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Monday, July 31, 2006

Authors, garden storytelling, volunteers and more - July 31, 2006

Listen to the Podcast

Theme Music: The One by The Woodshedders, aka the Hot Club of West Virginia, courtesy of the PodSafe Music Network

I'd love to hear what's going on in your garden. Post your comments here or email them to agn@welchwrite.com.

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If you find this podcast helpful, please leave a donation for the author.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

What I'm Reading...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Garden Voyeurism

I see people sharing You Tube videos all over the place, so I decided to do some searching for garden-releated videos.

Many people love to share their gardens via YouTube, so I will be blogging the best of what I find.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Elsewhere Online: Matchstick Garden

Cool Hunting posts about these cute match books with seeds embedded in the matchsticks. A quirky gift for the gardener in your life and maybe a guerilla gardening accessory.

Matchstick Garden

Making gardening (or at least the planting part) easier than lighting a match,
Matchstick Garden is a matchbook that holds 10 cardboard matches loaded with seeds ready for planting. Available in wildflower (Cornflower, Shasta Daisy, Corn Marigold, and Field Poppy) or herb (Basil, Chives, Parsley, and Thyme),..


(Via Josh Rubin: Cool Hunting.)

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Why do you podcast? - Douglas E. Welch

The ninth in a series of short videos from the LA Podcasters answering the question, "Why do you podcast?" with the host and writer of Career Opportunities and A Gardener's Notebook.

Play Video

Saturday, July 22, 2006

106 and climbing!

Ok, even here in Southern California we are not used to heat like this.

My desktop thermometer shows 106 and continues to go up a degree each 30 minutes or so. The humidity reads 1%, which surely must be a flaw in the system.

The heat has attracted new birds down to the birdbath, including a black phoebe, and caused the squirrels to flatten themselves like wet dishrags in the crooks of the trees. I can't imagine being forced to live without air conditioning..and wearing a fur or feather coat to boot.

I made it outside this morning around 9 am and managed to tie up and trim the vines on the 2 trellises, but even at 85 degrees and in the shade, it was too hot to linger. The garden seems to almost crackle in its dryness. I will turn on the water later tonight to try and give the plants some help before facing another day like today. I have to remember to soak the one or two potted plants we have so they have some chance of survival.

We are supposed to get some. minor, relief later in the week, but that means upper-90's instead of low 100's, so "relief" is a relative term.

Excuse me now, I need another big glass of iced tea. (SMILE)

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Quote from Thomas Jefferson

I have often thought that if heaven had given me choice of my position and calling, it should have been on a rich spot of earth, well watered, and near a good market for the productions of the garden. No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden...though an old man, I am but a young gardener.

-- Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Charles Willson Peale, August 20, 1811

Monday, July 17, 2006

Refurbishing an older garden - from the archives - August 1996

While my old AGN columns are still available on the web site (you can find an index of them here, if you wish), most of you will have never read them, unless you happened to stumble across them via Google or other search engine.

I am going to reach back into the archives, much as I do with my other column and podcast, Career Opportunities, and re-post those columns that still seem applicable.

I'm interested in hearing your comments and questions regarding the columns, and whether I should continue to repost them. You can send email directly to agn@welchwrite.com or post your thoughts as comments here, on the web site. -- Douglas

From the AGN Archives, August 1996...

Refurbishing an older garden

This June, my wife, Rosanne, and I achieved the "American Dream." We purchased our first house. While we had not planned on it, we also achieved the re-birth of our lives as gardeners.

I grew up on a small farm in northern Ohio and spent most of my summers helping in the fields or the large gardens both my father and my grandmother planted each year. These were the prototypical vegetable gardens idolized in Peter Rabbit and other children's classics. They included the usual compliment of cabbage and carrots, potatoes and peas. Some of the best memories of my childhood revolve around those long summer days digging in the dirt.

It was a dramatic change to go from a small apartment with a few houseplants to hundreds of square feet of garden with plants I knew little or nothing about. Even so, it was the garden that attracted us to this home in the first place.

The first time we drove by our soon to be house, we were enthralled. It looked so different from its neighbors with its hedges of azalea and boxwood, golden coreopsis and beautiful pink roses. Two large fir trees, live Christmas Trees from holidays past, and a mature elm stood guard over all. The backyard held a hidden Japanese garden with Mikado and JFK roses, bonsai shrubs, many trees and even its own miniature red garden bridge. We loved what we saw, both inside and outside the house.

Other prospective buyers who had visited the house were not so charitable. "Oh, we love the house, but we would have to get rid of that garden. That would be way too much work," said one prospective buyer to the Realtor while the owner stood nearby. I can't imagine saying that in front of the owner, even if I was thinking that to myself. We saw the garden as a positive point, not a negative.

So started our adventure. In the last several months we have worked hard to establish our patterns for watering and maintenance. While we have removed a few dead plants, we are avoiding planting anything new until we see exactly what will appear in the spring. Everywhere I have turned earth recently appears to be filled with bulbs of every type and description. This alone is sure to turn our spring into an adventure.

The previous owner was kind enough to give me a tour of the garden before we took possession of the property. She also left us innumerable photos of both the house and the gardens as they changed over the years. Early photos show a backyard with a dead lawn and a lone, despondent apricot tree which we heard from a neighbor was part of the land before the subdivision was built. While the owner knew the names of most of the plants others were unknown. This gave me a starting point but also sent me scrambling for some form of reference guide to learn how to care for those plants she identified and to identify those plants she could not.

I happened upon several books to start me on my way. The first was Sunset's Western Garden Book. Often called "The Gardening Bible", this reference book offers comprehensive listings for most of the typical garden plants grown in the western states. It offers identification, Latin and common names and care information as well as ways to combat pests and what types of plants might be best for your area.

The next book will prove to be my guide in this and future seasons. Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening: A month-by-month guide has already proven itself invaluable by providing a reference specific to Southern California. While my subscriptions to Martha Stewart Livingand Country Living might contain important gardening information, they are hopelessly biased to parts of the country that experience hard winters. I don't need information on helping my roses survive the winter. I need to know how to keep them happy through these 100+ degree days that a Southern California summer always brings. Welsh's book includes monthly checklists that help to remind you what tasks need to be performed in all the major areas including planting, pruning, feeding and watering.

I hope this journey through my garden will assist and encourage you on your own travels. In future months I will discuss happenings in my garden, additional reference materials, insect, pests, opossums, squirrels and even ways to use the Internet and other online services to share your gardening joys and woes with others throughout the world.

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On my "To Read" List

Here are some books that are currently on my gardening "To Read" list.

In most cases I request books from my library to read before I commit to adding them to my library. I think it is a great way to hold my bibliomania in check a bit, lest I find myself surrounded by nothing but bookshelves.

The $64 Tomato by William Alexander
The Natural Shade Garden by Ken Druse

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Share Friends In Tech with Your Friends!

As you may already know, Career Opportunities is a member of Friends in Tech, a loose consortium of technology podcasters who work together for cross promotion, cross-pollination, and more most importantly, fun!

The picture to the right is a link to the Friends in Tech flyer (PDF) that you can use to introduce your friends to all the Friends in Tech shows. There is information on Friends in Tech, show topics and average length. You can email the FiT Flyer or print it out to share with your friends.

Thanks for helping to spread the word about Friends in Tech and my podcasts!


Friday, July 14, 2006

Playing with my new cameraphone - Sunlit Daylily

I just got new cell phones for the family and they come with the typical cameraphone. It doesn't take very good shots, but it does allow you to capture those "spur of the moment" shots you might have missed before.

Here is a show of a daylily growing outside the Robek's in a local shopping plaza. The color of the light through the petals caught my eye.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Elsewhere Online: Propagate Your Shrubs from Softwood Cuttings

Propagate Your Shrubs from Softwood Cuttings

A nice article on how to get more plants from the plants you already have, courtesy of Fine Gardening Magazine.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Japanese Maple with heat/sun damage?

This photo shows what happens every year about this time. Although the tree is in a shaded area the high heat seems to cause the leaves to curl and turn brown. There is no obvious sign of disease and it seems to happen every year when we get our few weeks of 100+ temperatures.

I have read else where that Japanese Maples are susceptible to sunburn so I guess I will just have to chalk it up to that cause. It doesn't seem to cause and major damage, but it can look a bit unsightly. Moving the tree is probably out of the question as it is moderately large and I am not sure where else in the garden it might go.
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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On my wishlist: Edirol R-09 Portable Digital Recorder

After having an opportunity to use this unit and hear its sounds quality, I have decided to add it to my Amazon Wish List and start reserving listener/reader donations towards purchasing my own unit. Special thanks to all who have donated in the recent weeks

I used my friend's Edirol R-09 to record my interview with Keri Dearborn, which listener's of A Gardener's Notebook have heard over the last few weeks. This interview was recorded with no additional equipment...just the recorder sitting on a chair between us while we talked. In fact, you can see the unit, tiny as it is, in the photo posted along with that podcast entry.

The R-09 also allows you to connect any sort of external microphone to the unit including lavaliere microphones for doing interviews and shotgun mics for long distance recording. My friend, Michael, has also simply fitted the windscreen for his shotgun mic (usually called a "muff") directly over the top of the unit to shield it from wind noise when using it outside.

This unit would make it so much easier to do interviews for the podcasts as well as un-tether me from my computer to do sightseeing tours and ad-hoc, man-on-the-street conversations. It would also make it very easy to record conference sessions and speeches that I attend.

So, if you have been waiting for a direct, tangible reason to donate to Career Opportunities or A Gardener's Notebook, here is where some of you money would be used.

Make a donation for the Edirol R-09

Link: My Amazon Wishlist
Link: Edirol R-09 at Amazon.com

Returning home, cleanup, book review, and gardening dirty tricks - July 11, 2006

Monday, July 10, 2006


A Garden by the Ruins near Narberth blog gives AGN a nice shout-out!

Check them out!

Sowing the seeds of eco-terrorism?

Last Sunday an odd article appeared in the Los Angeles Times, (Was flower just a dirty trick?, Los Angeles Times, July 9, 2006). It seems some developers in Sebastopol, California are accusing ecological activists of planting an endangered plant species on their property in an attempt to slow or derail development.

The California Department of Fish and Game made an investigation and declared that the endangered plants had been transplanted onto the site, although information regarding how they came to this decision is sketchy. The developers went so far as to call the act "eco-terrorism."

On one hand, I have always taken issue with groups that use the Endangered Species Act as an all-purpose club against development. In my mind, the too eager use of the Act diminishes its usefulness and importance when endangered species are truly involved. Too often people are only seeking to stop development instead of protecting any individual species.

On the other hand, the planting of an endangered species is a truly inspired and graphic attack. Let the plants speak for themselves. Let them show where their habitat is found and how it might be destroyed. It is the closest thing I can find to giving them their own voice. For the developers to call this act, if indeed the seeds where scattered by humans, eco-terrorism is heavy handed and ludicrously extreme. Scattering seeds is a far way from blowing up oil pipelines, destroying logging equipment and spiking trees. Who is really being hurt here? Development should always be carefully considered and if a few simple flowers can engage people in conversation and consideration, all the better.

My own fear is that this event will put a chill on the various guerilla gardening efforts around the world that seek to turn blighted, ignored areas into charming and inspiring public gardens.

It will be interesting to watch the outcome of this event and see if other attempts to use plants as protest begin to sprout.

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Book: The Lost Gardens by Anthony Eglin

The Lost Gardens, the second in a (hopefully) on-going series by Anthony Eglin picks up the story of Professor Lawrence Kingston following the murder and intrigue surrounding the discovery and theft of a unique blue rose, the Holy Grail of gardeners. This story is recounted in "The Blue Rose" and my review can be found in this previous post.

In this new story, Kingston is hired to restore a huge manor garden to its former glory after the property is inherited, unexpectedly and unexplainably, by a young, American woman. When a dis-used chapel is found on the property, complete with a skeleton in its well, Kingston is again involved in detective work, archeological mysteries and murder.

While not quite as action-packed as the first book, The lost Gardens is a grand combination of gardening lore, history, mystery and action-adventure. Kingston become even more likable than before, less curmudgeonly and might even be falling in love again.

Eglin gives a charming feel to the English countryside, despite the untoward events that occur and leads the reader down a wandering garden path to an exciting and satisfying conclusion.

I look forward to more books in this series that combine my interests in gardening and my love of a great mystery.

Link: The Lost Gardens by Anthony Eglin
Link: The Blue Rose by Anthony Eglin

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Sunday, July 09, 2006

Carrotwood Fruit and the Mockingbird

Carrotwood Fruit
Originally uploaded by dewelch.
Since we returned from Hawaii, I have noticed a mockingbird frequenting the garden more than ever before. I thought, perhaps, that it had a nest in the garden, since it wasn't making the usually plaintive call of the male seeking a mate, but only a loud chirp every so often as it flitted about the garden.

While there might be a nest, it seems more likely that the mockingbirds are here to enjoy these carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) fruits that have started to appear on most of my trees. In fact, this picture from a fellow Flickr user shows a mockingbird investigating the fruit of a carrotwood.

A little Google searching turned up a host of information the carrotwood, including the fact that the USDA in Florida considers it a noxious weed. This is a surprise to me as, here in California, they are widely used in new sub-divisions to create quick, evergreen growth. I haven't noticed them being very invasive in our wetlands area, unlike the killer bamboo and pampas grass you often see. I also haven't noticed any volunteers from the carrotwoods over the years. The native fan palms and the elm trees are much more troublesome in that regard. It only goes to show that you should do your research before planing in your garden, just to make sure it won't become a problem later.

I had several more of these trees in the garden, but I think I am now down to 3 or 4 from an original 8 or 9. The previous owners had overplanted dramatically, so we have spent the last 10 years editing and refining the garden down to more manageable roots.

It is good to see that the carrotwood fruits aren't going to waste. They are another great way to attract different varieties of birds to my garden.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

What I'm Reading...

Elsewhere Online: Fordhall Farm Lives

An inspiring tale of how a brother and sister saved the organic Fordhall Farm in the UK, by selling shares to interested parties. After the loss of a major community garden here in Los Angeles, this is heartening news.

The lessons to be learned here, and from other allotment troubles, is to seek, at the beginning, set legal rights to the land that will be used. The gardens here in Los Angeles remained the property of the owner and were subject to their whim. In fact, in the end, the owners actions turned punitive when they continued to ask for more and more money to sell the property even when they had no intention of selling, to the city, at any price.

Fordhall Farm Lives

Last month Los Angeles' South Central community farm was bulldozed. A scenario that was depressing for many, as this was an icon of local food harvesting, right where the people wanted it. A remarkably parallel battle has been underway in the UK. Fordhall Farm one of the oldest organic farms in Britain was on the chopping block. We covered the story before, here and here. ...

(Via Treehugger.)

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