Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Dryad Ranch Gardens

Since we are not at Dryad Ranch full time yet, both having full time jobs and a mortgage in the Bay Area, we are developing the gardens at the ranch slowly but surely. We have three defined garden areas: upper garden, lower garden and front. The upper garden is a semi-rocky area just behind the ranch house, slightly shaded by oaks and manzanita, where we've put roses and irises primarily. We've filled in with some daffodils for springtime cheer and have a lovely rosemary bush that was given to us a couple of years ago, and which has provided grace notes for some of our suppers.

The lower garden has plantings of young fruit trees, more roses and bulbs, while the front has a minuscule holly tree, two stone pines that started as living Christmas trees, and a thuja. Interspersed with all of these are California poppies and other native wildflowers.
One of the natives blooming just now is wild cucumber (marah fabaceus), also known as California manroot. It creates long twiny vines and ultimately a cucumber-like fruit that is not edible. We have several of these in the lower garden near the compost pile, and have seen them in many other places on the property. We have a young almond tree blooming happily now, along with the native manzanita, and the bees are very busy, maintaining a constant loudly audible buzzing throughout the day. We lost quite a few starting fruit trees last year and the year before to a terrible plague of grasshoppers, and are waiting for a while to replace them, although we would love to get in some cherries and apples. The pomegranate and the quince are budding out nicely, giving us great hopes for delicious eating in the fall!

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