Posts Tagged ‘California’


Up the Mountians and Down the Hill

April 27, 2014

Julia Moore_edited-2

Dragonfly Peony Farm, West Point, California, is a small operation surrounded by redwoods, and sits at the base of a steep hill. People come from all over Northern California, and no one seems to mind the walk down the nearly vertical hillside. If anyone slips and tumbles to the bottom, once they land they can simply pretend to be Dorothy or the Tin Man stretched out in a wave of captivating blossoms. There’s even a sweet spaniel, Lilly, who will lick your face.

The farm is operated by Julia Moore who once lived in a houseboat on the Sacramento River with a floating peony garden. After Julia moved to dry land in the Sierra forest, she removed dead trees. This allowed space for her peonies which are deer and gopher proof. Eventually, as Julia added more peonies she decided to open a peony farm.

Julia works hard all year, and then welcomes the public three to four weekends during peak season. She offers a large variety, all spectacular blossoms in corals, whites, pinks, reds, and yellows. Many of the flowers are seven inches and larger. In addition to the crowd of repeat and new customers who come to buy every year, Julia is accustomed to artists who take photographs to later paint the images on canvas. But few artists leave the farm without making a purchase.

Julia serves complimentary lemonade and sweets then sends her elated customers and their plants up the steep hill to their cars. This is when first-time customers learn about the free shuttle and loading service. Although there is no signage at the entrance, those who prefer to ride the shuttle down the hillside can call the farm once they arrive. The number is 209-293-1242.

Everyone receives detailed printouts on peony transplanting and care. Here are Julia’s top tips:

  • Six or more hours of sun (light afternoon shade in hot regions.)
  • Shallow planting: Place root system with top eye no more than 2” from surface. In warmer climates plant a little shallower for as much exposure to winter temperatures as possible; planted deeper, lots of leafy growth but no flowers.
  • Good drainage
  • Good air circulation
  • Prolonged winter chill

Dragonfly Peony Farm ( will be open:

Friday, Sat. and Sun, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
May 16, 17, 18th
May 23, 24 & 25th
May 30, 31 & June 1st

Coming soon, photos of my peonies purchased at Dragonfly Peony Farm two years ago.


Garden Tips Hints and Cool Things

March 2, 2012

A Cool Thing:

Unbelievable! Scientists resurrected this Ice Age plant after 30,000 years in deep freeze.


I have added a link listing poisonous plants for livestock and critters living in California,  to the ‘Helpful Resources’ page.


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.


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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