The 2020 BEST of Garden Awards!

Everyone has a special gift. And every plant makes a special addition to the garden. Even if they are not the TOP performer that doesn’t mean that they didn’t add their special sauce to the mix. Here are the 2020 Best of Garden Winners, acknowledging all the different ways that plants enhance a garden and impact the gardener! Watch the video for pictures (and more) of all the Winners! Award for MOST IMPACT MARIGOLD Whether in the veg garden, in the front door pocket garden or on the front yard border, the marigold pops like no other. It’s such a common flower, in every nursery across the nation every spring and summer. But it’s surprisingly tricky to make happy. Good job, Jill. Click here to

Top FOUR Disappointments in the Summer Garden

I hate doing this…but you need to know. What didn’t work is almost as important as what did work. Now, I ‘m not saying that the disappointments were not partially gardener error. I’m willing to take some of the blame. But not ALL of the blame, because I don’t play favorites in the garden, and I try to give each little specimen what he or she needs. Sometimes, I fear, however, that this results in a “smothering” effect so that I give them so much attention, that they wilt under the weight of my gaze, and all that water. The intense and prolonged heat cannot have been good for some plants, so that is also a possibility. Whatever the case may be, this is just a public service announcement about

Cucumber Soup

I can’t deny it. While my husband and I are faring well, and healthy, the double phenomena of quarantining for Covid, and having to stay inside because of the intense heat, has taken its toll. We have both been keeping busy with projects and taking care of the house, but it’s been a little bit of a struggle. I do know that we are so blessed to have each other and a home and garden that we love. So I don’t want to complain. But still. I think it’s ok to say that being inside for an indefinite period of time (as we all are) isn’t ideal. Nonetheless, there are things that make a difference. And one of those is cooking! I’m not a chef, but I do like to try different recipes, though mostly I cook

Cucumber Harvest!

You may already know about my cucumber journey this year. It’s had its ups and downs, (see the video!) but in the end, a lovely harvest! I persevered! So many cucumbers, I will have to figure out how to use them. I think maybe cucumber soup – and pickles? I remember so fondly the many jars of pickles in my grandmother’s basement that she had “put up” for the winter. I loved them. And I loved collecting the dill behind my grandfather’s shed for grandma’s pickles. Wonderful memories! One thing I did not mention on the video, is that I should have worn gardening gloves when I was harvesting the cucumbers, because even though they don’t look like it – they have sticky little hairs on the peel.

Sunflower Tour! Lessons Learned.

My sunflowers have given me so much joy this season. With the exception of the Mammoth Sunflower, they have been relatively fuss free, and provided big impact in the garden. There’s nothing better than yellow in the garden in the late summer, and the sunflower does the trick so effortlessly and so beautifully. In the video, you will see that I have described the four types of sunflowers that I have in my garden: Sunfinity Sunflower, Suncredible Sunflower, Mammoth Sunflower, and Rudbeckia (Not really a sunflower – a coneflower – watch the video to see the difference!) I’ve written about the Mammoth Sunflower previously, because I have had several serious emergencies that have imperiled their

Top FIVE 2020 Plant Performers!

I'm a very organized person. I like to know where things are, and where I can find them when I want them. So, it's no surprise that I know exactly where everything is in my garden. And I know exactly WHAT everything is too! As I have been tending and enjoying this spring/summer season, I have been taking mental notes. I do have a garden journal, but it doesn't really tell the whole story. I thought you might like to hear the whole story. Below is a list of absolutely every plant in my backyard garden. The list does not include vegetable specimens in my raised bed garden. Nor does it include a review of the plants in my front yard garden - most of which are completely different - so I may hav

A Tour of the Chinese Garden at the Huntington Library

It’s a New Day! I’m trying something new to make sure that those of you who want to receive my blog posts can consistently do so. I had trouble with my previous platform, so let’s see how it goes! (Thanks to my fabulous husband for helping me out with this!) And now…for a moment of Zen. I recently visited the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, one of my favorite spots here in California. My friend and I enjoyed the sun outside (all indoor venues were closed) and just wandered around the gardens with our masks on for an hour or so. It was so lovely to pretend like things were almost back to normal. However, while we had to pretend that things were normal, I think for the gardens, things really w

Sunflower Emergency!

Is it possible to heal sunflowers when they break? It seems counterintuitive. When you see the stalk of a 7 foot sunflower broken in two, and lying on the ground. How is it possible for the plant to survive? With some special care, -- replacing the broken stalk on its stem so that it could once again stand upright, binding the break with garden tape, staking, and watering consistently, -- after three days the sunflower is still green, still reaching for the sun, and still standing. And after I got over the initial fervor of tending to the sick plant, and felt reasonably confident that it might survive, I started to think. I’m still standing. And so are you. We’ve all been through difficult t

The Garden Drill: Five Star Anniversary Gift!

One of the presents that my husband gave me for my anniversary was a garden drill. I know it seems like a crazy present, but I love it! Robert has lots of tools – he is very handy! So we already had the drill part. What he bought me was the drill bit, a large spiral pointed bit that makes holes into the earth, by spiraling deep into the ground. Here’s my review of my new gardening tool! Pros: How did I ever live without this? Digging deep holes is tough, especially in hard ground. And though I have done it recently, the next day I really paid for it. Ouch! This device so easily creates lovely holes of any size. While the drill bit is only one particular size, if you need a larger hole, you j

2020 Tomato Tasting and Rankings!

This was so fun to do! It is the end of my tomato season (with the exception of my Sweet Million which I planted later in the summer to prolong my tomato crop) and I have enjoyed my tomatoes all summer during quarantine. But I really hadn’t tasted them, if you know what I mean. I had used them in salads indiscriminately, not really choosing any particular one – just picking those that were ripe, or those that were closest to where I was standing in the garden! So I thought that before the last tomatoes leave the vine, I would do a taste test and really savor each specific type of tomato that I planted, and see which ones really stood out, and which I might choose to plant again next year. Th

Pottery Shopping on Our Wedding Anniversary

Today my husband took me to a neighborhood pottery store to buy me some pots for the backyard iris garden that I have been refurbishing. This was to be my Anniversary present for our 39 years of marriage! When we walked in we were taken aback at the sheer number of pots that were available. I don’t know if you’ve noticed – but garden pots of any kind are hard to come by these days. Most of them are sold out on Amazon, and only very unusual and expensive pots can be found. So it was a treat to be awash in garden pots. Granted, most of these pots were quite large, architectural statements for the garden, but it was so fun to browse. However, as I turned a corner on the property and headed into

A Tour of the Bonsai Court at the Huntington Gardens

The Japanese Garden at the Huntington is only one of the jewels in the crown at this special place. Attached to the Japanese Garden are a Zen Garden and two Bonsai Courts. My friend and I strolled through the Zen Garden, very serene (but also very hot! ) which opens onto a an even more unique experience: The Bonsai Court. Bonsai is a Japanese art form in which special cultivation techniques produce small trees in containers that resemble the shape and scale of full size trees. The Japanese art form of Bonsai has been in existence for over a 1,000 years. There is so much to know about Bonsai art, and I don’t pretend to know even half of it– but I do appreciate the art form. And I was delighte

A Garden Tour of my Late July Plantings: Six Things that I Learned

Six Things I Learned from my Late July Planting… 1) Plant Thinned Sprouts When I had to thin my Sunflower seedlings, I hated to throw them away – and I had quite a few! So, I planted them that day, put little popsicle sticks next to them for support, and watered daily. And guess what? Of the 10 that I transplanted 8 of them are thriving! They are much smaller than the first seeds, but they’re growing, and if I can keep them healthy in this 100 degree heat – I think they are going to rival the original seeds I planted. Hooray! 2) Be Patient with Pumpkins I’ve never grown a pumpkin, though I’ve tried. But…OMG, OMG, OMG…after I made today’s video, I think I saw a little pumpkin growing on one o

A Tour of the Japanese Garden at the Huntington

There is so much to see at the Huntington Gardens in Pasadena, that you really can’t do it proper justice in one visit. And that’s not counting the fabulous library and museum spaces that are closed now because of Covid. On a recent weekday, a friend and I ventured out from our quarantined lives for a brief vacay at the Huntington. Though the outdoor gardens are open, the Huntington is still very careful about safety. We had timed entries, they took our temperature when we arrived, and we wore masks as we enjoyed the gardens. It felt safe, and so we were able to better enjoy our brief excursion to one of my favorite places. It’s late summer in the garden, and things are getting dry, blooming

Tested by Fire

This little guy has an important story to tell. What starts as a small pine cone, grows into one of the largest living things in the world, the Sequoiadendron giganteum, or Giant Sequoia.This weekend we hiked to a Redwood Grove in Mineral King, near the Atwell Mill Campground where many large, Giant Sequoias reside, and it filled me with awe, and certain sense of optimism about what is to come. I think there’s a metaphor here for our lives in this chaotic time. Giant Sequoias are among the oldest living things on earth, with some specimens believed to be 3,200+ years old. In fact, Giant Sequoias have been recorded since prehistoric times. There’s something comforting in knowing that these tr

Hypochondria in the Garden

I’ll admit it now. I’m a life-long hypochondriac. I’m very high functioning, though. I can go months without seeing a doctor. But I will worry most of that time that there is something really wrong with me. And don’t try to tell me your symptoms if you have something wrong with you. I immediately think that whatever you have, I have too. I literally have to warn people who want to share their health concerns with me, because their malady can set me back weeks. On the one hand, it’s kind of funny. I’m lucky; I’ve never had anything really serious wrong with me. On the other hand, you never know. That’s the part that keeps me up at night. And now, during the pandemic, you might think since my

The Glory Bush!

This beautiful purple flowering bush in our front yard is rather exotic. Who would guess? It’s not native to our region, and it’s not in exactly the right spot for optimal growth, but it seems quite happy. The color of the flower is an absolutely luscious, deep, royal purple, and it’s not a tiny bloom, either. It’s probably at least 3 inches across. It does look a bit tropical, and it doesn’t act exactly like a tree, that’s why it’s called a bush. Something about it reminds me of canna flowers, which are also tropical. There's lots more interesting info about the Glory Bush in the video! Bottom line, though. How did it get here? I don’t mean who planted it here. That I know. I mean, how did

My Zins!

Living life with curiosity makes everything more interesting. As I wander around my garden I am always full of questions. Why this color? Why not pollinating? Why so many? And usually, because of the phenomena of the internet, the answers are right at my fingertips. Yesterday as I was checking my front garden pathway (for the millionth time – don’t judge, I’m quarantining), I noticed something very peculiar about my zinnias. Though all one plant, each bloom almost looked like a different flower. So, my curiosity kicked in, and I did a little research. What I found out just proves how miraculous nature really is. Zinnias have moved up on the list of my favorite flowers! If you watch the video

Irises for My Mom

My mom loved irises, and was an avid gardener all of her life. In that regard, the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree. I love irises and have loved gardening all of my life too. So, because my mom lived with us for 15 years before she went to her reward, she was the resident gardener, and planted dozens of irises all over our garden, in every possible nook and cranny. Now that I am the resident gardener, I am doing my best to take care of her irises, making sure that they continue to grace our spring garden. This has been a bigger job than I had expected. There are so many irises in so many places! But I have been dogged in my quest to make sure that they have the best care, and part of t

Harvesting My Corn!

It’s the day of the show y’all! (If you watched the movie Best in Show you’ll know where that quote is from!) Today was the day that I harvested my first corn. I was nervous, having never done this before, and I’ve been waiting to see when is exactly the right moment. So I’ve been peeking inside the husks (that’s what the experts say to do) to determine if it was the right time. And I didn’t want to wait too long – because then the corn would be dry. The tassels have been brown for a while but even as the tassels turned brown, I noticed that the corn husks kept growing, and bulking up. It’s been a little windy here as well. And one of my 6 stalks tried to flop over. So I staked him up until

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