get in on the give-away

Have you read my book? If not, and if you own a tablet, there is a give-away on Amazon through the rest of the day today.

BeBop Garden Cover

Here’s what the cover looks like. The back cover includes blurbs from blogging buddies Grace and that dangerous icon Loree. If you opt for the tablet version and would like to see these quotes, shoot me an email at with BeBop as the subject and I will send them to you. In the meantime, here’s what Nancy had to say about it: Thrilled that Dymaxicon author Ricki Grady’s book was #1 Kindle gardening book yesterday on Amazon! Giveaway through today. If you’re thinking, well, I don’t really garden, know that my dad, 100% NY city boy who would probably fling a bulb like a grenade it you handed it to him, really enjoyed “Bebop Garden,” because, as he said, “It’s really about how to live.”

Now, in the interest of shameless promotion, I would beg a boon from you. If you read the book and find it worthy, would you take a few moments to rate and/or review it on Amazon? These things make a world of difference in the world of e-commerce. Thank you, dear friends.

Rejoice! Reuse! Recycle!

kraft wrapping with dried adornments

I have finally run out of the stash of wrapping paper that I stockpiled back when I designed for a company that manufactured the stuff. This year I turned to simple materials that were lying around and dried flowers and seedheads from the garden. To keep a theme going, I used plain kitchen twine. Here it secures a sprig of statice and the husk of a leek blossom to a package wrapped in plain kraft paper (a grocery bag turned inside-out).

lily and poppy pods with newsprint

Splitting open a lily pod gives it a flower-like shape, with a bundle of small poppy pods standing in for stamens. This time a page from the newspaper serves as wrapping.

gift tag on package

Here’s that same package showing the tag made from cardboard. This stuff shows up in the packaging of all sorts of things.

wavy scissors

Craft stores carry tools like these scissors that cut an interesting wavy edge.


I’ve been collecting these kinds of tools, probably way more than I actually need. From the left: a hole punch (this one makes a triangular hole), scissors, a brush for clearing away debris, a rotary cutter (careful, these things can be deadly), a straight-edge ruler, the wavy scissors and a tape dispenser with two kinds of tape (easy peel and not so). In the back is double-stick tape, which is a pain to use but more effective than a glue stick.

ribbon scraps

I also save the ribbons from presents received. I even like the way they look stashed in a big glass jar.

newsprint curls

A puzzle lover is getting her gifts wrapped up in the crossword and scramble pages of the newspaper.

new seasons curls

A foodie gets the New Seasons (a local organic food chain) supplement. Now let me show you how to make those curls.

cutting strips

Let’s say you are wrapping a cylindrical object, like a jar of jam. Start by rolling it up in enough paper to make two or three layers (here we used a colorful double page from a Burgess catalog). Tape up the bottom, with an empty cylinder extending beyond the top of the jar. Cut through all of the layers of paper to make strips. I made these about half an inch wide. Different papers have different properties, so adjust accordingly.

curling the strips

Fully open the scissors (or use a kitchen knife) and hold one edge flat against your thumb at the base of a strip. Using light pressure, run the strip between thumb and blade from base to tip. Repeat until you have worked your way around the cylinder and all of the strips are curled. You can play with the curls like you would a hairdo, loosening them up or whatever. Tying them loosely with the kitchen string will bring them together to cover the top of the jar.

jam jar packaging

It’s a fun way to dress up homemade gifts from the pantry.

different materials

The front jar of pickles is done up in a comics page. For the small square shape on the right, I layered two colors of construction paper.

ribbon trim

A flat sheet of construction paper was cut into strips down both sides, leaving a smooth strip down the middle. Layered on top of that is a comics sheet treated similarly. I held them in place with a piece from the ribbon jar before curling the strips.

rolled strips

Once you get comfortable with curling paper strips, one thing will naturally lead to another. Here, I’ve rolled a sheet of curls like the one used on the package before, making a kind of bow, and topped it off with a dried Chinese lantern from the garden. Richard loves the Get Fuzzy comic strip, so I used one of those from the Sunday paper to make the gift tag.

gift basket

And finally, here is a gift basket (from Goodwill) with color-coordinated gifts, some wrapped, some not, and dried hydrangea blossoms tucked into the blank spaces.

Doing Elf duty is the happiest part of holiday preparation for me. Alas, I am fresh out of things to wrap. Guess I will console myself by arranging these things under the tree, amping up the seasonal music (‘Motown Christmas Gift’ is my current fave), plugging in the lights and settling down with a piping hot libation. I hope the coming days bring you all the joy you can handle.

foliage stars in December

Oxydendrum arboreum

A very few things, like this Oxydendrum arboreum still cling to a few leaves as they flame out in a blaze of glory.

Phlomus skeletons with blueberry foliage

Here the skeletal remains of Phlomus russeliana flower stalks provide the perfect foil for the glowing foliage of the blueberry bushes.

Euonymous ‘Emerald N Gold’

Cold weather brings a blush to always decorative Euonymous ‘Emerald N Gold’.

Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’

Unlike the more common Lambs’ Ears, Stachys ‘Helen Von Stein’ holds up pretty well through the winter months.

Stachys byzantium

See what I mean? Here’s Helen’s cousin, S. byzantium, looking a bit under the weather.

giant sequoia grove

Our little grove of giant sequoias is growing up and beginning to fill its role of winter interest.

Chamaecyparis ‘Barry’s Silver’

Another winter charmer is Chamaecyparis ‘Barry’s Silver’, especially when it is spangled with raindrops.

lichen covered fence

As leaves fall, it becomes easier to notice details like the lichen covering an old fence, here surrounded by the low-growing native salaal.

moss on fencepost

Or the moss taking up residence in a weathered fencepost. Our neighbor, who likes everything neat and tidy, wanted to replace all of these posts with those bright orange, pressure-treated 4×4 numbers, but we convinced him to spare a few of these. Like some of us, it has taken years for these cedar sentinels to develop this much character.

Every month, you can count on Pam at Digging to provide a portal to other collections of foliar delights.

december surprise

winter jasmine blossom

I got this winter jasmine from Janet’s sale a couple of years ago. It has been growing lickity split, but this is the first blossom, and at a totally unexpected time of year.

more jasmine to come

With more to come, I have visions of a fence smothered in bloom in the not too distant future.

Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’

I’ve never before been able to capture the color of Ceanothus impressus ‘Victoria’. Next I must figure out how to get it in focus. Blue blossoms in December? I’ll take them, blurry or not.

grass plumes

Passalong plants often travel incognito, but can star in the garden all the same.

‘Heavy Metal’

When I stopped by a plant/garage sale and asked if they had any ‘Heavy Metal’, I got some strange looks…guess I don’t seem the type. Then I explained that I was looking for grass. Oops…another opportunity for miscasting. See why we should stick to Latin names when seeking out plants?

Mahomia ‘Arthur Mezies’

Cheating here, but gotta act fast, before these promising buds get slammed by frost. I have bubble wrap at the ready, but you never know. Oh, it’s Mahonia ‘Arthur Menzies’, and it gets about this far every year, but no further. You can see how the tips are already beginning to blacken.


Do berries count? My neighbor planted one of these upright Cotoneasters years ago and they crop up here and there compliments of the birds.

berberis thunbergii purpureus

Raindrops are almost as decorative as the berries on Berberis thunbergii purpurea

I was surprised to find so much happening despite the monsoons. For more surprises go to May Dreams Gardens.

a new toy

I like my little Panasonic point and shoot camera, but it does have its drawbacks. When R came home with a new camera I was about equal parts excited and intimidated. It’s a Nikon D3100, which puts it right on the edge of having more capabilities than we could ever learn to use. The main thing that I wanted in a new camera was a viewfinder. I found it nearly impossible to control the framing of a shot without one. I’ve barely scratched the surface of what it will do, but remember how I was bemoaning my inability to capture the texture of the Kalanchloe belhariensis?

Kalankhloe belhariensis close-up

Well, I think this just about does it.

old callicarpa

And when I took this shot of the Callicarpa bodinieri ‘Profusion’ berries in front of the red foliage of the Nandina the colors left something to be desired.

new callicarpa

Now I can focus on the berries and let the flaming leaves act as background. This is going to be fun! The old camera will still be tucked into purse or pocket for those times when I want to snap photos unobtrusively, but I am looking forward to experimenting with this new tool. I’ll let you in on new discoveries as they arise.

Elizabeth Caruthers Park


This two acre park is tucked into the South Waterfront development, a gentle respite from the glass towers rising all around it. You can see it from a landscape architect’s point of view here and learn about its namesake here by scrolling down to Anna B’s comments. But first, lets just stroll around and see what there is to see.

bridge over swale

At the southern end of the park there are swales spanned by plank bridges in sweeping curves.

another view

My first impression was of all native plantings, but in fact there are some non-natives worked in to better serve the design.


These birches are a case in point.

birches from farther back

I can’t imagine this scene without them.

boardwalk bench

Benches have been worked in here and there, each in a style appropriate to its surroundings. Here the bridge planks have been extended to keep sitters out of the flow of foot traffic.

heading North towards the berm

Heading North, you can see the wedge-shaped berm creating a grassy clearing at the center of the park.

looking back

Looking back at the berm from the far side, you can see that the plant material and style of planting has changed.


Mass plantings of Cistus (no signage mars the scheme, so my minimal info will have to suffice).

long borders of Cornus

Long borders of red twig dogwood

variegated red twig dogwood

…must be equally striking once the branches are bare.

grasses and liriope

Here’s a long border of grasses fronted by liriope.

decomposed granite paths

On this northern end of the park, the paths are made of crushed decomposed granite.


The fountain was not operational on this day, but each of those (rubber) pads has a spout. I can imagine it will be a powerful draw on sunny, hot days.


Liriope used alone.


One of several styles of lamps, with the tram in the distance. I want to visit this park sometime after dark to see the effect of the lighting.

wind-activated music makers

…and again on a windy day to hear the music

lunch spot



Not all benches look the part.

dressed-up trash cans

Even the trash cans get the royal treatment. Let me leave you with a few shots of the featured plants and invite you to check out this park at 3508 SW Moody Ave if you find yourself in the neighborhood.




Hydrangea quercifolia