Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tomorrow is the day. I can't believe it. It is finally here. It started out months ago when David asked me "Do you think you can put in a Japanese Garden?" Oh the hubris I had. I said, "Yes." Tomorrow it begins. After months of planning. Consulting with everyone we could think of. Refining our ideas. Dreaming. Tomorrow the final details get nailed down and off we go. I'm so excited! I'm terrified.

Friday, November 28, 2008


We all had yesterday off to enjoy Thanksgiving. I found myself thinking about all I had to be thankful for. This is something I don't always take the time to do and there I was with a whole day to do it. I started off with the obvious, a roof over my head, food to eat, friends and family who love me and who I love in return. An incredible job.

That last one lead me to reflect on just how much has happened in the almost year and a half that I've been at the Gardens. I started making a thank you list, a list of everyone who has helped out at the Gardens in order to post it here. I tried to think back to that hot July day when I first walked through the Gardens. I tried thinking about what was happening last year at this time. I though about last week. What continually amazes and delights me is how willing people are to help. The list of folks I want to thank is immense and I know I've probably forgotten someone . I also know there are people out there who are doing things to help that I don't even know about. So as far as posting a thank you list, I can't. But what I can do is say "Thank you". Thank you to everyone who has helped out at the Gardens in whatever way you have. It doesn't matter if what you did was pick up a piece of trash or donate thousands of dollars. You have shown your faith in the Gardens and what we are doing here. And I appreciate it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Juggling Cats

I'd like to give a shout out to the Tamarisk Coalition. They have been doing incredible work out on Watson Island. Just look! You can actually see the Gardens from the Watson Island pathway. Astonishing.

Not only have they been working on the tamarisk, they've been cutting down the Russian olive trees and the Siberian Elms aka Chinese Elms. Saturday was the last volunteer day until spring so I went down and hauled off some Russian olives after they got cut. The olives weren't the only thing that got cut. I did too. The thorns on those trees are viscious. At the end of the day, or in my case end of the half day, you go home with a collection of cuts that are proof of your hard work. Or if you are modest you just tell folks you've been juggling cats.

Alien Life Form

Invasion of the green tentacled gut suckers! Run for your lives! The rational among you will probably identify the greenery as Bromus tectorum, cheatgrass, something just as scary as the green tentacled gut sucker. I found this monster hiding in a part of the Gardens that had no additional water. It was living in the mulch and its superhuman roots had grown through the brand new landscape cloth. Is there no stopping it? Yes. But we must be diligent. Pull it when you can. Spray it in the fall and most of all. Do not give up. It is either us or them. And I prefer it to be us.

Turkish Delight

Sandra gave us a lovely tree. And all week I've been telling everyone that it is a Turkish Delight because I couldn't remember what it really was. It is a Corylus colurna. A Turkish Filbert. Ok. I got it now. It is a cool little tree. It has this rough bark that is similar to that of bur oak but it flakes off and there is this really stunning cinnamon colored bark underneath. No, you may not go out and start stripping the bark. It is a tree not a Christmas present. Well, maybe a Christmas present for the Gardens but not one you unwrap.

These are the tools that Sandra and I used to transplant the tree. Notice the breaker bar and the pickaxe. The ground was a little compacted and full of clay. We amended the soil with some clay soil amendment and compost so that our new tree has a fighting chance. It would have been a little unfair to just plunk it in the ground after it has spent all its life in a nursery. Not like the trees from the city. Those are definitely, to borrow a term from the computer world, drag and drop.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It Is A Puzzle

I've been focusing a lot of my attention to the greenhouses these days and I'm pleased to announce that as of 3:37pm yesterday the mister system was up and running AND I didn't get a temperature alarm in the wee hours of the morning. Yee Haw! Now.... on to the sunshades and the vents. I'm a little nervous about the vents because the braces are held together by a contraption called a jigsawpuzzle. I'm hoping it is a misnomer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Procrastinators Rejoice!

Mother Nature has been very good to us this fall. I know, I know, we sure could have used a couple of really good snow storms or even some rain but these warm temperatures have been a gardener's delight. Normally by now the Gardens would be snug and ready for winter. Instead the warm days and relatively warm nights has meant that you could still be putting plants in the ground and getting a jump on your winter watering. In fact I'd recommend taking the hose out this afternoon or even tomorrow and giving your trees a good drink and getting some water on your perennial beds. They will thank you for it next spring. To all you procrastinators out there get moving! This grace of good weather is not going to last. Get those bulbs in the ground! I will be transplanting grasses and moving around a few plants and trees to get things going for next year. Have fun! I will be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ah, Yes, It is Monday

I generally stay away from the bemoaning of Mondays as being a bad day because you are back at work because I like my job. Every day is a good day even Mondays. I almost forgot that this morning when the first thing I did was walk into the greenhouse and turn on the water and the faucet broke in my hand. Cuss, cuss, cuss. However, I have amazing volunteers. They are used to changing jobs at a moment's notice. I think it keeps things exciting for them. Anyway, it all got resolved and the day turned out just great. We got the last of the trees planted in the amphitheater, thanks to Willie and Tom our friendly urban forresters and Felila and Tyler. The new nectar sources got planted in the greenhouse thanks to Ginny and Dolores. If you haven't seen the amphitheater lately you should see it now that it is full of trees. And you should stop by and see our cute little nectar sources.

Don't Be Stupid

This post goes out to all you wanna be gangstas: If you are going to tag something make, it a good tag. I'm one of those people who actually thinks graffiti has a place in art and art history. I was active in the art scene during the time Jean Michel Basquiat was making graffiti and bringing it to the mainstream as well as making a ton of money. So yes, graffiti can be profound, beautiful and even a way of making a good living. However, the pathetic scribbles that showed up on the shed down at the Gardens was definitely not any of that. It was just stupid.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sooooo Much To Do

There is sooo much to do. More trees being planted. Well, rearranged. Yeah, for most people rearranging usually involves some cut flowers and a vase. For me it involves cottonwood trees and an amphitheater.

The folks from the Career Center planted our cute little sequoia today. It was a pretty big job. The ground was really hard. When I saw them last they were taking turns with the pick axe. By the time I left, the sequoia was in the ground looking pretty happy.

Of course there are greenhouse woes but more importantly are greenhouse plants! Yes 21 plus 1 bonus plant came today for the butterfly house. We have lots of nectar sources now to keep the butterflies fat and happy. I can hardly wait to see how a fat butterfly flies.

We are getting closer and closer to breaking ground on the new garden. It is very exciting! And speaking of exciting I can't believe I haven't exclaimed over the beautiful tree that is flowering in the greenhouse right now. What? You want to know the name of it? Uh, er, it ummm escapes me right now but I know it as the-tree-we've-been-thinking-about-cutting-down-for-the-last-year-because-it-has-been-looking-so-sickly. It has these crazy pink blooms that kind of look like spider lilies. Ok. I'll look it up tomorrow and give you its "real" name.

We also got to do a little top secret spy stuff that I obviously can't tell you about or else I'd have to kill you.

Most thrilling of all for me, is that Gary, Eddie and Karen came out and went on an afternoon hunt for the 220 electrical line which so far has been eluding us. In the process they have taken a lot of mystery out of the amphitheater for me. Which is ok. I don't need any mystery in the amphitheater.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Watch The Sparks Fly!

It is true confession time. I confess. One of my favorite tv shows is Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. I am so jealous of Mike Rowe. For those of you who aren't familiar, the whole premise of the show is to have this guy go all over the United States doing all sorts of jobs most of us wouldn't want to have like sewer repair or roughnecking or shearing sheep or cutting down palm trees or shrimping. The thing I get so jealous over is that he gets to do all these different things. I think that is why I like my job so much. I get to learn about all kinds of things like xeric plants and tropical plants and koi and butterflies and boiler systems and pond systems and conservation and tree spades and WELDING! That's right ladies and gents, the east gate came off of its hinges and our fantastic neighbors over at Elam's sent over one of their welders to help out. And just look! Here he is in action.

Those welders, they really know how to make the sparks fly! But seriously, it was cool seeing the gate get put back together with just a little electricity and metal. It kinda made this week seem sort of ho-hum. I mean we've been planting trees and releasing the butterflies and getting the greenhouses fixed and well, I think it has been a week to make Mike Rowe jealous and it is only Tuesday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Great Greenhouse Batman! It's Clean!

Ginny, Sharon and Kevin did a fabulous job cleaning out the potting shed. Why we might be able to actually use it as a potting shed!

And while I still may be having problems with the mister system, it is working and creating lovely, romantic, mysterious effects.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Popular Demand

It seems the public is clamoring for news on the Gardens. I'm here to oblige.

It has been really busy the last week or so. WD Yards came out and blew out our irrigation lines. THANK YOU! They also explained a couple of mysteries in the irrigation system. Any of you off season irrigation guys who are looking for a challenge, stop by they Gardens. I've got one for you.

I'd just like to say. No, they aren't dead. The city has been giving us some lovely trees and for some reason people are wondering why I'm putting dead trees in. Ummm. There are some trees, called deciduous, that have their leaves fall off in the autumn. They are supposed to have no leaves. Sheesh. We have plenty of evergreens too. And thanks to the new trees and the Career Center kids the amphitheater has never looked better.

The Japanese Garden is coming right along and we should start work on it in a couple of weeks. It is very exciting. Stop by the office and have a look at our plan. I'm always open to comment.

We'll be getting some nectar sources into the butterfly house on Tuesday so things will start to fill in there soon.

I'm trying an experiment on keeping the pond going over the winter. Today is a nice cold day to test the moving water doesn't freeze theory.

I'm off to the Gardens for another big day. I'll keep you posted. :)