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 that the sun strengthens and casts a warm glow over the gardens.

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,
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 is used to control a plant’s pH balance. I first use a meter to gauge the pH balance, and then look up the proper pH balance for a particular plant. The other alternative is to bring samples of soil to a local extension service for evaluation.

The Hydrangea is an obvious way to see pH balance at work since there is a change in the color of 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 the blooms began to turn a bluish hue. This is not the case for all plants. Most plants fall within the seven-pH balance range, but it goes to show that pH balance is very crucial to a plant’s health.

10 p.m.
I can see my depression more clearly now, almost as a separate entity. Of course it has been interwoven into my life, but I can visualize the depression as the subordinate to who I am. The simple progression of therapy frees my soul.

June 7, 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’s intermittent heat.

June 9, 2008
I pressed some flowers in a few books. Gussy introduced me to the idea when she gave me dried and pressed Ranuculus 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 my flowers, they have made themselves comfortable. Their call is like a rusty whistle at a low din and it’s very short.

June 12, 2008
It’s eighty-six degrees, and the plants are quite dry. The Maidenhair Fern is such a 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. When I look at their asymmetrical forms I become bothered. I prefer balance and harmony in all that I touch and see.

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 moved to a higher position. There is still plenty of sunshine, but there seems to be shorter periods of light. 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. The succulents continue in their deranged positions.

March 20, 2008
At moments I loose touch, just briefly. I’ve learned to ride the waves of depression a little less grippingly. When I turn to the Maidenhair Fern with all her delicacy and detail, my mind melts.

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 wrap around the interior space.

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, but walking onto the patio in the early morning is enough to fill me with joy.

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 buds and are ready for the compost bin. Today, I’ll replace them with Stock, 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 over all other plants; it requires so much attention. I enjoy nurturing this one special plant. The fronds are so fragile looking, though they have 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 making mistakes 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. The Dahlias stretch to the blue skies, growing taller by the day.

July 12, 2008
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, then I may have a pot that is completely taken by the shrub. I’m anxious to see what will take place.

Since I repotted 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 of my garden when I loose perspective. It’s similar to an art project. I loose my point of view and my boundaries start to bend and soften. I will have a whole new perspective of my garden when I return from Utah.

9 p.m.
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 and a sense of calm takes hold.

July 24, 2008
I am leaving for Utah to visit the family. Gussy will keep all the plants watered. She is concerned that the ever-so difficult Maidenhair Fern will give her trouble, but I reassured her.

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.

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. This will definitely improve my mood.

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 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 the summer of San Francisco. I love that song they sing in the late season. My mornings are gratifying; the day begins and my consciousness takes it all in.

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 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.