Archive for May, 2011


Enjoy Today’s Holiday plus June Fun

May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day! Put out the flag, have a BBQ, enjoy family and friends in the garden, then check out June events for more fun in the weeks to come.


Soulful Plotting

May 27, 2011


A modified leaf, with or without a stem, that’s usually located at the base of a flower. Often confused with the flower itself, fruit(s), or a cluster of flowers such as Poinsettia and Bougainvillea that are actually bracts surrounding the tiny central flowers.


2011 First Harvest

May 27, 2011

Yum! Today, I ate my first tomato of the season. Sorry there’s no photo to show you the little beauty, but I couldn’t wait to get it into my mouth.


Container Gardening Part III: Plant Selection and Growing Tips

May 25, 2011 Registered & Protected


  • If recycling old containers clean thoroughly with 1-part bleach to 3-parts water.
  • When reusing an oversized pot, place a thick layer of vermiculite, perlite, or Styrofoam at the bottom before filling with potting mix. This will reduce weight and improve drainage.
  • Know how much exposure the area receives and choose plants accordingly.
  • Not all perennials, fruit trees, and vegetables do well in containers. Read plant tags or ask for assistance.


  • When putting more than one variety per pot, select plants with the same sun and water requirements.
  • For a stately look, surround a single shrub or tall plant with colorful flowers.
  • Blooming vines create an impressive cascading display.
  • In shady areas use bright flowers, variegated leaves, and striking foliage and texture that will show off against a dark glazed ceramic pot.
  • A bowl of succulents requires little water and fertilizer, and adds smooth texture to sunny spots on tabletops. But most succulents need protection from winter weather.
  • Grow a salad container off the kitchen in a sunny place filled with sage, sweet marjoram, patio tomato, nasturtiums, Italian parsley, and basil.
  • Anchor a bench with LARGE, stately containers and colorful plants.
  • If you’re less inclined to water regularly, go with drought-tolerant plants, moisture control potting mix, a timer, and drip line.

Planting and Care:

  • A good potting mix is key to healthy, happy plants. Don’t go the cheap route when it comes to soil.
  • Leave two – three inches from the top of the pot to hold water. This will keep water from running off the soil before penetrating the roots.
  • After you’ve planted, sprinkle in a time-release fertilizer according to package instructions or feed every two – three weeks with a liquid or granular fertilizer. Always follow label instructions.
  • A soaker ring connected to a water line provides even, reliable watering. Check the emitters periodically for clogging.
  • Deadhead faded flowers for continuous performance.
  • Water according to the plants’ needs.

© Copyright Dianne Marie Andre


Container Gardening Part II: Shopping Guidelines

May 23, 2011 Registered & Protected

In Container Gardening Part I: Available Choices, I shared the types of pots offered. Here are some helpful tips to consider before you go shopping:

Size:  Roots need air circulation and plenty of soil for adequate root growth. Annuals don’t need as much soil as perennials but all plants need plenty of oxygen. Vigorous growers require repotting more often but don’t overwhelm plants in a huge pot. It will look unbalanced. A reputable nursery person can help you pick the right size for your plants.

Drainage:  All planters must have drainage holes. Even if you are putting a potted plant with holes inside a decorative planter don’t let it sit in the accumulated water at the bottom. Place an inch of gravel at the bottom of the decorative planter so the inserted pot sits above the water. Empty the water as needed.

Weight:  Consider the heaviness. Do you want it to be mobile? Will you be able to move it? Is there enough surface support for a single pot or companion pots if grouping several together?

Oxygen:  All containers should sit off the ground for airflow. Most nurseries sale pot feet or you can use brick or cut a couple of lengths out of scrape wood.

Durability:  If you’re buying large planters that are too heavy to move during the cold season, choose winter-proof pots such as wood, metal, or concrete. For regions with extreme heat, don’t use material that absorbs heat (dark metal and terra cotta) as it can burn the roots. Some glazed ceramic pots won’t hold up in regions where climates fluctuate from extreme high to low temperatures.

Color and Style:  Part of the fun of container gardening is choosing pottery. If you’re new to container gardening and unsure where to begin, here’s a list of questions to help you make the right choices.

  • Match pots to the style of your home. Is it ranch, Victorian, contemporary, bungalow, traditional, cottage, Spanish?
  • Are the exterior walls bright or drab, in need of color? If the walls are dark, a light color container will pop and vise versa.
  • Do you want to see your container garden from inside the house? If so, are the plants tall enough? Do you need hanging planters, window boxes, or potted vines with a trellis?
  • Is there a nearby faucet and hose for easy watering or installing a drip line and timer?
  • Do you want to show off the pot, your green thumb, or both?
  • Do you want to create a bold statement, repeat a focal point throughout the garden or yard, or a warm welcome statement?
  • Do you want a succession of matching planters along a path?
  • When doing a grouping, do you prefer identical material or an eclectic flair?

Helpful Tips:

  • When considering color, remember that dark-colored pots will fade; some pots fade during the first season while others may last longer.
  • For container groupings use different heights and sizes of both planters and plants.
  • Water coming from the drainage holes can leave rust or water stains on concrete or wood surfaces. Put a tray under your elevated pot. Line window boxes with a good drip pan so water won’t run down the side of your walls and cause stains. Mount box so there’s a good gap for air circulation otherwise moisture will get trapped and cause rotting to windowsill or siding. © Copyright Dianne Marie Andre

Soulful Plotting

May 20, 2011


Buds, flowers, leaves or shoots growing from the same (single) node,

usually three or more. These leaves are not alternate nor opposite.


Container Gardening Part I: Available Choices

May 18, 2011 Registered & Protected

Container gardening gives one the opportunity to be creative with dazzling plant choices and seasonal themes. Potted annuals and perennials offer solutions to landscape problems such as bad soil, softening hardscape areas, adding color to drab walls, creating focal points, and bringing captivating scents and calm to boring town balconies. Containers give you the ability to move your plants around creating a fresh look. They can go in a sheltered area during winter months, and if you relocate, you can take your potted garden with you.

The choices for containers are many. Here are a few.

Glazed ceramic planters:  These add color and are made of stoneware. Ceramic planters come in several finishes, including crackled, drip, or multi-colored glaze patterns. Make sure it’s for outdoor, not indoor, use. The indoor glazed ceramic planters won’t hold up outside.

Resin and fiberglass:  These are available in a variety of colors and styles. They’re great for balconies and rooftops where weight is an important consideration.

Metal:  This includes zinc, stainless steel, copper, and wrought iron. If you like the patina look, copper is a good choice. Some metal pots are extremely heavy. If placing them on a wooden deck, porch, or steps make sure the surface can support the weight.

Plastic:  Although okay in a pinch, the cheap plastic pots look cheap and don’t last long. They tend to crack and break in harsh weather. Choose the longer-lasting thick plastic.

Terra Cotta:  Choose the handmade ones that are ½-inch to 1-inch thick for fewer chances of cracking and breakage. Terra cotta is porous, absorbs heat and dries the soil out faster requiring frequent watering.

Fiberglass:  More durable than plastic because fiberglass planters usually don’t crack or break. Another benefit is the light weight making them easy to move.

Concrete:  Although heavy in weight, concrete planters blend in well with existing concrete surfaces. Depending on the style, they can add elegance, old world character, or formality. The cheap concrete planters tend to crack. The higher-priced ones are worth the extra cost, especially if you’re going for the large sizes.

Wood:  These include cedar, redwood, teak, cypress, and pressure-treated wood. Redwood last the longest, stains well but doesn’t take paint, and turns silvery gray if not maintained. Cedar can be painted or stained and will last a long time if preserved. For a rustic look, choose pressure-treated wood. To help prevent rotting of any wooden planter, brush on a wood preservative inside and out, line with heavy plastic or set potted plants inside.

Recycled Items:  Antiques, collectables, and quirky objects make wonderful containers and great conversation pieces. Take care to protect them from rotting or rusting out. The best way to do this is to line the inside with heavy plastic and set potted plants inside. You can even recycle any accumulated water in the bottom to water the plant. © Copyright Dianne Marie Andre


Considering Tree Rights

May 16, 2011

In the 1800s, Professor W.H. Jackson so loved his white oak that he deeded the surrounding eight-foot diameter ground to the oak. Strong winds forced the 400-year-old oak over in 1946 (some articles say 1952). Local residents planted a descendant acorn and then protected it with granite posts linked together with chains. Jackson’s land deed inscribed on a stone slab reads:

For and in consideration of the great love I bear this tree and the great desire I have for its protection for all time, I convey entire possession of itself and all land within eight feet of the tree on all sides. — William H. Jackson

To this day, nobody owns the descendant but the oak itself.

˜ ˜ ˜ ˜ ˜

Although my husband and I own the private road and the oaks on the opposite side of the utility lines, it’s unlikely that we could have legally won a case against PG&E to save our trees. Perhaps a land deed would protect the rest of them from this:



Soulful Plotting

May 13, 2011


Plants with hard, tough tissues (stems), oftentimes unsightly, as part of the structural support. Often the main stems and large roots are woody and the other stems are softer tissue. Most woody plants are perennials and include deciduous trees and shrubs, evergreen trees and shrubs, woody vines and ground cover.


News from Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum

May 12, 2011

Below are some additional May events:

May 14, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.:  End-of-Season Clearance  

It’s not too late to get some beautiful plants and find some great bargains at the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum end-of-season clearance plant sale! Best prices of the season on great plants, including Arboretum All-Stars. Click here for a plant list showing which plants have been discounted.

The Botanical Conservatory will have a variety of exotic and indoor plants for sale, and the Environmental Horticulture Club will be there selling annuals and starts for summer vegetable gardens.

Anyone can join the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum at the door and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a free plant. Davis Botanical Society members also get the discount. Arboretum Teaching Nursery

May 12-15 and May 19-22:  The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged Davis Shakespeare Ensemble 

Thursday-Sunday, 8 p.m. and Sunday, 2 p.m.

Arboretum Gazebo, Garrod Drive, UC Davis

$12/Students $8/Children $5/12 and under

Enjoy an irreverent, fast-paced romp through the Bard’s 37 plays performed by the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble. This hilarious lampoon of Shakespeare’s comedies, histories, and tragedies will leave you breathless with laughter! To reserve tickets, e-mail or visit

May 15, 2-4 p.m.:  Storytime Through the Seasons

Los Colores de la Primavera/The Colors of Spring

Wyatt Deck, Old Davis Road 

Discover Latin American culture and the colors of spring in a free outdoor reading event for children and families. Join us for traditional stories, games, crafts, and more. All ages are welcome. Sponsored by the Arboretum Ambassadors with a grant from Target.

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