Category Archives: Gardens

A welcome touch of blue (even if it’s not the sky)

As I fed Effie her daily fresh catnip leaves in Effieland this morning, I noticed a small handful of suddenly ripe blueberries that brought me joy and consolation nearly two weeks into the absence of any hint of blue in the sky or elsewhere. The smoke is predicted to clear tomorrow–we’ll see. Much-needed rain and westerly winds continue to elude the smokey valley.

I’ve picked all the blackberries, and Vic picks several large, full stems of Himrod (green) and Flame (dark pink) grapes every evening. We’re thankful we have plenty of water on tap to keep the fruits of the garden and the chickens hale.

We are also extremely thankful for the aerial and land firefighting crews in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. May God continue to sustain these wonderful people. I don’t know how the losses they have prevented can ever be calculated.


Filed under Effieland, Gardens, Nature, News, Photos, Places, Seasons, Weather

Sunflowers and shade

I was intrigued with our tall sunflowers silhouetted behind our Roman shade, as the sun set behind them.


Filed under Gardens, Nature, Photos

Gold on bronze

Looking out the window, I noticed two goldfinches perched on our bronze sunflowers. My husband’s camera has more competent telephoto capability than mine, and he took these shots through a window without a flash.


Filed under Birds, Effieland, Gardens, Nature, Photo Galleries

Effie’s Nomination for Pet Enemy #1: Downy Brome

Lots of us call them foxtails, or cheatgrass. It’s also known as Downy brome and timothy. We take the little spears out of our socks. They snag our cats and dogs with their slender spear-like tips. If not removed, they can cause pain, and possibly an abscess that could become infected. Dogs’ ears are particularly vulnerable. It’s good spring forage for cattle and sheep. By summer it’s in its pernicious spear mode.

Downy brome grows all over Effieland, my cat Effie’s large enclosed garden area, safe from predators and raptors, with overhead wire fencing. I spend at least ten minutes combing the horrid little spears out of Effie’s fur, every time I bring her back in the house, usually at least six times in a day.

The weed is prolific and uncontrollable. Anything that kills it would kill everything in the garden. Weeds are well adapted. They grow among plants we don’t wish to kill.

I once accepted a dog from a fellow university student who was returning home to New York and was unable to bring the wonder dog who had followed her home that summer in California. She showed me the abscess in the dog’s shoulder and gave me money to cover the vet bill. I brought Jenny the dog to a vet who surgically removed every fragment of the foxtail that had lodged in Jenny’s shoulder. The vet urged caution, because the abscess could have festered and become chronically miserable, and foxtails grew everywhere in Santa Barbara. They’re also prolific where we now live, in the Eastern Washington prairie.

A spear of Downy brome

My beautiful Effie, groomed and spear-free after coming in from Effieland, where we grow five varieties of grapes, as well as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries; we also grow sunflowers, lupines, flax, and poppies. And we are besieged with marauding Downy brome.


Filed under Animals, Effie, Gardens, Nature

Colors of an Effieland summer morning

Sunflowers, poppies, flax, and a blue sky make Effieland a delightful place to spend time with Effie–though at 9:00 a.m. it was already 91°.

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Filed under Effieland, Gardens, Nature, Photos

Vibrantly sunny flowers for a vibrantly sunny day

Sunflowers seem to invoke cheer, the way roses appeal to our sentimentality.


Filed under Gardens, Nature, Photos, Reflections, Seasons

Who thrives at 93° F? Sweet peas.

Effieland’s Sweet Peas respond well to heat and watering, and we respond to their delicate beauty with joy.


Filed under Effieland, Gardens, Nature, Photos, Seasons