Home & Garden


Karma & the Cottage, Part 3

Karma & the Cottage, Part 3

To recount the series of events that lead to our buying this particular little, red bungalow in Pasadena, I have to go back almost 35 years. The youngest son of the owners at the time was about 16. His weakness for drinking beer and riding motorcycles fast met up one night with another driver’s habit of not looking for small flying objects before changing lanes.

Time to Talk Tomatoes

Time to Talk Tomatoes

Spring has sprung, which means it’s time to plan your summer tomato crop. To help you in this not-insignificant task, the Arboretum is hosting a free (with admission) session with tomato expert Steve Gotto, who will share his Top 25 Tomato Picks for 2010. He’ll also pass along tips for planting, growing, tending and harvesting, […]

Karma & the Cottage, Part 2

Karma & the Cottage, Part 2

Thirteen years ago, Sheryl and I moved into a little bungalow on a corner lot in north Pasadena. One of the more unusual features of the property was a large rusty bird pen constructed from 2 1/2″ steel pipe, lumber, tree limbs and heavy screen. The pipe frame roughly formed the outline of a cube, about 9′ in each direction, give or take.

Wistaria Hysteria

Wistaria Hysteria

In 1918, 12,000 people congregated in Sierra Madre for the first ever Wistaria Festival. It’s more than 90 years later, and we Sierra Madreans still love our big purple plant, planted in 1894 on what is now West Carter Avenue. It is, undoubtedly, an impressive specimen: over an acre in size, weighing 250 tons and […]

Wood & Bones: The Chronicle of a Pasadena Cottage

Wood & Bones: The Chronicle of a Pasadena Cottage

Tonight we received a phone call from our Realtor, Jackie Watamura (the hardest working real-estate agent on the east side) with the news that the deed on our new house recorded. By “new house” what I mean to say is, “A 90-year-old cottage with a collapsing roof, severe water damage, uneven foundation, no electric or plumbing and busted-out window, which has become the de facto residence of most of the neighborhood’s feral cat population.” My wife, Sheryl, and I were, of course, ecstatic.

Everything’s Coming Up Camellias at Descanso

Everything’s Coming Up Camellias at Descanso

I sniff camellias every chance I get. My reward? A delicate fragrance — and a nose dusted with yellow pollen.  It’s fun to poke your nose into camellias — and at the week-long Descanso Gardens Camellia Festival beginning Saturday, visitors will not only be sniffing, they’ll also be tasting camellia teas and cocktails, showing off prize homegrown blooms, […]

Citrus Bonanza

Citrus Bonanza

This time of year we residents of the San Gabriel Valley are reminded daily of why our predecessors struggled and took risks to move from the frozen midwest or the chilly east: Citrus fruit. It blew their mind that here in the U.S. was a fertile land where frost was as rare as tornadoes, and […]

Winter Berries for What Ails You

Winter Berries for What Ails You

I know I’m not alone, because I see it in others at Trader Joe’s and Vroman’s. That ashen, weary look that comes from doing your darndest to keep up with life’s demands. Plenty often, our heads are down, eyes focused on the mountain of work blocking the emergency exits. Sure, on the one hand, it’s […]

A Baby Christmas Tree to Grow

A Baby Christmas Tree to Grow

We made our way over to Armstrong’s with the idea of getting a live Christmas tree as a gift for some newlyweds to enjoy and transplant to ever larger pots, until they were ready to plant it permanently outside. But crack nurserywoman Elizabeth quickly disabused us of that idea, making it perfectly clear that the […]

Master Gardeners & Living Wreaths

Master Gardeners & Living Wreaths

As we roll into the harvest and holiday season, or the fourth quarter, depending upon your altar of worship, this is a time to reassess. Not only are we clearing the beds and fields of debris and remnants of summer’s growth, but the wise gardener is looking ahead. It’s not too late for winter lettuces, […]

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