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I’m Liking Lichen

My husband and I had the lake in Colorado, at 11,000 feet elevation, to ourselves except for occasional hikers a mile away—colorful specks on a timberline trail whose voices carried in the thin air. While Jeff fished, although I wasn’t bored exactly, I began noticing lichens. I’m here to tell you, Rocky Mountain lichens are as impressive as lava flows.

According to Wikipedia, lichen is comprised of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner (usually green algae). Lichens occur in some of the most extreme environments on earth—arctic tundra, hot deserts, rocky coasts, and toxic slag heaps—as well as  bare rock, walls and gravestones. Continue Reading →

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How to Create a Succulent Tide Pool Garden

An article I scouted and wrote for Sunset is in all regional editions of the September issue. (Most Southern CA garden articles appear in the Southern CA edition only.) One reason is Brett Gum’s gorgeous photography. These are my own photos here.

The location is a bluff-top home in the Orange County community of Corona del Mar. The designer is Joe Stead, a horticulture teacher at Orange Coast College. The amazing colors in the tide pool-themed garden resulted from a phenomenon called “stressing.” To learn more, see my YouTube video, “How to Stress Your Succulents…and Why You Should”. Continue Reading →

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First open the garden, then pour the tea

 

 

Opened our garden on Sunday, for the National Garden Scheme, which for those of you who don’t know it, raises money for charities through encouraging private gardens to open to the public. They have been running since 1927, and now have thousands of gardens in the famous Yellow Book guide. Its not the first time I’ve participated in the scheme but the first for our current garden. Not surprisingly garden visiting is listed as one of the most popular hobbies in Britain. Continue Reading →

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Are Succulents for the Birds? You Bet!

Bird houses, bird nests and bird cages with succulents…some of the designs I’m seeing are quite fetching. There must be something eggy about succulents, or they have the look of plants that grow on thatched roofs. Like this beautifully designed birdhouse by succulent floral artist Cindy Davison. Her business, The Succulent Perch ships nationwide. Continue Reading →

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Petunias and democracy – Travels in Kyrgyrzstan

Bishkek is my first experience of the former Soviet Union (USSR), words drained of real meaning to a younger generation, but for any of us who grew up and were politically aware before 1989 a major part of our consciousness of the world – but now all that seemingly indestructible grey concrete has turned to dust. I’m here for a botanical tour of north-east Kyrgyzstan, the most mountainous and remote of the former USSR’s ‘Soviet Socialist Republics’, up against China’s own remote province of Xinjiang. Amazing to be in a country which was once almost totally closed to outsiders, and about which we knew almost nothing. Now it is developing for tourists, but it feels like virgin territory for visitors. It is a botanical paradise. Continue Reading →

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