Thursday, March 31, 2011

Big Drama in the Garden...Spoiler alert: Everything turns out OK

At dusk last night, as I was saying good night to my garden, I saw what I thought was tragedy in the snap peas.  A lizard had become ensnared in the grow net I used to support my pea vines this year.  I felt terrible as the lizards are abundant in my garden and having seen each other so much, we are dear enemies.  Oh, when they see me, they still do their ritualistic push ups but mostly out of instinct; after all we see each other all the time.

Unfortunately this lizard was D.E.A.D as a doornail--blackened and stiff.

About an hour ago, I decided to take a quick look at the garden because with 90 degree temperatures expected today, I thought some plants might be stressing.  As I passed the dead lizard (awaiting my dear husband to remove his body), there was twitching and wriggling.  The little stinker was alive.  Now for the rescue.

A large piece of the grow net was removed with my dear enemy smack in the middle.  His front feet were caught, back feet caught, middle cinched by the net.  Somehow, he had twisted three filaments around his neck.  All very tight.  With scissors, back feet were carefully freed.  Next for the middle.  With just enough wiggle room to get my scissors between lizard and net, I was about to snip his middle free on the third try.  Heaving breathes both of us.  Glassy black eye staring. 

Front feet freed.  Finally, if I could snip the filaments around his neck without catching his body in the process, this ordeal might have a happy ending.  By now, I had determined just the right amount of pressure to let me slide the scissors next to him without any dire consequences.  Snip, snip, snip.  Leap and away to the bushes.

I felt terrible that I had left lizard stuck all night in the netting.  But by now, he is back home, telling his wife why he stayed out all night. 

Garden Lizard in Happier Times

Making my Own Dry Rock "River" Bed

During the course of gardening, I have the fortune (!) of finding some nicely sized cobblestones in the dirt.  They are part of the indigenous soil and are there because a retaining wall we replaced brought them up from deep below.  By placing them in a small sloping area, I have created a nice visual along the stairs and also came up with a way to slow heavy rains from running down this area too quickly.

Note to Garden:  I'm done with the path so please, no more cobblestones!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April is the Cruelist Month...

"April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain."

 -Thomas Stearns Eliot


Carrotwood Tree--Funny name?

How did the carrotwood tree get its name?  The wood is the color of carrots--orange.  Here is an example of the colorful wood of the carrotwood tree made during tree trimming.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Awesome Artichoke

Terminal Bud with offshoot buds

 Sometimes, I cannot explain the mysteries of the garden.  The amazing purple artichoke bud you are viewing is the progeny of the "perennial" artichoke plant I have in my garden.  This is the third time the artichoke has returned after the plant dies back to the ground.  This is the first time, however, the plant has produced this wonderful purple bud.

Can't explain it, but it is a beautiful color.

Who's in the Garden...

Blog | Farmscape Gardens

Rainbow in My California Garden

When I woke up this morning, the sun was shining and beckoning me out into the garden. Early sunlight seemed to make all of the colors of the garden more intense. I was photographing the plants with colors that seemed enhanced and bold. It seemed I had every color of the rainbow represented and an idea came to me to create by California Garden Rainbow.
Tree Mallower
Chive flower
Lavendar Flower

Sea Lavendar

Lemon (green)
Strawberry leaves
Rhaphiolepis Leaves

Yellow Cauliflower

Strawberry flower
Nandina berries

Friday, March 25, 2011

Peas with Black Sesame Seeds from My California Garden

Harvesting peas this morning and creating a yummy vegetable side dish for dinner tonight.

This dish is too easy to taste this good.

Start with a 1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh edible pea pods.
Blanche in 1/3 cup water for 2 to 3 minutes until color is bright green and pods are tender.
Drizzle with 1 tablespoon Sesame Seed Oil (Dark)
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon Black Sesame Seeds
Lightly sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt or to taste.
Serve hot or cold.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


At long last, a peek into the center of the whorl of artichoke leaves reveals a small terminal bud forming.  The artichoke plant requires a lot of space in the garden as its diameter can reach six feet with height of three to four feet.  This terminal bud will be the largest with smaller buds forming along the lower stem.

These plants will stay in place through May when I may have the luxury of harvesting up to fifteen artichokes.  Eventually, they'll be removed to return a huge planting area to my garden.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Naughty Foxglove found her mama's lipstick on her dressing table
and showed no restraint.
The confidence of youth in the spring.

Food: Six Things to Feel Good About by Mark Bittman

Mark Bittman, an opinion columnist with the New York Times, has been trying to change the way we eat for decades.  His editorial piece, Food:  Six Things to Feel Good About,  let's us appreciate some good things that are happening in the American food arena:  Urban farming is growing and there is a cache of cool among the young generation of farmers.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Take Action to Conserve Freshwater -- National Geographic

Take Action to Conserve Freshwater -- National Geographic

Today is World Water Day.  National Geographic created a list of ten things we can do to conserve water.  The first on the list is to "Choose outdoor landscaping appropriate for your climate."  Conserving water is something gardeners should be very concerned about.

Take a look at this article and see what you can do to conserve water today...and in the future.

The Great Sunflower Project--Join the Hunt for Bees

The Great Sunflower Project was started in 2008 (San Francisco State University) as a way to track bee/ wild bee populations in urban, suburban, and rural areas across the U.S. and Canada and  plant pollination.  The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that in 2009, the second year of the project, 55,000 people participated. In 2010 the number is up to 80,000.
(Map of 2010 activity.)

Regular gardeners were asked to become scientists and observe the bee populations in their own garden.  The project asks the gardener to plant a main observation plant, the annual Lemon Queen sunflower seeds (available at local shops or online).  The project added other bee attracting flowers to the mix and seeds for those plants are available online as well*.

Throughout the summer, the gardener/scientist then observes the number of bees come to a specific sunflower in a 15 minute time span.  This data is posted by the gardener online at the Great Sunflower Project site.

Based on the findings of the study to date, if you see 0-1 bees in 15 minutes you have a poor polinator service in your area, 2-3 bees is moderate, and 4 or more is good.

Join the project by planting the sunflowers and registering with the Great Sunflower Project.
Follow on Facebook.

*Additional flowers in the study: Bee balm, Cosmos, Rosemary, Tickseed, and Purple coneflower

Monday, March 21, 2011

California Garden: Rain + Sun = Lettuce, Lettuce, Lettuce

After a triple wash and a quick spin, lettuce is ready for creative toppings.
A garden planted with lettuces starts kicking into over drive as spring comes in like a lion and turns into a lamb.  The weather is still cool to keep the lettuce from bolting, winter rain (supplemented with occasional hand watering) provide the moisture needed and the increased sunlight hours create a gardening trifecta.

With the increased production, you might tire of salad at every meal.  You can beat the salad blahs with some simple ingredients.  Toss them in and you've got a new creation making each salad a unique taste sensation.

California Salad
Romaine Lettuce
Crispy Bacon Crumbles
Avocado Slices
Sourdough Bread Croutons
Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing

Dried Cranberry Salad
Mixed Salad Greens
Dried Cranberries
Toasted Walnuts
Bleu Cheese Crumbles
Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing

Southwest Salad
Romaine Lettuce
Black Beans
Corn Kerrnal
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Crumbled Tortilla Chips
Ranch Dressing

Greek Salad
Romaine Lettuce
Black Olives
Diced Hot House Cucumbers
Diced Tomatoes
Feta Cheese Crumbles

Arugula Salad
Arugula Leaves
Candied Walnuts
Sliced Ripe Pears
Bleu Cheese Crumbles
Vinaigrette Dressing

Spring Strawberry Salad
Mixed Greens
Toasted Almond Slivers
Goat Cheese
Balsamic Vinaigrette

Your California Garden--Ready, Set, Plant Your Summer Garden

Yellow Tomatoes
Pole Beans
By now the seasoned gardener has poured over seed catalogs all winter and is ready to plant their summer garden (March to September).  Winter revelry will turn into baskets of late summer harvest.

For the newbie, you may have a little anxiety over your first garden and what vegetables will be grown.  Farmscape has put together a wonderful guide for school gardens (summer crop catalog) they help design, but it can easily be applied to the home gardener.  Their plan is for a 4' x 12'  garden and insures a balanced harvest.

The plan includes beans, cucumbers, eggplants, herbs, melon, peppers, squashes and tomatoes.

Farmscape will help you build and maintain your home garden or school in the Los Angeles area if you aren't able to manage your own home garden.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Pat Welsh at Roger's Gardens--Tomato Hornworms

Pat Welsh spoke at Roger's Gardens today.  She is a speaker whose knowledge of everything garden is amazing.  Her topic this morning was organic gardening.  Here is her quick tip for organically handling the dreaded tomato hornworm.

"Organic" Treatment of Tomato Hornworm
Take a small, empty tuna can and nail or fasten it to your tomato stake or cage.  Place several peanuts (unshelled) in the can.  The scrubjay will see the peanuts, notice the hornworms and make dinner of both.  It's worth a try.

Ms. Welsh was a wealth of information and with our permission, stayed longer than planned to talk about onions, strawberries, Brussel sprouts in the garden.   Her book, Southern California Organic Gardening: Month by Month, was available.  It's over 450 pages and is full of great gardening advice and information.  Also, Ms. Welsh has a wonderful web site and blog worth visiting.

Bird Lover Provide A Plethora of Abodes

 At a crossroad in this zip code, there is a boatload of bird abodes.   

Friday, March 18, 2011

Local Southern California Gardeners--Big Weekend at Roger's Gardens

Just got an email from Roger's Gardens.  This weekend is their Spring Opening 2011.

Saturday March 19 at 9 a.m.--Pat Walsh:  Grow Vegetables Year Round the Organic Way.  I have seen Ms Walsh present before at Roger's.  She is legend in California for her garden knowledge, author of several books, amazing.  Based on my previous experience, I highly recommend.

Saturday March 19 at 2:30 p.m.--Brian Blood:  Plein Air Art Techniques and Demonstration.

Sunday March 20 at 9 a.m.--Nicholas Staddon (director of new plants for Monrovia) Small Gardens/Big Ideas.

Sunday March 20 2 p.m.--Paul Fenner and Opal Sullivan Florals for your Wedding.

Roger's Garden Iconic Gazebo in July
I would love to see each one, but I am especially interested in Pat Walsh and Nicholas Staddon.

Roger's Gardens on Facebook!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

On 364 days of the year, I consider this a pesky, invasive weed.
Today: It's all about shamrocks!
Name: Creeping woodsorrel, Oxalis corniculata,
Leaves:  Three heart-shaped leaflets which open and close in intense light and at night.
Bloom:  Five small yellow petals atop of slender and tender stalk.
Growth Season:  Year Round (!)  No wonder this weed gets such a strong hold on my hill side.
Reproduction:  Creeping and rupturing seedpods which can expel between 10-50 seeds.
Locations:  Turf, ground covering, gardens and most annoying between pavers!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

THE RETURN OF THE SWALLOWS CELEBRATION at the Mission in San Juan Capistrano

March marks the return of the famous swallows to San Juan Capistrano and the coming of spring!  The swallows leave in October and return in March every year.

The Mission is holding its world renowned celebration of this event on Saturday, March 19, 2011.  The event will include the ringing of the historic bells, guest lecturer on cliff swallows, music performances, historic fashion show and as always the beautiful gardens of the mission can be viewed.

Mission in June

Mission in June


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