It sounds like the nightmarish reveal from the end of a terrifying tale written by Edgar Allan Poe himself. Robert Palmer of Toule, WA recently found a caterpillar that appears to have Poe’s own dread-filled face on its back. He spotted it on the side of a water trough while he was giving his horse a drink.

Palmer told KATU:

“My first thought was to crush it with my cane, then I thought, no, it looks so strange, I’m going to take a picture of it,” said Palmer. “I’ve sent the picture to OMSI, the Portland Zoo, Fish & Wildlife, the Extension Serivce, The Master Gardeners. People either don’t respond or don’t know what kind it is. Some people aren’t taking this very seriously.”

“I sent a picture to my grandson, he said ‘nice photo-shop grandpa’. I said I can’t even use my smart phone half the time, much less do some special computer effects. I had to have the girls at the Shell station send the picture to KATU. He knows I wouldn’t lie about this.”

Does this caterpillar really have Poe’s face on its back? We actually don’t care if it does turn out to be a Photoshop prank because the very idea of Poe either being reincarnated as a caterpillar or simply peering out through an inter-dimensional portal on its fuzzy back is brilliant. We can’t help but think that Poe himself would be impressed.

To learn more about this bizarre discovery click here to watch the KATU interview with Robert Palmer.

[via Neatorama]


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

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.’


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!!!




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. 

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!
Vertical Garden | Mighty Fine Gardens
Vertical Gardening is a special type of gardening procedure that suitable to small spaces. Vertical Garden is a scope of growing plants in a vertical space.

Organic Hydroponic Tower Gardens! 
What is a Tower you may ask?

Originally developed in Israel to make use of every drop of water, our 3rd generation gardens can be sized to fit your family, school or group. Use 80% less water in 1 / 5th of the space a dirt garden uses. Each tower can grow 20-30 plants in a space about the size of your hat. “Fill and Forget” features will allow beginners to grow like master gardeners. 

No need to spend years trying to improve the soil - there isn’t any. Sterile ground coconut fibre is used instead. This helps eliminate soil born pests and disease. Plants grow faster. They can be set up anywhere, from backyards to apartment balconies. 

Everything you need comes in a few boxes, complete with seeds, instructions and unlimited expert email support. 

Eat Right!


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

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.


Master Gardeners are needed to help maintain the grounds of Chatham. It is unbelievable that a property of such significance would not have a full time gardener, but it’s true. A brief history of this place is sure to inspire Master Gardeners to help maintain the rose garden. Few places will make you feel privileged to have pulled its weeds. 

 Built between the years 1768 and 1771 by William Fitzhugh, this grand Georgian-style house overlooking the Rappahannock River , in Fredericksburg Virginia, was for many years the center of a large, thriving plantation. The house was named after William Pitt, the Earl of Chatham. Fitzhugh owned upwards of one hundred slaves. In 1805, some of these slaves rebelled, overpowering and whipping their overseers. The rebellion was stopped and the salves involved were punished. One man was executed, two died while trying to escape, and two others were deported. These people, no doubt stooped in the same areas we do today, to pull weeds, and plant plants. If you volunteer at Chatham, when the sun gets intense, remember those from the past, who were forced to keep working. Imagine being in those strangers’ shoes (or bare feet). It is good for the human heart to connect in this way. 

There is another story I’ll share, its rarely told now, but it is my favorite story about Chatham. It involves a ghost and a love story. A family  member was staying at Chatham as a guest, a teenage girl. Her home was across the ocean. Truth be told, she wasn’t happy about being at Chatham. She had fallen in love with a boy from her home town but her family didn’t approve of the relationship. The boy wasn’t rich, wasn’t powerful and so he was turned down by the family. Their love was forbidden, but like the slaves, they rebelled. The girl came to Chatham against her will, forced by her parents, in their attempt to squash this unapproved love. The boy however, became even more determined. He worked hard and secured passage on a ship bound for America. He was going after his love. According to the tale, he found the girl at Chatham and together they made a plan for her to escape. I can imagine their excitement, they thought their happy ending had arrived. The girl was caught in her escape, legend says by George Washington himself. (George was a family friend, grew up down the road at Ferry Farm and was a documented visitor at Chatham, the two families were related by marriage.) Sadly, the girl was shipped back to her home across the ocean, leaving the boy behind too poor to hop on a ship and give chase. It is said the broken heart girl vowed to return and find her true love. Over the years many people have claimed to see her ghost, walking the grounds. Some tour guides have said they experienced her presence in the house. The grounds do give off a romantic feeling, I like to think that’s her doing. She would have loved the roses and flowers on the grounds. Perhaps she even picked some flowers and played the childish game of picking off the petals while saying “he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me”, as she waited for her true love to come rescue her. 

The civil war brought destruction and death to Chatham. Many soldiers were buried on the grounds, over 130. In the old photo you will notice the garden is gone. The space was needed for graves. The Union army set up shop in the house for 13 months.  President Abraham Lincoln came to Chatham during this time. Later, the confederates took control of the house and it was used as a hospital. Walt Whitman (who came looking for his brother) and Clara Barton volunteered there, caring for the injured and dying or helping as needed. Consider the volunteer work these two Americans trudged through! Inspiring indeed. 

There are more stories about Chatham’s past, but I now encourage you to take this wonderful volunteer opportunity and put yourself in Chatham’s present moment, in order to be in its future history. Please join your fellow Master Gardeners as they preserve this remarkable place. To help, contact the extension office (540) 658-8000 and ask to be put in touch with Master Gardener Ken Fines, who coordinates this effort. Weeding, planting, and mulching are tasks needing to be preformed. The volunteer group meets Wednesday mornings for a couple hours, but it is possible to work outside of these times, any help is appreciated! 

Schoolyard Habitat Workshops for Teachers in San Diego

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at)  —GSA

Thanks to a grant from San Diego Gas & Electric (SDGE), SD Children and Nature, SD Master Gardeners and Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting partnered to host two training workshops on Creating Schoolyard Habitats for Play and Learning. Over 50 teachers attended the workshops to learn about designing and utilizing schoolyard wildlife habitats. Three more workshops will be offered in the Fall. 

The workshops took place at San Diego Botanical Garden, Encinitas, CA and the Cuyamaca Water Conservation Garden.

Contributed by Ilisa Goldman (RLA, ASLA), Principal, Rooted In Place Landscape Architecture and Consulting; Board of Directors, SD Children and Nature
Photos by Ilisa Goldman

San Diego, CA