Friday, March 25, 2005

Pink flamingos

guarding a house in Mendo village
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Mendo Garden Shop

Cool pots, tiles and pond at the garden shop
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garden shop gloves...
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Succulent planter

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Lithodora diffusa

Growing outside the rental house.
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Mendocino, March '05

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Just got back from a trip to beloved Mendocino... Pride of Madeira, Echium candicans (E. fastuosum) is in full bloom there right now. Gorgeous!!! The taller echiums, wildprettii I think, bloom later. I'd recently admired E. candicans freeway plantings on the way to the bay area for the S.F. Flower & Garden Show.

I'd love to try E. candicans in my yard... The E. wildprettii I brought back from Mendocino two summers ago is sending up its first flower spike right now, so I might do o.k. with E. candicans as well. These are coast-preferring plants, but under the right conditions, we can get them to grow and bloom.

This photo was taken in the backyard of the house we rented. When I wasn't flower watching, I was busy whale watching!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

S.F. Flower & Garden Show

Went yesterday... What did I score at the vendors' booths?

Orchid plants: I suggest perusing each booth, comparing selection and prices and then returning to buy. Having such a wide selection in one area is a bit overwhelming, but there is quite a bit of difference in vendor pricing, so that's a good way to narrow your choices. I ended up buying from Valley Orchids, Inc. from Morgan Hill.

Cool metal stakes: I'm a sucker for rusted metal garden art and this time I scored two butterflies on wavy stakes attached at the base. They came from Susan Regert's company, "Z" Garden Party. Love 'em. Also got a single butterfly to stick in my herb box from the same vendor... and a copper star stake with marbles on the points from Jardinage Copper and Cedar Garden Art.

Words of warning: pack a nice lunch (last year's passable teriyaki vendor is gone and the alternatives are awful and expensive unless you want 2 soggy, underheated chicken tacos and a coke for $11!) and plan on getting out of there early enough or late enough to skip the afternoon commute (good luck on that one).

This year's garden vignettes left me a little flat. I saw several wilting plants, the few designs that stood out only did so because of shock value, and none of them made me say, "Wow, that's beautiful!" Last year's were much better in my opinion. I'd like to see something a little more reality-based next year. None of my favorite bay area landscape designers did the show this year. Hmmm... maybe there's a story there. The Cow Palace still needs a lighting makeover.

If you have a chance, attend one of the many interesting seminars! Matter o'fact, I'd say the seminars and shopping options are the show's strengths.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Sprinklers and Puppies

Turned on the spray heads in one of my flowerbeds this morning only to discover that the heads were spraying toward the fence instead of on plants. Turns out my darling little sprinkler-eating doggies have been gnawing on the heads when I'm not around.

I tried adjusting one head with the water on. Lesson learned? Don't do sprinkler repairs pre-coffee... screwing counterclockwise results in a fountain and drenching of said repair person. I'm awake now, anyway.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Speaking of popcorn...

I just bought a new cordless electric mulching mower from Emigh Hardware, another popcorn-dishing nursery/hardware store. My 16+ year old Ryobi cordless electric mower finally bit the dust when it sustained water damage. Ryobi no longer makes cordless electric mowers, apparently, and it appears Black & Decker has a lock on the market with the B&D CMM1000. It ain't cheap at $449.99, but it happened to be on sale at Emigh for $429 AND they're delivering it for FREE... ASSEMBLED! Dontcha love Emigh? Not only that, I was able to order the mower over the phone. It couldn't have been easier.

Eisley Nursery in Auburn

First, let me apologize for the slightly fuzzy flower photo. When I took the picture, the wind was not cooperating. Let me also apologize for the prison-camp fencing designed to keep puppies out of forbidden areas. They jump the fence like track stars now, so I suppose it should come down...

Took my first trip to Eisley Nursery in Auburn yesterday. What a nice nursery! First of all, it's big. Inside the main building, they sell a dizzying array of garden gifts, supplies, seeds and bulbs. Outside, they currently have a nice selection of: color, herbs, perennials, peonies (herbaceous and tree), strawberries, asparagus, and more.

Nice pottery selection too! My friend splurged on 2 gorgeous glazed mexican wall pots. I got a nice (and very decently priced) trio of what I always think of as "British herb pots." They're like normal red clay pots, only taller. Since I had nothing in mind for the pots, I had to buy a lavender wallflower, yellow alyssum and edible Johnny Jump Ups (as seen in the above photo).

We both admired the soothing bamboo wind chimes (not at all annoying like some metal ones) but decided we'd already done enough damage to our wallets and would likely be back some other time.

The staff was very friendly and helpful. One staffer even gave me driving directions when it turned out I was on the wrong side of Auburn, with Hwy. 80 in between. She was pleasant and patient, something I don't often encounter with nursery phone inquiries. More times than I'd like to remember when calling a nursery, I've been told by the harried clerk, "I can't help you because I'm with a customer." Makes me think, "What am I, chopped liver? Last time I checked, my money's just as green as anybody else's. I promise, when I open my dream nursery, phone customers will be treated like real live customers.

Let's see, what other plants did I buy? Oh yeah, a little dill plant and a 'Magic Mountain' basil plant that made me swoon when I breathed in it's pestoriffic scent. And lettuce! Why did I buy lettuce? It's getting too warm for lettuce. I couldn't resist the fact that it was a variety six-pack and figured I might be able to squeeze a few sandwiches out of them before yanking the plants to make room for summer stuff.

Oh, and a 4" 'Jelly Bean' grape tomato plant!

Seeds I bought:
Cosmos 'Bright Lights Blend'
Nasturtium 'Dwarf Jewel Blend'
Nasturtium 'Mahogany'
Nasturtium 'Cherry Rose Jewel'
Chinese lantern
Gomphrena 'Strawberry Fields'
'Milas Rose Queen' Corn cockle
Pastel Blend balloon flower (blue, pink, white) (Platycodon grandiflorus)-- flowers the second year after planting from seed, but I've had a heck of a time finding single blue balloon flower plants in stock at area nurseries. There seems to be a preference these days for the doubles, but I prefer the singles.
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I almost forgot to mention, if you get hungry while shopping, hep yer sef to Eisley's free popcorn, hot out of the large popcorn popping machine. There's a soda/candy vending machine too!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Either I need more coffee...

... or there's a turkey walking across the lawn!
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Sunday, March 06, 2005

Romping Rathuahuas

Dan and Annie had a blast romping in the yard today. Now that I think about it, this is the first truly spring-like day of their lives! Oh, and don't feel sorry for little Annie (white & black one)... her brother may be bigger, but she's the boss. Just like me and my brother...
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Is your dog eating enough peas?

Even dogs like 'Sugar Snap' peas. Matter of fact, mine eat 'em right off the vine. I'm not kidding!
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Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Potted 2 of these 'Blue Jacket' hyacinth and alyssum combos in lovely pots from Target. The pots developed this really cool algae scum aged look that adds character, I think. The buds were still kind of tight when I took this picture. They're even more spectacular now.

Martha would be proud. Oh yeah, Martha's about to be sprung! Woo hoo! White collar criminal or not, I like Martha.
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These little 10" cuties are blooming now. They open up to reveal a bright yellow center.
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Planted More Seeds Today

In the greenhouse:
Chinese foxglove
Cleome 'White Queen' (free bonus)
Tomatoes (Black, Copia, Azoychka, Believe it or Not)
'Bright Lights' Swiss chard

In Place:
Detroit Dark Red beets
'Bright Lights' Swiss chard

Got my son to plant his own sixer of Cerinthe a few days ago, by the way. He claims not to be interested in gardening, but neither was I, really, at his age. I told him I needed his help planting some seeds. Little does he know, what I'm really hoping will germinate is a love of gardening. Some seeds just need a little help breaking dormancy, I figure.

Sure, when he was younger I dressed him in little denim overalls and bought him tiny gardening tools... even fancy kids' gardening gloves... but that ended up being solely for my amusement. He gets good grades in a challenging school program, so when he chooses to spend his down time playing Xbox and GameBoy games, I can't really complain... or compete. My new plan is insidiously subtle. I'll let him see how much I enjoy watching seeds sprout and grow, ask him to help every now and then, and let nature take it from there.

To be fair, he gave up on me as a video game partner. Video games are so boring to me I'd rather scratch my own eyes out than play them. Now, if they made a gardening video game, it might be a different story...