FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA

Launa Herrmann

Queen’s tears – a striking, sturdy bromeliad

If you’re looking for an unusual plant to fill an empty pot, consider Billbergia nutans. Also known as queen’s tears or the friendship plant, this member of the Bromeliaceae family grows almost anywhere in common soil or no soil and with little care. The plant’s nearly indestructible foliage and unusual blooms provide an exotic accent […]

April 05, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Turkey tail fungus one of many mushrooms after wet December

The wettest December in years and above average January temperatures unleashed the spread of mushrooms in parts of Northern California. These spore-bearing fruiting bodies are sprouting in lawns and along tree trunks. The word “mushroom” derives from the French mousseron referring to moss, or mousse. Mushrooms are a fungus with one of the most common […]

January 25, 2015 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Winter feeding of backyard birds

Each year over 350 species of birds travel the Pacific Flyway from the Bering Straight to South America. Many winter in California. From their vantage point, our backyards appear as rest and food stops. As days shorten, nights lengthen and temperatures cool, the avian food supply becomes scarce. Insects die off or are dormant. Seed sources […]

December 28, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Continental Army volunteer creates West Point garden

On Veterans Day we remembered  the men and women in our military who served our country and fought for our liberty since our nation’s inception. Yet few of us have heard of Thaddeus Andrzej Bonaventure Kosciuszko, the Continental Army volunteer who built with his own hands a contemplative garden on the side of a cliff at […]

November 16, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

A glavanized container harvest

Large metal containers are gaining popularity as an option for raised-bed plantings. Galvanized stock tanks require no assembly, are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and sit at just the right height for tending vegetables or flowers. These containers also mean less back-breaking work and fewer insects. My initial introduction to galvanized containers […]

September 28, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Something about a rose

Few of us escape the enticement of the Rosaceae family. You know there’s just something about a rose, whether you tuck a rose bush into your garden to enjoy its seasonal flush year after year or you purchase a dozen long-stemmed blooms to brighten a room for a single occasion. Grown for their beauty and […]

June 22, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Sago palm, a heat-loving landscape plant with longevity

The sago palm (Cycas revoluta) is a popular pick of residential gardeners and commercial landscapers in Solano County. Drought tolerant, it survives temperature extremes from 15 to 110 degrees and grows in sun or shade. With dark semi-glossy green leaves and shaggy trunk, this plant grows slowly reaching a height of only 20 feet in […]

June 15, 2014 | Posted in State, national lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Have you met Lady Banks?

Rosa banksiae is quite the charmer – disease-resistant, drought-tolerant and almost thornless – yet she lives on the wild side. This rambling rose has scaled many a fence and climbed plenty of trees since her introduction to European and American gardens in the 1800s. In fact, the plant’s proclivity for covering everything in her path is […]

March 09, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Tillandsia: The houseplant that takes care of itself

Don’t have time for the upkeep of a typical houseplant? Consider a Tillandsia. Commonly known as an air plant, Tillandsia grow almost anywhere without soil and with little watering. This forgiving plant not only fends for itself while you work but doesn’t require a plant-sitter when you take a vacation. Air plants also provide a […]

January 26, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Tillandsia: The houseplant that takes

Don’t have time for the upkeep of a typical houseplant? Consider a Tillandsia; commonly known as an air plant, Tillandsia grow almost anywhere without soil and with little watering. This forgiving plant not only fends for itself while you work but doesn’t require a plant sitter when you take a vacation. Air plants also provide […]

January 25, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged

Hippeastrum: Countertop color to celebrate a new year

Do you need a bright spot of indoor color now that your holiday decorations are packed away? Then consider a Hippeastrum bulb. This simple-to-grow plant offers another option besides that leftover Poinsettia. Commonly called an Amaryllis, the Hippeastrum is a popular gift item during the Christmas and Easter season. Yet it is not an Amaryllis […]

January 05, 2014 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Japanese anemone – a sign that fall is here

A perennial that knows its place on a gardener’s calendar is the Japanese Anemone (pronounced “a-nem-o-nee”). Often confused with the tender bulbs that flower in spring, this anemone blooms from late summer to late fall. Towering above autumn’s golden-hued flower beds on long, thin, wiry stems, this anemone hints at winter with its pure white […]

November 03, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

A growing impatience with impatiens

What’s not to like about Impatiens – one of the garden’s most reliable and foolproof plants? This easy-to-grow shade-suited bedding plant sports showy flowers available in a color palette from vibrant to pastel. Commonly called Busy Lizzy, Patient Lucy or Sultana, it’s a nonstop bloomer that grows worldwide, from the tropics to North America’s temperate […]

August 18, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Crape myrtles: Colorful show stoppers that take the heat

They’re back. All over town, frilly flower clusters are spiking on crape myrtles (Lagerstoemia indica). You can’t help but notice the jazzy colors of these aerodynamic blooms fit for the slightest breeze. Dark red. Fuchsia pink. Creamy white. Lavender and a purple newcomer named “Midnight Magic.” After all, it is summer and myrtles bloom well […]

June 30, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged , ,

Consider wisteria for spring fragrance, summer shade

Wisteria is best known and loved around the world for its dramatic and fragrant pendulous clusters of lavender-blue blossoms at springtime. Grown in Asia for more than 2,000 years, this popular ornamental belongs to the third-largest family of flowering plants, the pea family, Fabaceae. It’s a perennial vine that climbs by twining – its fruit […]

May 26, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Allergy sufferers beware of dioecious males, deciduous trees with catkins

Drip. Sniff. Wheeze. If these are familiar sounds in your home, you aren’t alone. Allergenic activity is on the rise in Solano County with this spring’s drier than usual air and little rain to knock down the pollen. Receiving most of the blame are grasses, weeds, and flowers that produce the majority of pollen that […]

April 21, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Primrose – ‘I can’t live without you’

How fitting that one of this season’s early flowering plants is the primrose. Primrose means “first rose” in medieval Latin, or prima rosa, but actually it is not a rose at all nor is it related to the Rosaceae family. In bloom from late winter through early spring, wild or cultivated primroses display a rainbow of color in […]

March 24, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Lotusland – the gardens that outlasted her lovers

Late last spring, my husband and I toured a botanical garden located east of Santa Barbara in the Montecito foothills. Since this 37-acre estate is unlike any other botanical landscape, we often found ourselves lagging behind the docent-led tour in an attempt to absorb the setting’s serenity and the scale of the behemoth trees from […]

January 27, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Growing a thriving community of African violets in a single pot

African violets (Saintpaulia ionantha) are known as the world’s most popular houseplant. But the communal grouping sitting on my kitchen counter is not your grandmother’s collection of individually potted plants. Instead, they are planted together in one large glazed bowl 8-inch deep and 19- inches in diameter. Their thick lush green leaves measuring 4- inches […]

January 20, 2013 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Bok Choy: Winter’s tasty, versatile veggie

Looking for edible plants to fill an empty container this winter? Consider Bok Choy. This often-overlooked cool-weather versatile vegetable is easy to grow, simple to harvest and quick to prepare. Its tasty tender leaves and stalks can be cut as early as 30 days. And one-half cup equals only 10 calories that are low in […]

December 09, 2012 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Invite fall color home


Brilliant hued leaves announce the arrival of autumn almost everywhere you look this month. For sure, trees are the stars of this seasonal show. Along roadways, our eyes are riveted to the wide spectrum of changing leaf pigments – from greens to golds, reds to purples. During walks, I pause to tuck leaves into a […]

November 18, 2012 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

Dahlias dazzle with hot summer color

Late one scorching August afternoon, I traipsed across the front lawn to the flower bed. I was curious whether any plants survived the 107-degree Vacaville day. Since soaring temperatures inhibit blooms, and we had a long string of hot days, I didn’t expect to pick flowers. Imagine my surprise when a gorgeous purple-petaled globe greeted […]

September 16, 2012 | Posted in Local lifestyle columnists | Tagged ,

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