The Vernal Equinox is Upon Us, It’s Time to Green Up

“Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air’s salubrity”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Perhaps not quite there, but spring is right around the corner. Photo by Leigh Patrick

If you’re anything like me, I’m pretty much finished with everything COVID.  Not that I won’t observe and adhere to the various recommendations and try to be as informed as possible, but I think along with you we’re done writing and talking about the next event.  I can only hope all our boomer and senior followers are able to secure appointments for their chosen vaccine, so that we can begin to build on our immunity platforms. 

Looking in the rearview mirror, I do hope everyone had a delightful St. Patrick’s Day.  We did the slow cooker with corned beef and cabbage, sans potatoes which are not on our diet.  A very traditional American approach to this special day and oh so yummy and green.  Speaking of green, it’s fast becoming that time of year when our calendars turn to thoughts of spring and all the beauty it brings forth.  In my household, I use St. Patrick’s Day as the unofficial launch of all things spring and preparing your plants and gardens and outdoor areas accordingly.

Here in California, the end of March signals the advent of the beautiful spring season.  It can still be somewhat cool, but the daytime temperatures are fast approaching the 70’s and into the 80’s making it the perfect time of the year to get your patio, balcony and garden-scape ready for renewed sprucing up, designing and planting so that we can begin to enjoy all the fine little vignettes that our homes have to offer.  

The many varieties of succulents. Photo by Quang Nguyen Vi

In my case, I have a back patio that overlooks the 9th fairway of the golf course.  So not to be outdone by the splendor of the course and the trees surrounding it, I have set up three different areas to enjoy, with all of them interlaced with succulents flowering plants of differing varieties.  If I get restless sitting at the patio table looking out at the golf course and my beautiful new hummingbird feeder, then I simply change to the cushioned settee which is fronted with agave, canary and Pygmy date palms.  If I need another change from that, and depending on where the sun is positioned, then I shift over to the bar-stool like patio chairs looking out over the newly potted torch, golden barrel cactus and blue aloe, which are natural hummingbird attractors.  Alongside this area is what I like to call the “plant hospital”—it’s where I set aside plantings that need a little more care before they are returned to prime time.

The Barrel Cactus, one of my favorites and so easy to maintain. Photo by Chait Goli

Due to the orientation of the back patio facing east, I decided to set up another seating area toward the front of the house to capture the afternoon sun.  Load up on that Vitamin D.  This one has wrought iron patio furniture that is really old, but I scrape it, wire brush it and spray paint it every season.  I choose a white enamel paint because I like the clean, crisp look.  Make sure you buy your spray paint early, because it tends to disappear quickly out of Home Depot, Walmart, Lowe’s or wherever you purchase your paint.  I always overbuy because I can store it for next year and use it for touch up, and I’m not running around during the middle of my projects.  Then I add a beautiful pop of color with my throw pillows.  This year I chose turquoise, shades of blue and white—I think they’re my favorite so far.  The front of the house already is well-landscaped, but I’ve added sago and Pygmy date palms, succulents and a Madagascar palm and stunning pottery in shades of deep blues and turquoise for that extra pop.  

Now for the Madagascar palm, if you don’t what that is.  It is the weirdest of the palms out there, at least in my opinion.  Each year I want to ditch it because it loses all of its leaves and it leaves behind spiny trunks with very long thorns.  My BoomerGuy always reminds me to be patient and it will rebound and flourish when the temperature warms up.  Amazingly, it does each year to its full splendor.  

Like so many plants in our gardens, tlime and patience and a good dose of spring fertilizer is the key.

How fun.  Of course, not all of us can enjoy such variety of plants and outdoor living space.  But we can enjoy what we have regardless of where you live in this fine country. We just set our clocks forward one hour and now we get to enjoy more daylight for the next seven months, which is perfect for our gardening endeavors.

The spring equinox, otherwise called the vernal equinox, is upon us this Saturday March 20th.  In the northern hemisphere where we live, the sun crosses the equator (the equatorial line) and earth begins to tilt more toward the sun, resulting in longer daylight hours and warming temperatures.  In the southern hemisphere, it’s just the opposite in that this equinox signifies the beginning of autumn with winter not far behind.  So, hello to all our friends and followers in the southern hemisphere, and may you enjoy all the sensations the fall season brings.  This is from my BoomerGuy who loves this stuff, hope you do too.

Enjoying memorable moments with the grandkids. Photo by Cottonbro

Now with all that as a backdrop, I want to get back to the beauty and design in making your outdoor living look pretty and functional for spring.  Your outdoor space and patios should be a place to enjoy for relaxing, eating, and playing in especially with the grandchildren, or simply just dreaming.  At the moment, I’m working outside on this blog with the wonderful sunshine, plenty of Vitamin D and fresh air.  Yummy for the soul.

“Life is full of beauty.  Notice it.  Notice the bumblebee, the small child, and the smiling faces.  Smell the rain and feel the wind.  Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams”

Ashley Smith

From the very simple patio… Photo by Marianne

I always like to start the season early preparing the outdoor spaces.  That usually begins with dusting off your patio and furniture covers and assessing how well they held up over the winter.  This is an inexpensive way to refurbish your cushions and create a fresh look.  When you need, you can simply scrub your furniture and cushions with soap and water and rinsing thoroughly.  And let it dry in the sunshine on a warmer day, otherwise your efforts might cause mold and mildew.  If you’re in the mood to add new decor, this is the best time, except for sales events, to find new products with some of the better prices.  I realize we can order just about anything at any time online, but I am really tactile in that I like to see and feel the products I’m purchasing.  I have quite a collection of pillows and I’m always adding more and changing things around for the seasons and moving them from one setting to another.  For me, the best opportunities for searching out the most favorably priced products is at Home Goods, which is located in virtually every state in the country.  

To the very elaborate outdoor patio.

My BoomerGuy and I found some great solar lights at Costco, some made by Tommy Bahama.  They cast wonderfully intricate patterns on your patio or walkways.  The next trip to Costco we found some great solar up-lights.  My word of advice, if you find these products now, grab them because they won’t be there for long.  At least that’s the case here in southern California, too many people here looking for the same thing each season.  What did I expect we only have roughly 20 million people here alone.  

I also pride myself with potted plants on the patio and along the walkways.  Clean out the dead leaves and add new soil and mulch if needed.  We are all at the age when we can use a little help, so most of our pots are on rollers so they can be moved around easily.  The biggest advantage, they save the back.  

Think plants in pots or vertical gardens for either succulents or a variety of flowers with so many colors to choose from.  I simply love succulents because in the spring they bring forth their flowers in abundance and show off their newly developed leaves and fronds in all shades of green, and they are so easy to take care of.  

Stylish patio furniture, whatever your taste:   traditional, modern, classic, Boho chic, rustic, Mediterranean, cottage or French country.  There is something for everyone, clever lighting ideas can make your porch or patio one of the best spaces in your home, making your outdoors come alive and adding an extension to your indoor living area.  Next week I will share many more ideas for the outdoors to make a more fantastic space to hang out this spring and summer.  

I also grow flowering plants that serve as a natural habitat for attracting hummingbirds

Here is a side note, and something you might wish to add to your patio or garden.  We are in the season for hummingbirds who have just returned from their winter migration.  They are amazing little creatures, so colorful and what a delight to watch.  I added two hummingbird feeders at opposite ends of the patio, one in vibrant red and the other in blue.  Both are made from handblown glass, so care must be taken when handling.  But moreover, I am very diligent in how I mix the nectar, making sure I follow the recipe to the exact proportions.  I never buy the pre-prepared at the garden or do-it-yourself store.  That way I ensure I am feeding our little friends with nothing but the best product in the proper proportions possible.  

One of our hummingbird feeders in bright red, notice the perch for the little ones can rest while they’re sipping

I know some areas of the country still have cold temperatures, possibly snow and spring storms.  Some areas are still experiencing lock downs, although with possible lifting.  It’s never too early to start dreaming and envisioning warmer days ahead.  And be thankful, very thankful, because if you’re reading this it means you made it through the most difficult year of our lives.  You boomers who live in the southern hemisphere it’s time to begin packing up your seasonal goodies to prepare for autumn.  Also, it’s an excellent time for you to find items for next summer on clearance, and to make a plan for next year.

A tip from my sister who lives in Colorado Springs.  She puts notes in either her gardening notebook or in her calendar for next season where she has stashed all her goodies and what she wants to accomplish next year.  Not a bad idea as we all get a bit older and tend to forget some of the most menial things.  Ha.  

Until next week, keep as many adventures outside even if they are only in your backyard and weather permits.  Make it special each and every day.  Your BoomerGal.  

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