An Alameda Garden: February 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Propagation DVD Review

Check out my guest review of Fine Gardening's new Propagation DVD at Garden Rant today. Thank you to Susan Harris and the other Garden Ranters for the opportunity to do the review.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Bloom Day

Here's what's in bloom today:

Hybrid tea rose

Calla lilly

Christmas cactus

Hens and chicks






Paperwhite narcissus

Tete-a-tete daffodils and cyclamen

Parma violets


Tete-a-tete daffodils

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Gardening in Black and White

I've been thinking about re-doing the small memorial garden I created for my cat, B.H., and I hit upon the idea of making it a black-and-white garden (since he was a black-and-white cat). The white part is fairly easy, and I've been surprised to see how many plants have been introduced recently with black flowers or foliage. I could choose from hollyhocks, iris, callas, and more, but before I go nuts buying from catalogs, I thought I'd put the question out there: What black or white plants (flowers or foliage) have you had success with? This site gets afternoon sun and it's not very big--maybe 2' deep by 3' wide. So please, give me your best suggestions--or warnings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What's Happened to Garden Voices?

One of my regular haunts since discovering the world of garden blogs has been Garden Voices at It's been a site that I could check every day or so for a quick round-up of recent posts from garden blogs around the world. It has also been a site that has brought readers to my blog.

Lately, however, Garden Voices has become a source of frustration. Days, or sometimes a week, will go by without the site being updated. I've also found a little bug lurking in the site that occasionally causes an old version of the page to load unless I hit the Refresh button, which will then load the current day's page. Very odd.

But my frustration grew even greater today when I checked the site (which hadn't been updated since Feb. 5) to find that about two-thirds of the now-updated page showcased posts from WorldWine News, a blog that appears to be about wine, or more specifically, marketing wine. Now, please understand, I love wine. I drink wine. Some of my best friends are wines. But I can't imagine why a wine blog has ended up on a site that is supposed to be about gardening blogs.

Whatever the source of Garden Voices' problems are--technical or otherwise--I hope they can work them out soon. In the meanwhile, I'm spending more time on two newer sites: and The Mulch. Blotanical is the brainchild of Stuart Robinson of Australia, and it is quite an ambitious little playground. Although the site is still a little buggy, it offers a number of different and fun ways to explore the garden blogosphere and I look forward to watching this site develop. The Mulch is another site that offers fun ways for gardeners to interact and communicate. I've already won a contest on this site, for which I received a box full of organic fertilizers. Garden talk and free stuff! That's hard to beat.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Still More Pumpkin--100-ft. Diet Challenge Meal #4

My 100-ft. diet challenge is currently suffering from both a lack of time and a lack of home-grown ingredients. Apparently, my standing over the teeny-tiny little green shoots in my backyard yelling "Grow!" has no effect whatsoever.

So without anything green to work with, I'm still trying to find creative ways to use the pumpkin puree I still have. This time I opted for pumpkin-banana bread. The only home-grown ingredient is the pumpkin. Everything else was store-bought, although the banana was organic.

I'm beginning to see the real challenge of local eating: if you don't plan ahead, you can't do it. And I don't mean planning in the sense of planning menus for the week. I mean that if you aren't planting, harvesting and preserving months ahead of time, you should be planning on losing lots and lots of weight during the winter. Even in a climate as mild as the San Francisco Bay Area, it's not easy growing food during the winter.

Read about the previous week's meal here.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Groundhog Day

So Punxatawney Phil has made his official prediction--six more weeks of winter. I wish he would reconsider. I'm so ready for spring, not six weeks from now, but right now.

Last night I watched Groundhog Day, one of my all-time favorite movies. The theme of this movie--that you can't control the circumstances of your life, you can only control your responses to them--is an idea that is resonating with me a lot right now, but it's also a good lesson for gardeners in general. There is a lot in gardening that you can't control--rainfall, temperature, disease, and more. Stuff happens. Seeds may not germinate, seedlings may succumb to damping-off, and mature plants may curl up and die for no discernible reason. What are you gonna do? As Bill Murray finds out in the movie, the only thing you can do is roll with it, learn what you can, try to be kind, and whenever possible, find something to laugh about. And keep on gardening.
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