Gardening and Cooking?

FebMarch2015Organic Gardening Magazine just published their “keepsake” issue and it was an interesting read. So many ideas that have roots (excuse the pun) that go back further than I could have imagined are now coming to the forefront.

But, one quote did cause me some trepidation. An interview from 2010 with Michael Pollan quoted him as saying, “I don’t think you garden unless you’re going to cook.”

Boy, that rubbed me the wrong way. I’ve tried to track it down and see if it was taken out of context. So far, no luck. Has anyone else seen this quote or know anything about it? Could it really be possible that this is what he thinks?

We may just have to get in touch with him to clarify this, if no one else can give me some context in it. Leave a comment or email me at



Wonderful conference

Plant Sale MeetingAs I expected, I was overwhelmed with the wealth of information that our three horticulture tracks were able to provide to the CNPS 2015 Conservation Conference attendees.

I gave a four-hour workshop on the value of native plants in the landscape, we ran a special meeting for people who were interested in Plant Sales, and I gave a presentation on how to introduce native to HOA boards, in addition to hosting the fourteen other speakers and helping with registration, selling CNPS merchandise at the onsite store and ringing up the big ticket results of the auctions!

Exhausting but stimulating. Lots of new buddies and time to catch up with friends from allover the state. Thanks to all of you who were there and who helped us put this big, successful event together!

We will have more photos coming soon.


Funk goes Wild and Scenic with native plants

Wild and Scenic

Alicia Funk recently put together a great movie about California native plants and their wonderful edible qualities. She asked us to participate in the filming, called the Living Wild Project. The 4-minute short piece been officially accepted into the “Wild and Scenic Film Festival” for screening in 2015, during the 2nd weekend of January! This is a fun project that will add a unique twist to the film fare at this cool festival in Nevada City.

Alicia has also produced a few other short films, focused on enjoying a native plant food each season and have spring & summer posted so far. You can see these at her web site,

Jess Swigonski, liaison for the Wild and Scenic festival, reached out to us and told us that, “We will be screening environmental, adventure, and social justice films from all over the world alongside activism workshops, art, and music”.

Share the spirit of adventure and activism that has sprung up in this California community for the past twelve years! If you are interested in attending, please check out their website for more information about the festival and purchasing tickets:

I can’t believe that January 15th is coming up so soon. If you are looking for a great activity, please do check this out and let us know how you enjoyed the film!

Native Moonshine

Tecate Cypress Bourbon V2_edited-1

Last year, I gave you my tried and true shortbread recipe. This year, I experimented with a new fun project: Tecate Cypress-infused bourbon.

Infused whiskeys and bourbons are all the rage of do-it-yourselfers and of artisanal restauranteurs. The idea is to take stems, greenery, berries, flowers or other plant parts and allow them to transfer flavor to a favorite spirited liquor.

Before you think about trying this at your place: warnings and caveats!

Caveat One: Never put anything in your mouth that you think you have the slightest chance of being allergic to. We are not suggesting that this is 100% safe for you. Call the Poison Control Center Hotline (which I did before I started my experiment) and talk to one of their experts. Call 1-800-222-1222.

Caveat Two: Don’t forage wild plants. Please grow your own, and forage your own garden, or ask permission to pick from someone else’s garden.

Caveat Three: Drink responsibly.

Caveat Four: You may not like these sorts of flavors, so test this out in small batches before you go using up all your expensive supplies.

Here is what I did. I took a small sprig of Tecate Cypress (Cupressus forbesii, now called Hesperocyparis forbesii) – about seven inches long and stuffed it into a quart Mason jar and filled it with bourbon. I set it on my counter in my kitchen and let it seep. Every once in a while I took a sip to see how it was coming along. Many online resources say this takes about two weeks, but after about eight days, I felt the flavor was strong enough to make an impact.

If I had found the flavor to be too strong, I would have simply diluted it with more spirits.

But it is just fine. It tastes slightly resinous. Just like it smells. I love it. For our family get-together on New Year’s Day, we swap under $10 gifts and the theme this year is to bring a gift that has a connection to wherever the person comes from. So, my little Mason jar of Tecate Cypress Bourbon is gonna be a hit, I am sure. I do plan to put a cute label on it, in the holiday spirit, excuse the pun.

If you see any members of my family before the gift exchange on the 1st, don’t let on. This is a surprise.

The more we learn…

Monarch on Mexican milkweed, photo courtesy Stephen Morton for The New York Times

Monarch on Mexican milkweed, photo courtesy Stephen Morton for The New York Times

As we’ve all learned, the Monarch butterfly has a special relationship with milkweed. The general public is becoming more aware. The good news is that people are interested in helping with the problem.

But of course, big problems are always more complicated than they appear on the surface. So often, what we start out to suggest as being best practice for a particular issue winds up getting more and more nuanced as time goes by.

The monarch/milkweed is an example of this. It isn’t good enough to simply provide any old milkweed. This article in the New York Times, while slightly east coast-centric, does recognize the conundrum and is helping citizens to learn to take more specific actions to help the monarchs.

Monika, one of our online correspondents, brought this to our attention and she wrote, “Introducing non-native species can cause harmfull consequences.” Well-said, Monika.

Garden Signs are a hit…now for Round Two!

Native plants live here - garden sign

CNPS Garden Signs are a mark of your commitment


I don’t know if you’ve seen our new CNPS Garden Signs – we are selling them to the public for $36. We’ve already sold out of the first round!

And now, we are looking to get a photo of a monarch butterfly on a narrow leaf milkweed for the next round. We are looking for high resolution, high quality, colorful images that will crop well in Photoshop. Do you have an image that we could use?
If you have any other butterfly/native perfect combos that are also high-res, colorful and croppable, we’d consider those as well.
Please send to me at Call me with questions or comments: 619 318 4590.