Daffodil Hill

Daffy Down Dilly has come to town in a yellow petticoat and a green gown! ~Nathanial HawthorneDriving on a winding country road, and passing statuesque pines, and hills covered in emerald carpet, I thought to myself that this is exactly how spring is supposed to feel. Fresh, alive, and absolutely bursting with blooms! Yes, the drive to Daffodil Hill in Amador County is almost as pretty as the historical ranch itself.Fields of daffodils, farm animals and peacocks greet visitors upon arrival. Meandering through trails you’ll come across’s the original 1880s barn, old wagon wheels, gold rush mining equipment, and antique farm implements. There is no entrance fee, but donations are accepted and there is a small souvenir shop to purchase something special. Daffodil Hill in Volcano has been owned by the McLaughlin Family since 1887. Ancestors bought it from Pete Denzer, who had planted a few daffodils to remember his home country of Holland. The McLaughlin’s continued to plant daffodils through the years, and now plant several thousand bulbs annually. It is estimated that there are 300,000 daffodils blooming now. What a sight to behold!

The generous McLaughlin Family gives us all an enormous gift by opening up their private ranch each year for a few weeks to let the public traipse around the gardens and trails, picnic under shade trees, and soak up all that spring in the country offers. We are undeniably grateful!The stunning photo above came right off  Daffodil Hill’s Facebook page. They ask that you check the page or call daily to make sure the ranch is open. Rainy weather closes the ranch until the trails dry out. Make a day of your visit by stopping in the nearby little towns of Amador and Sutter Creek. Both are fun to visit and get a bite to eat.

What a lovely place to celebrate the arrival of spring!

Table Mountain Hike

Wildflowers? Why yes, indeed.IMG_8777Scenic views? Take a look!.IMG_8798Waterfalls? Yep, and some trickling streams.IMG_8794We weren’t the only ones to think that last Saturday was a perfect day to hike around Oroville’s Table Mountain. We arrived to a full parking lot and once we were inside the gate we saw many people picnicking, flying kites, taking photos, and yes, hiking and exploring.

The North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a nature reserve of 3,315 acres. With no established trails, you just make your way through the landscape of vernal pools, small streams, grasslands and woodlands. It’s a flat topped, table-like elevated basalt mesa, likely formed by an ancient volcanic eruption.

Last year at this time we made the drive to Oroville’s North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve only to be disappointed. We expected to see masses of wildflowers flourishing, but actually saw more on the drive than while here because of drought conditions. We’ll try to get here even earlier next year, perhaps mid to late March rather than mid April. We were greeted with a show of lupine and red clover, as well as buttercups and poppies, but have learned that the floral fields are even more abundant earlier in spring.IMG_8776IMG_8770IMG_8805IMG_8775What’s not to love? And the icing on the cake? A found heart rock!
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Like Kids in a Candy Store

I had the pleasure of galavanting about in a favorite nursery with a very dear gardening friend today. Actually, gardening is only one thing of hundreds that we have in common. We spent a total of five hours together, having wonderful conversations, solving world problems, catching up with each other. Time went by quickly. Prior to today it had been three of four weeks since I’d been in a nursery. Way too long, especially for this time of year when it seems the whole world is bursting with color as it awakens from its winter slumber.

So there we were at Green Acres Nursery conversing and leisurely admiring it all, oohing and ahhing over the colors, the fragrances…well, everything. Here are some of the things that caught our eyes.

Tropical HibiscusIMG_8420Mallow
IMG_8426Summer Gold Japanese MapleIMG_8422Dogwood 
IMG_8417Evergreen Clematis, AvalancheIMG_8418DelphinumIMG_8433Coral BellsIMG_8434 ColumbinesIMG_8435DianthusIMG_8440Thunbergia will always remind me of a favorite nursery my sister and I used to go to when she lived in Huntington Beach. The fences at the charming nursery there were completely covered in this vine!IMG_8441PansyIMG_8442FuchiasIMG_8436IMG_8437PelargoniumIMG_8438I have a fondness for Coleus and plant them each spring in memory of my mother who loved them.IMG_8439Happy Hydrangeas. Mine are nowhere near ready to bloom.
IMG_8444HostasIMG_8445A year ago this rhododendron called Purple Gem caught my eye at a nursery; I bought three of them right then and there. Mine will probably be blooming in another few weeks. I hope they look as good as these!IMG_8447WisteriaIMG_8448It was so hard to resist taking one (or three!) of each home with us, but the two of us shopped with great restraint. I had a few things on my list and left with only those few things, knowing that I need to finish a few projects first before I delve into another. Browsing through nurseries is such a treat anytime, but this time of year especially. My kind of candy store!

Easter Nests

IMG_7849Daffodils, tulips, the sound of birdsong, trees leafing out, nests…I am so enjoying the season!

On Thursday we had an early Easter celebration with part of our family who won’t be able to join us on Sunday. It was a delightful day with egg hunts, playing in the yard, the discovery of new toys from the Easter bunny, lunch, and nest making.

These tasty treats are from the recipe called No-Bake Nests in Sharon Lovejoy’s book called Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars.

Ingredients:

34 large marshmallows

1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 cups cornflakes

1/4 cup toasted coconut

candy eggs

IMG_8282Directions:

In large saucepan, stir the marshmallows and the butter together over medium heat.

Add the vanilla to the melted marshmallow mixture and stir. Remove from heat.IMG_8283Fold in the cornflakes and the lightly toasted cornflakes and mix.IMG_8284Drop a spoonful of the mixture into the cup of a greased muffin pan. Form nests. It helps to spray hands with cooking spray for this.IMG_8288Remove once they’re formed and place on a baking sheet. Nestle small candy eggs inside each one. Cover with plastic wrap and let harden on the countertop. Nests can be stored in a single layer in a tightly covered container.IMG_8342Aren’t they adorable? And fair warning, they’re a bit addicting too.

Wishing you and yours a peaceful and blessed Easter.

In the Garden

Happy first day of spring!
IMG_8178I’ve spent a good portion of yesterday and today working in the yard. Nothing glamorous, just putting down a new layer of top soil, feeding plants, taking inventory of what I need to replace, and cleaning up garden beds. This time of year it’s easy to lose myself out there. Hours pass quickly, and before I know it it’s late afternoon. There’s so much to do, but somehow it doesn’t feel like work (until the soreness kicks in the next day!) amidst the glory of nature’s reawakening. Isn’t it remarkable to watch what’s blooming from day to day? Here are a few scenes that caught my eye.IMG_8172IMG_8244IMG_8238I must be in a purple-y mood!

If you haven’t noticed already, I have an appreciation for quotes. I keep journals of passages from books that speak to me, along with favorite quotes. Through the years, I’ve added some inspiration in the garden by writing some quotes I love on rocks. I simply write with a sharpie and then spray them with a clear protective spray. They need to be re-done each year, and that was another bit of work (play!) I was doing this weekend.IMG_8233IMG_8230IMG_8231IMG_8232IMG_8239IMG_8234Suddenly our surroundings are bursting into bloom. Each time I’m out driving I’m noticing the emerald green of the hills swathed with poppies, singing loudly. Miracles are happening everywhere we look! What’s catching your eye right now?

Nearly Spring!

 

IMG_7773“The year’s at the spring

And day’s at the morn;

Morning’s at seven;

The hillside’s dew-pearled;

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn;

God’s in His heaven-

All’s right with the world!”

~Robert BrowningIMG_7958“A wizard must have passed this way

Since – was it only yesterday?

Then all was bare, and now behold,

A hundred cups of living gold!”

~Emma C. DowdIMG_7720“A little madness in the spring is wholesome even for the king.”

~Emily DickensonIMG_7933“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.”

~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

IMG_8116IMG_7971“Spring is nature’s way of saying Let’s Party!”

~ Robin WilliamsIMG_7920Everything is blooming recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Ranier Maria RilkeIMG_8077IMG_8067Wishing you all a week of blooms. Go out and take in all the beauty surrounding you!