Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Oh me, oh my! The graduate process is picking up, with upcoming admissions decisions announced throughout March. In the pre-decision hubbub, I've been hopping to program interviews around the country. Last week was Chicago and NYC, with Louisiana before that.

The interview process has been an absolute thrill, albeit exhausting. Thus far, I've found faculty and grad students to be unanimously kind and welcoming. I've definitely got high hopes for the experience of graduate study. Keep you posted.

Tomorrow I'm back into it- flying off to Europe for some extended travel before school begins. Forgive me if there is a delay in posting, but I'll certainly be back on blogger once I'm stateside. It would be terrible to lose my tremendous following (all two of you)!

Until then...

T-Rex- all business in Chicago

Hello from Illinois! Finally got  a snow pic.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Project Season

You will need: a planter, trowel, soil, gloves, flowers, and about 30 minutes
Heading into the second week of February, we're just past winter's halfway mark. Here in Southern California, spring is peeking through. When the sun comes out, it's time to revive the garden. Ornate candle holders and old birdhouses make beautiful planters with minimal effort. For this project, I used the lovely box above.

Uniform drainage. Made with a drill press.
First, make a few evenly-spaced holes in the bottom of the box. Without proper drainage, the planter will become a swampy, smelly mess very quickly.


Next, select your plant. When potting store-bought flowers, be sure to loosen the root bundle (gently pull roots into a less-tightly packed clump) before potting. Fill the planter with about 2 inches of potting soil, place your flower, and then add soil up around the plant until it is level with the stem base. Do not press down or compact the soil.


It's important to give transplants a big drink of water as soon as they're in new soil. After planting, thoroughly douse the planter and then let the water completely drain. Repeat once more. To keep annual flowers blooming throughout the season, be sure to keep the soil moist (usually water daily for potted varieties). I find that water-soluble fertilizers work best for potted plants, but should be applied sparingly.


Here's hoping for an early spring, and a lovely end to winter.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Plant City


 It was another botanic fantastic weekend, with a Saturday picnic at The LA Arboretum. Kate and I headed to the farmer's market early, sampled cheeses for the better part of an hour, and arrived at the arboretum just as the morning chill lifted. Perfection. 

We started at the newly-renovated vegetable gardens, and salivated over fantasies of homegrown produce. For now my transience precludes a real garden, but there is a potted rosemary on the porch. That's something at least. 

For cold-sensitive plants, a bell jar makes an attractive cloche. The cover will temporarily warm the soil to protect from frost. These can also be used to speed germination for seeds sewn outdoors, and will deter some pests too.


Leaving the veggies, we headed into the tropical greenhouse. Tucked away in the northern corner of the grounds, this is a humid paradise. It's a little hard to find, but boasts orchids for days.

 From the tropics, we wandered into Madagascar's spiny forest, and then set out our picnic next to a grove of blooming magnolias.


 A pair of Canada geese shared the lawn with us. It was a tenuous relationship at first. Between us, Kate and I have more than a few traumatic childhood memories involving territorial poultry, but bread was broken, and we all made nice.