Thursday, January 28, 2016


Apologies for the long silence but I just haven't had anything much new to say! I've been writing this blog since January 2012 and the anniversary has slipped by without mention. Over the four years I have written about plants and gardens back in the UK and here in California, where I now live for most of the year. Its currently winter and we are still in drought, the result of which is that many gardens look a little tired and drab. I don't feel there is anywhere as much color in gardens as in past years, although we have had very little cold weather and only one light frost. My own yard is almost devoid of color which brings me to the subject of this piece.

Eremophila 'Valentine'- internet pic - mine failed!

Last year I planted two Eremophilas - small shrubby plants from Australia. They are members of Scrophulariaceae, which includes such diverse plants as snapdragon and foxglove. E. 'Valentine' had pretty magenta flowers but failed to thrive and died.  By contrast E. glabra subsp carnosa grew like crazy making a sprawling flowerless green bush. I had made a mental note to dig it out before spring and replace with something more interesting. However there may be a reprieve, as it's the only plant in flower in my garden at this time. It's got a good smattering of red flowers but they don't really show against the dark green foliage unless the low winter sun catches them, so it still may go! At least a stay of execution for a few weeks!

Eremophila glabra subsp carnosa

Friday, January 8, 2016

Size isn't everything!

I haven't imposed any of my paintings on you recently, so thought it was time to add a few here, especially as I spend much of my time painting these days. I have recently departed from my previous large scale painting and been experimenting with some small ones which I'm very pleased with. There is a purpose as the local Coachella Valley Watercolor Society has a Small Image Show in February and I need something to enter. Anyway - here's a few.

These are all about 8in square and are available for sale. Email me for prices and mailing possibilities.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Red in tooth and claw

Christmas and the New Year has passed and although I feel slightly guilty for not having posted anything for ten days, I'm certainly not losing any sleep! Winter in Palm Springs is a curious but lovely season - still sunny and relatively warm but nights are chilly and the other day a touch of frost browned off the tips of the bougainvilleas.

Horticulturally its quiet - my excuse for not writing! My yard looks OK but not very colorful. We enjoy the humming birds' entertaining aerial acrobatics and like to see the roadrunners strutting about. However we are less happy with the hoards of pigeons that leave their droppings on our patio. We actually bought a plastic hawk as a deterrent but it didn't work!

The other day I commented that it was a pity that the roadrunners (carnivorous) didn't eat pigeons too. To my astonishment within a few minutes I observed a large bird at the bottom of the yard that had caught a pigeon. It wasn't a roadrunner but a red tailed hawk that proceeded to kill, pluck and eat the pigeon. Fortunately he was a tidy bird and finally flew off with the carcass, leaving us just a mulch of fluffy white feathers. The first picture is a library image and the other two are of the rather macabre event in our garden.

We decided to leave the feathers as a warning to the rest of the pigeons to stay clear of our yard and it seems the word has gone around as so far it seems to have worked.