Posts Tagged With: Ca

Local Nomad Moves to

That’s right: Local Nomad has moved to Local Nomad.
Please visit!


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Elkhorn Gardens

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and just now catching up on my blogging at Local Nomad. First off, some photos from a recent house concert at Elkhorn Gardens in Royal Oaks. Colleen and Jim Goff gave me a tour of their beautiful gardens where they cultivate world-class dahlias, daylilies and many other flowers. I was impressed by the amount of work they put into the place, especially considering that Colleen suffered from a back injury some years ago, from which she has recovered with help from alternative healing. They are often busy clearing brush, including poison oak, creating trails, planting, and designing new gardens.

Both Colleen and Jim are musicians, so the Gardens seemed like a great place to put up a stage and invite their friends to play. This has gradually evolved into a small concert venue, and they now hold concerts every Sunday during the summer, charging $10 entry, half of which goes to the performers. This summer, they are holding their “Concerts for Peace” series. Check their schedule HERE.

One of the unusual (and I think great) things about Elkhorn Gardens as a music venue is that you are not confined to one little spot from which to listen to the music. You are free to wander the gardens (staying on the trails), and best of all, you can hear the music from just about any point in the gardens, because the area forms a natural ampitheatre. Some parts of the garden have picnic tables so you can eat and listen to music.

The Juncos perform at Elkhorn Gardens. They were great! There was an audience of perhaps 20 or 30 people. Some sat on the grass, some sat at tables on the patio, and others wandered on the trails nearby, still listening to the music among the flowers.

Jim and Colleen have cleared areas and created the trails in the garden to follow natural pathways.

A garden in process. The Goffs are constantly busy cultivating flowers and creating new gardens in their acreage.

Elkhorn Gardens is open to the public during open hours. Come by in August when the dahlias are in bloom. I’m sure they’ll be spectacular.

A White Iris.

Check out their little shop where they sell tea, French soap, garden art, and snacks.

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front yard

So, today Joselyn and I were talking with Evelyn, who runs La Boutique and The Guatemala Shop in Moss Landing. Another customer happened to mention that she used to live down the road near Paradise and Walker Valley. And she knew the previous owners of the house I live in, the ones who remodeled the old house and put in a fireplace. Later, Evelyn and I discussed the challenges of moving from a bustling community to a quiet rural area (and dealing with yellow jacket hives, farm animals, and the relative isolation). I love it here, but, after living practically across the street from a neighborhood that included several wineries, Kelly’s French Bakery, an organic grocery, a Thai restaurant, an Italian Cafe, and a nearby tow service and auto mechanic, I do feel isolated. I only found a doctor (a G.P. in Prunedale) that I like after almost three years here. I knew the history of my neighborhood in Santa Cruz, who had lived in various houses, and how the neighborhood looked years ago. I had no idea who had lived previously in my current house, until I stumbled into somebody who did.

Prunedale is relatively nearby, but it doesn’t feel like there is a cohesive community there. Moss Landing is closer, and it does have a community feeling, with its restaurants, art galleries, antique stores and the fish markets (plural if you include the ones on the boats in the harbor). Community is important to me — not in any formal sense; but it’s nice to interact with friendly people who know your name.

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“poison parsley”


When my dog and I go for a walk in the big field near my home, I have to pay attention to the earth. This is because the ground of the field is quite uneven, damp in spots, and in the winter thickly covered with a carpet of grasses and weeds. It’s a good cognitive exercise; I constantly have to watch for holes, guessing how soft or hard the ground is under the green, and noting where certain types of vegetation prefer dry spots, while others (the pickleweed, for instance) gravitate to damp, mushy areas.

Pickleweed 1

The soil at the south end is riddled with broken sea shells, a middens of some sort. Nearby, the remainders of tall weed stalks after mowing are dry, hard, and sharp-ended, sticking up vertically out of the ground. I wince, thinking of what would happen if I should trip out there, and land on my hands. Near the middle of the field, there is a large, mysterious swatch where the grasses come up tall and straw-colored, as though some chemical underground is leaching out the color. The south end of the field is covered in emerald green clover, a surprisingly calming color to gaze upon.

Now that we’ve passed winter solstice, I look forward to foraging for New Zealand spinach, which is found in my “secret” cache near the ocean. Likewise, the burgeoning vegetation in the field prompts me to wonder what might be edible there. Early in winter, what looks like millions of tiny, dark green lettuces emerge from the soil. There are also greens with feathery leaves that look like parsley or cilantro. Wouldn’t it be great to have a free parsley source? And there are broadleafed greens sprouting tiny yellow buds. I also see a few clumps of that stubborn cheeseweed (also known as Malva neglecta, and Bastardia viscosa sanctae crucis–or the viscous bastards from Santa Cruz) that infests my backyard every winter, and is so hard to get rid of.

Wild Radish leaves
The “lettuces”

Now in mid-January, the “lettuces” still look like something that could be tossed in a salad, but some are sprouting tiny pink buds. So much for the “lettuce” theory. Wild radish? I pull a small one out of the ground. Yes, the white and pink root does look a bit radishy. I wonder if they are edible. The broadleafed weeds with the yellow buds are now knee-high, and they look a little like young broccoli (rabe).

Young hemlock
Young Hemlock. You can just see the purple spots on the stems.

While examining the feathery “parsleys,” I detect the warm, sweet scent of fennel — another plant that might be fun to harvest. I don’t see it, but I smell it. And that reminds me of something: fennel grows near poison hemlock. I look closely at the “parsley” stems, and notice that there are tiny purple spots on them. It’s hemlock!

Mature Hemlock
Mature hemlock — as it would appear later in the season.

Back at home, I find a useful website, Calflora: What Grows Here. You can type in the county and zip code, and a page will come up listing all the flora growing in the area, along with photographs.

I was right about the wild radish and the hemlock, which is also known as “poison parsley.” The “broccoli rabe” was in fact wild mustard. Since the field is usually overrun with hemlock during most of the year, I’m now loathe to try out the fennel, wild radish and mustard (all edible), fearing that they might absorb the poison in such close proximity.

Wild Mustard 1
Wild Mustard

So, although I’ve lived in Elkhorn for about two years now, perhaps I know the Central California area better than I think; I know the earth here — I know enough to be wary. How many fields have I walked through in my life? How many times have I followed a path near water, and noticed fennel growing near hemlock? As a child I squeezed the milky juice from wild radish pods. I didn’t know the names then. Now I do.

Wild Radish
Wild Radish (purple and pink flowers)

Foraging Database.

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Thanksgiving Feed in Castroville will NOT be Cancelled

(Via an article by Kimber Solana in the Salinas Californian, Nov. 10), for unspecified reasons the Cava family will not be able to put on the Thanksgiving feed that they have held for 18 years. Jose Castaneda and Jamieko Lane will take over and do the honors this year.

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