Archive for the ‘Gardens’ Category

A Valentine from the Rose Garden

Just in case you missed the rows of pink and red at all the grocery stores or heart-filled display windows I thought I’d make sure everyone knows that Valentine’s Day is next Sunday. Have you bought your sweetheart-mother-father-friend-etc that special something yet?

ValentineWebAdIf you’re looking for something simple, with local flavor, AND maybe it even helps out a local organization at the same time – look no further than the Friends of Guadalupe River’s Adopt-a-Rose program. Throughout the year this program allows you to adopt a rose bush for one year for $50. They also run two specials a year – Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

For the Valentine’s Day adoption gift, you receive:

  • Gift Card
  • Small box of Schurra’s Chocolates
  • Cafe Too! Gourmet Cookie
  • Romantic Carousel Ride
  • Your personal message on a plaque for a full year on a rose of your choice at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden

It’s quite a lovely idea for a gift, specially if you have any rose-lovers or fans of the Guadalupe Gardens in your gift-giving circle.

Be sure to check the FAQ for details; the Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day gifts are not tax deductible because you get gifts in return (the other items listed above, for example.) However, if you choose to adopt a rose throughout the year, that will be tax deductible.

Rebates for water-wise gardening

Fall is a great time to replant a garden, and, if you’re willing to plant a low-water garden, the Santa Clara Valley Water District is willing to help out with rebates for water-wise landscaping improvements. The rebates are available if you replace at least 100 square feet of high-water landscaping with approved new plants, or replace wasteful irrigations systems with high-efficiency irrigation like drip tube. Low-water landscaping is a great opportunity to plant Californa native plants, which look beautiful, save water, and provide food and habitat for our native critters. Although its not as pretty, the landscaping rebate is also available if you landscape (or maybe replace pavement) with “permeable hardscape”, meaning porous solid surfaces that allow water to drain through into the soil.

There’s quite a few restrictions on the rebate program, and you have to contact SCVWD before starting your project, so check out the details on the website for landscape replacement rebates or irrigation equipment rebates.

(Hat tip to Bonnie on NNASJ for this story)

Coming Up: Going Native Garden Tour

The annual Going Native Garden Tour is coming April 19. Photo: Stephanie Morris, GNGT

The annual Going Native Garden Tour is coming April 19. Photo: Stephanie Morris, GNGT

The California Native Plant Society’s annual garden tour, the Going Native Garden Tour, is coming up Sunday, April 19.

The tour typically includes dozens of gardens all over Santa Clara Valley. All of the gardens have substantial plantings of California native species, and many are entirely native gardens. These California native plants are beautiful, and because they are evolved for our climate they can require minimal water and other maintenance (but of course a Sierra or swamp plant kept here in the valley will need some special care).

I’ve done this tour three times, and there’s always something new. You’ll never see every garden in one day, so just pick a few that are close together, enjoy the day, and be ready to come back next year to see some more.

The tour is free and self-guided. However pre-registration by April 18 is required for participation. To register for the tour, to volunteer as a docent, or to find out if your garden could be part of the tour, visit the GNGT website.

Free 30-foot redwood tree. Any takers?

Image courtesy Sollerphoto (Flickr)

Image courtesy Sollerphoto (Flickr)

Normally I browse through our local offerings on the Freecycle mailing list just looking at what’s available (if you don’t know Freecycle, you need to learn right now.) Normally there’s things like extra mattresses, spare coffee tables, junk drawer contents and half-used bottles of baby formula offered for free. But in all my days on the listserv, I’ve never seen such a strange offer, and I’m passing the offer on because I silently hope someone can help.

We have a lovely, healthy about 30′ tall redwood tree in our parking strip. A very inappropriate place to have put this tree 15 or more years ago. It has lifted the bricks in the parking strip about a foot–maybe more–and is now lifting the sidewalk, about an inch so far.

It must go. It breaks my heart. I don’t want to cut it down. But clearly, we have to remove it before things get worse.

I know it is a very (very) long shot, but it’s worth a try. Someone with large property, a park, or a nursery might want to have a lovely, healthy, tall redwood badly enough to move it to wherever.

Just hoping.


If you’re interested in helping Doris find a new home for the redwood tree, please contact me and I will put you in touch.

Google – World Headquarters-DooF Event

Silicon Valley: A unique flower that blossomed in the pleasant climate of central California when local university graduates mixed with the fertile soil of entrepreneurship.

Google Garden

This past Saturday I was sitting among the earth boxes in the Google Garden thinking about the last two hours spent at the Doof-A-Palooza event, for DooF – A new TV Food Show For Kids. There had been garden and kitchen tours, outdoor cooking stations manned by Google chefs – nutritious foods to sample, and some offered cooking lessons for the kids. We saw baby goats, and a Beekeeper. Alan Henninger, the owner of Henninger Hill Apiary*, gave me his thoughts on why bees have been disappearing at such an alarming rate.

There were several contests, including a food-inspired spelling bee. And another contest in which a young lady, Sophia, was happy to have named a cheese correctly while blindfolded. Her dad is with Barefoot Coffee Roasters. Seems to be a good sense of smell in that family. I spoke with Derek Rupp (Google Executive Chef) about the importance of good nutrition for kids. He and his crew made a tasty, round ball version of power bars. I met Gus Walbolt, one of the team members behind the TV Series. I expressed my hope that the show would be on daily to help kids make the best food choices. — Thanks to Google, it was a good day for all.

Shoreline Park @ Mountain View

I’m not sure how popular Shoreline Park at Mountain View is, but I heard of it only recently. I had seen the exit on 101 earlier, but it didn’t really get my attention. This is another piece of land near the Bay, much like Sunnyvale Baylands, but even better.

Shoreline Park @ Mountain View

Created after being a landfill area for dumping trash, it has possibly reached the other extreme of beauty. The main attraction is the artificial lake. Surrounding it are large areas carpetted with grass, interspersed with trails for walking and cycling. It’s summer now and you get a good place to chill out.

If You’re Young at Heart


Near SJC is a garden my children enjoyed when they were young. There is not one scary ride, not one swing or slide, yet it has what all kids seem to relish. The park has little winding paths on which to run, and the piece de resistance is a hill. A hill to climb up and to roll down. A hill that is positioned directly below the flightpath, making the San José Courtyard Garden a perfect spot to view arriving flights.

Recently I had a wonderful time at the Courtyard Garden with a picnic style lunch, which I purchased from the nearby MarketCenter on Coleman Ave., proving it is still a good place for “kids” of any age.

Courtyard Garden location W Taylor St. off of Coleman Ave. You’ll find a free parking lot at the South-East end of the garden on Seymour St.

Sunnyvale Baylands Park

Want to go out and have fun with the familly on a sunny day? Just want to catch some fresh air on a lazy Sunday? How about breaking away from the maddening city life? Sunnyvale Baylands Park is a good option. Located just off Lawrence Expressway / Caribbean Drive, it is a fairly large park near the wetlands created off the Bay.

Wave Walk and meadow at Sunnyvale Baylands Park

Downtown Trip

My wife and I had never really seen San José till the last weekend. We had passed through Downtown several times, found a few things interesting but never stopped by. Last Saturday, we set out to change that. We lined up a few places to visit in and around Downtown, and planned our route.

The first stop was History San José. Gary had aroused our curiosity just a few days earlier. We drove to Kelley Park that houses ‘History’ and got lucky right away — parking was free. No idea why it was so, even though it was a sunny Saturday — no harm done to us. Firstly, I expected more of a museum; but this was in a park setting. There were houses and buildings moved in from elsewhere, similar to a place we had seen in Utah earlier. For us, the highlights of the place were the Light Tower (which was once upon a time used to illuminate the Downtown area), O’ Brien’s Cafe, the trolley ride and the school.

Trolley ride, History San José


Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden located in Kelley Park is a great place to take an easy stroll, feed ducks and fish, and take in the beautiful surroundings.

The garden is modeled after Korakuen Garden in one of San Jose’s sister cities Okayama, Japan.

There are three ponds stocked with Koi fish that gets the most attention. Bring your quarters, as there are at least two fish food dispensers. It was fun watching the kids feeding the ducks and Koi.

From the entrance of the park you come upon the upper pond, going to your left there is a there is a beautiful, tranquil area. Unfortunately, it is next to Senter Road and passing trucks and buses soon disrupts your tranquility. The sounds of the road are soon replaced by the sound of the stream that connects to the lower elevation ponds. Nearby is a traditional Japanese teahouse, not open.

Along with the pathways, ponds, and streams there are fountains, a waterfall, rock settings, bridges, shrubs and various types of trees.

Not on par with the Hakone Gardens, I still highly recommend a visit to the Japanese Friendship Garden.

There are only benches, no picnic tables; however there are picnic tables outside the gardens, including tables “next door” at History San Jose.

The garden is open daily 10:00am to sundown. Admission is free. Parking is $6.00 weekends and most weekdays.

Location map here.
Parking info via Happy Hollow Park here (PDF).

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