Friday, February 29, 2008


Lately I've been thinking about an often neglected dimension of plants - the tactile dimension. I've always been attracted to tactilely interesting plants - plants that feel good! One of my first experiences was with the velvety inflorescences of a Salvia leucantha in my aunt and uncle's garden. But leaves have been on my mind recently with so many Winter-dormant plants leafing out and today I went around my garden touching as many leaves as I could easily reach. I was surprised to find out how many of them I'd never really spent a lot of time touching. Even ones that I'd been initially attracted to for leaf texture, such as Soft Snapdragon (Antirrhinum molle) and Superstition Mallow (Abutilon palmeri), I hadn't been touching as often as I should. Anyway I had a lot of fun, rediscovering old favorites and new. Touching a leaf is a more engaging experience than touching fabrics or fibers (as pleasurable as that can be) because a leaf on a plant is alive. The leaf is an organic structure that is in motion, involved in respiring, photosynthesizing, etc. all underneath your hand. Maybe the reason the tactile component of plants is often not mentioned is because most people don't walk around their gardens touching and sniffing their plants. But I think those of us who do would highly recommend it to those who don't!

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Yesterday I planted some Morning Glory (Ipomoea nil and I. tricolor) and Moonflower (I. alba) seeds. I previously had very poor results with the Moonflowers. Very few germinated and those that did succumbed to some unknown seedling-killing ailment. But I think what I did wrong was over-soaking them. With their tough seed coats nicking and soaking them in warm water overnight is recommended. I took "overnight" to be from sometime in the evening to sometime in the morning, not from exactly when you go to bed to when you wake up which apparently what was meant because the seed packet (which I hadn't seen before) said 8 hours. So I soaked them for 7 hours (just to be safe) and planted them and the Morning Glories, which I had soaked with them. I'm starting them indoors for now, since the nights are still pretty chilly - there was low 0f 39F last night! I'd post a picture, but there really isn't much to see yet - just some pots with soil in them. I also planted some Aconitum columbianum seeds outside. This is the third time I've tried these since October of 07 and none have yet germinated. But they still might, since one month stratification is recommended I assume they take cold and a fair amount of time to pop out their little cotyledons. They might just be waiting for warmer and longer days! But I did manage to have a couple of Paeonia californica seeds germinate. I've got bunches of other little seeds and seedlings going right now - in my previous place I didn't have room to do all this seed planting so I'm quite excited!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some flowers...

Here's a few pictures of some of what's presently blooming in my garden, the bench from which I can see Mt. Diablo and the needlework piece I'm presently stitching called The Convent's Herbal Garden designed by Chatelaine. It's a large piece full of plants!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


Here begins my garden blog! I've been reluctant to begin this whole blogging thing for some time, but rambling on at length with no particular concern as to whether or not anyone is listening is really a natural for me. So now I'm doing it on a blog! Let me introduce my garden - it's at least 600 square feet in the back, but it wraps around the side, and up to the front so it probably works out to something like 800 square feet altogether. It's mostly in part/half day sun with small spots of full sun and deeper shade. I am in Sunset zone 15 in the hills of Castro Valley, which is located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though I've gardened in Castro Valley my whole life, we've just moved so I've only been in this particular location for about five months. Moving my previous 210 square feet garden with its many, many plants here was a challenge, but it mostly worked out. As referenced in the blog title I am particularly passionate about Salvias! The Lamiaceae (the Mint Family) includes a lot of my favorite genera - Salvia, Trichostema, etc. But I really have so many different plants that it's not limited to that at all. My garden is primarily focused on California Native plants. To me this is very important and tied into a sense of place and connection with the land. It's not just the plants but everything that goes with them. I am attempting to recreate the hillside habitat that would have existed here prior to all the houses and cars and whatnot. Our house is just a few houses away from local parkland so I'm using the hills there as a template. Though this will be the bulk of my garden I also have a vast array of species from other parts of California and the rest of the world. I always enjoy making friends with a new plant! I have over 40 Salvias presently in my collection. All but three are native to the Americas - primarily California and Mexico. Since my entire life and most of my energies are focused overwhelming on plants I've managed to acquire some pretty unusual and rare ones. I'll try to post a species list later!