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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

More uses for coffee grounds

I came across this interesting discussion on the use of coffee grounds in the garden over at The Esoteric Science Resource Center.

They had a great link to this National Geographic story on a company that makes fireplace logs from used coffee grounds.

Coffee-Based Log Burns Cleaner -- But No Starbucks Smell

Friday, October 22, 2004


It is amazing how much of the world we can block out, even when it surrounds us totally and is right there in our face.

As I finish up some work on my computer this afternoon, I lean back in my chair and glance out the window. There, silhouetted by the bright sky, hangs a large spider moving back and forth, up and down. It is carefully preparing a new web in an opportune area among the branches of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (brunfelsia) shrubs that line the alley. I imagine tonight will be busy with the capturing and preparing of food for the days to come. Since the web itself is invisible from my vantage point, it is like the spider is levitating there, truly building “castles in the air.”

It amazes me that all this activity surrounds us and we don’t notice, expect by accident. I look up when the squirrels bounce of the trees and walls as they chase each other. Birds are scared up from the feeders at the approach of a neighborhood cat. On occasion, a hawk has whisked in at jet-like speeds, looking for a meal.

I feel like a need the equivalent of a bed-side alarm clock, only this alarm would wake me up to the world, instead of sleeping through my days with my head down, seeing nothing but the keyboard.

Time to go out into the garden and “wake up”, at least for a few minutes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Above-ground gardening

I have had trouble with this one area of the garden since we moved in 8 1/2 years ago. The "back triangle" as I call it was once a patch of lawn surrounded by trees. The area receives little light and the roots from the trees seem to suck the moisture out of the ground almost immediately after a rain. Nearly everything I have tried to plant in this area, even heavy shade plants like ferns and such, have failed to take, or barely survive.

I turned to Google looking for some assistance with this problem area and found that the answer appears to be no answer at all. All the sites recommend abandoning trying to plant in the area. Raised beds will be quickly infiltrated by the tree roots from below and digging out the roots harms the trees.

The best suggestion was using some form of above-ground planters. It seems silly to me to use containers in an area with plenty of soil, but I think this is my next step. I have an idea to build some low, rustic-style box planters to place in this area and see if the plants are any more successful.

I will keep you up to date on my progress.

Friday, October 15, 2004

First rain?

So, the weather folks are pointing to a possibility of rain this weekend. I certainly hope that all works out. According to my handy-dandy calendar, the first rain came on Hallowe'en night last year. I remember it well.

We can certainly use the rain. They are calling for another dry year (our 5th or 6th), but I always see early rain as a good sign.

I haven't gotten any bulbs to put in the ground yet, and it might end up being too late, but I will keep looking for something interesting to put in the ground before the "big rains" comes.

While many of you are more worried about frost than rain, keep us in your thoughts and we will do the same.

Spring always comes again!

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Event: Nature Journaling

Nature Journaling

SUN 10/17 11am

Sooky Goldman Nature Ctr

Enhance the way you look at the natural world around you. Bring a sketchbook or pad, pencil, pen, and a small folding stool or chair. 2hrs WODOC

Monday, October 11, 2004

First bulbs of the season!

As always happens here in LA, the bulbs come out in the Fall, instead of the Spring.

A quick walk int he garden this morning showed these, probably paperwhites, coming up in the patio bed. The rest ofthe bulbs scattered throughout the garden won't come up until the rains come, if they come. I love the surprises we find each year as the daffodils and other bulbs naturalize more and more. It certainly perks up the garden after the relative dormancy of the Summer heat.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Gardening pictures galore

If you haven't run across it already, Flickr.com is a photo-sharing site that allows you to upload photos for friends, family or the general public. Even more, they allow you to keyword your photos so they can be grouped and displayed by topics.

For example, visiting this link shows you all the pictures tagged with the keyword "garden" that have been uploaded recently. Even better, each grouping is also an RSS feed, so you can add it to your RSS reader and easily monitor all the garden pictures added each day.

I have seen some marvelous pictures come through the feed and find it a great way to get in a gardening frame of mind throughout the day.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Book: Plants in the Getty's Central Garden

We live only a mile or two from the Getty Center here in Los Angeles. It has become one of our regular places to visit when they have their regular Family Day events as well as any time we need a brief respite from the city.

One of my favorite parts of the center is the Central Garden designed by Robert irwin. Unlike any other garden I have ever visited, it offers a wonderful collection of experiences as you wander down via the zig-zagging path that follows a stream.

One disappointment, especially for a gardener, is that there are no identifyig labels or signs at all. You are left to your own devices to figure out what everything is. This is why I consider Plants in the Getty's Central Garden an "must have" if you are looking for a deeper understanding of the garden.

The book includes a Foward by Robert Irwin, three essays on the garden discussing its design and creation and a photo illustrated guide to all the plants you might encounter there. The garden does change, season by season, so you may not find everything listed and you might find new items that have been added since the book was written.

Even after visiting the Getty Center so many times over the past few years, this book will give me a new opportunity to see the garden in a fresh light.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Grasses in the Fall

It seems the folks over at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer area reading my mind again.

I was just wondering what to do with the fountain grass in my front yard and they offer up this column:

Let your grasses grow:
Ignore your itchy fingers and indulge lush ornamentals

I guess my intuition was pretty good last year, though, as I came up with the same idea they had...simply raking out the dead growth and leaving the main structure of the grass. It always bothers me when I see folks who have lopped off the top of the grass leaving an unnatural-looking flat-top clump that never seems to recover.

Sometimes, I guess, leaving it alone is the best action you can take.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Dangerous Gardening

Thank goodness I have never run into anything more dangerous than a piece of rusty metal or an unmarked spinkler line in my garden.

This San Diego man got more than her bargained for just trying to work in his yard.

Man gardening finds stick of dynamite

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Photo: 3-d Garden Picture

I saw an interesting picture on the photo-sharing site, Flickr today. It is a 3-d picture of cactii in Balboa Park, San Diego. You will need red and green 3-d glasses to get the full effect.