San Francisco summers vary greatly from the summers elsewhere. There’s the white fog and wind, which make San Francisco summers overcast and cool. Blossoms begin to show and form, but it’s not until August when the sun strengthens and casts a warm glow over the garden.

June 1, 2008
I had to do away with the second rose bush, there was a mold forming on all of the new growth. I’ve decided to replace the heirloom roses with a rose bush specifically groomed for containers. Now I finally have a rose bush in full bloom. I also installed ivy in the railing basket. I like how it cascades and drips.

June 4, 2008
The patio rose tree is adapting well, though it has lost a few roses. It is acclimating to its new environment.

9:30 p.m.
It is a warm night that is needed a great deal. I had the windows open and classical music filled the night as I watered. There was a dark shade of blue in the sky, but now it is black. I purchased allium, peonies and tuberose for a bouquet. I also want to draw the allium; they’re very detailed with tiny soft flowers that form a sphere. The tiny stamens create a wonderfully feathered perimeter and the long elegant stem falls gracefully from the sphere.

June 5, 2008
The pH balance is essential for each plant. Soil pH is a measure of how soil ranges from acidic through neutral to alkaline. Lime or sulfur are used to control the pH balance of a plant. I first use a meter to gauge the pH balance of a plant, then look up the proper pH balance for a particular plant.

The hydrangea is an obvious way to see pH balance in working because of the change in the color of the blossoms. For instance, in Smyrna the acidic soil, which was below seven pH balance, resulted in deep purple hydrangea blooms. I sprinkled lime in the soil and over three years the soil neutralized and they began to turn a bluish hue. This is not the case for all plants, most plant fall within the seven pH balance range, but it goes to show that pH balance is very crucial to a plants health.

June 8, 2008
The two male hummingbirds continue to claim their territory near the feeder and perennials. There’s much buzzing around as they chase one another. They came within inches of my face in their rambunctious flight.

The lavender has turned into a bowl of dried leaves and branches. I cut back the largest branches to give the plant time and energy so its center could fill in. There is some new growth starting. Hopefully, the leaves will fill in during the summer heat flashes.

June 9, 2008
I pressed some flowers in a few books. Gussy introduced me to the idea when she gave me dried and pressed ranaculus and poppy buds, they are so delicate.

I am still not sure if I should cut back the salvia. It is leggy but continues to bud. The hummingbirds feed on its nectar, and they have found their home for the summer in the trees right off my balcony. With the feeder and nectar from flowers they have made themselves comfortable. Their call is like a rusty whistle at a low din and very short.

June 12, 2008
It’s eighty-six degrees, and the plants are quite dry. The maidenhair fern is quite the diva. I may have to repot her into a larger container. I have a sense that the maidenhair has become pot-bound. I water every day and fronds continue to dry up, which tells me the plant needs more room and soil to soak up larger quantities of water.

I may give the succulents to Gussy. She loves them and I truly don’t care for the ones I purchased. They’re growing in all these mangled and odd-looking ways.

June 13, 2008
The China doll does fairly well on the shade patio, but would be better off on the southern exposed side. New leaves have formed, but they have stayed the same size. They are growing at a snail’s pace in the shade. The bamboo does well in the morning sunlight and afternoon shade, but all else needs much heat.

June 14, 2008
I’ve noticed the sun’s position has changed over the past few weeks. The light that used to completely fill the southern exposed patio has changed to a higher position. There is still plenty of sunshine, but there seems to be shorter periods of full sun. The sun touches the dahlias ever so slightly, and then moves quickly away to the west. On the eastern patio the sun is low early in the morning till noon and covers the patio almost completely.

June 15, 2008
The dahlias have reached two and a half feet. Buds are exploding all at once. The hibiscus is beginning to take over the bougainvillea pot. This fall they will have to be repotted. The succulents are in deranged positions.

June 18, 2008
The weather continues in the seventies and eighties. I’ve deadheaded the dahlias without spoiling the beauty of at least one flower left to admire. As long as I continue to prune the first few blossoms I’m guaranteed a bunch of flowers at one time. I will most definitely be able to grow a full hibiscus bush by next year.

June 21, 2008
All the perennials love the high temperatures. Every plant is growing in abundance. The primrose is blooming again. I have mentioned that the hibiscus is doing very well, but I did find a few aphids. Those damn insects. Hopefully I can catch them in time before they eat the hibiscus alive.

June 22, 2008
I planted giant zinnia seeds this week. They are by the warmest and brightest window in the apartment. I hope to turn them into full-grown, mature blossoms, which will be a challenge. The last time I tried to germinate poppy seeds, I failed. They seemed a little too delicate. I thought zinnias would be hardier and considered purchasing a few cloches or bell jars to speed up the germination process and keep them warm from the cool nights in San Francisco.

June 23, 2008
I have recently acknowledged there is not enough heat in San Francisco to grow zinnias. I did purchase cloches and they were a bit helpful, but it was not enough.

June 24, 2008
I continue to water my plants and they continue to grow and billow.

June 25, 2008
The maidenhair fern was entirely pot-bound and most of the water was sinking to the bottom of its tall pot. I’m sure the plant was receiving an adequate amount of water but not enough to keep the new fronds alive. The large pot I’m placing it in will have plenty of room for roots to stretch and crawl.

June 26, 2008
Summer is here, and there are flowers spurting up everywhere on the patio. The dahlias have been great for cutting; they last quite long in a bud vase. There are many blooms – five or six – leaning toward the railing. They are dashing from the street side. The mandevilla is doing well this season, its tendrils crawl quickly and tightly around the railing. I think it’s about to bloom. The bougainvillea has made a great comeback as well, and the lavender is beginning to fill in, at its core as the Western Gardener’s book has suggested. The yellow daisies are not blooming and have no buds.

I bought stargazer lilies a couple of weeks ago and they filled the apartment with a nice aroma. They are now on their last open bud and are ready for the compost bin. Today I’ll replace them with stalk, which also has a nice fragrance. I also purchased an artichoke with an incandescent center of lavender.

I have yet to identify the boxwood-like bush on the shade patio. It is doing very well this year. I’m sure to have a full, lush garden by the end of the season.

I’m enamored with the maidenhair fern. I have made it top priority to all plants; it requires so much attention. I enjoy nurturing this one special plant. The fronds are so fragile looking, though they have very tough, thin vines. They swoop this way and that, ever so gracefully. The strong vines carry the leaves over the edge of the pot, falling quietly.

June 30,2008
Sometimes it takes the perfect combination of water, sunshine, and positioning for a plant to work successfully. It seems fortuitous at times when a plant thrives and grows and is healthy and glows in its environment. Then there are those times when some plants aren’t so lucky. It takes time to get to know their rhythms and idiosyncrasies. I have learned the needs of the majority of the plants from trial and error. Once in a while it takes errors to understand a plant.

July 1, 2008
I feel a bit melancholy even though the sun shines. My plants always remind me of a thriving life that is in constant motion. The therapy of gardening has kept my mood up on those dark sad days. The rose bush has lost many leaves. I assume it is still acclimating to its new surroundings and the dahlias stretch to the blue skies growing taller by the day.

July 2, 2008
I will most definitely prune the lavender down to nothing in the fall. Gussy showed me the lavender she cut back to nothing, and now in the midst of summer it blooms ardently and abundantly. I’ve deadheaded the dahlias once again. I should have an immense amount of flowers very soon. I will have a packed garden with luscious brilliant colors. Most of my garden consists of deep pinks and incandescent lavenders.

July 12, 2008
The weather has been perfect for running about from patio to patio, An abundance of water is needed in this heat. The mother fern is healthy. Its spidery-legged roots climb the edge of the pot and make their way downward on the outer part of the ceramic pot. They’re tangled in the center of the pot, overlapping one another. Fronds have grown from the long hairy legs; it is quite striking and makes for an attractive and curiousplant.

The nesting fern has fronds that reach up high, swaying outward from its center. There is a marvelous core where I can watch the new fronds unravel and climb out. It requires little water and is very forgiving.

July 22, 2008
Bees pollinate the dahlias and bougainvillea. The mother fern is a thick shrub now. The long, extended veins on the side of the pot continue to produce new fronds. If the legs grow even longer I may have a pot that is completely taken by the shrub. I’m anxious to see what will take place.

Since repotting the maidenhair fern, new fronds have been unraveling with their bright green hue of birth and newness. Still, some of the existing fronds are drying up and it’s not from inadequate watering. Despite all the trouble, it does look glorious with all its detail. I’m rather critical since I’m so near the plants. When I leave for Utah and then return I will have a whole new perspective of my garden.

I miss the physical work in a yard. I need that movement to keep me refreshed and alive. I usually glow after a long day of work.

July 24, 2008
I leave for Utah to visit the family. Gussy will keep all the plants watered.

July 31, 2008
The dahlias and hibiscus are taller since I returned from Utah. They are blooming profusely. The lavender is doing just as well. The center of the shrub has almost completely filled in. By the fall I will cut back the entire shrub and I will have a thick full shrub by next summer.

The bougainvillea continues to expand, but there are no flowers to speak of. Both patios have gotten a bit out of hand. Every plant is thriving and needing more space. There is hardly any room to sit.

August 7, 2008
The first week or two of November I will prune all of my plants. That is, if the weather permits. I’ve been told several times that September and October in San Francisco are summer-like with warmer temperatures. The seasons are a bit confusing here. Overall, the temperatures are mild, usually in the fifties and sixties. There are many microclimates within the small peninsula. Where I live, the sky is clear and the sun shines the majority of the time. In a number of neighboring areas it’s quite windy and heavily fogged. The Sunset District is an area of San Francisco where the sun might shine a few days out of a month. It stays very cool and the fog lies over the vicinity. When Mark Twain visited San Francisco, he claimed, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” I would have to agree. There really is no summer. The rest of the country suffers with record high temperatures while San Francisco remains in its little bubble of heavy fog and chilly winds.

August 8, 2008
The salvia continues to grow lengthy sprigs with multiple flowers. For some reason the pruning didn’t help the perennial fill in and expand horizontally. It just continues to get longer and longer. I’ve pulled several leaves from the dahlias so the buds have more energy. The boxwood-like plant has acclimated wonderfully. There are sprigs shooting out from the center of the plant. It’s rather attractive, especially in the winter when tiny pink blossoms start to bud. It really is so beautiful.

I think I bought too many plants for the amount of room I have available, but it looks great at the moment. There will be lots of pruning to do this fall.

August 12, 2008
The lilies should be here by September. I will force the bulbs into flowering this winter. I have the perfect pot for them, and I will place it in the bay window once the bulbs are ready to be covered in soil. I gave Gussy a few bulbs.

The warm temperatures are back and the birds come out of their cozy little nests to quiver into summer.

August 24, 2008
In most parts of the country summer is coming to a close and the onset of fall will be there soon, but San Francisco will have warm days through October. The bougainvilleas are finally blooming, and I hope they continue through the warm months of September and October.

The dahlias have taken a rest and most blooms are gone, but there are a few new buds forming. It continues in cycles – lots of flowers, and then a resting period before the next blossoms arrive.

August 29, 2008
Summer is here! The temperatures have heated in to the eighties. My bones are finally thawed and the plants soak up every breath of sunshine. I’m watering twice a day in this welcome heat wave.

August 30, 2008
Yes, the sun continues to shine and keep the days warm.