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Monday, August 29, 2005

A hard Summer...

Whether it is due to the continuous heat, lack of water or simple lack of care on my part, we have lost 2 roses in the last several weeks. All of them are looking a bit ragged, though.

It is disappointing when I don't have the time or energy to take care of things properly in the garden, but it seems to go in fits and starts. Once this heat breaks I hope to get out and do some basic maintenance that needs to be done.

The only bright spot in the loss of these plants is that they now provide me a few open spaces to transplant some roses from the back garden that are suffering from lack of sunlight.

Maybe if I make my plans now I will be able to squeeze a bit of gardening into my schedule. I know it does me well to get out into the garden, but life somehow intervenes at the worst possible moment.

On a related note, these week's tip from Garden Gate magazine gives pointers on moving plants even when the weather isn't the best for transplanting.

Moving a plant in the heat

With careful planning and planting, you can move a plant in the heat without injuring it. These 6 steps will help your plant travel easier.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Sedona Sunshine...and a bit of thunder

My wife and I are currently having a bit of work/fun near Sedona, Arizona. I really love this area, for a variety of reasons, but one major reason is its stark, rugged, natural beauty. The striking red rocks against a dark blue sky filled with puffy white clouds just does something to me.

After a trip into "the city" of Sedona this morning, I returned for a quick dip in the pool. It is about 90 degrees here today, so it was a welcome relief. As I floated about I watched as this very large wasp (or more likely, several)returned again and again to the pool. I have seen wasps gathering water before, but it seemed to me that they usually hovered over the water and only lightly touched surface. These wasps would land completely on the water and even float there for 15-30 seconds each time.

Finally, I climbed out of the pool. The cloud I had been watching build over the last minutes or so started dropping rain to the southeast of us and sent peals of thunder rolling over the valley.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Whenever I visit the Huntington Library and Gardens in nearby Pasadena, I am always fascinated with their extensive bonsai collection. I usually start my day walking through the Japanese Garden, ending up contemplating the lovely stone Zen garden and then strolling over to the bonsai. This beautiful trees, in miniature, capture my attention with their gnarled and weathered-looking trunks, as well as their tiny, yet perfectly formed, leaves.

While I appreciate the conifer-based bonsai, the maple trees are my favorite. They remind me of the giant maples that arched over every main street in my my small home town, New London, Ohio (Satellite Photo).

I am not sure I would ever have the skill or patience to create a decent bonsai, but this tutorial from WikiHow might be a good place to start.

How to Create a Bonsai Tree - wikiHow

Japanese maples are ideal deciduous trees for creating beautiful bonsai. Using a method called air layering, it is very easy to make a branch sprout roots that will support it after separation from the tree. By selecting a nicely shaped branch you can create a bonsai tree that will bring years of enjoyment.

With this method you can create a tree that would normally take five years or more to develop from seed or cuttings.

(Via del.icio.us/tag/garden.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Shade sails

Reading the comments on this posting from Apartment Therapy, it seems that these outdoor shade covers are quite popular in Australia. If you have large, sun-baked expanses of garden (unlike myself) this might be a way to reclaim part of the garden for daytime enjoyment.

shade sails

Want shade and can't build an arbor or install a big roll-out awning? Whether you are heading up to the roof or out to the backyard, we have found that Shade Sails are the best things around for creating a lot of shade on a lower budget.

Originally developed in Australia, where canopies were made of sail cloth, these new versions are made of a synthetic knit fabric that blocks 90% of the sun's harmful rays, is super light and impervious to moisture and mold...

posted by epersonae to garden to-buy

(Via del.icio.us/tag/garden.)

Saturday, August 13, 2005

...but I thought...

I am slowing working through this large collection of papers detailing "Horticultural Myths." This could take a while.

Let me know if you find anything your disagree with in the documents, but they seems exceedingly well researched and written.

Horticultural myths

posted by jagbot

(Via del.icio.us/tag/gardening.)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

New Book: Gardens by Design

I found out about this book via the Timber Press newsletter. It looks quite interesting, so I am going to take a look at my local bookstore or library. Due to limited storage space, I always try to look at books first before buying them for the collection. My wife and I started this rule once we realized our bibliophilic habits would eventually require a second house just to hold the library. (SMILE)

Further information from Timber Press...

I'd be willing to bet that when most die-hard gardeners think of design, it's yummy plant combinations that first spring to mind pairing that deep purple coleus with a tangerine dahlia, or juxtaposing the wispy copper blades of Carex buchananii with the jagged, silvery blue leaves of African honeybush. The parts of the garden that aren't actually growing paths, walls, steps, chairs, trellises just don't give us the same tingle of excitement. But they should. Any plant combination that's good in itself will look ten times better in the right setting. That's why we should care about well-chosen and well-groomed hedges, good stonework, sturdy arbors and pergolas.

If terra-cotta-colored concrete pavers never got your pulse racing before, they will after you take a look at Noel Kingsbury's newest book, Gardens by Design. Kingsbury has assembled 26 of the world's top designers including Julie Moir Messervy, James van Sweden, John Brookes, and Steve Martino and has persuaded them to divulge how they go about creating successful gardens. The inspiring examples are drawn from properties of every size and style, from tiny urban courtyards to rolling country acres, suburban backyards to rooftop decks. But don't worry it isn't all about hardscape. The three chapters on planting design (written by such luminaries as Piet Oudolf, Beth Chatto, Carol Klein, and Isabelle Greene, among others) provide plenty of nourishment for hopeless plantaholics. And if you've even glanced at the other chapters, you'll come away with dozens of ideas about how to create the most effective display for your horticultural treasures.
-- Tom Fischer, Executive Editor, Timber Press

New Garden Hose Problems - Colorite Waterworks

Colorite Waterworks Garden Hose - 50' - 5/8" - $7.99

Purchased at OSH (Orchard Supply Hardware) in Van Nuys, California

It is not often that a product disappoints me so badly, but I have to assume this company is having some manufacturing problems as their product is a complete and utter failure.

Granted, I bought cheap, but even at $7.99 I would expect these hoses to last more than 2 weeks. In both cases, the hoses ruptured along their lengths while NOT in use.

I understand the issues with leaving a host pressurized (which these were not) and leaving them in the sun (which one was, partially), but I have never had this experience with any garden hose before.

Both were returned to the store. I will have to find some other suitable replacements.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Edging possibilities from Garden Gate Magazine

The latest tip from Garden Gate magazine is three different ways to build good looking edging for your garden bed. There are many other tips available on the web site.

Details can make or break a garden. No matter how beautiful the plants in a bed are, if the bed's edging is shoddy or unkempt, the look of the garden could suffer.

Here are 3 ways you can give your garden an edge, by paying attention to the details!

To view this tip, click on this URL:

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Casting concrete leaves from/for the garden

I have seen this technique demonstrated on television, but I really like this step-by-step tutorial in making large concrete castings of leaves that you can then use as decorative elements, bird baths or fountains.

craftgrrl: How to cast concrete Leaves

posted by asimpledarksquid to crafts

(Via del.icio.us/tag/garden.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

What I'm Reading....and cooking!

Having the Italian relatives in town got me interested in expanding my cooking repertoire...again. These 3 cookbooks have been an excellent resource for new and interesting recipes.

Additionally, here is a simple recipe (semplice ricetta) for an excellent Summer pasta dish that "the boys" made for us the other night. This would be a great pasta to make with items from your own garden, but pick the zucchini when they are small.

Pasta con Zucchini e Cippolli (Pasta with Zucchini and Onions)

While preparing the vegetables below, put 6-8 cups of water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Salt liberally. (The Italians say that the water should be as salty as the Mediterranean Sea). When it comes to a boil, drop in 1 1/2 pounds of your favorite pasta. They used Penne from Barilla, which they were glad to find in our local Ralphs.

Take 2 small zucchini (not the monster we typically grow in the home garden) and cut into 1/4" slices. Heat olive oil in a skillet and fry the zucchini slices a deep golden brown. Remove from pan to paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped, to the pan and cook until lightly browned.

Drain cooked pasta and return to the pot. Add Zucchini and Onion to pasta with a splash of olive oil. Mix. Top with Ricctta Salata (a hard, somewhat stinky, but tasty ricotta)

Serves 4-6 people.

Our kind of summer reading from the Los Angeles Times

It is lucky that many people living in the East and North won't see this article, as it would come off as slightly mean when they are worrying about frost and getting the harvest in before the snow flies. That said, it does show that all gardeners can be seduced by the joys of seed catalogs, no matter what time of year.

Tony Kienitz rhapsodizes about the joys of studying seed catalogs in preparation for a second planting, and second harvest, that our balmly LA weather provides. Even with so much other work to do in my garden, I can feel the joy of possibilities that seed catalogs provide. Maybe I should just replace that bed with....no, I couldn't! (SMILE)

Our kind of summer reading

By Tony Kienitz, Special to The Times

THE leap is infectious. It's only fair that you should know. The first time you order seeds from a catalog will not be your last. These tiny, enigmatic packets of life arrive by mail in homely manila envelopes, delivering one of the gardener's happiest and holiest moments of the year.

By virtue of your address, you get to send in your wish list twice a year: early spring and now. That's how it's best done, here in the land of two harvests. The garden cliche in the East and Midwest -- curling up in an armchair beside a fire, sipping cocoa and poring over seed catalogs on a blustery February day -- can still be part of your yearly regimen, but in a summery, Southern California way.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Chelsea Physic Garden launches new pharmaceutical garden - July 6, 2005

I came across the interesting article via a Delicious link (noted below). While the article is about this new garden, it provides a detailed history of Chelsea Garden, its work and the threats to its existence over the years. Quite Interesting, even if you aren't planning a trip to London any time soon.

Timely cures: a new pharmaceutical garden in an old one

On July 6 the Chelsea Physic Garden will celebrate the new millennium by launching "Timely cures: pharmaceutical plants at the millennium", a new pharmaceutical garden and an exhibition of photographs by Sue Snell of medicinal plants and patients who are being treated with medicines derived from them. This article describes the new garden and outlines the importance of the physic garden as a centre for plant sciences over the past 300 years

(Via del.icio.us/tag/gardening.)