Seasons, or Life in the Garden

Sunset Magazine

Who We Are

So fun to see our ‘Edible Bounty’ demonstration garden in the October issue of Sunset Magazine! This June we created a 25 ft x 25 ft edible landscape for Sunset’s Small Space, Big Dreams challenge (along with Bay Area designers Growsgreen Landscape, Ground Cover Landscaping, Living Green and Sunset’s Garden Editors).  Click the image below to read more about it!

Sunset Magazine Edible Bounty

The Summer Garden

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We are already reminiscing the season as we enter these last few days of summer. Before we start swapping tomatoes for brassicas, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite images from the season.   Our Atherton project really came into its own this year — take a look!



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Photos by David Fenton.

Bay Meadows


What do you get when you combine Star Apple, an 83-acre development, raised beds, a steel drum band, 50+ excited gardeners of all ages, free vegetable start giveaways, and delicious food and cocktails? The grand opening of the Bay Meadows community garden in San Mateo!


We were so happy to take part in this event. Bay Meadows is an urban village development built in the place of the old San Mateo racetrack that includes housing, office space, parkland, and most importantly to everyone with a green thumb, a community garden! We will be overseeing the 99 plots that are available to residents of the community with weekly visits, hands-on classes, fabulous cooking and gardening speakers, and personalized, one-on-one assistance for new and veteran gardeners alike.


Highlights of the grand opening included children climbing into their plots to sow radish seeds, spirited debates over when to plant your fall sugar snap peas, harvesting bag after bag of delicious salad greens from our demonstration beds, and seeing first time gardeners from ages five through sixty plant vegetables for the very first time!



There will be many more updates to come about this project, but you can see more photos of the grand opening here or take a look at this photo essay from the Mercury News!


Star Apple Edible Gardeners Mike, Aleta and Ryan!

Thanks to Jan Lundberg Photography for sharing photos of this great event!

blog post by Mike Irvine, Star Apple Edible Gardener

This week on Instagram

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A  few days of rain has done wonders for our gardens this week!  Especially for the edible flowers. Rosemary, Violas, Calendula and English Lawn Daisies — we are harvesting them all!


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A Year of Beautiful Gardens

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Whew! It’s been an amazing year — thank you for being a part of it.  Thought we’d share a few favorite images from 2013 as we reflect on all the new friends, gardens and even vegetables (myoga ginger!)  we have met and created this year.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!


Stef, Leslie and all the folks here at Star Apple

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Blend Flowers and Fruit


We were so excited to share our tips for including edibles in garden bouquets with Danny Bonvissuto of HGTV Gardens earlier this year. Here is an excerpt from the article, Mixed Fruit: Blend Flowers and Produce for an Arresting Bouquet.  The arrangement and persimmon wreath are from The Beautiful Edible Garden and one of the many  Studio Choo moments in the book.   Be sure to check out Jill and Althea’s recently published book, The Flower Recipe Bookfor more  inspiration on how to turn your garden harvests into beautiful arrangements.

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Reprinted with permission from The Beautiful Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner (Ten Speed Press, 2013). Photo by Jill Rizzo.

Fruit and vegetables look gorgeous in the garden and even better on the plate, so why do we only think of flowers and leaves when it comes to floral arrangements?

“Your garden harvest can be so much more than your evening meal,” says Stefani Bittner, co-founder of Star Apple Edible + Fine Gardening in San Francisco and co-author of The Beautiful Edible Garden (Ten Speed Press). “When we look out at all the beautiful fruit and vegetables in our gardens, it’s easy to see how lovely they can be in an arrangement.”

Move over gerbera daisies: tomatillo branches are moving in on your territory. Here’s a seasonal snapshot of the beauties Bittner and partner Leslie Bennett use to create naturally notable arrangements:

Spring – “After a long winter, we are so excited to use flowering fruit tree branches like apple, pear and quince,” Bittner says. “Pea tendrils, artichoke, purple sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, flowering herbs and mint are all stunning when combined with spring blooms.”

Summer – Bittner suggests mixing raspberry and blackberry branches with blooms, plus other stems of plants that break off in the garden. “There are times when vegetables get too big for a space or the weight of their fruit breaks a limb in the summer garden,” Bittner says. “Use trimmings from cherry tomatoes, pepper, eggplant and tomatillo plants in your vases, too.”

Fall – “Fig and persimmon branches are two of our favorite fall cuts,” Bittner says. “The large magnolia-like leaves of the persimmon turn a vibrant orange in the fall and make for a stunning seasonal arrangement.”

Winter – Bittner and Bennett like to include lesser known ornamental citrus in their winter bouquets, like chinotto oranges, kumquats and Buddha’s Hand citron. “If your climate doesn’t allow for citrus to live outdoors in the winter, you can still grow them in containers,” Bittner says. “Simply move them indoors during the colder months.”

The key to a successful arrangement with fruit and vegetables is a sturdy stem. “We love artichokes, fruit tree branches like fig, pomegranate and persimmons and annual vegetable stems like cherry tomato and peppers for this reason. They are so easy to use!” Bittner says. “Just as you would remove the leaves of your flowers below the vase water line, do this with your edible plants, too.

Bittner and Bennett love branching out with their vases as well. “Vintage tin cans, canning jars, harvest baskets and wooden crates are all fun ways to go from garden to table,” Bittner says. “And you don’t always need a container—wreaths are a great way to display your harvest and celebrate the season!”


Reprinted with permission from The Beautiful Edible Garden by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner (Ten Speed Press, 2013). Photo by Jill Rizzo.

Persimmon Wreath


20 stems of seasonal greenery

12-inch wire wreath frame

Medium-gauge paddle wire

5–8 small-to-medium size succulents

5–10 pieces of 20-gauge 12-inch straight floral wire

15–25 small-to-medium size persimmons

10 berry sprigs

Start by cutting down large branches so that you’re working with pieces of greenery that are 5–10 inches in length.

Make small mixed bunches in your hand using 4–5 pieces of the seasonal greenery (we used bay laurel and privet berry).

Lay the small bunches on the wreath frame and wrap the paddle wire around the bunches of greenery and the frame two or three times to make sure they are securely attached.

Continue making and attaching bunches, one on top of the next, until you’ve worked your way around the entire wreath frame.

To add on the succulents, begin by cutting them from the soil, leaving a small 1- to 2-inch stump to attach the wire to. You may need to remove a few lower petals to make the stump long enough to attach the wire. Wrap a piece of the 20-gauge wire around the stump two or three times making sure you leave 4–5 inches to attach it to the frame with. Tie the succulent onto the frame and twist the wire ends in place. Add two or three succulents in the same area for a clustered look.

The persimmons can be added in the same manner as the succulents. To attach the persimmons, begin by wrapping your 20-gauge wire around the base of the persimmons, and tie them in the same way as the succulents to the frame. You can add persimmons in just one spot to create a focal area, or cluster several small persimmons together in various places to mimic the clustered look of the succulents.

Tuck the berry sprigs into the wreath.

– See more at:

A Useful Garden Herb Wreath

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Here is our recent blog post for  Chalkboard Magazine on one  of The Beautiful Edible Garden‘s DIY Garden arrangements!  The Useful Garden Herb Wreath is one of our favorite Studio Choo moments from the book — so easy and the perfect DIY project for any occasion!


WE LOVE THIS DIY from within the pages of The Beautiful Edible Garden. ..  Here are the authors and gardeners behind the project…

FRESH HERBS change the way we eat. The best way to start growing food is to simply integrate these beautiful and productive plants into your overall landscape or in a dedicated herb garden. Not only will they reward you with their beautiful and edible foliage and flowers, they are the basis of a Beautiful Edible Garden! Once they get started you will have plenty to add to your daily meals, share with friends or create garden- based projects. One of our favorite ways to use our garden herbs is to create an herb wreath. Beautiful to hang in your kitchen and within arm’s reach of your next meal!


Head out to the garden and snip away! You’ll need to cut large branches of rosemary.  Mint, lemon verbena, sage, chives, thyme or any of your other favorite herbs all make great additions!

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You’ll need a spool of twine, scissors and all of your gathered your herbs. Place all the herbs but the rosemary aside and lay the rosemary out on a large enough working space for the wreath you’d like to make.

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Start building the wreath by laying out long sections of rosemary to build the frame for the wreath. Form them into a circle shape.

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Begin to bind the sections of rosemary together using bakers twine or your favorite natural gardening twine. Work your way around the circle til all the branches are firmly bound.

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Using the same twine you used to to build the frame, simply make little bunches of each herb in your hand and tie them to the rosemary frame. Work your way around and attach as many bunches to you like throughout the wreath.

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Once you’re finished, hang your completed wreath up to dry. Use the wreath for your own culinary preparations or use as a perfect gift for your friends and family.

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A special thanks to Jill and Alethea from Studio Choo for sharing their techniques for utilizing edible and ornamental plants from the garden in home arrangements in The Beautiful Edible Garden.  Make sure to check out their amazing new book, The Flower Recipe Book!


Reprinted with permission from The Beautiful Edible Garden: Design a Stylish Outdoor Space Using Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs by Leslie Bennett and Stefani Bittner, copyright © 2013. Published byTen Speed Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group. Photos by Jill Rizzo.

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