Portrait of an Empress, August in the Garden & North State Calendar of Regional Gardening Events

I never did get a get picture of her. Not a drive-by snap shot, not a proper portrait. Despite regularly remarking on how lovely she was. And now that she’s gone – with the others – I go out of my way to avoid driving where I used to see her. Why bother? It’s painful to see the gaping hole, painful to know I had never taken the time to get a good photograph of this beautiful life by which I seasonally marked my place in time and space. She was a marker on my internal compass and now she is gone. I am regretful wondering if I perhaps I never acknowledged her or appreciated her enough.

PHOTO ABOVE: Courtesy of travel photographer Peggy Thompson,the famous Chinese Empress tree at the entrance to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island, Washington. It is the first Empress tree I had the pleasure of meeting more than 20 years ago.

Like so much that we pass and notice in passing and yet fail to really pause for.

In a year of losses and things of beauty gone for one reason or another, the expansive and canopied old Paulownia tree along the green habitat corridor that used to be that stretch of Highway 32 heading into Chico from the East is just one more. A towering Empress tree whose stature was regal and assured, dressing up a four way intersection marked otherwise by life’s less than lovely daily facts and the harried drivers we all are, trying to endure in the face of those facts.

A complicated and non-native tree with some potentially invasive qualities that would prevent me from ever planting such a tree in my own garden or ever recommending it to others, this Empress tree was still such a symbol of resilience, scraping by in this odd industrial/car-oriented interchange. She was most remarkable in spring, when she held forth in full opulent bloom – fat, succulent tubular white flecked with purple pink blossoms lit up her entire form and you could see her far in advance of your approach. Something quite literally to look forward to. I should have taken the time to take her picture.

What points of beauty in your seasonal compasses of garden and daily routes would you like to acknowledge in some meaningful way – by taking time to really look at them? By painting them, sketching them, sculpting them, recording them or carefully composing their portrait?

Take the time to do it, you will be glad for having invested in such a gesture of appreciation and gratitude.

If it’s a picture you take, and if perhaps that picture is of a native plant or native plants in the landscape – consider submitting it to the annual Friends of the Chico State Herbarium Native Plant Photo Contest – open now – after all, what do you have to lose? And photographing the plants you love seems like a great activity to add to your monthly gardening tasks.

Good tasks in the garden this month includes pruning back spent summer flowering plants, pruning the home orchard as needed for shape and size, planting your fall/winter seeds and even seedlings including broccoli, kale and chards. Remember to protect young plants from hot afternoons, to keep them well-watered and to fertilize as necessary – the whole vegetable garden and any potted plants will benefit from a good drink of fish emulsion or other organic feed this time of year. Now is the time to start pulling back the water on many established and drought tolerant perennials, shrubs and trees. As the length of daylight and heat of each day slowly begins to diminish, so too do the water needs of those plants past their peak growing season.

As harvest in our agricultural region is soon upon us, I will repeat this quote I like from Henry David Thoreau: “The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched. ”

The On-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events at jewellgarden.com adds events throughout the month. I do my very best to keep the calendar up to date and accurate, please confirm all events with the event host. If you have an event you would like listed or if you are aware of a mistake on the calendar, please send all pertinent information to: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com! Thanks!

AUGUST 2014

Aug 2 – Chico: Cultivating Community North Valley: Seed Saving Series Workshop #6 – Harvesting & Winnowing Cool Season Crops 2:00 – 4:00 P.M. In the Heartseed Greenhouse at the GRUB Cooperative. 1525 Dayton Road Pre-Registration is required at cultivatingcommunitynv.org. Priority is given to Income-Eligible participants. Price for Income-Eligible participants: Free. Income-Ineligible participants may sign up for the waiting list: If there is space, we will contact you within one week of the event. Cost will be $10. Paid day of event at sign-in table. Class size is limited to 25. Address: GRUB Cooperative 1525 Dayton Rd Chico, California 95928

Aug 2 – Davis:UC Davis Arboretum Succulents That Sizzle 10 a.m., Gazebo, UC Davis Arboretum. Need plants for your garden that can take the heat? Try succulents! They will surprise you with their diversity and beauty, even in mid-summer. The event is free;free parking is available in nearby Visitor Parking Lot 55 or on the street. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880.

Aug 2 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Charlie Rabbit and His Friends 10:30 am. Join us the first Saturday of every month for an interactive program in the Gardens (or Greenhouse when it rains) for children, their siblings, parents and Grandparents. Join Charlie, our adorable jack rabbit puppet, in various gardening activities. Wear your favorite gardening clothes! Presented by Rick and Kandi Barnett. Free with park admission! Meet at Gardens West Entrance, located off Arboretum Drive next to Turtle Bay’s McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery. More info: http://www.turtlebay.org

Aug 2 – Fair Oaks: Fair Oaks Horticulture Center HARVEST DAY 8 am – 2 pm. Speakers, demonstrations, educational booths. Taste produce, ask questions at the plant clinic, tour the garden and more. Bring your friends to the area’s premier one-day educational gardening event. For more Info: http://ucanr.edu/sites/sacmg/Fair_Oaks_Horticulture_Center/Workshop_Schedule/

Aug 3 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: South Caribou Wilderness, Lassen National Forest Meet in time to leave at 8 am. We’ll drive to a designated wilderness area about 10 miles northeast of Chester, including about 10 miles on a graveled surface. The loop hike is about 4.5 miles at 6000 feet elevation through open lodgepole pine-fir forest and passing several small lakes. The trail has numerous downed logs which need to be navigated around. We expected to see grape fern and many flowering plants. Call leader Gerry at 530-893-5123 for alternate meeting site. For more information see website at mountlassen.cnps.org

Aug 10 – FULL MOON (Full Sturgeon Moon)

Aug 16 – Redding: Shasta Chapter CNPS Fieldtrip: Whiskeytown Falls This is an easy 3.5-mile hike that most people in this area have done at some time. However, it is always pretty and is a great review for people wanting to learn more about the native plants in the area. A few plants along the trail are Pacific yew at the falls and many tanoak, a few “out of place” lodgepole pines, chain fern, elephant plant, ocean spray, some late-blooming Asteraceae, and we may see a few five-fingered ferns near the falls. There are some steep sections of the trail that do require stamina. Bring water, but no dogs, please. Meet at the Whiskeytown Visitors Center at 8 AM. Parking pass required. For more information, call David Ledger at 355-8542.

Aug 16 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: California Garden Plants 9 – 11 am. The focus of this class is our own drought-tolerant California native plants. We will focus on the many tough and fascinating plants from throughout California found growing in the botanical gardens that have grown and thrived in the extremes of our local climate over the years. You may have tried to grow them before, but most natives are easy to grow with some easy-to-remember strategies. More info: http://www.turtlebay.org

Aug 16 – Davis:UC Davis Arboretum What’s Up with Plants Down Under? 10 a.m., Wyatt Deck, UC Davis Arboretum (just off Arboretum Drive), UC Davis campus. What a difference a hemisphere makes! Explore the unusual and interesting plants in the Australian and New Zealand collection at the east end of the Arboretum. Many of these plants grow well in our climate. The event is free;free parking is available in nearby Visitor Parking Lot 5. For more information and directions, please call (530) 752-4880.

Aug 24 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Willow Lake, Lassen National Forest, and Terminal Geyser, Lassen Volcanic National Park Meet in time to leave at 8 am. We’ll drive through Chester to Willow Lake. The last 9 miles is over an unimproved dirt road not suitable for low-center 2WD vehicles. Willow Lake at 5500 feet elevation is a body of water called a fen. Several mats of floating sphagnum moss, a foot or more thick, support a variety of unique and interesting plant forms. The mats are walkable, but water may cover your shoes. From Willow Lake we’ll hike 1.5 miles to Thermal Geyser, in a thermal area just inside the National Park. Semi-improved camping is available at Willow Lake and an improved campground is located at Domingo Springs, 7 miles from Willow Lake. Call leader Wes at 530-342-2293 for alternate meeting site in Chester. For more information see website at mountlassen.cnps.org

Aug 30 – Redding: McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at Turtle Bay: Walk with Horticulture Manager Lisa Endicott 10:30 am. Bring your notebooks and cameras for this participant-driven program. We’ll make our way through the Gardens with frequent stops for discussions about (what else?) plants! Free with Park or Garden admission. Meet at Gardens West Entrance, located off Arboretum Drive next to Turtle Bay’s McConnell Arboretum & Botanical Gardens Nursery. More info: http://www.turtlebay.org

Aug 31 – Chico: Mt. Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society Field Trip: Deadfall Lakes on Mt. Eddy, Shasta-Trinity National Forest Meet in time to leave at 8 am. We’ll drive I-5 to just past Weed and then another 13 miles on Stewart Springs Road to the trailhead. Walking an easy 2 miles to Lower Deadfall Lake at 6300 feet elevation, we expect to see insectivorous pitcher plant, gentians and Lewisia. After lunch some may opt to make the short but strenuous climb to Upper Deadfall Lake at 7100 feet elevation. Call leader Woody at 530-588-255 for information about nearby campgrounds or other local accommodations. For more information see website at mountlassen.cnps.org

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To submit plant/gardening related events/classes to the Jewellgarden.com on-line Calendar of Regional Gardening Events, send the pertinent information to me at: Jennifer@jewellgarden.com

In a North State Garden is a twice-monthly Northstate Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California. It is made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum – Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell – all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs two weekends a month on Northstate Public Radio Saturday mornings at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time.

Jennifer Jewell
In a North State Garden is a bi-weekly North State Public Radio and web-based program celebrating the art, craft and science of home gardening in Northern California and made possible in part by the Gateway Science Museum - Exploring the Natural History of the North State and on the campus of CSU, Chico. In a North State Garden is conceived, written, photographed and hosted by Jennifer Jewell - all rights reserved jewellgarden.com. In a North State Garden airs on Northstate Public Radio Saturday morning at 7:34 AM Pacific time and Sunday morning at 8:34 AM Pacific time, two times a month.
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