February 27, 2017

The Sun Will Rise and The Sun Will Set
(Lessons Learned as the Seasons Change)

sunset with bench

"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite the darkness."
~Desmond Tutu

A few days ago, I stopped by Lake Waubesa to see if the ice had melted. After an unusual, record-breaking stretch of mild weather, I knew the ice shacks would be gone. What I didn't know was that I'd have a front-row seat to a spectacular sunset.

The sky was on fire and colorful in every direction. The lake was still frozen, but showing signs of cracking and opening with the sun's unseasonable warmth.

hot sun




This experience didn't impart new knowledge; rather, it prompted spiritual acceptance that the sun will always rise and will always set ... until it doesn't. I might as well enjoy moments of beauty and gifts of living on this stunning, fragile planet, as it spins through space. I'll try to do my part, as one of many stewards of its resources.


How about you? What garden inspirations and lessons have you learned or reflected on during the past season?

Contributions from both hemispheres and all continents are welcome! To join in the "Garden Lessons Learned" meme, simply write a post or share one you've already written about lessons you've learned during the past season. Then share your links or observations in the comments on this post. This post will be available always under the "Lessons Learned" tab at the top of this blog. I'll share your posts on the PlantPostings Facebook Page closer to the equinox.

Happy spring to friends in the Northern Hemisphere, and happy autumn to those in the Southern Hemisphere!

(I'm taking a little blogging break for an exciting adventure! I'll share highlights after I return.)

February 16, 2017

Join Me in the Sunshine at the
San Diego Botanic Garden

ocean view

It's looking like the Midwest will have an early spring this year. However, even during a mild winter my mind tends to wander to warmer places.

Last year, in March, when we traveled to San Diego, one of my favorite destinations was the San Diego Botanic Garden, in Encinitas. As with all botanical gardens, my time there was too short. But here are a few highlights.

childrens garden 1

In the children's garden, signage and garden descriptions are friendly and informative.

childrens garden 2

This whimsical planter on a post describes the precious resource of water and how to conserve it.

childrens garden 3

Without words: sculpture illustrating the importance of pollinators.

childrens garden 6

This sign explains hummingbirds' penchant for long, tubular flowers, as the little friends circle around the nearby flowers and hide in the treetops.

childrens garden 4

The San Diego Botanic Garden provides protected habitat for Monarch caterpillars.

childrens garden 5

And a "bed and breakfast" enclosure for butterflies through all their life stages.

giant swallowtail

Many butterflies, like this Giant Swallowtail, flit and float throughout the gardens.


This "Fiddler" steel sculpture seems to come to life at the center of a mixed garden area.

mariachi topiaries 1

Mariachis covered in succulents--perfect!

mariachi topiaries 2

And dancers nearby--pure joy.


One area of the garden is dedicated to a tropical rain forest theme.

tropical epiphytes

Including the specialized plants that inhabit rain forests.

epiphytes collage

Some epiphytes in the gardens are potted, while others perch on trees.

kiwi aeonium

Likewise with plentiful succulents, like this Kiwi Aeonium, planted directly in the soil.

succulent bowls

Others planted in pots.

And then more plants ...

lilac verbena

Lilac Verbena (V. lilacina; syn. Glandularia lilacina), native to Baja California and Mexico.


Olulu or Cabbage on a Stick (Brighamia insignis), nearly extinct and native to the Hawaiian islands.

coral tree

Coral Tree (Erythrina caffra), native to South Africa.


Long-Leafed Cycad (Encephalartos longifolius), native to South Africa.

baja fairy duster

Baja Fairy Duster (Calliandra californica), native to California.

coast sunflower

California Brittlebush (Encelia californica), also native to California.

blue chalksticks

Blue Chalksticks (Senecio mandraliscae), native to South Africa.


Clivia (C. miniata) native to South Africa.

calif lilac

California Lilac (Ceanothus arboreus), native to California.


The botanical garden also has groves of Citrus, native to various Asian and Pacific locales.


And other fruits, such as Bananas (Musa acuminata), native to Southeast Asia.

secret garden 1

One of my favorite spots: the walled garden. Secret gardens with benches always beckon.

bottlebrush 1

Draping over the walled garden are giant Weeping Bottlebrush (Callistemon viminalis, syn. Melaleuca viminalis) trees.

bottlebrush 2


bottlebrush 3

While I was in this walled garden admiring these trees, hummingbirds were buzzing by. But I couldn't seem to capture them in a photo--partly because of the great camouflage of the trees.


Later, I enlarged one of the photos and found a surprise hummer. You can see how easy it is for them to hide among the leaves and flowers. :)

secret garden 2

Bye, for now, walled garden and San Diego Botanic Garden. I hope I'll visit again before too long.


(Note: The San Diego Botanic Garden has a substantial collection of native and xeric plants. A future post will focus more on these plants.)

February 08, 2017

It's Only a Rock Wall ... Or Is It?

mixed media

Nothing exciting is happening in my garden these days ...


rock wall

Let's check out the rock wall!

spore capsule 1

Wow, this moss looks lush and vibrant, even in the middle of winter.

spore capsule 2

Up close, it resembles a thick forest landscape.

lichens 1

The lichens are alive and multiplying, too.

lichens 2

As the snow and ice retreat, their pathways and wanderings become colorful and dimensional.

moss hideout

Huh ... moss in a tiny "cave"; I wonder if insects or critters find refuge here?

structure & lichens

Each rock has a unique shape, structure, and colony of life forms.

snow wrap

The snow wraps around like the hug of a warm blanket.

snow receding

I'm curious about all the creatures, plants, and life forms that live between the rock and the snow.

layers of life

Nature offers fascinating collages, draping across the rocks.

sedum & berries

The warmth of the rock encourages Sedums to sprout early.

rock & hard place

And Lamiums caught between a rock and a hard place can thrive even during the bitterest season.


Shaggy, dormant grasses add winter interest.


Did these tiny collections of sticks, nuts, and fruits occur only through gravity and happenstance, or did a small mammal bring them here?

food & shelter

Some of these spots actually look warm and comfortable. I guess the rock wall is more than simply a pile of cold, hard rock: It's a vibrant, active ecosystem!


Update: The quality of this video is poor, but perhaps worth including with this post. It shows a Mourning Cloak butterfly checking out the rock wall (for a possible hibernation spot?) a couple of years ago:

Mourning Cloaks are among the few butterflies that overwinter as adults in cold climates. Visit Butterflies and Moths of North America to learn more about them.