Sunday, September 30, 2007

UC Davis Arboretum 33rd Annual Plant Sale

I'm listening to Farmer Fred streaming live (I hope that doesn't hurt) on my laptop while enjoying a slice of bacon, an egg, a piece of toast... dry... and a large mug of Peet's French Roast coffee. Ah, Sundays...

Anyway, he's reminding folks about the 33rd Annual Plant Sale at the UC Davis Orchard Park Nursery. Fall is a great time for planting and this sale is sure to have something for everybody, from plant geek to newbie. Check it out if you can. Apparently, they'll have a new variety of Santa Barbara daisy called 'Spindrift' (Erigeron karvinskianus 'Spindrift'), which has a compact habit and doesn't spread like E. karvinskianus. Me want!

If you are coming from out of town, you might as well make a day of it and stop for lunch in relaxing downtown Davis. If you're feeling sandwichy and it's just you and a friend or two, try Zia's. See where else the locals... Davisians?... Davisidians?... eat on

Hey, did you know you can ride your bike from downtown Sacramento to Davis? That's about 14 miles. To get home, you can either ride back to your car, which will be parked in a parking garage near the Tower Bridge, or take Amtrak back to your car, presumably parked in the Amtrak parking lot. Won't you feel like such a stud getting on the train with your bike? Won't you feel like a total rock star if you ride both ways?

Ok, so maybe you should do the bike ride on a different day from the plant sale, unless your bike has a nursery cart attached to the back. You also have until 1pm on Saturday to swing by the year-round Davis Farmers' Market.

When: Saturday, October 6
  • 9 am to 3 pm Public Sale
  • 7 am to 9 am Members Only Sale
"If you join or renew your membership on October 6th, you will receive a $5.00 discount on your annual membership, and a buy one get one free plant coupon good for one plant valued up to $8.00. All members receive a 10% discount at the sale"

What: Download Plant List

More info:

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Why my gardening website is stuck in August

Alternate title: "Why I hate Dell"
Alternate title #2: "Why I Heart Apple"

I've been a PC person for years. PCs were inexpensive, you got a lot of bang for your buck (so I thought), and I found Macs to be prohibitively expensive... ok, and a bit elitist in a lower-case "i" sort of way... and software for them was limited. Two years ago, I invested in a screamin' Dell 9100 PC with a terabyte hard drive. That's a whopping 1,024 Gibabytes! Oh, and it had this special RAID configuration that was supposed to be lightning fast... and it was... until the whole thing crapped out on me after about a month.

You know the PC guy in those mac commercials? Not the cute nerdy Mac guy who's dating Drew Barrymore... the cute nerdy PC guy from The Daily Show who is lying on the bottom of the cart in a fetal position because he's suffering from the "blue screen of death"? Well, that's me. That's my computer. The dreaded blue screen of death.

When I called Dell customer service, I patiently endured the very polite but very I-am-going-to-take-up-hours-of-your-life (that you will never get back)-without-really-understanding-or-fixing-your-problem customer service representative in India. His conclusion, despite the fact that all signs pointed to a hardware problem that Dell should fix, was that my new computer suffered from a software problem... a Windows problem... and they were unable to help me. In other words, the buck was passed and I was stuck with a brand new, expensive, broken box. I was SOL.

I was computerless for a couple months and only by the sheer coincidence of being married to a software engineer was I able to get back on that box without taking it to a computer repair place. I lost a lot of data, drives were shuffled, the amazing RAID configuration had to be UNCONFIGURED, and I was left with a slow, grindingly loud, crippled computer. I took all this as a sign from the gods that I should take another look at Apple. There were more signs-- Apple prices were dropping (probably thanks to our insatiable appetite for iPods), I learned that Apple is a blue company and Dell is red (and I am oh, so blue), and I do a lot of photo editing and Macs are great for that.

So I ambled over to our friendly neighborhood Apple Store and fondled the MacBook laptops. The display on the little Macbook was amazing, and the price wasn't bad! I figured I'd have to spec the thing and wait a few weeks for it to show up on my doorstep. No. What? You mean you have them in stock... right now... and I can walk out of the store with my new laptop, thereby experiencing one of my favorite things of all time, immediate gratification? Woo hoo!

Flash forward six months or so to late August. My Dell 9100 desktop's remaining hard drive... you know, the one with all my photos and website files and stuff.. disappeared. Died. The computer is out of warranty, of course, and the futility of another tortured customer service call weighs heavily on me.

At the same time, I started experiencing an intermittent strange clicking noise on my Apple laptop's left-click button. I asked the computer gods, "Does this mean all computers are crap and I just have to deal with it?" They replied, "Go to and make a Genius Bar appointment." When I arrived at my next-day appointment, the Apple store was crazy busy! My name was called and a nice young Genius listened to my complaint. Expecting to have to defend myself against accusations of eating at the keyboard (guilty as charged) or of left-click abuse, instead I am told that he, too, hears the intermittent clicking and that it shouldn't do that.

Can I wait thirty minutes while you replace the whole top of my laptop with a part that is (queue singing angels) in stock? Well, heck yeah, I can! Not only that, I think I will go try on pants while you fix my computer. Two pairs of jeans later, which you girls know makes thirty minutes go by in a flash, I get a call on my cell phone that my laptop is ready. With a "thank you very much" I am on my way. Free of charge. Now that's customer service. If I knew a little Apple dance, I would have done one, right there, in Arden Fair Mall. My next desktop is soooooooo going to be an iMac. Until then, I can only dream of a PC-free life.

I apologize for not updating my gardening website and for not answering my gardening-related e-mails, which can only be read in Outlook, which is on my dead D: drive. Hopefully, I'll be back online soon to help ring in the Fall planting season. In the meantime, I'll continue blogging on my ultra-fabulous, inexpensive MacBook.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Want a cheap thrill?

There's a funny typo on the Wayside Gardens website. Catch it while you can, because I'm sure someone will correct it soon.

Saliva 'Purple Knockout'

Mmmmm.... I think I'll take 10 purple Saliva plants. Where should I plant purple Saliva? Does purple Saliva have a scent to it? Can purple Saliva tolerate drought? A garden can't have enough purple Saliva, don't you agree?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Almost-Autumn color in the late afternoon

Yes, I know I need to straighten and top off my birdbath and yes, I know there's a weed in the lower left-hand corner of the photo. Too lazy at the moment to do anything about it. Must procrastinate.

I am loving 'New Blue' agapanthus. Its pale pinky blue florets are huge and quite elegant looking. Nothing psychologically cools down a hot August garden like a water feature and light blue agapanthus.

Here's a description from Monterey Bay Nursery: ‘New Blue’ -- flowers -- the notable feature of this variety is its very large flower size, to over 3" across. In addition, each flower displays a central blue stripe against lighter blue edges, sometimes with a defining dark marginal stripe on each side as well. Many other varieties also have this feature, which can be seen if you look closely, but in 'New Blue' it is obvious and distinctive because of the unusual flower size.The only drawback is that the flower clusters don't have that high a bud count. Evergreen to semideciduous, based on how much cold it gets, and frost hardy, with rich, medium blue flowers of intermediate height. Often blooms in mid to late summer, though I have seen waves of bloom in early spring as well, and it can continue to bloom until fall. Foliage is notably thin and grassy, habit is quite compact. rev 8/2006


This hot pink sedum from POW Nursery has been in the ground for a few years. It will likely turn to mush this winter and then spring miraculously from the ground in late winter or early spring. The Mexican bush sage (Salvia leucantha) behind the birdbath was also decimated last winter. I really didn't think it would come back because I saw no signs of life well after other plants had rebounded. It surprised me and now I'm looking forward to its fuzzy purple fall flowers.

Finally, my attempt to conceal butt ugly irrigation valves was a success. I get to look at coleus instead of plastic and wires... till the coleus freezes, anyway.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Homemade Salsa



4 medium size tomatoes
1 clove garlic
2 Anaheim peppers, seeds scraped
1 onion... oops, I'm out of onions

I'm making another batch today and will add lime juice (from my lime tree!).

Should I be adding salt? Hmmm....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Zucchini Bread, Cooking Light Magazine

I made use of a couple of slightly overgrown 'Gold Rush' yellow zucchini. Yum.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup egg substitute
1/3 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 cups shredded zucchini (12 ounces)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through baking soda) in a large bowl.

Combine egg substitute and next 4 ingredients (through egg) in a large bowl; add sugar, stirring until combined. Add zucchini; stir until well combined. Add flour mixture; stir just until combined. Stir in walnuts.

Divide batter evenly between 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack; remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

2 loaves, 12 servings per loaf (serving size: 1 slice)
Nutritional Information

CALORIES 150(26% from fat); FAT 4.3g (sat 0.4g,mono 2g,poly 1.6g); PROTEIN 2.7g; CHOLESTEROL 9mg; CALCIUM 21mg; SODIUM 96mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 25.3g
1 slice (1/12 of loaf) = 3 Weight Watchers Points

Lorraine Warren , Cooking Light, JULY 2005

There's also a great-looking recipe for Chocolate Zucchini Cake over at Kitchen Gardeners International.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Harvest time

'Anaheim' pepper, 'Lemon Boy', 'Heatwave' and 'Early Girl' tomatoes, and 'Gold Rush' Zucchini

Ok, I've printed a zucchini bread recipe for my next trip to Raley's and need to check my blog archives for salsa recipes. It's harvest time...

Oh, and I need to make pesto.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Monrovia: What's Your Style?

Ok, so I played a fun game on Monrovia's website called What's Your Style, where they tell you what kind of garden style you should have based on a brief personality profile. Unfortunately, they got me completely wrong. According to my answers, I would be happiest with a Zen Garden Style. The accompanying photos show a typical Japanese garden and the recommended plants are, not surprisingly, things like Japanese maple, Mugo pine, bamboo (eek!), and Japanese painted fern.

I've been to well-known public Japanese gardens in San Jose, San Francisco and Portland and each time thought, "Wow, this is really beautiful. This is really, um... Zen. This looks like a lot of work." While I can appreciate the beauty and discipline and peacefulness of a Japanese garden, it's just too damned coiffed. I'd be happy if I had enough discipline to rake a comb through my hair every day, let alone rake my rock garden. Also, I'm not Asian. Why should I feel an affinity with Japanese cultural and religious symbols when I'm a pasty, mostly-Irish girl?

And my Monrovia-recommended plant palette? Well, it's mostly a bunch of Japanese plants! I could never, ever, ever restrict myself to such a narrow palette. Boring. I'm a typical haphazard plant collector who brings home plants in ones and threes and fives that I fall in love with first and worry about where the hell I'm going to put them later. If you had to put a label on my garden style, I suppose you'd call it "California Eclectic". Or "California Eccentric". Or "California Artistic". Or "California Mediterranean Artistic". How about "Artistic Califoranean"? "Eclectifornia Style"? "Artistic Subtropifornia Style"? My horticulturally conservative neighbors probably call it "Dirty, Lazy Hippie". Whatev... They're just lucky I haven't splurged on one of those spectacular kinetic sculptures by Andrew Carson I see every year at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. Man, I want one. For my front yard.

When it comes to plants, I'm like Donny and Marie... a little bit country... a little bit rock-n-roll... with a little bit o' Motown in my soul. Actually, my musical tastes lean toward a typical AAA format, but the Donny and Marie thing just popped into my head... which it will probably do from time to time for the rest of my life thanks to television. My point is... I like a lot of plants and a lot of garden styles but can't really be assigned to a particular garden style. It might have helped if Monrovia asked me where I live. Knowing that I live in northern California, USDA Zone 9b, Sunset Zone 14... might have hinted at phormiums and lavender and cannas and roses and natives and edibles and...

So, what's your Garden Style? Will Monrovia get you right or wrong?

Saturday, September 01, 2007

NatureSweet tomato contest winners

How sweet it is

Two local tomato growers harvest a bushel (of cash)

By Pat Rubin - Bee Home & Garden Writer

Published 12:00 am PDT Saturday, September 1, 2007
Story appeared in unknown section, Page CALIFORNIA LIFE3