Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Mystery of the Pink Hill

I have long wondered how this landscape came to be.

                                                                 Photo by Andy Stanton

It's just

Were the pink portions red once upon a time, and they were trying to mimic the pretty sandstone mountains down in Southern Utah somehow?

I like to pretend that's the reason, because I can't see why else they would have pink concrete.  I used a picture where it featured the side of the house for a little more anonymity, but if you look closely you can see a sliver that shows the front of the house is red.

It's a mystery indeed.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dreaming of Baby's Tears

One of the plants I miss most from California is a groundcover called baby's tears.  The botanical name is fun to say - Soleirolia soleirolii.  It grows in Zones 10 and 11.

Image by Naota
I know some people would think me crazy, as this plant can be highly invasive.  I can't help it though - I love walking through patches of baby's tears in my bare feet.  I adore the way it can fill in the cracks between stepping stones.  It's good for your spots that are always wet.

Then again, I also admire the way field bindweed looks in lawns.....

(Don't worry, I also properly loathe field bindweed overall as a plant. I'm not THAT foolish :) )

How do you feel about baby's tears?  Does a corner of your heart love it even though you know you shouldn't?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

From Tropical Paradise to Snowland, Part 2

Part 1

After I arrived in Utah as a transfer student at BYU, I got a job on the grounds crew.  The first few months weren't very fun - I spent a lot of time shoveling sidewalks while it was still snowing.  Spring did finally decide to show up, and I had a great time mowing lawns, using a weed whacker, planting new landscapes in more.

I found that I wasn't as enthralled with microbiology any more.  I spent a semester where I changed my mind about what my new major would be.  Finally it hit me:  I loved my grounds job so much - why not major in horticulture?

It wasn't too much later that circumstances led to me moving home to California and continuing my new major at community college for the next 2 years. I even managed to win a scholarship for being the most outstanding student in the whole division.

By then I was restless and it was time to return to BYU.  I had a fabulous time.  Fun fact: I went to juggling club while I was there, and I can now juggle fire devilsticks.   I spent a summer in McMinnville, OR doing an internship at Bailey Nurseries (they're fab!)

I graduated from BYU and have since taken up residence here in Utah.  I spent one season working at the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District's demonstration garden.  These days I work from home as a professional garden writer.  It's a bit strange - I never really dreamed about being a writer growing up, but it's been a wonderful couple of years so far.

I still can't say I'm totally used to this snowy world I've landed in.  I look outside and see a vast blanket of whiteness everywhere.  I've really come to appreciate spring more, though. One of the happiest days of the year is when I'm out for a walk and I find buds swelling on the trees.

This blog will highlight my garden adventures. I love trying plants that don't belong here in Zone 5 - so far there's been banana trees, mangroves and papyrus.   I currently have an Italian stone pine in my house and tiny orchids.  I am planning on trying many more new plants over the coming years.

This week I'm going to experiment with sprouting quinoa.  My best friend and I are going to grow potatoes in condos this spring for the first time.  I'm also helping out with a community garden club with several plots.

Zone 5 does feel like madness sometimes to a girl used to growing brilliantly colored plants year-round. It can be magic too, though.  I can't wait to share all my endeavors here!

Monday, January 25, 2010

From Tropical Paradise to Snowland, Part 1

I grew up in a lush world filled with plants like palm trees and jacarandas - Orange County, California.  Flowers abound even in the middle of January.  Avocados, loquats, citrus and more are being harvested soon.

If I remember correctly, my own garden adventures began with the proverbial bean seed in a paper cup.  From there I grew to love the feel of dirt on my  bare hands.  I would dig up the gladioli to find all of the baby corms.  Snapdragons were the perfect temporary prisons for inquisitive ants. I would plant strawberry patches, tomatoes and bush beans.

Even back then I was already ordering garden catalogs. My favorite was Park Seed.  Each winter I would send in the postcard to request the new catalog.  I'd pore over the pages, looking longingly at the newest varieties.  Sometimes when I had saved up some money, I'd make an order and anxiously await for my seeds to arrive.  I was also very fond of Sunset magazine.

When I was growing up, I actually wanted to be a marine biologist. I would traipse along the beach, picking up seashells and peering into tide pools.  A part of me still longs to be one. The tang of salt air calls to me.

Over the years my love of science grew and as I entered community college, I had a declared major of microbiology.  I spent a couple of years getting my general education classes out of the way, then transferred to the wintry land of Provo, Utah to attend Brigham Young University.

Tune in tomorrow to see how I ended up as a horticulture major and adapted to being a Zone 10 girl growing in a Zone 5 world.

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