Welcome to my Garden

Welcome to my garden and my musings.

My name is Lesley Stern, I’m a writer and have been gardening most of my life, for the last twenty years in San Diego where we are lucky enough to garden all year. I share the garden with Jeffrey and Roxy the cat and three chickens, as well as numerous butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, lizards and pests galore. 

I am starting this diary during a global pandemic and a climate crisis such as never before experienced. If gardening is addictive and frequently bucolic it is also sometimes a battleground. I feel immensely lucky to have my garden, but miss talking with other gardeners, and also visiting other gardens and nurseries. I do, however, talk with passersby (wearing our masks and at a suitable distance), and it gives me great pleasure in this time to give pleasure to many who do not have a garden of their own. Especially the little boy who calls it the Butterfly Jungle. I would like to welcome to this blog new gardeners, old gardeners, and those who simply enjoy the sensations, and the ideas, that gardens make possible. 

Mine is a small suburban garden, less than a quarter acre, but every inch is jam-packed with plants. Come in, off the street, take a look.

And now down the side of the house and through the back gate

Turn and enter the back yard through a small path edged with pineapple guava trees

Now you see our offices and garage (aka garden shed) on the right, the so-called “white” garden on the left, slightly hidden, and behind that the chicken run.

slight detour to meet Gigi, Isadora (aka Izzy) and Lorelei

At last we reach the vegetable garden

We cook a lot from the garden, but also range beyond its confines and the confines of this country. I grew up in Zimbabwe and have lived in Britain and Australia as well, and in both gardening and cooking am interested in ideas from elsewhere, as well as stories and histories. 

Sometimes the posts to this blog will occur daily, sometimes they will be spaced out over weeks. Sometimes the writing and images will stay close to home, other times they will digress and meander. I’m interested in hearing from other gardeners particularly from other parts of this country and from other parts of the world, and in including your images.

If you would like to receive an alert when a new blog is posted just click on the comments button at the end of this post, or any other, and you can fill in your email. You do have to leave something in the comment box I’m afraid (though you can just enter one word, your name say; I’d love it, however, if you would say something).

27 thoughts on “Welcome to my Garden

  1. Oh how wonderful! I love all the photos. My eyes are drawn to the orange-red nasturtiums, which you must like as well because look at your kitchen floor and apron. And I remember the color of your kitchen table too. I am still doing a little gardening, but all my photos require a close-up to look like much. Your “muchness” looks great even in long shot! My land is swampy and not an inch of it could exactly be called “full sun” so growing food is a challenge. But I have luck with a few flowers. Ferns, caladiums, and elephant ears like it here.

    • Tracy, I always love to hear from you and wish you were here. You have a great eye for color, and I know you are building a lovely garden in what you call your Savannah swamp

  2. I am so happy to read what your doing in your garden. It’s a great way for us to stay connected. I love your garden and am excited to watch it throughout the seasons.

    • Conni, isn’t it weird that we love so close and yet in this time cannot visit, but I’m happy to keep up the connection with you through the blog.

  3. Lovely to see you & your garden – will endeavour to step up to the plate with my incredibly amateur endeavours – all I can say right now is that nothing has died – yet

    • Judy, if nothing has died in your new home you are doing great! Send me a pic sometime, am keen to see what’s happening in Australian gardens, even in pots!

  4. What a great tour of your garden and vegies and to see your girls so keen to be photographed (or fed) and so happy to see you. Most of the photos I’ve seen of your house have been inside or from the inside looking out, so it was great to see the outside and walk down the side path. I really liked the winding front path to your front door.
    Will post some photos soon.

    • Hi Charlie, feels like you are here – I have fond memories of yr garden, how is it and you doing in this time? thankyou for commenting, I love to know who is reading the blogxxx

  5. Hi Lesley, I’m finally getting to the meat of blog rather than just scrolling through the first page of pictures. Being a meat eater, I am ready to devour it and looking much forward to it.

  6. luscious slow luxury, this reading and viewing here. I’m so happy to visit your garden again. and the food! thank you, as always, you inspire me.

  7. Artichokes! Almost my favourite thing! I am so envious of anyone who grows them! I don’t have the space, but devour them whenever they come into season – because it’s so short and delicious. This year, my broad beans are sprouting & I hope I can keep the creatures away from them so that i get a crop! LOVE your garden! xx

  8. Lovely tour of your garden(s). Andy and I (mostly Andy) have 2 raised beds where we try to grow tomatoes, carrots. beets, romaine lettuce and herbs. We might venture to have another raised bed for some flowers that I can cut to bring into the house. One I would love to be successful at growing would be Proteas. I love them. We also have many staghorns and my new adventure is growing Epitheliums. A neighbor who is quite successful at growing them have me some cuttings as well as 2 full plants. I can’t wait to see how they grow. I would share a photo or two but haven’t found a place to upload photos yet.

  9. I am so delighted that I experienced your front garden in the Spring – so glorious – and of course extra special to see you, albeit fleetingly. So very happy to see the pictures of your backgarden which I’m still hoping to experience for myself one day. My garden is an absolute disaster at the moment. The front is not too bad, but at the back we have an infestation of Chinese rhubarb which is incredibly invasive and develops massive tubers, which cunningly embed themselves under stones or inside bushes and connected rhizomatically. It all went to seed while I was in California, so I foresee years of backbreaking work to try and get rid of it. It strangles my endemic plants which drives me nuts. On top of which we had to chop down a beautiful weeping acacia because of wood borer. Still I can say we have planted many trees. Derek is trying to singlehandedly repopulate the Illawarra with red and pencil cedar.

  10. Love your blog Lesley (to which I was directed by Sarah Miller) and the way you combine gardening, politics and your health journey. I wish you the best in all three.
    My garden is in Canberra, Australia, where we experience searing summers and very cold winters. But I love the challenge that presents.
    Looking forward to more photos and stories about your beautiful garden.

  11. Lesley, I love your garden. Because we were away during the worst of last year’s drought -well, what we call a drought up in the Northern Rivers of NSW – much of the garden shriveled and died. But a new one is happening – veggies and quite a lot of trees. Native and exotic side by side – are the camelias in the grevillia garden or are the grevillia in the camelia garden ? Our recent lock down meant endless, happy gardening hours

  12. Hi Lesley, really enjoying your garden and food experiments and life writing. So generous of you to share your life like this. Look forward to more posts. I grow food, trees, flowers, and chickens in the Irish countryside. – Roz

  13. Dear Lesley, You are probably aware that Sarah Miller alerted some of her gardening type friends to your blog. I just loved the descriptions of your garden, the plants, the pests, the triumphs, the deliciousness of your fruit and veggies. The photos are a bonus! I can’t imagine how you find the time and energy to manage such a large productive garden, cook wonderful food and attend to all the things that life throws up. I am nearing 70 and live in Sydney’s inner city with a very small courtyard and pots etc. on the first floor balcony. My son is a gardener by trade, and he keeps me in touch with what’s what in the plant world! Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to sharing your journey. Kaye x

  14. I’ ve been keeping up with your helping hands blog & i have finally found some time to check this blog as well. I just love seeing your garden in bloom as always. I truly miss spending time helping with your garden & visiting with you both. I was so happy to see how well your figs have done.
    Take care think of you both often. Give Jeffery my best

    • Peggy! So great to see you here. I miss you so much and have been meaning to write forever. I will eventually, but in the meantime, love to you and yours

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