Archive for April, 2010


The Lure of Fallen Blossoms

April 29, 2010

It rained the last two days, knocking most of the Locust tree blossoms to the ground. Many people detest this kind of mess in their yard, but I think the snow-like appearance is delightful. Every time I walk around the perennial garden, it puts a smile on my face. There’s no explanation for this ticklish reaction. It’s just one of nature’s buoyant gifts that I enjoy.

The Locust tree (Robinia pseudo-acacia) was here long before me and I have loved it since moving on the property. The pinnately compound leaves produce a lovely feather influence while the flower clusters fill the air with a fragrance I can’t identify. Nor do I try with the pollen allergies that I have. Because of the thorny branches, it’s best to stay out of this tree. Still, the Locust tree is a nice delicate touch next to the strong oak. Certainly, the blossoms on the ground are less of a burden than the dreaded acorns.


Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre


Budding Garden Thoughts

April 28, 2010 Registered & Protected

“Gardening is an extension of one’s personality.

Show it off in a big way!”

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre


Give and Take Continues . . .

April 27, 2010

It’s official. My perennial garden is black. That’s right, black, thanks to Sue Chinchiolo’s excess mulch. 

Sue’s landscape will be one of six gardens featured in the San Joaquin County Master Gardeners’ Garden Tour, May 2. (Click on Events for details.) Although Sue keeps her yard exceptionally manicured, there are always last-minute details or incomplete projects to finish, so I offered to help. 

Sue emailed scheduled days to me from which to choose. When I read that three other friends (whom I haven’t seen in some time) would be helping on Friday, I immediately chose the same day. 

Julie, Sharon, and Nancy didn’t know I would be helping. After they arrived, we shared hugs, big smiles, and happy greetings. Then we dug in, literally, into four yards of black mulch. 

For three hours, we top-dressed Sue’s front and back beds. Stepping back to view our work, we were satisfied. Sue was especially pleased. The rich black carpet emphasized the swath of color and texture in her beautiful beds. However, we only used half of the mulch. The nurseryman over estimated! 

Left to right: Sharon McDonald, Sue Chinchiolo, Nancy Rubey, Julie Moorehouse


Eager to get the mulch out of her driveway, and soon, Sue offered it to us. Sharon made a couple of calls and was waiting to hear back when I went home. Then, a couple of days later Sue sent an email offering the mulch to me. I was thrilled to have it. That evening, Joe, and I scooped it up shovel-full-by-shovel-full into the back of his truck, and then unloaded it, shovel-full-by-shovel-full, at the base of the garden steps. 

Yesterday morning, I removed the hay used in my perennial beds as mulch. The hay was molding in our barn and since buying mulch was out of the question this year, free hay was the next best material to retain moisture. Once I removed the hay, I hauled shovel-full-by-shovel-full into the garden. There was enough mulch to cover most of the main beds. 

Mulch was not on my wish list mentioned a few weeks back. I thought it too costly. So this unexpected gift is even more astounding. When I thought I was going to aid a friend, Sue ended up helping me. 

Suggestion:  Don’t use black mulch in vegetable beds. It’s chemically treated and spray painted. 


Above:  just one corner of  what you will see on the garden tour at Sue Chinchiolo’s home.  

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre


Queen of Quiche the Second

April 25, 2010

It’s asparagus season and my husband came home from work with a large bag. I decided to make Judy Crosby’s Asparagus Quiche (see Feature Writer) and purchased the ingredients the following day. This was my first quiche   baking attempt. Joe calls it sissy food, thus my reason for delay in making this wonderful dish. Nevertheless, I love quiche (and asparagus) and I wanted to make it at least once before I die.

Judy’s recipe was quick and easy to mix. (An A+ in my kitchen.) Once prepared, I put it into a preheated oven, closed the oven door, and then walked away without setting the timer. Eventually, I realized this and started peering through the glass door every five minutes. Time seemed to stretch into the next century. The egg mixture swelled in the slowest of slow motions, similar to a budding flower caught on film by a talented National Geographic photographer.

Finally done, out from the oven it came. After it had slightly cooled, I took a bite of my first homemade quiche. It was excellent.


  • Botanical nameAsparagus officinalis.
  • Harvest time:  February through April
  • Select:  Tight-closed tips with firm, straight green stalks. Dull green indicates an old asparagus. For even cooking time chose uniform stalk thickness.
  • Varieties:  Green, purple, violet, and wild.
  • Prep:  Refrigerate unwashed until you’re ready to cook, with ends trimmed and placed in an inch of water in a jar. Cover with plastic wrap or plastic bag. Before cooking, snap off ends and wash. Depending on your preference, some like to peel the lower stalks before cooking
  • Nutritional Value:  go to  (This is a wonderful source.)

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre


Budding Garden Thoughts

April 23, 2010 Registered & Protected


“Blunders in the garden

are similar to those in life . . .

both connect you to yourself.”

Copyright © 2010 Dianne Marie Andre 


Changing Colors

April 22, 2010

I’ve heard that the Indians believed if acorns fell early—in July—it was a sure sign of a wet winter. Well, guess what? My oak tree started dropping acorns last July, and we’ve had a wet winter. What I can’t explain, after a recent rain, is how the light cast a lilac hue on brown dried-up leaves in the photo above. It looks as if I digitally colorized it, but I didn’t. Honest!  (I can explain why it’s out of focus–I’m an amateur photographer.)

Another mystery is the 80-degree weather we had last Sunday and rain two days later. In fact, it poured. Spring and the hope of summer had dissipated behind gray clouds. Still, I wasn’t about to wheel the firewood back up the hill to the house. I wasn’t about to run outside to cover the patio furniture. Lazy, I know.

Aware that summer would come, I did enjoy the changing light of day, the cast of hues on leaves, a cup of hot chocolate, and a chance to take a break to meet with friends in town (more on that later).


Child’s Day

April 20, 2010

Editor-in-Chief Phyllis Hoffman Depiano of Victoria magazine wrote in the May/June issue about a fantastic holiday she and a friend created when their children were growing up, Child’s Day.

It all came about when Phyllis’ six-year-old twin sons noticed that the calendar prompts the world to celebrate moms and dads, and grandparents, but not children.

They were right!

We also honor teachers, secretaries, and bosses. So, why don’t we hold a yearly observance for the children in our lives?


Phyllis and her friend chose June 30. 

Every year these two Moms had set this date aside to mark their childrens’ importance. An outing, games, a bag full of goodies and trinkets was all it took. How special they must have felt on Child’s Day . . .  and for how Phyllis listened to her little boys and took action in a way that said I heard you. I love you. Now that’s worth celebrating.

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