- Author: Betty Homer
In a prior blog entry, I discussed how I had the pleasure of attending the annual mushroom camp this past January 2018, organized by the Sonoma County Mycological Association (SOMA). It was educational, fascinating, and delicious, and I will certainly attend again.
Mushrooms of the Redwood Coast: A Comprehensive Guide to the Fungi of Coastal Northern CaliforniaAug 9, 2016
California Mushrooms: The Comprehensive Identification Guide Hardcover – August 12, 2015
- Author: Melissa Sandoval
On as recent family vacation to “The Big Island” of Hawaii, I got to participate in one of the things I love most about travel; finding new plants, especially new blooming one's.
All of the following plants were seen on a short hike at Akaka Falls State Park outside of Hilo.
Musa ornate, or Banana tree, If you look closely at this picture you can see the baby bananas beginning to emerge.
Sanchezia nobilis (an invasive plant)
Etlingera, or Torch Ginger
So far, this area of “TBI” has been less affected by the current eruption of Kilauea. So glad we got our visit in before she decided to put on her dangerous but fascinating show.
- Author: Betty Homer
I reported in my last blog entry that in January 2018, I attended a mushroom camp in Occidental, California. There were many activities, one of which I will be discussing in this blog entry.
I opted to take a field trip to a mushroom farm in Mycopia located in Sebastopol, California, where we met one of the founders and managers of Mycopia (Mycopia also has a location in Scottsville, Michigan). For those unfamiliar with mushroom farms, a mushroom farm does not look like what we typically think of when we think of a “farm”—a mushroom farm looks more like a factory or warehouse with a sterile lab-like facility on-site connected to it.
Mycopia has been in business for decades and was founded by an immigrant from Hong Kong who noticed that there were no commercial growers of fresh shitake mushroom in the United States, so he decided to be one of the first, if not the first. The business has grown from there.
Mycopia only cultivates organic gourmet mushrooms. Such varieties currently include Alba Clamshell, Brown Clamshell, Forest Nameko, Trumpet Royale, Velvet Pioppini, Nebrodini Bianco, and Maitake Frondosa. They are all tasty, but their uses differ. Some are intended to be used in soups and broths (i.e., miso soup) while others, like the Trumpet Royale, is a very meaty mushroom, good for grilling or pan-frying and a great replacement for those who enjoy animal protein.
Mycopia is a hidden gem. Their products can be found at Whole Foods and at higher-end grocery stores. Best-kept secret: Mycopia offers a great program every Friday afternoon from 1-3 pm at their Sebastopol Farm where they sell their products directly to consumers at a greatly discounted price, subject to availability. This discount is not available any other time and they do not make any exceptions (understandably so, because it is a working farm).
For more information, please see https://www.mycopia.com/ and “like” their Facebook page to get updates on their sales, products, special events, mushroom articles, and recipes.
- Author: Erin Mahaney
While visiting family in Fredericksburg, Virginia, one chilly February, they took me to Chatham Manor, where they had raved about the gardens. Because it was February, there wasn't much to see but the structure of the dormant garden. It looked so promising, however, that I decided to plan a future visit for the spring or summer so that I could see the gardens at their full bloom. I finally made it back this May, and the gardens were well worth the wait.
Chatham Manor is part of the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. The historic Georgian manor and surrounding grounds has an interesting and complicated history, not the least of which includes its proximity to Civil War battles. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Clara Barton, and Walt Whitman all made it to Chatham Manor.
The restored colonial revival gardens date back to the 1920s. They were designed by one of America's most prominent female landscape architects, Ellen Biddle Shipman. She designed an intricate enclosed garden with walkways, statuary, trees, and parterre beds (individual planting beds bounded by clipped hedges then filled with plants). The National Park Service began to restore the 1920's garden in the 1980's. Today, the gardens are supported by the Friends of Chatham, who contract for a professional gardener with knowledge of historic gardens and who are attempting to maintain and enhance the gardens. I have to wonder what the gardens would look like without their support.
We arrived a little early for most of the roses, but we were treated to masses of peonies, columbines, and irises. While some of the garden beds were quite formal, it wasn't stuffy at all. Instead the overall impression was an intriguing mix of formality and lushness. One of my favorite locations was a garden wall with statuary and climbing roses. It was absolutely charming.
The grounds also include four trees, including two catalpa trees, which are referred to as “witness trees” because they date back to the Civil War. They are broken and gnarled, and they provide a somber reminder of the site's history.
As a side note, I liked one of the roses so much that I asked the Chatham gardener for the name. He didn't know it, but he was able to provide enough information to start the hunt. I then asked a fellow Master Gardener, who of course, knew the right person to ask with the Sacramento City Rose Garden, and I had my answer within hours even though I was thousands of miles away. Master Gardeners are terrific sources of information!
Of course, we can't travel to every historic garden across the United States, as much as we may wish we could. But my visits to Chatham made me realize how important volunteers – including gardeners – are to the restoration and maintenance of such sites. Even on a smaller scale – a school garden in Benicia or a civic garden in Fairfield – gardeners can make a difference!
- Author: Mike Gunther