Sunday, February 22, 2009

Raised Bed Gardening 101

This past Saturday we had our first spring gardening class of 2009, Raised Bed Gardening. It was well attended, with both questions and dirt flying. This year we had decided to plan and plant our own little Victory Garden in the raised bed area to the north of the property. Most of our regular gardeners will remember this as the area where our amazing white rose blooms so profusely all summer. Don't worry, it isn't being taken out and re-located - it will be one of our big pollinators as it brings the bees in with it's breathtaking beauty and scent. It is also located directly west of our vegetable and herb selling area, so we thought it would be a great way to showcase what you can do in a raised bed, as well as supply us with well needed veggies for our summer salads on work days. Last year we grew some amazing tomatoes and basil, but this year we are shooting to fill the whole bowl with fresh greens, peppers, tomatoes, herbs, squash, carrots and ???

Our Victory Garden is taking a slight twist over the historical meaning, a kitchen garden planted during wartime to relieve food shortages. Our Victory Garden will take on our personal twist as we fill it with small sticks that have special meaning for the author. What has your personal victory been this day/week/year/life? We invite you to participate as we supply small stick signs for anyone to write on and place in our raised bed when it is completed.

Michelle and I started the class with a little basic information, and then she got the digging going. Over the next hour we were able to get one corner of the bed started as well as hopefully inspire everyone in the class to go home and start planning out their own. We ended the session with a tour out to our worm box, lifting the lid and smiling as we watched the hundreds.....or what seems like thousands, or worms that are growing and thriving in the back garden. Stop by anytime, we will walk you out there to take a peek.

Here is Michelle pointing out the MOST IMPORTANT thing to amend for gardening success in our desert sand/clay area, the soil and the addition of living nutrients.
And what would a class be without our sweet Harriet weaving her way in and out of our fellow gardeners legs, making sure that Michelle and I are doing everything correctly.

If you missed the class, or just need some helpful hints, click on the link below to take you to the website page where we have summarized much of what we talked about.
Happy Gardening, Susan

Sunday, February 15, 2009


This was the view of the Sierra's as we were driving south on Jack's Valley Road into Genoa. Absolutely breathtaking. The snow started that evening, and when we woke up the next morning the ground was silvery white with about 3 inches covering most everything. Thankfully for us warm weather drivers, it had cleared off the roads by noon when we headed into Gardnerville / Minden to do a little antiquing and thrift store searching.

The morning gathering around the table. The house had everything that we needed - for cooking, brainstorming, and relaxing.

View of the house on the way back from our morning hike.

Had to include this one because the coffee was so great. If you are over in the Gardnerville area, check it out.

Group photo before we head out of town on our way back to Fallon. Melissa and her Mom left a few hours earlier to catch some appointments, so we did the old "timer on a rock". We had hiked up to the old cemetery that morning and spotted a herd of dear in the sagebrush. A beautiful way to end our trip. We stopped in Carson City on the way home so I could show the girls where I had picked up the amazing new cabinet that we have placed in the Red Zinnia as our new tasting bar. I am a huge fan of used furniture stores, and will share a few of my favorites on a post soon. Lucia had a list of antique/thrift stores in Carson that she had googled and printed before we left, and we ventured into most of them, including another of my "Retail Comrades" the Purple Avocado, a great little gift shop voted favorite in Carson City many years in a row. But the absolute hit of the three days was this next little gem. We had set a time limit before we went in because we wanted to get home before dark to unload the vehicles, and it was a good thing. First one in the door, I turned around and yelled to Lucia, "oh my, you're never going to believe this one" and in we walked. This store is not for the "I must have everything in it's place Pottery Barn" type of person. This is the type of store that is a "retro/used/priceless/antique/junk store/recycled treasures" that is exactly what all of us love. Every inch of the floor, the walls, the windows, the ceilings - are filled with treasures. The five of us circled and circled each room, calling out to each other as we walked through each doorway leading into yet another treasure trove. We kept our time limit, sort of. But we left with all sorts of goodies and a new found friendship with the stores owner, Julie. As is our custom, we always ASK before taking pictures in another person's store. We know how hard it is to work our displays and keep everything looking fresh and inviting. Almost unanimously, not only have photos been welcomed, but it leads to conversation and new found friendships with the shopkeeper. This was the case with Julie, we talked blogs and gift shows, exchanged insight into the retail economy that we are all facing, and picked each others brains on upcoming ideas for spring. This final group photo was taken in front of the mirror that found it's way into the back seat of my truck! It will have a new home at Red Zinnia. I can't believe that I have been going to Carson City for 20+ years and never new about this little diamond, but I guarantee I will be going back often just to see what is hiding behind the next corner.

Korena modeling her gorgeous new jacket. The color absolutely stunning on her.

Well, Kimmie vetoed this idea for Red Zinnia, but it sure was fun visiting with their mascot "Sweetpea". And the perfect touch for her room filled with upcoming spring and Easter goodies.

We are already planning our next little get-a-way. See ya soon, Susan.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Genoa bound

If I was allowed to pick only one thing that was the absolute best thing about the Flower Tree it would have to be the women that I am surrounded with on a daily basis. I am one of the lucky ones, I get up each and every day and look forward to where I will be that day. But since we opened the Red Zinnia, here is how my day starts. I lay in bed looking out the window at the trees and say to myself "ok, today is .........and I am at ......(insert Flower Tree or Red Zinnia here) and I get to play with"................but with most of us now being split between the two stores, it also means that you don't get to "play" with everyone very often.

So this year, we decided to do something a little different to do our planning session for the upcoming Spring season at both stores. Thankfully we have a few months under our belt now at Red Zinnia, and things are going wonderful. We have a handle on the ordering, the wine room is running as smooth as a great Cabernet Franc, and we are blessed to have wonderful people coming in every day. And the reason this is SO GREAT is that spring is coming, and the Flower Tree will soon be consuming us... in a great way of course, but consuming none the less. Back to the planning session. I did some research into taking all of us (9) to the trade show in San Francisco, but costs what they are, I started looking at some alternatives and that is when I remembered an absolutely lovely Bed & Breakfast that I had stayed at in Genoa a few years ago. I reached the owner of this beautiful home, The Wild Rose Inn , and thankfully for us she had the dates available that we needed. We rented the entire house for three days and we were joined by my buddy Melissa from Every Bloomin' Thing in Susanville, and her mom Linda.

I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story..........

Who would not stop at this sign???? you can tell, it was a windy day, but the truck makes great u-turns, and our caravan arrived at our first stop of the day. A little junk/thrift/antique store in the middle of absolutely nowhere, outside Dayton, Nv. We picked up a chrome wine rack for RedZin, and a couple of glasses for our wine later that night. On a trip many years ago we started the habit of looking for weird/unusual/funny/classic glasses to have while on our trip.

The front of a great Basque sheephearders wagon outside Carson City

One of our "finds" of the day. Michelle collects these wonderful old framed poems. They are usually from the 1920's, and we always feel lucky when we find one about freindship, or trees! We gave it to her as a little surprise on our last day in Genoa.

Melissa finds the 1st!! perfect display table for an area she is creating in her store. (I think she headed home with at least 3)

My notes from the Tahoe Ridge Wine Tasting Room. Located in Genoa, we had a fabulouse time with the owner Kathy, and she has agreed to come out for an event at Red Zinnia in April.

The gang at the tasting room.

Statue of Snowshoe Thompson, local hero of Genoa

Moon on the way back to Wild Rose that evening after the tasting. Absolutely breathtaking.

Part 2, tomorrow. On to Gardnerville/Minden and return.

Treat's for your Sweetie

write the love of your life a note and tuck it inside a beautiful journal.......
then give them a book to help them with retirement........
and a bottle of bubbly to go with it
or perhaps the gardener in your life doesn't have this great book yet

and when he/she is finished gardening, how about some fabulous bath salts to soak away the aches from racking.....
or add some humor to the bath.......
maybe some light tunes to play......

or a gentle reminder to stop and enjoy the little things in life......

and something to write those thoughts down in,

the most precious of little boxes to hold that special treat......

sorry........I'm Susan's sweetheart, I'm not allowed to go off the property

make a wish.....If I had a hundred, I would give them all to you.......

Happy Valentines Day from all of us at
Red Zinnia & Flower Tree
and especially.............from Harriet!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The path to work

Yesterday I decided to start walking to work whenever possible. The weather that we have been having has been so incredible. A little on the cool side, but with the sun shining down on your face it feels like mid-spring. My days rotate now between our two stores and I live mid-way between them, so it seemed like a good way to get to both places. The differences in the walks though were measurable. When I leave my house to head to Flower Tree I can immediately get onto the TCID ditch, (for those that live out of our fair town that is the Truckee Carson Irrigation Ditch, which you might have read about during the big flood of last January in Fernley). I continue on that for about a mile of the way to the nursery. It's a dirt packed easement road, with a cement lined ditch alongside it, which is empty of water this time of year. The path starts about 100 yards or so from my back yard, and on the south side is a huge 80 acre parcel that hasn't been developed yet. Monstrous 100 year old cottonwood trees fill the rolling mounds of sage, tumbleweeds and rabbit brush. This morning I found a group of horses grazing on what little grass they could find. My first signs of an early spring arrived on the next corner when I noticed not only the bud swells on the cottonwoods, but the incredible amounts of yellow buds poking their way out on the forsythia branches. The quails scattered as I walked by the sage they were hiding in and the birds were chirping in symphony from every tree I passed. The sage still released it's wonderful aroma from the dew that morning. I live in what would be called a rural area in most parts of the country. Horses and chickens are still allowed in some areas, and most of the houses sit on an acre or more. It's one of the big things I like about Fallon, the openness. I cross the ditch at one point, on the huge steel and wood structure that they use to control the water flow, and then it is onto the busy busy Reno Highway for the last 3/4 of a mile till I get to the nursery gate.

Today I walked from the house to Red Zinnia. Located inside the city limits, in the direct opposite direction as yesterday, our store sits on a nice city lot pretty much right in the middle of town. Our house is about 1/4 mile away from the city limits so I hit the sidewalks pretty soon and proceeded to weave my way through the streets enjoying the early morning goings on. I noticed bulbs popping up through leaves and I visited with a fellow gardener that I ran into. He was pruning back his Bradford pear tree so I stopped and talked with him a little about "forcing" some of the branches in the house for his wife to enjoy. I watched the kids on the playground playing dodgeball, why is there always one child that stands off by him/her self just wishing that someone would ask them to play - talked to many a dog as they greeted me at their fence and arrived at my door just as it was time to open.

I realized that I saw so much more of both of my "neighborhoods" walking than I ever do during the summer when I am on my bike. It was, and will be a great way to both start and end my day. If I see you on the path tomorrow, give me a wave. I'll be the one in the red windbreaker.

See ya soon, Susan


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