Archive for October, 2011


The Halloween Apple

October 31, 2011 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

 A Halloween tradition turns into a lifelong joy – cherishing the sweet natural flavor of a juicy apple. As a child, on Halloween I anxiously awaited nightfall. As soon as porch lights glowed, armed with a large grocery sack, I ventured out to trick or treat. Customary Halloween treats included a variety of candies, gums and sticky popcorn balls wrapped in waxed paper. Sometimes I was even lucky enough to discover a wheat head penny or a buffalo nickel in the bottom of my sack.

My first stop was Mrs. Campbell’s. Every year I lined up with other kids in our neighbor’s front room where she sat in a wheelchair. She held a large crystal bowl on her lap filled with big five-cent candy bars. I remember as many as a dozen masked trick or treaters standing in a semi-circle while Mrs. Campbell tried to guess our names. After several unsuccessful attempts, Mrs. Campbell threw her hands up in the air, laughed and said, “I give up.” Then we filed out selecting our candy bar on the way out. If we lingered too long , she helped us make a decision.  “Take two!”

My piano teacher lived in the next house and he too invited us in. Sometimes we had to wait for the next bunch of kids to come so there would be enough to encircle his grand piano. If you had been to the piano teacher’s house before, you knew that when he sat down at the piano bench and touched the keys, it was our cue to start singing. After three or four songs including Row, Row, Row Your Boat and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, the piano teacher, stood up and dropped a shiny red apple into each bag.

After running up and down the block, ringing doorbells and chanting “trick or treat,” I grew increasingly thirsty and tired. It was time to head for home. Once inside, I flopped down on the living room rug, where I dumped my loot onto an open piece of newspaper.

Now it was time to separate the wheat from chaff. As my apple rolled across the floor, I quickly picked it up and put it in the discard pile, where the less favored treats met a fateful end. Along with the apple were pieces of taffy, Black Jack Gum, red hots and jaw breakers, while the chocolate ‘keep pile’ grew with Three Musketeers, Mounds, Almond Joys and Hershey Bars. For the next couple of weeks, every night before bed, my mother gave me a coveted piece of my Halloween spoils.

The signal that my Halloween treats were depleted, was the night I got the apple my piano teacher dropped into my sack. I must admit, it was a welcome relief from my recent Halloween candy sugar high. The cool, refreshing, natural sweetness of a simple apple, never tasted so good. To this day, apples remain my favorite fruit. Copyright 2011 Bernadine Chapman-Cruz


Soulful Plotting: Garden Term of the Week

October 28, 2011


Premature formation of flower and seedstalk usually in biennial crops during the first year of growth and in crops during a heat wave.


2011 November Events

October 26, 2011

Although October days are ending there are lots to do in November. Check out the family activities, workshops and more now listed under ‘Events’ on the sidebar.


Butterfly-Attracting Plants

October 24, 2011

If you’re shopping for end-season bargains to attract butterflies next spring through fall, here are a few perennials to consider:

  • Aster/Michaelmas Daisy (Aster spp.)
  • Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
  • Black-eye Susan (Rudbeckia spp.)
  • Butterly bush (Buddleia spp.)
  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
  • Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata)
  • Catnip (Nepeta mussinii)
  • Ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Coreposis (Coreopsis spp.)
  • Gaillardia/Blanket flower (Gaillardia grandifola)
  • Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
  • Liatris (Liatris spp.)
  • Phlox(Phlosx spp.)
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
  • Scabiosa (Scabiosa atropurpurea)
  • Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina)

Most of these nectar plants grow well in California. For more choices within your zone, check with a local nursery or master gardener office.


Soulful Plotting: Garden Terms

October 21, 2011


A single natural soil aggregate such as crumb, prism, or granule.


Slanted Light

October 19, 2011

Where trees grow there are leaves to rake,

Limbs to trim, debris to compost,

And walks to take among slanted light.

Copyright © 2011 Dianne Marie Andre

… … …

Silver Maple Tree (in photo above) Facts:

  • Latin name: Acer saccharinum L.
  • Grows in zones 3 – 9, sun to partial shade.
  • Deciduous. Broad-leafed. Leaves are green on the top and silver underneath.
  • Fast growing with a long lifespan (130 years or more).
  • Thrive in poor soil conditions.
  • Invasive root that easily penetrate poor soil and can break sidewalks and house foundations.

Sun Ray Facts:

  • Sun rays are actually white.
  • As rays travel through the atmosphere, it removes the many blue hues thereby leaving reds, yellows, and oranges. By the time the rays reach human visibility they are processed as yellow. 

Alden Lane Nursery

October 17, 2011

Alden Lane Nursery in Livermore, California, owned by Jacquie Williams-Courtright, is a popular crowd pleaser where novice and experienced gardeners shop for an umbrella of plants and garden accessories. There are so many garden choices and events at Alden Lane Nursery it’s hard to say who benefits most, home gardeners, professional landscapers, or children.

Crowd-pleasing facets include a two-story French country-style breezeway and gift shop. Ancient, heritage valley oaks throughout a grand circular area displaying hundreds of ornamental plants, fruit trees, vegetables, water-garden plants, decorative art, demonstration gardens, pottery, patio furniture, and more.

Throughout the year, Alden Lane Nursery is host to many community events and fun, educational clinics geared toward all ages. Folks like Quilter and Author Margaret J. Miller from Bremerton, Washington, display beautiful handiwork at the nursery’s ‘Quilting in the Garden’ affair. Other events include a Daffodil Show, Open Heart Kitchen, Orchids under the Oaks, Art under the Oaks, summertime Kids Club, County Fair Amateur Gardening Competition, Pumpkin Carving Fun, Beekeeping classes, plant and landscape workshops, seminars and much more.

Before winter sets in, and while fall colors are at their peak, visit Alden Land Nursery. For current workshops and events go to

Alden Lane Nursery is located at 981 Alden Lane, Livermore, CA. Phone:  925- 447-0280

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