Harp in the Garden
by Michele Roger
It’s a beautiful, spring night. I’m out listening to the peepers, young frogs, newly awakened after a long, hard Detroit winter and ready to sing. A small bonfire crackles at the edge of the deck. I hold a glass of Pinot Noir in my hand, and as I look over at my Kiwi partner in crime, I pick up the phone to set the wireless sound system to play.
It’s the first opportunity we’ve had to play music outside, and it’s kind of a big deal. For the outdoor speakers, it’s a maiden spring voyage. I’m a harpist and hence, I often enjoy listening to the work of fellow harpists crazy enough to fall in love, like I did, with an instrument that requires time, talent, and patience to handle an instrument twice my size. The sound system is primed, and the garden is under a blanket of stars.
Perhaps your garden is unpredictable and flourishes with colors and new shoots that are both beautiful and surprising. Then, you and your garden may love some jazz harp. I suggest streaming some tunes by harpist, Carolyn Sykes. While her list of music is vast, her most popular album… continue reading the Spring 2018 issue
Hand Fan Museum
by Emerian Rich
In Healdsburg, California, about an hour and a half northwest from Contra Costa County, is America’s only Hand Fan Museum. Opened by Pam Sher in 2002, the collection started with about one thousand fans, but now is about four thousand.
Pam was a history teacher in Oakland when she became fascinated with fans. As she collected more, she wanted to share them with the public.
Most of the fans on display are from the 1700s of French or Japanese origin. Their oldest fan is from the 1600s. Every fall they invite an American collector to show their fans in their museum for a special event.
The museum is open Wednesday through Saturday 11am to 4pm, except on rainy days, when they close to protect the fans. Director Liz Keeley is on hand to answer questions and give more information about the fans, and they have a few fan related items you can purchase so you can take… continue reading the Spring 2018 issue.
Benefits of Culinary Herbs
by Suzanne Madron
During the winter months more often than not two things have happened. We’ll have been huddled over a bowl of steaming soup or a steaming cup of tea. When the winter chill gives way to the spring, some things change. Others stay the same, such as our love of herbs, be it in those soups or teas.
Not only do herbs enhance the flavor of our food, but they provide health benefits as well. For example, that calming chamomile tea not only soothes nerves and helps you relax, but it also can be used as a hair rinse, skin toner, (let it cool before applying) and to calm a stomach upset. Fennel is also an excellent stomach soother, but may not be appealing to those who are not fans of the taste of black licorice.
Some other ingredients for herbal teas include mint and lemon balm, which are both mints and both helpful for stomach upset and calming the nerves. Lemon balm can also be used dried in a sleep pillow (a sachet of herbs) with lavender and hops to help you catch… continue reading the Spring 2018 issue
Top Five Music Apps
by Elliot Thorpe
The way we listen to recorded music has evolved over the last few years and is miles away from what our grandparents or even parents had.
The first half of the twentieth century saw the advent of the 78rpm 10 inch records which give way in 1949 to the smaller 7 inch vinyl singles, pioneered by RCA Victor and playing at a less-nippy 45rpm. The first LP record played at a more sedate 33rpm on 12 inches in diameter preceded the 7 inch single by under a year in 1949. As the century thundered along and adapted to the quickly-changing world, so did the formats of how we could take our favorite recording artists home. In addition to the 7 inch and 12 inch vinyls, we had 8-track cartridges, reel-to-reels, compact tape cassettes, and mini-discs, all eventually phased out to be superseded by the mighty compact disc. This shiny, 5 inch circle remains as the world’s most popular physical format. (The current resurgence of vinyl and, to some extent, compact tape cassettes are bringing back the halcyon days of music collecting.)
The new kid on the block, the digital download, arrived with the 21st century technology explosion. Following in its wake came software application that can be added to a cellphone, tablet, or…continue reading in the Spring 2018 issue
What’s an article you’ve written for SEARCH that you enjoyed? And why did you enjoy it?
I enjoy them all, because I’m the lucky one who gets to write almost all of the humor articles for SEARCH. People may not believe this, but my articles are all based on true stories in my life, and there is no hyperbolic exaggeration for effect. And because they’re true, I have great fun remembering the incidents and getting them down on paper, to share with the readers, rather than just friends on the deck. One of my favorite stories, though, is the one about Santa, Seniors, and the Goat, mostly because it revolves around my favorite time of the year, Christmas, and one of my favorite places on the planet, Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
What was your favorite thing to do as a child?
Make believe. Whether, making up covert ops for my G.I. Joes or creating plays for my two sisters and I to perform for our parents, it was all about make believe.
Do you have a hot tip for us?
I’m an introvert. I’m really not a big fan of listening to conversations I’m not part of or hearing other people’s music pulsing out of their headphones, but I spend so much time on public transit….continue reading in the Spring 2018 issue.
How many items can you find in your garden walk? Either play until someone gets bingo, or keep checking them off and see who gets the most points!
By Sumiko Saulson
Berkeley is a progressive college town, well known for its commitment to arts, culture, and the ecology. It’s the first US city to create accessible spaces and curbside cutouts for the mobility impaired back in the seventies.
Farmer’s markets, pro-cyclist events like Sunday Streets Berkeley, plentiful bicycle lanes, and automobile-free zones, community gardens, composting, recycling centers, urban farming, and parks dedicated to preserving native wildlife are part of how Berkeley works towards a greener planet.
University of California Berkeley is home to a beautifully manicured thirty-four acre botanical garden featuring foot bridges, relaxing streams, lush flora, and aromatic flowers from around the globe. It’s Student Organic Garden at the corner of Walnut and Virginia Streets, encourages urban farmers to grow healthy, earth-friendly fresh foods…continue reading in the Spring 2018 issue.
Bartram’s House & Garden
by Murdo Morrison
Philadelphia’s role in the history of the United States is well known. In 2016, 41 million people visited the city, and many surely visited the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and the other historical sites and museums located throughout the downtown area.
However, the visitor willing to make a short trip away from the city center will be amply rewarded with the opportunity to see an amazing survival from the 18th century, the Bartram House and Garden.
John Bartram (1699-1777), often described as ‘the father of American botany’, established his house and garden in 1728 after purchasing land bordering the Schuylkill River. In addition to his important role in the early history of botany in North America, Bartram and his friend Benjamin Franklin were among those who founded the American Philosophical Society in 1743… continue reading in the Spring 2018 issue.
5 Gardening Favorites
by Heather Roulo
With the return of spring comes the promise of a luxurious garden. Knowledge and planning can make your outdoor garden a pleasure rather than a chore. The right reference books will step you through preparing your garden for success.
Whether you have many questions or a few, these books will inspire you with new ideas and lead you to select plants that will thrive in your garden’s conditions. Avoid the pitfalls of planting the familiar and branch out into the ecstatic. These five books will change your garden for the better.
1. The New Western Garden Book: The Ultimate Gardening Guide by The Editors of Sunset
This book is an indispensable resource for beginning and knowledgeable gardeners. Providing steps to setting up a garden, plant, and maintain, this perpetual favorite’s newest edition is the perfect resource for your gardening questions. Check out details on specific plants or skim for general ideas for your zone. It contains excellent pictures and maps to show where plants will grow best. This classic is in its 9th edition, and it’s still going strong. Some reviews claim the organization of this edition made it difficult to navigate, so you may want to keep your eyes open for an earlier edition.
2. Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs by Michael A. Dirr
Considered by many to be an essential garden book, and used in university landscape architecture classes, this book explores the breadth and scope of trees and shrubs. It combines two previously published titles… continue reading in the Spring 2018 magazine.
Ruth Bancroft Garden is a tranquil garden in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Walnut Creek. Nestled behind a fence line, it’s an oasis full of succulents. The garden is a place where you can view exotic and endangered plant life year around, meditate in nature, or view local artist sculptures at one of the many annual events they host each year. Most residents of Contra Costa County have never heard of Ruth Bancroft Garden or what she accomplished with her collection of exotic succulents. Bancroft is not just a street tying Concord, Walnut Creek, and Pleasant Hill together. It’s a landmark dedicated to a great woman who was fascinated by succulents.
Ruth had a passion for plants even as a child living in Berkeley. She explored the undeveloped hills of Berkeley, examining wildflowers and digging up small plants to replant in her own yard. Her early garden included a collection of irises, which she received from Sydney B. Mitchell, the founder of the American Iris Association, and Carl Salbach, an iris breeder.
Graduating from UC Berkeley with a teaching degree, she taught at a school in Merced for a few years before meeting her husband, Philip Bancroft, Jr. and moving to the family farm in Walnut Creek. Her plant enthusiasm only flourished when surrounded by the 400-acre walnut and pear farm, but she was most fascinated with water-conserving plants and collected hundreds of potted succulents, all kept in greenhouses. When Ruth was given approximately 3.5 acres of the farm to plant a new garden, she enlisted the help of Lester Hawkins, co-founder of Western Hills Nursery, to help create the pathways and beds where she transplanted her potted succulent species collection which counted…READ MORE. Get your copy today!