Memorial Plantings

Head stones and photos are not the only way to honor someone's memory.

Over the years, our family has had a number of trees planted in memory of loved ones passed. There's a plum tree blooming on Leavenworth in San Francisco with a placque in memory of my Aunt Lenore. Along Rolla's Acorn Trail, an oak tree was added in memory of a fellow City Councilmember who died while in office.

In my one-acre hillside garden, a number of plants bring back memories of loved ones; iris for my Mom, who had lovely iris flower beds in our farmhouse in southern Illinois. Miniature fruit trees among flower beds are in memory of my father, descendant from a long line of Hungarian farmers. He also added a fruit orchard on our southern Illinois property but I don't recall picking much fruit.

To some, visiting a grave is a way to honor those no longer with us. All I have to do is walk into my garden.

Mom, I miss you.




How to Pick Blackberries

There are so many fruits available in summer from cherries to watermelon. One of my favorites are so tempting, little dark berries at the tips of arching shrubs available in north America mid-summer. Little does one realize how thorny these plants can be!

Blackberries grow in almost all continents, a plant so flexible it has adopted to a wide range of climates. Regardless of where you are planning to pick them, make sure you are:


  • Wearing a thick pair of pants to catch thorns before they hit skin.
  • Boots if you're walking into a blackberry patch after a rain. Some plants grow shoots that can't be seen above soil but you sure can feel them when you step on them.
  • Don't wear a long sleeve shirt, it will just get caught in thorns.
  • Gloves are optional but if you do wear them, select a pair with good finger dexterity.


When picking, go slowly and focus on berries at the ends, away from thorns. Some berries look ripe but may not be so make sure you have good lighting on the plants.

Worth the effort?

You bet!



Thought for Today

There are a lot of ways to successfully garden but one of the basics is to have, and know how to have, good soil.

Soil is an amazing ecosystem with millions and millions of microbes. A teaspoon of soil has more micro-organisms than humans currently living on earth, each group of microorganisms with a specific contribution they make to the health of all.

A garden is only as successful as the soil in which a garden grows. Gives new meaning to this charming concrete garden sign, don't you think?



First Lettuce

There are a number of ways people mark the arrival of spring. Purple crocus; yellow daffodils in bloom; maybe a favorite tree blooming. In my world, it's lettuce.

In addition to a dedicated vegetable garden spot, I keep a series of pots on my back deck where I can easily access herbs and greens. Sometimes the potted garden grows faster. It's on the equivalent of a second deck surrounded on three sides by glass. It also faces west so the soil warms up faster than the vegetable garden.

To get an early start on vegetables and herbs, I usually have a pot share lettuce seeds on one side and an herb on the other. I use shards from broken pots to set up growing guides. This year, lettuce is sharing space with sweet basil.

When I harvest my first greens for a salad marks the official beginning of spring for me.

It's a healthy, delicious and easy way to start!




How to Start Nasturtiums

One of my favorite summer flowers, nasturtiums, can be hard to get started. The round seeds have a hard cover, making germination difficult. One year out of a packet of 25 nasturtium seeds, only three sprouted.

To more easily get nasturtiums germinating, soak seeds in water for 1-2 days. Seed coverings will soften so that seedlings can more easily pop through. Once I started soaking seeds, I had 100% germination.

Why nasturtiums?

Besides being bright and pretty, nasturtiums are wonderfully edible, adding a spicy flavor to salads and desserts.

Pretty and practical?

Now that's my kind of combination!