June 24, 2012
Arriving home after six busy weeks is always an adjustment, as strange as that might seem. I look for things in a drawer that are in the motor home. I’m out of mustard here, but not in the motor home. I’m unpacked, have pursued all important mail, and finally took a walk around my yard. Three giant strawberries were munched quickly. The last of the crop, no doubt.
My cinnamon bush was the only thing in bloom, inundated with tall rye grasses that didn’t get pulled.
Unstable weather has negatively affected my orchard. If a fruit tree blooms and then it snows or rains, the pollen gets washed away before it has a chance to set fruit. One walnut tree, the early bloomer, has walnuts beginning to mature. The other, nothing.
One almond tree has a few green leaves at the top; dead from borers, it will need to be cut down before I leave. As an aside, notice the golden grass of my orchard.
A few pears maturing, but a disease called black spot afflicting the tree. My orchard does not get sprayed since I’m certified wildlife habitat and don’t use poisons. They would be healthy with better care, mulching, selective pruning, better water. Care that I no longer give them because I’m traveling so much of the year. It is a choice I’ve made at this late stage in my life.
But I have a healthy crop of native California bunch grass. It may look like weeds to you (and everybody else), but I’m very proud of this ninety foot strip of grass because it took years to get it to flourish and fill in this side bar to my driveway where this grass gets no water. This is the first year I didn’t have it cut and allowed it to go completely to seed. My quest to grow native California bunch grass came about from a feature story I wrote sometime in the 1980′s. I interviewed a 93 year old woman who owned a family diary telling the story of her ancestor’s trip by wagon train to seek gold in California. The diary described the glory of cresting the last mountain and looking down on the green, green grass of the Central Valley near Sacramento. It was July in the diary, and I knew that grass in July is not green in California, it is golden brown. Thus, I questioned the authenticity of the diary. I probed a bit, and asked her if someone had copied the diary from another source? No, it was original. I was stumped. I went to the library and did some research and found out that California was once as green as other states. It was the incursion of Spanish grasses from the horses and cattle imported into California by Spanish soldiers that obliterated most native bunch grasses that stay green during California’s hot, rainless summers. Aha! Now you know where I’m coming from. I planted about five different bunch grasses and only two types survived. This particular grass flourished, and the other one hangs on in small patches. One thing I will continue to do, is pick the seeds and spread them and attempt to protect a California Native and have a green yard all summer with bunch grasses.