Like lipstick on an Akita…

When it comes to beauty in the garden it’s truly all about the garden and not the gardener.  Especially after attempting to move five yards of topsoil before the last rain,  at least that’s the story a ‘friend’ told me.  Maybe it’s the memories of Glamour ‘do’s and don’ts’ or the popular definition of crazy  which would be doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. I’m not sure what drives the desire but I do know that I’ve always wondered who got the job of naming all those lipsticks and nail polishes.  On that note my tip for the day is dark polish on a short nail.  I’m partial to greens, browns, red in December and purples.  Recently I’ve also been drawn towards the turquoise blue that appears to be the color du jour but the purchase has not been made.  My current favorite polish is Essie’s ‘Smokin’ Hot’ a Paynes grey purple.  The bliss of a dark color is that it always hides the dirt that lingers under one’s nails.  This works for the staining that happens during the grape sorting portion of wine harvest as well.

Essie's 'Smokin' Hot' Nail Lacquer

If I were in charge and yes I often picture life that way even though more often that’s not the case I would have chosen ‘Helleborus’ as the name. ‘Smokin’ Hot’ is a bit tired.   As these blooms age (this one is showing a bit pink) there is more of a smoky purple tint.

Helleborus bloom

Welcome 2012…

While I don’t think it’s an auspicious start that any of us can now be detained as a potential terrorist,  thankfully when it comes to the garden things are both more and less complicated.   At least it’s a context that’s familiar and generally not threatening.  This year I hope to reach the bottom of one of my compost piles, hunt down those deep crabgrass roots once and for all (yeah, right), grow a few more edibles, revive my broken and wonky drip system, and catch some rainwater if it ever rains.  That and more travel to view the efforts of others.    Whatever the state or size, may your garden reach its own perfect equilibrium of imperfection in the coming year.

What's in bloom January 1, 2011

Flakes, Bizarres and Piccotees…

Flakes and Bizarres has me squirming as it could possibly be descriptive of my sporadic dating life.  When one adds in Piccotees we are talking about Dianthus or carnation varietals.  This is a relief because I’m not quite ready to write that other blog entry.  Carnations have a bad reputation and I don’t mean the naughty, slightly wild good kind of bad reputation.  I’m in agreement when confronted with the my man has enough testosterone to send flowers to, note the white carnation head on that beer.

yes, you really can order this online

Santa Venetia Middle School memories also surfaced of the long stem red and white variety.  Valentine’s Day, a fundraiser for something, the popular kids could and did send the other popular kids a single carnation which naturally would be delivered during class.  While I had ingenuity to end up in the director’s office of Marin Ballet for tormenting my best friend’s twin sister I had not thought to coordinate with her on the sending of said long stem beauties to each other thus in a round about way raising our social status.   Note, my second best friend at the time was the school librarian.

And if that’s not enough Katy Perry when embarking on her World Tour 2011 said “no carnations” when it came to her requested pink dressing room decor.

The point of delving into all of the above is that I adore old fashioned varietals of Dianthus so named by the Greek botanist Theophrastus.  I like to visualize him strolling through a fragrant garden wrapped in  his toga,  Crocs on his feet.  They were made of leather in those days.  It felt like a forever wait to see my Chomley Farran bloom.  Really just over a year ago not realizing that I was at the rare plant table I picked up three of those plants, parted with $38.85 plus tax and went home to bide my time.

your man, my man Theophrastus

The Chomley Farran falls under the varietal Bizarre and according to Annie’s Annuals they were popular during the 1700’s – 1800’s.  More currently, perhaps something to do with the floral industry carnations have been assigned symbolic value.  A mixed hue carnation has associations with unrequited love.  They are a bi-color smoky lavender with streaks of hot pink with a faint spicy clove scent.  Don’t take my word for it, see for yourself.

Dianthus coryophyllus or Chomley Farran

I’m having fun with them as a cut flower.  Annie’s website currently says that this plant is not available but I do know that they have other varietals that I will soon be adding to my garden.

A zen state of mind…

I’m on vacation revisiting what a state of relaxation is all about.  Henry’s got two lady friends who happen to be in the desert  Spring Breaking at the same time so is off on a shopping, lunch and swim date. This means  I’m allowed to use my very own laptop for a few minutes.  I think it’s actually been quite healthy that its been commandeered  I’ve done, with much success not much of anything besides ordering ice tea in the last hour.

What did catch my attention is that our San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a proposal regarding urban agriculture zoning that makes it easier for urban farmers not only to farm but ends the permitting nightmare for selling one’s produce.  We join, I believe Detroit and Seattle in making things less of a hassle. As someone whose name starts with an “M” who did a bit of time would say,  “It’s a good thing.”

Palm Springs

Here’s a link to an article about the zoning,

Preview of coming feathered attractions…

Today is a frightfully annoying stereotypical Monday.  Much started, less finished and suddenly it’s time to pick up the boy from school.  The boy whom with which I had to have a conversation regarding what constitutes a legend.  In other words the difference between legendary and infamous and how that might translate into the short attention span world of 7th grade.  As it turns out he’s being greeted or crowned with the nickname legend.  This is not due to his Lacrosse skills but rather his ability to get five detentions within the span of 15 minutes last Thursday.  Yeah, it’s apparently like that.

My day off from the parenting gig this weekend was Sunday and it was spent helping out (well I plucked feathers from a wet, dead hen) butchering and documenting the transformation of two hens into delicious chicken stock as well as crock potted chicken stew at Garden Girl Farm.  I’m thankful for friends in helping with the restoration of my sense of humor and sanity.  I don’t know where to start so will leave you with this teaser.  One of these images does not fit, or maybe it’s that two don’t.

vintage jewelry advertisement

what's inside your chicken

vintage jewelry advertisement

Sprout this….

Several weeks back I made a run to the Seed Bank.  It’s the Petaluma, housed in a historic bank building West Coast retail locale for Baker Creek Heirloom seeds.  I may have been on a retail high because as I was checking out after I’d already eavesdropped on the Novato gardener’s Tomato growing secrets involving plastic bags the clerk made the observation that I must have a really large garden.  It’s not tiny but really large, not so much.

I’m thinking this is my first Tomato sprout.  I’m going to have to wait a bit because not having Martha’s staff or enough of an organizational bent to motivate I did not label any of my starts.  I’ve got a vague idea, know the Tomato seeds were in the compostable trays versus the plastic seed trays (with seventy-two slots) that I also picked up at the Seed Bank for about $1.50.  In the meantime while I wait I’ve got clay and access to two kilns so I’m going to get creative and come up with some sort of plant signage.  Signage large enough to have a small gnome, at least that’s the plan.

Black Krim, possibly

If you want to go for a more generalized gardening sentiment there’s signage to be had from the Etsy shop Garden Designs in Clay found at,

from Designs in Clay, Etsy

On a bender…

I do love me some good nursery.  That said those beautiful four inch pots

seed starts

add up quickly.  Got my act in gear this weekend with some seed starts.  Dwarf Blauswschokkers (try to say that) peas, Violet de Provence artichokes, Padron peppers, snow peas, more romanesco broccoli, Kentucky Wonder beans, purple beauty peppers, two types of favas, and a variety of sunflowers and zinnias.  That’s for starters I’ve yet to touch tomato seeds.  So, a corner of the dining room is now devoted to wait and see.



The “gateway drug”…

The recent bout of Spring like weather has left me feeling slightly giddy.  On a recent jaunt to Petaluma, stopping for those organic layer crumbles at Rivertown I ventured further up the road to Cottage Gardens.  Their bare root fruit trees are in, with more sighted being inspected.  I left with a dwarf Bing Cherry and what will be our second Pomegranate tree.  Asking about Blueberries I learned that they had arrived but were not out yet.  Better yet I picked up a few from last year’s stock for the same price and that bonus year of growth.  I’m done with the mass groupings of Lavender, it’s all about Blueberries now.

Blueberry bloom