Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace. -- Agnes M. Pharo

Christmas is the one time of year when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ. -- Bart Simpson

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Baking persimmons

My aunt Eileen just gave me four plastic grocery bags of Hachiya persimmons that a friend shared with her. A bumper crop year, I gather. She doesn't bake, but gladly accepts such offerings because she knows she can deliver the goods to me or other suckers, I mean bakers, and that her gesture might just result in finished treats showing up back at her house. Slick trick, auntie.

I love baking, but four bags?! Holy Hachiya! I shared one bag with my boyfriend's mom, who isn't a persimmon person but who's surrounded by a revolving group of kin, one of whom might happily take them off her hands.

I've never grown persimmons, and for awhile was hazy on the whole baking versus eating thing. Hachiya... baking... tannic, then pulpy. Fuyu... eating... crispy. Got it.

So what do I do with these beauties? I Google them.
And forget expensive floral centerpieces, folks. This looks like a fun excuse to scrounge up some candles, get out the clippers, and wander around your yard before Thanksgiving dinner guests arrive. Yes, you can use persimmons in your centerpiece.

What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? The obvious choices, but also the generosity in people that makes them want to share their bounty... the ability others have to pull us out of the darkness when we have run out of matches... and buttery slices of persimmon bread. Oh, and that strange, terrible, wonderful virtual neighborhood we call Facebook.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Rest in peace, Emily... "Emmy"... "Em"

You were my constant companion in the garden for the last decade. I could always count on you to jump on my back whenever I bent over to pull a weed... you kneeded my soft flesh with your sharp claws while I "relaxed" in the hammock... you slept in my birdbath and flower pots and window boxes... you tormented the dogs... and you made me laugh. You will be missed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mother Earth News tomato survey

C'mon, Sacratomatans, this upcoming article needs your input!

Take the survey.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The New Digs


Haven't had time to think about putting my horticultural stamp on this place yet... been too busy taking care of the basics-- like (temporary) window coverings, a washer/dryer, dish rack (buh bye, dishwasher), new IKEA bedroom furniture for the teen, cable TV/internet/phone and... God, I'm exhausted. And broke.

Did I mention being without internet for seven long days? Barbaric.

Love my new (old) neighborhood, love my funny little house, and love my new life. Stay tuned for gardening adventures and misadventures, backyard barbecues, and summer evenings spent swaying in my backyard hammock. Just needs reassembly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Want to learn more about California native plants?

“Please join Demo-Garden volunteers Brigette and Alicia this summer”

And California history? Then carve out some time in your busy, busy schedule to volunteer at the SacValley CNPS Native Plant Demonstration Garden at Sacramento City Cemetery. If you're not already familiar with the demo garden, see one of my past blog posts here.

Here's a recent update from SacValley CNPS chair, Sabrina Okamura-Johnson:
Notes from the Demo-Garden:

Spring at the Chapter’s native plant demo-garden has been glorious this year. The garden has been ablaze with the brilliant yellows of our Sunset fremontias, gorgeous blues of our Ray Hartman ceanothus, and vibrant pinks of our western redbuds. The fremontia’s are winding down and the Ray Hartman’s and redbuds are now setting seed. But as I write, the second act of Spring is in full swing. Current blooms include: our yellow sulfur buckwheats, golden lupines and bush monkey flowers, blue flax and penstemons, purple wooly blue curls, and the stunningly beautiful creamy-white blossomed California bush anemone.

Many of our native salvias/sages have now started to blossom. In fact at the May meeting, several of the young black-sage cuttings we brought for adoption had cute tiny little blossoms. I am also happy to report that all of the baby black-sages and creeping-sages found homes at the May meeting! Only one of the goldenrods and 3 of the ‘puniest’ baby Douglas iris were not adopted. In addition, thanks to Peggy Berry’s suggestion (that we put out a donation plate) and the generosity of ‘adopting parents’, the garden received $20 in donations for the babies! Be sure and make it to the September meeting so you can adopt demo-garden babies that make through the summer.

As many of you know, Mitchell Alford’s health has declined and she is unable to come out regularly on Saturdays to help supervise and give assignments to the Sheriff’s work party crews (after they muster in the morning) and to meet with volunteers that would like to come by on Saturdays at 10am. So I’m currently looking for folks that can fill her shoes to cover Saturdays at the garden. Please give me a call/email if you might be able to come out even 1 or 2 Saturdays this summer to meet/direct volunteers; and -if you’re up for it- to help supervise the Saturday work crews.

For those of you that can’t make it out to the garden on the weekends, let me know if you are able to swing by during the weekdays. We have several dedicated week-day weeding volunteers who swing by for 30 minutes or an hour to enjoy the garden and weed a plot or two. If this is something you think you might be able to help us with this summer, let me know and I’ll explain how we log your hours and dispose of the weeds that are pulled during the week.

During the upcoming Sundays, volunteers will help us with deadheading, pruning, and general maintenance. We will also be pruning the creeping sage (Salvia Sonomensis), so will be potting up about 25 cuttings for eventual give away at the September meeting, so could use help with this. We also have about 1,000+ baby St. Catherines lace volunteers, that we will be potting up regularly this summer for adoption/give-away at various summer events sponsored by the chapter and/or the Old City Cemetery Committee.

As always, I hope to see you in the garden.

SacValley CNPS Chair,
Native Plant Demo-Garden @ Historic City Cemetery
1000 Broadway, Sacramento CA


The goal of the Native Plant Demonstration Garden is to: enlighten our visitors to the beauty of California native plants; illustrate how they can be used in the home garden; show how to attract wildlife and beneficial insects; and educate about the many medicinal, cultural and edible aspects of plants used by the local Native Americans.

Monday, April 27, 2009

More April blooms

Chilean Rock Purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora)- just keeps performing better and better each year, in the ground and in pots. Love it, love it, love it, and soooooo easy to propagate.

Byzantine glads (Gladiolus byzantinus)

Chinese Ground Orchids (Bletilla striata) just beginning to open


Not pictured but blooming now... and totallly worth mentioning: Queen's tears (Billbergia nutans)!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mmmmmmm..... Spring.

Days of Flonase and flowers...

The woody little stub of a tree peony cutting that I brought home from the San Francisco Flower and garden show three years ago bloomed and is fully open for the first time today. It's lovely... and unnamed until I can find the tag.

Just checked my blog archive and discovered that the vendor was The Lily Pad Bulb Farm. Judging from their website, it might be 'Blue Jewel'.

So much else is blooming as well-- tulips, wallflower, Byzantine glads, abutilon, coral bells, African daisies, ceanothus, calandrinia, columbine, blue gilia, etc.

And in other happy news, I found my lost keys! I had been looking "everywhere" for them... except the backyard, where they sat glistening on the teak patio table. The last few months of my life have left me a bit (OK, majorly) discombobulated-- lost keys, brewing pots of coffee without remembering to add the coffee, not being able to plan or plant my Summer veggie garden...

Why? The end of my twenty-year marriage, pretty much... not knowing where I would be living... worrying about how everything was affecting my son... and myself. But I'm happy to report that things are looking up. The dust has settled and everything is moving forward in a happier direction. For everyone.

My son will be with me week on, week off, and I may just rediscover who Angela is during the off weeks. I will be moving into a cute little house in about thirty days and may even be in there in time to pop some summer veggies in the ground.

Speaking of ground, my new grounds will be quite downsized. I'm moving from a 1/4 acre lot to a .1 acre lot. This was actually a conscious decision on my part. Not only was I feeling like scaling back because of the economy and my new circumstances, but I wanted to move back to my old neighborhood in East Sac. I'll be back in the Thrifty Fifties over by East Portal Park!

I have family nearby and would love it if my folks, who now live a couple blocks away from my Carmichael house, follow. There happen to be not one but two empty lots next to the new digs. I'm picturing adjoining gates... me helping them with their yard work... family parties... bike rides... dog walking chats...

I may not have as much space for gardening in the near future... and a giant sycamore currently dominates the backyard (more on that later)... but I still intend to pack that lot with as many of my current plants as possible. And if I need anything new, I can just ride my bike over to Talini's.

Goodbye quantity, hello quality. Goodbye driving everywhere, hello biking and walking everywhere. Hello new chapter in my life.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Green Gardener program coming to Sacramento!

I'm really happy to see a program like this finally coming to Sacramento. Looks like it's under the wing of the River-Friendly Landscape Program. Be sure to tell your friendly, neighborhood mow & blow crew about it! Better yet, print the flier and give it to all your neighbors to give to their gardeners. Help spread the word!

Training begins March 31st!

Green Gardener Training Program

Why become a Green Gardener?

This ten-week series provides high quality training in all the key principles of River-Friendly Landscaping, or “Green Gardening” including:

Conserving water, protecting the soil and reducing the use of pesticides. Many classes will include both indoor and outdoor hands-on components. Creating a healthier garden for you, your community and the environment. Offering a list of River-Friendly Landscaping Principles, helping you compete in the professional industry.

Registration begins on Monday, March 2, 2009.

Cost is $30 for 10 consecutive week-sessions.

Register online at
(courses and online registration, Job Training)

Or mail your completed form to:
Folsom Cordova Adult School
10850 Gadsten Way, Bldg C
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670

Class begins on Tuesday, March 31, 2009*
Class runs from 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
*Class will not be held on April 7, 2009 due to Spring Break.

How Do I Sign Up?
For more information call Regional Water Authority at 916-967-7625.

Download flier.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A few repeat performances...

And some new beginnings.

Ceanothus is about to pop, bulbs are doing their thing (even last year's tulips), hummingbird sage is looking fresh and reinvigorated after I whacked it back, and my dogs are looking for something disgusting to roll around in. Must be Spring.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tickets to the Good Life now available

Wanted to pass this along. Tickets are now available for these wonderful-sounding Backyard Edible Gardening classes at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's UC Davis Good Life Garden! Whew... that's a mouthful.

For more information and tickets:
Contact: Kira O’Donnell, (530) 681-6412;


Backyard Edible Gardening
Presented by the UC Davis Good Life Garden
Saturday, April 25 and Saturday, May 23, 2009

Interest in the establishment of backyard edible gardens has increased significantly as food and gasoline prices skyrocket and consumers become increasingly concerned about food safety, freshness and quality. A rising demand for organic produce and honest, home-grown flavors are also important contributing factors in the backyard gardening movement. All these elements, notes Charlie Nardozzi, senior horticulturist at the National Gardening Association in Burlington, Vermont, are setting the stage for “a perfect storm for vegetable gardening.”

Gardening organizations, seed wholesalers, and local nurseries are all reporting hikes in the number of consumers purchasing vegetable seeds and starter plants and trees. But do consumers have the information they need to establish a functioning and successful garden? The UC Davis Good Life Garden will offer two in-depth seminars, designed as an overview on how to establish, maintain, and utilize the many benefits of a productive backyard edible garden.

The seminars will be taught by University of California master gardeners, farm advisors and respected gardening experts. Offered on Saturdays, the seminars will run from 9am to 2pm, and cost $35 with box lunch included ($25 with no box lunch). They will be held in UC Davis’ Good Life Garden and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science sensory theatre. For more information, visit the UC Davis Good Life Garden website at or call Kira O’Donnell, (530) 681-6412.

Growing a Successful Vegetable Garden
Saturday, April 25, 2009

This in-depth class will focus on growing vegetables successfully all year.
Subjects addressed include:

• planning your garden
• vegetable varieties
• the importance of climate
• seed saving
• when and how to plant
• pest and weed management
• harvesting and storage

Participants should have a basic working knowledge of growing a garden with a desire to learn how to create a highly productive garden. Instructor Robert Norris is a UC Davis Plant Science emeritus professor, and has been teaching UC Master Gardener trainees the craft of vegetable gardening for 29 years. Also instructing will be Terry Allan of Seeds of Change, whose mission is to help preserve biodiversity and promote sustainable, organic agriculture. Seeds of Change cultivates and disseminates an extensive range of open-pollinated, organically grown, heirloom and traditional vegetable, flower and herb seeds.

All About Fruits, Nuts and Berries
Saturday, May 23, 2009

A backyard garden can be much more than simply a vegetable plot. In this information-packed seminar, we explore ways to plant, train, grow and enjoy fruit and nut trees and berry bushes.

Subjects addressed will include:

• planning and planting your orchard
• variety selection
• space requirements
• growing fruit in small spaces
• fertilization, irrigation, weeding, and thinning
• training and pruning
• pest management

Participants should have a basic working knowledge of gardening, with a desire to learn how to create a highly productive backyard orchard. Instructors for this unique and informative class will be Chuck Ingles, Sacramento County Farm Advisor; and Ed Laivo of the Dave Wilson Nursery.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

KCRA "Favorite Garden Center" Poll

Got a favorite Sacramento area garden center? Check out the contenders here and cast your vote!

Want to see the current standings?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Catch our very own Farmer Fred on California Heartland?

I like the fact that he's promoting IPM and organic methods here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunset Magazine!

OK, so this isn't quite what I envisioned in my enduring fantasy of being in Sunset Magazine (kicking self for not majoring in journalism or English). Still, this is pretty fantastic!

In its March issue, Sunset included my oddly URLed little Garden Bliss blog in a list of "go-to sources for cooking, gardening and living well in the West."

I will try to post a link to the article if it shows up online. Until then, I did happen to scan the page in order to preserve it for all eternity... and for kicks.

Kicks don't pay the bills, though, so if I continue blogging myself into the soup line, it's a good thing I'll have Sunset Magazine to read while I'm waiting for my rations.

May I take this opportunity to say that I think the print version of Sunset Magazine just keeps getting better and better? Pretty impressive feat at a time when many magazines have become thinly veiled adverzines or, failing that, have gone to that great magazine stand in the sky. And have you seen lately? Wow! It's gorgeous... and slick... and educational... and interactive. Kudos, Sunset.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cash for Grass

Just learned about a cool program through City of Roseville, CA called the Cash for Grass Rebate Pilot Program. If you live in Roseville and want some extra incentive to lose the lawn, check it out!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Make it stop...

Amy at Garden Rant just posted about an article in the Seattle times announcing the demise of the San Francisco/Pacific Northwest Flower & Garden Shows. What's next, Sunset Magazine? My local Starbuck's? My neighborhood Border's? Whole Foods? Raley's? My little library? My son's school?

Top story in my local paper today is the lovely "Official: Sacramento could ax 500 city jobs to close deficit". What's in your paper today?

This is getting ridiculous. Gotta remember to breathe and to keep up the yoga practice. Forget Victory Gardens... I think we're heading toward Subsistence Gardens. Survival Gardens? Are we gonna have to eat our pets? Oh, man, and they're so cute! They're my babies! Wait... am I going to have to eat my child? My only child?!

Think vegetarian thoughts, Angela. Ask yourself, "What would Alice Waters do?". She would plant something obscure and complete-protein like quinoa. In her front yard. Oh, my neighbors are gonna love that. But maybe they don't care about that kind of nonsense anymore. Maybe they, too, are starting to "rethink the front lawn" in a way they never could have imagined would be necessary.

Interesting times we live in. Deep breath. More coffee... which I will grow myself if I have to. OK, so maybe that horticulture degree isn't as worthless as I thought. I think I can probably teach myself to make elderberry wine too, if necessary. If only I had some elderberries.

Wait, I can barter. That's what scrappy survivors like us do. I'll give you a dozen lemons for a basket of elderberries. These lemons will keep you from getting scurvy, you see. You need them. And I... well, I could use a nice, relaxing glass of elderberry wine. After 5:00, of course.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Another home and garden magazine bites the dust

Domino magazine has folded. While I was never a subscriber, I really enjoyed reading The Germinatrix, Domino's online garden blog written by Ivette Soler. It was fresh, funny, plant-related and had photos. What's not to love?

It's not surprising to me that printed media is being replaced by digital media, but I'm a little surprised that Domino didn't try to make a go of it online. Perhaps their publishing company has other online mags they want to focus on...

The good news is that Ivette will reportedly have her new website,, up in about a month. And she's a landscape designer, right? So she still has her day job. Anyone who can say that these days is lucky.

Monday, January 26, 2009

NORCAL Trade Show

Hey, all you avid, avid gardeners...

Farmer Fred reminded me that the NORCAL Horticultural Trade Show-- which he says is "free...except for parking and the time & money to drive there..."-- is this Thursday in San Mateo.

Go... drool... dream... see what your nurseries are going to be carrying this Spring... and be sure to take pics.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Strybing Arboretum podcast

Did you know Strybing Arboretum has a podcast? I didn't, until just now when I got their newsletter. I'll give it a listen. If it's a video podcast, then just pinch me... but it's probably audio.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tule fog of the garden blog

Haven't done a dot of gardening lately. It's cold. It's wet. The dominant color in my garden is brown, excepting those evil little green baby weeds in the backyard beds and walkways.

I suppose I should hula hoe them... and prune my roses, and yet...

It may take awhile for something or someone to pull me out of this gardening funk. Right now I am uninspired and yet... restless. Luckily, the garden doesn't really need me right now. My houseplants do, though, so I continue to water my orchids and my new Stapelia cuttings and the cute little carnivorous plant a friend gave me.

Too bad that little meat eater hasn't gobbled up all the ants that are wintering in my orchids. I'm not fanatical about poison, so the most they have to put up with at the moment is an occasional surprise monsoon from my kitchen sprayer. I keep meaning to buy some ant bait.

I do have a few photos to share from a recent trip to the newly greenified Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Any place that checks you for butterfies on the way out of the elevator is cool in my book.

Take the Academy's advice to visit mid-week in the afternoon to avoid crowds. Planetarium and 3-D bug movie tickets are first come, first served.

4-story rainforest, which felt like being in a human terrarium. Dress accordingly.

5 butterflies

weirderrific plants...

Just your everyday albino alligator...

At the moment, I must scrounge up something edible for two unexpected guitar-wielding, teenage dinner guests. It's Finals Week, the kids get out early all week, and my son has friends over. Par... tay! Oops, I mean high school U.S. History finals rock!

I would have been frantically cramming all night back in the day. My son is a genius slacker. Slacker genius? Anyway, he almost never studies, which both frightens and impresses me.

To the new year... a new season... new life bursting forth from tight, dormant buds. Oh, and a new president! Can't wait to see what kind of rose is named after him. I bet they'll call it the 'Hope' rose. It better not be a bush rose. Make it a bicolor grandiflora or a hybrid tea, please.