It’s 5:00 o’clock and light outside

Whenever I get stuck and I don’t know what to do, I always go back to the basics. I always go back to the very moment that an idea sprung into my head and reconnect with the basic energy that surrounded that idea. So, here it is.

It all boils down to two things and these are two rules I tend to follow in my career of nurseryman, landscaper and farmer. Are you ready?

It boils down to “Dirt and Ladybugs”.  Why dirt and ladybugs you may ask? Well, ladybugs are sacred. We will stop traffic to move a ladybug safely to the other side of the road.

Why dirt? Because it all starts in the soil. It’s all about dirt. It is the living community of soil and all of its nutrients, minerals and microorganisms that gives us life. This time of year the earth starts waking up and we don’t even know it.

The next time 5:00 p.m. rolls around in your world, take a look outside. Notice anything? It’s light out. It’s time to start the process of waking up your yard. I’m not talking about charging up the batteries, putting gasoline in your lawn mower or banging pots and pans. All I’m saying is that it is simply time to be aware.  Checking your irrigation systems and making sure your irrigation timer is operational is a great start. Last minute pruning and fertilization and last minute clean-up can finish it off.

I’m walking along one day and I came across this sign.
Who plants a poison garden? Seriously.

On top of that, who puts a garden in that you can’t touch, smell or eat anything and in which children must be accompanied at all times? I do. You do? You ask. Yes, I do. 

Hello Helleborus spp., Hellebore. Currently, my favorite plant. A drought tolerant, shade loving, bullet proof, idiot proof, deer proof plant that also, may I mention, blooms in the dead of winter with icicles hanging off its flowers. And yes, the bees love it. What’s not to like about this plant?Seriously. The root of the plant is strongly emetic and potentially fatal. Back in medieval times it was used to cause vomiting after a child was diagnosed with worms. If the worms remained in your stomach, possibly a dose of the root would solve your problem. If the worm moved into your gut, then a second dose could be fatal. On the other hand, if you dry the root, create a powder it is said you can spread it on the floor, step on it and become invisible. Bottom line, enjoy it in the garden. Do not feed it to your children to expel worms.

Can you figure out what vegetable we grow in our garden that has the following characteristics? Its vine is poisonous, its leaves are poisonous and its flowers are poisonous, but its root is edible. While you’re thinking of this, let me give you something else to think about.

Who, after watching three people drop dead after consuming the vine, the leaves and the flowers had the courage to try the root? It makes you wonder. I think at this point I would have walked away and left the root in the ground. We are going to plant a lot of it at our farm at Maple Rock and then we’re going to feed it to you at High Hand cafe in the fall. Have you figured it out yet? As the days grow longer, next time 5:00 p.m. rolls around, take a peak and reflect on what you see. See you at High Hand Nursery. Scott

Looking forward and Reflecting back

Think back to last year at this time.  Where was your mind set as it pertained to the subject of water and your landscaping?  There was no rain in the forecast and what did fall evaporated on the pavement.  The governor was standing in the middle of a grassy patch in the Sierra mountains where twenty feet of snow would have normally been.  If you were like me, you were trying to navigate through the rules and regulations outlined by the water agencies and the State.  If you were like me, you were picking your battles in the garden, saving your trees, perhaps, while sacrificing your lawns.  And maintaining the plants in your yard that could not be replaced in a generation.
I read an article written recently that California missed its water conservation target.  I don’t know how it could have because it rained all of January and with a picture of a person wading through a foot of water, I was a bit confused.  My takeaway from the article was the underlying message that while I believe we are at half-time in this water game, water officials in California will not change the restrictions, nor the rules.  How often have you seen a tax imposed by an agency revoked?  How often have you seen a rule or regulation rolled back?
So, here we are at half-time.  As El Nino continues to build, our snow pack is 136% of normal.  Folsom Lake, as of today, is 117% of historical average. Amazing, considering the lake was virtually zero gallons at the beginning of December.  I started keeping track on the 25th of January.  On the 25th of January there was approximately 388,656 acre feet of water in Folsom Lake. Sixteen days later, as of February 10th, we are at 600,254 acre feet of water. Amazing, isn’t it?  The power of Mother Nature. “Thank you ma’am for blessing us with a snow pack and a lake with water and giving our gardens a long awaited drink.”
A Rainbow Through the Trees at Maple Rock Gardens
Take a moment in your garden and marvel at its accomplishment in surviving and prepare to be rewarded this Spring as it comes alive.
A Rainbow Embracing our Farm at Maple Rock
It’s been awhile since I’ve sent out an email, since before Christmas.  Let’s spend a moment looking out to the future at High Hand Nursery.  There are several fun events on the near horizon.  So, let’s bullet point these for you.

– FEBRUARY 14TH – The High Hand Art Gallery located in the High Hand Fruit Sheds presents a winter celebration of small works of art. 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. enjoy live music, light bites, works of art, artists’ demonstrations and door prizes.  The cost of this event is free.


– FEBRUARY 20TH – Sip and paint.  Join artist, Margaret, in the Fruit Sheds.  She will teach you step by step to create “Pending Spring”.


Enjoy a glass of wine, light bites and a fun time.  Seating is limited. Register online at  The cost of this class is $65.00 plus tax.

– FEBRUARY 27TH – Join me, Scott, at 10 a.m. in the Fruit Sheds for a light discussion on pruning trees, my thoughts on what you can expect as the trees leaf out this year after surviving years of drought. We will also talk about water management.  Learn how to use nature’s water bank to your advantage.  Seating is limited. Register online at 


There’s more.

Join us for one of our most popular events, our annual Wings & Wine event, benefiting Wildlife Care Association.  Enjoy light appetizers, a glass of wine, raffle prizes and a presentation that will put you front seat to some of the most amazing birds you’ve ever seen.  Join us and come eye to eye with an amazing American symbol, the bald eagle. Purchase online at or at High Hand Nursery.  Tickets are $25.00 in advance.
As always, our greenhouse is filled with beautiful flowers. 

Come visit High Hand Nursery and see the changes.  Walk the greenhouse. It’s an amazing time of year. All the tiny plugs full of the promise of summer blooms.  Get your gardens ready as Mother Nature embraces us.
Pay us a visit.  We’ve rebuilt the entire front half of the nursery, with changes coming daily.  he koi pond has a new look and the koi have settled in nicely. New flowers are coming out of the greenhouse daily and new plants are being potted up daily.  Join us this weekend for Valentine’s, take a walk around, visit the Olive Oil store, have a glass of wine, tour the greenhouse and all it’s beauty and get ready for an amazing year of digging in the dirt.
Thank you for letting me take this past winter off so that I could pause for a moment and get reacquainted with the future.
See you soon at High Hand.


Pruning Trees and more…


 FEBRUARY 27TH AT 10:00 A.M.

 Join me in the sheds and we’re going to have a discussion.  Topics will be:

– Pruning

– Irrigation systems

– Watering needs

– Whatever else you might want to talk about

Space is limited so please register on-line at  

Come Saturday, February 27th at 10:00 a.m..  We’ll talk about dirt and ladybugs. Register online 

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