Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Water Features in a Garden ~ Bird Baths and Fountains

No garden is complete without a soothing water feature.

My husband brought this to my attention.
It is important that you buy a water feature that doesn't sound like a man tinkling.  Therefore, I will never purchase a fountain without being able to hear it on display at the store.

The proper pump is also important.  Our original pump lasted about 12 years.  Our fountain pictured here needs to be topped off to be refilled every other day during the hot months. It has a lovely cascading sound and draws all kinds of birds, butterflies, and bees.  The middle pool is perfect for bird baths and this is a frequent and delightful sight.

The sound of running water at night brings in all kinds of thirsty critters.  Skunks and racoons find this sound very inviting.  It used to be that we would run the fountain day and night until we realized that it was a favorite place for racoons to come and wash things in. We had to strain out the black bark mulch in the morning.  It also speeded up evaporation quite a bit.

If the water isn't circulating continually, it will grow algae.  There are many stores that sell products that zap algae from these fountains but they are expensive.  While it is running, I use a capful or so of liquid bleach and it gets the job done nicely without harming the critters that bathe and drink here, nor does it appear to have damaged the pump over the years.

Now, we only turn it on when outside in the yard.  It never fails to deliver that feeling of complete relaxation.

We have several hummingbirds that divebomb one another to protect their favorite birdbath and nectar plants. 

Though we don't have a dripper feature for this birdbath, it will instintively bring in many more birds that are attracted to the movement of the water.  These can be purchased at your local nursery for about $20-$40 and can be hooked into your existing drip systems.

Monday, July 11, 2011

OK, I couldn't resist including a beach shot from Oahu. The azure blue water is mesmerising.
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Who'd of thunk you can plant a pineapple in a wine barrel? How cute is this little guy?
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Here is a completely different variety of pineapple. I was drawn to the bright colors.
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Here is one variety of pineapple from the Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawaii. It looks like the variety we have in stores in CA.
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There are many types of Lavender plants. Some are more fragrant than others. I LOVE every single one of the types. Some are used for cooking and making floral scented items such a soaps and perfumes. Others hold up really well as dried flowers for arrangements. All lavender scents tend to calm people. When lavender harvests take place even the bees are calm and won't sting from what I am told. I still get a bit unnerved around bees regardless.
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Watsonia corms are really hard to come by. They are my absolute favorite an old-fashioned flower that grow upright and similarly to gladiolus, although they are not invasive like glad's are. Thanks to my dear friend Leona for sharing these when she divided her sets many years ago. I think of her often and definitely think of her when these beauties are in bloom. Leona taught me so much about gardening way back when I had her darling daughters in my second grade classroom. Kendall is in her mid twenties now and her younger sister just graduated college. Where does the time go?
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Here is a look at our new fence in the background. Our little cherub sculpture is a favorite of mine. I love everything about him. Note our two tiered rock wall is nearly unseen now that the plants have grown in over the past 10 years since we relandscaped this yard. Moss rock walls enchance a garden with the wonderful and often overlooked element of texture.
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Nothing brings more relaxation to a garden than a nice water feature. Sound is important. All water features have their own sound. Be sure that before you buy one, that you are able to hear it. Ours sounds like a brook or small stream. Some may sound like a tinkle, which we prefer to stay clear of, ha!
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wedding Packets Ready to Ship

Dear Kelly,

May you and Ken enjoy your special day together. The secret to a long marriage is simple. Keep a sense of humor. Rob and I are still best friends after 25 years. We laugh together often and don't take life to seriously.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Montreal Botanical Gardens or Bust

This is a place I would definitely like to see someday. This gives a whole new meaning to FLOWER POWER. I remember those days with great fondness as a youngster. my older siblings were at a more impressionable age than I was during the 60's, but it did impact me regardless.

I always invisioned myself owning a "Bug" with Flower Power stickers on it. This car in the photo would of course be quite a few steps up from the stickers.

Gardens to Visit Longwood, Butchart, Lotus Land, and SF Conservatory of Flowers

Longwood Gardens is in the Brandywine Valley just 30 miles west of Philadelphia. It was originally inhabited by Quaker farming families in 1700. Their decendants planted one of the country's first arboretums a century later. Today 800,000 visitors enjoy walking through the picturesque gardens, flowers, and fountains.Though I haven't yet had the pleasure of visiting, it is on my list of places to go.

It reminds me of Butchart Gardens in Vancouver British Columbia Canada. I have had the pleasure to visit Butchart while visiting a dear college friend and her family on two occasions and will always return there when given the chance.  The size of the begonia hanging in the arbor there blew me away.  I had never seen dinner plate sized begonia before.

I just got done touring Lotus Land, a private garden in the Santa Barbara area.  My friends and I took a two hour tour led by a wonderful docent who really knew her script.

The bromeliad section was breathtakingly beautiful.

Lotus flowers were in bloom.

My friends Janie and Kate enjoy the shade of the lemon tree arbor.  This was a favorite part of the tour for me.  The thought of having lemons to use in cooking anytime you want while also enjoying the shade from these deliciously fragrant fruits makes me want to go home and plant a similar arbor.

The garden that has the most meaning for me will always be the one in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, CA.  The gardens in and surrounding the Conservatory of Flowers was the place my husband and I had our first date back in 1986.  We recently celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary and also our 25th anniversary of meeting.  Rob decided it would be nice to retrace our steps and to return to the place of our first date.

The amazing thing about this date was that I wasn't a flower gardener at the time.  It wasn't until I went to horticulture classes at the local college 15 years later that I really learned to appreciate the amount of work that goes into maintaining a garden. 

The outside gardens are just as fascinating as the indoor ones.

I try to play like a photographer even though I don't have the camera equipment that is needed.
Here are some of the close ups of flowers I took.  Someday when I grow up, I will get a camera with multiple lenses and really get the finer details.
These red orange beauties are Dahlia bulbs.  There is a large garden of many varieties of Dahlia flowers outside the Conservatory greenhouse.

Aren't these striking in color?  They were a favorite of mine.

Here are some begonia flowers that were indoors.  Amazing!

No greenhouse is complete without some orchids.  Cattleya's take my breath away.  Here is my attempt to capture the details with my little pocket camera.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

High School Friend Visits ~ 34 Years of Catching Up in One Night

Gracie and her daughter Michel, visited while driving cross country back to NY from Michel's year long volunteer dedication to AmeriCorps.

It was great trying relive the memories, what few I had left. Grace has a great long term memory and versed me on the many things I need refreshing on. We had tons in common, knew many of the same people well that I had forgotten she also knew.

Needless to say, my husband hooked them up with a mechanic friend of ours, who happens to have a mechanic shop about 40 minutes away in Brentwood, CA and then Rob took my friends over to the shop to have their car checked out for safety. I definitely recommend Ted Curran's shop called Monkey Wrenches.

Ted did a full car inspection, checked tire pressures and tire condition, and topped off fluids, checked breaks, belts, etc. to prepare these ladies for their cross country adventure.

My husband felt better knowing that they would have a safe car while traveling this distance. One of many things I love about my husband is that not only does he take great care of me and his clients, he also takes great care of my friends whenever they visit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lavender Hollow Farm visit June 2010

I have been wanting to visit this place ever since a friend told me about it 3 years ago. Chrissy and I set out armed with Tom Tom to find our way to Escalon. The farm was lovely. There was only one problem...the lavender wasn't blooming yet!

We enjoyed lavender lemonade, and shortbread, had a lovely BBQ chicken lunch with flowers in a salad. Yum!

Thanks Chrissy for taking me to lunch for my birthday. Next time we go, we'll call ahead to make sure they are in bloom. My bad.

How to Deadhead Flowers |

How to Deadhead Flowers |

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Keeping the Neighborhood in Bloom

As the founder of the exclusive group Deadheaders' Anonymous, I have been known to volunteer to deadhead/prune neighbor's flowers in exchange for (you guessed it...) seeds.

Members can identify scores of different types of seeds from memory. This is one that is common. If you can name it, you are likely already an honorary member.

Occasionally I have gone so far as to offer my "free" gardening services to businesses if they have desirable seeds.

I know I am not the only one doing this...Hence the start of this group. OK fellow deadheaders, fess up. Would love to hear your stories.

It is a win-win for everyone. The neighbors and local businesses will have a new flush of buds to bloom, and "Seedy Woman" gets to harvest and covet more seeds while tending to her OCD.

To Deadhead or Not to Deadhead, That is the Question.

Most flowering plants flower repeatedly if they are dead-headed regularly. Think of the life cycle of a plant.

Plant embryos grow into juveniles. Juveniles mature into adult plants, which go to seed.

If plants are allowed to complete their life cycle and to disperse seeds, their life cycle is complete and the plant can die now that it has set seed for a new generation.

However, deadheading prevents flowering plants from dying by keeping the plant in a continual state of juvenility. Everyone knows juveniles grow like weeds!

Deadheading keeps plants in adolescence and they grow vigorously. Instead of putting the energy into forming seeds, they can continue to form new buds and new flushes of flowers.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Best Ways To Store Seeds

Store seeds in a cool, dry place away from sun. If your seeds are already dried well, you can store them in plastic zip bags.

If they need to be dried better, store them in paper lunch bags. I learned from a seed seller that she dries bags of seeds in her car. Sometimes I leave them out on a tray to dry. Be careful to cover them in some way that allows air flow but won't let the wind take them away. I use a sifter atop of mine.

Once dried, store them in photo storage boxes and alphabetize them. Be sure and place your collection date on them.

Collecting Flower Seeds From Our Garden

As of today July 28th, I am now collecting the following seeds from our garden. Ripe and ready for harvest are the Calendula, Nigella, and Watsonia seeds. Be sure and wait until they are crispy dry before collecting and storing them.

I have collected a number of sifters over the years at garage sales, etc. Each has a different wire strainer size for the many types of seeds sifted.

Because I collect seeds year round and of many varieties, I store them in photo storage boxes with file tabs from A-Z. I find them quickly this way and have many uses for them.

Calendula, otherwise called Pot Marigold, are a flowering edible herb. Use the flower pedals in your salad dishes to dress them up. They are also decorative if frozen in your ice cubes. Use your imagination and get creative.