Sunday, October 20, 2013

Fall Fest at the IGC

My favorite nursery is a locally owned Independent Garden Center (IGC) called Green Acres.  They have three locations and a fourth one in the plans which is quite a testament when you consider how many other nurseries have had to close shop in the last several years due to the economy and competition from larger stores like Home Depot and Lowes.  I'm not a Big Box basher by any means but a few years ago I pledged that I would only buy plants and related products from IGCs.  I still by tools, lumber, bricks, and Christmas lights at Home Depot though.

One of the reasons I made this pledge was because IGCs and other locally-owned businesses contribute to the quality of my life in ways that publicly owned companies cannot.  The 2013 Fall Festival put on by Green Acres is Exhibit A.

My daughter enjoying her scary balloon.
I suppose Home Depot could put something like this together. I know they have Saturday morning workshops for parents and their kids and a friend of mine takes his daughter often.  But this Fall Festival was on another scale entirely.

We left before the stage was used.  I was afraid it would involve a scarecrow strip tease.

The pumpkin bowling, mini golf and duck races were put on by American River College horticulture students.  This is a great volunteer opportunity as well as a chance for the students to spend some time "in the trenches" and get a taste for what it would be like to work in the retail side of their field.

Pumpkin bowling.
This is a much different version of the game me and my hooligan friends played as kids.

Mini-golf course using fresh sod, jack-o-lanterns and some bender board.  Ingenious.

In addition to the games, there were balloon makers and face painters making kids' days for free.

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
 And, of course, there were pumpkins and gourds galore.

There were also some educational opportunities for us including some of information on the Sacramento Bee Keepers association (I think that's what they called themselves).  When we first walked up to the bees I started talking to my daughter about them and I was shocked to discover that she knew more about them than I did.  She knew, for instance, that all the bees we were looking at were females.  Apparently the male drones get kicked to the curb much earlier in the season and quickly die from exposure.  So this time of year it's just the Queen Bee and her workers in the hive.  I guess I've been away from school too long.

All these bees are chicks.

I got to sample a few different types of honey from areas close to here.  It was remarkable how different the texture and taste was when the distance separating these hives was less than 10 miles.

They had sno-cones, cotton candy, and drinks too.  All free.

My favorite part of the morning, however, was when my little girl decided she wanted to take a turn taking pictures of the plants.  I think I've got a future garden blogger in my midst.

My little photo bug.

Going in for the macro shot.

Of course, occasions like this aren't the only good reason to spend 100% of my gardening dollars at IGCs.  But I would really miss this type of thing if Green Acres went out of business.  And how do you put a price on the opportunity to make memories like these?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lake Tahoe

I have started and stopped writing several blog posts over the last month and a half.  Nothing ever felt right though so I didn’t publish any of them. 

But I’ve been visiting my blog frequently so I could click on my blog roll and see what everyone else was writing and I have enjoyed my time as a reader but my lack of writing led to a big problem for me: I got really tired of seeing the same pictures on my blog’s home page every day. So this post is partly just an excuse to change up the scenery a little bit.  

And speaking of scenery, one of the more recent reasons I haven’t been blogging is that I spent this last weekend on a retreat up in beautiful Lake Tahoe.  I took a few pictures with my phone to share here.

If you’ve never been to Lake Tahoe before, you should consider it some time.  Between the lake, the mountains, and the casinos it’s got something for everyone.   

For me, the allure of Lake Tahoe is just being among the trees with the water and the mountains always there in the background.  

Here are some fun facts about Lake Tahoe that you might not know about and probably won't remember next time it comes up on Jeopardy.

  • Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine Lake in the United States.
  • It is the second deepest lake in the United States behind Crater Lake (which is also a great place to visit).
  • There are 63 tributaries that flow into Lake Tahoe, half the rain in the lake is from rain water falling directly on it, and there is just one river, the Truckee River, as an outlet.  The Truckee river flows Northeast into Pyramid Lake.  For some reason that blows my mind.
  • One of the ski resorts, Squaw Valley, hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics.
  • Because the lake borders both California and Nevada, there is legal gambling along the Nevada side of the lake.  
  • TV and Film buffs may know Tahoe's scenery as the background for the opening sequence of Bonanza while a Tahoe estate called Fleur de Lac provided the location for several scenes in The Godfather Part II.
  • And if gardening is your thing (I know it is), the Thunderbird Lodge has a spectacular alpine garden that is open to visitors.