The late August and September garden

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
– Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman politician and lawyer

I continue to catalog the bouquets from my garden.

The August 26th bouquet for our LUNAFEST chair, Joann. She has done so much for the East Bay LUNAFEST film festival the past 10 years, that delivering bouquets this summer was just a small token of my appreciation for all that she does and continues to do in the community.

The other side of the bouquet.

The August 30th bouquet for Joann.

Close-up of the August 30th bouquet. I love the combination of pink and blue.

We spend Labor Day Weekend with my cousin and her husband, who live in the next town over from our hometown of Terra Bella. I brought cut flowers and made an arrangement for her dining room table. The light hit it just right in the early morning.

Another view of the bouquet in its pretty green vase, with alstromeria, dahlias, and arctotis.

The September 4th bouquet for Joann.

The September 10th bouquet for Joann.

A late bloomer, one of my new favorites is the rudbeckia hirta “Cherry Brandy.” I love the deep cherry red of this hardy flower.

A nice close-up of a scabiosa and a pink and orange zinnia. I love the little star-shaped details in the center of the zinnia.

The September 16th bouquet for Joann.

A close-up of a zinnia and scabiosas.

Zinnias in the planter box in mid-September.

A butterfly on a miniature bi-color rose, which we got from Trader Joe’s. At first the roses turned black and I cut the four different kinds of roses way back. Then they came back, and they are healthy and prolific bloomers. I’m glad I stuck with them and didn’t pull them out and compost them!

David caught this bee visiting our cosmos. We are excited to see so many bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds in our backyard, which is something that we told our landscape architect that we wanted to see with regard to flower and plant selection.

Following the path of the butterfly as it lands in the monster red straw plant in our backyard garden.

The September 20th bouquet for Joann. I like this painting-like photo of this bouquet. The gourd, which my cousin Janet made, gives it an autumnal touch, especially with the red gaillardia x grandi celebration flora, which is right in the front.

A close-up of the September 20th bouquet. The zinnias give it a fall touch.

We had a LUNAFEST reunion dinner at committee member Laurie’s house. Along with a bottle of wine, dessert, and David’s torta, I made this bouquet for the hostess.

I made two bouquets for my friend Soizic. One always brings bottles of wine and bouquets for the hostess. This one features alstromeria, echinacea, dianthus, scabiosa, and amazingly the resurrected dahlias. This is a favorite of mine this season, too.

The second bouquet for my friend Soizic. This one has a lot of zinnias and arctotis. I really like this bouquet, and I consider it one of my favorites of the season.

Looking back on the garden in August

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.
– May Sarton, American poet, novelist, and memoirist

It’s already October, mid-October at that, and I’m behind in my reportage of my summer garden. Time to play catch-up. Here are the bouquets of late summer, with fall bouquets still in production.

For the August 11th delivery for the Korematsu bouquets, here’s the first one.

Here’s the second Korematsu bouquet, a more colorful and bright bouquet.

A close-up of my favorite, the scabiosa, which for the first time in my garden has been giving me more than a few blooms per season. And oh the beauty of the light yellow dahlia tipped in the faintest of pink hues.

The deep pink dahlia in all its perfection.

And the spiked magenta dahlia.

Dinner-plate size pink dahlia.

Spiked fireworks dahlia.

When I was in Maine, I found some beautiful little bottles, some vintage, at some shops in Brunswick. Since I have a lot of flowers that are short-stemmed but equally beautiful, I thought to highlight them in this display. I put them on a platter and used this display as decoration for David’s office group party in mid-August.

Here’s a close-up of the bottles, holding echinacea, rudbeckia “Prairie Sun,” centaurea cyanus blue, and a pink rudbeckia-type flower.

I made a bouquet for David’s office group party, as well. Cosmos, dianthus, and alstromeria accompanied this bouquet of dahlias.

The platter of tiny bouquets decorated the kitchen table alongside a plate of Isabella’s homemade vanilla iced scones.

A pair of swooping swallows, made in Haiti by artisans using reclaimed steel oil drums, appreciate the tiny bouquets I made that was placed on the tables in the patio for the party.

The August 15th bouquet is spilling over in its splendor, with white snow puff cosmos and monster red straw flowers.

For the August 15th ECHS bouquet, I added a platter of tiny bouquets.

The next day, August 16th, I had a lot of flowers to cut, so I made this bouquet for our LUNAFEST chair, Joann. The scabiosa, monster red straw flowers, and zinnias were in abundance.

Another view of the August 16th bouquet for Joann.

One more view of the August 16th bouquet. I confess I’m not great at curating these photos. This one shows off the pink zinnias.

This August 18th bouquet for the Korematsu auction winners is one of my all-time favorites. I like it because it’s so horizontal and bountiful.

Here’s a top-down close-up with zinnias, rudbeckia, echinacea, scabiosa, cosmos, and pink arctotis (African daisy).

The other side of this horizontal bouquet.

The second August 18th bouquet for the other Korematsu auction winner.

A close-up of this second bouquet, featuring rudbeckia, echinacea, arctotis, and zinnia.

I have fallen in love with the zinnia, so I’ll be growing more of these long-lasting flowers next year, even if they are annuals.

The other side of the second bouquet.

The August 20th bouquet for Joann.

A close-up of scabiosa columbaria, “flutter deep blue.”

The other side of Joann’s bouquet.

A variety of African daisy, another new flower that I’ve introduced to the garden.

Joann invited me to attend the El Cerrito City Hall’s time capsule celebration, one of the many events commemorating the city’s centennial. So I made a bouquet to take to City Hall.

A close-up of one of my favorite dahlias in the August 24th bouquet.

The bouquet at City Hall.

Riding in the El Cerrito Centennial parade

It’s been my belief that learning how to do something in your hometown is the most important thing.
– Pete Seeger, American folk singer and social activist

My town of El Cerrito, Calif., where I’ve lived since 1996, is celebrating its centennial this year. One of the major events for the celebration was the Showcase Parade, which featured 59 groups or distinguished individuals. I was invited to participate as a local award-winning writer. But the biggest honor was sharing the red convertible with Gail Tsukiyama, award-winning writer of eight novels and resident of El Cerrito.

Pictures say it all, so I will let them do the talking.

Everyone is getting ready for the start of the parade at the staging grounds. Lots of convertibles and jeeps.

Ruth, our driver and owner of the red convertible, took a picture of Gail and me before the parade started.

And we’re off! That’s Nathan the Magician behind us, who unicycled and juggled all the way to the end of the parade – and wearing a dress shirt and tie! Nathan is an El Cerrito High School grad who, after college, became a full-time magician.

The parade in front of us. We turned right onto Richmond Street, which is a major street in El Cerrito. The ECHS marching band was in front of us, too.

We’ve got our signs up!

Looking behind us. Keeping Nathan honest.

My sad attempt at a selfie with Gail as we enjoy the 70s music that the El Cerrito High School dance group was dancing to.

The energetic ECHS dance troupe entertaining us all.

Residents waved from their picture windows of their homes on residential Richmond Street, and many pulled up their chairs and waved from the curbside.

I recognized a number of families from our schools, and was pleasantly surprised to see our long-time friends Yoko and Bruce at one of the street corners.

Coming up Moeser Street and getting closer to Cerrito Vista Park, our destination.

More crowd shots.

We have an active El Cerrito Arts and Culture Committee, thanks to parent and San Francisco State professor Chris Sterba. Marching in the parade is Maw Shein Win, El Cerrito’s Poet Laureate, in the red with the hat.

David, my husband, was near the park entrance and took this picture of Gail and me. And that’s Chris Sterba on the left, handing out leaflets on the Arts and Culture Committee.

A close-up as we drove by.

And I had to include this photo of Ernie Broglio, who is an ECHS alum who also pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Best known as the player who was traded to the Cubs from the Cardinals in exchange for Lou Brock. Yep, you know which team made out big. But the other big thing is that our house is Ernie’s childhood home. His family was the first owners of our current house. We are the second owners. After the parade, David went up to tell him we own his house. What a pleasant surprise that was for him!

The end of the road for us, while more townspeople gather at Cerrito Vista Park. What a great event.

El Cerrito Centennial Parade

This coming Saturday, September 16th, I’ll be in the El Cerrito Centennial parade, riding in a convertible – red, no less – with former El Cerrito resident and author Gail Tsukiyama (Women of the Silk, The Samurai’s Garden, Night of Many Dreams, The Language of Threads, Dreaming Water, and The Street of a Thousand Blossoms). I’m honored and thrilled to be riding with her in celebration of my hometown and her former hometown’s 100th anniversary of its founding. The route starts at the Safeway on San Pablo Avenue near Del Norte BART station at 8:30am and ends at Cerrito Vista Park at noon. See you there!

How does the garden grow? A pictorial from mid-July to early August

A garden should make you feel you’ve entered privileged space – a place not just set apart but reverberant – and it seems to me that, to achieve this, the gardener must put some kind of twist on the existing landscape, turn its prose into something nearer poetry.
– Michael Pollan, American author, journalist, activist, and professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, from Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education

When one talks about his or her garden, it’s best left to pictures. So I’ll do that. I’m picking up from my last blog post and displaying photos of the bouquets beginning with July 14th. But first, some solo shots in the dahlia garden.

This petite tri-color dahlia has tight tubular petals.

Another petite dahlia with spikey petals.

One of my favorites – a deep maroon dahlia, which was one of my prolific bloomers.

One of the two Korematsu bouquets for July 14th.

Closeup with heliotrope alba trailing down the vase and rudbeckia “Prairie Sun” on the left and right.

The second Korematsu bouquet for July 14th.

Closeup with the rare white dahlia and a tiny orange zinnia in attendance.

Front car seat loaded up with flowers, with my daughter, Isabella, dutifully assisting me on all my deliveries. And Sammy, too.

A July 16th bouquet for my friend Kelly, with the birthday gift that keeps on giving.

This petite orange dahlia has been a productive flower all summer.

Because I can’t get enough of this rare white dinner plate-size dahlia. Perfection.

The July 18th ECHS bouquet with a pink and burgandy theme.

The other side of this same bouquet looks like a different bouquet – with carnations, daisies, helipterum roseum “Pierrot,” and cosmos bipinnatus “Snow Puff.”

A tiny arrangement that will keep my friend, Joann, happy because these echibeckia Summerina Yellow daisies will look great as a dried arrangement.

My bonus bouquet for Tuesday, July 18th, was given to my LUNAFEST chair and community leader extraordinaire, Joann.

A closeup with a big beautiful yellow dahlia, which is original to the first owner of our home, ol’ Joe Broglio. Also starring centaurea cyanus blue, alstroemeria, and Love in a Mist.

I only had one delivery for my July 21st Korematsu bouquets because one of the families went away on vacation. So I call this bouquet my stuffed dahlia arrangement.

Bear with me, as I couldn’t curate the pictures for this particular bouquet. Another angle with one of my favorite and also rare salmon, orange-colored dahlia in the middle.

A closeup of this beauty of a dahlia.

And another closeup, but of the pink variety, which looks beautiful next to the trailing heliotrope alba.

Magenta and burgundy.

And the pale yellow dahlia with pale pink streaks.

The day that I was leaving to take a red-eye to Portland, ME, for my business trip, I couldn’t resist making two last bouquets. To whom to give them? This went to my neighbor Carla.

Closeup of the brash and showy bi-color dahlias.

My neighbor Faith got the yellow and orange dahlia arrangement.

When I got back early Monday morning, July 31st, the garden was bursting with flowers.

I got back to work with gusto. Look at all these blooms!

I made four bouquets in all. First, the August 1st ECHS bouquet.

It’s really a rare dahlia, though I take a million pictures of it.

This compact bouquet of maybe only six dahlias was a statement piece nonetheless with the dinner-plate size of the blooms. The recipient of this red, purple, and yellow bouquet? My friend Joann.

Even though it was a Tuesday, August 1st, I had enough for the Korematsu auction winners. This pale but bursting beauty was one of the Korematsu bouquets.

Closeup of the spikey pale yellow dahlias with scabiosa atropurpurea “Florist Blue.”

This is the second Korematsu bouquet. Because of the lighting and its resulting moodiness, this picture reminds me of a Dutch still life, a Vermeer.

The same bouquet in bright light.

Back to the Friday delivery of the Korematsu bouquets. Here is the August 4th first bouquet, anchored by a ginger plant and flanked by Helichrysum bractetum “Monster Rose” on the sides.

The second August 4th Korematsu bouquet.

We celebrated my college roommate Susan’s birthday on August 5th. I wanted to do a big bouquet for the celebration.

There were many stunning dahlias in this bouquet. One of my favorite dinner plate-size burgundy.

Magenta beauty.

The white dinner plate.

Yellow spiked dahlia.

What a pair.

Dahlia love.

A different view of the bouquet.

This magenta dahlia is perfectly formed, underneath a purple dahlia.

Two bouquets for the August 8th ECHS delivery. Here’s the smaller of the two – and a non-dahlia bouquet at that.

The other side of the smaller bouquet.

The second bouquet – an explosion of dahlias.

The other side of the bouquet.

Accompanying the dahlias are scabiosa atropurpurea “Florist Blue” and the venedio arctotis daisies.

Rose-colored dahlia.

Helipterum roseum “Pierrot” (white flower with black centered rimmed in yellow) and catananche caerulea “Cupid’s dart” flowers hidden in between the dahlias.

Two bouquets ready for delivery!


Second home in summer – Portland Maine

We sat bathed in luscious darkness, Casco Bay’s thousand islands spread out before us like a diamond quilt. ‘I don’t get enough of this,’ she said.
– Mike Bond, novelist, environmental activist, poet, war and human rights correspondent, and international energy expert

Every summer, I am treated to a week in Maine, thanks to the fact that my company is based in Portland, Maine. Every summer, I fly into Portland, and I immediately fall in love all over again. The bay, the islands with the homes dotting the shore, the billowy clouds floating across a brilliant blue sky, the fresh air, the fantastic restaurants, the cute shops. I gush about moving to Maine. Or at least summer in Maine.

This year, the out-of-towners at my company got to stay at the Press Hotel, which is a boutique hotel that was once home to the Portland Press-Herald newspaper. But not only is the building an historic building, but the owners got it right by decorating the interior of the hotel with a newspaper theme. The sales team at my company, who are just great to work with and for, thanked me for my service to them in a very sweet call-out before my boss’s presentation on our department. And they presented me with two Press Hotel mugs and ceramic tray, which now sit on my desk to remind me of my stay there and the wonderful memories from this year.

My picture of the building didn’t turn out because the sun wasn’t on my back. But here’s info on the history of the newspaper and building.

In the lobby, one of the walls displays typewriters from all eras.

In the lobby, an old-fashioned typewriter and complimentary stationery.

Mod carpeting and tables with enlarged old newspaper clippings.

In the hallways, the wall paper is taken from actual headlines found in old microfiche (yes, look up that word).

The room across the hall from me. I love the detail of the room number being illuminated.

The chair and its quote in my room.

My last night at the Press Hotel: lobster rolls and homemade potato chips.

My Press Hotel gifts and souvenirs….

Meals for the week! Portland is well known for its great restaurants. And I was lucky to hit a number of places. Some new, some welcomed me back.

Marcy’s Diner, if you want a hearty meal, with my colleague Julie.

Boats pointing to Casco Bay.

DeMillo’s on the Bay, Portland.

Branzino at Scales, with a great view of the Bay.

The tradition for dinner the last evening of our summer sales summit is taking the ferry to Peak’s Island and having a lobster dinner. Fun was had by all. And, of course, my colleague and partner in crime, Deb, accompanied me as we shopped in Old Port, the old part of town.

One of my favorite shops in Maine. From jewelry to unique clocks and other furniture to whimsy decorations like these bookish birdhouses.

I read about Flea-for-All in the local magazine in my hotel room. What a fun place to browse. This is where I discovered Michelle Estell jewelry.

Beautifully curated Flea-for-All on Congress Street.

The interior of Flea-for-All.

Maine Potters Market in Old Port has beautiful pottery made by artists from Maine.

Selfies on the ferry ride to Peak’s Island – with Erin and Claretha.

A mix of sales and editorial staff – with Jane, Kelly, Gus, Julie, and Deb.

Claretha and I bonded last summer with our love for big earrings. The pair that I’m wearing was given to me by Claretha on the first day of summer summit.

Peak’s Island lobster – a tradition.

On the way back to the ferry – a familiar sight of colorful hanging lobster floats.

Farewell, Peak’s Island!

After the summer sales summit concluded for me, I spent the weekend with my good friend Jack and his wife, Fay, and their daughter, Camille. But first, we walked around Portland, as I discovered for the first time since I’ve been coming here, that Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow lived here and his home is an historic landmark. We walked around the gardens.

Longfellow’s statue in Portland.

The lush Longfellow’s Garden.

Tranquil setting.

Vibrant greenery.

Colorful bouquet.

At the Portland Hunt and Alpine Club for drinks with Eric and Jack. Love the simple green bouquets on the table. This place is all scarred wood, clear glass, greenery, and old-time maps. And good drinks!

Still bad at doing selfies, but I guess that’s a good thing. With Eric and Jack.

First time at Empire – one of the favorites, Peking duck buns. To. Die. For. If you ever go to Portland, you must eat here. The hour wait is worth every second.

Jack and his family moved to Brunswick in 2015, but since we went directly from Portland to Stonington Island, where they have a home there, I never spent time in their new abode until this year. Brunswick is lovely, and I had a relaxing time exploring the historic town.

The picturesque Brunswick Inn, in the main street of town.

This is a great shop, though pricey and questionable customer service. But still a great place to browse.

Wyler’s of Brunswick, a charming shop with jewelry, clothes, housewares, toys, locally crafted gifts, and accessories. You can spend a lot of time browsing here.

Hatch on Maine is a cute vintage and antique shop. There are a few vintage/antique shops on the main street. This one was a favorite of mine.

The shores of Brunswick.

The Frank J. Wood Bridge, which spans the Androscoggin River between Topsham and Brunswick, at twilight.

Contemplating life, Fay and Jack overlook the Androscoggin River.

Can’t get enough of the clouds here.

Brunswick is home to Bowdoin College, a lovely private liberal arts college established in 1794 when Maine was still part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Bowdoin College Chapel.

Inside the chapel.

Hubbard Hall.

Lovely white hydrangeas all over the campus.

The second majestic lion.

Illuminated clouds.

Along the way, we walked through the local cemetery, in which Joseph Chamberlain, hometown hero of the Civil War, is laid to rest.

Walking through the Brunswick cemetery.

Something about headstones in a cemetery that draws me, especially when the cemetery is an old one.

Joseph Chamberlain’s headstone.

A row of headstones.

A family of headstones like rows of old teeth.

Knowing that I love gardens, Jack took me to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, where I took upwards of 200 photos at least. Here are just a few, though it was tough to narrow them down.

Adirondack chairs await visitors at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

A view of the Back River.

A field of daisies with monarch butterflies, if you look more closely.

Charlie’s bench.


One of the more inventive interpretations from a visitor to the Fairy House Village.


Rabbit sculpture by Lisa Becu.

Lush lime green greenery.


Slater Forest Pond.

Vayo Meditation Garden pool.

Close-up of the Basin sculpture by David Holmes.


Wind Orchard by George Sherwood.

Colorful hostas.

Windsound by Val Bertoia from Bertoia Studios.


Ethereal plants.

I had another great time in Portland and Brunswick. Thanks to my great friends and hosts, Jack and Fay. Looking forward to next year!

It looks like I’m wrestling with Holly, the Beaudoin Family dog, but I’m really awkwardly trying to do a selfie with her.

Last meal in Maine in Portland at, of course, Empire.

Fay and me at Empire.

Brunswick architecture. Love the homes here in Brunswick, in Maine.

My last attempt at a selfie with Jack and Fay in front of their lovely Brunswick home.