Debbie Arrington

Seeds: Lonely Bouquets to brighten Greater Sacramento on Sunday

How would you react if you found a bouquet of fresh flowers?

It’s not quite like the “Hidden Cash” craze, but such a find is its own kind of unique treasure. Instead of envelopes of money randomly taped to public sites, locally grown flower arrangements are left on park benches or bus stops, awaiting someone who needs a lift; no strings attached.

Sunday is International Lonely Bouquet Day, a grass-roots campaign to spread the joy of fresh flowers. Launched in England, the Lonely Bouquet movement has spread to California.

“We’re kind of excited,” said Karen Plarisan of Verbena Flowers and Trimmings in Roseville. “We plan to make 30 or 40 (bouquets). We’ve been saving different types of jars and other containers so they’re all sustainable.”

Karen and her daughter, Karly Plarisan, grow their own flowers, too. Early Sunday morning with the help of accomplices, they plan to scatter their Lonely Bouquets around Roseville and Granite Bay. They’ll be the first in the Greater Sacramento area.

“We’ll have two or three drivers head out and place them around town,” Karen said. “I’m thinking park benches, outside nursing homes, lower-income areas. We’d like to get them to people who don’t usually get flowers. For them, it’s such a treat.”

In advance of the project’s special day, Lonely Bouquets have been spotted in San Francisco on the Golden Gate Bridge as well as spots in San Jose, Santa Cruz and Mill Valley. Finders can snap a photo of their Lonely Bouquet and share it with others by posting to the day’s official Facebook page: They also can add the location of their treasure to the Lonely Bouquet finders map online at

The Plarisans learned of Lonely Bouquet Day about a year ago. “I started researching it,” Karen said. “We felt that it was something we should do – it’s fun!”

They know whomever finds their colorful treasures will react the same.

Said Karen, “They’ll bring smiles; flowers always do.”

Tomato time

Peter Frichette, Sacramento’s Mr. Tomato, continues to grow some of the most productive vines in town. In his Greenhaven backyard, his tomato towers have plants topping 7 feet.

Like usual in late June, his vines are loaded with fruit. But this year is different; Frichette put his tomatoes on a water diet.

“I planted about the same number (of tomato plants),” Frichette said. “What I did to recognize the drought was put in an underground watering system. This system has eliminated all evaporation and any overwatering.

“It took me a while to get used to and trust, but it seems to be working as promised and as designed,” he added. “The actual emitter holes are precise and have allowed me to exactly meter the amount of water for each plant.”

After that realization, Frichette started crunching figures while saving water. Unlike sprinklers, drip irrigation systems can be run any day in Sacramento and are not restricted to two particular days per week. That allowed some flexibility within Frichette’s water budget.

“Each hole emits exactly .63 gallons per hour,” he said. “The holes and lines are configured as such to provide each vine with four emitters. Thus, for about 48 minutes of run time, I have delivered 2 gallons of water to each vine.

“I water every third day to obtain roughly 5 gallons per week per plant, which correlates to 2 inches of water per week per plant,” Frichette explained. “This is the amount of irrigation that has been recommended by most of the universities including UC Davis.”

Frichette always has kept detailed records of his tomato production. In 2011 (one of his best years), 11 vines – grown in an area smaller than a parking space – produced 1,887 full-size tomatoes. He concentrates on varieties with reliably high yields such as Better Boy, Early Girl and Super Marzano. He also grows some heirloom varieties such as Mortgage Lifter and Brandywine. His produce goes to gallons of homemade sauce, and he donates the rest to charity.

This summer, he’s tracking how fast varieties ripen from first blush to fully red and ready. He’s using Better Boy as his guinea pig.

“The Better Boy has become one of my favorite varietals for this area,” he said. “The Better Boy holds the record for the number of pounds of tomatoes per plant (342 pounds, set in Alabama). They are of decent size.”

How is your garden growing? What’s happening with your tomatoes this summer? What varieties are doing well – or are destined for the compost heap?

And since saving water is on everybody’s mind, how has the drought impacted your vegetable gardening? Tell us about it. Email me your comments (photos, too) for another update from the veggie patch.