Archive for February, 2012


2012 Spring Events are Here

February 27, 2012

When March arrives, I get excited because nature and garden events are in full swing in and around my neighborhood.

Every spring there is someplace new to discover, things to learn, and be inspired by.

This year, I just learned about the beautiful wildflower tour at North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, one hour north of Sacramento. Tours run March through April, and fill up fast. If you’re interested, click on the link above or call 916-358-2869.

Click here for other March events.

Note:  The above photo was taken near my home.


Garden Tips Hints and Cool Things

February 24, 2012


To keep insecticides from going into the soil, cut old garden hoses into 24-inch lengths. Close off one end by stuffing paper into the opening. Then slip an old funnel or make one out of paper into the other end and carefully fill leaving room for insects to crawl inside. To prevent pets and children from playing with them, secure with U-shaped landscape anchoring pins. To avoid spillage, remove the stuffed paper after laying the hose in the desired area. Before removing the hoses, keep in a horizontal position and close off each end so the dead bugs and insecticide won’t spill out before properly discarding.

Note:  Always:  1) wear gloves;  2) write ‘poison’ on hose lengths and on the old funnel. When not in use, store out of children’s reach; 3) properly discard paper funnel.


To remove garden stains from hands add a teaspoon of sugar to soapy water before washing.


The largest rose in the world, planted in 1855 at the Rose Tree Inn, Tombstone, Arizona, covers over 8,000 square feet on a very large trellis.


Last Frost Date and Why it Matters

February 22, 2012

With the onset of spring-like weather, it is tempting to put away frost cloths and to plant vegetation and sow seeds outdoors. But, don’t let the sunshine, green field grasses, and emerging buds fool you. Frost and frozen ground can kill or damage plants and seeds leaving you frustrated, discouraged, and broke.

If you are new to gardening or have recently moved, ask your local Master Gardener Chapter or professional nursery person for your zone’s last frost date. They can also tell you what zone you live in or plug in your zip code here to find out. But remember there is more than one zone system. Guest writer and master gardener Robin Ivanoff explains here.


The Beauty of Primroses

February 20, 2012

The beauty of primroses is they bloom from winter to mid-spring and when the sky is grey you are sure to have hues of sunshine in the landscape.

Although it is best to plant primroses in autumn to establish good root development, they are usually available in six packs fall through springtime. The white primroses above were planted a little over a week ago and the pink ones are two years old returning from their slumber.


  • Grow in zones 1-10, 12-24 in part sun, preferably morning sun.
  • Are considered a perennial that dies back in hot weather.
  • Are used as color spot in beds, borders, containers, and for naturalizing areas.
  • Can be grown from seed indoors then transplanted.
  • Prefer well-drained soil in amended organic matter. Poor drainage will cause crown and root rot. Give Feed just before blooming with a light organic fertilize.
  • Remove spent blooms and dead leaves.
  • Water during summer even after they die back with little water come fall. If you like, transplant to a cool dry place, out of sight, during hot months then re-transplant in autumn.

Garden Tips Hints and Cool Things

February 17, 2012

A Cool Thing

One of my photographs is being debuted on Nancy F.’s webpage,

Eye Candy of Another Kind on Pinterest.

Thanks Nancy for pinning my photo on your wall!


February is the month to

1) fertilize asparagus and strawberries;

2) finish pruning roses;

3) prune Crepe Myrtles


Art, Magnolia and Flowering Plum Trees

February 15, 2012

A recent day trip to de Young Fine Arts Museum in San Francisco not only gave me an opportunity to look upon exclusive paintings by Venice artists from the 1400 and 1500s, but also splashes of spring blooms gracing the de Young courtyard and city sidewalks.

I wish I could share some photos of the collection by Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Mantegna and more, but the museum did not allow cameras with this showing, which ended last Sunday. I can tell you that it was an awesome feeling to stand before the works of artists from the Renaissance-era, paintings 500-plus-years-old.

As if the renaissance collection of Venice wasn’t enough, this beautiful oil on canvas, Tulip Culture, 1889, by George Hitchcock (1850-1913) made my day. (The museum permitted cameras in this area of the gallery and my artist and master gardener friend, Em Rojas, took this photograph.) I would love to be the woman in this painting!

Leaving de Young Museum, what a treat it was to walk through the courtyard with budding Magnolia (Magnoliaceae) trees and along the sidewalk under the flowering plum blossoms—a perfect ending to a fun day in the city with renaissance artists, a splash of spring, and great company.

FYI:  San Francisco Botanical Garden’s rare and historic magnolia collection is now blooming! A much-anticipated, not-to-be-missed event, the show goes on from mid-February to mid-March, though some start blooming in late December and last into May.–S.F. Botanical Garden


Hearts for Your Table and Your Tummy

February 13, 2012 Registered & Protected

By Bernadine Chapman-Cruz

Valentine’s Day is associated with the conventional cupids, flowers, candy and hearts. Keep the loving feeling all month long with a ‘hearts at the table’ theme incorporated into simple imaginative foods and heart themed table settings.  A little thought and a bit of creativity can bring a special kind of love to your table. Inexpensive novelty décor tableware can be purchased for pennies on the dollar during  the frenzy of the Valentine’s Day rush. Discount stores also offer a variety of suitable themed merchandise. Table covers, napkins, plates and decorative accessories, combined with whimsical creative homemade dishes will become the memories that seal family traditions for years to come. Bring a special kind of love to mealtime, one that’s guaranteed to warm the tummy and the heart.


Cut French toast into heart shapes and serve with berry syrup and strawberries

Serve an egg in a basket – also known as, hen in a nest, chicken egg nest, sunshine toast, moon egg or  cowboy egg.  Prepare bread by cutting out a hole with a large heart shaped cookie cutter before breaking egg into the center.

A bowl of oatmeal topped with a heart shaped dollop of strawberry jam


Heart shaped sandwich with cream cheese and strawberry jam filling

Steaming tomato soup with a heart shaped grilled cheese sandwich

Ambrosia, garnished with a maraschino cherry,  served in a heart shaped bowl

Molded heart shaped cottage cheese and strawberry salad

Appetizer:  Heart shaped pieces of cheese with assorted crackers

Entrée:  Baked chicken breast or pork chop with rice or baked potato, accompanied by salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing garnished with strawberries

Dessert:  vanilla ice cream drizzled with cherry cordial

Dinner can be served with wine atop fancy linens accompanied by candlelight

From my heart to yours – enjoy!

Easy Ambrosia Salad

1 can mandarin oranges – drained

1 can crushed pineapple – drained

1 cup miniature marshmallows

1 cup flaked coconut

1 cup sour cream

Mix all ingredients – refrigerate overnight

Bernadine Chapman-Cruz  Copyright 2012


Tips Hints and Cool Things: waterproof paper

February 10, 2012

Writing paper that sheds water and enables you to write in the rain!

Even though I’m not likely to garden in the rain, I couldn’t resist passing this ‘cool thing’ on to those involved in sports and other outdoor activities or employment where this innovative product could be useful.

It’s a cool thing!

Photos courtesy of Rite in the Rain


Seed Starting Guide

February 8, 2012

Recently, I came across a FREE, on-line seed-starting guide at Johnny’s Seeds. This is an awesome tool that I hope you will use. Although it’s not a complete list of vegetable and flower crops, it includes those most grown by home gardeners.

In order to explain a couple of things about the guide, I have posted part of it below:

  • Once you are at the link, enter the last estimated frost date in your area (where it says mm/dd/yyyy) and the dates following each crop will automatically  change accordingly. Is that cool or what!
  • In the cell where it says, “Safe time to set out plants (relative to frost-free date)”, the phrase ‘to set out’ simply means ‘hardening off’. This is a horticulture term for placing indoor seedlings outside during daylight to gradually make them more resistant to their new environmental conditions. If you are a gardener who doesn’t have the time or patience to do this and prefer transplanting seedlings directly into the soil, simply protect your tender plants from the hot afternoon sun with a cover cloth until they adjust to the climate.
Enter spring frost-free date (include year):  
Crop Number of weeks to start seeds before setting-out date When To start inside Setting-out date
From To Safe time to set out plants (relative to frost-free date) From To
Artichoke 8 19-Feb on frost-free date 15-Apr
Basil 6 11-Mar 1 week after 22-Apr
Beets* 4 to 6 19-Feb 4-Mar 2 weeks before 1-Apr
Broccoli 4 to 6 19-Feb 4-Mar 2 weeks before 1-Apr
Cabbage 4 to 6 5-Feb 18-Mar 4 weeks before 18-Mar 15-Apr

After you utilize Johnny’s Seeds’ seed-starting guide, check out their online catalog. I know several master gardeners who are pleased with their service and products. Have fun with both!


Plant Zones: A Simple Explanation

February 6, 2012 Registered & Protected

By Master Gardener Robin Ivanoff

“Hey, Baby, what’s your zone?”

No— not a bar pickup line!  This is a question plaguing gardeners every spring when new, tempting plants appear in the local nursery. 

Today, most plants have a convenient grow tag on or in the pot with them that gives specifics about light, water and fertilization.  That same tag usually  tells you the ideal planting zone— but unfortunately, there is more than one zone system that may be referenced on a grow tag.

In California and throughout the West, many nurseries utilize the Sunset climate zone system which divides up the west coast states into many more climate zones than does the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

Sunset’s climate zones consider the length of each area’s growing season, total rainfall and seasonal rain timing, winter low and summer high temperatures, plus wind and humidity. 

The USDA plant hardiness zones, recently updated, are based on average annual winter temperatures, organized into 10-degree Fahrenheit zones.

Once you know both your planting zones, you are ready to select some of those juicy new plants you’re considering.  Of course, if you’re still not sure, just ask your nursery plant person to help you select the right plants for your area.  When you know your zones, you’ll have better growing success In And Around The Garden.

Robin writes the ‘Master Gardener Minute’ on HomeTown radio show, KVGC 1340-AM, in Jackson, California. She is host of this educational gardening segment  along with Laura Clark, which airs at various times (and actually last longer than a minute) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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