- Author: Betsy Buxton
Have you ever stood out in the yard and just wished the “Garden Fairy” would buzz your way and change things for you? Especially when it's really hot? Today, I'm out here in the back 40 – okay, the yard is normal sized, but full of stuff that needs cutting, pulling, de-headed, de-bugged, or something! I hear my iced tea calling my name; time to go.
I envy those women who have husbands who like yard work; that my lawn is tiny and full of landscape grasses is a direct result of marrying a guy who “doesn't do dirt”. He'll make things from lumber but wants no part of a tree before it's converted to lumber, preferably quarter-sawn and oak, and ready for the saw! I've planted a Cercoparpus or Mountain Mahogany in hopes of fooling him into growing his own “lumber”, but it didn't work. Looks like I'm on my own – again! Is there a “motorcycle bush” to catch his attention? Nope! Gardening is a good way of keeping active after retirement for many of us. Spending a good 2 to 3 hours a day in the sunshine (and heat) helps keep the muscles toned and the joints limber; just don't overdo!
Using a wagon or garden cart is an excellent way of moving things throughout the garden as well as using the correct tool for the job. I've seen tool carts made of old hand-pulled golf club caddies and 10- gallon buckets as garden seats. Using the higher buckets saves the back as not as much stooping and bending are needed; old towels can be quite soothing when kneeling. In displays of potted plants, upside down pots can be used as risers for smaller pots.
I have 30-gallon garbage cans placed in various areas of my back yard which save me the trouble of lugging a container around to put my clippings and pullings as I work. I'm sure that you out there have other tricks of the gardening trade to save wear and tear on your body and make your outdoor tasks more enjoyable and easier. Let me know!
- Author: Trisha Rose
Woke up this morning to the sound of rain drops hitting the skylights, nice. Summer rain is very uncommon and July is historically our driest month here in Solano, so any rain is very welcome to our parched gardens. This year I have held off planting much since early spring. The garden gets very little water and any new planting will have to wait until we get rain in the fall.
I have been "capturing" water from my kitchen sink as I am waiting for the water to get hot for various chores. This water goes to hand watering the Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii 'Variegata') and the Flowering Maple (Abutilon striatum 'Variegata') both are doing pretty well. Yesterday I realized I was looking at a branch of the Butterfly Bush which had reverted to the all green form. I have read to cut those branches back to the main stem which I did, hope no more appear.
Just heard some thunder so maybe there will be a little more rain today, I can do without the lighting though, that's the last thing we need with our bone dry hills.
- Author: Betty Victor
A trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco for a Giants baseball game, gave me a chance to see the vegetable garden they have. The garden with the co-operation of the Giants and Bon Appétit is to be a teaching garden.
The over 4000 square foot garden is located behind the centerfield wall. All the beds are raised, which makes it easy to tend and pick the produce; this also prevents people from walking on and mashing down the plants. In the center of each bed they have planted small trees, lime, lemon, avocado, and cumquat. Around these trees they have a variety of vegetables growing. One bed is planted with tomatoes and basil, another is planted with artichokes and many varieties of lettuce. Two beds other beds are filled with almost every herb including borage that grows, and they must like lemon grass, because they are growing a lot of it. Throughout the beds they have planted violas, marigolds, and pansies.
There are three vertical tall towers that resemble tall strawberry pots, in which they have kale, strawberries, lettuce. On further investigation, I learned these towers are Aeroponic towers. Each tower can hold up to 44 plants.
Another bed has peppers, squash, blueberry bushes; the vegetable will be harvested year round to be used in the community and by some of the vendors at the park.
The garden is open to all who attend the games. There is a fire pit to sit around, a bar that serves drinks and snacks. In a few weeks, they will open a restaurant called “The Garden Table” which will feature produce grown in the garden. This garden has two purposes; one that some of the food venders at the park will have use of the produce, the main purpose is to be an outdoor teaching garden for youth groups in the bay area. Their goal is to teach the youth about healthy eating, sustainability and gardening in cities along with nutrition. Another benefit is that instead of throwing away the coffee grounds from the coffee that it sold at the park, they will use it to fertilize the beds.
They have a sod field growing in the garden area; this sod is used in the playing field if necessary. You can picnic on the sod and children can play on it.
The center field wall is too high to see the game, so they have big screen TV's for that. It is a wonderful garden to visit and to see what they have done with space, to watch a baseball game and have fresh greens for your snack is a good day-especially if your team wins.
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
In July, Agapanthus africanus are blooming everywhere. Noticeable in the foreground of local gardens, they stand out when mass-planted. This year they are spectacular all around Vacaville. Hardly noticeable when they are not blooming, they really put on a show when the umbrella-shaped clusters of flowers open. The flowers have always reminded me of fireworks or sparklers, so the fact they bloom every July seems appropriate.
Agapanthus are commonly known as ‘Lily of the Nile'. They belong to the Liliaceae family and originated in South Africa. Their flowers are shades of blue (light to dark) or white. Usually planted in the spring, the plants require water to get them established; afterwards they are pretty drought tolerant. They do like to be mulched. Although snails and slugs like hiding in their fountain-like clusters of foliage, they are not susceptible to other pests.
Agapanthus do not require pruning. After blooming, the dried stalks and dead leaves should be removed. They can be divided to propagate in the early fall, although rarely need dividing. As they mature, they thicken at the base and occasionally you may see their fleshy tubular roots creeping above soil level. They make wonderful container plants, especially the smaller varieties mentioned below. Fertilize the plants in the early spring with a granular fertilizer such as 6-10-4.
Agapanthus comes from the Greek word meaning “flower of love”. ‘Midnight Blue' has the deepest violet-blue blooms. Peter Pan' and ‘Tinkerbell' are both dwarf plants that look great in containers. ‘Elaine' has large clusters of purple-blue blooms on four-foot stems.
I am enjoying the display of Agapanthus around Vacaville that grow along fences, against homes, along driveways, around ponds and swimming pools and in containers. This perennial is on display this month.
Recently, a friend cut about 10 stems of her Agapanthus and placed them in a tall clear vase. She added powdered floral preservative to the water and told me they would last for over a week if the water was changed daily and the stems were trimmed. What a spectacular display they made!