Thursday, April 30, 2009

Twittering My Way To A National Audience

"What a freakin' waste of time! Why don't you do something with your life, you Twidiot?" Don't think I haven't run that internal dialog a few times in the last couple of months. A few of my writing buddies introduced me to Twitter when I was at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show recently, so I checked it out.

If you're not in the know, Twitter is a cross between text messaging (maximum of 140 characters and spaces) and Facebook. You build a community, stick your nose in other people's business and figure out how to write War and Peace in pithy little abbreviations and unintelligible bits and pieces. If you have the Twitter app on your iPhone, like I do, you also walk into the occasional tree while walking Biff the Wonder Spaniel.

Long story short: Kate Frank, web editor for Fine Gardening Magazine, hangs out at Twitter with the same horticulture and garden crowd me and our paths crossed. After a few e-mails and conversations, I was asked to become a regular contributor to Fine Gardening's blog. I'll be writing about garden design and sustainability with a Left Coast perspective. She says Taunton gave her the job of loosening things up a bit. I'll be helping her accomplish her mission. I can make the stretch.

Little did I know that when I started this blog about 125 postings ago, I'd get to a national audience. I just thought I'd pontificate from time to time and rant about some of the ugly crap that passes for landscapes in my community.

So please pop over to Fine Gardening, click on Blogs (or that link) and read me! My column is called: Sustainable Landscaping: Cool Green Gardens by Billy Goodnick. What would be super-groovy is if you leave a comment. You'll need to register, but it's easy-peasy and non-invasive).

I'm hoping to start with a bang and need my peeps to show their love.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Separated at Birth?

Years ago, the now-defunct (and then-funky) Spy magazine had a great feature called "Separated at Birth" where they'd find images of two very unrelated people in a similar pose and juxtapose them while asking the question "Separated at Birth?" There were uncanny resemblances and it was always a hoot. Spy even published a book filled with these gems.

The most iconic was this shot of Don Knotts (Barney Fife on the Andy Griffith show and "The Incredible Mr. Limpet") with his doppleganger, Mick Jagger...

I'm wondering if some genetic material was once passed along by Mickey Dolenz's (lead singer for The Monkees) family and singing sensation Susan Boyle?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Santa Barbara: Where Earth Day Started

I was at the annual Santa Barbara Earth Day celebration last weekend. 98 degrees in April makes you kinda think about climate change. It helped focus everyone's attention on the matters at hand. People were flocking to all the booths and asking a lot of questions.

Is it just me, or has "green" become anyone's and everyone's buzz word to slap onto everything from household bleach to toothpicks? I know, anything is better than nothing, but based on my observations on Sunday some sponsors could have just stayed home, as far as I was concerned. My visit brought out the best in me and a healthy dose of the cynic within as well. Read on at my column at!

BTW: Set your calendars for May 4th. That's when I make the leap from this blog to being a featured contributor at Fine Gardening Magazine's web site and blog. I'll still be lurking around here, ranting and raving.

Monday, April 20, 2009

WAY Off Topic...

I usually just write about my smallish world of landscape-related things but this was too good to pass up. My wife, Lin, forward this, no doubt due to my impending retirement from my 21 year gig at the City of Santa Barbara...

Here ya kinda humor.

Yesterday I was at my local Wal-Mart buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog and was in the checkout line when woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant? So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn't have a dog, I was starting the Purina Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggets and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story.) Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her no, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's ass and a car hit us both.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard. Walmart won't let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

Forward this (especially) to all your retired friends.... it will be their Laugh for the day!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Must We ALWAYS Be Funny?

(L) Billy Goodnick (R) Owen Dell

Owen Dell, author of Sustainable Landscaping For Dummies, is a pretty funny guy. I know, because I'm a pretty funny guy. We've been working together on a regional TV show called Garden Wise Guys (GWG) for about three years. It's a silly show. It's a very informative show. We're very fond of each other and the chemistry that erupts when we're working on ideas for the show is actually better than the show. We often comment that the writing sessions are far better than what we capture on GWG.

We think we're very clever and have an important message about embracing sustainable landscaping practices. So for a while we tried to figure out how to take over the world!!! (MWA HA HA!!! said the boyz, rubbing their hands, clarification: Owen rubs his hands together while I rub MY hands together). We thought up a few business ideas all of which we gave up on. Its initials were CGG. Nuff about's the main point, which I believe reinforces the initial contention that Owen and I are very silly people. The following is a series of e-mails that began as a serious question, but as generally happens between us, was trampled and pounded beyond recognition due to the unmitigated urge to be clever and funny. Herewith...

Original question from Owen:
I'll be speaking in Vancouver, B.C. next month on business
opportunities in sustainable landscaping. They have asked me whether
I have any hard statistics on the market, where the money is, etc. I
really don't, but I think it's a reasonable request and a good thing
to add to my talk. If you happen to have any thoughts on how to find
such info I'd appreciate hearing them. I'll be looking into this over
the next couple of weeks.


Response from Billy
O. Perplexing and illusive. As you know, that's the question we keep asking ourselves.
Given what we heard from someone recently (was it Rusznak?) I'd start with the reference librarian at the main library. Could kill two birds with one stone (that's the IPM approach); one for your Vancouver talk and one for CGG.

Reply from Owen

Yes, but is that stone native sandstone or has it been trucked in? If native, was it removed from a protected area or were any endangered species hiding under it at the time of removal? Was an EIR issued for the project? Will the stone be returned to its original location after it has been used to kill the two birds?


From Billy

You're such a buzz killer!

If you really need to know, it was not actually a stone in the geologic mineral sense, but was made from organic waste, originating at the south end of a northbound musk ox, then hand-formed and sun dried into perfect spheres by indigenous Nepalese dung sculptors, carried down from the Himalayas on beasts of burden (who urinated on sprouting organic vegetables along the way), then placed on sail boats and brought to Santa Barbara, where the biodegradable hemp packaging was reused as tie-dyed fabrics to cloth poverty-stricken hippies at De la Guerra Plaza. Then the "stones" were distributed to sadistic little children of meth addicts who would ambush the rare double-breasted pin-striped Western warbler and smash its little skull repeatedly. The carcass of the boid was rendered into blood and bone meal, then sent back on the aforementioned sailboats to the foothills of the Himalayas to supplement the urine-soaked organic veggies.

You can calculate the embodied energy, but I think it's minimal. My conscience is clear.

If you'd like to catch a bit of our show, we're at

Friday, April 10, 2009

My Four Year Old Photography Assistant - Ellie

Fremontedendron californicum

I can't think of anything particularly brilliant to impart that would be more enjoyable than recycling my article for today.

It's a lovely tale of visiting the joyously spring-filled Santa Barbara Botanic Garden with my wife and our dear friend Ellie. Pictures of Calif. natives? Naturally (Get it? Nature? Naturally? That's why you come to read my blog - top notch literary devices). Also, lots more images at my Flickr site...find the "badge" in my sidebar.

Santa Barbara Botanical Garden meadow

A bit of other news. I've become a rabid Twitter user and was honored today when my name continually popped up in peoples' FollowFriday. That's when a Twittererererer recommends that all their Twitter friends follow a particular contributor. Today's my turn in the barrel. Honored. You can follow along by finding the Twitter window in the right column of this page.

Now quit wasting time and start reading.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Stalking the Mystical Scurfy Pea

I'm still not sure why people are watching my video blogs, but it's been a great deal of fun learning to work in iMovie and screaming at my computer like a NYC cab driver. This latest effort chronicles another trip to San Marcos Growers, a wholesale nursery where I try to obtain all the plants for my designs.

In this thrilling episode (complete with titles, sound track and a few cool transitions) I head out in an electric club car searching for Psoralea pinnata in full bloom. That's Scurfy Pea, a fine textured, purple flowering big shrub from So. Africa. The fragrance of the flowers is like grape flavored Koolaid. On this very breezy day, it was dancing on the wind, accompanied by Otatea acuminata subsp. aztecorum (Mexican Weeping Bamboo).