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Incentive to hand wash the dishes

The secret to growing orchids? A sunny corner kitchen window. This magic orchid-growing window faces south and west. I water every few days with a quick squirt from the kitchen sprayer. For added humidity, the pots sit on pebble-filled drainage trays and I leave the accumulated water.

Every month or so, I rinse off my plants and give them a little liquid orchid food. I believe I’ve had the same container of orchid food my whole life. I should probably feed these guys more often, but likely won’t. I would like to divide them soon; things are getting crowded, especially since I don’t tie up my orchids like the pros do.

Hard to see, but on the lower right, my little Tillandsia plant is about to bloom! Other than these, I don’t do houseplants.

Snippets of Spring

My first plum crop on my “Backyard Orchard Culture“… um… orchard. Tastings to follow, I hope. I planted three varieties 18 inches apart and each tree has lots of little plums. Fingers crossed!

Edible violas in my window box


Nasturtiums abound…

‘Rainbow’ Swiss chard is being enjoyed stir-fried by me, and raw by my little friend.

There’s suddenly plenty of spring garden blogging to catch up on, but for the next few weeks I’ll be giving first priority to my web design class. Yep, that’s right, I finally bit the bullet and signed up for a real class in Dreamweaver CS3. I’m halfway through the course and loving it.

My brain is delightully strained as I learn the basics of nifty things like CSS and AP Divs and soon, Spry Widgets (whatever they are). My aim by the end of the course is to totally revamp the local gardening website I made. After that, I hope to be able to offer to build nice-looking and user-friendly websites for nurseries, public gardens, florists… you name it.

This could be a fun way for me to combine my interests and earn generate some income by providing a helpful, reasonably priced service to organizations needing website construction and/or maintenance.

When I earned my horticulture degree at the ripe old age of Oh, Who Cares, I decided to forgo a career in the industry in order to continue being a stay-at-home mom to my then-young son. Not surprisingly, I started going a little stir-crazy when faced with little more to stimulate my plant-filled mind than household chores, grocery shopping, cooking, taking Master Elliot to soccer practice, swim lessons, Zany Brainy book club meetings, neighborhood parks, libraries, toy stores, play dates, doing drop-off and pick-up for Parks & Rec., kids’ cooking classes, tennis lessons, and school. Even backyard gardening failed to quench my thirst for more.

I think that’s because the web is an exciting place. In school, I learned about so many great online resources for gardeners that I want to share with fellow gardeners. I was new to computers, but my professors made sure we learned how to use search engines, and how to communicate by e-mail and send attachments. Some gardeners have no interest in online gardening and prefer the tactile appeal of traditional books, magazines and newspapers. That’s fine. You’re not who I’m trying to reach. You’re not reading this.

Alternately, some tech-savvy gardeners have little interest in… let’s call it… paper gardening. Paper gardening seems stale… and expensive. To people like that… to me… the morning newspaper seems so “yesterday’s news”. You know? A gardening book, well, that thing was written a year or more before it reached the shelf.

2008 SF Flower & Garden Show

Another great annual return to the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show! Came home with two new orchids… the very ones I wanted to buy last year but didn’t! Ah, orchid closure. Well, almost. There was a peachy, pinky cousin of these two that I had to leave behind until next year.

Masdevallia (veitchiana ‘Pacific Giant’ x ‘veitchiana ‘Bolin’)

Masdevallia (Pixie Lavender ‘Fine’ x FalconSunrise ‘Scarlet’)

Of the display gardens at this year’s show, the Zen Spa Garden was the most impressive (to me). Not only was it a welcome drop of Zen in a sea of Cow Palace excitement, but unlike many show gardens, this is one you would actually install in a real backyard here on planet Earth. Derviss + Chavez did a fabulous job and it was really interesting watching the project’s progress on Derviss’ blog.

The crowds weren’t tooooooooooo bad for a Friday, but I still made a mental note to save the display gardens for last next year. There’s nothing more frustrating than visiting an an exhibit that can only be glimpsed through a wall of people. Yes, Monterey Bay Aquarium, I’m talking about you too. Oh, to be able to vaporize peop… um… nevermind.

My new plan of attack will be to hit the vendors/seminars for a bit upon arrival, then have lunch, then hit the vendors/seminars some more, and finally… enjoy the gardens at a leisurely pace once the crowds begin to wane. Perhaps it’ll be best to take a break for chocolate and coffee as well.

I always end up with sensory overload at the end of my Show visit, but it’s a good kind of sensory overload… the kind that later inspires new touches in my own garden. And new orchids on my kitchen windowsill.

SLIDESHOW: Click slideshow below to launch.

VIDEO SLIDESHOW– stills and a couple video clips to music (takes awhile to download)

Watch the video

Music: Demolition Man by The Police

It’s hard to believe the Cow Palace might be torn down soon. For whatever it’s worth, you can go to and sign the online petition. I did.