Scented Geraniums

Rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

A few years ago, I discovered scented geraniums (technically pelargoniums). My favorite is the rose-scented specimen pictured above. This is the variety generally used to make geranium-scented essence oils. In mid-summer it will bloom with tiny pink flowers. The plants are difficult to keep alive during winter, so I always look for one to buy in early summer. I love to brush the leaves and take away the scent on my fingers. Once again, the Master Gardener has delighted me.

The citronella variety looks much like the rose geranium, and it’s supposed to keep the mosquitos away, so I bought one of those as well. This week I had a chance to test it. After our recent deluge, there was a lot of standing water in the drainage ponds, so the mosquitos had a chance to hatch in mass. Yesterday, I took my prayer book into the garden and placed the citronella plant at my feet. Within minutes I had four bites. I could almost hear the little monsters laughing at the citronella plant.

Purple Sage

The purple sage bushes are in bloom all over town. On drip irrigation, they bloom moderately once in a while. However, we had a deluge of a rain about a week ago, and now they are literally covered with blossoms. It seems they prefer the water provided directly by God.

A Garden of Movies

OK, so I like happy endings. What can I say? I’m an optimist. When I watch what seems like a good movie, only to be gut-punched by a terrible ending, I feel cheated. (If I wanted to be miserable, I’d watch the news.) Here are a few lesser-known oldies that I’ve watched more than once:

"They Might Be Giants", George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward (1971)
"The Englishman Who Went up a Hill and Came down a Mountain", Hugh Grant (1995)
"The Maldonado Miracle", Peter Fonda and Mare Winningham (2002)
"The Sandy Bottom Orchestra", Glenne Headly, Tom Irwin, and Madeline Zima (2002)
"Dear Frankie", Gerard Butler and Emily Mortimer (2005)

Night Singer

He’s up there somewhere….

A variety of birds grace our garden – wrens, doves, grackles, and a mystery night singer that may be a mockingbird. Like clockwork, the wrens greet every sunrise and sunset with a symphony of chirping. During the day, they swoop from tree to tree on very important business. The doves occasionally coo, and the grackles occasionally screech. From midnight to dawn, the mystery singer chirps, warbles, and trills in a variety of changing, complex patterns. I wish I understood the language of birds. They seem to have a lot to say.


Vitex tree in full bloom

Asymmetry Definition: lack of equivalence between parts; absence of symmetry.

It’s curious that asymmetry can be very ugly or very beautiful. The key to beauty seems to be an undefinable balance or harmony among the asymmetrical parts. As an imperfect human being, I’m striving for inner beauty or inner asymmetrical balance.

Still working on it.

For the Love of Mystery

Shamrock Plant

Catholics have a certain appreciation and love for mystery. Today is the feast of the Holy Trinity, the Ultimate Mystery. St. Patrick used a shamrock to explain it ― one stem with three leaves. I wouldn’t presume to try to top that. One God who manifests as three distinct Persons. The concept isn’t logical, which is one of the reasons I love it. I can ponder this Mystery for a lifetime without ever reaching the height, depth, and breadth of it.

Open and Closed

The blossoms on our ice plant, like those on many other plants, open to the sun and close when the sun passes. As human beings, we are so like that. We open to warmth and light and close in on ourselves when we don’t feel it from others. We are the light of the world, Christ said. How can I be warmth and light to someone today? How can I help someone blossom and grow today?

In Praise of Good Men

Papa and Mama on their wedding day

This morning my husband asked why I haven’t mentioned that he is the son of a gardener.  So, here’s to my husband and his papa.

My husband’s father was a wonderful man.  As a Japanese American and U.S. Citizen, he worked in an import/export company in San Francisco prior to WWII. When the war broke out, he and his young family were transported to an internment camp.  After the war, there was so much ill will toward Japanese Americans that he could only get work as a gardener.  But he never complained and he never became bitter.  He was a good husband and a good father. He came to love his own garden as a place of refuge and peace, and my husband learned a lot from him.

In our garden today, my husband does the heavy lifting.  In recent days he eradicated an infestation of termites in one of our wooden posts and re-sealed the rest of them.  He sawed off a dead branch from the tree in our shade corner, and he had the courtyard gate repaired.  Throughout the year, he trims the bushes and inspects our stucco and roof for repairs.  For all these things and many others, including saving the last of the blueberries for me yesterday, he is God’s gift to me.


Red Yucca Blossoms and Seed Pods

Gardening is a great activity for recovering perfectionists like me. Although I can strive for perfection in the garden, I can never fully achieve it. Too many factors are outside of my control – wind, heat, and the unpredictable whims of the Master Gardener. That’s a good thing.

Like everyone else, I wrestle with a few unamusing things in life. However, in the garden I can control one thing. There is something REALLY satisfying about pulling weeds and seeing the garden free of them.

Veni, Creator Spiritus!

There is something about being in a garden that changes us. Whether or not we name it, we sense the presence of the Creator. It is as if there is a wonderful secret all around us that eludes our minds but speaks to our senses.

On this Solemnity of Pentecost, the poetic beauty of Psalm 104 glorifies the Creator and all of creation. Here are a few lines from the beginning of the Psalm:

"....O LORD my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers...."
(Ps. 104: 1b-4, NRSV Catholic Ed.)

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and we shall be recreated, and you will renew the face of the earth! (Traditional Catholic Prayer)