A hosta garden was created at Ten Chimneys today. The Lunts planted hostas and ferns in the shady areas throughout the estate. Over the years a hosta bed outside the Main House had become a little uneven. The time to enhance this garden had come. A generous donor presented 28 fine varieties of hostas to Ten Chimneys and the master gardeners devoted their creativity and talents to planting this bed, incorporating surviving Lunt era hostas within the new scheme. 

I had no idea that hostas came in so many varieties or that the cultivation and study of hostas is the passionate (and I mean passionate) pursuit of numerous gardeners.  I am partial to the Blue Cadet myself. The next time you find yourself on a tour of Ten Chimneys, be sure to take note of the new garden as you leave the Main House for the Studio.

The choice was deliberately made not to recreate a historic garden from a certain documented date in time, but rather to carefully select plants that effect a spiritual rehabilitation of the original garden, using a combination or both historic and recent varieties of hostas. 

Ten Chimneys Hosta Garden

Praying Hands/Antioch/Alligator Shoes/Red October/El Nino/Old Glory

Love Pat/Sergeant Pepper/LS Ripples/S Royel/June/Peppermint Ice           

Frances Williams/Mount Everest/Peter the Rock/Eye Declare/Sun Power

Saint Paul/Dick Ward/Blue/Queen Josephine/Gray Cule/Salute/Atlantis/

Sum & Substance/Gold Standard/Blue Cadet

Day One - Master Food Preserver Training

Bacteria, Fungi, and Viruses, Oh My!

Getting to the creepy stuff right away. But then again, when in the business of storing food for later consumption it’s a good idea to know what little creepy crawlies can disrupt a perfectly good pickle. The wonderful Delilah Snell lead us through the world of food borne illnesses and how to prevent them. Suffice it to say that there lots of ways we can get sick from food, enough to make you not eat again. But I don’t recommend that option. Instead, proper hygiene, food handling and storage while avoiding risky techniques and ingredients will keep us thriving.  Bottom line - “When in doubt, throw it out!”

Before we got into the excitement of bugs and bacteria we had a chance to meet our UC sponsors, our fearless instructor Ernest Miller, and fellow MFP trainees. And what an amazing bunch! There are food gleaners, restaurant owners, goat caretakers, 4Hers, journalists, 501c3ers, educators, foodies, and a slew of Master Gardeners. Despite our varied backgrounds, the one thing that unites us is a strong desire to be a part of our community by sharing our knowledge and love of preserving food.

Our Mission:

The Mission of the Los Angeles County Master Food Preservers, a volunteer arm of the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), is to teach safe home food preserving methods to the public through development and implementation of programs that transfer research-based knowledge.

So off to a great start! Can’t wait for next week’s class: hand washing and canning basics.

Snapped this Burnt Orange Daylily at the monthly Through the Garden Gate Tour in Claire’s garden this past Saturday.  It’s a $5.00 tour of a local Cville garden put on by the Virginia Master Gardeners.  Claire is a collector and breeder of Daylilies so there was an abundance to see!

Tomato Growing Tips

May 23, 2014

Here are some links with tips for growing tomatoes from the experts. Tomatomania gave me new ideas for growing tomatoes at the coast, so I’ll begin there.

10 Cool Tips for Success: Growing Tomatoes Along the Coast
Tips for Tomato Growing Success

Growing A Better Tomato, Seed to Harvest

Tomato Growing Tips

Master Gardeners San Diego County
Google Master Gardeners + your county or state for advice specific to your region

Growing Tomatoes in the Home Garden

Share your tips for success with tomatoes in a comment.

I can hardly wait for my black cherry tomatoes

and the ‘Green Zebras.’

And so to bed …

Ten Chimneys’ master gardener volunteershave diligently tucked the estate gardens in for it’s long winter’s nap: pruning, removing annuals, cleaning up leaves and autumnal debris, emptying dozens of decorative urns and pots, bringing in fragile plants for wintering, and then finally covering the beds with a rich layer of compost. Everything neat and tidy and ready for winter – and done with great élan on some very cold days – no fair weather friends they. 


Master Gardener class today (Saturday April 5, 2014)

Crammed into a measly 8 hours: 4 speakers and a variety of subjects; Integrated Pest Management (IPM), edible weeds, mushrooms, composting, worm tea, native California wildflowers, school gardens, yadda yadda yadda, blah blah, blah..

-screw all that! Baby Goats y'all!!!





Baltimore Master Gardeners Outline Steps for a Neighborhood Farm

The University of Maryland Home & Garden Information Center video from the Baltimore Master Gardeners gives a general overview of starting and maintaining a Neighborhood Farm. 

The Neighborhood Farm seems to be a cross between a Consumer Supported Agriculture farm and a community garden. The difference being that the Neighborhood Farm involves the community, but each of the members of the garden is in essence a farmer. Each of the community members provides financial support and labor, but shares in the bounty of the garden. 


I make frequent strolls through the woodland areas of the Ten Chimneys property, including the proverbial “back-forty”, in order to monitor the condition of the site and, it must be confessed, to renew my spirit. On a recent walk about I was delighted by the sight of forsythia in bloom and lilacs in bud, the song of cardinals and scarlet tanagers, and the growth of numerous native and wild plants.  Then I saw something that made my heart sink: garlic mustard growing along the back drive and within the kettle behind the Cottage.  

Garlic mustard is an invasive plant introduced from Europe. This woodland weed spreads quickly and easily displaces all other herbaceous species such as the jack-in-the-pulpits and Virginia bluebells pictured here. One plant can have hundreds of seeds per blossom and can lie dormant for two to five years.The SOS went out to our fabulous Master Gardener volunteers who heard the call and turned out today to pull the garlic mustard before their flowers go to seed. For more information on controlling garlic mustard please visit here


Spring is the time to make your free Organic Nettle Liquid Plant Feed

You will need: gloves, a bucket that will hold 10 litres (2.¾ gal) and 1kg (just over 2lbs) of young stinging nettles, and a cover for the bucket.

We used one of the black plastic builders buckets that usefully has the liquid measurements marked inside. We use a spring scale to weigh the nettles but as you can see from the photo 1kg of nettles pressed down fills the bucket. Now add 10 litres of water and cover, we used a recycled carrier bag and the covered it with some old slates. Place the bucket away from the house as does smell when mature, which will take around two weeks.

John has made the liquid feed ready for using on his tomato plants that were planted from seed on 15/4/13. The liquid feed will need to be diluted 1 part feed to 10 of water for use on the plants.