Caught in the Act!

My apologies to the rats, crows and mice of the neighborhood.  You’ve all been unjustly blamed for the damage to my swing cover. Today this brazen squirrel continued her destruction.  Here she is: caught in the act!

squirrel Gathering nesting material

Gathering nesting material

squirrel on garden swing

Let me just put this back for you

She barely looked up when the camera flashed, then went back to the  business of chewing. She ran off when I stepped outside. I decided to cut my losses at that point, and pulled out what remained of the soft cord.  I draped it along the back of the swing, fairly sure she’d return when I turned my back.

I came back mid-afternoon after a few appointments and there she was again, this time under the swing. She’d pulled the cover half off. Rather than shredding the offered cord, she took the entire length back to her presumed nest. I’m sorry to have missed that photo opportunity.

My swing cover is beyond repair now. Perhaps the ‘silver lining’ is knowing that part of the cover will be keeping tiny squirrels warm and comfortable in a nearby tree.

Enjoying the 4th

Tomorrow is Independence Day in the States. My teenage boys have outgrown the 4th of July parade, so I’ve re-purposed all their 4th of July sparkle. I gathered the ribbons, pinwheels,and other bits of red, white and blue once used to adorn their bikes and added some bling to the garden.  Doesn’t the pumpkin patch look festive?

pumpkin patch 4th of July

Pumpkins, sunflowers and some 4th of July bling

4th of July decorations

Patriotic watering can

fairy garden candles

Fairy garden bling

It’s a funny thing celebrating American Independence Day when you’re a Canadian ex-patriot with a British father. I sometimes feel like a bit of a fraud. So in my heart I’ll celebrate independence for all the citizens of the world. Let freedom ring.

Sunset Celebration Weekend

sunset plant logo

Sunset planter logo (wooden letters filled with succulents)

We had a terrific time Saturday at Sunset Celebration Weekend.  Located on the grounds of Sunset Gardens in Menlo Park, the festival featured wine and food, travel, home design and the incredible garden’s they’re known for.

One of my first, and still beloved, gardening books is a Sunset Publishing classic:  The Sunset Western Garden Book. I used to pour over that book for hours.  The original came out in 1954. I bought my first copy in the mid-eighties, and later received an updated version as a gift. I still refer to it as the standard for gardening in this corner of the world.

At the festival, we sampled Torani soda and iced coffee, avocado and key lime cupcakes and MorningStar Farms vegetarian samplers, all free. Food truck offerings included several vegetarian options as well. Yeah me!

sunset gardens free samples

Top: Mike grew up drinking Torani Italian sodas Top Center: Avocado cupcakes with key lime butter-cream frosting Bottom: MorningStar crew serving tasty vegetarian morsels

The crowded test gardens made it challenging to get good shots, so I’ve promised myself a trip back.  Everything looked healthy and well-maintained. Here are a few highlights:

Outdoor Dining Room designed by McKenna Landscaping

Outdoor Dining Room designed by McKenna Landscape

Reuse of old materials highlighted this design. Stacked, reclaimed wood covers the entrance.   Reclaimed wood appears throughout the dining area in the planter boxes, the benches and the table. Sycamore trees form a natural ‘wall’ on two sides of the garden. The rest of the plantings are drought tolerant succulents.

A clever berry garden grew next to the dining area, the perfect way to eat summer dessert al fresco. A pair of curved trellises covered in berries, with strawberries at their feet in a semi-circle bed. Blueberry shrubs flanked either side.

sunset vegetable garden

Mike in front of the vegetable garden

The tidiest vegetable garden you’ve ever seen bordered the berries, then made way for compost bins, a mason bee house and finally a chicken coop.

bee house

Bee house


Happy, productive bees

Flowering gardens and herbs made up the rest of the garden, with lovely benches and seating areas throughout.

herb and perennial garden

Herb and perennial garden

I could have lingered there all day.  In addition to the gardens, the presentations and the demos, we saw two tiny houses, part of the minimalist movement afoot.  We rested our tired  feet for a bit while learning the best way to mix the ingredients for a cake.  Hmmmm…isn’t that what bakeries are for?

I’m already looking forward to attending again next year.

Do you have an annual favorite you like to attend?