- Author: Sharon L. Rico
About 15 tears ago, my husband mail ordered a Red Haven peach tree from his favorite tree nursery. He planted this stick of a tree in our backyard where we could watch it grow from our house. It grew quickly and every year in July, it produced many beautiful Red Haven peaches. They ripen within a few weeks, keeping us busy eating them, canning and making jams and sharing them with family and friends. The season comes quickly and leaves quickly.
Along the way, the tree began leaning toward a pergola structure, scraping the paint and starting to cause some minor damage. We had to come up with two solutions. One, make the peach season last longer and two, get the tree from leaning on the pergola.
With both ideas on his mind, my husband took out his new electric chainsaw and down came ¾ of the peach tree. I was in the house shrieking “Oh no”! The tree no longer was a threat to the pergola and the limb was ready to cleft-graft with another type of peach. A bocce ball friend of my husbands had an unnamed peach tree with peaches that ripened in August and provided him with several scions. The grafting was completed in 2013. Last year the tree grew back partially and produced a few Red Haven peaches. The graft was growing.
This year (2015), an amazing thing happened. The tree grew and survived, the graft took and we had a crop of delicious Red Haven peaches in July and a large crop of the unnamed peaches in August. That all of this happened during a drought year is beyond my comprehension and quite a miracle.
- Author: Launa Herrmann
Looks like Shakespeare grew more than English roses and culinary herbs in his 17th century garden. As he leisurely strolled through the flowerbeds, stopping to sit awhile on a wooden bench, he couldn't begin to imagine that centuries later someone would come along to unearth the evidence he was leaving behind.
Among the plants mentioned in Shakespeare's writings — roses, columbines, daisies, violets and fennel along with “pansies for thought” and “rosemary for remembrance” — were New World cultivars brought back from North and South America. At this time in Elizabethan England, tobacco was trendy. Introduced to Europe by Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh, it was smoked in clay pipes. Raleigh had discovered Nicotiana (hence nicotine) in Virginia while Drake's voyage to Peru had yielded coca leaves, “the henbane of Peru, akin to cocaine (Erythroxylum).
The July/August 2015 edition of the South African Journal of Science (Volume 111/Number 7/8) published the results of a forensic study that examined pipe bowls and stems excavated from William Shakespeare's garden. At the South African Police Narcotics Laboratory, a gas chromatography mass spectrometry was used to chemically analyze the residue within the pipe fragments. Cannabis was found in eight out of 24 samples, with nicotine in at least one sample and Peruvian cocaine in two samples.
What is intriguing is that four of the pipes specifically discovered in Shakespeare's garden contained cannabis residue. Also, William himself intimates in Sonnet 76 that Cannabis, or Marijuana as we commonly know the plant today, aided his ability to write. According to the above article, Shakespeare writes “invention in a noted weed,” with the word invention interpreted to mean creative writing and weed interpreted to mean cannabis.
Guess it goes to show that the wise ancient King Solomon was right: “There's nothing new under the sun.”
- Author: Betsy Buxton
Usually my blogs are true stories, with more than a little humor, of my garden adventures at Casa Buxton. Today is different as I say good-bye and thank you to a true plants woman. Muriel Humenick may not be familiar to many outside of the Sacramento region who don't grow roses, but she was a force of nature to those of us to love roses, especially the OGRs or Old Garden Roses.
She was a well-traveled lady in the world of rose competitions, both as a competitor but also as a judge. She and her late husband, Bill, lived on a 4-acre rose garden called Rose Acres. She gave lectures, demonstrations, and pointers to rosarians of all abilities and experience – all you needed was an interest to learn; from Master Rosarians to the newbies, she was available to all and never spoke down to others even when she could see a person was missing the point.
She handled 5000 varieties of roses in her home nursery/garden with the help of volunteers. It was one of her trusty volunteers who found her lying there among her roses on July 15. She picked the perfect place as her husband Bill had passed away there himself in 2008 at age 88. Muriel herself was a mere 89. When you spoke with her, the years fell away as you discussed roses, pruning, favorite varieties and much more. Usually with a rose-covered hat on and a brightly flowered blouse, she held court with her followers.
Her love of roses began in her childhood home where her father had 1 rose bush in the corner of the family Victory Garden; that sparked her love of all things roses for the rest of her life.
I had the pleasure some years ago of going to her nursery to look for a few rose bushes which I had only found in books before; these rose where introduced pre-1940s: 'Silver Moon' (a white single rambler), 'Bloomfield Courage' (single bright red, small flowered rambler) and 'Apple Blossom' (a small, dainty rambler with small flowers like those of a raspberry plant). My mother and I went up there to Shingle Springs to look and came back with a total of 4 roses and the promise of Muriel rooting the 3 I went for. We went to look and stayed chatting with Muriel there for 4 hours – none of us had expected such a long visit!
I saw her at various other places through the years in the Sacramento region and managed to chat with her a couple more time. She was a true force of nature! She was the co-founder of the Sierra Foothills Rose Society, and was also active in the Sacramento and Mother Lode Rose Societies as well. We will all miss her, but those of us who have rose bushes she propagated will always a piece of her to help us remember this remarkable lady!
- Author: Trisha Rose
Last month I visited most of the gardens featured in the Vallejo Garden Tour. I really enjoyed the older homes with so much character that frequently extends out into their gardens. I saw evidence of projects that I have envisioned but not gotten around to myself. The mosaic table tops and colorfully painted metals chairs coupled with very colorful fabrics blending with enthusiastic plants gave me so many more ideas to try out myself. The chosen gardens are more like living gallery walls, they transport you to another world of luscious color and texture. Take the time to visit these garden tours if you ever have the chance. Most frequently the homeowners themselves have designed their space over time and the results give us the opportunities to peek inside the personality and style of many talented neighbors. I come away inspired whether I have seen the garden as a volunteer Master Gardener docent or as a guest enjoying what our lovely Mediterranean climate supports.
- Author: Lorraine Remer
The hills have sepia toned shades
Of browns and yellows and dotted
With the dusty green of ancient oak.
Tree branches hang limply
With dry crunchy leaves mottled
In shades of dying.
The ground beneath my feet
Is cracked and open with wisps
Of grasses and parched plants long dried out.
Around town, green lawns and lush flowering plants in front yards have
Been replaced with dry scape designs requiring little or no water.
We parse out our water on a daily basis for our basic needs.
And we wait in silent prayer and remember the lush fertile days of
Moist earth with brimming lakes and streams and abundant water for all