Touring Roger's Gardens and Halloween Boutique

This Covid Quarantine is still rough. Robert and I are continuing to be very careful, and so we don't go out very much at all. I still don't go grocery shopping, I use Instacart exclusively, which is getting old. I don't go shopping for anything except to the nursery which is out of doors! We have everything delivered. In addition, Robert got his second Shingles shot on Friday, and hasn't been feeling 100%, so we really needed to get out and do something to lift our spirits. Roger's Gardens fit the bill perfectly. It was out of doors, it was a garden (my favorite) and it had a holiday theme going on (also my favorite!) We have a large outdoor Halloween display at our house every year, so I t

Sunflower Harvest!

Honestly, the Mammoth Sunflowers have been the delight of late summer. I have watched them carefully each day. I have tended to them through emergencies, and taken too many pictures. But my sunflowers have done more than bring a smile to my face; they have taught me three important lessons this season. And here they are: 1) Time can heal even the most traumatic of experiences. I have written this before, but I think it bears repeating. Just as my sunflowers were getting to be quite substantial, with stalks of about 3/4 inch, and perhaps 5 feet tall, they began falling over, and breaking in two. (Ask me how that came about another time - but it was all my fault!) Literally the heads were on t

2020 Fall Vegetable Garden!

This has truly been an Adventure in Backyard Gardening - as the title of my Blog advertises! I have never before planted a full fall garden, so I wanted to do it right. Thus, I planned carefully, measured twice, read all the plant requirements, prepared the soil, and...absolutely everything went sideways. None of my best laid plans were able to be executed because I did not account for the trellis feature in the raised bed which I intend to keep in the garden, I miscounted the number of beets and broccoli that I had purchased. And I don't think I properly took into account the margins I would need at the perimeter of the garden, so in the diagram I allowed the plants much more space than I r

Obsessing over the Marigolds

Being away from the garden for 3 weeks took its toll on the tidiness of the garden And by now you know that I'm a little bit of a neat freak. And gardens don't like to be neat! That's ok.I am going to whip it back into shape. My first job when I got home was to think about my fall vegetable garden because that has an absolute time line that I have to meet. I'll be planting tomorrow, hoping to have a harvest before the winter. After that, I started worrying about all of the brown, untended flora in the frontyard, especially the marigolds. Marigolds are pretty easy care and you get a lot of bang for your buck. My border started out with about 2 dozen 2 inch plants. And you can see how they

Diagramming the Garden!

I’m going all out on this garden planning project. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. And as a teacher, I know that planning is the key to success. So I planned my head off today. I measured, and calculated, checked the vegetable spacing requirements, and put it all into a blender and came up with a schematic of what I think the garden should look like for fall. I based my decisions on the plants’ need for space, shade (lettuce) and full sun (carrots), and the ability of the garden to accommodate that. It hurt my brain. And as I write tonight I realize that I need to change placement of the lettuce, because we will need to build a shade for them – so this may completely upend my carefully cra

Planting My Fall Veg Garden!

It’s the first day of fall…and I got a metaphorical bee in my bonnet today! After returning home from Berkeley, and surveying my kingdom, I decided that it was time to get down to business. I intend to have a fall vegetable garden this year, and nothing is going to stop me. Not exhaustion. Not a migraine. Not 100 degree heat. And not my inexperience. I’m going to persist. So, I headed out to the nursery, bought the proper soil amendments, decided on buying some veggie plants, and came home to start the job. Now, let me say, that I feel a little like I’m cheating. I had intended to start my fall garden exclusively by seed. But because Baby Abby was born a little late, and we stayed in Berkele

Entropy in the Garden

The definition of entropy is a “gradual decline into disorder.” Recently, when I went away for a couple of weeks for the birth of our grandchild Abby, I left my garden for 2 weeks without a caretaker. And when I returned...disorder in the garden! I did hire someone to come and water everyday – because the temperatures were predicted to be over 100 degrees for many days. But while watering was taken care of – it was indiscriminate, by someone who didn’t really know my plants and what their individual needs were. And so what happened was overwatering in some places, and underwatering in others. I will have to rehabilitate many of my plants. When I left the garden was perfectly manicured, weede

The Tilden Carousel and Our Abby

Leaving Baby Abby, our first grandchild, in Berkeley was very difficult. I cried. A lot. But one of the things that I thought might help me feel better was to dream about all the things that I hope to do with her in our upcoming visits. There’s so many competing interests for children’s time these days. And most of them include a screen. I know that her parents will make sure that she grows up with lots of wholesome activities, and less screen time – but I’m going to be in charge of gardening time. I can’t wait to show her the sunflowers in late summer, the lemons on my mom’s tree, the night blooming cereus, the lavender drifts in early spring – and the irises! She will love the irises. And

Berkeley Footpaths...or All Roads Lead to Abby.

Tonight, after the devastating news of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, a respite from the sorrow, and gratitude for her life. Watch as we explore Berkeley, visit our Abby, and then  learn the news of our heroine’s passing. It’s all too much. But finding solace in nature, and in the generation to come, can be a light for our tomorrow.

Things That Make My Heart Glad

Reasons for the heart to be glad are everywhere. As we waited for our date with the most beautiful bloom in our garden (Baby Abby!), I found so many things that made the waiting easier! In the early morning I saw the most incredible cactus, mostly untended, with an extraordinary bloom. Actually, the bloom looked very much like the rare blooms on my night blooming cereus. But it flowered atop a scraggly, browning, tall stemmed prickly cactus. Out of the darkness, light. And then in the afternoon, as we drove up to our residence, I noticed that the unremarkable tree in the corner of the driveway, had surprises hidden its branches. And as I looked closer, I realized that they were gorgeous, rip

Mitzvahs in the Garden

It’s been a busy day. Baby Abby has been a little bit of a fussy eater, and it has taken time for her to get her rhythm. This, of course, has completely set her parents and grandparents out of rhythm! But today it’s possible that she may have turned the corner. She had two good meals, and her grandparents were able to visit and baby sit a little bit. Babysitting consists of us sitting on the couch and looking at her, while her parents are approximately 10 feet away. We could do it all day! After she eats, she just lies on her back, and closes her angel eyes and naps. And that’s where we come in! Not napping (as we might normally do!), but ever vigilant, we (and her parents) monitor her every

Our Abigail

Born during a pandemic, surrounded by wildfires, on the anniversary of September 11… our family welcomed Abigail, our first grandchild. What a joy! She is beautiful beyond belief. At 7 pounds 4 ounces she had to fight her way into world. Her mom labored over 30 hours, and then had to have a Cesarean Section, so that Baby Abby would be safe. But when she arrived, she had healthy lungs, and a strong voice! She will need that. Our daughter was magnificent. Strong, and unflappable, and her husband, one hundred percent with her all the way. A perfect partnership for our little Abigail. Now, the grandparents were a different story. We’re exhausted. And so far, all we have done is text, order take

The Tulipiere and a Visit to Delft

I had to have a tulipiere! Just had to. But the one that I wanted…the largest one in the Delft store, which looked like a tall pyramid and had probably over 50 flower spouts, was close to $50,000. So I had clearly lost my mind. But hold on…I’m starting in the middle of the story. Let me start at the beginning. A couple of years ago, Robert and I joined some dear friends for a once in a lifetime European trip on a luxury barge (just 12 of us!) from Bruges to Amsterdam. Every port along the way was magical, and we so enjoyed the company, the fabulous food, and the days filled with touring places we had always wanted to see. However, despite the fact that we had been presented with an itinerary

The Plant Wizard

Before we get to the Garden Tour – let me tell you how we ended up at Luther Burbank’s garden today. As I noted a couple days ago, we are in Berkeley awaiting the birth of our first grandchild. It’s been uncomfortably hot, we’re quarantining to be safe for baby, and last Sunday we had an earthquake here. Today we woke up and instead of sunshine, the sky was dark, and red. Like you would expect to see if you were at the base of an erupting volcano. It felt apocalyptic! The smoke from the fires in Northern California, had descended on Berkeley, and obscured all the light from the sun. By 11:30, I just couldn’t bear it any longer, and my daughter was resting at her home, so I told Robert – you

A Tour of Berkeley's Codornices Park

Across from the beautiful Berkeley Rose Garden is a treasure of a park with an inspiring history. Codornices Park, (Quail in Spanish) is one of the oldest city parks in Berkeley. It is a tribute to a family’s love of gardening, the vision of a committed citizen, and the power of community. There are lots of small open spaces in Berkeley, certainly more than where we live in Los Angeles. And that means that someone here has advocated for them, planned for them, and pursued their completion. You won’t be surprised to find out that one of those people responsible for this kind of care was inspired by his mother’s love of gardening! Francis Violich, whose parents immigrated from Croatia, began h

A Historic Moment

It’s a historic time in our collective lives. A tumultuous political landscape after Trump’s election. A pandemic. Protests over racial injustice. Extraordinary heat from uncontrolled climate change (over 120 degrees where we live in Los Angeles). And yesterday, here in Berkeley, an earthquake. My husband, Robert Hubbell, and I began our blogs, (Robert first, and most importantly) to help others navigate this historic time. Robert, who is an extraordinary writer and intellect, helps others process the news 5 days a week, encouraging, and calming, despite the traumatic onslaught of events each day. On a smaller, but different level, I began a blog after I retired, about the healing possibilit

Oregano Love

The Greeks believed that oregano was a gift from Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. She wanted it to be a symbol of joy growing in her garden. And in my garden, it is a joy! I do love finding out about the history and lore of each of the plants in my garden. It makes it all the more interesting, like a classroom full of students, with different abilities and interests. In a way, you really can’t serve the students properly unless you know how they learn best, or what makes them happy, and sad. The same is true of plants. So knowing more about them, where they came from, their preferred zone, and even ancient and modern uses, helps the gardener be better able to create a successful symphony in t

Herb Update!

I’ve been thinking about my herbs, and I realized that they do more in my garden than I had intended! I do use basil for my sauces, and for bruschetta, but really, I do love to see it sprawling everywhere, just green as can be, always trying to extend its reach into all parts of the garden! And I’m excited about the sorrel, but I know that I won’t be using it too much – I’m just excited that the transplant took, and I want to see where and how it wants to live in my garden. Now, the two mints are lovely additions to our garden, but mostly I like the pop in the garden that they provide in their beautiful Talavera pots! I have used the spearmint for some lovely tea, but the Morrocan mint has b

Irises for the Neighborhood

When my daughter and I divided the irises in my garden, the ones that my mother planted, I simply didn’t have enough room for all of the bulbs that resulted from my work. And I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great to gift my neighbors with the extra bulbs? And so I began the project. I divided bulbs from three different beds in my garden for a total of over 200 bulbs! I wasn’t able to give them away immediately, so I stored them in the garage for a while; however, it has been so hot – that maybe that wasn’t a great idea. I think that I could have done a better job of storing – and provided a better environment for their storage. The worst decision that I made was to store them in plastic

Remembering Princess Diana

Monday, August 31st marked the 23rd anniversary of Princess Diana’s death. I remember exactly where I was, and what I was doing. Maybe you do too. My young daughters were competitive Irish Step Dancers, and we were in San Diego at the U. S. Grant Hotel, preparing for the next day’s competition, called a “feis.” As my three girls romped around the hotel room, always a novel experience because we didn’t have reason to stay in many hotels, the news broke on the television that Princess Diana had been in a serious car accident. My mom actually called me in the hotel room (no cell phones then) and told me about the news in case I hadn’t heard it. She said that the news was reporting that perhaps

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