Mosaic Workshop 2018

Garden Mosaic Workshop

For those of you who are participating in the workshop, there are some things you should know.  You will be using thin set to adhere whatever decorations you bring.  It would be helpful if you brought a palette knife or putty knife to apply the thin set.  I have surgical gloves for you to use.

On the second day you will be filling in spaces with grout.  You will be taking your creation home that day along with a container of sealant that you will apply after several days of curing.  If you are having difficulty deciding what decorations to use, I suggest you visit Joanns, Hobby Lobby, or Michaels for ideas.  I am looking forward your arrival at 10 am, Monday, October 1, at our home at 4510 LaCanada Way in Davis, and seeing the fantastic creations you produce.

LaVille Logan

Thinning Shears

I hope you’re not a dead horse.  I cannot help but to continue to work on you to buy a thinning pruner.  In the last two days I have used mine to cut out the dead woodwardia fronds, to trim back a grape ivy in a hanging basket, to prune lightly forsythia and the yesterday, today, and tomorrow, to cut back the flowering quince and to dead head canna.  Finally this morning I tackled the grape vines on the pergola in the back yard.  Every year at this time I have to remove all the moldy grapes that have developed.  Poor air circulation ruins the crop each year.  I have to climb a ladder and reach up through 2 x 4’s to cut grapes out.  I suddenly realized why I treasure my pruner.  It increases your reach.  It’s like reaching out with a pair of scissors.  So if you have light pruning to do, or pruning that requires reaching between thorns, objects, or other branches, this thinning shear is for you.  It is not for pruning roses and it will not cut woody stems much larger than ¼ inch, but if your garden is anything like mine, there are almost endless uses for this great tool.  And, remember how easily it fits in you back pocket?

Once again, it’s available on Amazon—Corona FS-4350 Thinning Shears.


Pot Bound

Pot Bound?

No, I’m not asking whether you are heading to the closest pot dispensary.  Nor am I referring the condition of a plant that has cemented itself into a pot with excessive root growth.  I am asking if you are bound to your garden because you have so many potted plants that you can’t go anywhere because they have to be watered so often. 

 I suspected we had pot bound disease, but it really came to light as we left the last SPPC meeting.  I was trying to get rid of some pots left over from the tools and treasures table, and I asked Pat McKnight if she wanted a pot.  She exclaimed that the only plants she had were in the ground.  What a smart lady!  On the other hand we have pots . . lots of pots.  I decided to count them and I came up with over 200.  So if anyone is pot bound, it is we.  This year we scheduled no trips between March and August.  In August we have a gardening friend who will come over a couple times to keep all the potted plants alive.  My goal for the future is to reduce the number of potted plants so that we will be vacation bound when the weather heats up.  What’s your situation?  Do you likewise feel the urge to be pot free?


Clay Pots

If you want to seal a clay pot so you can apply mosaic materials, or if you simply want to cut down on the water loss through the pot wall, there are many products designed for this purpose.  For instance, if you Google “How to seal flower pots,” you will see a product called “Clay Pot Sealer” that is available at Walmart.  The site also explains how to apply it.  If you have left over granite or grout sealer around, that will also work.  

Garden Music

I know you love gardening—otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this blog.  How about music?  If you enjoy music, then I suggest you combine the two.  Now you could simply turn up the volume of your sound system (whatever that might be) and indoctrinate your neighbors with your particular brand of music.  But I can guarantee that your neighbors do not have the same appreciation for the genre you enjoy.  It has been my experience that it is really unusual for any two people to like the same tunes—just ask my wife.  So create your own personal auditory concert by using your smart phone and a set of ear buds.

            Then start a subscription to Spotify.  Spotify is a music streaming service that provides and almost unlimited source of music selections.  The cost is $10 a month and for an additional $5 you can have a family plan that allows others living in your home to have the same experience.  Once you download music, it will be in your phone and won’t require an internet connection to play.  You can organize different playlists—like one for gardening, one for a brisk walking pace, or one for relaxation to prepare for napping.

            One more thing:  Your ear buds should be blue tooth.  You won’t want to have a wire dangling about when you are gardening.  Skullcandy has a good blue tooth set of ear buds for about $25.  LaVille bought hers at Target.  She bought a red set and wears it around as a fashion statement.

            There you have it—a way to double your gardening pleasure while not affecting that of your family and neighbors.

Stan, The Blog Man

Weed Torch

You know well the saying, “Do as I say–not as I do”.  Well, guess who was burning weeds with his torch when there was no breeze.  I was getting rid of the last moss plants in the garden.  Smoke billowed up and surrounded my face burning my eyes.  I moved side to side to no avail.  I don’t think another saying applies—“Smoke follows beauty.” applies here.  (Does that bring back memories of sitting around the camp fire?)  So I smelled like burned weeds the rest of the day—big deal.  But the next day my wife was alarmed at my sight.  (Not an uncommon occurrence.)  Sure enough, my right eye was bloodshot.  Actually bloodshot is hardly sufficient to describe the sight of this valuable little orb.  So I e-mailed my Doc. and the response was to apply eye drops and notify her if my eyeball falls out (a slight exaggeration).  Sure enough after a couple days, it disappeared . . the blood, that is.  So once again, if you use a torch to burn weeds, do so when there is a slight breeze so that smoke doesn’t rise directly up and turn you into a smelly, scary creature.

Stan, The Blog Man

Circle Hoe

I am sorry to report that I have had no luck finding a source of the circle hoe.  I have contacted the business in Grants Pass and they say that they have had problems with production.  Well, this has been the case for years now, so I don’t have any idea when this great hoe is going to be available.  Also, the gardensnob web site seems to be gone.  While hoe surfing, I came across ads for diamond files.  These are thin metal strips that are impregnated with industrial diamond.  The files are available in different grits similar to sandpaper.  The advantage to these files is first that they are thin and can fit into narrow spaces like where pruner blades come together.  These files also work in any direction—forwards, backwards, and sideways.  I ordered a set of three files of different grits and am anxious to try them out on your tools.         

Stan, The Blog Man

Tracking App

Let’s say you having a garden party that involves putting on a lunch.  Your daughter is coming and, as usual, she is late.  You are going to put the garlic toast in the oven 7 minutes before lunch is served.  The hors d’oeuvres are just about consumed and everyone is waiting for the meal.  Now you could call her and risk a car accident when she fumbles for her phone . . . or you could simply use the Life360 app on your smart phone.  Since she is in your “clan” you can see exactly where she is on the road and know how long it will take her to arrive.  7 minutes before her appearance, the toast goes in the oven and voila, lunch is served just as she enters.  Life360 is a free app that lets you see the location of the smart phone of your clan members anywhere in the world.  Currently we are watching the travels of our adopted family in Japan.  Now granted, this does cost you a degree of privacy because your family also has the ability to see where you are, but to me this is another way of maintaining family ties and I encourage you to try it if it sounds appealing.

Stan, The Blog Man


One person’s flower is another person’s weed.  I thought the moss plants growing in the iris garden were attractive.  Today I find that LaVille feels differently.  I wish she had told me sooner, as there are now large patches of moss growing among the irises and in the paths.  So I started torching the moss plants today.  I finally quit when my eyes were burning from the smoke that arose from the conflagrations straight up into my face.  My advice to you is that if you purchase a torch, doing your burning when there is a slight breeze.  Then you won’t stink of burned debris as I currently do.

Last evening and this morning I spent a lot of time pruning back recent grow on bushes and vines.  It is amazing how much growth has taken place in the last few weeks.  As I used my favorite thinning pruner that I have shown you several times, I cannot stop hoping that you have purchased this tool.  The long slender blades easily reach into a plant to reach the desired stem.  New growth is thin, so little mechanical advantage is needed, therefore the blades move more rapidly than those of other pruners.  Need I remind you how easily they fit in your back pocket?  If you lost my list of tools for the gardener, this pruner can be found on Amazon—Corona FS-4350 thinning shear.

Stan, The Blog Man

Lawn Love

I have been sleeping well at night.  Now that SPPC has given me the opportunity to express thoughts, my mind isn’t going crazy with ideas and keeping me awake.  Now it’s my wife’s turn.  She lost a lot of sleep last night thinking about clay projects.  So she left me today to work at Alpha Fine Arts in Sacramento.  (She is coming back though.)  So much creative talent, and so little time.

While playing in the garden today, several thoughts came to mind.  At least some of you have continued to resist removing your lawn to conserve water.  I am one of these.  I love my lawn.  At one time it covered the entire back yard.  Now it’s far less than 1000 square feet.  It contains no weeds, but there are a few brown spots where my son’s dog has done his thing.  I love it best when the grandkids are here.  See, they have no lawn.  Their house is on a steep slope in the hills above Los Gatos.  The creek that runs 100 yards below them represents the line of the San Andreas Fault.  So you see, it is a treat for them to have a lawn to play on.  The girls do cartwheels and wrestle about.  At lunch time they spread out a blanket and they lie on their backs in the shade of the hackberry tree while they eat their Nana special sandwiches (strawberry jam, creamed cheese, and peanut butter}.  This is really why I love my lawn. 

So if you still have a lawn, I hope you have a mower that has a good vacuuming blade.  Practically all mowers come with a mulching blade that does not do a great job at sucking up plant debris.  You generally can order a blade that does a good job at vacuuming.  There unfortunately is no such blade for my Craftsman mower.  What do you do with your clippings?  I hope you use them for mulch around your plants in the vegetable garden.  If your clippings go into the organic recycle bin, I would suggest that you put a layer of dry plant material in first so that the grass clippings don’t form a gooey mess that sticks to the bottom of the bin.  Another suggestion is to leave the bin lid open.  This lets the contents dry out and this eliminates a lot of odor and prevents the condensation on the bin inner surfaces that gathers debris when the bins are dumped.  Now . . . if you just had a power washer, you could keep all your bins clean enough to eat out of . . . Perhaps that’s a stretch.

Stan, The Blog Man