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Posts Tagged: flowers

Third Graders Learn About Pollinators

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program, explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

(June 17-23 is National Pollinator Week.) "How many species of bees are there in the world?" asks Wendy Mather, program manager of the California...

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program, explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program, explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program explains the life cycle of bees to a group of third graders from Amador County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the third graders how to use a bee vacuum in a catch-and-release activity.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the third graders how to use a bee vacuum in a catch-and-release activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather (left) program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program shows the third graders how to use a bee vacuum in a catch-and-release activity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

I can see the bee! There it is! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
I can see the bee! There it is! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

I can see the bee! There it is! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What kind of butterfly is this? The answer: Monarch! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What kind of butterfly is this? The answer: Monarch! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What kind of butterfly is this? The answer: Monarch! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), tells the students she hopes to see them study entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), tells the students she hopes to see them study entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), tells the students she hopes to see them study entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Julia Wentzel introduced the concept of
Volunteer Julia Wentzel introduced the concept of "pollinator specialists" and engaged the students in creating a "pollinator." They then transferred "pollen" to different shaped flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Julia Wentzel introduced the concept of "pollinator specialists" and engaged the students in creating a "pollinator." They then transferred "pollen" to different shaped flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Robin Lowry, who managed the “Planting for Pollinators” and “Be a Beekeeper” station, displays a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Volunteer Robin Lowry, who managed the “Planting for Pollinators” and “Be a Beekeeper” station, displays a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Volunteer Robin Lowry, who managed the “Planting for Pollinators” and “Be a Beekeeper” station, displays a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Students placed
Students placed "pollinators" inside flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Students placed "pollinators" inside flowers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Time to take a photo! Don't say
Time to take a photo! Don't say "cheese!" Say "honey!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Time to take a photo! Don't say "cheese!" Say "honey!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Matthew Hoepfinger, staff research associate in the E. L. Niño lab,  presented the live bee demonstration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Matthew Hoepfinger, staff research associate in the E. L. Niño lab, presented the live bee demonstration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Matthew Hoepfinger, staff research associate in the E. L. Niño lab, presented the live bee demonstration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hey, I'm a bee! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hey, I'm a bee! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hey, I'm a bee! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A little beekeeper shapes a heart. Students took turns trying on the beekeeper protective suits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A little beekeeper shapes a heart. Students took turns trying on the beekeeper protective suits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A little beekeeper shapes a heart. Students took turns trying on the beekeeper protective suits. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Check Out the Open Farm Day in Vacaville on Saturday, Aug. 4

You're likely to see lots of bees at the Open Farm Tour, especially in the Morningsun Herb Farm nursery. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

What's life like on the farm? If you're looking for something to do on Saturday, Aug. 4, the Pleasants Valley Agriculture Association (PVAA) of...

You're likely to see lots of bees at the Open Farm Tour, especially in the Morningsun Herb Farm nursery. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You're likely to see lots of bees at the Open Farm Tour, especially in the Morningsun Herb Farm nursery. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

You're likely to see lots of bees at the Open Farm Tour, especially in the Morningsun Herb Farm nursery. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A goat at the Morningsun Herb Farm readily accepts a carrot. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A goat at the Morningsun Herb Farm readily accepts a carrot. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A goat at the Morningsun Herb Farm readily accepts a carrot. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

“Greening” up your Valentine’s Day gift

Valentine's Day is one of the most demanding holidays in the cut-flower industry. Consumers struck by Cupid's arrow spend more than $1.9 billion on cut flowers alone. To prepare for the enormous demand for roses, growers produce an estimated 233 million roses, according to an About Flowers research study

California Growers Making Changes
While many consumers are thinking about love – few are thinking about the impact the cut-flower industry is making on the environment. Since 1990, California has required the agricultural industry to report on all pesticide use, this includes detailed pesticide reporting for the cut flower industry.

Research shows pesticide use in California cut-flower production declined by almost 50 percent from 2001 to 2010. According to a recent UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) article, there are many reasons for the reduction including increased rules and regulations, early pest infestations practices, a new generation of organic growers and increased public awareness. 

California cut-flower farmers have vastly improved their pesticide use and policies over the past decade. The state currently produces 60 percent of roses sold in the U.S. each year, but growers simply can't keep up with the Valentine's Day surge in demand during the cold winter months when production slows. These factors contribute to a vast majority of the roses sold in February being imported from Columbia and Ecuador. 

Impact of Imported
In a typical year, between 85 percent and 95 percent of the most common fresh cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from Colombia or Ecuador, according to an article in One Green Planet.  With fewer restrictions on pesticides in South America, the environmental impact of growing roses in these countries can be devastating.

“To cultivate that perfect rose, growers often resort to chemical weed and insect killers,” Alejandro Boada of Universidad Externado de Colombia states in an article in Organic Bouquet. “Pesticides have been found 300 to 400 meters deep in the soils, which have been unable to filter these poisons. Meanwhile, demand for water has also been found to strain local aquifers, on which other farms depend.”

Not only does aggressive pesticide use in these countries have a destructive environmental impact, their fragile imported roses often have to fly thousands of miles to wholesale warehouses and transported in energy-guzzling refrigerated trucks before reaching the flower shop cooler.

Alternatives for Your Valentine
Don't worry, there are plenty of romantic alternatives with a smaller carbon footprint for your Valentine this year!

  • Give a native plant. Native plants thrive in your local environment and provide food for pollinators like bees and butterflies.
  • Find a local flower grower in your town using The Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers online U.S. database. Not only are you supporting a small often-times family-based farm, you are investing money back into your local economy.
  • Connect with fresh, beautiful, organically raised flowers using an online database from Local Harvest.
  • For a food-lover, potted herbs make a great gift.
  • Gardeners love collections of seed packets for a bountiful summer harvest garden.

Learn about growing roses for your Valentine in your own garden by joining the UC Master Garden Program in your area.

Posted on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Re-purposing a Tree Stump

If you read my July post on stunting sunflowers, you know I tend not to follow convention.  But as I said then, the joy of gardening is in the hands of the individual.  So this post on re-purposing a tree stump should not surprise you.

My driveway used to be lined with 50 plus year old Monterrey pine trees.  But the past few years I’ve had to have several of them removed because they’ve been killed by tree borers.  For the most recent pine tree I had cut down, I decided not to have the tree service remove the stump for budget reasons.  Instead I had them just cut the stump down to about waist high.  My idea at the time was to use the stump as a huge plant stand for one of my enormous planters.  That idea quickly fell apart because my huge planter was just too heavy for me to lift onto the tree stump.

So I thought why not just plant something directly on top of the stump.  To keep the soil confined to the top of the stump, I purchased some cheap plastic lawn edging, cut it the size of the stump, and fastened it together into a circle.  I laid it on top of the stump and filled it with potting soil.  I planted succulents around the edges, but I wanted a deeper soil depth to plant some marigolds.  So I cut and fastened a smaller circle of lawn edging and centered it on top of the already poured potting soil.  I filled the smaller circle with soil and planted the flowers.  And since I had another potted flower plant I haven’t decided where to plant yet, I plopped it into the center of the second circle for the time being.  So in the interim until I get around to having the stump removed, I have an additional planting area for annual flowers.

Colorful planter. (photos by Kathy Low)
Colorful planter. (photos by Kathy Low)

The whole view.
The whole view.

Posted on Monday, September 23, 2013 at 8:09 AM
Tags: flowers (20), planter (1), repurpose (2), stump (1)

Orange You Glad It's Summer?!

I tend to forget what colors to expect in my backyard when summer blooms come along. By the time summer arrives, I have forgotten what we planted the previous autumn. This year’s blooms have arrived, and they are overwhelmingly … orange.

Orange is one of those colors: either you love it or hate it. I know one Master Gardener who shuns orange-colored blossoms altogether. Some green thumbs may seek out nothing but orange (or rust or peach or tangerine) blooms or even foliage (New Zealand flax, coral bells, for instance) for their yards. I’ve managed to gather a crazy quilt of orange bloomers, and, you know what? I like ‘em!

I put in a lion’s tail mainly because I love the type of flowers it puts on, aptly named (they look like a lion’s tail!) whacky whorls of true orange. Bees and hummingbirds LOVE this plant, and the bright orange blooms light up the area around the tall perennial.

Two daylilies I’ve put in have turned out to be stunningly orange. One is a darker, almost rust colored single bloomer; the other is a ruffled double bloom, in true, bright orange.

Our agastache that draws hordes of hummingbirds is commonly known as sunset hyssop. It is a sherbet-toned bloomer that glows orangish-pink. And the California fuchsia, which will continue to bloom deep into the heat of summer, is a fire-engine reddish-orange, and, boy, do the hummingbirds love it, too.

Perhaps the most orange of all is the Calibrachoa ‘Dreamsicle’. This one I planted just a month ago, solely because of its color. It shares a pot with a stately purple bloomer (Angelonia angustifolia ‘Serena’), and the color combination draws my eye every time I step outside.

Maybe I should map out my plantings by color. But I have to say the surprises summer brings are much more fun.

Sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris). Photos by Kathy Thomas-Rico
Sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris). Photos by Kathy Thomas-Rico

California fuchsia (Epilobium canum).
California fuchsia (Epilobium canum).

Lion's tail (Leonotis leonurus).
Lion's tail (Leonotis leonurus).

Single daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
Single daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)

Double daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)
Double daylily (Hemerocallis spp.)

Calibrachoa 'Dreamsicle'
Calibrachoa 'Dreamsicle'

Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2013 at 10:09 AM
Tags: blooms (11), flowers (20), orange (2), summer (4)

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