Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Virtual Wine Tasting with the Bee's Chris Macias

Hi! This is a new thing for me! As you may (or may not) know, I'm part of a group of local bloggers and media types that are part of Sac Connect, an online collaboration, hosted by the Sacramento Bee. It's a new thing for the newspaper, too. It's fun to be part of something that's being created, part of the trial and error, at that malleable stage where input is listened too and you get to be part of the discovery.

Tonight I attended a get-together where we got to meet in person ... bloggers of many persuasions and a whole lot of Bee staff. We had nice wine and food and talked (about ourselves, always fun!) We all went home with a bottle of Zin from Revolution Wines, the urban winery and tasting room that hosted our event. This is my bottle, and my glasss of grapefruit juice ;)

It is thus, in the spirit of cooperation, that I (or my computer) will co-host (sort of) the live virtual wine tasting event tomorrow evening from 6 - 7 pm. The virtual part is I may not be here and if I am, grapefruit juice will be served. This is an experiment for the Bee, (and for me. Who knows, maybe someday I'll host a virtual event of my own ... perhaps virtual snacking? I'll have chips and ice cream from the carton and you can watch!) Seriously though, come on by tomorrow evening while Chris and 3 guests will be sipping and commenting on 3 CA Fair medal winners. If you have the time (and inclination), pick up the wines and taste along with these local wine experts. To find out more, click here. (Note: you can watch on the Sac Bee site or on my site, but, tell me the truth, wouldn't you rather drink wine over at Geno's?)

Monday, June 28, 2010

About Town with Geno's Garden: DIY Ideas from the Fair Oaks Blvd. Nursery

I made a quick stop at the nursery on my way home. It was way too hot to linger, but I made a quick trip to see what I could see. They have always had some great clobbered together elements. In the middle of all that fine elegance they surprise you with concrete steps painted coral and lavender, or a homemade picket fence.

The fence is really simple and fun ... I think I could make one,

and I love this table. Is it made from a packing crate?

Here's an old picture of a hut they had awhile ago. I didn't see it today. I want it!

If you've never been to the nursery it is a treat. I worked there several years ago and people would routinely come by and soak in the beauty as if they were going to a park. In addition to a great selection of plants, they also have a wonderful gift shop. Check out their website for more info.

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Saturday, June 26, 2010

It's June ... It's Daylily Time!

Daylily Days at Amador Flower Farm this weekend

Hemerocallis, from the Greek, hemera (day) + kallos (beauty)

daylilies in my garden, accented by another June bloomer, a shasta daisy named Becky
I love this plant, especially the older ones...the oranges and the yellows.

red daylilies in a mixed street border

But, sometimes bolder colors are called for, as in front of this brick wall dividing a lovely house and garden from a busy street.  A nice mix of red daylilies, crape myrtle, dietes (fortnight lily) and boulders (and queen palms in the background).

happy red daylilies
... a closer look

Daylilies are plentiful. You can easily populate your garden with these day beauties (were you paying attention to the greek translation at the top?) with plants from your gardening friends, as these plants multiply each year and eventually need to be divided. Your friends will be happy to share, especially if you bring over your own spading fork or shovel and help do the work! That's how I feel about it, and I have a bed that needs dividing, ahem...

Back to my Sunset Garden book, "When clumps become crowded (usually after 3 to 6 years), divide them in fall or early spring in hot-summer areas, during summer in cool-summer regions or where growing season is short."

a crowded daylily bed
here's a bed that needs some attention ...

a double orange daylily
and, here's one of the beauties in that bed that I plan to snab for myself!

The daylily is popular, thus much activity on the part of the breeders, resulting in a myriad of sizes, colors, variegation. According to my Sunset Western Garden Book, "New hybrids appear in such numbers that no book can keep up. To get the ones you want, visit daylily specialists, buy plants in bloom at your local nursery, or study catalogues." Now's the time for such shopping/research. Amador Flower Farm is holding its 14th annual Daylily Days this weekend ... Saturday and Sunday, June 26th and 27th from 9 am to 4 pm. Food, tram rides, drawings, and ...

a million flowers in bloom!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

About Town: Grass Valley Family Time

We headed up to Grass Valley on Sunday for the 35th Annual Father's Day Bluegrass Festival. The weather was perfect and we were surrounded by Sugar Pines and Redwoods...
bark of the sugar pine tree
...and the sound of bluegrass. The festival had been preceded by a 4 day music camp. It ended with the Orange Blossom Special.
Rhonda and the Rage
We are quirky, us Hansons. When we camp in Oregon we'll all be found reading. And, I guess, these days, that would also include texting! (I love watching my daughter's fingers moving...they're like dancing kabuki spiders.)
daughter busy keeping in touch
It was a lovely day, hope yours was great, too!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Friday, June 18, 2010

Remembering Dad

The Backyard Farmer

My dad was really the gardener of the family ... my mom was his weeder. Like my Irish grampa before him, he was a backyard farmer.

froggy was in charge of the fish pond
We had a lanai in our backyard in Southern California. Dad took our modest single car garage and stenciled cowboys and cactus on the side of it ... bigger than life, bull-riding cowboys. He built a goldfish pond on the opposite side, a brick bar-b-que on the end,  and screened it in so we could eat outside without flies in the summer. We had an orchard behind the patio/lanai, where we had plums and apricots and avocados, corn and string beans. He built a 8' x 8' aviary for our parakeets, and before that, a 3rd bedroom for our little house (his dad was a carpenter, and every week his dad would send him written instructions for the next tasks to get that bedroom done). I grew up amazed at how much my dad knew.

I grew up with vegetables and fruit trees and bull-riding cowboys. When my husband and I bought our first (and only) house, I was, like, instantly a backyard farmer, too. My dad never saw this side of me, he died before this. I wonder what he would have thought about it all.

My dad had a quiet side. In the morning before work he'd watch the sun come up while he drank his coffee and listened to the farm report (he worked for the Dept. of Agriculture). He liked it quiet like that before everyone got up. At night he'd sit outside and look at the stars. Just look. One of the things I loved most about my dad was I could sit with him and be at peace without talking.
my dad's garden book - he had one, I have a million

My dad was smart, hardworking, creative, opinionated and authoritarian. He was a great story teller. I was born on his birthday, so he was also my twin. I could wrap him around my finger.

Happy Father's Day Everyone!

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Monday, June 14, 2010

About Town with Geno's Garden - Antiques in the Garden

Antiques make a great focal point!

antique angel

I love going to the Antique Trove in Roseville. In addition to the huge indoor area, there's a garden section in the back with columns, angels, pots, seating, fountains. I find it all rather evocative and inspiring.

one of a pair of old rusted gates

I used this gate in my garden display at the recent California Flower & Garden Show. It provided a bit of an enclosure for a sitting area with citrus. In this case it wasn't a focal point, but somehow created a bit of dimension that made the ordinary quite remarkable. Wouldn't it make a lovely trellis for a climbing rose?


I've often seen millstone bubbler fountains advertised in gardening magazines and wondered where they got the millstones. These were in Riley's Antiques, a vendor at the Trove (he loaned me the Spanish bed for my display!).

antique fountain with succulents

High Hand Nursery in Loomis is a master at mixing plants with antiques, making wonderful use of old trucks, stoves or sweet fountains like the one above.

antique fountain

Isn't this little boy lovely? He's mine! He sits on my patio and currently has succulents growing in the basin. He was in the back section of a client's garden, neglected and sort of just there, like an old wheelbarrow or broken ladder. I traded some services for him. I feel lucky to have him, and appreciative that the owner was willing to let him come to my house.

For me it's a happy garden combination, plants and antiques. I don't quite know how to describe it but it works!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help!
Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Great Rain Garden Adventure

and so it begins...

I have a client who wants to do the modern thing ... rip out the lawn, plant natives, reuse materials when feasible, reduce water use, and ... have a rain garden!

I was on board for most all of it. Through my training and certification as a "Green Gardener", it's become a natural way of thinking, and I guess that's what has appealed to me about the green gardening movement most: it's the natural way to garden. Do what Mother Nature would do!

the American River

The rain garden concept was awkward, however, I just didn't quite get it. In Sacramento we need water in the summer when it doesn't rain, so what's the good of collecting it if it isn't available when we need it most? With some reading, I realized that in our area the main benefits are to our waterways:
  • the filtering out of impurities (toxins, fertilizers, whatevers)otherwise sent thru the storm drains to our rivers, by having the rain percolate thru the soil, and
  • the reduction of big "water event" system overloads (where all the local rain gets channeled thru our downspouts and drainage systems to our streets to the storm drains to the rivers with a big "whoosh!"), and
  • it doesn't hurt that they can be indeed, lovely! Nope!

We're so used to our modern system (take it to the streets and down the storm drains), we're unaware of any other way to deal with rainfall. We've paved over everything, hardscaped our property, built freeways and roads and driveways, there's really not much land to absorb the rain, but we needn't worry, we channel it off our property to the street! So, enter the new/old idea, the rain garden. A simple concept ... a bit of a ditch ... a bit of a swale or a berm, something to channel the water flow and slow it down. Like in the good old days!

I'm new to this, not some enviro-scientist. Mostly a person who loves plants, but I'm learning and I like it! The Sacramento Bee had a super article last January which was a great starting point for me. It had some practical links, including a guide from the River-Friendly Landscaping folk which I'll be using in the creation of my very own, first rain garden! Stay tuned for updates! (And, if you have anything to chime in ... your own rain garden successes, failures and advice, feel free!)

rain garden poster
(poster available from the Good Nature Publishing Company)

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Monday, June 07, 2010

Introducing "About Town with Geno's Garden"

Nice New Vine at LaBou on Watt  and El Camino in Sacramento

I'm always snapping pictures as I drive around ... sometimes it's something I admire, like a cool landscape or a planting combination ... sometimes it's something I don't like, like a particularly offensive pruning job (a big pet peeve!). So starting today I'm going to have a weekly feature, About Town with Geno's Garden (and, no, it won't always be placed in Sacramento ... I do go other places, you know ...). I've got lots of back stories, but I'll start with a recent vine treatment that caught my eye.

Bower Vine
This is Pandora jasminoides, commonly known as Bower Vine. Native to Australia, it likes regular water and some shade in the valley (ain't gonna get it in front of LaBou!). It's not zoned for our area, but it is sold here. I think the main problem is if we have a big freeze. Oh, and too much heat. Besides this white with pink throat version, it also comes in pure white ('Alba') and pink with red-throat ('Rosea')and blooms all season, from late spring to early fall.

Vines hold on to their support structure by twining around things (grapes, morning glories), attaching themselves with little sticky feet (ivy, creeping fig), or with our help or the help of a tree or something (roses).

Evidence of the late occupier of this structure. What vine do you think it was? Also, notice the attachment method (I saw a similar product at Home Depot, a 3' x 50' roll of vinyl-covered 2 x 4" squares for about $50.)

Bower Vine can reach 20 - 30'
These vines were only planted a couple of months ago, but they're in a race to get to the top!

I'm always on the lookout for ways to create height without taking up too much room. I love the feeling of an enclosed garden, but, most of us don't have enough garden real estate to give up to an 8' wide hedge, and these days I'm looking for plants that work without having to be bullied into doing the job with lots of pruning (I like to save my carbon footprint for something important, like trips to Ben & Jerry's!). I'll be keeping an eye on this vine to see how it does in the long haul and will be reporting back.

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email