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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Folsom Garden Club ... Going Strong for over 67 Years!

One of the CA Natives shown at the FGC meeting, Heteromeles arbutifolia

I just finished off a series of spring garden club talks a couple of weeks ago with a presentation at  the Folsom Garden Club. It's a lively club. Lots of active members, goooooood snacks, a lending library ... and me! This club was started in 1934 and at my table was one of the original  members. I was there to talk about curb appeal in the 21st century. Had a slick PowerPoint presentation. But, in this learn-as-you-go-world, found the presentation fell a bit flat, due to the many windows letting light stream with no window coverings ... well, you can imagine. Luckily, they were good sports, and so was I (... it  helped that I had brought some great show and tell Ca natives, loaned for the occasion by Windmill Nursery in Carmichael.) Here's the info that would-a been seen on the screen if it could-a been seen:

Garrya elliptica “James Roof”
Coast Silktassle

Garrya elliptica

 I first spied this tree at the WPA Rock Garden in William Land Park. It had these amazing drooping things that looked like they'd been macramed. Daisy Mah told me it was a Coast Silktassle and the decorative things were male catkins! Oh, my ...
  • Evergreen shrub to small tree with 10” yellowish male catkins in the spring
  • Best with moderate water and part shade until established
  • Can become drought tolerant, but do best with water every 2 weeks or on the edge of a garden. Generally not the choice of deer.
  • Grows multi-stemmed from base arching to 8 – 12’ tall and wide, or can be pruned to resemble a tree as in picture below.
(Suggestion: don't stand in parking lot taking pictures while ignoring the cars or you, too, may get a little surprise bump from a car backing out!)

Calliandra californica
Baja Fairy Duster

Calliandra californica
Isn't this the sweetest? Who would guess this could become a 4' tall, drought tolerant plant?
  • Open, architectural evergreen shrub grown for its gray foliage, wonderful red fairy duster flowers, and zigzag patterned stems.
  • Can become a rounded shrub to 4’ tall and wide in hot locations.
  • Zones 10 - 24
Calliandra californica
 (a nylon stocking catches fairy duster seed at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sunland, CA)

Penstemon heterophyllus ‘Margarita B.O.P.’
Foothill Penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus, Magarita B.O.P.
The color on this penstemon is truly lovely.
  • Evergreen, grows to 1.5 - 2’ x 2’
  • Garden tolerant and resistive to disease
  • No summer water, disease resistant, cold hardy, deer resistant.
  • Hummingbirds and butterflies
  • UCD All-Star

Escholtzia Californica ‘Mission Bells’

Escholtzia Californica
this is our regular CA poppy with Blue Pimpernell
  • Attracts birds, deer resistant, needs little water.
  • Self-seeds and flowers again, year after year, withstanding drought.
  • Full sun, thrives where warm and dry.
  • Grows 1’ tall

Heteromeles arbutifolia
Hollywood sign by Mr. Littlehand
Hollywood sign, a photo by Mr. Littlehand on Flickr.
  • 8’ evergreen shrub
  • Large dark green leaves, red berries in winter (food for birds)
  • Sun/light shade, most soils, drought tolerant
  • Hardy to 20 degrees
  • Hoo-ray for Hollywood! Why Hollywood? Because this native was there in abundance in the early naming days, It has berries. They called it, "Hollywood"! The rest is history.

Malacothamnus palmeri ‘Hanging Basket’
  • Evergreen shrub to 6’
  • Full sun, well-drained soil, hardy to 15 degrees, drought tolerant
  • Use on banks, in dry borders or for naturalizing.

Ribes speciosum
Fuchsia Flowering Gooseberry
    Ribes speciosum
    (picture courtesy of Windmill Nursery)
  • Bush Mallow from Monterey County with gray leaves and congested heads of pink flowers in summer.
  • 4’ nearly evergreen shrub, fuchsia-like flowers Jan. – May
  • Spiny stems and fruits with glossy green leaves
  • Morning sun, high shade, good drainage, tolerates clay
  • Hummingbird plant
Heterotheca villosa ‘San Bruno Mountain”
California Golden Aster

Heterotheca villosa
(picture courtesy of Windmill Nursery)
  • This low growing perennial of the aster family makes a dense mat of trailing stems.
  • Begins to bloom in the late spring, and if occasionally irrigated and sheared, will continue to the fall.
  • Sun or light shade, moderate to occasional water, cold hardy
  • Leave old flower seed heads for the birds

Heuchera ‘Canyon Delight’
Alum Root/Coral Bells
  • Non-invasive, “half- native” result from crossing CA mountain coral bells and the vivid red coral bells of Arizona.
  • Needs part shade here and moderately drought tolerant.
  • Lovely massed around native oaks.
  • Foot long sprays of flowers above a tight mound of green foliage
Salvia microphylla ‘Berzerkeley’
  • Clouds of deep rose pink flowers
  • Dense compact 2’ tall by 6’wide
  • Sun to mostly shade
  • Blooms spring to late fall
  • hummingbirds
The Folsom Garden Club just finished its annual spring tour. I've been invited for a private tour of two of these gardens, so I'll be posting more pictures from this great group soon. Stay tuned. And, if you have a hankering to hang out with other garden loving people, perhaps meet some new friends with whom you can swap seeds and go to gardening events with, consider joining a neighborhood club.

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

Monday, May 02, 2011

Mama's Garden Advice: "Eat Your Vegetables"

Mother's Day - 2011

my mom and me
Mother's Day is coming up! Yea ... favorite holiday. I usually designate this day as one of my 2 annual "Slave Days", where my husband does my bidding ... usually in the garden. I also find it a nice time to reflect on my mom and her many unique and charming characteristics. Last year I blogged about her ability to find the sunny spot in the garden (A Mother's Day Garden). This year I've got vegetable gardens on my mind. I'm going to have a BIG garden, and have lots of plants and seeds ready to go in - on Slave Day! So, what's the vegetable - mom connection here?

Well, while she did tell my siblings and I to, "eat our vegetables", she didn't grow them. My dad was all that. My mom, however, would assist others in their endeavors ... my sister had a travel agency, my mom arm-twisted all her friends to go on cruises ... my dad was a backyard farmer, my mom was his chief weeder and canner ... I home schooled my daughter, my mom figured we'd want to do crafts, and saved us a zillion toilet paper rolls! Go figure.

mom's recipe box

Mom wasn't much of a cook. I have her old recipe box, with titles like, "Cabbage Chop Suey", "Dinner Pancakes (with meat)", "Mystery Pudding", "Phoney [sic] Abalone", and, "Ritz Cracker Pie". She and her housewife contemporaries seemed to treasure recipes using cake mix, canned soup or frozen vegetables. My husband still marvels at the olive sandwich she made up for him when we first moved back to California from Portland (canned sliced olives with a bit of mayonnaise!) Yum! But, I grew up loving to cook and she was thrilled to have me take over the kitchen, and would even do the dishes for me!

Here's mom's recipe for Lemon Cake and Custard, and another from Recipes From a Kitchen Garden by Renee Shepherd and Fran Raboff (available at Renee's Garden).

Mom's Lemon Cake and Custard

a flickr photo by James Bowe
I grew up in Southern California, and my dad always had fruit and citrus trees in the backyard. My mom made good pies, but, this cake was actually one of my favorites. Oh, and tapioca! (btw, I've actually never made this, so I don't want to hear any complaints if it turns out a mess!)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon rind and juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 beaten egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup canned milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks
  • Optional : 1/4 cup grape nuts.
Cream butter and sugar, add lemon juice, rind and salt plus the 2 egg yolks, mix with sifted flour. Add canned milk and water. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into cake pan and bake in 375 degree oven for 45 min (Put baking pan in hot water so the cake doesn't burn.).

Janice's Pickled Basil Beans

tri-colored beans
Renee's Garden is a  leading seed source for vegetable gardeners, Renee researches, trials, sells her own seeds, and is, now, a source of practical, site-tested, cookbooks as well. (Twice a week, Renee and her cookbook partner, Fran Raboff, get together with the available harvest to try out recipes. Lucky the friends and family who get to sit at that table!)

These crispy, basil-scented beans are a fine appetizer or satisfying between-mean nibble. One of our favorite ways to utilize a bean harvest. - Renee Sheppard
  • 3 - 4 pounds fresh green snap beans, rinsed
  • 5 cups mild white vinegar
  • 5 cups water (not softened water)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup pickling salt
For each jar:
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 4 - 6 large fresh basil leaves
Wash 8 pint or 4 quart canning jars with hot soapy water and rinse, or run them through the dishwasher.
Trim the ends of the beans. Bring to a boil the vinegar, water, sugar and salt.
In the bottom of each jar, put the peppercorns, garlic cloves and basil leaves, then pack them with beans, leaving 1/2 inch head space. Fill the jars with the hot brine, leaving 1/2 inch. Wipe the jar rims and seal. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath (20 minutes for quarts). Wait about 4 weeks before opening to let the flavors blend and deepen.
Makes 4 quarts.

Well, that's it for this year's Mother's Day Tribute to my own sweet mom.

Happy Mother's Day, Everyone!

Ohhhhh...if you have the urge to grow some veggies but aren't that sure how or where to start, give me a call. We now offer Vegetable Garden Coaching by Jenn. It's a special art and Jenn's going to be helping me out with my mammoth endeavor this year, and can help you, too!!!

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