An Alameda Garden: April 2010

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Friday, April 23, 2010

UC Botanical Garden: A World of Plants in 34 Acres

One of the things about living in the bay area that is both a blessing and a curse is that there are so many great gardens, parks and preserves to visit that it is easy to overlook some real gems that are right under our noses. One such gem is the UC Botanical Garden in Berkeley. I've visited these amazing gardens several times in recent years, but certainly not enough to see it all or even to fully appreciate all it has to offer. I recently was lucky enough to get a personal tour of the garden with the director, Paul Licht, and it was eye-opening to see how many surprises lurk in those 34 acres tucked into the Berkeley Hills.

Surprise #1: UC Botanical Garden ranks as the second largest in the nation in terms of number of species represented (a whopping 9,670), and is second also in the number of endangered species collected and preserved. That's an awful lot of diversity right in our back yard. But forget about the numbers. Where else can you enjoy the lush peonies, rhododendrons, and camellias of the China garden and then stroll a few steps away to take in a stunning array of blooming plants and succulents from South Africa, or the New World, or California's own natives? How about a classic herb garden, or a garden of traditional Chinese medicinal plants, or a visit to the Orchid, Fern, and Carniverous Plant House? There is truly something for every plant geek or nature-lover.

Surprise #2: There's a lot more to do up there in the gardens than just enjoy the plants. Some recent events have included a Fiber and Dye Exhibit and an Introduction to Birding, and there are also monthly butterfly walks and sick plant clinics where you can get help diagnosing what's ailing your plants. There are concerts in the Redwood Grove, tables for picnicking, even places to host special events like meetings and weddings. (Who wouldn't want to get married in a garden of old roses?)

Surprise #3: Every so often, some of its babies go on sale. And tomorrow (Saturday, 4/24) is such a day. Following a members-only sale and silent auction tonight, the open-to-the-public Spring Sale starts at 10 AM tomorrow and runs until 2 PM--not very much shopping time considering that there are 8,000 plants available. Check the web site for details about the sale and a plant availability list.

If UC Botanical Garden is starting to sound like something you don't want to miss out on, you should consider becoming a member. Membership not only gets you lots of discounts and goodies at the garden here, but you also get reciprocal privileges at nearly 200 gardens across the country--total plant nirvana for just $45 a year. Who knew?

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Whimsy in the Garden

Life on the Balcony is hosting a blog carnival on the theme of whimsy in the garden. There are lots of fun ideas, including everything from legos to garden junk. And I resurrected a post about the making of my garden fountain to include as well. Check it out.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Lilac in Bloom

This is the first bloom of the lilac I planted a couple years ago:

I wish you could smell this! I also wish more people in the bay area would plant lilacs. It is commonly thought that they won't bloom here because our winters aren't cold enough. But I can testify that they do in fact bloom in Alameda. And you don't have to shovel snow to make it happen!

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Weekend Gardening Events 4/17-4/18

Although its not exactly a gardening event, there are a lot of Earth Day events going on around the bay area this weekend. Here in Alameda, there is the Earth Day Zero Waste Festival, running Saturday from 10 AM to 3 PM at Washington Park. Other bay area Earth Day events are detailed here and here.

Also in Alameda, Ploughshares Nursery is running a Bay-Friendly Edible Garden Workshop (Sat. 10 AM to 1 PM).

And here’s what’s on sale:

  • California native plants are on sale at the Tilden Botanic Gardens in Berkeley on Saturday, 10 AM to 3 PM. This is a popular sale and I hear that people are often lined up an hour or two before the sale opens so they get the best selection. You should also bring cardboard boxes to carry home your plants.
  • Succulents are 30% off at Berkeley Hort.
  • Sloat Garden Center has sales on echeveria metallica (6”, $7.99); non-stop begonia (4”, $3.99); rhododendron (1 gal., $8.99); and azalea sourthern indica (5 gal. $17.99).

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Succulent Sunday

More and more lately I find myself drawn to the look (and certainly the ease of care) of succulents. Whether I’m thumbing through the beautiful photos of Debra Lee Baldwin’s books (Designing with Succulents and Succulent Container Gardens), or checking out blogs like Far Out Flora that prominently feature them, or just enjoying them in situ, succulents seem endlessly fascinating and I just want to see more. To that end, I’ve decided to initiate Succulent Sunday. Like Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, this can become (I hope) a great way for bloggers to share their favorite succulents, whether individually, in containers, in gardens, in nurseries, or in the wild.

So here’s how it works: On Sundays, post one wonderful succulent photo on your blog, with or without a caption, then check in here to link it up. I think we’ll end up with a weekly gallery of amazing succulent shots to share and enjoy.

So here's my first entry:

Aeoniums and agave on Alcatraz

I've shown you mine--now you show me yours!

Friday, April 09, 2010

15% Off Renee’s Garden Seeds

Check out this offer to receive a 15% discount on your next online order from Renee’s Garden. The offer is good until May 2, 2010.

Happy Blogiversary to Me

I just happened to notice this afternoon that it was four years ago today that I started this blog. At the time of my first blog post, I had just begun taking horticulture classes and getting serious about gardening. One of the main reasons I started blogging was frustration that a particularly rainy spring was preventing me from getting any gardening done. In the past year or so, it has been other pressures and obstacles that have kept me from gardening as much as I would like to, but the urge to garden remains. And although I’ve had my occasional dry spells with this blog, the urge to blog about gardening remains as well. Lately, I’ve been meeting more people through this blog and had some interesting opportunities come my way because of it. That’s all good, but it’s still about the garden first and foremost.
The first lines I wrote in this blog were the following:
There is something about starting a garden that makes one feel a little god-like. (The humbling days come further down the line.)
I was more prophetic than I realized, because the humbling days have been many. But the good days have been many too—days when the sun on my back feels warm and the soil moves through my fingers like a rich, dark, crumbly dough. And the blooms have been many as well, some of them, like an orchid or a lilac, as long-awaited as a child’s first steps. Having this blog to record those moments—all those wonderful, rewarding, or hair-tearing moments—makes the journey that much more worthwhile. To those who read this blog, whether you regularly visit or just occasionally stumble upon it, thank you for being a part of it.

Weekend Gardening Events 4/10-4/11

Here are a few of the garden-related events going on in the Bay Area this weekend:

  • Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda has a free workshop on Tomato Tips and Techniques with Helen Krayenhoff of Kassenhoff Growers (Sat., 4/10, 10 AM –12 PM). In addition to getting tips for tomato growing, you can also get all tomato and tomato-related items on sale.
  • On Sunday (4/11, 1-4 PM) you can learn the basics of creating a hand-felted textile using plant dyed wool with Ashley Helvey at the UC Botanical Garden. Tickets required: $50 General Public,  $40 Members.
  • Annie’s Annuals is having its Spring Party this weekend (Sat. and Sun., 10 AM – 5 PM), rain or shine. Lots of fun, costume contests and giveaways. Plus, on 11:00 AM on Saturday Keeyla Meadows will be there to talk about color in the garden, and on Sunday at 11:00 AM Annie Hayes will be talking about what’s hot for 2010.

If you’re looking for plant sales, in addition to the tomato sale at Ploughshares mentioned above, Berkeley Hort has wisteria on sale for 25% off.

Have fun!

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter!

"I think of the garden after the rain;
And hope to my heart comes singing,
At morn the cherry-blooms will be white,
And the Easter bells be ringing!"
~Edna Dean Proctor, "Easter Bells"
Hope everyone is enjoying the day, in spite of the un-Spring-like weather. Here is a shot of my mystery cymbidium orchid, finally in full bloom. I cut it and brought it inside since the weather was so nasty. It was too pretty to not be enjoyed!

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Friday, April 02, 2010

Weekend Gardening Events 4/3-4/4

Here are a few of the garden-related events going on in the Bay Area this weekend:

  • Ploughshares Nursery in Alameda has a free workshop on container gardening Saturday, 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM. You'll learn how to select containers, how to choose a good potting mix or make your own, how to plant and care for your container gardens, which plants are best for containers, and more.
  • Saturday and Sunday are the last two days of the Fiber & Dye Exhibit at the UC Botanical Garden. Take the self-guided tour throughout the collection highlighting plants used for fibers and dyes. See dye samples made by textile students of California College of the Arts. The exhibit is free with Garden admission, 10 AM to 4 PM. You can also take in a hands-on weaving demonstration on Saturday from 1 PM to 2:30 PM. Meet master weavers from the Golden Gate Weavers Guild as they show you how to weave. A demonstration will be followed by an opportunity to sit at a loom and try for yourself! All levels welcome. Registration required. $15 General Public,  $10 Members; price includes Garden admission and Fiber & Dye exhibit.
  • Russian River Rose Company in Healdsburg is open to the public this weekend for “A Happy Rose Garden 'How to.’”  You can watch a planting demo and discussion of rose care at 10 AM and  2 PM (demo only at 2 PM on Sunday). Learn how to prepare and tend your rose garden to be its most beautiful, with tips on planting, fertilizing, etc. Nursery roses for sale. Open 10-5.

Here are a few plant sales going on this weekend:

  • Sloat Garden Centers has deciduous fruit trees (5 gal.) for $29.99, Iceberg roses (1 gal.) for $7.99, salvias (1 gal.) for $4.99, and summer-flowering bulbs for 25% off. You can also get a coupon for a 3-inch herb with any purchase. Prices good through April 8.
  • Berkeley Hort has rhododendrons on sale for 30% off.


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