Archive for the 'Gardening' Category

2014 Redwood Empire Rose Society ROSE SHOW


The perfect rose at the exact moment of judging is Queen of the Show.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES  This year we doubted that we would have roses – let alone a perfect rose.  But as in every year, we were shown that nature provides.    This year was very special as Honora Connelly won Queen with Brandy – her very first Queen!  Phyllis Saccani had to settle for Princess with Falling in Love.   Nice of Phyllis to share the glory this year.

No matter what the date or the weather, preparing for a Rose Show is a lot of work.  There is the selection of the theme, the naming of the arrangements (yes, they are named!), gathering of the judges and the myriad of other activities.  I have not had roses to enter since I left my fabulous rose garden in Forestville over 4 years ago but I do my contribution by preparing the judges luncheon.  This year I decided to serve tri-tip as I know that people really like it.  But I don’t know that I have ever cooked it myself.

20140520_162848I definitely do not barbeque so I was wondering how I was going to get this done.  And then there is that thing that I do not eat beef. Researching things is still a large part of my life so I began my research of either buying it prepared or cooking it in the oven.  The first stop was to the grill at Fiesta Market.  While they sell a great tri-tip (so I am told) each weekend, they do not prepare it in time for me to serve it at noon on Saturday. The second stop was the deli at Oliver’s Market.  Same answer as the Fiesta crew.    The deli worker sent me over to the meat market where the tri-tips are actually prepared.  Stop three – the butcher at the meat counter.   He said that the way to guarantee a tender tri-tip is to use a rub  and then marinate it for as long as possible in beer.  That sounded okay but a week was definitely too long to have meat in a frig.  Oh, and anyone who has been to my kitchen knows that there is not room for two tri-tips in my frig.  So the next stop was the 20140517_122804meat counter at Fiesta (I do live across the street from Fiesta).  The butcher basically explained that a rub for flavor and alcohol for breaking down the tissue to have a tender cut of meat.  He said that I could cook them in the oven.  I purchased close to 6 lbs of tri-tip and rubbed them with the steak seasoning that came with a seasoning set.  I put a lot of rub on, slipped each into a gallon baggie and drove over to Phyllis’  with the steaks and a bottle of wine.  Poured half a bottle of wine into each baggie and asked Phyllis to turn the meat each time she went into the frig.  The morning of the Show, I let the beef come to room temperature and cooked in the oven at 350  degrees after being heated to 425 degrees.  30 minutes on one side and 15 minutes on the other and it was cooked to perfection.  Along with the tri-tip was Caesar Salad and chicken pasta salad (for those non steak eaters – of which I was the only one!)   Dessert was apple cake and vanilla ice cream.   Lunch, as always, was a huge success.



My favorite part of the rose shows are the arrangements and bouquets.  Nothing is more lovely to me than a big vase of beautiful roses.   Once again, Martin Kooi won the best arrangement award.  But I loved Gail Lee’s arrangement and Phyllis’ bouquet of “left over” roses.  It was a great day and a beautiful show.




Spring is Here – Or What Season is When?


In my new home there is a very small garden.  You have seen pictures of my past garden – a half acre of roses, rhododendrons, daffodils, euphorbia, hollyhocks – oh, the list goes on.  I do miss my garden.  I would be lying if I said that I didn’t.  But for the last 30 years I have worked at having a garden with something in bloom at all times.  In Palo Alto this was not particularly hard as the winters were so mild that the rose hedge was in bloom constantly.  Moving to Forestville I learned about winter being a tough time to have something in bloom.  (I must admit that in graduate school I gardened in Boulder, Colorado and the only winter gardening was in the basement with heat lamps!)  But then I learned about hellebores.  For those who are not totally into horticulture, the opening picture is a hellebore.   The Lenten Rose is the hellebore – the rose that blooms in the winter.

rhodieLast June I transplanted plants from my interim garden on Joy Road.  Not the best time of the year to move plants and I wasn’t sure that they would all make it.  In November I bought a few plants to fill in the bare spaces.  The months of December and January were freezing – set many records and made me wish that I had a real heater. The weather this year has been so odd that I didn’t know what to expect when I stepped into my garden Camilliaon a warm February day.  I was certain that my hydrangea was dead.  Only because I was very busy, the crispy brown, leafless plant survived my ritualistic winter clearing of the garden.   But it has leaves bursting all over.  My rhododendron is plumping up and ready to pop.  The camellia is already dropping blossoms.

I am excited to see the roses leaf out.  The pansies are nodding their smiling faces.  The clematis has little bits of green showing up along the brittle tendrils.  Coral bells are blooming.  Ornamental strawberries are in full regalia.   I don’t know by Spring or Summer what will be in the garden but I am suspecting that it will be magnificent.   Today I noticed that my rose-blossom-shaped succulent by my front door is beginning to bloom.  It is wonderful to live in this wonderful place.


Fall Is Upon Us


P1030802This year has sailed by and I am somewhat aghast that it is November and only days until Thanksgiving.  I started the month with a party to thank all of my clients who have stuck by me through all of my travails.  It was a joy to open my new little home and share the life that I manage with friends.  The party went most of the day and at the end I was happy and very tired.

I spent a couple of days on the Central Coast this month.  It was nice to be away from my phone and not dealing with escrows and listings for two whole days.  It really seemed like a vacation.  The scenery was beautiful and the company excellent.  It was great to get away and just as terrific to come back home.

20131114_190330The weather has been very odd this year.  It is still warm during the day but very cool at night – down in the 30s.  What amazes me is all the plants that are in bloom.  I have roses in the back yard and azaleas in the front.  Last week there was a beautiful camellia blossom in front and the plant is about to burst with hundreds of bulging buds.  Usually in November I am looking to find a couple of poor examples of roses in the garden to bring a festive air to the table.  This year it has not been a problem at all.  Jan Tolmasoff of Russian River Roses fame had a rose evening in celebration of her recent published article in the American Rose, the official publication of the American Rose Society.  She discussed the pairing of roses and wine (these roses don’t look like November stragglers!) and the rose perfume and oil that she and her husband, Michael. produce.  Russian River Roses is located outside of Healdsburg and is the real thing for rosarians looking to purchase high quality bushes and visit a beautiful extensive garden.   There is a rose allee of eight 12’x12′ arches that can take my breath away.

P1030836How I know that it is about Thanksgiving is that the Joy Road Art Walk was this last weekend.  The weather was fabulous and the people came out in droves.  It was wonderful to see.  I managed to get in and out without buying anything but not because there wasn’t great things to acquire.  I am still remembering how I had too much “stuff” to fit into my new home.  That will seem even more so when I start decorating for Christmas.  I have not done more than hang the stockings for the last two years since I was off to Hawaii for Christmas – but this year I will be home and spending time with my family.

Only two more days until one of the happiest days of the year.  I have made my cranberry sauce and started buying for the Thanksgiving feast.  I plan to do my best at the yearly sock golf (yes, that has become a tradition) and not overeat.

I look back on everything I have done this month and wonder how I fit it all in.  But then I am gearing up for a busy December.


August 2013 is Fair Month

RamI love going to the Sonoma County Fair. This year’s Fair was focused on “Home Spun Fun”.  I love the emphasis on home and fun because that is what the fair is really about.  While it is mostly the same each year, the flower gardens, the pictures, the quilts and the animals are different.  My favorite is the roses.  But a close second is the Hall of Flowers with the gardens.  The theme this year is “Backyard Blossoms” and the flowers were magnificent.  The Men’s Garden Club out did themselves and took home the Best In Show trophy.  What a spectacular display of plants!  My favorite was the wall of succulents with a water feature made of quarter inch mesh screen.  Simple and inexpensive with a real impact.  I would love to have this in my backyard.     Succulent wallGail with arrangementThe rose show was once again dominated by my wonderful friends of Redwood Empire Rose Society.  Gail Lee brought home the Best in Show for her arrangement.   Each year the Rose Society has an information table during the rose displays to answer questions on roses and keep the displays watered.  We got one new member this year during the fair which is always a bonus.  I love this group of people.  Many blue ribbons were given out and the information table was well visited even though we were allocated space behind the jams, pies and sewing projects.

Apple PieSpeaking of pies, the Gravenstein Apple Fair was in Ragle Ranch Park this last weekend.   Visitors were greeted by the Patrick Amiot ram pictured above and the park was filled with artisans, chefs, antique apple machinery and bands.  It was the County Fair petite!  The one thing that the Apple Fair had that was not available at the county fair was homemade apple pie from the Community Church of Sebastopol.  I must admit that it was my lunch that day!

A benefit of my new home is that I can walk to Ragle Ranch Park and I do so about three times a week.  I took advantage of the proximity to go to the Apple Fair and avoided the parking struggles.  They do have parking within the park but it is $7 and the cars parked outside of the gates reached almost to my home.   I am loving living in Sebastopol.

Walker Apple Display at the Gravenstein Apple Fair

Walker Apple Display at the Gravenstein Apple Fair

Phase II of Being a Buyer

Front of Town House - Bessie isn't in the garage because all of my furniture is!

Front of Town House – Bessie isn’t in the garage because all of my furniture is!

The town home closed one day early – June 3.  You would think that I would immediately announce on this blog and revel in the giddiness of being a homeowner once again.  No instead I had a panic attack!  You think I am joking but I really did.  I did my walk through (that is when you go through the property before close of escrow to make sure that everything was as you remembered it when you wrote the offer) while the tenant was still in tenancy. It looked just like it did before – lots of furniture and stuff.  When I went

Water Central in my Kitchen

Water Central in my Kitchen

in after close of escrow – which means that it is now mine – there was the interesting thing sticking out of the kitchen floor.  What in the world is it? Most people said “oh, you have radiant floor heating!”  But I knew that I didn’t.  What seemed like a lifetime later (it was about 2 days), I got a plumber out who explained to me that this was the  manifold for all the water in my home.  There was no “moving” it if I wanted water.  I fretted – I called the listing agent and said that I was going to get  a bid to reroute the water supply as I planned to put my refrigerator where it is located – I had my panic attack.  A couple of discussions later with the benefit of pinot noir, I came to my senses and decided that I would build a cabinet around it to display my dishes and move the refrigerator the 6 inches that is needed to avoid the plumbing.  I so appreciate what my clients go through when they find something that should have been disclosed.  I need to call the listing agent and let her know that I have come to my senses.

Toolbox for the single female homeowner

Toolbox for the single female homeowner

My agent did not give me a closing gift (yes, that was me and I am getting new flooring!) but Gail brought over champagne, a home made pizza and flowers.  What a great friend she is!   Then a client (can a call her a client when she has never been in contract?) gave me a tool box with everything one needs to deal with a new home and a bouquet of roses.  I was so touched by the thought and will use it regularly.  So I do not feel deprived at all.

Living Room and Stairwell Before Updating

Living Room and Stairwell Before Updating

Last Wednesday the floors in the downstairs were torn out in preparation for cork floors to be installed.  Rob from Naturlich in Sebastopol says “why didn’t I see that?” when he saw the pipes coming out of the floor.  “Because they were hidden,” I cry.  I was still in my panic mode.  With the help of pinot noir, I am now quite sanguine on the matter.  You can take that however you wish.  Thursday all of my heavy furniture was moved.  It was a long day but at the end of it, I have my bedroom completely functional.  This is very easy as it is exactly the same dimensions and  orientation as my bedroom on Joy Road.  The rest of the furniture is in the garage.    The pots and plants that I intend to keep from Joy Road are in the back.  It is a very small yard – the width of the town home and not too deep.  I may have brought too many things.  I will work that out.

Backyard After a Day's Work

Backyard After a Day’s Work

Believe it or not – I worked Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  That is real work that pays the bills not work on the move.  Monday was the first day of painting.  only the downstairs and the upstairs hallway are getting a facelift.  Bedrooms and upstairs baths are just going to have to wait for another time.  Today is Thursday and I now have painted walls and cork flooring.  The living room is red, the stairwell is beige and the kitchen is robin egg blue.  The Benjamin Moore colors are Spanish Red, Shaker Beige and Tranquil Blue for those of you who care about these things.  There are still things to be done.  My TV armoire did not make it up the stairs.  Not sure what I am going to do there.  I signed up for Comcast internet and then forgot to get an ethernet cable when I was at Joy Road last night.

Yes, I am living between two places.  My bed is in Sebatopol but my TV, Internet and kitchen is still at Joy Road.  Last night I was on the blow up bed in my old bedroom.  Tonight I am in Sebastopol using my Verizon hotspot and getting a good night’s sleep.  I planted six roses today and my back is complaining.  My goal is to be settled by June 24.  I am a positive thinker.  Whether I am totally settled or not, I am inviting all those who have helped me move to celebrate that evening.  Did I mention that I am easy walking to Fiesta Market, Mombo’s Pizza and Sebastopol Hardware?

Living Room and Stairwell Tonight

Living Room and Stairwell Tonight

Inspiration at Filoli House and Garden

The Reflection Pond with Garden House

The Reflection Pond with Garden House

There is nothing like a couple of hours in a garden to bring me and my psyche back into balance.  With the struggles of getting escrows closed (of which I could write a full book!), the positive stress of buying myself a condo in town (yes, I am moving soon – that will take many hours of relaxation as well as work) and doing far too much volunteer work these days (P.O.E., Rose Society, Artist Profile……the list goes on), I needed to achieve some balance.   My sister was in Palo Alto for some tests at Stanford and I took the opportunity to drive down and visit with her.  She had the morning before her appointments and asked “What is something fun we can do?”  Knowing that she loves architecture and gardens, we had to go to Filoli.

The Garden House provides elegant shelter to view the garden

The Garden House provides elegant shelter to view the garden

Filoli was built between 1915 and 1917 by William Bowers Bourn II.  Mr. Bourn had the benefit of a gold mine in the Sierras and built his estate on 654 acres in the Crystal Springs Reservoir area of Woodside.  This is the last of the many country estates built after the 1906 earthquake that still remains with its original acreage.  The second owners, Mr. and Mrs. William P. Roth, purchased the estate in 1936 and gifted it to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1975 upon the death of Mrs. Roth.  Most people of my generation recognize the pond above as the fight scene between Alexis and Crystal on Dynasty.   The history of the home is one of lavish parties.  The name Filoli derives from Mr. Bourn’s motto – Fight for a just cause; Love your fellow man; Live a good life.

A Vignette in the Gift Shop

A Vignette in the Gift Shop

The home is spectacular.  If you have an opportunity to visit, there is a visitors center that was having an art exhibit, a coffee shop that had tasty food (I had a mushroom soup that was yummy) and of course, a gift shop.  In addition to having silk flowers and items that would enhance any traditional decor, there is a small nursery that sells some of the plants found within the garden.  It is truly a remarkable place.

Over 1300 volunteers work to keep the garden at its best as well as work in the shop, cafe and the information area.  The property is open from February to October – Tuesday through Sunday.  Be sure to check their website for hours.

Just Joey

Just Joey

While the house is spectacular, my interest always goes to the gardens.  For one thing, gardens change season to season and sometimes day to day.  This garden is known for the wisteria and towering yews.  There is an extensive rose garden but as rose gardens go, it is nothing to brag about.  (Okay, I admit to being a rose garden snob!)  There were some lovely Double Delights and Just Joeys.  Just Joey is one of my favorite roses – the flowers are huge and the color is a bit more coral than this picture conveys.



Springtime is wonderful in the garden.  Not all the roses are in bloom but the rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias are in full regalia.  Not that a garden with acres is anywhere close to my little plot I will be getting with my condo but I did get some great ideas as to placing potted plants with permanent installations.  I love pansies – easy to grow, long lasting, a memory of my childhood.  Pansies were filling beds, clustered in pots and complementing the burgundy Japanese maples.

Today is to be a day of renewal and relaxation for me.   I have not written in this blog as much as I would like as I consider it a luxury to take the time and share my joys.  But I have decided to take another thought process.  This is what keeps me sane.  And even though it is Sunday morning, I have handled three calls from folks looking to purchase property.   I am inspired as I bring up my smiling pansies.  What a fabulous area we live in.

Smiling Pansies - Wishing You a Wonderful Day

Smiling Pansies – Wishing You a Wonderful Day


Flowers Abound at Bouquets to Art

Image Each March my flower obsession is fueled by the Bouquets to Art exhibit at the DeYoung Museum in Golden Gate Park of San Francisco.    This year a group of us decided that Member’s Night would be the best for all of our schedules.  The exhibit is always packed but we arrived early enough to get dinner at the museum cafe (which always has good food) and be allowed into the exhibit a few minutes early.

While I am certain that the number of bouquets was less this year, the display was definitely worth the trip to San Francisco.  The arrangements covered traditionally inspired bouquets with an abundance of flowers to reeds in a bundle topped with a succulent.  Every installation was a joy.  With so many people around, one could not help but overhear the conversations between mother and daughter, enthralled sisters and somewhat ambivalent husbands.


P1030351I always find the comments fascinating.  While looking at the red, blue and yellow abstract painting and bouquet, I was amazed to hear a young woman saying to her older companion. “This is not a true arrangement.  The flowers were just thrown into place without being arranged.”  I feverishly looked to see if the florist was within ear shot as these flowers were so perfectly placed that the artist might have spent hours making sure that each was perfectly representing the colors in the painting.  See this lovely rendition to the right.

Each year there is a selection of artwork that is always included in the mix but there were new ones this year that joined the party.  I must really like the Oranges in Tissue Paper by William Joseph McCloskey, ca. 1890 as this is the second year in a row that I have selected it to show.


The apparent hit of the show was the foliage and ribboned lady of Tulip Culture by George Hitchcock.   The florist’s name is Debbie Hitchcock from Kenwood.  I think that is a wonderful touch and I am imagining that Debbie is a descendant of George.


The Holidays are Underway


Every year I say how much I love Thanksgiving.  It is the truth.  This year my holiday lasted long enough to have two full traditional dinners and the commiserate following day leftovers.  I will be eating leftovers for a week and I gave many of them away.  I did enough cooking to  fulfill my obligation as the reigning matriarch of the family and to enjoy the compliments of friends and family.  Why do I like it so much?  Friends sitting in the kitchen – babies playing with whatever is within reach – family hanging out.   The holiday is one of the lowest key of holidays because it is about nothing but being happy, eating great food and spending time with loved ones.

Uncle Dan keeping Bree happy

I tried to make this Thanksgiving meal a little healthier.  A sweet potato salad with no butter or brown sugar was not quite as popular as the usual.  No one wanted to say it was the lack or either butter or sugar so the comment was “sweet potatoes should be warm.”   Personally, I loved it along with at least one other person.  I passed on mashed russet potatoes for South Beach Surprise Potatoes which is really mashed cauliflower.   Must say that the “potatoes” had mixed reviews.  The Victorian Dressing was probably the best I have ever made.  I think it was the Wildflower Bakery breads that really made it so special.  Of course, there were four pies for six people so no one was left without enough calories.

The wonderful weather blessed us for three days among these spells of rainstorms.  It was enough that we could meander in the garden and take a trip to the beach on Friday.  My friend in gardening, wine tasting and traveling, Gail Lee, brought a fresh bouquet from her backyard.

What shocked me about this lovely bouquet is that it contained roses, irises, alstroemeria and potato vine – in late November.  Having flowers from a personal garden in the late fall and winter are rare and this variety makes me wonder if global warming is finally hitting.

I hope everyone had as wonderful a Thanksgiving as I and wish the best of the season to you all.

The End of Summer is Here

Looking back at the September posts of the past, the garden seems to take center stage.  Since my move to Joy Road, the garden has not had the same place in my heart and in my life. Why does it jump back into my psyche at this time of year?  There could be a multitude of reasons for this but I think that September is the overall Garden Month.  Not only are flowers in abundance but the fruits and vegetables are fantastic.  Sonoma County is a great place to live for many reasons but the growing conditions and the overall weather are a huge part of all those reasons.

So last week I had a total Sonoma County snack.  Sitting by myself with the remnants of a cold, I was craving some great tastes after a week of no taste buds.  Luckily for me I had local artisan goat cheese with a hint of jalapeno.  Add to that some local, ultra ripe figs and a glass of zinfandel.  Okay, it might have been the week of canned soup but this meal was a Sonoma County feast.  The freshness of the ingredients and the melding of flavors is what eating is all about in modern cuisine.  I hit the jackpot!

The growing season has been strange this year.  Call it Global Warming – Call it Confused Weather – Call it Random Temperatures.  I waited until today to harvest my first zucchini while there is an abundant harvest of eggplant.   There are lots of cucumbers and nice zippy peppers.

So it is the end of summer.  I have cleaned up my patio, weeded the flowerbeds and started a new compost  bin.  The next few weeks will be the harvest of the year.  I plan to eat well and make the best of these last weeks of warmth and sunshine.  So happy to be in Sonoma County.



Bouquets to Art 2012

ImageThe time has come to stop going every waking hour, sit down and do something I find relaxing and enjoyable. So here I am in front of my computer – looking at the pictures I have taken over the last three months. – Thinking about those fleeting moments, hours, days when I took a break to do something rejuvenating.  One of those days was the first day of Bouquets to Art at the DeYoung Museum.  It was a cold and rainy day but in the museum the flowers were in full bloom.ImageIf you have never been to this floral extravaganza, you have got to go.  I go for the traditional arrangements mostly with lots of roses and beautiful color.  But each year I am fascinated with the creativity of the designers with unusual plant material and different combinations.


The museum is packed and sometimes it is hard to get a picture without people in them – but then sometimes I want to capture the reactions of people as they take in the arrangements.ImageEach arrangement is inspired by a piece of the permanent collection.  Some are very much a repeat of the art and others are a loose interpretation.  Image

It has been so long since I have written here that the interface has changed and I am not sure what to do.  So I am going to post as many pictures as the blog will let me.




September 2021


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