Tuesday, October 20, 2009

After the Rain

It always smells so wonderful after the rain...

This is the third year of draught and we're so happy to have an early rainfall, especially a big one like this last one....

Our annual average rain fall is about 22 inches and this rain delivered 6.6 inches on San Marcos Pass, which is located several miles above our neighborhood.

The greater Santa Barbara area has many micro climates. Our neighborhood is one of the driest and also subject to winds. I've been told that the greater Santa Barbara area has one of the longest growing seasons in the world. A combination of our unique southern exposure to the Pacific Ocean, the protective Santa Rosa Island chain right off our coast, and the Santa Inez Mountain Range results in a long sliver of protected land along the Ocean creating a sub-tropical climate which grows just about everything!

Come for a walk in our garden...
Up the steps...

to our front door decorated for Halloween festvities...

We'll sit a while in the outdoor dining room and enjoy a glass of lemonade cookies and then we'll explore the rest of the garden....

The outdoor fireplace doubles as a retaining wall and is a gathering spot on chilly nights.

That's a very large and old Eucalyptus Tree behind the fireplace. Eucalyptus Trees love our climate although they are not native to the US. They originate from Australia.

Crows, Hoot Owls and Turkey Vultures love to nest in these trees. Our son and his pals made many a tree fort in this old tree. There are numerous groves of these huge trees in our neighborhood. Behind the tree lays a 10 acre parcel of open pasture still used for horses.

The lawn area you see was originally planned for a pool which
didn't happen. We love our strip of lawn surrounded by rock gardens

Doug, my talented Architect husband not only designed and built our home; he also built this covered patio housing the outdoor kitchen and dining room surrounded by lovely sitting and plant areas. We all got involved in the garden plan which evolves over time. We are a family of gardeners...

My collection of vintage birdcages are filled with plants and ceramic birds. Real birds are invited into our gardens to enjoy the many feeders. We grow flowers to attract bees and Monarch butterflies; including milk weed which attracts the butterfly caterpillar. It's amazing to watch the caterpillars strip a milkweed plant in a matter of days.

This little statue in the crouch of two Queen Palm trees is a favorite. The red flowers are one of the many Epidendrum plants (poor man's orchids) which I have in several colors. They truly live up to their common name, as they grow almost anywhere outside in our climate.

Spring usually brings us a pair of Canadian Honkers who like to sit in this fountain and have dinner at the feeders. It's a comedy in feathers to watch them come in for a landing on the lawn.

A late bloom of white Iceberg roses dances in front of a fabulous showing of purple Mexican sage which really shows off this time of year. The orange bush is a newer plant in the garden and seems to be adapting well. It's name escapes me at the moment, but we like it a lot.

This wonderful courtyard garden is right off our master bedroom. Designed, created and planted by our son Jon, as a birthday gift for his Dad. Jon is studying architecture at University and hopes to join his Dad as an Architect. His creative gene is quite obvious!

These flower beds are located over the wall from the court yard against the back of the house and are my personal flower gardens. The rack holds baskets for cutting flowers, produce and fruit from the garden. The large bird cage was a terrific vintage find in one of our local thrift shops.

The Jacaranda tree is native to California and Mexico. Jacaranda's have fabulous showings of flower bunches which are a periwinkel blue. A nearby street is lined with these trees. It is magical when the trees are flowering.

A path leads down the back stairs to the driveway; to the left is a mini fruit orchard, along with black-berries and artichokes. Sadly pumpkins and melons don't seem to like our garden.

At one end of the lawn a turn to the right leads to raised beds with vegetables, herbs, cutting flowers, berry bushes and a sad attempt at grapes. In the very back you can see a small portion of the potting area. The flower wagon is a gift from my sister Regina, also an avid gardener.

The other end of the lawn leads back to the patio and fireplace area which is next to our bird garden. Coveys of quail have taken up residence along with a variety of song birds and humming birds. The hanging sock is often covered with finches and squirrels can be seen swinging from feeder to feeder.

Living in a semi rural area does have its hazards...coyotes and bob cats force us to keep cats and small dogs indoors. When the red tailed hawk is looking for dinner in our garden....it becomes instantly very quiet.

rock gardens and succulents

Plants find homes everywhere

This garden is off our son's bedroom. During his summer break he replanted the area with succulents. The big leafed trees are Giant Birds of Paradise

This red roofed bird condo was a gift from my friend Joye as was the solar powered butterfly just below it

Fall colors are beginning to show right under the last bloom of roses

First blooming Cymbidiums next to a reflowering Phalenopsis orchid
sheltered under the patio cover

After the rain a tropical storm
brought a week of very warm and humid weather which made our gardens very happy.

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