It is no secret that Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my all-time favorite movie. My kids and I used to watch it over and over. For some of us, it fills us with fantasy and the thoughts that dreams can come true. I used to a sing a song to my little girl, Tara. I would sing, “Who can make the sun rise and sprinkle it with dew?”. When I got to the end of the verse it was her turn. And slightly off key, she would say, “Daddy man, Daddy man can” as she bobbled her curly little locks. We still chuckle about that.

Against all odds, against the world, Charlie found the last Golden Ticket. Even when he didn’t read the small print in Willy Wonka’s contract (by the way there’s no way he could have), he won. And, all his dreams came true.

“We won”. Against all odds, High-Hand Nursery won 2017 Best of the Best Garden Center. I can’t thank you enough. Thank you for the generous support that catapulted us ahead of over thirty garden centers and Big Bad Box stores (BBB in code). Your votes are so greatly appreciated. Thanks for helping us elbow the big box stores a bit.

Thank you, thank you, thank you. It simply doesn’t happen without you. All of us at High-Hand are thrilled and humbled.

We’re back. Maple Rock Gardens opens again — TRAINS, TRAINS AND MORE TRAINS
Next up at Maple Rock, September 9, Sacramento Valley Railway Society presents Train Day. Click here to purchase your tickets.

You can:

  • Tour the garden
  • Listen to live music
  • Enjoy lunch from High-Hand Cafe and, of course
  • Enjoy the garden railroad
  • Free parking

G-scale trains and live steam trains will be on display. (Sorry Farmer Fred, not the real steam engines, but the G-scale steam engines.)

Do you want to know what else is back? Maple Rock’s heirloom watermelons. Whaat? Yeah, you read it right.

This weekend, come to High Hand Nursery and meet Farmer Ryan and his heirloom watermelons. Varieties will include Orangeglo, Ali Baba, Bingo, Daisy, and Moon & Stars. You will be able to sample a few melons as Farmer Ryan will chop as fast as he can.

What’s an heirloom watermelon anyway? Did great-great-great-great-grandma bring a watermelon on the Mayflower? Did the watermelon get passed down the generations and now sits proudly on the mantel of your fireplace? Nope. I don’t think so.

Heirloom watermelon seeds are found to be wild ancestors of cultivated watermelons in Southwest Africa. It hangs on its survival and its ability to take up large amounts of water during short rainy seasons. As the vine dies over the dry season, the thick-rind fruit lies scattered in the sun, hibernating. Months later, water stored in the melons provides seedlings with a source of moisture as they burst forward in anticipation of oncoming rains. That answers the question of how a watermelon grew in our parking lot last year. Now you know.

Pop quiz. What do you think the name of the melon in the picture is? Answer the question to Farmer Ryan when you see him. All those who get the answer right will receive $10,000.00 cash directly out of Farmer Ryan’s pocket.

(Huge disclaimer – I’m just kidding about the $10,000 cash prize directly out of Farmer Ryan’s pocket. For the record, there is no cash prize.)

Stop in throughout the coming weeks and see what other varieties pop up.

I was originally going to go with “Trains, Planes and Automobiles” as the theme of this email. I was going to shift it to “Trains, Watermelon and Conifers”. So, let’s get to the conifer part.

This weekend, Saturday, all of our conifers in the nursery are 50% off. Why, you ask? ‘Cause I want to. What’s a conifer, you ask? Well, we learned about watermelons, so let’s learn about conifers.

The question is what’s the difference between an evergreen and a conifer. Yes, there’s overlap between the two, but they are different, in fact. I don’t want to get all science on you. I want to try to keep it simple. The corresponding adjective is “coniferous”. You can say a conifer reproduces by relying on cones rather than a flower to hold its seeds. You can say that conifers are evergreens, but not all of them are. In the summer Tamarack looks like an evergreen because it bears needles. Don’t even look it up and try to buy it. It doesn’t grow in our region. This “conifer” is a deciduous tree, losing its needles. To be honest, the definition of a conifer versus evergreens which people generally equate to redwoods is a bit overlapping and is too involved and outside of my literary abilities.

Come in on Saturday. Ask for Adrian and he can direct you to our conifers. Mugos, cedars, etc., etc., etc. All 50% off. Adrian might on a few items give you just a bit more off. “Scosh” I like to say.

But, wait. There’s more. We have some plants that are free. F R E E, free. Why, you may ask? Because I want to. Do not run over Adrian as there is a limit. Let’s say 15 plants per customer. I really don’t want somebody backing their truck up and piling them in.

So, there you have it. Trains, Watermelons and Conifers. Oh, and Fizzy Lifting Drinks. I looked up the recipe. The first thing the recipe said was “Make sure an adult is present when making Fizzy Lifting Drinks.” True story. After all, the drink does contain a lot of hydrogen.

Whether it’s Fizzy Lifting Drinks or Trains, Watermelons and Conifers, you can say I’m a bit sentimental this week. Tara is leaving to go to Europe to study for her Masters (yea Tara). The song “Who Can Make the Sun Rise” was dancing in my head as I started this email so I switched the theme up. If she would ever sing the song to me, my part would be “Tara can. Tara Bear can”, as I bobble my bald head.

Please don’t stampede Adrian.

See you at High Hand Nursery.


I bring you the P.S. and P.S.S. so that I don’t forget the subjects of the coming emails. They popped into my head and I just don’t want to forget. This is a P.S. and P.S.S. for me.

P.S. Next week’s email – How did corn make it into a flower and create an uproar? And …

P.S.S. The week after, how using perspective and lessons from the past can change your gardening habits, i.e., don’t feel guilty about watering.

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