Digging Bliss

Angela Pratt's pursuit of horticultural nirvana in northern California

July 24, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

New Book Alert! Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias


New book alert! There was a blurb today on Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias by Zenaida Sengo, an interior display coordinator at Flora Grubb nursery in San Francisco. Flora Grubb has exceptional interior and exterior merchandise displays and I’m bazonkers for air plants. Want!

July 19, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

Bee Swell Campaign


Bee Swell’s mission is to promote awareness of the problems our pollinators are facing today, including pesticides and a lack of habitat and food sources, and to encourage bee friendly gardening practices that support these essential members of our garden community.


Free downloadable, Printable Posters!


Screen Shot 2014-07-19 at 12.01.29 PMHere’s the partial list of products Bee Swell recommends avoiding…

Avoid products that contain:
  • Acetamidprid
  • Clothianidin
  • Dinotefuran
  • Imidacloprid
  • Thiamethoxam
  • Foliar spray for garden fruits and vegetables, and ornamental flowers, trees, and shrubs.
  • Ortho bug B Gone Garden Insect Killer
  • Ortho Flower, Fruit, and Vegetable Insect Killer
  • Ortho Rose and Flower Insect Killer
  • Ortho Rose Pride Insect Killer
  • Granules for turf, and ornamental flowers, shrubs , and trees.
  • Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Care granules
  • Green Light Grub Control with Arena
  • Granules for turf and ornamental flowers, shrubs for trees, soil drench for ornamental flowers, trees, and shrubs.
  • Green Light Tree & Shrub Insect Control with Safari 2 G
  • Safari
  • Ortho Tree & Shrub Insect Control
  • Plus Miracle Gro Plant Food
  • Foliage spray for turf and ornamental flowers, trees, and shrubs; soil drench for garden fruits and vegetables, ornamental flowers, trees, and shrubs; trunk injection for trees; granules for turf and ornamental flowers, shrubs, or trees.
  • Bayer Advanced 3-in-1 Insect Control
  • Bayer Advanced 12 Month Tree & Shrub Protect & Feed
  • Bayer Advanced Fruit, Citrus & VegetableInsect Control
  • Bayer Advanced All-In-One Rose & Flower Concentrate
  • DIY Tree Care Products Multi-insect Killer
  • Ferti-lome 2-N-1 Systemic
  • Hi-Yield Systemic Insect Spray
  • Knockout Ready-To-Use Grub Killer
  • Monterey Insect Control Once A Year II
  • Ortho Bug B Gone-Year Long Tree & Shrub Insect Control
  • Surrender Brand GrubZ Out
  • Foliage spray for turf and ornamentals, flowers, trees, and shrubs; granules for turf and ornamental flowers, trees and shrubs.
  • Amdro Qiuck Kill Lawn & Insect Killer
  • Amdro Rose & Flower Care
  • Maxide Dual Action Insect Killer

July 14, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

I Heart Zucchini Salad

If you’re growing zucchini right now, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to use this abundant summer staple. Even seasoned zucchini growers start running out of ideas, recipes, and bewildered friends and neighbors willing to take home boat-sized zukes.

Recently, I had the pleasure of dining at Mother Sacramento for the first time and decided to try the Avocado and Summer Squash Salad (V, GF). It was mind-blowingly delicious. Zucchini can be a bland “vegetable” (actually a fruit), and can quickly turn soft when cooked. Slicing it thinly and serving it raw in a salad maintains some of its natural crispness and allows the dressing to infuse each slice with incredible flavor.

I’d never had the pleasure of eating zucchini this way and it was fantastic. Brilliant, actually.


I’ve since done some “zucchini salad with avocado” Googling and have come across several promising-looking recipes. Some of them instruct you to slice the zucchini into ribbons, others spiralize it, and a few tell you to dice it. I think thinner is better for salads, so I’m gravitating toward ribbons, potato-chip thin discs and spirals.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Sweet Corn & Avocado recipe from Maria and Josh’s Two Peas & Their Pod blog looks pretty close to what I enjoyed at Mother and it’s the recipe I plan to make. I’ll be using the ripe garden zucchini I just harvested. Just waiting for a lovely looking store-bought avocado to ripen. Sweet corn is readily available right now and I need to pinch back my basil plant, so I may add basil to the recipe below… just like Mother does. I’ll probably skip the cilantro and the queso fresco.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Sweet Corn & Avocado
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
I found this delicious looking recipe on the Two Peas & Their Pod blog. http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/zucchini-ribbon-salad-with-sweet-corn-avocado/
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 medium yellow squash
  • 2 ears cooked sweet corn
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 2 medium ripe avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • ½ cup queso fresco (optional)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil and lime juice together. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Trim the ends of the zucchini and yellow squash. With a vegetable peeler, shave lengthwise into long, wide strips about 1/16 inch thick.
  3. Put the zucchini and yellow squash ribbons in a large bowl. Cut the sweet corn kernels off of the cob, cutting close to the cob. Discard cobs. Add sweet corn, cilantro, red onion, and avocado slices to the squash ribbons. Pour olive oil and lime dressing over salad and toss until coated.
  4. Crumble queso fresco over the top of the salad and season with salt and pepper, to taste. (Angela's note: I will probably skip the cheese since I'm avoiding dairy most days.)


V = Vegan
GF = Gluten Free

June 25, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

‘Firebolt’ Lily from B&D Lilies, Year 2

What a lovely dark red lily. It’s even taller in its second year, and seems quite happy out front with an eastern exposure. This one is planted in the ground, and I’ve found it very beneficial to use bamboo stakes and green stretchy tape for added support.




June 22, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss
1 Comment

Planting for pollinators: Bees and butterflies in the news by Don Shor (Davis Enterprise)

I enjoyed this article by Don Shor about planting for pollinators. It’s good reminder for me to plant a few more varieties that are especially good at drawing bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to the garden. By taking a few simple steps to provide habitat, food, water and nectar sources and avoiding pesticide use, I’ll be rewarded with a beautiful garden that is buzzing with life.

As of right now, I have ordered plenty of milkweed for the nursery, but I haven’t planted any at the home. And closer to Fall when natives are more readily available, I need to be on the lookout for native pipevine (Aristolochia californica). I’ve got lavender, Dicliptera, CA poppies, Echium… a birdbath… hummingbird feeder… and some untouched areas where nature can do its thing.

I’d also like to add a native bee house. It’s all about working with nature, not against it.


June 21, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

Visit to Flowerland Nursery in Albany, CA

“You are the garden”, professes the entry marquee at Flowerland Nursery in Albany, CA. Heck, yeah, I am. I am often in need of weeding, have untapped potential, and every now and then in the right light and after a lot more work than should be necessary, am tinged with loveliness.


This was my first visit to Flowerland Nursery, another wonderful East Bay nursery with a unique hook– its own airstream trailer coffee shop on site. The coffee shop is operated by Local 123, serving espresso, coffee and pastries. Being able to buy coffee and plants in one place is a marriage of two of my favorite things in life. Add in the mellow music and delicious gluten-free peanut butter cookie I bought and I am one happy camper.

Flowerland is a magical place. My hurried phone pics don’t do the place justice. I’d love to see the nursery in the early morning or late afternoon when the light is softest; I must return with the intent to have no intent.

We visited on a Friday, a time when many nursery workers have that frenzied, “gearing up for the weekend” look. Believe me, I know the feeling. Customers also tend to be task-oriented on Fridays at many nurseries.

“Gotta get those bags of mulch before the party!”
“Gotta replace that broken hose!”
“Gotta feed those tomatoes!”

Gardening can sometimes feel like a chore, and it can take on an edge of competitiveness at times; It needn’t. At Flowerland, I’ve never seen a more mellow-looking group of employees and customers. It’s a place where you can buy stuff to feed your plants, but it’s also a place where you can feed your soul; where you can sit down in the retro chair of your choice and just chill the heck out. Catch up with a friend. Read a book.

A great big thanks to East Sac Edible for recommending this gem of a nursery. I can’t believe it didn’t register on my usually keen nursery radar before now. An added bonus is that it only took about an hour and nineteen minutes to get there from my house. Continue Reading →

June 9, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

Pedaling for Petals in Tiburon, CA

It was 104 degrees in Sacramento yesterday, which made it a great day to get out of Dodge! I recently purchased two cycling books in an effort to burn more calories while seeing new sights. Kim and I chose a fun (i.e. brisk, but not death-defying) bike ride around Tiburon, CA.

Northern California is a staggeringly beautiful place and I’m way behind in exploring it. What I (and poor Kim) hadn’t anticipated was all the braking we’d be doing for flowers and succulents. You have to be a gazillionaire in order to live in a place like Tiburon, but all you need is a bicycle and a smart phone camera in order to enjoy its flora. Doable!

This 10.5-mile ride came from Moon Bay Area Biking: 60 of the Best Rides for Road and Mountain Biking (Moon Outdoors). With an elevation gain of 700 feet, the “Tiburon and Belvedere Loop” is described as “easy riding with stunning bay views”. It delivers even more to the gardener’s eye as you cruise by colorful front yard gardens, hanging baskets, overflowing window boxes, super-saturated flower colors you see only along the coast, whimsical mailboxes (is that a thing here?) and liberal use of succulents in the landscape. We ended up doing two loops… about 20 miles.

Tiburon and Belvedere Loop

Tiburon and Belvedere Loop

Continue Reading →

June 4, 2014
by angela@diggingbliss

Finally, A Plantiful Berkeley Nursery Fix

When my friend Cheryl told me she had some Byzantine glad bulbs for me… which I had originally shared with her years ago from my old Carmichael garden… I pondered when I’d see her next and seized the opportunity to invite her on a day trip to Berkeley to visit two places neither of us had ever been– The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden and Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary & Garden Arts Bookstore. The botanical garden and bookstore happen to be fairly close to each other, with the garden being just north of the bookstore, which is nestled in the quaint Elmwood neighborhood in Berkeley.

The drive from Sacramento to Berkeley usually isn’t too bad… about an hour and thirty-five to forty-five minutes. This time, I decided to take 80 to 680 to 24 to 13, which I think of as coming in “the back way” to Berkeley. My aim was to find the most efficient route to our destination and avoid the interchanges and traffic on 80 near Berkeley. This turned out to be a good alternate route, as traffic was pretty smooth and we made it in an hour and thirty-five minutes.

Have I mentioned how much I love maps and GPS systems? I’m literally lost without them.

Google Map It!


Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.31.01 AM

The Round Trip

“Where’s a public restroom?” is probably the first thing you’ll ask yourself upon arrival. We asked at nearby Lulemon and they offered theirs, which I must say was delightfully clean and luxurious. I perused the yoga garb earnestly for a moment while waiting my turn, but thankfully didn’t feel pressured to buy $98 yoga pants in return for loo privileges.

Next, we were off to silence our growling stomachs. A bit of Yelping and Urban Spooning showed me in advance that I’d have plenty of gluten-free-friendly lunch options. This time, I decided to try sandwiches from Ashby Marketplace. I had a hazy notion of getting sandwiches “to go”, but forgot we still needed to hit the bookstore before the garden, so we ended up wandering Elmwood looking for a place to sit down. Having spotted no shady benches or picnic tables anywhere nearby, we ended up carrying our lunch bags back to the car, which was parked in a cozy metered parking lot behind the shops on College Ave. With all the amazing bungalows and blooms in the neighborhood, Cheryl and I risked not ever making it to the garden. We stayed admirably focused on our turkey and pastrami sandwiches.

I want to mention that there were several other sit-down cafes and restaurants we could have tried, including the Elmwood Cafe next door to Mrs. Dalloway’s. Word of warning: the upper wall of the cafe is open to Mrs. Dalloway’s, so don’t go to the bookstore hungry unless you want to be tortured by the sounds of clinking dishes and the wickedly wafting scent of syrup and coffee and bacon.

I’m glad we got to try Ashby Marketplace this time. It’s a charming deli/grocery store, with options for both carnivores and herbivores and lots of gluten-free options. I even brought home a yummy gluten-free cherry chocolate cookie for later. Continue Reading →