Egrets, Mustard and Calendula

We love having a naturalized garden! Every year there is more life present with less work on our part. This lovely time of year when we are sliding between the last rains of winter and the blossoming of spring is one of our favorites! The garden is full of volunteer plants that come back year after year to give us nourishment. As the ecosystem we’ve created here matures, we are having more fun experiences in our naturalized garden.

In the recent post, Hawk Presence, you saw the hawk that was attracted when we had an injured squirrel in our midst. Now, with the maturing of our pond environment, the fish have begun attracting different varieties of wildlife. Not long ago, we had a beautiful egret visit to have breakfast with us. We were sitting at the dining room table enjoying our breakfast, when we saw the egret wandering into the yard.

The egret wandered around the pond area, explored the stream and went back to the larger pond where there is an abundance of mosquito fish,  some koi and goldfish. We were amazed at how calm it was, even letting us get surprisingly close without ruffling its feathers. It was fun to have a close up view of its behavior.

We watched as the egret tasted a few fish while looking for the best place to enjoy. Imagine our surprise when the egret walked out onto the plants in the pond. It looks as though they are on land, but in fact, the plants are growing directly in the water. The egret looked for firm footing, with some wobbling and reclaiming of balance along the way. Ultimately, the egret had a good feed. Eventually, we had to chase it away – and again the next day when it returned!

 

 

 

 

 

The seasonal volunteers that show up each spring give us a delicious supplement to our daily diet. First come the Miner’s Lettuce, then the Mustard and finally Mallow. The Miner’s Lettuce is fantastic in salads, stir frys and home-made sushi rolls. Our favorite way to prepare the Mustard and Mallow is in the Spring Greens Chips. A large variety of flavors can be explored through mixing up different spices and herbs. This year, we had some dried marjoram and zaatar. So, that was added to our chips for an excellent, unique flavor combination!

Mustard and Calendula

Mustard

Mallow

Field of Miner’s Lettuce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowl of Coated Greens

Freshly baked chips

Spring Greens Chips

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our skin is also nourished by the garden at this time of year. The calendula that was planted years ago, reseeds and spreads, even creating new colors on its own. After having some excessively dry skin issues over the winter, especially around the eyes, a very sensitive spot, our aesthetician friend suggested using Calendula Oil. So, the timing was perfect as the first Calendula was dried and ready to go. Preparing the Calendula Oil was easy and fun.

Calendula

Colorful Calendula

Drying Calendua

Sugi Garden Organic Calendula Oil

It turned out so well, that Organic Calendula Oil is now a Sugi Garden product available in 1 oz. bottles for $8. Come on by the first event of the year at the Spring Expo Plant Sale in Pleasant Hill, April 14, to get some to make your skin happy, too!