Archive for December, 2013


No Words Friday

December 27, 2013



A Christmas Wish

December 23, 2013

DSC09846_edited-2 copyA Merry Christmas wish

to you, my friends, and family,

and a special thank you to those

of you who leave a comment to let me know

your spirit had been lifted,

or your mind was filled with something new.

I wish everyone health, peace, and sun-filled days,

gardening power, sweet flowers,

and a boundless harvest

in every aspect of your life.

God Bless you,


Make sure to follow me on


What Everybody Needs

December 21, 2013

Everybody needs a gift:

First for the rapture of surprise,

Then for the LOVE from which it came.

©Dianne Marie Andre



A Special Christmas Exhibit You’ve Got to See!

December 19, 2013

Photo by Lauren Brunsvik

Are you looking for something different and special to do with the whole family before Christmas?

Visit The Conservatory of Flowers Special Exhibit in San Francisco and walk among hundreds of stunning butterflies fluttering among an intimate indoor cottage garden with beautiful poinsettias.

There are more than 20 colorful butterfly species, including the Zebra Longwing shown in above photo, and giant moths you won’t want to miss. Take your camera!

Conservatory of Flowers
Golden Gate Park
100 John F. Kennedy Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Hours of Operations
Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 4:30pm (Last entry is at 4pm).
Monday: Closed, except Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Please note that on Sundays and all major holidays, Golden Gate Park closes many of its roads to all vehicle traffic.
Contact Information:  415-831-2090
If your inquiry does not seem to fall into a specific department, email us at:
See more at:

100 Christmas Garden Gift Ideas

December 17, 2013

eight days cmas_edited-1

Short on cash? Consider printing attractive certificates offering your services to: 

  1. Plant
  2. Weed
  3. Stake
  4. Rake and bag
  5. Spread mulch
  6. Prune and clean
  7. Clean greenhouse
  8. Repair raised bed
  9. Clean garden tools
  10. Sharpen garden tools
  11. Lay garden pathway
  12. Clean out the garage
  13. Paint the garden shed
  14. Scrub and sterilize pots
  15. Repair the compost bin
  16. Install a tool-hanging kit
  17. Repair sprinkler system
  18. One workday in the yard
  19. Build a new compost bin
  20. Reorganize the garden shed
  21. Pressure wash concrete walks
  22. Clean gutters and downspouts
  23. Take the debris pile to the landfill
  24. Properly dispose of old chemicals
  25. Winterize garden shed windows and door
  26. Make a garden apron out of fabric remnants
  27. Clean up the junk piled in a corner of the yard
  28. Build a garden bench out of repurposed wood
  29. Build a potting bench out of repurposed wood
  30. Repair or replace handles on rakes, shovels, etc.
  31. Finish a garden project he or she hasn’t had time to do
  32. If you have photos of the gardener’s yard, put a small memory album together or turn the photos into greeting cards

Tip:  Your time and services is especially helpful to older adults and working parents. Doing a service is a fun and rewarding project for the whole family. Children and teenagers, especially, will learn the value of giving of themselves by helping others. If you’re a young couple, this is a great way to say thanks to your parents for their many contributions (like babysitting) throughout the year. When wording the certificate, be respectful so your offer won’t insult the receivers. Humor is always good. Keep your promise to do the service, within 30 days.

Garden Attire:

  1. Sunglasses
  2. Back brace
  3. Rubber boots
  4. Garden apron
  5. Garden tool belt
  6. Large-brimmed straw hat
  7. Rubber clogs (Closed-toe)
  8.  Gardening gloves (Select good ones that you know will fit.)

Hand tool gifts to give:

  1. Hoe
  2. Rake
  3. Shovel
  4. Pitch fork
  5. Weed eater
  6. Hedge clippers
  7. Pruning shears
  8. Set of gardening tools

Tip:  When buying for women, remember that most prefer lightweight, small-scale tools.

 Large items:

  1. Tiller
  2. Shredder
  3. Chainsaw
  4. Composter
  5. Wheelbarrow
  6. Outdoor sink
  7. Green house
  8. Storage shed
  9. Pressure washer
  10. Outdoor drinking fountain

 Items to put in a garden gift basket:

  1. Tool belt
  2. Plant ties
  3. Leaf bags
  4. Bulb planter
  5. Rooting vase
  6. Hand cleaner
  7. Garden twine
  8. Garden apron
  9. Garden journal
  10. Insect repellant
  11. Watering wand
  12. Germinating mix
  13. Nursery gift card
  14. Bath soaking salts
  15. Outdoor thermometer
  16. Gardener’s hand soap
  17. Windowsill herb garden
  18. Canvas gardening tote bag
  19. 2014 Old Farmer’s Almanac
  20. Hand cream made for gardeners
  21. Gardening magazine subscription
  22. Bag of potting soil (All gardeners can use this.)
  23. Kneeling pad (Give a thick one that will actually keep the knees padded.)
  24. Seasonal vegetable planting guide (available at local Master Gardeners’ office or website)
  25. Book on plants suited to the gardener’s zone (Check with your local Master Gardeners’ office)

Tip:  Before making a purchase, think about the gardener. What type of tools does he or she use? What type of plants? What kind of gardening, i.e. vegetable, perennial, cut flowers, houseplants? Too often gardeners get “cute” items of poor quality that create clutter or don’t last. Select something that you know he or she will use and enjoy. Unless you know of a specific plant or tree that the person wants, it’s best to give a gift card.

Miscellaneous Items:

  1. Plant caddy
  2. Plant stand
  3. Solar lights
  4. Tool caddy
  5. Flower frog
  6. Soaker hose
  7. Trail camera
  8. Garden hose
  9. Outdoor shower
  10. Citronella candles
  11. Stackable storage containers
  12. Automatic plant watering device
  13. Folding garden kneeler and seat
  14. Memorial stake or sign for loved one
  15. Pet memorial garden stake or stone
  16. Tomato cage (The collapsible type are great space savers)
  17. Ticket to holiday home tour (These are held before Christmas so you’ll have to give this in advance.)

Online shopping links (Be sure to ask if there’s still time to receive delivery before Christmas):  (This company has some unique items that you won’t see anywhere else.)  (This company has eco-friendly products),default,sc.html

Happy shopping!

Make sure to follow me on


Brrr it’s cold

December 12, 2013

The cold, frosty week has chilled me to the bone and got me thinking . . .


. . . how monochromatic the earth remains beyond naked tree limbs

before the rains come and the field grasses grow;


. . . how glad I don’t live in snow country

yet yearn to photograph the beauty it holds;


. . . how shrubs and trees store sugar all winter long

for hues shiny and sweet come springtime;


. . . how loud are icy grass blades when walked upon

or how musical are the drips of melting frost;


. . . how quiet and secluded squirrels remain,

and unproductive laying hens reside,


. . . how the effort to stay warm seems like combat;


. . . and how all living breeds navigate cycles through

slumber and wake.


Be sure to follow me on


Frost Caps for your Garden

December 11, 2013

By Guest Writer and Amador County Master Gardener Bonnie Toy

Untitled-5Winter is definitely on the way, and that can mean pipes broken from the frost. This morning I disconnected all my hoses and rolled most of them up for storage. The standpipes are all wrapped in the foam pipe insulation that you can get from the hardware store, but it has always been a challenge to figure out how to protect the faucet itself – wrap it with rags and string? Insulating tape? A scrap of wall insulation?

I’ve tried a variety of these over the years, and while they all work okay, it is a nuisance to get them all wrapped safely, and it is a hassle to unwrap them again in the spring, only to have to repeat the process for the next frost season.

This year I made frost caps for my faucets. They tie on easily, and can be removed easily in the spring and stored for the next frost season.

I made several different styles and sizes, as I have some hoses that must run all winter to keep the stock troughs full, and I have a couple of 2 headed faucets on a single stand pipe. But most are single faucets on a straight stand pipe.

You do need a sewing machine, but frost caps aren’t hard to make. Here are instructions for the single faucet/single standpipe style. You can modify the dimensions for other configura­tions once you see how easy these things are to assemble.

What you need for 1 frost cap:

2 pieces of water resistant fabric, 8”x16” (I ordered ripstop nylon from Seattle Fabrics)

2 pieces of quilt batting or other insulating material, 8”x16”

1 piece of 1/4” cording, 26” long

Lay the fabric out and top each piece with a piece of insulating material.

Untitled-1Fold each of the pieces in half, so that the fabric is on the outside and the insulation is on the inside. You should now have 2 8” squares with one finished edge (the fold), and 3 unfinished edges. Stack the squares on top of each other, making sure the folded edges are together.

Pin at the 4 corners, doing your best to align the fabric pieces and insulation pieces so that all layers match at the corners.

Fold the cording in half, and push the loop formed by folding it from the inside of the “sandwich” to the outside. The loop should slightly show outside a raw edge, and should be about 1” above the folded edge. The tails should be pulled down so they don’t get caught in the seam.


Now, starting at the folded edge with the loop nearby, sew a few stitches and backstitch. Continue sewing until you have stitched over the loop. Backstitch again. Continue sewing until you get to the corner, turn the corner and sew across the top, turn the corner and then down the other side. Backstitch when you reach the end. Trim your seam allowances and turn the cap right side out.

That’s it! Easy Peasy.


Bounty Hunting for Plants with Bling

December 10, 2013

dogwoodWhen it comes to selecting new plants, a great fervor burns in me for color and texture, and for the uncommon species. The vibrancy of bright blooms and variegated foliage is what brings a garden or patio—and one’s emotions—to life.

Unlike commonplace shrubs, nurseries usually stock plants with bling in small quantities making them a quick sellout and the hunt challenging.

This year, during a pursuit I captured a variegated, red twig dogwood (Cornaceae). Spring through summer the leaves are bright green edged in cream. Come fall they turn variegated pink. The leaves have fallen now. This exposes the beautiful, smooth red twigs–a showstopper when the plant is larger.

While in its dormant state, I transplanted the dogwood from the black nursery pot to a larger, clay pot. Then I did a little pruning to keep the dogwood from becoming straggly.

First, I removed a few deadwood, cross or crowded branches. If my dogwood had suckers at the base I would have cut them off, but only if I did not want it to spread like a shrub.


Next, I pruned branches growing beyond the dogwood’s natural shape. The trick is to not over prune. This reduces foliage and possibly the yellowish-white spring flowers.



Last, I went through the trimmings and chose those with a node near one end of the twigs and placed them in the same pot to propagate.


With proper care, my dogwood will bring life to the back patio and evoke garden bling year round.

Here’s the rap sheet on variegated, red twig dogwood.

Zones vary by species


Blooms April

Full Sun/Partial Shade

Max Height:  6-8′

Max Width:  4-6′

Water well in any soil type


Holiday Balance

December 5, 2013

Cmas 2013

The days have been hectic since the last post. I had several blogs in the works, and then all was put aside for the joyful preparations of Thanksgiving’s family gathering and a major deadline still in the works. And now arises the next holiday.

During the coming days, most of us will be, if you aren’t already, overcome with a list of Christmas tasks. New on my list this year is to send a ‘few’ greeting cards. It’s been years since I mailed Christmas cards. Family members will be shocked. Small as this task seems, I now wonder what inspired me to take on yet another project. Perhaps it was Vista Print’s irresistible special.

There are holiday events I’d like to attend. Scenes I’d like to capture. But sometimes we have to put our desires aside to bring balance and rest into our lives.

Today is one of those days when physical needs and holiday preparations push the normal everyday tasks (and my impending deadline) to the far left. I have a hunch your December days are the same or soon will be. So I share this amazing beauty outside my back door. I hope you feel the gift of joyful balance and rest in this photo or more importantly in something or someone near and dear to you.

Merry Christmas!

Dianne Marie Andre

%d bloggers like this: