Archive for the ‘Celebrity Gardeners’ Category

Flora Grubb Gardens

whimsy at Flora Grubb Gardens

Stylize shabby-chic whimsy, then intersperse it with plenty of copper, grey-green hues of the Southwest, and you have Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Add lots of outdoor bistro chairs in this environment and you can’t help but linger.

Flora Grubb’s succulent nursery needs no plug from me. She’s got plenty of marketing savvy and makes her place an active destination not only for plant and accessory sales but for demonstrations too. In what seems a comeback warehouse district one is drawn off the typical tourist path and near the “India Basin” industrial waterfront.

Agave at Flora Grubb Gardens

In addition to the shopping fun, I got to see the loving-care hose-misting of the vertical succulent garden, pictured below. Hung on the wall it is nearly as wide as I am tall. For those wanting to start their own vertical garden she does sell 20″x20″ trays which contain 45 slanted planting cells to support the plants and soil once the frame is mounted on the wall.

Among other things I was delighted to find the perfect weathered grapewood branch upon which to mount the air plant waiting for me back home.

Do visit Flora Grubb Gardens http://www.floragrubb.com/idx/index.php

Nancy R. Peck

Flora Grubb Gardens' succulent vertical garden


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Since Presidents’ Day is coming up I assigned myself a little First Lady reading. Excerpts from Eleanor Roosevelt’s “My Day” journal-column touch on a morning view of the White House gardens on a very agenda-ed day, June 9, 1939. There was to be a visit from King George VI and the Queen of England.

“The President told me firmly that I must ready at ten minutes before eleven.”

After making the rounds of every room with White House housekeeper Mrs. Nesbitt and explaining to her the English customs of morning tea, bread, butter and water with no ice, she writes:

“I think Mr. Reeves, the head gardener, has done the most beautiful job with the flowers in and around the house.” She profusely compliments him and his assistants. “It has meant a great deal to him [Mr. Reeves] to have such wonderful flowers sent in from various parts of the country.” Roses have been sent from New Jersey, “pink gladioli from Alabama, and orchids,” to be used that night for centerpiece, “come from a friend in New York City.”

“When I went out on the porch for my breakfast, I could not help exclaiming over the gorgeous vases of deep purple gladioli standing by each column.”

“The railings of the steps leading down to the garden are covered with honeysuckle in bloom and the big magnolia tree planted [in 1835] by Andrew Jackson has opened wide its blossoms.”

She goes on to write that she expects the rest of her day may be “somewhat busy . . .garden party at the British Embassy . . . I do not see that there is going to be any time . . . to do more than remove a hat!”

This was the first visit from a reigning British Monarch on U.S. soil ever—“two people who have impressed their sympathetic personalities upon a continent,” Mrs. Roosevelt writes. The six-day visit started formally but ended casually at Hyde Park for a Sunday picnic of Virginia Ham, Smoked Turkey, Rolls, Cranberry Jelly and Hot Dogs (if weather permits).

Source: The White House Historical Association—The Household Staff Prepares for a Royal Visit http://www.whitehousehistory.org

Additional source: FDR Library documents http://docs.fdrlibrary.marist.edu/royalv.html

Photo source: Serge Melki, Flickr Creative Commons

Nancy R. Peck

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Katie's Krops

Katie + her January harvest

A while back, you may have heard about Katie and a famous 40-pound cabbage that got her started on a mission to feed people in need. That cabbage delivery to a Charleston, SC soup kitchen taught her a lesson at age 9—that her one cabbage contribution could go on to feed 275 people. The image above is Katie several years later now holding a recent harvest of greens.

Not only is Katie Stagliano still growing vegetables to be donated, but she has developed her cause in leaps and bounds. She went on to oversee the planting of a football-size field next to her school and then on to simultaneously oversee additional gardens. Katie’s Krops programs have delivered over a ton of vegetables to soup kitchens.

gardening with Katie's Krops

teaming up to plant a Katie's Krop garden

Katie has a mission, as stated at her website. She wants to start and maintain vegetable gardens of all sizes, donate the harvest to help feed people in need, AND assist and inspire others to do the same.

Now Katie’s Krops is offering a small grant to help others aged 9 to 16 get a  jump on starting their own garden harvest for those in need. Plans for any type of garden will be considered—from container gardens to urban gardens. Applicants may be individuals, a school class or a group of friends. Hurry, postmark deadline is February 11, 2011. The lucky winner will receive a gift card for buying gardening materials and receive a digital camera to record it.

A recent e-mail message from Katie says she is thrilled to be able to offer this grant and support other kids around the country in starting a garden to feed people in need in their own communities. “I have a goal to have a Katie’s Krops garden in every state and this grant will help me work towards that goal.” 

As we’ve seen in Garden Club Salon’s “Groups in the News” posts, reaching these personal missions quickly requires help from others. Katie goes on to say: “I have had so many wonderful people and organizations help me with my dream of feeding people in need through vegetable gardens. Without the support of Bonnie Plants, Disney’s Friends for Change, Troy-Bilt, RandomKid, Build-A-Bear Workshop, my school Pinewood Prep, my friends, my supporters and my family (just to name a few) I would not be able to do what I am doing. I am so thrilled that I am now able to offer support to other kids around the country to start a garden to feed people in need in their community.”

You can learn more about Katie’s Krops, support her cause and see her garden wish list at www.katieskrops.com. The grant application questions also found here are well thought out and a good student exercise in and of itself.

Well done, Katie and Krew!

Photo source: Katie’s mom Stacy Stagliano

Nancy R. Peck

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In this season, perhaps you follow this unknown author’s credo:

“The ornaments of your house will be the guests who frequent it.” 

Pineapples have found their way into the Annals of Icons representing the notion of power, wealth and hospitality.

You probably know the story of the audacious ship captains who skewered defenseless pineapples on their fence posts indicating “OK fair-weather friends, I’m back from the tropics. I’m accepting visitors. Come on over and BYOBrandy.”

With this theme in mind I went a-hunting for my mother’s pineapple upside-down cake retro-recipe . . . and photos of pineapples. I thought this picture was impressive.

Dunmore Park, Scotland
Dunmore Park, Scotland

Scotsman John Murray, 4th Earl of Dunmore, commissioned this formal garden. The construction of the pineapple garden house was interrupted a bit when he went to Virginia in 1771 to serve as what would be the last colonial governorship of Virginia.

Murray used his hothouse to grow pineapples using a furnace-driven heating system in the walls. The design and stone-mason crafting is impressive. Each element of the pineapple dome is curved, graded and drained to avert damage from frost and water accumulation.

The pineapple structure is located in Dunmore Park near Airth, Scotland.

Photo by ‘itmpa’ Creative Commons Attribution License, Flickr

Nancy R. Peck

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White House Kitchen Garden harvest

White House Kitchen Garden Harvest

Heirloom tomatoes, kale, chard, purple peppers—it’s all there. The White House South Lawn Kitchen Garden is by now growing strong. This recent Official White House Photo was shot by Samantha Appleton who seems to be the Food Initiate’s V-I-Photographer. Here—of course you recognize sleeves-rolled-up First Lady Michelle Obama—plus students from Bancroft and Tubman Elementary Schools. Hoisting pumpkins is Sam Kass who serves as Assistant White House Chef and Food Initiative Coordinator. (Now that’s a title that doesn’t roll off the tongue very easily.)

First started in late March–early April 2009, the 1100 square foot garden has by now harvested 1600 pounds of produce. Nearby, one can also find two bee hives tended by a beekeeper/WH carpenter. Last year hives yielded 134 pounds of honey. Fifty varieties of fruits and vegetables supply the First Family’s menus, leaving very healthy portions for State dinners and luncheons. About one-third of the produce goes to Miriam’s (soup) Kitchen in nearby Foggy Bottom.

While White House Gardens can more readily be seen year round, the open Kitchen Garden tours are held less frequently due to security issues. For those who can’t wait, here’s a nice 8-minute behind-the-garden-scenes video.

You can keep pace with other White House tours here.

Hmmm . . .now what happens to all that honey?

Nancy R. Peck

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botanical dandelion

“I tend my flowers for thee—Bright Absentee! . . .” begins just one of Emily Dickinson’s nearly 1800 poems. She lived from 1830 to 1886 in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Locally at the time, Dickinson was perhaps best known for her gardening acumen, not as much as a poet. She was considered a bit of a recluse preferring “dandelions to drawing rooms.” But when she did pay a call with bunches of garden flowers, verse enclosed, she quipped “they valued the posy more than the poetry.”

Emily began studying botany at age 9 and amassed a collection of 424 pressed flower specimens. She had a special admiration for cultivating scented exotic flowers, writing that she “could inhabit the Spice Isles merely by crossing the dining room to the conservatory, where the plants hang in baskets.”

If, like me, you missed the New York Botanical Garden’s “Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers” show, you can get a sense of it by linking to NPR here. Sit down, click on the recording, close your eyes (in that order) and take in some garden therapy for yourself. Once you’ve opened your eyes, there’s a little slide show for a sense of what the well-thought-out show must have been like.

Sources: NPR, Wikipedia, NY Times links here.

You also might be interested in the Emily Dickinson Museum.

“. . .Thy Daisy—Draped for thee!

Nancy R. Peck

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Still busy in the biz, rock legend Joe Cocker somehow finds time between tours to grow large heirloom tomatoes at his Mad Dog Ranch in Colorado. Cocker also serves on the board of the Cocker Kids Foundation. Check out the feature article in Zone 4 Magazine’s Fall issue. http://www.zone4magazine.com/

Nancy R. Peck

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