All the photos in this blog were taken by me. The information is taken from friends, books, magazines, conversations at nurseries, the internet and a few of my own amateur-gardener thoughts. Please feel free to share your own knowledge and experiences in the comment section that follows each posting.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Reflections from a Garden Ninja

I have a few favorite photos and this is one of them. I took it at Butchart Gardens in Greater Victoria on Vancouver Island. If you haven't been, it's really a lovely place to see the potentials of a garden. This picture is a reflection off of a pond in the Sunken Garden. It's the kind of place you'd love to stop and hang out for awhile, if there weren't dozens of people milling around.

I am sharing this picture because of the reflection. I've been doing a lot of reflecting this week as my son turned eighteen. It turned out to be a bigger deal for me than I anticipated. I found myself reviewing years past in my head while making breakfast, playing tennis, grocery shopping, feeding the dogs, showering... you get it. As is typically the case for me, reflecting is satisfying.  It churns things up and renews my thoughts. It allows me to review my life so far and absorb it's wonders. As an Aquarian, I  can't help to think about the future and I then have a complete "circle of reflection" starting from the past and ending in the future. It's all good. My boy is eighteen now. Life is moving along.

I like tools. I love tools in the kitchen, but I am a stickler for only housing those that I'll use frequently. If the tool's use is to complete a specialized task such as an egg poacher or a melon baller, it usually doesn't get to stay in my kitchen. I am the same way about garden tools. I don't see the need to collect many tools with specialized uses so I tend to fall in love with a few that can do it all. During my trip to the Mt. Feed and Farm Supply in Ben Lomand last week, I acquired a new tool that is fitting my criteria.
It's called a Soil Scoop and it can cut a stem, puncture the soil to dig further, cradle a seedling and more. And it has a comfortable handle that makes me love it. 

My new tool will compete with the Hori Hori Knife, which is a Japanese tool. Could you tell by the name? I've actually been gifted two of them and intend to pay it forward to one of my Garden Guppies. This tool can dig and serrate. It's light and knife-like, which makes me feel quick and powerful in the garden, like a Ninja. It's a killer tool. 

Lastly, I purchased a Moisture Meter. I just got it and I am obsessed. Given my new philosophy of not "over-watering", this tool is providing me a lot of guidance (and entertainment). You simply drive the needle into the soil as deep as you'd imagine the roots would be, and it will give you a reading of dry, moist or wet. I wish I would have had one years ago. I've spent time going around my yard poking it in the soil and am amazed by it's reading sometimes. My kids think I'm off my rocker, but they can just add it to the list of the many things I do that bewilder them. 

Did you remember? Pam Peirce is coming? See previous postings regarding my admiration for this author. And she is going to be in San Jose?  I can't believe it. 
May 22nd, 10;30-12;30 am
Guadalupe River Park and Gardens: Year-round Food Gardening: Getting the most out of your food gardening space.
Visitor & Education Center
438 Coleman Avenue
San Jose, CA 9510
Fee class (fee amount to come)
For more information:, 408-298-7657

Dirty Story: A few of you mentioned that you went to The Wild Bird Center looking for the Superbac Nature Birdbath Scrub that I recommended and they didn't have it. How embarrassing! I inquired and they ARE planning on a shipment in June. (See April Blog: Best Laid Plants... I mean, Plans...). 


Ever wonder what to do with all the lemons on your lemon tree? If you're like me, you can't keep up. A mature lemon tree can generate a whole-heck-of-a-lot of lemons! My friend, Suzanne (and future featured rose guru) turned me onto the idea of making Limoncello. We made a batch last year and we doubled our output this year. It's one of those recipes that seems Martha Stuart-y, but really isn't. The hardest part is finding the cute bottles to put it in. I found mine at Pier One Imports last year. You can see it on the far right. 

Homeade Limoncello - From epicurious

15 lemons- choose thick skinned lemons
2 bottles (750ml) 100 proof Vodka - 100 proof has less flavor that a lower proof one and will take on the lemon flavor better.  Also, the higher alcohol level will ensure that the Limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.
4 cups sugar
5 cups water

1. Wash the lemons and pat dry
2. Zest the lemons with a vegetable peeler so there is NO WHITE pith on the peel. 
3. In a large glass one gallon jar (see above in the picture) add one bottle of vodka and the lemon zest. Let it sit at room temperature for at least 40 days. As it sits, the vodka takes on the flavor and begins to turn a rich yellow color. 
AFTER the 40 days...
4. Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan and cook until thickened (5 minutes) . Let the mixture cool and then, add to the Limoncello mixture. 
5. Add the remaining bottle of vodka to the Limoncello/sugar mix and let stand for another 10 to 40 days. 
6. Strain and bottle. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve. (I keep mine in the fridge and it's fine).


Garden Gossip: Word has it that Garden Guppy, Tricia has her vegetable garden planted. Earlier in the week, I received a distraught e-mail that she was going "belly-up". Today, I received an exciting, proud e-mail that she is "swimming"! What a great guppy lesson. Take your time, do not stress, plant when you can, and in the end, you will be rewarded. Huge claps of congratulations to my first Garden Guppy for starting her project.  I am as excited as she is. 

Heads-up: Stay tuned for some funny garden stories. Tricia is one of the funniest story tellers I know, next to Barb, my BF in NYC. If I could get them together at a party, you would NOT want to miss it. The stories could start a gardening sit-com. Barb had a NYC garden for years that was growing between four huge buildings in the most toxic soil in the city, she would claim. But her Hydrangea was bigger than anything I've ever been able to grow. I love a good laugh and these two can provide it, let me tell you! 

This blog has been more fun that I imagined at the start. I have made some wonderful new connections with people, paid more attention to my own garden actions and felt honest excitement for fellow gardeners' achievements. I've been humbled by peoples' reactions and enjoyed thinking about my blog entries during the week. Please continue to provide feedback, suggest topics or ask questions. You can simply hit the comment button below and click on "anonymous" at the pull-down or continue to comment via Facebook. 

When I wake up, walk outside and see this colorful Ice Plant blooming alongside my pool deck, it starts the day out right! You would struggle to create this color from an oil color palette, but Mother Nature nails it with ease. I am in awe of that woman! 


  1. Thanks for another week of great info. The Soil Scoop is great.....going to have to try the moisture meter! Thanks for sharing!

  2. TY! For the shout out, Whit! And even more so for the Limoncello recipe! woo-hoo! And I really "dig" your tools - wish I had them back when I had the garden! xoxo - b

  3. Are those yours? beautiful!


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