We’re A Day Late

We can pretend that this is Wednesday and you are receiving the email on a Wednesday, as we normally do. But that would mean we’ve gone back in time and added another day to our work week. So, let’s not do that. Wednesday’s email on Thursday. It’s good to change it up. Yes? Well, not really. Our internet was down most of yesterday due to an area outage. Sorry about that.

We need your help.

I realize that voting online is a pain. We have been nominated to be part of KCRA’s Best of the Best for 2017. Fun! But then I thought, “Oh no, online voting. Capturing my information. Selling my email. Sending copious amounts of email and eventually the auto calls will come on my cell phone during work.” Yes, I thought all this was going to happen. So I went online and I voted for myself. At first, it felt kind of weird, voting for our nursery, but then I thought, “Wait a minute, if politicians can vote for themselves, why can’t I? Am I exempt from voting because it’s for our nursery?” I think not. So with a big breath, I went online to vote. As I was typing in my email and creating my password, blah, blah, blah, and, yes, giving them my zip code so they know where I live, I was fearful that I had given up my goods. All of my fear was erased as I went through the prompts for voting for High Hand Nursery, I found a box that said, “Click here and we will not contact you.” Perfect. My fear melted away and now I was voting with confidence. So, if you would do me a favor (by the way it only took me about 55 seconds), would you vote for us? We will love you for it.

Holy aftermath of the heat! Have you walked around your yard and noticed that a few plants melted, or that a tree that normally doesn’t drop leaves is shedding leaves like clothing? The heat we had last week was brutal. We survived. Some of our plants did not. If you’re like me, I lost a few things. Some of them I knew I would lose. I was just too lazy to go out into the heat and water the petunias that were in a steel bucket on my brick patio. So I sacrificed them.

But if you noticed that some of your Japanese maples are dying, I have good news. They’re not. Last week we received numerous calls of “My trees are dying!” We rolled out our standard question. “How much are you watering per day currently?” One of the answers was “I’ve been gone for a month. I’ve been watering ten minutes by drip twice a week. Over the winter, things did just fine. I don’t understand.” “Hmmm.”, I thought.
I know what you are all thinking because you’ve gone to High Hand Nursery’s watering class called “Math”. Ten minutes on a 1 gallon drip emitter is about a pint of water. So, I’ll say it again. Go run a marathon in the heat and drink a pint of water. Let’s see over time what will slowly happen to you.

Think of your plants as human beings running a marathon in the heat with no protection, other than the fact that they have to rely on you and your mathematical bent. Let me put it bluntly. If math is not your thing, chances are your yard will suffer. If math is your thing, then chances are your yard will flourish. Sixty minutes on a 1 gallon drip emitter is one gallon of water. There’s your formula.

So, let’s talk about our friend, Mr. Japanese Maple in the picture. Can you see the dry leaves? We’re professional plant people, or PPP’s with PhD’s. If I’ve lost you, we are professional plant people who are professional hole diggers.

So, here’s what the tree is saying to you when it has dry leaves or it is dropping leaves. Pardon me while I talk like a tree.

“Look, you planted me. I love that you chose me, took me home and planted me. Thanks. But, on the way home I wondered, ‘Hmmm, are my new owners good at math? Since I can’t ask them, I’m sure I’ll find out soon’.”

“So, here’s what happened to me. You didn’t give me enough water when I needed it the most. By the way, I’m not dying. Far from it. You didn’t water me enough, so I decided to flag. I am forced, due to lack of water, to make a choice. So, as a tree I chose to insulate myself and let the top layer of leaves dry. So, do me a favor. When I do this, do not remove my dry leaves. I’m not dying, nor am I frying. My dry leaves act as insulation between the sun and the rest of me. With all the energy I’ve just gone through just to survive, give me a little extra water. I just ran a marathon. Well, not really, but figuratively speaking. Scott sent me an advance copy of this email and I think his reference to running a marathon in the heat and water are quite accurate, by the way. So, leave me alone. Give me a drink of water and let me rest. I will drop my protective shield of leaves when I’m ready and will replace with new ones”

Well, there you go. You just heard it from the tree’s mouth. Not really. That was me. But they talk to me and that’s the voice in my head. Sometimes I can walk the nursery and I have a tree committee talking to me. Energy says a lot about your garden. Tune into it, especially moving into hotter months.

Holy Echinacea! One of my favorite summer flowers. They go dormant back to the ground, store up energy over the winter and come busting out all summer long. I don’t know why we don’t plant more of these. They make great bouquets in your yard, are faithful bloomers and are hardy. Native to the prairies of our country (Happy Fourth of July United States, by the way), they are great, tough plants.

In celebration of Holy Echinacea Day at High Hand Nursery, you can buy one and get 50% off a second one. Planted in groups or masses, they are stunning.

I plant Echinacea with Agastache. Say that three times. “Echinacea, Agastache. Echinacea, Agastache, Echinacea, Agastache”. Can’t speak? Type it three times. It’s just as hard. We’ve been growing this plant for a few years. We never seem to be able to sell it. I don’t get it, but I’m not giving up on it. It’s called Hummingbird Mint. Can you guess why? Being part of the sage family an added side benefit is that it is deer resistant. If a person reading this email recognizes the picture, can you let me know how your Echinacea/Agastache patch is doing?

I’m sure this last paragraph of my email just blew my stats according to MS Word. Sorry, Farmer Fred.

September 9th, join us at Maple Rock for a fun day with trains. Who doesn’t like trains? We’ll have live steam engines, BBQ and music. Come see the trains presented by Sacramento Valley Railroad Society. Tickets are $10 and parking is free.

So, here’s your task. Here’s what I need you to do:

See you at High Hand Nursery. Remember, do the water math.


P.S. A secret. There are coupons on our website. Look for them.

P.S.S. July 8-9th is our “Name Your Own Price Sale”. You can make an offer on some plants we’d like to move. A few scratch and dent plants and a few that have been around for awhile. And, a lot of crape myrtles. Beautiful ones. Name your own price while supplies last. Here’s a picture of a group of crape myrtles being offered.

Are You Willing to Name Your Own Price?

See you July 8th and 9th!

I’m Sweating Like A Pig

I walked into a customer’s house today. “You smell hot”, she says. I’ve never been told that before. I’ve never smelled “hot”. Never thought about it, really. My first inclination was to sniff my armpits. Wouldn’t we all when told we smell hot? So, I asked her, “Do I stink?”. “No, you just smell hot.”

Little did she know that her comment on the way back from her house less than a half hour ago changed the whole direction of my email. Struggling, I’ve gone back and forth with subject matter for this email. It’s hot outside. I can talk about watering your plants. I can talk about drip irrigation, blah, blah, blah. All the things you probably already know.

Truth be told, I am hot. It is hot. And, contrary, I am not sweating like a pig for the simple fact that I am not a pig. And pigs don’t sweat. Pigs roll around in the mud, dogs pant, and a rabbit’s ears, with all of the blood vessels running through them, act as radiators. And, believe it or not, vultures poop. Who knew? You can look that up on Google because I’m not going to type why. It might get me in trouble.

Plants sweat as well. Well, not really. Sweat in plants is called transpiration.

Okay. Stop reading this email. Go run a mile right now and I will bet you, you got sweaty. You also probably got tired and thirsty. What did you do? If you are a normal human being and not a cyborg, you probably drank water to rehydrate. Transpiration in plants is like evaporative cooling in a house. It brings down the temperature of the plants. Without getting too techno, there is a system within the plants similar to a sweat gland that opens and closes and lets moisture out. These cells are sensitive to light, temperature, wind, humidity and carbon dioxide. I’m trying to stay out of the scientific side of this, so, in short, this leads to water loss and must be accurately regulated. Functional transpiration in a plant is the continuation of the pumping of water or sap that allows water flow to continue. Did you know that 10% of water that evaporates into the atmosphere comes from plants?

Can we step off the subject for a minute? Do you remember in California when brown was the new green? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, I understand we had a water shortage. However, can you imagine losing 10% of the moisture that enters into the atmosphere and what that would create? Who knows what the future brings with California’s water. I have no crystal ball, but I do hope by now we have learned to adapt and water wisely, instead of letting things simply die. Do you have a neighbor on your block who let their yard die? Looking back at that decision was it the wisest one to make?

Getting back on track. We now know that plants sweat and why they sweat. So can I share a few tips for keeping your plants alive within the furnace of Hell?

Tip No. 1 – Water
Tip No. 2 – Water
Tip No. 3 – Water

Now, I’m being facetious. But, I think you get my point. So, let’s get to the real tips.

If you have drip emitters, move your drip emitters to the uphill side of the plant. It will allow water to run through it and not away from it.

If you haven’t already, work the soil up around the plant. Winter rains and hand watering by hoses can harden the top layer of soil, allowing water to simply escape away. Water basins won’t hurt around plants in the summer time.

It is possible to see a plant wilt in the afternoon heat, only to spring back in the evening when the temperatures cool. I call this afternoon wilt. The ground may be wet, but the sheer temperature of the soil and the air makes the plant wilt. This happens when a plant is transpiring or sweating more moisture than it can take in. When temperatures cool down, the plant regulates itself. Ta dah! It’s like magic. You don’t have to run out and water EVERYTHING. Just go out and give a thirsty friend a cup of water.

So, the customer’s house I visited earlier had some wilting plants. I asked her, “How much are you watering your plants?”. She replied, “I just upped it two more minutes.” “Up from what?”, I asked. “I went from 5 minutes everyday. I’m now at 7 minutes every day.” For those of you who know me, I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve and tend to say things that get me in trouble. “Well, you’re killing your yard”, I said. “I am not”, she replied.

I suggested that she increase her watering up to 30 minutes per day. She gasped. “That’s a lot of water. Do you know what that’s going to cost me on my water bill?” I replied, “Do you know what it’s going to cost you to replant your yard?”. I went on to say, “If the average drip emitter puts out 1 gallon per hour, what is 7 minutes of water to that tree?” Less than a pint. For all you bakers out there, is that 2 cups of water?

Now, if you were crazy enough to actually stop reading the email, go jog and come back, is two cups of water going to be enough for you to keep you alive? Probably not. And, if you kept up this practice of jogging and not drinking enough water, you will too, like her landscape, die a slow, agonizing death due to dehydration and cardiac arrest.

Back to 30 minutes of watering. That’s a half a gallon. Still not enough. So, your water bills going to go up by 10 bucks to get your plants through the heat. The cost of re-landscaping your yard ….?

Now, I know why I carry my cell phone everywhere I go. Say hello to a friend that arrived at the nursery the other night. Take one look and tell me how this magnificent dragonfly disperses heat. Could it possibly be the four radiators attached to its body?

Nature is amazing. Take a walk in your yard and learn to see it.

Trains, Trains and Trains — The Next Event at Maple Rock
September 9th, join us at Maple Rock. Live steam engines, BBQ and live music. Come see the trains and steam engines presented by Sacramento Valley Railroad Society. Tickets are $10 and parking is free. Click here to purchase your tickets.

We are also trying to win the Best of the Best contest. So, if you feel compelled please click here to learn more. You’ll find the links at the bottom of our page for the categories for which we’ve been nominated. Vote for High-Hand Nursery and vote for High-Hand Cafe. We will love you for it.

As the Most Interesting Man in the World might say, “Stay cool, my friends.”

See you at High Hand Nursery. Keep up the voting.


P.S. A secret for you. Click here to go to the cafe page. There are a couple coupons there for you. Enjoy.

Let’s Turn Up The Heat

As we look at the week ahead, the vibrations that I have felt are that people are bracing for the heat. I often wonder why we brace for heat. I’m always curious of this phenomenon and honestly, I’m guilty of it also. In the winter I complained it was too cold. I complained that it rained too much as I fantasized about beautiful spring days and the feel of a neutral temperature.

I work in the weather 365, yet I still go through being irritated that it’s cold or wet and then wishing that the cold and rain would return after being slapped upside the head with 105 degree weather. We all know it’s coming.

Last night as I was cleaning out the back seat of my truck, I laughed. I laughed at the fact that I was carrying in my jackets. I chuckled at the thought of wondering if I should really put them away. Every year I take my jackets, when I think I’m done with them, and I wash them and stow them away, waiting for cold temperatures to return.

Just this last Monday, I found myself cold. I was invited to speak at the Crocker Art Museum Docent Recognition luncheon. The courtyard in which I spoke was slightly shaded by trees and as I stood at the podium I found myself increasingly stepping over to the left to find a ray of sun. While public speaking doesn’t normally freak me out, being distracted by goosebumps on top of it, was making it that less comfortable.

As far as I’m concerned, we’ve gotten off easy this year. We’re already into the middle of June. The further mild weather pushes into summer, such as it has been, the closer we are to Fall and cooler weather. Think of it this way when you are complaining about the hot temperatures. We are just over 90 days until Fall. For that matter, we’re only 180 days from Christmas.

With lavender picking behind us, we enjoyed two incredibly comfortable weekends. If you wonder what a lavender field looks like after 700 people have moved through it, now you know. There were no casualties, no cut fingers, a few bee stings, but what there was were very beautiful days. The scent of a fresh cut field of lavender still drifts up the hill to the house.

With our weather getting hotter, think about your watering patterns. There are several different choices when it comes to the debate on irrigation. Choices range from daily to monthly. It is a debate you can have to no end because every yard and every condition is unique.

As Farmer Fred always says on his radio shows, all gardening is local. I would like to think that the drought has taught us to adapt to the personality of our yards. Let me illustrate for you the method that works for me. It takes a bit of practice and my method requires that you learn to see beyond what there is.

Do you see anything wrong with this picture. It is a table full of echinacea flowers at High Hand Nursery. As I was walking through the nursery this morning at a very fast clip, I was stopped in my tracks. Study the picture and tell me what you see.

Now, do you see it? My method is quite simple. I look at energy. I don’t have time to put my finger in every single black pot to check for moisture. I don’t have time to walk five acres of garden and check if everything is getting watered properly. So, I have learned to look at energy. Can you see it? Can you see what I’m talking about?

I know you see it now. Do you see the difference in the energy of the flowers? Sad. Happy. It’s really simple. So, instead of running to my clock and increasing watering times because I thought the sky was falling, I simply gave the plant a cup of water to help it catch up to the others.

As I was walking by an hour later, it was hard for me to even know which plant was sad.

Now we all have different methods of watering and the arguments on how to water are vast. But energy tells me when to water. When plants are happy and vibrant and have their natural colors, I let it ride. When their energy shifts, I focus in on just that one plant, instead of worrying about the totality of my garden.

The questions I get asked by people visiting Maple Rock Gardens – “How do you maintain all this?”, “How many people does it take to maintain?. They are always amazed when my response is “One.” I then go onto explain. Yes, we have more than one person who help with the garden when we are going to open it to the public. We do need more people to fluff.

Every garden has seasons, so we simply maintain the seasons of the garden, not the totality of the garden. Once you understand the personality of your garden and its seasons, you will find that eating an elephant is not as difficult as you think it is.

A few weeks back I wrote an newsletter called “The Water Bank”. You can find it by clicking here.. I thought as I was writing it, that it can be taken as quite rebellious. I am not one to shy away from controversy. If you’ve ever heard me speak, occasionally something rebellious slips out of my mouth as the audience gasps, “Did he just say that?”. And my response has always been, “Yeah, I just said that.”

In my Water Bank email I talk about my approach to irrigation. I was thrilled when Farmer Fred replied, “Scott, here is some reinforcement for what you are talking about. Written by a real garden rebel, Robert Kourik. Yes, it is lengthy. Skip to Ch. 9 for some real rebellious info.” The article entitled “Greater Garden Yields with Drip Irrigation” and mainly Chapter 9 vindicated what I’ve always thought and validated what I’ve always gotten push back from the establishment.

Thanks Farmer Fred for the article. I am sure in the coming weeks, caring for plants during the heat will be a hot topic. No pun intended.

Focus in on the energy. It tells you all you need to know. Here comes the heat, so let’s go.

In our travels recently, while at a nursery down south I came across this little morsel of a succulent. We traveled through several greenhouses. I can do this pretty quickly when I’m looking for plants. My eyes are always scanning. This is one I’ve never seen before. It’s called “Mardi Gras’. We just received a new shipment of succulents for our succulent bar at High Hand Nursery and yes, these little fellas came home with me. We don’t have many, so come get one if you are a succulent freak like me.

The sun going down at Maple Rock last night highlighted one of my favorite landscape plants, Campanula. Its purple flowers bloom most of the summer. I find this plant to be effortless. Just thought I’d share this with you. I had to stop and put down my armload of jackets to take the picture, but it was worth it.

In the coming months, look out for Maple Rock pop up events. For those of you that came and harvested lavender, I hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. The beautiful days and the serenity of a garden and the picnic under a tree hopefully left you with calmness.

The pop up events will be seasonal, meaning we have no idea when the tomatoes will be ripe. We have no idea when the plums will be ripe. We have no idea about anything other than we are beholden to Mother Nature. We will give you as much notice as Mother Nature gives us. That I promise you.

Trains, Trains and Trains — The Next Event at Maple Rock
September 9th, join us at Maple Rock. Live steam engines, BBQ and live music. Come see the trains and steam engines presented by Sacramento Valley Railroad Society. Tickets are $10 and parking is free. Click here to purchase your tickets.

We are also trying to win the Best of the Best contest. So, if you feel compelled please click here to learn more. You’ll find the links at the bottom of our page for the categories for which we’ve been nominated. Vote for High-Hand Nursery and vote for High-Hand Cafe. We will love you for it.

Now, there’s a story behind this picture. Thank you, Crocker Art Museum for inviting me to come speak. I had fun. I was cold, but I had fun. You may notice they had fans. Every year that they’ve held this recognition meeting, it has coincidentally been one of the hottest days of the year. So, it makes sense that they would hand out fans to keep themselves cool. This year, fanning yourself made you colder. Kind of funny. I felt sorry for the fans that they weren’t going to get used. So, I asked everybody to pick up their fan and with enthusiasm fan themselves so I could post it. So, here’s a picture of the docents of Crocker Art Museum fanning themselves on a cold day. I think it’s funny, anyway.

It underlines the unpredictability of Mother Nature, doesn’t it? So, why try to figure it out?

Tune into the personality of your garden and learn to see energy. It’s really not that hard. Just focus beyond what your eyes are telling you.

See you at High Hand Nursery.


P.S. For those of you who voted for us on KCRA’s Best of the Best, I can’t thank you enough. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same. We are grateful for your support.

Lavender, Maple Rock & The Cat

I bet you are all wondering how many people got stung at Maple Rock’s lavender picking this weekend. Truth be told, I was too. I was wondering what would happen when 400 people went waltzing into the lavender field, clippers in hand.

I didn’t get much sleep the night before wondering about the outcome of 400 people traipsing through the lavender. I figured somebody would get stung by a bee. It was just a question of how many people. I had this vision of people gingerly frolicking, gleefully wading into the lavender, only to be turned away in sheer terror ripping through the rows as fast as they could in retreat.

Well, I am happy to report that was not the case at all. It was a beautiful weekend of lavender picking. It was a weekend full of amazing people and bees who did an amazing job tolerating the amazing people. Let me share a few pictures of the day with you.

For all of you who didn’t think lavender picking was for you, it wasn’t long before this gentleman moved in and the bees moved out.

Moms and daughters showed up to pick lavender dressed in appropriate colors. I was a little bit concerned about mom having a tattoo of a flower on her arm. I think it was the bird tattooed next to the flower that kept the bees away.

And this mother. I teased her a bit. I was concerned that every time she turned sideways, she’d be bee bumping. I had permission to post her picture. Thanks for being a good sport.

They came to harvest. She showed up with a High-Hand hat on. Thanks for representin’.

Then there were these folks. Totally cool. We had a blast. No, she did not get stung in her floral shorts. But with a garbage bag in hand…

They came to harvest and harvest they did. I lost track after six garbage bags full of lavender.

And then, there were the children. So fun.

Now, I know what you’re thinking – children, bees and sharp clippers. But it was the children who were very patient and very methodical and giddy about their bouquets.

No children or bees were harmed in the staging of these pictures. It was fun to watch them. There was intrigue, discovery, amazement and laughter on their faces.
Do you mind if I take a break for a moment? I’ve had a lot of coffee today, backed up by water and I’m going to run to the restroom. Hang on for a minute.

I’m back. As I was walking by the counter in the Flower Market I paused to look at Petunia. Every time we put a box on the counter, Petunia’s in the box. I reached out to pet her and was greeted with tiger Petunia.

This is an actual picture of tiger Petunia. I was shocked she actually let me publish it. But, the question still in my mind is, “What’s up with cats and boxes?”

As I stood there staring at tiger Petunia pondering the cat in the box question, the only thing I can come up with is that cats are enigmatic animals meaning we just can’t figure them out. One minute I was staring at tiger cat, the next minute I was staring at furry, cute cat. You just can’t figure them out. Kind of like people and lavender.

Thoughts of bee stings were on everybody’s mind, including mine. There were nervous folks. But trying to figure out the bees is like herding cats. Impossible. Bees had a job to do and so did the folks.


We are rolling again. Lavender picking at Maple Rock.

As you can see, we still have lavender. This is what our lavender field currently looks like after 400 people waded through it.

As I watched the weekend’s activities, it became apparent that people were really enjoying themselves. It was fun to watch families sitting on a blanket under the apple trees with their bouquets of lavender. Looking at the lavender flowers, their buds are not even fully open. Looking at Google weather, this weekend’s temperatures will be in the ’70’s and low ’80’s. Perfect lavender picking temps. This will probably be the last weekend, so don’t miss out. Come and join us. It will be a lot of fun.

Tickets for all you can pick lavender can be purchased at our website www.highhand.com, or you can purchase them at Maple Rock when you arrive.

Don’t forget to tour Maple Rock Garden when you’re done picking lavender. Here’s a few pictures from last weekend.

Can you find the bee?

One of the many hydrangeas in the garden. No, it was not photoshopped.

Visit the Alice in Wonderland Garden

Trains, Trains and Trains — The Next Event at Maple Rock
September 9th, join us at Maple Rock. Live steam engines, BBQ and live music. Come see the trains and steam engines presented by Sacramento Valley Railroad Society. Tickets are $10 and parking is free. Click here to purchase your tickets.

We are also trying to win the Best of the Best contest. So, if you feel compelled please click here to learn more. You’ll find the links at the bottom of our page for the categories for which we’ve been nominated. Vote for High-Hand Nursery and vote for High-Hand Cafe. We will love you for it.

I’m sure you’re wondering the bee sting score. While I’m sure there were more bee stings than I know of, I only heard about two. But taking inventory at our bee sting station, it looks like humans and bees alike behaved nicely.

A lady got stung on her hand because she picked up a bouquet from the ground, compressing the flowers and the bee. Ouch! The other was a lady stung when a bee flew down her shirt. Probably a bee Flying While Pollinating.

So, there you go. A tale of the cat, the lavender and Maple Rock this weekend. See you this weekend at Maple Rock Gardens. Bring a picnic. Relax. And be with the bees.


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