- Author: Betty Victor
A lasagna garden has been planted in a new large container at my house. The container would take a lot of soil so several cement pavers were laid in a crisscross pattern in the bottom, this will allow for drainage. Soil was added more than half way up, then a burgundy dinner plate size dahlia bulb was planted. After that, more soil was added to the container, on the top portion of the pot, for color in the spring, a large white tulip and several red and white tulips were added. A package of California poppy seeds were sprinkled around on the surface of the soil and small bulbs were also planted in this layer. But because we had “clean up helpers” the bag they came in---well can you guess what happened to it? Unfortunately the name was not one that I had heard or seen before. All the searching in books and on line has not helped me at all to identify the plants. So maybe when they grow and bloom it will help to identify them. Alyssum and maybe pansies will be added for more color.
This past summer, we had sunflowers growing in front of the fence, so after the blooms dried out and the plants started to decay they were all removed (or so we thought). But one sunflower seed among the several we had decided to tough it out in the freezing nights and wet days and it is blooming now, with several buds to open. What fun, sunflowers in the early spring!
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
A member of the UC Davis, Bohart Museum of Entomology, made a visit to the Ulatis Library in Vacaville on Tuesday, March 7th. We take care of our 3½ year old granddaughter on Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons; so decided this would be an educational event she might enjoy.
When we show her worms in our compost pile or beetles under rocks in the yard her response is usually “yuck” or “ewwwwww”! She wants to squish all bugs like they are her enemy. I'm now telling her they are mommy bugs and to treat them kindly as they need to get home to their children. When hearing this, she will let them go and watch as they scurry off. She loves books and movies about parents nurturing their offspring.
When we entered the library, I was surprised to see about 40 children, plus parents gathered around a table with a stack of glass cases and jars of specimen insects. The children were sitting on the floor in anticipation of what was to come.
The glass cases were shown one by one; the butterflies, the beetles, the walking sticks and praying mantis collections. The children were full of questions and wanted to be heard, three or more talking at the same time. They had personal stories about bugs they had seen or touched at home and at school. The collection shown of insects from California was interesting as all of them were diminutive and not quite as interesting as the bugs from Africa or Madagascar.
At the end of the presentation, the jars with live insects were opened and the children were allowed to hold cockroaches and walking sticks with support from their parents and the library personnel. A few of them were brave and allowed their “bug” to crawl up their shirt or arm. Often at ease with the bug crawling from their hand up their arm, they became anxious when it continued towards their shoulder or face. As long as they could ‘see' their insect, it was okay. When it went beyond their field of vision, they wanted the Liberian to remove it and let another child continue with the handling. It was fun to watch as each child participated. My granddaughter was interested in the other children holding the bugs and did not offer up her hand for a bug pathway.
The library was set up for this event with several dozen books placed around the room. There were insect dictionaries to “I love bugs” nooks. It was a high energy; noisy, informative afternoon and everyone had fun!
- Author: Stan Zervas
Fava beans are easy to grow, forgiving and delicious. I planted some in the fall of last year and they went through the winter just fine. Flowering is in full force and the first little bean pods are starting to form. You can plant favas closely spaced and use them as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. Or space them a little wider and grow them for food. Either way your garden gets the advantage of the symbiotic relationship between the fava roots and the Rhizobium bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen in root nodules. The nitrogen helps feed the favas and after you harvest your crop there is excess left behind in the crop residue and roots to enrich your garden soil. I'm going to eat my favas three ways. Right now you can harvest the tops including some flowers and use them like you would use pea shoots. Raw in salads, steamed, or quickly stir fried in a little oil with salt and maybe some garlic? When the pods are young they can be eaten whole like you would snow peas, or let the pods mature, shell them and eat them as you would a shelling pea. From what I read you could also let them mature and harvest them after they have dried and keep them to use as a dry bean. I doubt there will be any left for dried beans by the time I'm through. The major pest is aphids in the fresh young shoot tips, so I better get those off and eaten before the aphids show up.
The only downside so far is that I can't let the chickens out to roam the backyard because those little monsters love fava leaves and flowers and will wipe them out in no time.
- Author: Launa Herrmann
When we discuss succulents, we often paint them with a broad brush. We think about shades of green, gray and blue, along with an occasional stripe of pink or maroon tingeing their edges. We forget that seasonal temperatures play a role in the intensity of their colors, especially in the winter.
This spring I'm enjoying the effect that our cooler wetter winter weather had on the potted collection of succulents on my patio. The photographs below don't do justice to the vivid accent colors now on display.
Frankly, I must admit that I used to think succulents needed heat and dry soil to morph from simple greens to vibrant oranges, brilliant reds and deep blues. Not so. Since succulents prefer temperatures in the 70s, extremes in both hot and cold can intensify their color palette.
I'm pleased to say that this year the sunshine yellow daffodils are not the only March performers strutting their stuff in my backyard. They were upstaged by pots full of spectacular succulent color.
- Author: Betty Homer
Bouquets to Art @ the de Young Museum In SF - limited time only from March 14, 2017 to March 19, 2017
There is a very short-lived exhibit called "Bouquets to Art" at the de Young Museum in SF which runs from March 14, 2017 to March 19, 2017 (I assume short-lived because the exhibit can only last as long as the cut flowers do). This exhibit has been held annually for at least 32 years and is intended to be a fundraiser to support the de Young's special exhibits, conservation projects, and educational programs. Although I am unable to attend this year's exhibit, I have attended this event in the past and found it to be enjoyable. Well-known floral designers create elaborate interpretations of paintings that are part of the de Young's permanent collection (paintings mostly depicting flowers) by arranging flowers in such a way to evoke and bring art to life. In addition to the exhibit, there are lectures ranging on a wide variety of topics related to flora and fauna (note that some have already sold out), which are as follows:
Tuesday, March 14th, 2:00 pm
Textural Woodlands and Botanical Haute Couture
Lecture and floral demonstration by Françoise Weeks
Wednesday, March 15th, 10:00 am
A Passion for Monet
Lecture by Elizabeth Murray
Wednesday, March 15th, 2:00 pm
From Ballet to Blooms
Lecture and floral demonstration by Mark Welford and Stephen Wicks, Bloomsbury Flowers
Thursday, March 16th, 10:00 am
Cultivating a Natural Aesthetic-- Lush, Loose, Organic Spring Bouquets
Lecture and floral demonstration by Ariella Chezar, Ariella Flowers
Thursday, March 16th, 2:00 pm
Transforming Spaces: Lessons from a Dream-maker Event Planner
Lecture by J. Riccardo Benavides, Ideas Event Styling
Ticket prices are as follows:
Seniors 65+: $20
Youth 6-17: $10
Children 5 and Under: Free
For more information, please see: https://deyoung.famsf.org/bouquets-art-2017