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Friday, May 27, 2011

UC Botanical Garden Releases Guide to the Local Wildlife

The more I garden, the more I learn about wildlife. Flora and fauna are inseparable and you can't truly appreciate one without the other. So it makes perfect sense that UC Botanical Garden has created a guide to the wildlife commonly found in the surrounding East Bay hills.

I went to the launch party for this handy little publication last week and enjoyed hearing Garden Director Paul Licht explain how the publication came to be. Years in the making and beautifully illustrated by local artist Dana Gardner, the guide is laminated and folds up to fit easily in a pocket to take with you on nature walks. It identifies over a hundred birds, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and insects that you're likely to find in the Botanical Garden and throughout the hills of Alameda and Contra Costa counties.

 The launch party gave me an excuse to take some time out to ramble around the garden as well. And as if on cue, a little bit of wildlife made an appearance. And with the help of the Illustrated Guide to Common Animals of the East Bay Hills, I was able to identify these guys as a Western Fence Lizard and a Bumblebee. (Actually, I kinda already knew that last one.)



It is a gorgeous time for a visit to the Botanical Garden. The Garden of Old Roses is heavily in bloom and the scent is overwhelming. And on a tip from Vanessa Crews, the Garden's Development Director, I made a point of checking out the puyas in the South American gardens.  I'd never seen these in bloom before and--just wow!

The water garden in the Asian gardens are brilliant now too. The iris are in bloom, as are the water lilies. The spot is cool and serene, really a lovely place to sit for a while and reflect.

I wish I'd had more time to spend in the Botanical Garden but I'm a member now and I hope to make it back over there more often.

The Illustrated Guide to Common Animals of the East Bay Hills is available for purchase in the Gift Shop of the UC Botanical Garden for $8.95.

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

High Tech for Gardeners

I'm beginning to suspect that a lot of gardeners are getting seriously tech-savvy lately, and what's more, manufacturers and retailers are taking note. If you are at all so inclined, you should check out an article in today's NY Times by Farhad Manjoo discussing an assortment of high-tech tools for the garden. He covers everything from climate-sensitive irrigation control to Roomba-like lawn mowers to (my personal favorite and something I might actually invest in) squirrel-and-other-rodent deterrents. Although I've generally avoided bringing anything electronic into my garden other than my mp3 player, some of these tools may actually be worth the price.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Alameda Gardener Turns Book Author!

If anybody's been wondering why I haven't been blogging for the past several weeks, I swear I have a good excuse. I've been busy. Really busy. And mostly I've been busy with boring work and life stuff. But there's been one item on my on-going to-do list that I'm pretty excited about. After several weeks of ironing out details, today I signed a contract with Cool Springs Press to write a book! Its working title is California Fruit and Vegetable Gardening and it will be released next February. The manuscript is due mid-July, which means ... well, it means I'm already behind schedule. But I'm not worried. I'm very excited about this opportunity and the geek in me that loves doing research is all a-twitter at the good times ahead.

I'll be posting updates to this Facebook page as the book comes together, so feel free to check in and follow along. Notes of encouragement, questions about gardening, or cruel taunts that I'll be spending most of my summer glued to my computer are all welcome and appreciated. 

Let the writing/gardening fun begin!

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