A new Californian garden blog

I sometimes wonder why there aren't more California-based garden blogs. California is the most populous state in the country and the vast majority of Californians live near the coast where the climate is conducive to year-round gardening. Yet it seems like the city of Austin, Texas has more garden bloggers than the entire state of California.

What's up with that?

Well, I don't know.

Whatever the case, I'm delighted to tell you about a new Californian garden blog named Garden Grit shared by two gardeners, Chloe and Abigail. Chloe is in Santa Barbara and Abigail is in Walnut Creek. Santa Barbara and Walnut Creek are home to Lotusland and Ruth Bancroft, respectively. But no pressure!

I hope all my readers will visit Chloe and Abigail at Garden Grit and give them a big welcome to the garden blog scene. They've already got seven posts up. I especially enjoyed this before-and-after post that reaches all the way back to 1990 to show you how far Abigail's garden has come since she started working in it.

I have some pictures of my own garden from 2005, when I first began to garden. I'll put them up later this week juxtaposed with pictures of how things are today.

I think you will be very amused.


Vote No on Proposition 8

Berkeley Bowl

I absolutely loved this article in the LA Times about the Berkeley Bowl.
Outside, petitioners seeking signatures for ballot measures have come to blows with opinionated residents. In the tiny parking lot, nicknamed the Berkeley Brawl, frustrated motorists have been known to ram one another's cars. At the checkout, people have thrown punches and unripened avocados at suspected line-cutters.

When one shopper was told she couldn't return a bag of granola, she showily dumped its contents on the floor. Culyon Garrison, who works at the customer-service desk, recently had a loaf of bread thrown at him.

The produce emporium -- one of the nation's most renowned retailers of exotic fruits and vegetables -- creates its own bad behavior. Kamikaze shoppers crash down crowded aisles without eye contact or apology for fender-benders. So many customers weren't waiting to pay before digging in that management imposed the ultimate deterrent: Those caught sampling without buying will be banned for life -- no reprieves, no excuses. (Not even "I forgot to take my medication.")


There's a sense of entitlement to this town," [store manager] Evans said. "People think, 'If I want to do it, I'll do it, just try and stop me.' "

Seven years on the job, he said, has given him insight into the city's sometimes sharp social elbows.

"Berkeley residents are angry -- they're mad at the president, the economy, all kinds of stuff. And this is the place where it seems to get released, the local supermarket."

It's funny because it's sad. It's sad because it's true.

Also in the article: Michael Pollan shops for Fruity Pebbles.

Monday morning garden

It's the first day of fall, but summer continues in San Francisco. In fact, it seems more like "summer" now than at any time in the last few months.

Epilobium canum

'Black from Tula' tomatoes.

'Black from Tula'

A nice specimen of Passiflora citrina I got for a song on Ebay.

Passiflora citrina

The passiflora is growing in a pot up the trunks of Tibouchina urvilleana. I need to find a place for it in the ground this winter. Unfortunately, there is very little room left in the ground. The garden continues to be very over-planted. I don't know how it's done as well as it has for this long.


The Tibouchina has a soft tomentose all over, including new wood. (Not so much the old wood).


The green manzanita leaves are especially nice this time of year.

Arctostaphylos bakeri 'Louis Edmunds'

I'm watering it at night now and then, to give it a little head start on the growing season. At the base, the Monardella villosa I cut back is resprouting.


And I've been slowly planting out the Sidalcea malviflora that I grew from seed as the plants get big enough to be in the ground.


The Keckiella cordifolia has gone completely dormant for the remainder of summer.

Keckiella cordifolia

I expect it to start leafing out in a few months after the rains return.

drip drip drip

Penny loves to play with dripping water. She often gets in the sink and meows at the faucet as if asking it to please drip.

Chabot Equestrian Center

Saturday we went to an open house at the Chabot Equestrian Center in the Oakland hills. My aunt has three horses stabled there--two Tennessee Walkers and a gaited mule. I took a few pictures.



They put on a little horse show for us. This woman walked her horse around the corral, made him walk sideways ("sidepassing") and backwards--all without a bridle.


And this little girl was totally adorable with her tiny horse named Figaro (nicknamed Figgy).


Btw, Figgy can be rented for parties and special events. Let me know if you want contact information.

The Oakland hills are a mixed pine-oak woodland.


Couldn't you just ride off..?


Bloom Day

I woke up groggy and I'm off to a slow start this fine Bloom Day morning. Composing a blog post feels almost beyond my reach. Let's see if I can pull this off.

We'll start on the deck where a potted tuberose is blooming.

San Francisco's white sky sure doesn't offer much contrast.



Sometimes I forget to include Cobaea scandens in my Bloom Day posts, which is crazy because it dominates the garden by sheer mass and it's had flowers since February.

Cobaea scandens

Believe it or not, hummers visit these flowers poking their little bills under the sex parts and finding some nectar there I guess.

The Fuchsia could very well bloom all year too.


I'm growing some of the all-red form from seed. I have a few, so if you want one, let me know. If you live in a frosty place, you'd have to keep it indoors during the winter. In a sunroom, perhaps. It should do well in a pot.

I have a blurry orange dahlia.


I have big squash flowers on tiny little plants. Sheesh!


I would have more princess flowers, but I cut this shrub back really hard last night. And I've decided to start watering it.


I forgot the name of this plant.


It's from Annie's Annuals, and I seem to recall it starts with an I. It's a tall spike with reddish flowers that bloom up its length. (I seem to have a thing for plants like that.)


I can't remember the new name of Aster chilensis, either. I could do a Google search, but I'm too groggy.


This passionflower vine isn't very flowery. It never has more than one or two flowers at any given time.


How long does it take sunflowers to go from dead head to seed?


I'd like to let them ripen, but...

One of my two cupheas is exploding with blooms, the other one not so much. Here's the bloomy one.


I'm going to move this Epilobium this winter, but I'm not sure where too. It dies back at the base this time of year and that part needs to be obscured.


Okay. That should do it. I'm going to stop now. I need to do other things. Happy Bloom Day.

Link Bloom Day Central at May Dreams Gardens.

Link to last year's September Bloom Day, a lot of which I don't even have any more.


Your attention, please.

A recent comment on the Berkeley tree-sitters post prompts me to make an explicit point that I think most of my readers already understand.

If I am incorrect about that, I want you to listen to me very carefully:

Giving people reason to believe that planting oak trees will invite busybodies to curtail one's property rights in ten years when the trees reach size, will cause people to plant fewer oak trees and more...junipers.

That's all.


Lunchtime botanical garden

Just a few pictures. These are from yesterday.

There's a sale this Saturday starting at 10 a.m., featuring native plants.


But not just native plants.


In the garden...



Cotyledon orbiculata


Beschorneria chiapensis:

Beschorneria chiapensis

Cestrum elegans:

Cestrum elegans

Ripe Fuchsia fruit:

Fuchsia boliviana


Squirrels are a major pest in the Botanical Garden. Sentimental San Franciscans exacerbate the problem by feeding them peanuts. It's against the rules but people do what they want.


The squirrels are cute, but they don't need any more food.