Where’s Waldo ? . . . I mean, me; where am I?

Rabbit Rabbit, it’s October!  And as in “Where’s Waldo?” I wake up and ask myself, where am I?  Traveling does that to you!  Today I woke up in my house on the Central Coast of California, out in the middle of an old river bed (because that’s where the house is!) on eight flat acres with a little creek that runs along the back.

The first thing I did when we got here late yesterday afternoon was hang Cindy’s quilt on the line out in our backyard because some of the girlfriends wanted “see the whole pattern” — so here it is.  If you’re going to try and make this quilt, you’ll find some mighty tiny little patches there!  But there’s also a secret in this picture, which the wind, by flipping up the corner, has hidden from view . . . and here it is!

Just in case you missed it, Cindy Tuning left us the winning comment for this quilt in a drawing we had a couple of days ago.  She lives way up north in New York State, very near Lake Erie, so she is going to need that quilt; when the jet stream whips down from Canada this winter and blizzards come whistling off the lake, we’ll be thinking of her!

Much as I love us southern Californians, we don’t really earn our quilts quite the way northerners do!   I thought I’d give you a little tour of what it’s like here in our part of California . . .

We bought this place about ten years ago.  The house is not fancy, it’s a two-bedroom modular home that the previous owner plopped down in this field in the 1960’s and began to raise goats. We bought it in 2002; and thought someday we might build a better house, but what happened is that instead of a house, we built a garden!  It started with another picket-fence garden that Joe built to match the one we had on Martha’s Vineyard.

When we bought the property, it was all dirt, farm fences and barbed wire, a couple of trees, but no lawn, and no garden.  The house was brown, inside and out.  See what paint and green things growing can do!  A little silk pursy to the sows ear and voila! There were estimated to be 100,000 gophers living the good life on this property when we bought it. (They are not cute like the one in this wikipedia article, in case you’re lucky enough not to know what a gopher is. They are the mosquito of the underground garden-destroyer world.)

So Joe dug down about 3 feet or something, as if he was making a built-in swimming pool, but instead of concrete, he laid down chicken wire, and put the dirt back, and built raised beds; now the gophers couldn’t get in. Outsmarting gophers is one of the main things we do when we’re here.

We live in an “arroyo grande” which, translated into plain English means “big ditch,” caused by an ancient river that once ran through this valley (the year-round creek out back is all that’s left of it). So we actually live on an old river bed.   Although the ditch aspect means we have no cell-phone access and TV goes out all the time, we do have really good dirt!  Things grow here! 

And when they do, like these foxgloves we planted out back by the creek, it turns you into a person who thinks they have a “green thumb.” Hence, the garden, but no house.

 

We planted this escallonia hedge (we call it the “bird motel”), definitely the largest planting project we’d ever done, all the way down the dirt road that runs to the back of the property where the creek and the foxgloves are. . .

All kinds of critters live here besides us and the gophers; it’s like a zoo without cages.  Ground squirrels, also not cute, build mountains of hard-packed dirt.  We used to turn into our driveway and scan the property and all over you could see them flying into the air and diving into their holes like in a Roadrunner cartoon. ♣ We have coyotes, deer, bobcats, long gopher snakes, and mountain lions up by the lake. Bunnies, and who knows what else, live under the house.  That’s why they call it the wild west. But the weather is mild, the Pacific Ocean is about five miles down the road and sends fingers of fog drifting up the valley on some mornings.  There are very few mosquitoes. Nine times around the property equals three miles.  I know because I walk it every day I’m here, moving a rock each time I go around, to help me keep count.

When I had my Heart of the Home store a few of years ago, I would cut roses from my garden early in the morning and go arrange them in vases and put them around the store. The orange one is “Just Joey” my favorite, along with the yellow “Julia Child.”  We thought we were doing pretty good, garden-wise.

And then we went to England.  And found out what “real” gardens look like; we wandered through the English countryside, gasping daily at twenty-six different, amazing (stunning!) gardens; I took notes; we came home inspired.

Now not just any garden would do, we wanted an English garden to go with our trailer out in the ditch.  (Someday I have to remember to show you this whole English garden diary!)  So I went home and studied everything I’d learned and drew this garden plan, based on what we’d seen.

  It would have a long grassy walk between two hedges, enclosed garden rooms, a semi-circular lawn off the back deck, an orchard where roses would climb the apple trees, just like they do in England.  (Where it says “garden” on that plan, that’s where the picket fence garden is, so maybe you can get your bearings.)

It won’t be a huge garden, but it could grow (maybe this is just a start, if I can please live to be 200) — but we’re thinking, if we’re lucky, it could more like the smaller Rosemary Verey garden at her home in Barnsley (we hope, in our dreams), only without the old stone house of course.  It might take a while. Stop laughing.

So, we moved the fence back, it used to border that lawn, and we cleared out all the weeds, and started planting. Hedges, as bones, came first, because they will take about five years to even look like a hedge.

I know! I can hear you saying, “But you don’t live there!”  You’re exactly right! It makes no sense and we know it.  But the obsession won’t go away. We have this bug to leave behind a beautiful garden that we built ourselves, and this seems to be it. It’s the perfect place for year-round gardening. Who knows, when we’re old (er) and gray (er) and no longer able to shovel snow, we may run away to the trailer in the ditch.

So early this spring, we put in our first hedges of the new plan.  There’s a friend nearby with a big wholesale nursery (Ben Joy is the name of it; tell John I sent you!); he sells to regular people too, at good prices, and that’s where we get everything. Before we left last May, Joe measured and drew and marked it off; we ordered the plants; we have a gardener friend who lives in our house while we’re away, and he planted it for us.

This is what we came home to, nice straight rows of new hedge bordering the long walk!!!!  It’s what’s been planted so far (we’re doing this a bit at a time, because we really have no idea what we’re doing, and spending this money feels better if it’s done in smaller clips). You have to pretend the escallonia hedges on both sides are so high and wide you can’t see over them. The walk only goes half the way so far, another chunk goes in next, so it will be a looooong walk. Joe said we should make it wide and gracious.  Yes, of course, I thought, to match the trailer and the ditch.

Every so often, the hedges (these will be tall, you won’t be able to see the house over them) will open into a grass path through other parts of the garden, such as the orchard or the allée (a short promenade between two lines of trees; Rosemary has one :-)); this path goes through to a semi-circular lawn. The dirt on both sides is for large flowering bushes, trees and perennial flowers. That tree in the background was reason enough to buy this goat property.  It’s an albizzia tree.

It’s not going quickly.  It’s a slow, process, but it has “someday” written all over its face: it’s in pure dream state right now.  This is the place where we most play the game, “what if we had a million dollars?”  Gardens aren’t cheap, but at least we get our water from the creek!

♣          ♣

Have you planted your bulbs yet?  Spring will be here before we know it, and we are going to need that surprise!  I have to get HOME (we leave in eleven days! Get ready for more Twitter from the Twain if I haven’t bored you with it enough by now!).  See why I’m a little bit homesick no matter where I go?

But it’s October, the most wonderful month of the year to be anywhere, it’s a beautiful cool day here, and guess what, two of my best girlfriends are coming over in a little while, with wine and cheese and I’m making lunch and we are going to go out and sit in the sun in the garden and talk our faces off! Remembering all the bad stuff we had so much fun doing together all those years ago!  Diana (that’s her with me from the way-back machine) just called, she and Terrie will be here at 12:30!  I’m SO happy, and have to go now . . . and cut some flowers of course! xoxo Have a wonderful day!

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210 Responses to Where’s Waldo ? . . . I mean, me; where am I?

  1. deezie says:

    Oh Susan, your Garden in California is just fabulous!!! its breathtaking actually. I love everything about gardening. I have never grown Foxglove like that, so so pretty. Thanks for all the wonderful pictures. Have fun with your 2 friends today. Oops, almost forgot, did you say you don’t have many mosquitoes there!!! Well that made me stop for a second. I am so obsessed with figuring out how to not have mosquitoes here. I know, I can just move there 🙂
    happy day Susan
    deezie

    • sbranch says:

      I’m a little obsessed with that too, I am corn on the cob to mosquitoes, they just go up and down me (when they can find me). Hardly any ever here in this neck of the woods, but in Martha’s Vineyard, watch out!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Such a beautiful place and the good part only 5 miles to the ocean. It will be an amazing garden in a few years (lots of fish emuslion will help). Thank you for sharing your home and garden with us!

  3. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Happy Happy October Sweet Sue…ahhhhhhhhhh I Just read & Re~Read Your California Blog….Glorious….Huge Smile on My Face 🙂 You Bring Us Joy & I Thank You! I Love Your Story of Your California Home….so Gorgeous!….all of It! Have Fun With Your Girl~Friends…Wine & Cheese & Laughter & Love…The Perfect way to Begin all The Magic of October!….& You Never Ever Bore Us On Twain~Twitter!…. 🙂 ♥…We got Our Florida Cold~Front…so I’ve Got Home~Made Chilie in The Crockpot…The Windows are Opened…Fresh Air Blowing In…I Can Breathe…Brother Greg Is Home! Yay!♥…so Life is Very Good! Hugzzzzzzzz & Love to You & Joe & Your California~World….P.S. L♥ve L♥ve L♥ve Cindy’s Vintage Quilt…Now she will be Extra Warm & Cozy! xoxo Poof!

    • sbranch says:

      Sounds like a perfect first day of October for you Angie!

      • Angie(Tink!) says:

        Hello Sweet Sue…it really Is…(Perfect October Day)…I Just Stirred The Chili…& forgot to tell You that I am also Making Your Corn~Pudding…Yummy! & We Drizzle Warm Maple Syrup all over it! omggg…okie dokie…Have Fun My Friend! xoxo Poof!

        • Angie(Tink!) says:

          Ooops…me again… 🙂 I Just Shared this Blog with Herbster…He is Our True “Offical~Gardener” & with his Name “Herb” Hello! anyway Herbster is Amazed with Your California Story…Loved Every Word & All Your Photos….He’s Very Impressed 🙂 anyway Herbster wanted Me to Tell You that the Other Day We… actually Made from Scratch…Home~Made Pea~Soup…& it was so Much Better than Campbells! hahahaha…it really was Yummy! & that He ran a few Errands yesterday & Surprized me with Two Adorable Real Pumpkins…( My 1st of the season! Yay!) Happy ♥Pumpkin♥ Face am I! ok….Byeeeeeeeee! xoxo Poof!♥

  4. Cindy says:

    Thank you for the tour of your CA garden-in-progress. It will be wonderful. But I know that gardens are never done. We have lived here for 35 years and I am still planning new garden areas. (Much to my husband’s dismay!)

    That quilt is so pretty. I love the different block. Wonder why it was put in? Sometimes, when I’m making a quilt and realize a block or something is backward or whatever, I just say I meant that! Only God does perfect, right?

    Have a great time with your friends.

    • sbranch says:

      I thought it might be a patch, or maybe she wanted to try something different, but I love it. Nothing like a little mystery to make a quilt special!

      • Sweet Mormor says:

        I always heard that many women would intentionally make a “mistake” or change something in a quilt pattern for that very reason – that only God is perfect and they felt they should show that they are “human” and not perfect like God! Love your pictures Susan – I can dream of living in a place like that! I will think of it before going to bed tonight and maybe I will do just that! Love to you and I hope I can find a “Just Joey” to plant – its spectacular! P.S. Please be careful on your walks – hopefully the big animals don’t bother you! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          I carry a sharp pen in my pocket — dual purpose, to put out eye of attacking animals (yes this is how I think) and to write down anything I think of I don’t want to forget!

          • Pat Mofjeld says:

            Another thing you might want to consider is a wooden walking stick, which is what I use when I walk the schnauzer(s)–just in case I should run into a loose bigger dog, etc. 🙂

    • Deb Surman says:

      When I went thru Lancaster, PA and bought my first quilt from a lovely Amish woman, I pointed out that all her quilts had a “mistake” in them. She told me the Amish believe the only thing perfect is God, therefore, they always sewed an imperfection in their creations. That was in 1977 and I’ve been collecting quilts ever since then. I only wish they could talk to us and tell us their stories. Anyway, Susan’s zucchini bread is in my oven, 20 more minutes, the house smells heavenly and my husband keeps asking, is it ready yet? OH, the wait is driving us crazzzzzzy. Have a lovely fall day, girlfriends!

  5. Pamela Jo says:

    Oh, Susan! Such a lovely garden! How nice to have such pretty blooms in October. My garden is in bloom in the Springtime…and my favorites are my irises. I feel great sympathy about your gophers. Around here we have groundhogs (aka woodchucks) and they have ruined my tomato crop this year. Didn’t have enough for even a quart of sauce. I read that groundhogs hate cats and putting “used” cat litter in their holes keeps them away. My sweet kitty, Molly, happily donated hers and I’ve been filling holes since mid-September. So far, so good. Didn’t want to use anything toxic, as my goal was simply to chase them away. I’ve grown quite fond of the biggest groundhog, and even named him…Preston! LOL! He just looks like a Preston to me! He seems to have moved his family to the pavilion at the church in my backyard. Hope he finds peace there!

    Enjoy your time in CA. It’s still raining like mad here in the East, so you are not missing any beautiful October weather yet. XOXO

    • sbranch says:

      Oh good, thank you for telling me; I’m so hoping the leaves hold off on the color changing and falling until we get back!

  6. Patsy says:

    Thank you so for taking us on a tour of your California home. It’s amazing to see the differences that have been made in just a short time (so to speak).
    Mosquitoes in Florida……never mind.

  7. mari1017 says:

    Thanks for the tour of your garden ~ the bones are definitely in! Now comes the FUN part of decorating, filling in with all your plants and trees and all things Susan & Joe 🙂 What a lovely spot; just perfect!
    October seems to be off to a glorious start around the country~ yesterday it was 90 degrees here and humid ~ big wind and rainstorm blew in last night, and now it’s 60 and sunny!!! LOVE it. I must confess that since reading your post & plans, I’m looking at my front and backyards with a new eye to spruce up. Prune, clean up, dream and plan for some changes 🙂
    For now, it’s enjoy the day ~ cleaning and decorating continues for Fall ~ pumpkin sale at church begins tomorrow 🙂
    Enjoy your stay and your friends~ thanks again for sharing with us!

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks Mari! 60 and sunny sounds perfect!

      • mari1017 says:

        It was a perfect day with another one coming tomorrow ~ just enough chill in the air to sit on the screen porch tonight 🙂
        forgot to add that the quote about October eves is one of my favorites from your books. How true! Enjoy the California weather ~ fall is definitely waiting for you back on Martha’s Vineyard! 🙂

  8. laurie says:

    I smiled when I read rabbitt rabbitt because I have bunnies on the brain, that was my post today the painting i did of bunnies tucked up sleeping under the rootsof the tree.The spot where this house is amazing, imagine ,, an ancient river,, have you found any fossils? That would be wonderful to have that right out side your door.Your gardens are so lush, it must be such a treat to have flowers year round.The quilt is lovely and I love how you say the northerns earn their quilts so very true.. I put the quilt on our bed a few weeks past,, we had snow just a bit from here last week.Beautiful post,,

  9. Marilyn says:

    What a beautiful home and garden! You are so lucky to be surrounded by mountains, just 5 miles from the ocean AND have glorious soil to work with. Really, your gardens are stunning and such a lovely setting.

    I noticed the patio set in one of the pics. Do you think you would be able to host 1,000 girlfriends for dinner, al fresco? 🙂 We could all bring a dish to pass, of course.

    Enjoy your day, Susan!

    Marilyn (in Dallas)

  10. Martha Ellen says:

    Oh Susan I love the plans and the work you have done at your place in CA. It’s all quite lovely and your vision is wonderful! Thank you for posting the quilt picture! It’s so beautiful! I’m sure Cindy will love it!!! Have a wonderful time with your friends and don’t work Joe too hard. xoxo ♥

  11. Ginny Stanley says:

    Dear Susan,
    Your California home is so nice. Love that albizzia tree – from a distance it kinda looks like the mimosa trees we have here in Ohio. I also like to draw my garden plans out so I can do a little at a time and not forget what I’m doing – lol. Love the picket fence garden so much – that Joe is a keeper! Having a “gardener friend” doesn’t hurt either :). The whole place looks wonderful actually; would be hard for me to leave once I got settled in, especially during the winter months.
    Hope you enjoy your time with family and friends while you’re there. Keep the posts coming!!!
    p.s. The quilt is beautiful – you did good!

    • sbranch says:

      I love it when people tell me I did good! xoxo I can’t wait for Cindy to get it — it’ll go out on Monday!

  12. Lee Ann G. says:

    I have no doubt Susan that you will accomplish this full dream garden one day, just like you made your published Susan Branch art/cookbooks etc.. etc.. to come true. “To inspire” was just one of those attributes put inside of Y♥U from the beginning and it shines through in everything you do. Loved taking the tour of the Rosemary Verey garden. Oh my how I could get lost there sitting somewhere in one of those garden rooms reading a book or writing in my journal. Oh and I love that big tree by your house!!!

    ♥Lee Ann

  13. Joan says:

    One of the blocks at the bottom left side of quilt (same side as “different” block) looks like it has a square in the middle of it?????? What is that?

    • Janet says:

      I noticed that too, Joan. I was just going to ask about that block. The other blocks almost look like an Irish Chain, don’t you think?
      xoxo
      Janet

  14. Nina says:

    Hi Susan Thank you so much once again for sharing! I can see what you mean when you said (many moons ago!) the downside to having two homes is you always are homesick for the other!) The albizzia tree alone would make me homesick! I don’t even know if we have those in England I am going to have to check it out!
    And the quilt what a great little secret it holds! It stirs up all kinds of stories!
    Well I don’t know if you’ve heard but we are having some really wonderful weather here in England this week. They said on the radio today it is the hottest October the 1st since records began in 1800 & something! So to me its a little weird in a nice way because I have just brought myself two new winter jumpers and I’ve had to bring my summer dresses out again! However I have to say I think its been even better than the summer we had because the mornings are more beautiful and the evenings and you can see lots of stars which is unusual! I am lovin it and its supposed to last until Tuesday! (Then they said we have got snow coming in October….we will see! lol) xx

    • Nina says:

      Forgot to say Susan Enjoy time with your girlfriends! My Bestest girlfriend Gaynor lives in Connecticut now and so we have to live a whole years worth in a short visit! It was her birthday yesterday and it would be great if you could wish her happy birthday she would love that! Thank you! xx

    • sbranch says:

      One of my best friends, Rachel, lives in Aylesbury and she’s been waxing poetic about the weather, so I was getting the feeling it was pretty nice! You deserve it!

  15. Gill says:

    Oh, & on the 12th October we leave the UK to fly to California. Will we meet many bobcats & coyotes? And what do we do if we meet them?!

  16. Merry says:

    Your home out in California looks lovely! ^_^

    I just enjoy reading your posts so much and whenever I get an e-mail in my inbox telling me that you have a new post out I basically jump for joy! Your blog is like reading a cozy novel and a Victoria magazine in one!

    -Merry

  17. Sheryle Towle says:

    It is so nice how you spread sunshine & flowers everywhere you go, Susan. Enjoy your visit; raining here in Maine, but the pumpkins, mums & bittersweet are pretty.

  18. Bonny ~* says:

    I can see your vision…can’t wait to see it progress! The Barnsley Gardens are so gorgeous!! I’ve been working on my garden for 7 years now and just in the past two years it has matured enough to look like it’s always been here. There are more plans and little-by-little they will get done. I collected seeds from my daisies and cone flowers to expand next spring. Now, if I can just keep the deer, rabbits, groundhogs, squirrels, moles (and who knows what else) out of there!

  19. Gert says:

    Oh Susan what an amazing post! I just loved visiting your home today! You have no idea how much I love flowers & gardens! Yours is so beautiful! Those roses are so pretty! And now I know what the Julia Childs roses look like …too bad we don’t have a scratch & smell app available! lol

    Blessings,
    Gert

    • sbranch says:

      Oh let me just tell you Gert. Julia Child has a nice deep rose smell, a little spiced of course!

      • Gert says:

        Oh..now you really have me intrigued…I must find one, if nothing else…just to smell! There goes another addition to my bucket list..lol

      • Karen P says:

        Of course Julia Child’s rose would be rich in fragrance and spicy! Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it. Did the variety of rose come after her death or do you think she knew? She would have loved that, wouldn’t she?

  20. Lori says:

    Hope you have a blast with your girlfriends Susan! The garden is beautiful and I’m sure will continue to bloom and grow into your dream. So, how is your little house decorated???

  21. Jeanette says:

    Susan, What gorgeous photos and the garden of envy, for sure! The windchill was 31 this morning!?! A beautiful fall day, the leaves are changing by the minute. A good reminder to plant bulbs, will definitely need the surprise of spring if the fall and winter are coming at rapid speed. BTW, your corn soup was a HUGE hit! My sweetie finished the last of it for lunch and reminded me “not to loose the recipe” and how I outdid myself (wink, wink). I did add some small diced Yukon gold potatoes, which added great texture and made it heartier! Thanks for sharing the pot of pure delicious comfort! Enjoynyour girl time! xoxo, Jeanette

    • sbranch says:

      Thanks Jeanette, love the soup story, but can’t believe it was 31 wind chill! Wow, I brought coat with me, and a scarf so I’m all ready to get cozy on the train trip home!

      • Jeanette says:

        Hopefully you’ll have Indian summer when you get back home later this month. We have our first frost this morning – WOW! It looks like we’ve had a dusting of powdered sugar. Mmmm. Think it’s time for breakfast. Hope your Sunday is splendid! Hugs to you.

  22. Gill says:

    In case anyone didn’t realise, that was not a serious query. We are really looking forward to our trip. We shall be travelling on 4 separate days by train – we’ve always enjoyed train travel, but after reading your blog, I am even more excited about it. We shall be staying at San Luis Obispo for 3 nights & have appreciated your tips about Cambria & Pismo Beach. Thank you for all the pleasure your blog provides.

  23. Megan says:

    It all looks fabulous! I wondered how you managed to keep it gorgeous but you have someone looking after it in your absence. I think you have a very green thumb and I love those foxgloves. Keep up the excellent work.

  24. Jeannie M from NC says:

    California dreamin!!!!!!!!!!!! Love your riverbed home gardens! That tree is beautiful and definetly a reason to buy! mmm!! long flat ground to walk on with no cars whizzing by, sounds great! Enjoy lunch, wine & cheese with your dear friends!
    I am looking forward to the twain twitter!

    xoxo

  25. Sandra Gillanders says:

    You and Joe have a might pretty little shack in a ditch there in Ca. Seems like you got bit there with one of those bugs that give you garden fever. No cure fur that I fear. So fur lookin good and them foxgloves are might pretty flowr. Don’t fret yurself about gettin it done. Have a good chew with yur girlfriends.

  26. Deborah says:

    I don’t know how you find the time to do all that you DO! Thank you again for sharing you west coast self with us! One of my favorite things about your publications and blog ofcourse too. are the quotes. I LOVE quotes, and you have brought out so many great ones on the autumn, but I never read this one from Humbert Wolfe before, about October, I really enjoyed it…happy October 1st!

  27. Kirsten Wichert says:

    Hi Sue! Did you notice that the block on the bottom left is also slightly different? It has a small white square in the center (maybe a patch?). I’ve read alot about older quilts. Sometimes a quilter will make a different block as a “signature” block to identify the maker. It’s fun to think about. I think that this quilt is very special.
    I live in a relatively new (12 yrs. old) modular home in So. Cal. It’s light blue with white trim. My lot is miniscule to say the least. My neighbors laughed when I put in an arbor (grew bouganvillia over boths sides to make an arch entry), put in a white pickett fence, and 15 rose bushes. I laid pavers to make a court yard (no mowing). Now you can hear the ooohs and ahhhs from the other side of the fence. I couldn’t live with a rock garden (mostly rocks……well all rocks) like everyone else. I have to have flowers! It is a requirement for living. Your garden is going to be fabulous!!!!! Just like you!

    • sbranch says:

      Your garden sounds fabulous! 15 rose bushes! Thats amazing, but you have the weather for it!

      • Kirsten Wichert says:

        Yes, we do. Come Jan. I have a very hard time cutting them back because they always have blooms!

  28. JudyCnNC says:

    I am as excited about your future California garden as you are, love your well thought-out plan, and will definitely look for pictures again next year. Remeber to put that in your day planner now. I love your fenced garden on the vineyards and the one in California looks like a wonderful duplicate. The pictures would make such beautiful cards. Did you also plan out the fenced gardens? I have a tendancy to buy everything I see and love and give it a chance – surrounded by color, scent and joy – kinda like saying, ” You live, your stay.” Thanks Susan for being you and speaking to our hearts. Judy C

  29. Cathy in Golden, CO says:

    Fun to see your CA home! I love that tree and especially the picture of your garden with the fog in the background. Does look like an English garden with that darling birdhouse in the middle. You take wonderful pictures. That pic looks like a painting. Love those pretty roses. Do you spend time at your home in CA in the winter? Our daughter lives in the Oakland/Berkeley area and every season we visit – we are amazed at how mild the weather is and how gorgeous the flowers, flowering, bushes and trees are. I don’t think we will ever entice her and her little family back to Colorado. They love it there and I love visiting. I like the Monterey area and especially Mendocino. Fun little town . We like walking to the cliffs and looking at the beautiful Pacific ocean. Thanks for sharing your beautiful “homes” – !!!

    • sbranch says:

      My Mom’s birthday is the end of February and the last few years we’ve been coming out to celebrate with her. So nice when someone you love moves to a town you like!

  30. pam says:

    So sweet. I love looking at your pretty garden pictures and hearing your stories. xo

  31. Rebecca says:

    Oh Susan,

    Your post is so wonderful today! Quilts and gardens are two of my top favorite
    things in all the world. Thank you so much for letting us see the pattern! I was one who asked. I knew it was a nine-patch variation. I took a quilting class a few years ago, and I started with that pattern, and it always catches my eye. I haven’t looked at the English garden you highlighted; I’ll go back and do that. But, thank you so much for what you showed us of yours. We have ten acres, and I have checked out gardening books from the library to try to grasp the designing of them; it’s still pretty foggy to me, but yours made me feel some hope. Your foxglove is so beautiful! Now I am so excited about Spring coming. My husband has a little greenhouse in his classroom (a south window) where he started me some cottage flowers. I have a few green leafy-looking foxgloves that I can’t wait to see next year.

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas, pictures, and your sense of humor.
    Rebecca in Arkansas

  32. Karen Lange says:

    Susan, I adore your gardens! The property is wonderful and I can tell that you and Joe have put in many hours of work! Enjoy your time there!

    Karen

  33. kidsrn says:

    hi susan!
    welcome back to your west coast home.
    i loooove your garden, someday i dream to have a beautius english cottage garden
    like that. right now, its mostly veggies and herbs, cooking and medicinal.
    i live right down the road, well couple hours down the road hehehe. so the next time i am up that way, which will be soon, i may come looking for a real view of that beautiful garden. is it visible from the road??? i promise no trespassing!
    we make a fall jaunt up to slo and avilla valley farm every october to pick up all that lovely fall produce. summer and christmas are other regular times to visit the farm as well. produce, jams, baked goods, farm animals….. its a great day trip. enjoy your time with your west coast garden! have a safe trip home, and thank you for all the lovelies in your world that you share with us.

    blessings,
    kidsrn

  34. Ruth from Pennsylvania says:

    I remembered something I had read a good while ago about how quilters in the old days would put a deliberate error in their quilts….a block turned sideways or a different shade of red in one part, or something “wrong”. Supposedly it comes from the notion that since God is perfect, making a perfect quilt is prideful. These “wrong” blocks are named “Humility” blocks and usually appear at the lower right corner. The practice might have begun with the Amish or the Native Americans.

  35. Katharine says:

    When I saw your picket fence garden at your MA house I thought, don’t you have one in California too. I don’t remember where I saw it but I knew you had one here. I love that area, SLO county, and can understand your pull to either coast. I aslo remember, after seeing your CA garden that I thought, this is what I want too. I think I now remember where I saw the pictures. There was a store in the mall that had tons of your books and I used to look at all the pictures. That is where I bought my old Address Book. Anyways, I love to garden too and our conditions are rough because it gets very hot in the summer and we’ve had a drought. I don’t have sprinklers all over my backyard and have some drip hoses (I need many more). I do have sprinkers near the house and plant there. I’ve always wanted to plant fox glove but didn’t cause my daughter was little and I knew they were poisonous. I guess I can plant them now since she’s 13. lol Thanks for sharing your garden.

  36. Cindy Tuning says:

    I think your someday garden is already beautiful!And so is my quilt.I feel funny calling it mine because I feel it’s everyone’s quilt….and that’s why I love it.Thank you again and all the Girlfriends for their sweet comments.Now I know a fraction of how you must feel at the end of the day.

  37. Nancy says:

    What a beautiful garden! I love the picture of the picket fence in front (back?) of your home. It’s just a beautiful scene, something out of a wish book. Do you love the modular home? ‘We have seen them before and I really liked the set up. My folks lived in a mobile home (similar) and it was so well done and cozy.

    • sbranch says:

      The garden is at the side of the house; I love the layout of this house, but I think it would be better it was made of actual wood! The newer ones are much better!

  38. Susan, I just got home and read your blog. I loved reading about your house and garden in California. I believe someday all your gardening dreams will come true. Thanks for all the pictures and sharing your life with us. Love, Angel

  39. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful garden. My little cottage has such “garden” potential but this summer I’ve been going through a bad patch healthwise and it got totally ignored. I’ve felt so sad about it but I realize that the nice thing about gardens is that you always have a second chance next year. As soon as I get all healed up I’m going to clean up and put the everything to bed for the winter and then plan, plan, plan for the spring. What a great winter past-time. All my flowers are perennials and are of the cottage garden type so I’ve made a good start….I just have to remember what I planted where!!! Thanks again for cheering me up today – your words really struck a cord and helped me smile. Have a great Saturday/Sunday!!

  40. Susan, you have no idea how much I love California. And seeing pictures of your house and the area you are in made me so excited! It also made we want to jump in the car and take a long drive down Hwy. 101 from Florence, Oregon (only about 50 miles from where I am) to Los Angeles, stopping at all my favorite places along the way… The Samoa Cookhouse outside Eureka, San Francisco, “Steinbeck Country”, Carmel… the list just keeps going! Your pictures look just like I like to imagine California life.

    Thanks for sharing and have a great time!

    Jake

    P.S. Living in that area, are you much of a Steinbeck fan?

  41. Ginnie says:

    Susan, you are the best! It is so fun to see the views of your California place and hear and see your plans. The way you describe it makes me feel like I’m there.

    My husband and I visited Sissinghurst one June in the early 1990’s when we stayed with our friends in nearby Wye. What a gorgeous garden. And I was so impressed with the climbing white rose adorning the old gnarled apple tree that we came home and planted a climbing rose at the foot of our plum tree. That darned rose did nothing for about 4 years, at which point the plum tree died. I was ready to dig up the rose and toss it, but my husband moved it over a few feet to the side of the garage, and over the years it’s become prolific. And it still makes me think of our happy visit to Sissinghurst.

  42. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Hi Susan: I loved looking at your garden photos, reading about your long-range future plans for it, and also a peek into your England trip diary. How fun to think about and plan a large-scale garden like that! We can’t plant in the ground here in the townhouse so I’m envious of you–two beautiful gardens! 🙂 I’m not fond of California but that beautiful photo of your picket-fenced garden there could make me think twice–not to mention no mosquitoes. I’ve wondered about the mosquitoes at MV when you showed the beautiful evening pictures last summer… Here in Minnesota we joke that mosquitoes are the “State Bird”. They love me, also, and leave such big itchy welts. And for anyone who lives somewhere where there are no mosquitoes, I have to tell you that there is nothing worse than waking at night with that high-pitched whine of a mosquito around your head! 🙂 Another good thing about Fall–no more mosquitoes!!! But I STILL prefer mosquitoes to earthquakes and I love the Midwest and the East Coast–the land and people! (my personal prejudice!) 🙂 Thanks for sharing these beautiful photos with us (and also the quilt photo–that looks like a Nine- Patch-Within-A-Nine-Patch.) Oh, I’m reminding you: What brand is that Earl Grey with Lavender tea? (You said to ask again when you are in Calif., otherwise I’ll wait until you are home…) (thanks!) 🙂

    • Barbara (WA) says:

      Hi Pat, I thought of you the other day when in a Starbuck’s shop within Barnes and Noble. I saw a tin of Tazo Tea – Earl Grey with lavender! It may just be what Susan drinks. Wanted to pass this along to you.

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Thanks, Barb! There is a Starbucks real close to where we live so will check it out! We buy that brand Sweet Wild Orange tea and love it! 🙂

      • Karen P says:

        Did you try it, Barbara? That sounds so intriguing. I cannot imagine what lavender tastes like? I have C. Howard’s Violet mints so maybe it’s something like that? Love it! I’ll have to try some of that tea.

  43. Virginia says:

    I now understand what you meant when you spoke of being homesick no matter which home you are in at the moment. Both are wonderful places for very different reasons. I hope you’ll keep us posted with pictures as the CA garden progresses over the years. I love your plans!

    I also noticed the different looking patch on the lower left of the quilt, as Joan did. It looks like it might be the same pattern, but in a different color fabric- ? The patch on the right is fascinating. There must be a story. Wonder what it is.

    Made apple crisp today. Also carrot/zucchini nut bread (not enough zucs so carrots made up the difference). Smells like fall in my house. Love it.

    • Ruth from Pennsylvania says:

      Karen, it might just be an intended “Humility” block in the quilt. Not sure, but it might be an explanation for the odd block. See my comment up above about this.

  44. Oh Susan , your CA home and gardens are beautiful! You and Joe are doing an amazing job. Love your master plan…it’s always good to see it on paper.
    Lucky Cindy. I’m sure she will give the quilt lots of love and a good home. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the story behind the quilt? Why the different block? How it ended up in an antique store? I love to finish old quilt tops. I figure each top I rescue is a piece of lost history. Can you imagine how happy the lady would be to see her quilt being used and loved? You know what they say……every quilt tells a story.
    Have a safe trip home and thank you for all the joy you bring!
    Hugs, Karen

  45. Amy Lynn says:

    Susan,
    So glad you are having fun over there on the other side of the “world”. It is 48 chilly degrees here in Southwest Virginia tonight and today was a great start to October!! Went to my favorite country store today and dropped off handmade cards that they buy from me for resale. Enjoyed some local folk music and a delicious down home lunch (of vegetable quiche and tossed salad) while there. Then hubby and I headed off a HUGE fall craft show at the Floyd County High School. Tonight we have built our first fire in the fireplace~ a great start to fall!
    Cant wait until tomorrow… and am enjoying your Blogs everyday!!
    Have a wonderfully delightful evening!
    Amy Lynn 🙂

  46. Barbara Whitebread says:

    Susan, your place is so full of charm and beauty!!! Thank you for sharing your homes with us! It is going to be SO lovely when it(garden) is finished. I can’t even imagine….. from the diagram and description it sounds like it will be kind of a maze and garden all in one. What fun!!! Also, this is off the subject but I have to say ~I would love to have all of your blogs in a book. It would be pure heaven/bliss 🙂 ……… HMMMMM 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Maybe we’ll have to figure out how to do that one day! Thank you Barbara!

    • Karen P says:

      I agree with you, Barbara, about a book of blogs! That would be wonderful! I’ve started printing out some of them, along with the Willards and keeping them in a cute binder to look at when I’m away from the computer. It’s pretty pricey on the printer cartridge end but SOOO worth it! (Don’t tell me hubby! hee-hee!)

  47. Christie Ray says:

    Oh, how wonderful…everything about this post! The quilt is even sweeter hanging on the line…and I love that it had a surprise patch! Your journal.. I love it! I collect little leaves, cherry blossoms…little things to remember the special places we’ve visited. Yes, you must share more of the pages at some point;)
    I have to thank you for that zucchini bread recipe…good grief…we have already made the first loaf disappear…I don’t know how it happened…but it is gone! So, the second loaf will not be going to neighbors or friends…the next batch maybe;)) it is the most delicious recipe husband and I have ever tasted…I am not a’kiddin’!!
    We took a little October 1st field trip to the art store to acquire some paintbrushes with 3 hairs:)) a few more tubes of watercolors and a rapidograph pen. After some antiquing and acquisition of some hay bales…we came home to a civil war group tour being held across the street from our house…facing our home and our neighbors. Apparently we live smack dab in the middle of a former battleground….made me think of your “trailer in a ditch”…I was laughing out loud at that point in your post!!!
    I came in and worked on my illustrations and fell completely in love with this rapidograph thing…my mom will just not believe this new dangled thing!!! They did not have the winsor newtons you prefer but I found some that are working well for tiny details. Your posts here are not only a load of fun, but I am learning so so much. I have completed 5 Dresden plates and am on # 6 now. There just are not near enough hours in the day….
    So, you just enjoy your beautiful slice of heaven there in California, knowing that you have helped this gal find her own heaven on earth amongst watercolors, quilts, knitting, gardening and one awesome zucchini bread recipe;))
    Hugs and more hugs, dear girlfriend!

    • sbranch says:

      That was so sweet Christie! Thank you! Glad you’re hanging out in Domesticity City and loving it! Such a nice place to be!

  48. Hollace says:

    You make me laugh–a trailer in a ditch! Your neighbor nurseryman must love you!

    It is really neat to see how your sketch of a garden is coming to life so close to the plan.
    Thank you for sharing this part of your story with us. You have the best of two worlds, the Atlantic and the Pacific!

  49. Barbara says:

    Thank you for the beautiful walk around your garden. I love Arroyo Grande. My aunt lives there and has, for about 30 years. You may even know her! 🙂 My husband and I were in San Louis Obispo last weekend for a wedding and the weather was just beautiful. Blue, blue skies …… white fluffy skies ….. and the ocean was a deep blue. The wedding took place at Pismo Beach (Spyglass Inn). My husband and I were in heaven because we live in SoCal (high desert … yuk). Seeing the colors there made my eyes go into shock.
    Enjoy your stay at your “home away from home” and hope you had a lot of giggles with your girlfriends.

  50. Rosemary says:

    Oh I am laughing at your adorable post…about the trailer in the ditch! That just tickles me so! It all looks extremely lovely to me…the picket fence. You and Joe are so talented and ambitious and clever…and the best part is you act on your dreams. I mostly dream. Love the quilt and congrats to the winner. Yes, she will need that soon. I know because we used to live in the Finger Lakes in NY and spend a month each summer there and…we are going back toward the end of Oct. to pick up some family antiques we have left there from time to time. Hope we have some leaves to see but it is pretty late, especially if there is a lot of rain, which there seems to be.
    I do not know which coast I would rather live on so you have solved that beautifully…BOTH! Wonderful.
    Love your blog so much…every little thing!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m hoping for late leaves myself, so maybe between the two of us . . . wishing will make it so!

  51. Betty says:

    What a lovely California garden! I love “Just Joey” too. Very interesting to read about the gophers. Our problem visitors are possums. They visit at night and strip the new green shoots off anything they can reach. They are called ring-tailed possums and just hang on to the fence with their tails and reach down as far as they can. There is not much that deters them. Some folk leave out plates of food (fruit) for them and say that they don’t have any trouble then!
    Your English garden will be lovely. Beautiful video and music.

  52. Gumbo Lily says:

    Oh what a beautiful quilt. It’s even more lovely blowing in the breeze. Your garden is altogether lovely too. If I could grow the stuff you do, I’d have a garden and a trailer in a ditch too.

    Jody

  53. Ann says:

    Oh, your beautiful little garden inside the white picket fence…… well, it just makes me smile. And I’m certain I caught a whiff of those heavenly, too gorgeous to be real roses! I’m always inspired when I see pictures of your gardens– both north and west. I’m a Virginia Beach gardener who battles HOT, HUMID summers and moles/voles instead of gofers (I swear I’ve watched hostas being chewed right into the ground!)
    But each spring I go forth and plant, and enjoy watching each new leaf and bud emerge.
    Thank you
    for sharing your gardening photos and ideas with us!

    • sbranch says:

      I planted gerbera daisies along a wooden walkway in a garden a long time ago, because we were having grandparents come and I wanted cuteness along the garden path. About 15 minutes before they arrived I watched a gopher run along the path and just pick each flower right off the top and drag it away!!! You have to laugh!

      • Mary S. says:

        That is just too funny!!!

        • sbranch says:

          Now it is! I marched right out and got my first kitty … a little yellow girl I called Pooh, and so really, I owe that gopher. But she was a killer and probably got her benefactor in the end!

  54. Lisa R says:

    You and Joe sure make a great team! Lovely post~

  55. Mary S. says:

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing some of your California life with us!! Loved all the pictures!!
    We just LOVE the CA coast – it’s our dream to live there!

  56. Pom Pom says:

    Bill and I were watching “It’s Complicated” and Bill said, “There aren’t perfect gardens like that in real life.” But, I don’t know . . . your garden is fancy!

    • sbranch says:

      I agree with Bill! That’s the only thing I didn’t like about that movie, every time I see it, I say out loud, looking at that garden, that’s not real!

  57. My goodness you are making a great garden with such alot of hard work. I love roses especially heavily fragranced ones. When you mentioned about placing a pebble down each time you walked the circuit it reminded me of Charles Darwin who did the same thing at his home Down House. Everytime he completed The Sandy Path walk he placed a marker down as a counter.

    • sbranch says:

      I can remember the first 3 laps for sure, after that, by 6 laps, I forget! So I have these 9 white rocks under an olive tree and every time I go by, I kick one over to the new pile! Me and Charles Darwin . . . 🙂

  58. You sound so happy and everything sounds SO heavenly. (smiling)

  59. Kelly J. says:

    Well, it’s raining here AGAIN in the Northeast, but I plan on “Fall-ing up” the house today, while making some turkey chili 🙂 I wish we could send some of this rain south where it is so needed. The discussion about the mysterious quilt square is so interesting. Thanks for sharing it with us and congrats to the winner!

  60. Kit says:

    Good Morning! I forgot yesterday my Rabbit, Rabbit! Had to say Turtle, Turtle! LOL Love your place in Ca. And your plans for your garden. I always, “think big” and get as much done as I can. Before long your garden will be just as you dream it. Have a wonderful trip! Love your blog and I get so excited when my Willard arrives to my mailbox. Thank you so much for your inspiration! Kit

  61. Renee Richter says:

    I thought you might enjoy reading the gardening books of Beverley Nichols. He was so funny and has that wonderful droll British sense of humor. He spent his whole life building gardens and telling funny stories about them. Thanks for your blog, it brings a bit of sunshine no matter the weather outside.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you for reminding me about Beverly Nichols, I’ve been wanting to find one of his books to read, but just don’t seem to get around to it!!

  62. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Lucky Cindy, it’s a beautiful quilt, and great pictures! Love the garden & house pictures, such a nice place to come 2nd home to! So many acres, so little time, but I think you can! Rosemary is proud. A little stone house would be nice, perhaps you could bring stones from all your stops across the nation. Thank you for sharing your beautiful pictures and your dreams. I always love to see where people I care about live, whether in person or pictures, I guess it grounds them (so to speak) for me. Hugs.

    • sbranch says:

      I know you must have seen the movie “The Long, Long Trailer” with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, where they cross the country on their honeymoon pulling a trailer? She collects rocks as they go along — it is so FUNNY — if you haven’t seen it, I think you would love it!

      • Joan Lesmeister says:

        Yes! Very FUNNY – love that movie! I watched it again awhile back and still laughed out loud! Perhaps a small stone cottage would do for you and Joe, and you wouldn’t need such a long, long trailer! I will admit that I always have collected treasures, including rocks, on our trips!

  63. Barbara (WA) says:

    I am not quite sure I can explain how much this post means to me. My hubby is building me a 20′ x 40′ deer-fenced garden. I have long dreamed of having a huge cutting garden with flowers to sell and now that it is happening I am faced with so many fears, of failure, of expense, of being too old to do this, etc., etc. I just love that you are going ahead with your grand dream of this English garden despite that the house is a “trailer in the ditch.” It is so easy for me to give up on my dreams (of even painting the wall in the hallway ) and your blog so encourages me to listen to my heart and move forward. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    PS: For some reason I am running around these days singing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and craving cinnamon toast :o)

  64. Glenda says:

    To the Duchess and Duke of Ditch,

    Your place is totally awesome and it is easy to “smell” the flowers and to “feel” the peace and quiet. Enjoy those moments and thanks so much for sharing a little bit of your paradise with the rest of us.

  65. Barbara I. says:

    Yes Susan it’s October and I just finished making the Zuchini Bread receipe
    you sent to us. My husband just loved it. I made 5 loaves to give to church
    for the fall festival next week. The house smells so good. I love your garden
    and the pictures are beautiful. Thank you. Have a wonderful trip home.

  66. ellen scott says:

    just took a tour of your garden with you..thanks for sharing..i remember when our garden was in its infancy,we even had a one pound coffee can over a blue spruce to protect it…now our garden is in its adult/ senoir years… but i still find things i like to plant, a new rose bush or some new annual.i can’t wait until spring to see the new flower it has produced…the old blue spruce is still keeping watch over all. and i remember it fondly when it was just a little sprout. sometimes when it is a still summer night,i can hear little noises crackling under the dried leaves and the ground cover and i use to think it was the little night time critters just on their night time rounds..but seeing how the garden has grown overnight , i am now of the mind that it is not only the critters but the plants making that noise , growing under the cover of the night sky…well enough of this…oh and one more thing , not related to the garden…i love those maple leaf cookies.i found them years ago at our neighborhood drug store…i was glad to see that you found them and put them on your post…

  67. julie says:

    Love, love, love reading your blog! Off the subject, but I would love your opinion!! I’ll be visiting Rockland Maine in October and wondered if you had anywhere there or nearby that you liked. Thanks

    • sbranch says:

      We’ve wandered around up there a bit, but can’t really pinpoint anything other than all of it, because Maine is very wonderful! Will be a nice time to visit!

      • Laura Jenkins says:

        While in Maine, you must plan to visit the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse…take a picnic…we had ice cream there…gorgeous area..you won’t be sorry!

  68. Susan says:

    We just got back from camping this weekend at Willow Bay, PA up by the New York border. It was cold and rainy both days buteveryone got their kayaks out on the water so that was a good birthday celebration for my DH. He also liked the 2 apple pies I made, using Cortland apples from our trees. Anyhoo, Cindy’s quilt is red & green DOUBLE NINE PATCH blocks with hand quilted chevron quilting. Looks is wonderful condition. Perhaps the odd block is one that the quilter received as a gift from some one dear to her, perhaps a mother, daughter or sister? One she just had to use and not just store in a box under the bed?Thanks for the pictures of this quilt; I’m sure Cindy will be wrapping up in it soon as flurries were predicted for the past weekend in our campground. Your garden tour was fun. All the work (and blood, sweat & tears) are worth it! It’s fun draw and work your own garden plans. Thanks:)

  69. Becky says:

    Your post is just delightful and inspiring! I went to England for 10 days in August and a big THANK YOU to you and other readers for all of the pointers and the “you don’t want to miss this” tidbits. Made it a very special sojourn, indeed! I’ll see you next Sunday at “Remnants of the Past” antique weekend fest. Are you speaking or just signing? Thanks for making this world a better place. That’s the idea, isn’t it?

    • sbranch says:

      That’s definitely the idea!:-) See you on Sunday .. just signing as I think the focus of this event is shopping!

  70. Tiina says:

    Sue,
    My husband’s grandparents lived in Arroyo Grande. What a nice little town. Loved the3 farmers market and JJ’s was always the place to get groceries!. The weather is perfect there. I even went to your store there a bought a few things. Loved it! Wish u still had it! I heard you were gonna be in SLO this weekend so sorry we will miss you. I live in Central Cali near Fresno and its finally getting cooler. Autumn will never get here! I just love the blog and all of the pictures. Thank you sor sharing so much of your life with us.
    xo Tiina

  71. Lucy F. says:

    Sue,

    Seeing your beautiful place in A.G. makes me long for my beautiful Central Coast! I lived in SLO for a few years while attending Cal Poly and fell in love at first sight. There is nothing here in Cali like that area! Although it’s been over 20 years, I return at least 4 times a year, longingly wishing to stay forever. My dream is to retire there and have a garden of my own. Until then, I can live vicariously through yours. Thank you for sharing!

  72. Annelies says:

    Whenever we go to the Central Coast ( we are Apple Farm junkies), we drive past your home and I wave ( even when I know you are not there)!!!! I once bravely ( or brazenly) drove the dirt road by your home and you were right…lots of critters went scrambling.And now we are on our way to the East Coast ( a bit of leaf peeping).
    I miss your bitty store so much, but I have lots of cute things to remember it by.
    Say HI to Joe too…met him at the restaurant a number of times. Now I need to end this note before I sound less like a fan and more like a stalker ( which I truly am NOT)!!!!

  73. Betsy says:

    What beautiful pictures of your garden! When I read your decision to go with greenery and flowers in a garden and forgo the house being torn down for a new one I said to myself “this is truly my kind of girl”. Old houses need lots of love, I know. But saving a house and making it a home is a wonderful thing. I know you’ll only be there a short time but please Susan….please show us the inside. I know it will be YOU….warm and cozy.

    • Karen P says:

      Did you add on the beautiful sunroom on the back, facing the garden. What a gorgeous view and I’ll bet it’s a perfect place to relax after a long, hard day working the gardens!

      • sbranch says:

        No it came that way! It’s really the living room. The perfect place to keep an eye out for gophers!

  74. Laura says:

    Susan

    You’ve probably seen this show but just in case not I wanted to share it. It is a visit to the gardens of Highgrove with Prince Charles.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-_gApHmulU&feature=related

    Laura

  75. Karen P says:

    You and Joe have a wonderful plan and the Rosemary Verey garden is such great inspiration. Just watching that video makes me feel as if I could just stay there all day and never go home. No WONDER the gophers want to live in your garden! I love that photo of your basket of roses….lovely….and the foxgloves! Have never seen anything like it, certainly not my scrawny ones! Such an accomplishment when we have a hand in helping God in His creation, isn’t it? Fall in northern WI is gorgeous…you should have some nice scenery on your train trip home!

    • sbranch says:

      I expect it will be beautiful…first we have a layover in Chicago for about 5 hours, Chicago in the fall is wonderful. I had to laugh, never thought that the gophers might like it here because of all the yummy things we now have for them to eat. Too bad though, I’m not giving in! I can’t take credit for the roses; just a little food, lots of sun and water, and that’s what God creates here, in the ditch!

  76. Jewel says:

    Hi Susan!

    I first got addicted to you and all that is you when I found some cute little thanksgiving stickers at our local dollar store (sorry to break that to you). I’ve been following you off and on ever since. All I can say is…you are and do what all the rest of us wish we could, on a daily basis!

    Being from Manitoba, Canada, I just had to comment on your last Willard (September). We’ve had those maple cream cookies here forever and they have always been a favorite, as with the maple syrup in the “maple jar”, so you hit home there. The other interesting tidbit is that I saw your recipe binder maybe 3 months ago at a local Wal-mart! I was so surprised, wondering how it got there before you announced anything of the sort on your website. I absolutely loved it and goodness knows why I did not buy it at that point. Needless to say, I haven’t been able to find one in any Wal-mart around since then 🙁 . I am sure they went like hotcakes of course.

    We are enjoying nice warm fall weather up here in Canada and for our traditional Thanksgiving supper this weekend at the lake, I’m making your ORANGE CAKE!!! (For the first time; wish me luck!)

    • sbranch says:

      Hmmm, I don’t think they are supposed to be sold in Wal Mart…which one was it, can you tell me? They put them in Costco all the time, could that be it? The orange cake is easy, but the flavor is beyond wonderful, definite bang for the buck! Have fun and thanks for writing!

      • Jewel says:

        No, I didn’t think so either – it was the Wal Mart in Dauphin, Manitoba Canada; definitely not Costco. Thanks for the recipes. Looking forward to your new book.

  77. pat addison says:

    hello susan, Arroyo Grande is where you live??? my mother used to live there, not far from the village, just up the hill past the brussel sprouts farm and across highway 101 i think it was. the old highway was just across from her house. she loved it up there, a good place for growing her gardens. i used to hate getting up that hill everytime i went to visit her, but loved the area as it felt so comfy and homey. its been awhle sincve i have been back to Arroyo Grande but i am sure its just as friendly and comfy as i remember it. is Bernardoz still there?? they had the best ice cream, homemade of course, i ever had..nothing could compare to it. i used to love going up there for Thanksgiving, staying the week after to go shopping in Solvang, Pismo and all the little places along the way to San Luis Obispo. and of course seeing the monarch butterflies all nested in the Pacific Grove resting on their flight to Mexico. what a wonderful sight that was to see the trees all covered in butterflies. you brought back some wonderful memories of visiting my mom in Arroyo Grande, thank you Susan. hugs…. 🙂

  78. Kathy says:

    Susan, you wrote, “Someday I have to remember to show you this whole English garden diary!”

    Please do that! 🙂

    • Shelly D says:

      I agree, Kathy! Love looking at others’ art journals, even better with collaged photos of English gardens. We look forward to yet another pleasure from you, Susan. Thank you in advance~

  79. Dolores says:

    As always loved your garden dreams and adventures. You inspired me many, many years ago to copy your beautiful picket fence garden and now you inspire me to even more garden dreams! But most inspiring of all this time is your amazing garden journal of your trip! Because of you I have started trying to keep a journal, do you have any hints? It seems like the hardest thing is remembering to do it! I always mean to and then next thing I know another day has flown by.
    Also I wanted to know what kind and where do you get your journals. It helped so much with the post about your artist supplies (LOVE the Koh-I-Noor Pens!), thank you!

  80. Nellie says:

    Happy Monday morning, Susan!
    What an extra special quilt! It’s such a pleasure to see all of it.
    My goodness! What efforts to avoid gopher damage! It appears that it has paid off big time, because the garden is lovely at this point, and your plans for the future will truly have more lovely results!
    We have a beautiful fall day here in East Tennessee, even just a scattering of frost in some areas nearby.
    Enjoy your day! xoxo

  81. carol pfeiffer says:

    Susan, the pictures of your garden, oh I mean yours and Joe’s garden are just beautiful. My Joe and I are going to have a garden just like yours on MV. Next spring we are going to start. Joe will be retiring next March, so I have been taking notes from your blogs of course, all about wonderful things to grow and of course a white picket fence. Enjoy your visit and hurry back…..XOXO

  82. Sharon from Maine says:

    Hi Susan, your garden there in California already looks beautiful to me! You and Joe must have a lot of anticipation every time you go back to California wondering how much more everything has grown. Hopefully you have outsmarted those little hungry gophers for good!

    I hope you had a good time with Diana and Terrie. Best friends, wine and cheese and girl-talking – what could be more fun than that!

    Also – I would love to see more of your journal from England, too, like the rest of the girlfriends! xxoo

    • Karen P says:

      Hey, that’s a GREAT idea, Sharon! It was so wonderful to see those couple pages that are posted above. Man, my journal from my trip to England is pretty pitiful compared to Susan’s! I would LOVE to see any pages that you’d love to share with us, Susan! You’re such a sweetheart to share your world! We love you for the inspiration it gives us each day to make our life a bit more special….creative….fun…. xoxox….kp

  83. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Susan, be glad you don’t have deer to “mow” your garden down for you! They LOVE the hostas here and one day I put a pot of violas at the bottom of our front steps and the next morning they were chewed down to the ground! They also love day lily blossoms and buds…:-)

    • sbranch says:

      I mixed up some cayenne, with olive oil and dish soap and sprinkled it on the roses where deer had been feasting, and I can’t say why, but they never came back. Knocking on wood.

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        Thanks for the suggestion! I’m writing that down and will try it next summer. It is worth a try because the other alternative is chicken wire around all the planters on “deer level” and that really doesn’t look nice… 🙂 Tonight we came home and a squirrel had helped him/herself to try some green tomatoes off the plants on the deck. There were several green tomatoes lined up on the top of the deck rail and each one was half-eaten! We’re planning on having fried green tomatoes for supper and guess we’d better do it soon before the squirrels get them all! 🙂

  84. dottie says:

    Have you ever read Tom Stoppard’s play “Arcadia”? All about an English garden complete with a hermit (well… maybe) and a “ha-ha” — and set in two times with some overlap of characters — the famous British garden designer Capability Brown figures in the story. Highly recommend it! I have fallen in love with your picket fenced gardens and would love a blog comparison of the two versions one day. The idea of outdoor rooms has also been in my mind for a long while as well as Japanese garden features (I love deerchasers, for one thing)– so many avenues to pursue — but I have a “baby” in my OC yard which will be the centerpiece — a lovely ficus — once small but no longer so. My “green” thumb is not so green however thus the goal is to garden with plants which will tend themselves fairly well and fit into the natural and native plan. Loved the quilt and the speculation on the different blocks, also. You speak a language of appreciation for the good and continuing things in life, the underlying roots to which we can all hold in our own way — which is one reason you attract so many responses — thank you for the wonderful blog posts.

    • sbranch says:

      How nice of you to say that…I agree that it’s the thing we have most in common…a thankfulness for the beauty around us! Have heard of Arcadia, but haven’t read it … will look for it! I saw some Capability Brown work in England, and of course had a good time with the ha ha’s on our trip. Nice to hear from you Dottie!

  85. Your gardens and flowers were just breath taking, and Susan the trailer in the ditch is perfect for CA…..all the work you have done outdoors with the fences, gardens…makes the trailer look like a palace…afterall; a house is just a house until you put your special touches into it and then it becomes a home…I love the outdoors and all the critters that come with it even the gophers….I feel that we live in their surroundings and firmly believe we can all live together and digging the fences underground was very smart. You are very lucky to have homes on both sides of the country and get to experience two very different climates and enjoy the plants/flowers indigenous to the areas. Thank you so much for sharing with all of us; it is like going on a mini vacation without all the fuss of packing/unpacking!!! Have a safe trip back to enjoy a lovely October!!!

  86. Laura Jenkins says:

    Joe and Sue’s Garden of Eden…love it…green thumbs, for sure…but, more like green fingers and toes, too! So much work, but such a payoff….beauty in every inch of ground…xo

  87. Jennie says:

    Hi Susan- Our garden is in the ‘dream state’ too, so I know exactly what you mean. Every time I look out the windows I see it ‘as it will be’. I hardly notice all the weeds, invasive grasses, and chainlink fence- instead I see a low rock wall surrounding the property with a little wooden gates and roses spilling over the top like crazy. I don’t see our boys’ swingset- instead there’s a gazebo there, with a swing in the middle- perfect for daydreaming on and time traveling (ever read The Swing in the Summerhouse’?) We have a nice little deck area in the back and little paths that beckon to be followed around corners, to different garden ‘rooms’ with cozy little spots to sit in- of course, after six years, it’s only the flagstone patio and firepit that’s in, but little by little, it will come along. So all that to say- you aren’t crazy; you’re enjoying the journey!!
    And what you have at the moment is truly breathtaking- especially that tree! It is fabulous!

  88. Sandy says:

    Thank you for your garden tour! I live in Northern California (valley) and have a bit yard but not like yours — just a few flowers as the deer eat so much of it that we’ve given up on many things. But we do have all the critters like you have plus some mountain lions roaming on a state park not far away 🙂 Yes, Autumn is here – YEA!!!

  89. Vicki says:

    That’s some little house in the ditch! What a transformation. You guys have done wonders with the place. That’s one of the nice things about the California climate, things grow year round and can be kept up and looking nice. We’ve been reclaiming our surrounding territory from critters and bramble for years now…like you say, it’s a process. I had my heart set on a parterre for awhile but the lay of the land wasn’t symetrical enough, and there’s a slope, so we went to plan B, and put down winding paths and multi-levels that create smaller managable bedding areas. And talking about hedges, English Laurel grows very fast and can reach up to 20 ft high in about two years–making it a great fence hedge for the “back forty” when you get there.

  90. Theresa says:

    Hi Susan
    Your home in Cali is quite lovely…i can see why you would want to retire there. Noticed the lovely “signature” on the quilt that Cindy has won. I do not believe in humility blocks because most quilters are humble enough not to equate themselves with their creator and therefore have the authentic right to sign their work and this is good. This is very good!..Qui???

    • sbranch says:

      I wish more women would have signed those old quilts, it’s so rare to see it! Makes me love them even more though, just sad that maybe they didn’t seem to see them as the art they are!

    • Karen P says:

      I agree. Artists sign their paintings and quilting is SUCH a great form of art. Too bad. I have such an admiration for women who quilt…all the time and patience that go into it. I also have a jealous love for knitting and crocheting and I cannot pass up a gorgeous knit or crocheted afghan when I see it in a thrift store for mere pennies. I think of the woman who knit it and how it ended up at Goodwill or wherever instead of some family member’s home. And it makes me sad so I have to “rescue” it. Bought a beautiful fall color one yesterday half price for $2.49!

  91. Natalie says:

    Susan, I wondered if you knew that a Susan Branch Christmas Mug 2003 went for $131.50 on Ebay? I was bidding on it, but had to stop. I do have the coffee pot that matches the mug though. Got it a long time ago and it is one of my very favorite Christmas decorations.. You are quite sought after!!

  92. Sandra says:

    You’re living there now -smile- so while you’re living there now, ENJOY and plant for tomorrow!
    JFK once said, “The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, “In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!”
    Every year, I plant trees; it’s my nod to, and hope for, the future.

  93. Janice Kay Pipes says:

    I just love it when you come back to Cali, I know it’s not as magical as your east coast home. But we do have something very special here on the Central Coast.
    There’s nothing like geting your hands in the soil and planting bulbs for your spring surprize. One of the things my youngest daughter would say as she played beside me in the garden ” Mama I love the smell of dirt” I’d tell her it gives life to all the flowers. ” That must be why it smells good it makes things pretty.”
    Did you get the little package I sent to Judy? Hope sew. Hoping to see you At Madonna on Sunday… Take care and love your out look in life. you bring alot of JOY to us who follow your adventures…
    take care….

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Hooray! Judy had moved the darling dishtowel into another box, and no return address was on it! So it’s YOU! Thank you so much! I loved it! I’ll see you on Sunday!

  94. Mary Weir says:

    Hi Susan,
    You were so kind to respond when I wrote to tell you how you taught me to cook as a young wife in Florida — I forgot to mention how absolutely fabulous your chicken enchiladas are. They are completely addictive! I just wanted to tell how much I love your blog and all that you share with us “out here.” When I am not called in as a substitute teacher, my priority right now is pulling together the materials to help our senior son apply for college. We hope he’ll be able to get a spot at a good school, along with the financial aid to go with it. It’s pretty frantic right now, especially because both our boys play water polo and we try to get to all their games and tournaments. There’s virtually no leisure time (which is ok, because after they’re out of high school life will be so different) but it is so wonderful to be able to come to this place of yours where everything is beautiful, peaceful and positive. Yours is the only blog I read and I can only catch up with you about once a week, but it’s always a treat. Thank you also for sharing with us your actual recipe card for the zucchini bread. I love to see people’s actual hand-written recipes (which is why your books are such treasures) and it’s like a gift to get the recipe from you like that. Hope the rest of your California stay is great. I love SLO and hope one of our boys might consider going to Cal Poly. Thank you again for giving me this cyber-place that allows me to slow down and rejuvenate once in a while.
    — Mary, Whittier, CA

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, it would be really good for your boys to choose a school in a fun little town! The visits will be even better! Loved your comment here, you covered so much ground! Happy you come here, glad you like those enchiladas, I totally agree, they are pretty darn wonderful! I’ll have to pull out another one of those recipe cards when I get back home! xoxo

  95. Jack says:

    You mentioned the Goat Barn — A very good place for a couple outside farm cats to thrive — check out the availability of two or three hefty , lean and mean cats from your local Humane Society and move them into that goat barn ….make a nice place for them to feel welcome and notice the difference
    in your “bad critter” population after a couple months — cats can cope with
    coyotes — gived a safe haven — and will really get after unwanted huasnas !

  96. Brenda says:

    Your gardens here and there are beautiful! Love you roses. Came home to two white roses that have bloomed in my garden. It is unusual here in the middle of Michigan to have roses in October. I just sighed. At least these the Japanese beetles will not infest.

    • sbranch says:

      I just love the very last rose at our house on the island at the end of the season. Something so special about it. Never know whether to cut it and bring it in, or leave it to decorate the bush.

  97. Sharon from Carlsbad CA says:

    Oh Susan!! I just loooove your ‘rustic’ home and ‘english’ garden. It’s a canvas you and Joe are painting, isn’t it? Your rainbow of roses are spectacular, as I’m green with envy. Do consider adding some hedge or David Austin roses as I’ve found they can be suprisingly, divine. I’ve got ‘Eglantyne’ on my wish list, as well the climbing rose, ‘Sombrieul’ who’s scent can enrich an entire room. Hugs from down south…Sharon

  98. Cindy Garner says:

    Wow…. how blessed you are!!!

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