A lesson on cuttings:

"But something important was missing; I felt I just had to find a way to keep that rosebush. I couldn't very well dig it up. My only option was to take cuttings and try to propagate them. I didn't inherit my parents' gardening skill or, more important, their confidence, and I approached the task with energy born of sheer desperation. It was summer, not the optimal time to propagate a rose. But it was now or never.

Just days before the real estate closing, I gingerly snipped six or eight cuttings and carried them carefully home in damp newspaper. I put them into a hand-thrown pot (also from my parents' yard) in sand and perlite, watered them and covered them with plastic to keep in the moisture.

Every day I visited the pot -- all through the hot, dry summer. One by one, the cuttings dried into brown sticks. But two of them stayed green. I talked to them, stroked their leaves, watered them and shifted them around so they'd get just enough sun. And finally, new green leaves began to unfold on them.

Now Ethelred stands in all his enigmatic glory beneath the redwoods surrounding our patio. Just this morning I looked at my 'Perle d'Or' and there were two tight, slender rosebuds, just about to open."

It's really about desperation and [feining] confidence. So just do it!

Take spring cuttings, strip the leaves off green (new) stems, and stick them in a thoroughly wetted mix of two-to-one perlite to vermiculate. Keep in bright shade. Keep your fingers crossed.


I saw this movie today; it was hilarious.

Happy Birthday!

Kitty's 17th 3

Today is Kitty's 17th birthday!

(No, we didn't let her eat all that tuna. And we blew out the candle right away.)

The promise of new life.

new life

I found the bulb for this emerging amaryllis in my closet. I don't remember buying it.


"In my opinion great loss of life resulted from men and women becoming stupefied by liquor and being too tired and exhausted to get out of the way of the fire."



"Oh Mimi. You're wearing a cropped demin jacket as a shirt, and you appear to have stolen your boots from Chewbacca. Don't ever change."



The best news I've heard lately:

"The heavy storms that are drenching the [San Francisco] region today and have done so nearly every day in April will finally relent, said forecasters, who predict that next week will be filled with clear skies and sunshine." Link.

It's not just April. We had rain all March too. After a spectacularly sunny and warm January. Go figure.


"The novel that means most to men is about indifference, alienation and lack of emotional responses. That which means most to women is about deeply held feelings, a struggle to overcome circumstances and passion, research by the University of London has found."


Where does Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls belong?

Because I'm remembering it as a man's book under this criteria.


The Centennial approaches...

San Francisco in 1906 was the largest city and most important port on the Pacific Coast, the financial center of the West, the ninth-largest city in the United States. The Palace was the biggest hotel in the West.

San Francisco had the most populous Chinatown outside of Asia, the U.S. Mint at Fifth and Mission streets was the largest in the world, and in its vaults was $222 million in gold, one-third of the country's gold supplies.

San Francisco had been a U.S. city for not quite 60 years, but by the turn of the 20th century, it was world famous.


And let's not forget this:

Rich San Franciscans drank pisco punches, and poor ones drank steam beer. San Francisco was on the cutting edge of drinking, and bartenders claimed they had invented a gin and vermouth concoction they called the Martinez cocktail, a drink now known as the martini.

Or this:

In 1906, San Francisco had five daily newspapers and half a dozen others in foreign languages, 42 banks and 120 places of worship, but also 3,117 places where liquor was sold.

Last post on the 1906 earthquake here.


San Francisco gets a Michelin Guide

"If obnoxious and smelly French people show up in your restaurant and make a scene, just accommodate them kindly."



Some spring planting.

Dahlia imperialis, "Tree Dahlia".

Dahlia imperialis

The pot has no bottom. When the trunk grows, I'll break the rest of the pot and remove it. For now I like having the plant roots slightly raised for better drainage. The soil in that area of the yard is heavy clay.

Nursery catalogs describe Dahlia imperialis as rare, but you can buy a stalk like this at the San Francisco Botanical Garden plant sales for $10. It to grows up 10 feet in one growing season (winter in California). When it goes dormant, you whack it back to 8 inches and start all over again. Eventually, the base gets broad and multi-trunked, and it will obscure the cement foundation behind it--hopefully without causing a structural issue.

Echium candicans, "Pride of Madeira".

Echium candicans

This grows all over the place in California, but I don't often see it containerized, especially in this small a container. I have root pruned it once--reducing the root mass by about 30%--and it seems to be doing fine. The plant has remained a nice, small size. It gets verrry thirsty on hot, windy days here on my roof. The flowers are starting to open.

Echium bloom

Salvia spathacea, "Hummingbird Sage", sometimes called "Crimson Sage".

Salvia spathacea

One of my favorite California natives for the smell of the foliage. Some native sage enthusiasts find the fruity smell a little overwhelming and prefer Salvia clevelandii 'Winifred Gilman' above all others. I don't disagree too much.


From the J.L. Hudston catalog: "The famous African tree with a huge, swollen trunk up to 30 feet in diameter, and not more than 60 feet tall. The thickest trunk in the world. Large, white, hibiscus-like 6" flowers are pollinated by bats. The foot-long, gourd-like fruits are filled with refreshing, lemon-flavored pulp and edible seeds. Leaves are often eaten like spinach. The trunk stores considerable water, and is used as a reservoir, sometimes being tapped for as much as 1000 gallons. Hollowed out, they are used as rooms. Worshipped as a fertility tree."

That's Adansonia digitata, better known as the Baobab.

The Rooftop.

Vodka, lemonade, and...thyme.

My plant ID teacher mentioned it tonight. Sounds delicious. I can't find it online. Can't be that hard to devise tho'.