Posts Tagged 'Roses'

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

Volunteering Takes Time

Selling Roses

One of the many blooms on display

One of the many blooms on display

The last two weeks I have been in the waiting period for my home purchase.  The loan is approved – the boxes are piling up – I am picking out colors.  Long escrows are just that – long.  But I would not be able to move if I had to do it today as I have spent the last two weeks doing my volunteering.  I have friends who volunteer at the hospital – organize town meetings- coach a softball team.  I have two organizations that are such a part of my life that I am always saying “yes”.  They are the Redwood Empire Rose Society and P.E.O. Chapter AJ.

20130511_120046 (1024x739)The Redwood Empire Rose Society is affiliated with the American Rose Society.  We meet monthly for either an informative program or a social gathering.  Most meetings involve roses and food.  The roses are the emphasis of the organization but we can’t seem to do anything without food to accompany it.  May 11 was our annual Rose Show and once again I took on the task of the Judges’ Luncheon.   I served 25 people a lunch of three salads and strawberry shortcake.  I used my favorite table linens and the

A Bouquet of Julia Child

A Bouquet of Julia Child

spread was inviting.  The luncheon had become known as the best Judges’ Luncheon in Northern California and it helps attract judges for our local rose show.  The judges travel from the South Bay, Nevada and Central Valley so we must make it worth their drive!  It was a beautiful day and we had beautiful roses.  That “we” is a bit incorrect as my roses had bloomed the week before and I had nothing to display.  The Rose Show is the first or second week of May each year at the Luther Burbank Art and Garden Center on Yulupa Avenue in Santa Rosa.  It is an event worth attending.

Stocking the Boutique

Stocking the Boutique

P.E.O. is a philanthropic educational organization.  What does that really mean?  We provide scholarships and loans to fund the higher education of women.  There are international, state and local funding mechanisms.  We do a lot of fundraising – but mainly we do it within our chapters.  My chapter is AJ in Sebastopol.  Last year we celebrated our 100th anniversary (you may remember the cars in the parade!)  Last week I was at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose working the 2013 State Convention.  The main money maker for the Conventions is the boutique and I was one of three co-chairs for this event.  Wow!  What a job!  We spent a year selecting and purchasing inventory and none of the three has any experience in retail.  After spending close to $17,000 and storing items, we had a four-day selling frenzy.   I don’t have the full left over inventory but it looks like we brought in about $35,ooo.  Not a bad profit for the unskilled.

Waiting for the Opening Ceremony

Waiting for the Opening Ceremony

A P.E.O. Convention is a whirlwind of fun, activities and presentations.  I only saw the inside of the boutique this year but I am going to be the delegate for Marin/Sonoma at the international convention in Dallas this September.  This should be a lot of fun.

I am back home and getting caught up on work and preparing for my upcoming move.  I received a bid for painting the downstairs and getting cork flooring.   I am ready to start settling in and I am 12 days away from closing.  This is going to be a busy summer.

Smiling after a long day of the Rose Show

Smiling after a long day of the Rose Show

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.



Pruning Roses in 2012

How is your garden reacting to this strange weather pattern?  I finally watered my plants in the ground last week for fear that they would dry up.  They were thankful to receive some moisture and I am thankful that we had a bit of rain and I see more in the forecast.

Pruning should be coming to the end.  I have not started mine and am anxious to find time in the next few days. Between work and the common cold, I have been having some difficulties in getting this done.  But then, I am not sure the roses realize that we have had the “cold” of winter.

The one question that has kept going through my mind is “Do I put down the Osmocote with the weather being so warm?”  I really have not come up with an answer as of yet.  The theory behind fertilizing at the time of pruning is that it is easy to spread before the mulch is put down and that it would not start releasing until the weather warmed up  –  well past the time that we would have a freeze that could damage new growth.  With the days as warm as they have been, the fertilizer should start releasing immediately.  If we don’t have any freezes, the plants should start sprouting new leaflets and we could have roses in April.  But, alas, who is to know if we will have a freeze and all of the new growth would be lost.  I keep going back and forth.  Since I will probably not get my roses done for another week, I am thinking I might go ahead with the Osmocote and cross my fingers.  My other option is to do half the roses with Osmocote and wait to fertilize the other half nearer the end of March.

Winter Bouquet

I fear that we will be seeing greater and greater variations from our known and constant weather patterns.  Right now I have hellebores, azaleas, camellias, calla lilies and roses in bloom.  Yes, roses.  Ribbons and Roses, a large miniature that I grow in a pot in the middle of my garden and Dainty Bess, also in a pot, have buds that will open in the next few days.

What is a gardener to do?  I have decided to do the best I can and let nature take its course.  Which is wise since what I do has so little affect compared to our magical planet.

2011 Has Been A Wonderful Year

Happy American Canyon Buyers and Los Altos Sellers!

The last day of 2011 and what a year it has been.  When January 2011 came around, I had no idea where I was going or what the year was going to bring.  My first post was about the increased and difficult business of real estate.  Thankfully the volume continued and I am pleased to report that I closed more transactions than I have in any other year of my real estate career.  The year finished as it had begun with a flurry of activity.  Alas, the difficultly continues as sales are plagued with late appraisals, slow loan approvals and the hurry-up-and-wait process of short sales and bank-owned properties.  Home values have continued to decline except in those few areas where the prices fell so precipitously that there is nowhere to go but up – specifically Rohnert Park has seen some price increases in single family homes.  This December was a very busy month.  Not only was I working on Sonoma County real estate but I closed transactions in American Canyon (Napa County), Los Altos (Santa Clara County) and Lakehead (Shasta County).  These put a few miles on my car but I love working with great folks and these buyers and sellers were top-notch in my book.  I would go anywhere in the State of California for people like them.  And speaking of going – I only attended 8 parties in 14 days during this frenzy of work.  I needed a rest week after Christmas.

View from a Bedroom Window - No difference which one - they are all fantastic!

I am starting 2012 with a listing that I expect to be of great interest to anyone looking for a luxury weekend getaway.  Privacy, space and up-to-the-minute elegance is the best description.  This modern tree house is in a wonderfully sunny spot on Green Valley Road.  It will hit the market late January and you can be certain that you will see it on this blog.  There are many people looking for bargains in real estate and I am working to serve them.  But enough about 2012.  This post is about 2011!

The statistics for this blog were sent to me today.  Around 5,300 hits in 2011 with 35 posts.  I have made a New Year’s resolution that you will get a weekly update on Sonoma real estate.  This is something I follow and I should be sharing the information.  I was surprised to learn that my most read post in 2011 was the one I wrote in May of 2009 on our Redwood Empire Rose Show.  I guess that tells me that I should be more diligent about reporting on the Rose Society.   And, of course, I will continue sharing events around Sonoma County and my travels.  I don’t expect much traveling this year but then, one never knows.

Just a quick report on the Sonoma County real estate numbers.  Here are some numbers comparing November 2010 to November 2011.  The months of inventory (meaning – at the rate houses are selling, how many months would it take to sell all the houses on the market if no new ones were added for sale) has dropped significantly from 5.9 months to 3.3 months.  This is an indicator that buyers are taking advantage of these great prices and low interest rates.  Another interesting fact is that while the average list price has increased from $616,000 to $773,000 (about a 25% increase), the averages sales price has only increased from $374,000 to $386,000 (only a 3% increase).  This tells us that more expensive houses are coming onto the market as owners realize that holding out for better prices may not be a good idea.  The lower priced homes are not getting any lower and the higher priced homes are seeing a price compression.

Maike in Kauai

This last week I have spent on Kauai with my granddaughter – oh, and her parents and my friend, Katy.  What a great way to spend Christmas – no hassle, no clean up, no expectations.  We have had a wonderful time and I may get to reporting on our activities here.  But now it is New Year’s Eve and I wish the very best of 2012 to all my readers, colleagues and friends.

View of Bali Hai from the St. Regis Beach

2010 Sonoma County Fair

Melody Perfume


Animal Rescue at the Fair

Tomorrow, August 8, is the last day of the 2010 Sonoma County Fair.  The theme this year is GRAPE ESCAPE.  The theme might be more appropriate than was imagined when selected some time past as we are still wondering when the grapes are going to be ready to pick. 

Red Tailed Hawk


The fair experience was about the same as each other year.  Outside the building with chickens and rabbits was the Animal Rescue Center information table.  There were screech owls and a red tailed hawk.  The red tailed hawk can no longer successfully hunt and so lives in captivity.  Birds are not the only animals rescued.   Prominently displayed were stuffed fox, racoon and other critters that inhabit our environs.  No advice on how to keep fox out of the chicken coop was provided.   

The House of Flowers was the best it has been in years.  That might be due to the theme being garden friendly and that the weather was not so hot as to wilt the plants.  Whatever the case, the variety was great and the designs lovely.  The Redwood Empire Rose Society once again provided rose expertise to the public during the rose display.  

Double Delight


 We were pleased to have Best in Show go to Phyllis Saccani for her three perfect Hot Princess blooms.  Cathy Fletcher won Most Fragrant and Catie Fletcher took the top mini category.  Not a bad showing for our Rose Society. 

Cathy and Phyllis with ribbons


It is time to prune those roses!

Karen Ernsberger Pruning the Rose, Renae

The rain has put a real damper on the rose pruning in my garden.  Thankfully, we did not have rain the first two Saturdays of the year because those are the days a dedicated group of rosarians prune the garden at Luther Burbank Art & Garden Center.   The Redwood Empire Rose Society not only keeps the rose garden at the Center in beautiful shape throughout the year but, also, teaches pruning techniques from 9 to 12 those two days.  In 2011 we will need to move to the second and third Saturdays to accomodate that January 1 Saturday. 

A well pruned climbing rose

The one type of pruning that gets the most questions are climbers.  Climbers take some extra care but are not all that different from shrubs.  You just need to think of the long cane as a huge above ground root with a bunch of  little rose bushes growing from it.  Tie the cane to the fence or trellis instead of weaving it in and out.  A healthy rose can destroy a fence or a wooden arbor.  Don’t even think about those flimsy trellises at the garden center because a rose will pull them apart in a season.

Right now the ground is so wet that even when it is not raining, I am sloshing around in mud.  Not to fear, pruning can be done as late as March in our moderate climate.  Yes, we are very fortunate in Sonoma County. 

If you have any pruning questions, just post a remark and I will be happy to respond.

ARS Fall Rose Show in Palm Springs

I promised days ago to get some pictures up of the ARS Fall Rose Show in Palm Springs.  Lots is going on in my life, real estate and family this last week so it has taken me a few days to get back to the keyboard.  My first comment has to be that it was a spectacular rose show.  For those of you who do not hang out at these types of events, a rose show is not something that just comes together without a great deal of effort on the part of the organizers and the exhibitors.  For weeks prior to the show there are preparations of what to include in the rose show and how to display all the entries.  The venue has to be large enough to handle all of the anticipated entries and provide appropriate light and room for observing.  Judges are often scheduled more than a year in advance.   A show program is developed which explains to exhibitors what is expected for each of the various classes – be they generic to a flower, a special exhibit of a rose or collection of roses or an arrangement. 

Then there are the exhibitors.  Not only do they watch their gardens for the sight of the perfect bloom but they have pruned, trimmed, feed and pampered these bushes for months.  Over a week before the show the seasoned exhibitor will be selecting which buds might hold the Queen of Show.  Any side buds are removed early so that the stem can repair where the disbudding occurred.  After all that work, they harvest their choices and pack them for transport to the show – at which time they stay up all night prepping roses and determining which ones will make it to the table.  If they happen to be arrangers, they have not only carried blossoms but vases, oasis, greenery – the list goes on.  These are people who need to sleep a couple of hours during the judging so that they will be able to recognize their blooms on the winner’s table.

Queen of Show - Cajun Moon

The honored “Court” of the show are those blooms judged to be the very best of the Section E Class 44 – One Hybrid Tea or Grandiflora Bloom without side buds.  The Court is Queen, King, Princess and 6 additional blooms of merit.  There are many other trophies and other courts but the One Hybrid Tea Bloom is considered by all to be THE winner at the Show.  The judging is done by groups.  A panel of judges is assigned to a portion of the show and they determine who gets first, second, third or honorable mention places.  From the first place winners (those that have been awarded a blue ribbon) the Court is determined.  Often (I am not certain if it is always) all the judges come together to select the Queen, King and Princess.  For a show the size of this one, there can be as many as 40 judges who have to agree!  I was feeling thankful that our little rose show in Santa Rosa only has around 10 judges.

Mini Wings - MiniatureRose

 This lovely Mini Wings specimen only received a red ribbon (second place).  I was stumped as to why as I think it is a darling rose and petals so  perfectly spaced.  It is a very new introduction and is not found in the 2010 Handbook for Selecting Roses (yes, this is my rose bible).   Once I was able to look it up on the internet, I learned why it only got a second.  This rose is to have between 9 and 16 petals.  The specimen is not “representative of the variety” which is the criteria on which it is judged.  So while I am fascinated with this bloom, if I bought a shrub, it probably would not come out like this one!

Another post on the arrangements will be added later today.  It appears that I may have found a limit to the pictures I can put in one post – maybe not – maybe I am just blogging challenged right now!  Check back later for some fantastic arrangements.

Roses and Golf in Palm Springs

Often in the winter Tom and I travel to Rancho Mirage in the Coachella Valley to escape those few cold days in Sonoma County and get in some dry golf.  This usually occurs in January or late March but this year we decided to come in November.  The impetus for this timing was the American Rose Society Fall Conference and Rose Show.  We managed to get in a few rounds of golf.  I certainly did not play well enough to give details on those outings.

Baldo Villegas in one of his many bug t-shirts!

The Conference was another thing entirely.  We had a wonderful time.  My dear rose friend, Phyllis Saccani, was with us for the rose activities.  Thursday we attended two very interesting programs – Beneficial Insects and Other Friends of the Home Garden by Baldo Villegas and The Common Polyantha Families by Jim Delahanty and John Bagnasco.  Baldo is an entomologist for the California Department of Agriculture and a great person to know if you have unidentified bugs in your garden.  Tom does not usually attend the talks but even he was fascinated by Baldo’s descriptions of bugs and how to live with them.

You might be asking, “what is a polyantha?”  Of course, I am going to answer that question.  Polyanthas are a class of roses that have been used to hybridize many of the miniature roses because they have a naturally smaller flower.  There are many rosarians who do not feel that a polyantha is worth much more than a hybridizing tool but a growing number are beginning to see the wonderful landscape value of each.  One of the most famous roses around “The Fairy” is a polyantha – another is Mlle. Cecile Brunner, that lovely little pink climber that can take over the side of a house.  So many people call Mlle. Cecile Brunner just Cecile Brunner that it is listed both ways in many books.  I am very partial to polyanthas for some unkwown reason.  They flower constantly and have a very pleasant growth habit.   A wonderful addition to any garden.

Jeri & Clay Jennings - Rose Rustlers

Friday we attended three more talks – Rose Rustling: A Tradition of Preservation by Jeri & Clay Jennings, Old Roses for a New Millennium by Gregg Lowery (who is the owner of Vintage Gardens and lives right outside of Sebastopol) and Rose Identification by Cass Bernstein (who is also a Sonoma County resident).  Rose rustling was begun many years ago but has totally swept the nation in recent years.  A rose rustler is someone who combs the countryside and old graveyards to find roses that were planted over a century ago and then works to identify them.  What is remarkable is that there are hundreds (probably more like thousands) of rose plants that have survived abandoned without care for decades.  They are found in ghost towns and at foundations of homes ravaged by fire but are still thriving.  Maybe they are not as beautiful as if they were watered and pruned and fed but they are alive.  The real prize for a rose rustler is to find a rose that is no longer available.  Most of these roses end up with Gregg Lowery at Vintage Gardens and in the Sacramento Historical Cemetery.  I must give a plug for the Cemetery which holds one of the largest collections of antique roses displayed in a non-formal rose garden setting.  The spring bloom is spectacular and fall is not bad.  Check it out at  The combination of these three talks was fascinating.  I love the old garden roses (OGRs) as these antiques are called and I look forward to their wonderful scent each spring.

Tomorrow I plan to post about the Rose Show.  Just to whet your appetite, I am including this picture of a winning entry.

Fourth of July in an English Box


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