snail.jpg

January 18, 2008

Wandering the Path of Indecision

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:00 pm by czygyny

ladybugA week spent and still no closer to knowing what I want to do for a career. I also haven’t figured out how to make my art images crisp and clear on this blog. My little lady bug looks like he’s a bit moldy.

Its funny, I have been involved with advertising for over 25 years, half of that doing my craft on computers, but I sure haven’t kept up with the electronic age. Heck, I had never even read a blog until the week I created one, just last week!

Where I work, we went through the online tutorials for creating Flash ads for our online department, and then we never really got to use it. I would be hard pressed to create a completed file in Flash, today. But, this place was always sort of backwards in their operation. We became involved with PCs instead of Macs, CorelDraw instead of Adobe. Both choices worked great–for us–but trying to send out any files or receive ads from other sources proved a frustrating task until Acrobat came to the rescue.

Now, we are trying to switch horses in mid-stream, they’ve purchased licenses of the Adobe CS3 for us, even despite the fact they’ve told us they’re outsourcing our jobs. So, let’s see, we have inexperienced mid-and upper management trying to garner points upstream-without regard to the employees, revenue down, bad company image with the public, an axe hanging over the whole creative department, revamping what was a well-oiled, well-developed, smooth-flowing work path, all the while doing it in a new graphics program.

Sounds like a good plot for a movie. Except for the prerequisite love interest. I don’t have a clue about any of that because I don’t pay attention, but I’m sure that is in there somewhere. 😉 I know its not me!

It makes it doubly hard to think about new things when at home there is so much to do. We spent the whole day, yesterday,  rototilling with a rented tiller. That adventure is worthy of a post all unto itself.

We arrived at the rental place towing a trailer, but the tiller comes with a trailer. After going home to drop off our trailer, we get back to realize that neither of us have our driver’s licenses, nor our cell phones. That made it hard to get the tiller rented, but we managed to get it set up. Then, when we went out to hitch it up, we realized we didn’t have the right size ball hitch for the trailer. We leave to go home and get one, but made it part way back home to realize that we don’t have the needed 2″ ball, anyway. Back we go to the rental place and cancel the order, because I am getting a bit frazzled at this point. Half an hour later we are back at the rental place after finding a ball, close by, at Harbor Freight. Finally, after all that, we get home and my mother came and told us, in tears,  she couldn’t get her brand new Honda Civic hybrid started, nor could she get the garage door to the shop open so she could use her old car, so she missed her doctor’s appointment. She couldn’t get ahold of us because we didn’t have our cell phones! Argghhh!

This is the sort of drama I was trying to take a vacation from!

But! I can say in all honesty, even after that comedy (and tragedy) of errors, it turned out to be a wonderful day, frayed nerves were soothed, apologies made (for all the bickering and short tempers), the day was beautiful and we were able go get a lot accomplished. When the day was done, I wandered back at the corner of the property, and sat up on the old iron and wood bed of my ancient 45 Chevy dually, and watched the lengthening shadows and golden sunlight glow on the line of cottonwood trees, the pink hued willows at the creek, and a gibbous moon in the darkening sky. The sun set on a good day, after all.

While taking my turn at the tiller, I came up with some ideas for making money from the garden, growing dried flowers and decorative grains for the florist market, perhaps growing vegetables for the local farmer’s market. Anything to keep me home.

columbineI think I would rather sell all my possessions than to go back to work, that’s how much I hate that place now. Trouble is, I really don’t own a lot of expensive things. Most of my wealth went out the door in my troublesome 10 year marriage, along with a lot of other people’s money. Ah, I tried to warn them not to loan my ex any ‘seed’ money for business ventures… Perhaps that is also why I balk at starting my own businesses. I still have a bad taste in my mouth from his vain attempts. But, the taste is bitter, yet, the situation I face at work. I want to succeed, I need to succeed.

Everybody wants me to stay home. Can I pull it off?


Next page