Orchid or lily? No. Gladiolus. I planted “Mardi Gras” gladioli corms in April (2019) & was surprised this summer by quite a display of color: bright yellow, vibrant red, & this one to the left — looks like a pansy but acts like an orchid! “Glads” worked well on my Twin Peaks deck this year for a continuous August bloom.

Standing red, yellow & tall with trees

Gratitude & grace = a summer gladiolus


Summer blossoms on the deck; clockwise: mission bell California poppy, tulip, cosmos, mission bell California poppy, calendula, viola, rose (not from my deck), cornflower, mardi gras gladiolus (2019)


The succulent garden on my Twin Peaks deck overfloweth (2019)


Round or square, almost any container makes a good terrarium (2019)
Succulents, soil, moss, sea stones/glass — all it takes (2018)

At my admin day job (UCSF), I led a terrarium making tutorial & had a great turn out of co-workers ready to push their computer screens aside & get their hands dirty. We have staff enrichment activities (from visiting the Old Mint in SF to pottery painting at Earthfire) & this past spring our HR coordinator asked if I was willing to share my love of terrarium making with the office. I was. I brought in some river & beach stones from my collection; HR provided the succulents, soil, moss, & off we went!

Nicola’s terrarium (2019)

My co-workers’ terrarium choices reflect their individuality.

Orthopaedic Surgery’s terrarium talent! (2019)
Dan’s towering terrarium started out w/ sea glass (2019)


Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor

In 2012, I co-founded Urban Pastoral Gardens (UPG), an edible container-garden company, with local writer-artist Julie Gesin. Our business took its name from “Urban Pastoral,” a poem in my chapbook Heliotropes. Though the California drought challenged our business and new goals (Julie went back to school for her MFA and I took a full-time day job at UCSF) pushed us into different directions, we maintain the UPG motto: grow your own in whatever space you can! Our Facebook page remains a homage to our urban gardening project.

Spring salad garden w/ heirloom lettuce, kale, onions, parsley, & nasturtium. (2012)

Spring planting on my Twin Peaks deck (2012)

Large ‘Spring Mix’ garden w/ kale, chard, radishes, heirloom lettuce, pansies, parsley, & green onions (2012)

A honey bee caught pollinating a nasturtium! (2013)
Edible violas – ‘Sorbet Lemon Blueberry Swirl’ – yum (2013)

Julie at the UPG stand, San Ramon Farmer’s Market (2013)

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