All the photos in this blog were taken by me. The information is taken from friends, books, magazines, conversations at nurseries, the internet and a few of my own amateur-gardener thoughts. Please feel free to share your own knowledge and experiences in the comment section that follows each posting.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Hush Little Mama, Don't You Cry...

Sometimes you can't ignore symbolic occurrences. Sometimes they are so blatant it is eerie. Using some input from readers, I learned that my birds were Mockingbirds. The thought of Mockingbirds in my garden was so sweet and fitting as I used to sing, Hush Little Baby to Jeffrey and Carly to help them fall asleep.  I paid close attention to my bird babies for days marking their growth in my mind and always curious as to when I'd find them missing while busily preparing for my son's graduation and noticing his growth and signs of strength. I beamed with pride when my baby soared across the stage preening his feathers clutching his diploma with pride dripping from his exaggerated smile.

Hush Little Mama, Don't you Cry...

The day of Jeffrey's graduation party, I was excited to share the Mockingbirds with anyone who cared or perhaps had been reading this blog. Nature's gift struck again when I discovered the babies left their nest sometime that morning. The nest was empty. Empty nest. Need I say more? The abrupt symbolism hit me over the head like a brick. You can't avoid that. Mother Nature was surely sending me an astounding message. Mother Mockingbird was okay with her babies taking off and I was to be okay with mine. Okay. I get it. Loud and clear.

It's amazing what happens if you are paying attention. Its not always easy to pay attention while traveling at the speed we all do. I am grateful that I did catch those precious moments in my garden this Spring.

Moving along...
Last night we got back from Santa Monica, the end of three weeks of non-stop adventure with family and friends which began around Jeffrey's High School graduation. I spent two hours watering the garden. It was like visiting an old friend and finding out how they've grown and what challenges they've had to face. I watered plants dead-heading where necessary, admired flowers or the beginning of fruit,  harvested my first zuchinnis, trimmed back leaves filled with aphids or eaten by snails and admired the tremendous growth that occurred all over the place. That's why I love gardening. Things are continually changing. Its always a feast for the eyes.

Gardening Notes:
- My tomatoes are large. The Yellow Pear is towering over the cage already and I am pruning it back generously this year. 

- Aphids took over a few of my Chard plants so I trimmed them way back and gave them a power wash hoping that new growth will be unaffected. 

- The grapes look fantastic. They are nearing marble size and plentiful. I am fantasizing an amazing photo opportunity this Fall. 

- My strawberries weren't watered well enough during my absences and the whole pot is dried out. It's okay. I can't expect that there won't be some death during the last three weeks. 

- The hydrangeas are out of control beautiful. They're getting close to the ones I marvel at on Long Island. 

- My mint barrel was taken over by Lemon Verbena, which obviously seeded itself from last years plants I have since pulled out. I learned this the hard way when I announced to a large party that we were going to make Mojitos with my Mint, only to find that the pot was filled with something that resembled mint, but didn't taste like it. Oops...

-The worms seem to be doing well. They are still moving around in there and that's all I can really report. So far, I don't see anything even close to a material I'd put in my garden. 

- I carefully placed the Mockingbird nest in the corner of one bed as a Memorial to my experience this Spring. The three peppers that are close to the nest were covered in bird poop. Do you suppose? 
I had to bathe them carefully to remove all the white spots on the leaves. 

Beautiful Cookbook: 
My mother-in-law bought me a gift while she was here. We were at Chateau St. Jean  (our favorite winery together) and I was admiring a cookbook. She said, "Let me buy this for you". Typically, I would never say, "Okay" as that feels like it exceeds the limits of what is appropriate. However, this time, I heard myself enthusiastically say "Okay" and I grabbed the cookbook. Its beautiful, informative and very, very fun to read. It's called,  ad hoc at home, by Thomas Keller. 

A Few Recipes:
Lots of people have favorite Pesto Recipes. This is mine. It was given to me by Tish, the woman I mentioned in an earlier blog who grew a very large garden on our property when I was growing up.
The e-mailed recipe is dated 9/27/2000.  I've used it ever since.

Pesto Dressing A La Tish
1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 tsp each salt and sugar
2 T Pine Nuts
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil

Put Basil and Parsley in cuisinart and mince well. Add minced garlic, salt, sugar, pine nuts - pulse to combine. Add vinegar and cheese - pulse to combine. Add the olive oil very slowly as the cuisinart is running so the dressing thickens. You can double this recipe easily. It keeps well in the refrigerator for a long time. I also freeze it in ice cube trays to use after basil season. Tish says, "Use it on everything!"

First off, Red Chard is such a beautiful leaf. I just harvested a bunch of it with some lemons and the first of the zucchini. I can't help but step back and admire the basket for a bit before I take everything in to wash and eat. It's the Martha Stewart in me.

The following recipe is from a gal I knew when I lived in Mill Valley. She has recently published a cookbook called, Get Naked Fast!  I've been making Diana's Favorite Green Juice Cleanse since I bought the book and I love it. So far, I haven't convinced anyone to love it as much as me, perhaps because they are afraid of drinking vegetables.  If you have a juicer and you're into experimenting, try this recipe. To me, it tastes like V-8 without the sodium. I could almost add vodka, but then I couldn't take the wrath that would follow. Not to mention, it would defeat the purpose of the drink. Diana's message is: "No Dairy, No Wheat, No Sugar, No Meat, No Caffeine and No Alcohol". I can adhere to most of that, most of the time. Okay, some of the time...

Diana's Favorite Green Juice Cleanse
3 cucumbers
2 bunches of celery
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch rainbow chard (I use my Red Chard)
3 green apples
3 lemons ( I don't put a lemon in my juicer, so I just squeeze the juice of one lemon)
2 fennel bulbs 

Do not remove any parts of the vegetable or fruit. Push all the ingredients through the juicer. This fresh juice will last 2 days in the refrigerator. (I've kept mine for three).
Makes 4 quarts

It's officially summer. Things are supposed to slow down. So far, my summer has been anything but slow. I am hoping for a change in energy soon. Until then, I will enjoy the clear blue sky that blankets everything. I love that color. Another nod to Mother Nature.
I hope she follows my baby to Colorado.


  1. First person to actually leave a comment, wins a prize!

  2. I can't believe I'm the first! I saw this days ago and didn't comment (did so on FB). I love your writing style Whitney, and your photos. This entry was particulary touching, what with your eldest leaving the nest. Have a wonderful summer!

    Melody Parks

  3. as i'm sitting at my desk at work looking out to what is quite a dismal sky here in burlingame, i logged on to read your has brought a ray of sunshine to my day, thank you for that...have a wonderful weekend..till we meet again!!
    aloha oe!


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