Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Garden Totems

I had seen these on several gardening 'trash to treasure' type sites and had been planning to put some together for awhile. Originally I thought I might take them to the nursery and tuck them in amongst the plants and who knows? Maybe one might sell!
So today I got out my big box of glass Id been saving, and with the opinions of all my kiddos, began to silicone them together. What a great family activity, all except the baby who had plastic tipper cups. Most of the glass I had laying around, as I have had a thing for glass for a long time. Alot of it came from my grandmothers, whose house we just (sadly) emptied of 65 years worth of memories. A few things I have picked up for 50cents or 1.00, in anticipation of the totems.
WOW! They may not look like much in the picture, but they sure do brighten up the front window. I like this better than just having a bunch of bottles lined up in the windowsill for sure.

I'm planning to do some beadwork and add that to them and also use cut them for cut flowers. The little manzanita tree is part of our "nature table". Right now I'm drying little bouquets and we are hanging them there with ribbon. I have a much larger manzanita that we decorate seasonally on a different table.

Well, that's it for now. I had a really crummy past few days, being creative really lifted my (our) spirits. I didn't go to work yesterday (lower back and personal things to tend to) so I will be in tomorrow.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

I miss them....

This gentleman came in today to show us his carrot he grew from seed purchased from us. He was so proud of it, carrying it wrapped in a newspaper with a rubber band, holding it like a baby. Nearly 1 1/2 pounds! Now truth be told, the root was probably not very tasty, and had been left in the ground a little too long. But HE GREW IT! And so when I ran to get my camera he was more than happy to have his picture taken, and when I said I was going to put it on my blog! Well, I think that made his day (even though I'm sure he has no idea what a blog is.)

Upon my return to the nursery this year, after my 9 years away, I found most of these "ole guys" gone. They just weren't there. They used to come in every year and buy their Ace tomato plants, Blue Lake bean seeds, maybe some Straight 8 seed and Acorn squash. Their wives would maybe come along and get a few annuals. Mostly the would say they didn't need much because we landscaped their yard 40 years ago and they just grow a few vegetables now. Maybe we would hear from them on the phone later wondering if they could spray their old bottle of DDT that had been in the shed since 1970 on their tomatoes cause they thought they saw aphids. Some would come in in the fall for some onion bus, or a pack of broccoli. They might not have bought much but they came every year. And now they are almost all gone. One man in his 90s came in with his son, in his wheelchair, and with some difficulty picked out a tomato...."just thought he should have something growing"

I used to grumble because most of the time they would refuse to let me do anything but take their money, I couldn't tell them ANYTHING! They HAD to talk to the owner, so I would page him and he would come all the way up to the front and then the customer would ask him "Where are your tomatoes?" At 19 years old I really hated it when they would do that!
But I get it now. An I really miss them

I lost my own grandma in 2001 and grandpa is now in a nursing home, 97 years old. I owe my horticulture love to them in a couple of ways. When I was growing I spent a lot of time with them on their 1/2 acre, a few blocks from the nursery.
Being transplanted farmer from Nebraska, they were always growing stuff. Grandma had peonies she had brought all the way out here with her. And she was so proud of her redwood trees she dug up as seedlings from over by the coast.(eek!) But mostly we grew veggies, and lots of them. I learned to get over the earwigs falling out of the corn as we shucked them.....and grandma showed me out to cut out the bad parts of the apple, tomato, whatever and save the rest, no matter how tiny. She canned everything and we had tomato butter and pickles and green beans....and grandpa even grew popcorn and sold it in the neighborhood for years. We would spend our evenings picking through the corn kernels one by one, or cracking walnut....watching Lawrence Welk or Wild World of Animals. "sigh"

Well, one day when I was just 18 my grandma said they had been over at the nursery for the tomato plants and veggie seeds and the owners wife had mentioned needing a cashier...hint hint. I thought well, to make grandma happy I will check it out. So I did. At first the she said NOPE, not hiring. Then I said "ok, its just my grandma said she thought you needed someone" "Ok, start next Tuesday"

AND BAM! My real love affair began...but I digress....back to the man with the carrot. I bet he doesn't know a single Latin name....but HE is a gardener, and someday I will miss him too.....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Mmmmm...Lemon Verbena

Please excuse my wild front yard. We havent even gone into the backyard, the "taming" section of the blog! This is my Lemon Verbena (Aloysia triphylla) that I have had for several years. This wonderfully scented, tender plant is native to Peru and Chile where it can reach 15 feet. Here in my yard it has sat and sat and sat....never getting much above 2 feet. But this year, despite a very cold winter, it has come into its own!! Its at least 6' tall! I am hopeful that from now on out, it will make it through the winters. Oh sure, I expect Jack Frost to wrap it in his icy cloak of black, but it should (fingers crossed, knock on wood) come back.


Do you have any daisies? Ha Ha....ok, inside nursery joke but lets just say: thank goodness for Latin!

I picked up this red Arctotis back in April, probably on one of those drizzly, grey days we had when it seemed spring was never going to get here. It was so happy, and RED! Now, 3 months later, it is still very happy and very red. It just keeps blooming its heart out, despite our odd weather this year.

I understand this gem is from South Africa and should be treated as an annual in all but the warmest winter climates. It grows so quick though that I will readily plant it again if frost takes its life. I also have 2 pink varieties tucked away in my 'secret spot' at the nursery. I meant to buy them Saturday but it was so busy that my brain had turned to mush when it was time to go home.

A word about us nursery employees: we love plants and landscaping and we love helping you choose the right plant for your location BUT, please dont take it personally if you find us wandering about, looking shell shocked, eyes glazed over. It not you, it just the end of the day. Our jobs ask alot of us physically (the nursery is 3 acres and we are back and forth about 100 times a day), but also it takes a lot of mental work. We want you to have the right plant!
Anyhow, yesterday was a very busy Saturday so I thought I would share those thoughts with ya.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


OK, it just does NOT rain here in July. It doesnt.

But it has been all night.

Not a heavy downpour but light, nitrogen rich sprinkles. And its warm. The combination will be like fertilizer from the sky for the garden.

We needed this relief after our scorching heat wave came through last week and fried alot of plants, esp. newly planted ones. In particular newly plantings that are on a drip system.

DRIP SYSTEM USERS: Do you know how many gallons per day your plants are getting? If you tell me it is coming on twice a day for 20 minutes and its a 1gph dripper, then that is not even one gallon a day! And for your trees and shrubs, esp. in the heat, that is not enough! Take the hose and go out there and water them by hand. I am amazed at the number of calls we get by people who think their plants look dry but yet they have neither checked the soil themselves or gone out and watered. When its hot, do you drink more water?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Michelia x foggi "Jack Fogg"

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I planted this Michelia x foggi "Jack Fogg" about 9 years ago. It has never frosted here, in Sunset zone 14. For those of you unfamiliar with the "banana shrub", its a tender cousin of the Magnolia with creamy white, fragrant flowers.

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Here is a close up of the glossy foliage and fuzzy brown new growth, showing its Magnolia relationship.

UPDATE: A bloom picture 2-20-2008

Salvia uliginosa

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This Salvia is often called Bog Sage but in my garden it has survived for years with summer drought!

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I must have spotted 20 bees buzzing around these blooms. Some people wouldnt like that but I do! If you want to attract birds and butterflies, expect the bees as well. I have 6 kiddos and we rarely get stung.

Good Morning!

I have been wanting to do a blog for quite awhile, but unsure how. So please bare with me while I fumble through it. I hope to not only show the "taking back" of my 1/3 acre garden, but also feature plants that come in through the nursery I work at.

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