Bare Root Strawberries And The Not So Great As Yet Park

Two acres the demo garden was not. Maybe they were including parking.
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We went to the "Farmers" market at the Irvine "Great" Park on Sunday to get some bare root strawberries from the people who used to own Laguna Hills Nursery.  Since their nursery closed, they've been selling this-and-that plant at the "Farmers" market.

I put both "Farmers" and "Great" in quotes because...well, in Irvine, what passes for a farmer's market in Irvine would draw giggles or blank stares in Iowa, Ohio, Sonoma, and maybe even Santa Ana.  The offerings ran more to "gourmet" (there's those quotes again) dog biscuits, fancy-bottled vinegars, dipping oils, and goat milk soap than to potatoes and carrots.  There were also a few of those trendy "gourmet" food trucks parked in a circle, like pioneer wagons with glossy paint jobs.  But that's Irvine.  I have to be in just the right mood for Irvine--when I'm the least bit down and without a strong sense of humor, Irvine feels like Nazi Germany without the Nazis.  Pleasant, educated people, but regulated, controlled, watched, corporatized, sanitized. 

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The development of the Irvine "Great" Park is limping along for lack of money.  A huge chunk of the money they began with was sucked up by expensive planners, designers, architects, grandiose visionaries, consultants, infighting, inflated egos, travel junkets, and so on, leaving little budget left for the actual park.

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What we did see was:  a big orange balloon ride and the "farmers" market.  A new parking lot under construction caused a bit of head-scratching:  it was being heavily planted with what appeared to be many, many young Quercus agrifolia.  Hmmm...how are those going to like being surrounded by concrete and asphalt?  I have no clue--just wondering.  And then there was a valiant little demonstration garden put together by the Orange County Master Gardeners group.  

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The OCMG's demo garden was well done, a group of raised beds made out of substantial wooden beams painted Irvine's most essential color:  beige.  Each bed had a planting theme such as "butterfly garden", "native plant garden", "fruit salad garden", "edible garden" and so on.  A worm bed and compost pile.  Kid-friendly.  Leading to it was a "dog walking path", length about 40 feet (for dogs that tire quickly, I guess) set in a sea of manicured bermuda grass. 

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I found the demo garden well done as demo gardens go, intelligently planted, but seeing a Rhus integrifolia or Toyon planted in a rectangular beige box is something like seeing a mountain lion pacing back and forth behind a chain-link fence.  Just not natural. No context, no mystery, no aura, no atmosphere.
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The oozy worm bed and the crude piece of plywood used as a sign in the compost pile were a refreshing sign of real gardening.
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Around the edges of the demo garden were several big towers of packaged Miracle Grow garden soil and other bagged amendments.  Not sure what that was all about...advertising?     

I've read that too-warm weather ruins cauliflower heads. Even our cool December was apparently a little warm for this one:
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In the current parking lot, every 3 spaces or so, there were two parking spaces given over to a 48" boxed tree.  This cut the number of parking spaces by about 40%.  Hundreds of acres of empty land, and they use up a lot of parking spaces. This is fine for tree lovers, but not for tree lovers who need to park.

The best of the boxed was a beautiful young Quercus tomentella, a native tree I previously blogged about here.  I think more and more we need one of these. 

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We got our bareroot strawberry plants--little knots of stringy brown roots--and got out of there.  Need to dig, plant, get hands filthy, knees muddy. I had the urge to paint my raised beds a very bright purple.

Those strawberries had better be good.

Comments

  1. you totally nailed the vibe of irvine. there's a reason i live about 15 minutes away but have yet to visit the "great park." the farmer's market effort there certainly appears to lack soul. (sadly, there's more concern about how it appears than what it actually does or means.) i guess you can say that the place still has great potential...

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  2. I suffered through grad school at UCI. Couldn't face living in Irvine, though. I commuted from Long Beach.

    You described it well.

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