How Many Colors?

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe

Leaving Lake Tahoe today and heading back home to my own garden!  Whenever my daughter Tashi was younger and we were heading into Tahoe towards our cabin we would always pass the lake.  It never failed, no matter what time of day or what season, Tashi wanted to count the colors of the lake. Lake Tahoe changes colors as is gets deeper and colder and she loved to see how many different colors she could see. It has always been one of our “Tahoe Traditions” that now carries on to my grandchildren when I bring them up with me.  It gives us a chance to stop and appreciate the beauty of nature, the beauty of the lake in the midst of the excitement of vacation and all that goes along with that.  I try to teach them that even in this place of so much fun there is a beauty they won’t find anywhere else.

Trees of Life

Pine tree

Pine tree

I love trees, I love what they represent to me about life in so many ways. Trees are just so full of spirit and history.

Family Trees are a perfect example of how something in life is based on the form of a tree. So many branches extending from the main trunk in addition to all the leaves.

Growing up my backyard was filled with trees, even a cherry tree. I climbed them, raked their leaves into piles and jumped in them. I drew and painted them during my artistic phase.  They were beautiful.

The pine trees here in Lake Tahoe are majestic they are tall and their branches are laden with pine cones. Their smell wafts in through the windows with the breeze. They call to me to touch them and of course I can’t resist. I grasp a low branch to pick a pine cone and my fingers are almost immediately covered with sweet sticky sap. It does not want to come off!

I love my Tahoe trees. They are always here when I come to my cabin, waiting for me, trees of life, strong faithful, resilient, part of nature, part of me.

Cheryl’s Garden on Euclid

Cheryl

Cheryl

A few years ago I had a retail flower shop in Berkeley Ca on Euclid Ave right across from the North Gate of the Cal Berkeley Campus.  It was an eclectic little street lined with trees. I loved my little flower shop and I do mean little.  I am wagering most of your bathrooms were bigger.  Now I being the resourceful florist that I am moved half of my inventory outside each day  onto a nice grassy area in front of our largest window and right along the walkway up to the front door.  It was quite beautiful even if I do say so myself.  People would often stop and have me take their picture in front of my displays. A lot of what was outside was plants. I loved and still do love  plants, and for some reason I always seemed to buy one or two too many.

Baby Juliana

Baby Juliana

Then when I didn’t sell them all, well I would just have to take them home and plant them in my garden. I would say at least half my plants came from the store and some of my best and hardiest.  The little heart-shaped jasmine topiary now covers an entire fence on one side of my deck.  A small 4″ pot of grapevines now winds its way up and around the edge of the roof of my potting shed even going so far as to turn the corner and curve its way halfway up the next eave.

Grapes from Cheryl's Garden

Grapes from Cheryl’s Garden

It is laden with heavy bunches of green grapes that by October will turn dark red and sweeten for a delicious treat.  Intertwined in the grapevine but growing in the opposite direction is a white wisteria plant. That too came from Cheryl’s Garden.  It’s smell is exquisite and its curly tendrils shoot up into the air like fireworks.  They make a beautiful team. From roses to hydrangea to clematis to blue poppies, that’s how over time Cheryl’s Garden on Euclid  became very much Cheryl’s Garden in Alameda

The Gardeners are Coming! The Gardeners are Coming!

Let me just say up front digging holes is not my favorite thing.  It’s pretty much at the bottom of my gardening to do list. Even though I would rather spend the entire day in my garden as opposed to indoors, there are just certain things I don’t like to do, and I have had to become quite resourceful in finding ways to get them done.  Luckily with digging the holes, I found out my friend Karen seems to like doing it.   She also loves using my garden in the summer to curl up in a chair or hammock and read or fall asleep so she finds it a good trade-off.

The other thing I don’t usually do is mow the lawn and for over a month now we have been without a gardener to do this.

Cheryl's Garden

Cheryl’s Garden

The gardener usually just mows and edges the lawn twice a month so as you can imagine Cheryl’s Garden is beginning to look a little scraggly.  The new gardener’s start tomorrow and I feel like my friends who have housekeepers.  They always clean the house before the cleaning person comes.   I have the urge to run around and make sure everything is dead headed. Water all my containers. Put away watering cans, bags of dirt.  Pick up all the toys-like that stray hula hoop in the middle of the yard aaaggghhhh how long has that been there?  The grass has started to yellow and it looks like we have crop circles. Great.

Finally I get everything in some semblance of order. I think I won’t be too embarrassed tomorrow. I sit at my outdoor office (patio table) with a glass of icy lemonade. I hear the kids running towards the back door with a new armload of toys. Nooo I say, the gardeners are coming, the gardeners are coming!

The Great Blackberry Patch

Blackberries

Blackberries

Four and twenty blackberries baked in a pie…

I thought sure that was how the rhyme went when I was little.  Maybe it just foretold  my love of blackberry pie or maybe that I would one day have a “Great Blackberry Patch”.  Behind my garden shed I have a good-sized piece of land.  It would be the perfect place for a vegetable garden.  It gets full morning sun and is really quite roomy at around 20’x 30′.  Many times I have pictured the cherry tomatoes, zucchini, artichokes, green beans and lettuce all growing organically out there.  Feeding my family from the land just like my grandma did when I was a little girl.  But that, I have come to realize is not going to happen because that piece of land belongs to the blackberries.

There weren’t that many in the beginning (compared to now) and I actually thought I could clear them and the weeds that came along with them when we bought the house. The vines at that time hadn’t produced berries so they seemed relatively useless.  I started small on my own digging cutting and going through about three gallons of Ground Clear a box of band-aids and a tube of neosporin.

Blackberry Bramble

Blackberry Bramble

It didn’t take long before I realized it didn’t work.  I couldn’t believe it.  How deep were theses roots?  We tried several more ways over the following years to remove them, even going so far as removing 18″ of old dirt back there until finally I just gave up.  The blackberry bramble had won.  Now other than just keeping it under control as best I can, I have stopped battling the blackberries behind the garden shed.  They have begun producing a multitude of sweet berries that make a yummy  “Four and Twenty blackberries baked in a pie” kinda pie.  My garden behind my shed didn’t turn out to be vegetables but it did become something maybe even better, The Great Blackberry Patch.

Cheryl in the Garden

Garden Tea Cup

Garden Teacup

Garden Teacup

March Hare: Why don’t you start at the beginning?
Mad Hatter: Yes and when you reach the end… Stop.

 

I love a good tea party as much as the next girl, especially one in the garden!  What better way to combine the two than to design a beautiful Garden Teacup filled with flowers from my garden. Along with being a gardener, I am also a florist and have been for over 25 years. One of the things as a florist I have always tried to do whenever possible is to use flowers from my garden in my arrangements. Even if it is just greenery. Like this teacup arrangement overflowing with roses, hydrangea, alstomeria, love in a mist, delphinium and shasta daisies. Then tied with a harlequin midori ribbon on the handle, and don’t forget the saucer!  What a unique way to bring the garden indoors.

Make Your Own Garden Teacup

If you would like to try your hand at making your own Garden Teacup all you need is a piece of floral foam cut to the size of your teacup and soaked in water. I add 1/2 t. of bleach to the water to keep the flowers fresher longer. Place foam securely in your cup and make sure it fits snugly. Next choose the flowers you like from your garden, not too large but with strong stems. Place small pieces of greenery around the outside edge of the cup into the foam and a couple in the middle.  Add your flowers cutting the stems so that they are taller in the middle of the cup and gradually get shorter near the outer edges. Fill in any empty spots with more greenery and tie a bow to the handle.  That’s all there is to it!  Now you have your own Garden Teacup for your own floral tea party. Cookie anyone?