Trying to Garden Without Lower Back Pain
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March 23, 2019 at 08:18AM
Braceros: The Controversial History of US-Mexico Farm Worker Programs with Dr. Matthew Garcia
The Bracero Program began in 1942 as an agreement between the United States and Mexico to bring laborers to the U.S. to replace men who were leaving farms to fight in World War II. The program didn’t end with the war, however, it actually grew by hundreds of thousands of workers, and continued until 1964, laying the foundation for our current agricultural guest worker programs.
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March 22, 2019 at 06:14AM
The Power of Nature to the People! City Gardens Now!
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March 21, 2019 at 12:13PM
A world of meh (with notable exceptions): the midsize garden show
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March 20, 2019 at 02:50AM
Evergreens in Stock Now – Just BUY Them
I stopped by my favorite independent garden center yesterday to see what’s in stock and honestly, just to be among beautiful plants – green ones – and I wasn’t disappointed. The shrub department looked ready for spring already, and truckloads are still arriving as I type. (I may go back this weekend to see what the truck from conifer specialist Iseli Nursery in Oregon delivers; I visited once and was duly wow’ed.)
Seeing nurseries and gardens in mid-March, just before they erupt with color, makes me appreciate once again the reliable go-to plants like Cherry Laurel that landscapers know to use en masse as foundation shrubs or to create the bones of gardens. I had over a dozen of them in my last garden, where they required almost no care yet always looked great, though I mostly appreciated them in the winter.
Like most people, even experienced gardeners like me, I would never have bought them (or the many Viburnums I had planted at the same time) if it weren’t for the advice of a designer at a local nursery who almost insisted I plant them, despite my doubts. And I thanked her for the next 25 years I gardened in that spot for the difference they made, while adding almost no maintenance.
So like that designer who helped with my first major garden back in ’85, I urge people to buy Cherry Laurel varieties like the ‘Otto Luykens’ and ‘Skips’ in these photos, and I tell them that they won’t regret it. They come an assortment of ultimate sizes – including the ‘Ottos’ that are just the right size for under windows.
Another evergreen that’s made large contributions to my garden are Junipers, like the one above that’ll grow quickly to 6′ tall x 8′ wide. Junipers can and often do get too large for their location but but I’ve never regretted buying ones this size or smaller –
especially groundcover-height Junipers. The ‘Grey Owl’ on the left grows to 3′ tall by 6′ wide and on the right, ‘Grey Guardian’ just 2-3′ tall and 3-5′ wide.
I bought a few of these Gold Mop False Cypresses last summer for one of my adopted gardens and so far, so good. They were a welcome bright spot in the border over the winter.
‘Goshiki’ Osmanthus is one of the best, most attention-getting plants I’ve ever grown. It grows slowly to 3′ tall by 4′ wide but is easy to keep even smaller, as I’m doing to the ones on either side of my front door. They look sharp to the touch but they’re not.
Above, Pieris Japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ has done really well for me in shady spots.
Nandinas can definitely spread but the non-fruiting ones like ‘Firepower’ aren’t a problem and are sometimes the only evergreen shrubs that’ll perform in tight, shady spots like between a sidewalk and a building. This one grows to just 2 x 2′.
I’ve never grown a Gardenia or a Sweetbox but I almost hauled some home yesterday, just for the fragrance. Thrill-seekers of the olfactory variety should check ’em out.
Boy, did this ‘Garnet Fire’ Chinese Fringe-flower (Loropetalum) ever pique my plant lust – for its dark purple color and the fullness of each shrub, even in late winter. But it’s only hardy to Zone 7, where I am, so a colder-than-usual winter could wipe them out. Though with climate change, who knows?
Soon the nurseries will be SO full of plants in bloom that only a very few customers (the ones who’ve talked to designers) will notice these evergreen shrubs, despite their obvious charms. On second thought, maybe their charms aren’t obvious enough, which is the point of this post.
The pots on display of Colorado Spruce, Mountain Laurels and Rhododendrons also reminded me of long-ago failures, but they weren’t good-looking enough to cause any yearnings at all. Sea level doesn’t seem to suit them.
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March 16, 2019 at 02:09PM
Finding farmland in the Golden State: Young Farmers’ 2019 California Whistle Stop Tour
At the start of February, I had the privilege of spending a couple weeks in California, organizing five Finding Farmland workshops for young farmers in partnership with our California team and California FarmLink. The workshops were focused on sharing practical strategies for finding secure, affordable land tenure, as well as introducing farmers to useful tools—including our Finding Farmland...
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March 16, 2019 at 04:09AM
Ruffled Feathers and the Corkscrew Swamp
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March 13, 2019 at 11:57PM
Truth in labeling
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March 13, 2019 at 07:57AM
I Keep 2 House Plants Alive and Kill the Rest
We’re hearing and reading everywhere that house plants are having their day, and I’m all in – as long as they’re growing in someone ELSE’s house. I have a strict tough-love policy for indoor plants, which only two species have been tough enough to survive long-term.
I can’t really explain my aversion to fussing with indoor plants. After all, outdoors I grow potted annuals that I happily water every day it doesn’t rain. But the idea of wiping some tropical plant’s leaves every day to prevent some infestation or other is ludicrous to me!
So I’ll stick with the two apparently fool-proof house plants I’ve kept alive for 20-30 years now (I’ve lost track) by watering every two weeks, and that’s it. No wiping of leaves, no feeding, no repotting.
One is a Hoya of some type or other. It’s hanging in my living room right now (top photo) but will spend the summer under a skylight in my porch, where it still only needs bi-weekly watering and even blooms! And the bloom is super-fragrant.
My other unkillable house plant is the lowly Philodendron, which I’d consider trading for an artificial one if I could find one that didn’t look cheesy. My two are surviving in the inauspicious location above – at ceiling level – and in my previous homes it’s been in spots with even less light.
Yet look how healthy they are!
Lately, my house plant situation was complicated by this gorgeous succulent-filled pot I was given at Christmas (by someone who doesn’t use the Internet and won’t see this post). My cat Harry was happy to pose with it after rejecting it as something to eat.
Two and a half months later, it’s almost time for hospice care. With nowhere sunny enough to put the damn thing and just one small off-center drain hole, I knew the plants were doomed and even considered regifting the pot to a better, sunnier home.
I chose instead to reframe my thinking. I see these plants now as lovely but fleeting, like cut flowers. My guilt over killing them is gone.
Readers, you probably know more about these plants than I do, so do you think they could have been saved?
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March 09, 2019 at 01:14PM
Native Turf Grasses
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March 05, 2019 at 07:56AM