Category Archives: Uncategorized

Restoring California’s native oaks

Imagine for a moment what our valley looked like only two centuries ago. Before the mass settlement of California, grizzly bears, herds of tule elk and deer, and sky-darkening flocks of migratory birds were common in what we now call San Joaquin County. Northern Valley Yokuts and Miwok communities lived and thrived within the oak […]

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A magnificent migration of painted ladies

If you’ve spent any time outside in the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed a greater than normal number of butterflies flitting past. You’ve been privileged to witness the largest migration of painted lady butterflies in nearly 15 years. This miracle of nature was spawned by heavier than average winter and spring rainfall in the […]

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A tour of New Zealand gardens-Part 1.

In January, Pam and I were fortunate to get included on a garden tour of private and public gardens in New Zealand. The tour was sponsored by the Northwest Horticultural Society located in Seattle and organized by Earthbound Expeditions which is also headquartered in Washington. There were 32 of us and we all managed to […]

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Straw bale gardening

Do you want to your own vegetables, but have minimal garden space, poor or heavy clay soil, or limited financial resources? Do you manage or want to begin a school or community garden, but need to start small or stretch limited funding? Do you want to give your children a fun adventure in growing their […]

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How to prune two popular grass-like plants

Several weeks ago, I wrote about how to prune ornamental grasses. This article covers a similar topic: how to care for two widely used and loved perennial plants that resemble oversized grasses. New Zealand flax (Phormium species) There are only two species of Phormium, but there are lots of named cultivars and hybrids with different sizes and […]

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Who are the UC Master Gardeners?

Are you growing food this year? Do you have bugs in your garden? Do you want to learn more about growing roses? If you are a gardener with questions or an interest in learning, it helps to have a credible source of information. Maybe you need someone to answer your questions about pests or plant […]

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Growing winter vegetables is fun and nutritious

Our Central Valley’s wonderful climate is conducive to year around gardening, something the rest of the nation likely cannot relate to. I normally get my seeds at our local Lockhart seed store, but in July, I only needed a few seeds for my winter garden, so I went to a nearby big box store for […]

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It’s time for bare root planting

Have you been thinking of adding a fruit tree or two, some roses, or other productive plants to your garden? This is the perfect time for plants that are sold in “bare root” form. Most deciduous fruit and nut trees are available bare root: almonds, apples, apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, persimmons, plums, walnuts, and […]

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Proper pruning of ornamental grasses

I have to admit, this article is about one of my pet peeves, plant butchering. I hope to educate homeowners and commercial landscapers about how the specific growth habits of different plants should dictate the appropriate pruning methods. If you remember only one rule from this article, it should be this: some plants should NOT […]

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Tree Peonies and herbaceous peonies are long term plants.

There are quite a few plants that I miss after downsizing. I have previously mentioned camellias and several productive citrus trees are missed too. Also missing at my new home are tree peonies (Paeonia suffructicosa) and herbaceous peonies (Paeonia lactiflora). The tree peonies were pretty special. When I first moved to my former home in […]

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