Friday, November 30, 2007

Meet Author Nan Sterman

Author and Gardening Expert Nan Sterman
How to Green Your Garden
With an Introduction by Jan Smithen

Sunday, December 2 at 2pm
Los Angeles County Arboretum
Reception and book signing to follow
Call 626.821.4623 for reservations, or you may pay at the door
$10 Arboretum members/$15 non-members

Nan Sterman is one of my favorite people. Her first solo book is California Gardeners Guide vol II, published by Cool Springs Press. If you can't make the talk and book signing at the Arboretum- the book is on display at the Border's in Brea. Call them and have them hold a copy for you. They will happily hold it for you for 3 days. The striking cover image of Matalija Poppy alone is worth the price. It's also a great book to have an extra copy of in the trunk of the car to help with garden questions while you are on the go.

From the LA County Press Release:

Nan Sterman is an award winning garden communicator, gardening expert, and garden coach who lives in Encinitas, California, and writes about beautiful and unique gardens and gardeners. Her expertise includes plants for California's Mediterranean climate, sustainable gardening, landscape design, edible gardening, specialty nurseries, and gardening how-to.For several years, Nan was garden editor for San Diego Home Garden Lifestyles Magazine. Today, she writes regularly for regional and national publications such as the San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Sunset, Organic Gardening, and Better Homes and Gardens. After contributing to several gardening books, including the most recent edition of Sunset Western Gardens.

One of Nan's most recent projects is A Growing Passion, an award-winning television program whose pilot episode airs on the San Diego PBS affiliate. On the show, Nan visits real gardens created by ordinary people who happen to be extra-ordinary gardeners.? The show explores the inner passion of these individuals as expressed by or through the gardens they create.

For the last four years, Nan has been a regular guest on These Days radio talk show on San Diego Public Radio, KPBS (89.5 FM).?? The Do-It-Yourself Network has featured her in several of its shows and she has been a guest on several network newscasts.
Nan is a regular on the garden speaker circuit, addressing audiences at county fairs, flower shows, community meetings, Master Gardeners, garden clubs, and professionals in the horticulture industry. She teaches gardening classes to homeowners at the Water Conservation Garden, and low-water gardening classes sponsored by the Metropolitan Water District.

Nan Sterman's horticultural education includes a Bachelor's degree in botany from Duke University and a Master's in biology from UC Santa Barbara. She was trained in organic gardening methods, sustainable gardening and raised bed gardening at the Farallones Institute in Berkeley, California.Ms. Sterman has served as a Master Composter and Master Gardener as well.

In her own home garden Ms. Sterman tests a wide range of plant materials. She also consults on garden design and plant selection. Ms. Sterman is a board member of the Garden Writers Association and is chairperson of the Encinitas Garden Festival. She is active in the San Diego Horticultural Society and also coordinates a 5,000 square foot school garden.

Jill Berry, Program Manager
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
301 North Baldwin Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91007-2697
Phone: 626.821.4624
Fax: 626.821.4642

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Rosemary Tree is Up and Decorated

The ovens are cleaned right after Thanksgiving. To my mind that makes the slate clean to bring in Christmas. The doe-see-doe of changing Thanksgiving to Christmas has begun in earnest. The succulent cornucopia is now at home outside and the rosemary topiary anchors the decorations on my kitchen island.
The ribbon featuring gingerbread men and candycanes festooning the tree was found at I Love Country in La Habra. The rest of the decorations have been added to each year.

This layering of the decorations may not be the most professional way to do things. But it keeps the holiday spirit alive. There is both consistency in the familiar. And the mind stays open to discover new additions for the family to notice when the family gathers.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Bay Laurel Wreath

When a fresh bay laurel wreath is hung over the refrigerator and the timer for stained glass gingerbread house is plugged in, that is my signal to our household that the Christmas season is underway. Over the next week our house will be transformed from autumn and Thanksgiving to the celebratory nature of Christmas.
We have a bay leaf tree. It sits just outside our kitchen. Potted up, it does not grow overly large. Every few years the tree is yanked out, the roots pruned and some fresh soil packed around the roots.
Bay laurel trees can be a little pricey for their size: but compared to the cost of the stale leathery leaves in the grocery store: that little tree more than pays its way with fresh leaves for potpourri, wreaths and kitchen seasoning.
Where did the legend of the Laurel Wreath begin? In ancient Greece. Recall the ancient myth which tells of when an arrogant Apollo, son of Zeus, held out to ridicule the God of love, Eros. Apollo doubted the power of Eros’ arrows. Annoyed, Eros gave Apollo a demonstration. He shot Apollo with a golden arrow. His flesh pierced, Apollo fell immediately, helplessly, endlessly in love with Daphne. Not finished, Eros then turned and shot Daphne with the antidote on an iron arrow so Apollo’s feelings could never be returned. And so the smitten Apollo came to be doomed to pursue the ever- fleeing Daphne.
When Apollo was about to overtake Daphne, she pleaded to the earth goddess, Gaia, to save her from his lust. Gaia complied by turning the lovely Daphne in to a laurel tree just as Apollo was about to overtake her. Despondent in his unrequited love, Apollo took some branches from the tree wove a wreath to wear on his brow made from the leaves of his beloved.
Since ancient Greece, the laurel wreath resting on the brow is synonymous with triumphant victory. Perhaps that is why I like it as a signal to the Christmas season. For as a Christian, this is the season where the story begins which ends at Easter. In my faith, it is believed that Jesus ultimately offers the gift of victory over death to all who call him the Son of God.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was always a special holiday growing up. When we were young we would go to Uncle Frank and Aunt Doris' house. They lived in a small Spanish bungalow in Orange County. The house was set on a large rectangular lot near Magnolia High School. May be an acre of very flat land. They had a chicken coupe, a couple goats and a horse. One year they had a Steer named Dusty. Uncle Frank would let us chase her, which I thought was fabulous and my Aunt and Mother threatened him if he encouraged "the girls" to do anything so dangerous again. After dinner "crazy" Uncle Frank would lift me way up high on the horse's bareback to watch the Disneyland fireworks.

I learned a lot at this Uncle's house. Mostly about how much fun it could be to break a few rules. When I was nine he let us skewer the wedges of pineapple which were neatly arranged back in to the halved pineapple. Only the wedges weren't yellow- he had done something to then to turn them leprechaun green. What he had done was marinated the fruit with a little creme de menthe liqueur. My parents were really upset with Uncle Frank for serving their very minor daughter alcohol. But I never loved him more.

Until dinner. Instead of the usual turkey-with-the-fixings- we had this really delicious prime rib dinner. Some time during the meal I realized I hadn't seen Dusty and I asked where he was. I wanted to play with him.

Only I couldn't, And I wouldn't be able to again. Dusty had been 4H'd.

Now if you ever get a chance to purchase a 4 H animal "after the fair", go for it. Dusty was "my first" taste of hand-raised meat. Made me understand how a farm family could stand to part with what I saw as "pets". They taste way to good only to play with.

The years have passed, traditions have changed, the world has changed. Tomorrow, unless I wake to better news than I have been following the last 2 days, I will be praying for the safe return of 3 little children whose mother decided it was better to go on the lamb with than obey a court order to give an extended visitation with their father's parents. I can't imagine the pain of not knowing where the grandchildren are.

And while I go to God to ask for the safe return of these children, I will be thanking him for this very good life that I live. I am still with the husband of my youth. Our sons are honest and productive members of society, They have chosen wisely women to share their journey in this life. I live in the greatest place in the greatest nation on earth. And I can speak and pray freely.

I wish you all many blessings throughout this holiday season.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


"As for rosemary, I let it run all over my garden walls, not only because my bees love it but because it is the herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship..."
Sir Thomas More
The selection of rosemary topiaries in the stores is excellent right now. Before they are picked over, grab one. It is nice to have a living plant in the home at Christmastime. As they are very much an outdoor plant, mine will not come in the house until the first week of December. That will give its best chance of surviving through the holiday season. Just after the first of the year it will be planted outside.
Rub the needles of a sprig between your fingers. The distinct aroma will linger for hours. Close your eyes and breathe in. The scent is something like camphor and pine and eucalyptus. You will never forget it.
Perhaps that it why rosemary in ceremoniesis associated with memory. Greek scholars wore crowns of it into exams to heighten their mental acuity. Sprigs are tucked into bridal bouquets as a symbol of fidelity to the groom and as a sign that the bride would not forget the family she was born to. In some cultures, a sprig of rosemary is tossed into the lowered casket to symbolize the deceased would not be forgotten.

Perhaps most appropriate to the season is the story of when the Virgin Mary on her journey to Egypt cast her cloak over the small white blossoms, they turned blue.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Post Fire in the Garden

Outside it doesn't seem as though two weeks ago the air was thick as smoke and California was in many parts a refugee camp. Tonight it is crystal clear, the indigo night sky studded with stars.

For those of us lucky enough to have been spared fire damage it is time to go out and clean the garden.

Think of the leaves on plants as their filter. That is why it is so it is important to keep the leaves clean. This means in the typical 20 gallon hose end sprayer add 1 cup of baby shampoo and 1 cup antiseptic mouthwash and then fill with water. Then wash away! Preferably in the morning, when the leaves will have a chance to dry before the sun goes down. I like to do this chore just before Thanksgiving, because then everything is clean before the Christmas lights go up.

If you have old mulch that hasn't worked itself in to the soil, rake any build up away from plants. Don't let it build up to the point that it becomes a nesting place for rats.

If you have diseased rose leaves- rust, blackspot or other disfigurement- pull off and throw away.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Pretty surprise

Okay. This is a little over-the-top as far as kithcen cabinets interiors. I think my husband was working in Egypt when I decided to wallpaper the inside of the cabinets. When it is time to change the paper- I think I will sell the house first.

The lace edging came later. The corners of the paper was wearing and I am not ready to sell the house- so the lace was found on eBay, ironed and hotglued, It is protected by the invisible corner protectors sold at any home center, cut to fit the inside of the shelf edge.

And yes- the packets of instant dressings and the like are alphabetical.