Hail to the Winemaker!
My Husband, John, Enjoying a Glass of Provence Rose

My Husband, John, Enjoying a Glass of Provence Rose

This year is our 10th year or 10th Anniversary of our backyard Syrah vineyard at our home, Domaine de Manion. I remember the day vividly, April 1, 2006, when our entire Vineyard Production & Management Class (Mira Costa College) of 20 people enthusiastically helped us plant nearly 300 bare root grapevines. Initially a landscape solution I dreamed up, as our family and friends can attest it has turned into so much more.

Vineyards are a lot of work, filled with commitments and year-long timetables, not just a romantic lifestyle. John and I took many classes, workshops, and seminars to educate ourselves on our vineyard and winemaking adventure. Some grape growing years were better then others. Some vintages better than others. Although grapevines are like weeds, they can be a magnet for disease, pests, and are sensitive to weather surprises. 

As we became more confident with our vineyard and winemaking we started entering amateur wine competitions, beginning with San Diego and Orange County Fairs, and recently the California State Fair in Sacramento. We have bought different grape varietals from Baja and Sonoma County to experiment and blend with our Syrah. 

Through all of the years and accolades, John has emerged as a talented winemaker. I add my two cents, labor, and tasting notes, but it is John who puts his signature on all of our wines. Wine- making is a balance of science and art. It is true, a winemaker has a distinct style which comes through in their wines. John creates bold wines, smooth, chewy, sometimes spicy, and with a long finish.

We recently received the unexpected Home Wine Judging Results from the 2016 California State Fair, and more fair results should trickle in by early summer. Entering the "Dry Red Division" we received Double Gold, Best of Class for our Merlot, Silver for our Syrah, and Gold for our Merrah (a magical combination of Merlot and Syrah.)

The best part of making our wine is sharing it with family and friends. We are grateful for all who eagerly help us harvest and bottle each year. Hail to my husband, John, the Winemaker!






Terrific Tomato-Staking Technique
Row of Staked Tomatoes in Provence Kitchen Garden

Row of Staked Tomatoes in Provence Kitchen Garden

In Provence last May, Chef Berard gave me a tour of his magnificent kitchen garden at La Bastide des Saveurs near Bandol. Although his kitchen garden was stunning, the way he staked his tomatoes really stood out for me. Each tomato plant is planted at the base of these curved metal stakes. There were about 6 to 7 tomato plants per row. As the tomato plants grow and mature, the tomato plant is wrapped around the curved stake keeping the plant anchored and supported. Mature tomato plants, especially laden with fruit can carry some weight. Larger wooden stakes placed on each end of the tomato row lend more security for the tomato rows. Two wires interlaced from one end stake to the other, through the curved metal stakes provide additional support and strength.

Same Tomato-Staking Technique in My Kitchen Garden

Same Tomato-Staking Technique in My Kitchen Garden

At the time I thought to myself, I'm never going to find this kind of tomato stake anywhere. I was wrong, I have found it here in San Diego at many garden departments at Home Depot, Armstrong Garden, and Dixieline.

I like these stakes because the tomato plants respond to being trained up the curved stake, the curved stakes take less room than other tomato support options, the tomato plants are well-supported, when the tomatoes are mature each row will look like one large row of tomato plants, and tomatoes should be easy to harvest.



Carolyne Roehm, Garden Glamour
Carolyne Roehm Signing Books After Her Presentation

Carolyne Roehm Signing Books After Her Presentation

The Prado at Balboa Park was the perfect setting for a rare San Diego visit last week by one of America’s most important tastemakers, Carolyne Roehm.  Roehm has been a part of American design culture for decades with career chapters in fashion, gardening, entertaining, publishing, and decorative arts.

Currently traveling the country promoting her latest book, Carolyne Roehm at Home in the Garden, The Village Garden Club of La Jolla was pleased to present Carolyne Roehm as this year’s “Meet the Master” grand event.  

“Meet the Masters” was inspired by one of the club’s founders, Adrienne Green, and is held yearly in her honor. Each year The Village Garden Club of La Jolla brings world-class floral designers to San Diego to speak and demonstrate their master floral creations. This educational event is a gift to the club’s members, the greater San Diego Community, and beyond.

Beautiful, stunningly statuesque, and dressed in a bone-colored monochromatic pant suit, Roehm spoke to over 230 devoted luncheon attendees in a warm and charming manner about her 33 years of personally creating and refining the pastoral lands, gardens, and ponds on her historic 1765 property in Connecticut called Weatherstone.

Roehm shared her incredible life’s ups and downs, paralleling her Weatherstone property’s ups and downs, often using metaphors between life and a garden.  One common thread throughout her life has been her love affair with flowers, and “a garden is a canvas for making colors, textures, and shapes.” Her passion for flowers is what drives her garden philosophy. She carries her garden palette, what she is planting, tying it through to her table, dishes, and what works best with what.

Roehm ended her presentation with one of her favorite quotes from Frank Lloyd Wright, “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you.”

A timely article from One King's Lane visits Carolyne Roehm at her Weatherstone home. For more information, visit Carolyne Roehm.

Entrance to The Prado, Balboa Park

Entrance to The Prado, Balboa Park

"Flora, Floats, and Fun" Article
Local 92024 Magazine, January/February 2016

Local 92024 Magazine, January/February 2016

Many thanks to my local 92024 Magazine, January/February 2016, for their "Flora, Floats, and Fun" article on page 42. Their recognition highlights how I was chosen to ride Scotts Miracle-Gro float in the 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade, with it's special California Grown certification.

I've been a resident of Encinitas for over thirty years, and know how much flower growing has been a rich part of Encinitas history. The sandy soil and temperate climate were ideal for flower and bulb growing. 

I was thinking of my Encinitas community on Rose Parade Day, honored to be representing my community, California home gardening, and symbolically bringing a little bit of Encinitas from my own garden, in the form of olive tree branches, rosemary, and lavender foliage to be on the float along side me.

Miracle-Gro Garden Interview

Dirty hands are all in a day's work for Bonnie Jo Manion. That's because this avid garden writer, speaker and photographer knows first-hand that working the soil is what it takes to create beautiful things others can enjoy.

It is official, the Miracle-Gro Rose Parade website is up and running with news, announcements, and details on their upcoming float. Miracle-Gro is the Official Rose and Flower Care Company for the fourth year in a row for the Rose Parade, and this year is especially meaningful as their float will be "California Grown" certified. This means that 85% or more of the flowers and plant material will have been grown in California. Today 98% of the roses in the United States currently come from outside of the country. Miracle-Gro is the first major brand to take this hugely visible step to support California Flower Farmers, The California Cut Flower Association, and invite customers like myself to supply flowers and plant material for their float.

Last month the talented film crew for Miracle-Gro visited my garden for a garden interview and a first-hand look at what plant material I will be sharing from my garden for their float as one of the "Miracle-Groers."  In the video you can see the olive tree, lavender, and rosemary cuttings which will make the symbolic journey. 

Maybe I should explain what are "Miracle-Groers" and why they were selected. Four Southern California gardeners and two California flower farmers  were chosen to participate as "Miracle-Groers" and grow flowers and plant material from their gardens and farms that will be used on the float. Not only were "Miracle-Groers" selected on their ability to provide flowers and plant material, they have demonstrated a passion for sharing and inspiring gardening in their communities and beyond, and providing helpful tips and information for conserving water during the state-wide drought. We all are honored to be riding the Miracle-Gro CAGrown "2016 Farm to Float" together at the Rose Parade this coming New Year's Day. Meet the Miracle-Groers, with their interesting backgrounds and stories.


Thrill to Meet Ty Pennington
Ty Pennington, Fellow Miracle-Groer and Celebrity Spokesperson

Ty Pennington, Fellow Miracle-Groer and Celebrity Spokesperson

Two days before Thanksgiving, there was a community celebration and kick-off to the Rose Parade at the John Muir High School in Pasadena. This is the second year Miracle-Gro has supported the Pasadena's School Garden Program. Students and enthusiastic volunteers helped plant their new pollinator garden. Turkeys and Thanksgiving Produce Baskets were later handed out to the community.

Miracle-Gro is an Enthusiastic Supporter of the School Garden Program

Miracle-Gro is an Enthusiastic Supporter of the School Garden Program

Bonnie Jo ManionComment
A Special Invitation
Interview & Photo Shoot in My Garden

Interview & Photo Shoot in My Garden



Recently, I received a special invitation. I am one of four California gardening connoisseurs selected and invited to join Scotts Miracle-Groer Team for this year's 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade and ride on their float on New Year's Day.

Scotts Miracle-Gro is a proud sponsor of the historic Tournament of Roses Parade for several years now. Their float this year promises to be particularly exciting as it embraces a "California Grown" theme, and is endorsed by the California Cut Flower Commission. This means that 85% or more of the flowers, seeds, and plant materials used in creating this float are grown in California. 

The float's theme of "California Grown" goes further by recognizing others who are important to gardening and growing in California. Two California flower farmers, Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers out of San Diego County, and Harry and Michele Van Wingerden of Myriad Flowers out of Santa Barbara County, will be spotlighted and riding on the float.

Scotts Miracle-Gro recognizes the importance of California home gardeners. As one, I am very honored to be selected, and in a symbolic gesture I will be sharing and providing specific flowers and plant material from my garden for this special float.

We all know how important school gardens are to our children and the community. This is the second year that Scotts Miracle-Gro has supported the Pasadena School Garden Program headed up by Mud Baron, and he will be riding on the float. 

The icing on the cake, is the charismatic HGTV home design guru, Ty Pennington, celebrity spokesperson and part of the Miracle-Groer Team, also riding on the float New Year's Day.

Clipping Plant Material from My Garden

Clipping Plant Material from My Garden

On a recent blustery Tuesday morning, I had the good fortune of a visit from Scotts Miracle-Gro camera crew for a garden interview, glimpse of my garden, and look at some of the plant materials that will be I bringing to Pasadena for the float. 

I invite you all to start your New Year's Day 2016 watching the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Look for Scotts Miracle-Gro float with all of us proudly riding it, and reflect on all that this float represents--our magnificent flower farmers, our school garden programs, the millions of Californians who love to garden, how we care about our homes and gardens, and all of us who care about giving back.

This coming Tuesday, November 24, 2016 is Scotts Miracle-Gro "California Grown" Kick-Off at the John Muir Ranch Pasadena High School in Pasadena. This day will be full of activities, such as helping Ty Pennington make raised garden beds, helping distribute Thanksgiving produce baskets to the community, enjoying a delightful "Garden-to-Table" lunch, and a chance to meet the Scotts Miracle-Groer team in person.


Teak for the Table

Teak Containers Can Be Beautiful

Teak is not just for furniture anymore, teak has evolved into accessories for your garden, outdoor rooms, and patios, too. The same teak principles apply to teak accessories, in that they age to a beautiful gray patina, withstand weather, and overall are very durable.

If planting a teak container, you will want to line the inside container with a plastic bag or plastic lining before adding your soil, plant material, and moss. If you plant a succulent such as this Sticks on Fire (Red Pencil Tree), Euphorbia tirucalli, in the photo, this container will require little water to maintain it.

Besides plant containers, you can find versatile teak accessories for hanging on walls, serving bowls, trays, art objects, and the list goes on. One source for teak accessories is Teak Closeouts. 

Think teak for timeless and trouble-free.