Tan is the color of the season

Not much is happening in our garden these days — except that the lawn becomes more and more tan-colored as the long dry season continues.

This year, we stopped watering it about the end of June. It seemed wrong to maintain green grass while the hills in our view were brown, and some city neighborhoods were having their water cut off during the daytime.

Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

Above is a view of the upper and lower lawns.

I took these pictures this morning.  The sky was actually full of grey, rather menacing clouds (and dusty haze), and there was some wind.   This is not unusual for August, but we haven’t had any rain since May, except very briefly about three weeks ago and almost all night two weeks ago. That last one was nice, and the grass seemed to get a little greener within 12 hours, but it didn’t last.   The long rainy season normally begins in early September.

We do still water the flower borders, although not very generously.  Kniphofia, daylilies, gerbera daisies, lantana, Missouri primrose, and small shrub roses are blooming steadily.  But, of course, most plants are in a “holding pattern” and not really increasing in size.  I want to make some changes and additions to the borders, but I’ll wait until we have a rain or two.  Then, we need to work quickly before the soil becomes too soggy.

Below is the lower lawn, looking south at the steps at the center of the lawn. Actually, the tan is kind of pretty.

Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

Below, a closeup.  I know it will come back, but it’s hard not to get out the sprinkler.Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

Below,  from the upper lawn, looking back across the lawn to the northwest — with a hazy view of central Kigali.

Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

I’ve been working more on the vegetable garden lately.  This summer winter, we’ve divided it into many small* raised beds instead of a few really large ones.  It’s easier to manage now, and the kale, strawberries, basil, dill, arugula, lettuce, and rosemary are doing well — in the photo below.

Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

That’s one of our two compost piles in the back.  You can just see a bamboo pole sticking out of it.  I pull the pole out occasionally and feel it.  If it’s warm and damp, the pile should be cooking nicely.

Below are my still-green cherry tomatoes; I planted both red and yellow.  The plants look good now, but when the rains start, they may suffer from too little sun and too much water. The dry season (with watering) is a good time for tomatoes and basil, but I should have started them sooner.Our garden in the dry season/enclos*ure

Finally, below, this is a little sad.  It’s an child’s stuffed toy — no head, no legs — that the hawks in the tree above pushed out of their nest.

Toy dropped by hawk/enclos*ure

The nest is at least 3′ across and seems to be made of as much waste paper and cloth as of sticks and twigs.  A few weeks ago, I found someone’s bank statement under the tree, complete with name, account number, and balance.  It’s now shredded and in the compost pile; I gave this little fellow a burial there too.

When we get our first big rain and wind storm, I expect to be picking up all sorts of things.


*3′ or 4′ x 5′ (more or less)

(Not very) Wordless Wednesday: head shots


A resident of Gako Organic Farming Training Centre, Kigali, Rwanda.


His best side.


His other best side.


Snapshot with a friend.

Happy Fourth of July!

Today is also Liberation Day in Rwanda.

A year ago today, my husband and I took a different way home from Georgetown and discovered Dumbarton Oaks Park, one of the country’s garden design treasures.  I took a lot of photos and blogged about it a couple of days later, here.

The 27-acre, Washington, D.C., park  was designed by Beatrix Farrand and given to the National Park Service in 1940.  It has been in a poor condition for  decades, but since 2010, the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy has been working to restore it.

On Saturday, July 7, the Conservancy will hold a Storm Clean-Up to remove debris from the June 29 derecho storm.  They are asking for volunteers to join them from 9:00 a.m. to noon, starting at the Lover’s Lane Entrance on R Street.

For more information, see here and contact Ann Aldrich, aaldrich@dopark.org.

(Sorry, I guess I’m not very ‘wordless’ today.)

The pelican tree

Can you see them? Neither could I until we got to the corner.

In the neighborhood of Kiyovu — the central business district of Kigali — a group of great white pelicans (Pelecanus onocrotalus) live in this tall tree opposite the Belgian School.

There is no nearby body of water, other than a medium-sized manmade lake on the other side of town. I have read that they are living on the tilapia in area fish farms, although I also read that great whites can be “opportunistic foragers” — meaning, I suppose, that they eat some trash. Although Kigali has almost no trash. (The species is also known to take the chicks of other birds, as well as ducklings.)

The birds are huge — which my pictures don’t really convey clearly.  A website said their length is about 63″ (160 cm.) and their wingspan is 110″ (280 cm.)

The other pelican native to Rwanda is the pink-backed pelican (Pelecanus rufescens).

My photos are not great — the tree is really tall — but this link has a very nice picture of pelicans in another Kigali tree.