In the Garden: Look What Happened to My Front Yard Over the Weekend

San Francisco Bay Area rock garden with geranium and blue-eyed grass tucked alongside moss rocks. Photo by BF Newhall

Going crazy in my front yard — geraniums, blue-eyed grass (a California native) and the moss rock, at lower right. Photos by BF Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

I wasn’t looking. I was at the computer all weekend with my back to the world. When I finally took a bleary look out the window on Monday morning, I saw a front yard crazy with life —  poppies,

Close up of geranium blossom growing in a San Francisco Bay Area rock garden. Photo by BF Newhall

The geranium blossom close up.

lupine, pansies, armeria, rhododendron blossoms, tiny patches of hopeful isotoma, you name it.

Later in the morning, after putting in my time at the gym, I grabbed my camera and took a closer look. There was moss rock in its rugged glory, a bumblebee attending busily to the purple lupine,

White bower vine blossoms on a fence in the San Francisco Bay Area. Photo by BF Newhall

The white blossoms on my bower vine are a little blah. Wish I’d picked one with  color.

Deep rose poppy eschscholzia californica 'Rose Chiffon' blooming in May in San Francisco Bay Area garden. Photo BF Newwhall

A deep rose poppy — eschscholzia californica ‘Rose Chiffon.’

a pair of shameless moths more interested in each other than the pale yellow pansies they lit upon, and a fearless robin studying me from the shade of our now-spent camellias.

Note to self. March might be the springiest, most exuberant month in the San Francisco Bay area, what with daffodils and California poppies blooming all over the place. But May is crazy prolific . . .

Bumblebee and lupine buds ready to become stalks of blossoms in a San Francisco Bay Area garden in May. Photo by BF Newhal

These lupine buds are about to stretch into stalks of blossoms nearly two feet tall. Don’t miss the attentive bumblebee.

. . . Next year, don’t turn your back on that front yard of yours for more than a day. You might miss the lupine spiking from a cluster the size of your fist into a stalk the size of a baseball bat. Or the robin looking for earthworms in the rotting camellia blossoms. Or the blue-eyed grass opening its eyes to the morning sun.

Of all my plants I think I love the small, modest, tucked-away rock garden plants like the geraniums, armeria and blue-eyed grass the most.

But are they really my plants? Jillian the gardener planted them and fed them, and then they grew themselves. But I wanted them, and I love them, so I’m claiming them.

Hmm. I think I just came up with a metaphor for adopting a kid, which Jon and I did thirty-two years ago. That would be Peter, and I’m claiming him.

More meditations on nature at “Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder — But What If There’s No Beholder” and “Yosemite Rocks — And Sometimes It Rolls.”

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Two lepidoptera sucking nectar from a white and yellow pansy in a San Francisco Bay Area garden in May. Photo by BF Newhall

Are they butterflies or moths? The antennae say butterfly, but the folded wings tell me moth. Notice how they both have their proboscises in the pansy’s throat.

Fat robin visits a San Francisco Bay Area garden in May.

A good sign for my garden; this robin thinks it can find earthworms here as fat as he is.

A San Francisco Bay Area garden in May with tall stalks of lupine, poppies, pansies, marguerites, and Irises. Photo by BF Newhall

The view from our front window. Anybody got any ideas for making the fence look less — unevenly — weathered? Photos by BF Newhall

Pink armeria with blossoms growing in a San Francisco Bay Area rock garden. Photo by BF Newhall

Of all my plants I think I love the small, modest, tucked-away rock garden plants like this armeria the most.




  1. Gage Ferreira says:

    Love your pictures and site send me updates if you will.

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      Hi Gage, I’d love to send you my updates. Just put your email address in the box in the upper right hand corner of my blog and click submit! Thanks, Barbara

  2. beautiful photos, Barbara! glad to see the garden is doing beautifully 🙂

    –Jillian the gardener

  3. Dee Myers says:

    May 10 and my riot of California poppies in the front yard are finished for this year as are the apricot and royal purple Dutch irises, but the yarrow and geraniums and all the sages are blooming. And the roses’ first bloom is dazzling and so far no aphids, or mildew or black spot or rust. Late March until now is spring here, but I think we are a little warmer that you. Aren’t gardens a joy? I’m going out now to cut the faded roses. Your photos are beautiful. Dee

    • Barbara Falconer Newhall says:

      Dee, I’m just back from Abbotts Lagoon, a foggy, windy place at Point Reyes — and the California poppies are just now in bloom there. Two weeks ago the yellow bush lupine was in full bloom at Chimney Rock, also in Point Reyes, but today it was budding out at the Lagoon — which was looking pretty dark, chilly and lagoony today.


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