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


Soulful Plotting: Garden Terms

October 14, 2011


Brown, rough areas on the skins of fruits and tubers of potatoes that result from abnormal production of cork tissue. Caused by disease, insects, or injury, or may be a natural varietal characteristic.


Plant Division: why, when and which perennials to divide

October 12, 2011

In addition to spring, fall is one of the best times to dig, divide, and replant crowded perennials. Signs of stress that a plant is in need of division include:

  • Decline in flower performance and size
  • Congested clump or overcrowded roots.
  • Dead center leaving a hole with growth around the outer edges

Dividing will rejuvenate the parent plant, deliver propagation, and eliminate crowding among plants. It’s best to divide after flowering. Before dividing perennials, decide when (see list below) and where to transplant the seedlings. Consider water output, soil type and drainage, light exposure, and compatibility with new or existing neighboring perennials. Water-loving plants won’t survive in a bed alongside drought plants with little irrigation. Prepare the bed by weeding and adding needed amendments.

If you don’t have room in the landscape for transplants, pot them up for holiday gifts in attractive containers with eye-catching labels detailing plant information.

Divide in fall:

Name Special Note
Arum (Arum italicum)
Canna (Canna spp.)  
Foxtail lilies (Eremurus spp.)  
Iris (Iris spp.)  
Moss pink (Phlox subulata)  
Peonies (Paeonia cvs.)  
Poppy (Papaver spp.) Use root cuttings or dormant plants.
Siberian iris (Iris sibirica)  
Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)  

Plants to divide in spring

Plant Name Special Note
Anemone (Anemone × hybrida)
Aster (Aster spp.) Discard old clump
Bleeding heart (Dicentra spp.) After flowering. Every four years sow seeds in fall.
Caladium (Caladium spp.)  
Calla lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica)  
Catmint (Nepeta × faassenii) Discard old clumps.
Dahlia (Dahlia spp.) Store clumps over winter.
Doll’s eyes (Actaea pachypoda)  
Delphinium (Delphinium ssp.)
Elephant ear (Alocasia spp.)  
Gayfeather (Liatris spicata)
Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium spp.) Spring or summer
Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) Seedlings take several years to flower. Mulch in fall.
Primrose (Primula spp.)
Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum)  
Wild ginger (Asarum europaeum)  

Divide in spring or early fall:

Botanical Name Special Note
African lily (Agapanthus cvs.)
Amsonia (Amsonia spp.)
Astilbe (Astilbe spp.)
Bear’s breeches (Acanthus spinosus)
Bee balm (Monarda didyma)
Bellflower (Campanula spp.)
Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia)
Big bluestem grass (Andropogon gerardii)
Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.)
Blanket flower (Gaillardia spp.)
Blood grass (Imperata cylindrica)
Bugleweed (Ajuga reptans)
Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Columbine (Aquilegia spp.)
Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
Coral bell (Heuchera spp.)
Corydalis (Corydalis lutea)
Cranesbill (Geranium spp.)
Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia)
Daisy (Leucanthemum × superbum)
Daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
Deadnettle (Lamium maculatum)
Epimedium (Epimedium spp.)
Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica)
Forest grass (Hakenochloa macra)
Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides)
Garden phlox (Phlox paniculata)
Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri)
Goatsbeard (Aruncus dioicus)
Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
Gunnera (Gunnera manicata)
Hosta (Hosta spp.)
Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’)
Jerusalem sage (Phlomis russeliana)
Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium maculatum)
Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina)
Lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Ligularia (Ligularia dentata)
Lilyturf (Liriope spicata)
Male fern (Dryopteris filix-mas)
Masterwort (Astrantia major)
Meadowsweets (Filipendula spp.)
Penstemon (Penstemon spp.)
Perennial sage (Salvia × superba)
Pinks (Dianthus plumarius)
Pulmonaria (Pulmonaria spp.)
Pussytoes (Antennaria dioica)
Red hot pokers (Knifophia spp.)
Rodgersia (Rodgersia pinnata)
Sea thrift (Armeria maritima)
Sedge (Carex morrowii)
Silver grasses (Miscanthus spp.)
Snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum)
Speedwell (Veronica spicata)
Spurge (Euphorbia myrsinites)
Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile)
Switch grass (Panicum virgatum)
Tickseed (Coreopsis verticillata)
Turtlehead (Chelone glabra)
Violets, pansies (Viola spp.)
Wild indigo (Baptisia australis)
Wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

50 Plus: Flowering Fall Annuals for the Garden

October 10, 2011

It’s time for color. And lots of it. Grey skies and short days are oftentimes depressing. Color in the landscape  can change how one feels. Beauty, as scientists have proven, draws people to react with a smile. Hearts skip a beat and spirits rejuvenate.

Plant annual seedlings now, before the ground gets too cold and hard, in areas where color is most visible from inside the house, alongside paths and the driveway. Below is a list of colorful annuals to help rejuvenate landscapes, minds, and spirits.

Please note that availability of the following autumn annuals in local nurseries will vary. Depending on the zone and micoclimate, many of these will continue through winter.

ES – F:  Early summer to fall                 LS – F:  Late summer to fall

White flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time Zone
Ageratum Houstonianum ‘Summer Snow’ Flossflower ES – Fall All
Antirrhinum Majus “White Sonnet’ Snapdragon ES – Fall All
Asclepias Fruticosa Milkweed LS – F 14-24
Cobaea Scandens ‘Alba’ Cup-and-saucer Vine ES – F All
Helianthus Annus ‘Italian White’ Sunflower LS – F All
Iberis Odorata Candytuft ES – F All
Nicotiana Sylvestris Flowering Tobacco ES – F All

Yellow flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time Zone
Gazania Linearis Gazania LS – F 8-24
Mentzelia Decapetala Mentzelia LS – F All
Mentzelia Laevicaulis Mentzelia LS – F All
Oenothera Biennis Evening Primrose ES – F All
Oenothera Erythrosepala ‘Tina James’ Evening Primrose ES – F All
Sanvitalia Procumbens ‘Gold Braid’ Creeping Zinnia ES – F All
Tagetes Erecta ‘Primrose Lady’ Marigold ES – F All
Tropaeolum Peregrinum Nasturtium LS – F All

Orange flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time  
Eschscholzia Californica ‘Aurantiaca’ California Poppy ES – F All
Ipomoea Quamoclit Cypress Vine, Star Glory LS – F All
Sanvitalia Procumbens ‘Mandarin Orange’ Creeping Zinnia ES – F All
Zinnia Angustifolia Narrow Leaf Zinnia ES – F All

Red flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time  
Amaranthus Caudatus Amaranth LS – F All
Cleome Hasslerana ‘Cherry Queen’ Spider Flower ES – F All
Cuphea Ignea Cigar Plant ES – F 16-17, 21-24
Ipomoea Nil ‘Scarlet O’Hara’ Morning Glory LS – F All
Salvia Coccinea ‘Lady In Red’ Texas Sage ES – F 14-24
Zinnia Elegans ‘Big Red’ Common Zinnia ES – F All

Pink flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time Zone
Catharanthus Roseus ‘Tropicana’ Periwinkle ES – F All
Celosia Cristata ‘Pink Tassles’ Cockscomb LS – F 8-14, 18-19
Cleome Hasslerana ‘Pink Queen’ Spider Flower ES – F All
Diascia Barberae ‘Pink Queen’ Twinspur ES – F All

Purple flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time Zone
Antirrhinum Majus Snapdragon ES – F All
Cobaea Scandens Cup-and-saucer Vine ES – F All
Ocimum Basilicum ‘Dark Opal’ Sweet Basil LS – F All
Pennisetum Setaceum ‘Rubrum’ Purple Fountain Grass LS – F 8-24
Salvia Splendens ‘Laser Purple’ Scarlet Sage ES – F All
Verbena Bonariensis Vervain ES – F 8-24

Blue flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time Zone
Ageratum Houstonianum ‘Blue Horizon’ Flossflower ES – F All
Cynoglossum Amabile Chinese Forget-me-not ES – F All
Salvia Farinacea ‘Victoria’ Mealycup Sage ES – F All

Mixed flowering annuals:

Botanical Name Common Name Bloom Time Zone
Alcea Rosea ‘Pinafore Mixed’ Hollyhock LS – F All
Centaurea Cyanus Bachelor’s Button, Cornflower ES – F All
Coreopsis Tinctoria Calliopsis, Tickseed ES – F All
Gomphrena Globosa Globe Amaranth ES – F All
Gypsophila Elegans Baby’s Breath ES – F All
Lobularia Maritima Sweet Allysum ES – F All
Mirabilis Jalapa Four-O-Clock ES – F 4-24
Nemesia Strumosa ‘Cardinal Mixed’ Nemesia ES – F 15-17, 21-24
Nicotiana Alata ‘Nikki’ Jasmine Tobacco ES – F All
Pelargonium Peltatum Ivy Geranium ES – F 8-9, 12-24
Salpiglossis Sinuata ‘Bolero’ Painted Tongue ES – F All
Xeranthemum Annuum Everlasting LS – F All
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