Rainie's Corner

Leaning Pine

While attending a spring garden party on the California Polytechnic University campus in San Luis Obispo, I had the opportunity to rediscover the Leaning Pine Arboretum. The event was a formal affair hosted by President Baker and his wife for their advisory committee, and held in the arboretum. The time was late afternoon, and a string quartet played in the gazebo, while horticulture students answered questions, and guided guests through the garden. Bishop Peak could be seen in the distance. The evening air was at first balmy, then turned cool as fog crept inland from the sea.

Director of the Arboretum, Professor Emeritus Thomas Eltzroth, called guests and students to gather in front of the gazebo for introductions, and a...


I was traveling for a week, and had just returned home. Opening the front door, I entered a small hallway and touched the voice mail button on my telephone. There was only one message, from my gardener, who watered the newly planted perennial beds during my absence. She is also my neighbor, and my daughter’s closest friend. With only a few years experience she has become a dedicated plantswoman, and has grown to appreciate the wildlife population that my garden has to offer. Past encounters include, discovering baby opossums in an empty five-gallon container, looking eye to eye with hummingbirds while watering, happening upon red-shouldered hawks bathing in the fountain, and fox climbing in the oak tree. Her message was long, and began with the...


Throughout its twenty-five year development, the one-acre garden that surrounds my home has elicited the curiosity and participation of almost as many children as it has adult horticulturists. At first a ruderal landscape, it has grown into a maze of natural sunlit rooms and meandering trails. The land was once overgrazed in some portions, sprouting weeds in other parts and donning numerous tree stumps, remains of the mature live oaks that once dominated this gentle slope. The previous owner planted five Monterey pines in front of the house for shade, and an aleppo on the east side. A row of lofty Eucalyptus trees along the road, remains from wood lot speculation on the Nipomo mesa in the early nineteen hundreds, still serves as a...

The Orchard

Originally the fruit orchard occupied the southwest corner of my property and was comprised of a dwarf peach, one lemon tree, three apple trees, a prized apricot, an avocado, walnut, and an orange tree. The previous owners planted them, perhaps ten years earlier as an adjunct to their vegetable garden, and cared for them until I purchased the land. I assumed stewardship; watering, weeding and pruning, with respect for what existed when I arrived, and in return some prospered, while others met with their demise.

From the trees that survived, I gathered fruit which I carried to my kitchen or to my neighbors. I made applesauce, apple pies, and an unusual pizza concoction that calls for green apples, walnuts and Brie. Anyone with a...

Silver Dormouse

The Tale of Silver Dormouse

In England there is a breeder who longed to name a new cultivar after his wife. She on the other hand was adamantly opposed to the public use of her given name. They have been married for more than forty years and live in a modest country cottage where they often entertain friends and colleagues who share their interest in horticulture. During these evening socials a simple dinner might be served, to the accompaniment of friendly conversation, followed by tea, and a stroll through the garden.

The lady of the house has a propensity for dozing off before tea and cakes can be served. By this I mean that she politely and quietly falls asleep at the dinner table. These catnaps...


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