Tuesday, June 26, 2018


Most people know Impatiens wallerina.   Nobody says the "wallerina" part though.  EVERYONE just says "Impatiens".  It's understood.  In SoCal they are grown all over and in my opinion are the best annual plants for shade/partial sun color.   They get almost covered in flowers and sometimes carry over through the winter depending on if we get a frost.  I knew about Impatiens balsamina a long time ago.  Some just say "Balsam".   My late garden guru friend Alice grew it sometimes.  You never see the plants in nurseries though.  It is a taller, thicker Impatiens than Impatiens wallerina and can take full sun. The flowers are set inside the plant on the stem instead of on top like I. wallerina.  It is native to southern Asia and is said to be used for many traditional health remedies. AND like regular Impatiens they have exploding seed pods!  If you see one that's really fat, touch it and it will quickly and quietly open and fling the seeds far away from the plant. I love to show people that. It's fun! 

So, when I was ordering Zinnia seeds online from Baker Creek Seeds back in March, I also got some Balsam "Peppermint Sticks" seeds to grow for the first time.  I am a sucker for stripes and splotches on flowers! I love what it says on the back of the seed packet, "One of the grooviest balsam varieties in years, double scarlet flowers are splashed in white, very beautiful and unique looking".  Got my seeds and planted them in 4" pots. I like to do that before setting them out in the garden.  After about a month of sprouting and growth, I planted a bunch of them in the ground.  

Here is what they look like now.  Yes, they are beautiful! 

They haven't made any seed pods yet. But I will be watching :-) 
Here are some growing with other plants. 

This is the stems of one of them.  It must be about 2" thick! Reported to get 18" tall, my tallest one is already 30"in height!

And of course growing from seed, I have more than I needed.  I will probably sell these at the next Southern California Horticulture Society meeting on Thurs. July 12. Come if you're in the LA area.  

They're fun.  We'll see what happens as they progress or if they make it through the winter.  Do you grow Balsam?  

Happy Gardening! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Cute Groundcover

I'm always on the hunt for an unusual plant. Once you've done something for a long time whether it's collecting or gardening one can get tired of the common, everyday, ubiquitous. I've seen all the same plants all over. I get excited about a plant I haven't seen before.

Last year I was in Lincoln Avenue Nursery in Pasadena and bought this little plant called Dalea capitata Sierra Gold. I had never seen it before or even heard of it. It's a desert plant native to Mexico. I was attracted to the little ferny leaves, red stems and tiny yellow flowers. Reported to grow only 8" tall by 3' wide, mine is already 2' wide in one year. And it's trying to swallow up an Iris. 

It's very drought tolerant and likes well drained soil. Research says overwatering leads to early death! That's why it's happy in my sandy soil. It's in Fabaceae - the Pea family. That's why it has cute little pea flowers. Usually all in that family make seed pods after flowering. But I've yet to see any.

You can see my wine bottle border for scale and that the plant is about to devour an Iris.  

It's cute, right?  Do you grow this plant?  
Happy Gardening! 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Mexican Tulip Poppy

Here is a wonderful Poppy from Mexico, Hunnemannia fumarifolia. It has leaves similar to our California Poppies, Eschscholzia californica but bigger and a little bluer. This perennial grows to about 2' tall.  With a big show in the spring, it then blooms off and on through the year with those bright yellow flowers with orange anthers.  You can see the long seedpods forming in the pic below. 

Named after John Hunnemann, an English botanist. And the species part means "like Fumaria", of which I had never heard.

Super easy to grow and drought tolerant, it's the brightest thing in my garden this week! I bought mine at Matilija Nursery a couple years agp.  But I have seen them at other nurseries around lately.  Do you grow Mexican Tulip Poppy?


Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Easy 🌼 Groundcover

I love the fluffiness of Santa Barbara Daisy - Erigeron karvinskianus. It's a fabulous ground cover. 

I thought it was a California native. But research says that it is native to Mexico and Central America. It likes full sun and tolerates part shade. It's drought tolerant but can take more water. The flowers start pink and then turn white. Or maybe the opposite. I'm not sure. But you get that multicolored Daisy thing happening.

It does reseed and spread. That might be a problem for some. But it is easy to yank if it comes up in the wrong place and smells like carrots when you do.

These photos were taken at one of my jobs in Glendale where I planted Santa Barbara Daisies about 3 years ago. It's filled in nicely and softens the edges of the flagstone. Do you grow it?

Happy Gardening! 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dwarf Alstroemeria

 Alstroemeria or Peruvian Lily is native to South America.  For me it is a cool season grower.  It comes up in winter and blooms through Spring. It dies back in the summer heat.   

It used to be that one could only find the old fashioned tall Alstroemeria plants in people's yards.  I got some from a friend. They grew about 3' tall and flopped on other plants.  

 I saw these dwarf varieties growing in a client's garden and she let me have some divisions.  They are fabulous, play well with others and are way more versatile in the garden. They only get about 1' tall. Even though they are short they still make great cut flowers, lasting almost a week in a vase.  

When it's dormant, I have to try and remember not to plant anything in that empty spot. The client from whom I got it originally sees hers grow through summer. She has way better fertile soil than I do.   

A tip - instead of cutting the stems for a vase or when cleaning up the spent blooms, place your hand as far down the stem as you and and gently yank out the stem.  It will pull away cleanly from the plant. It is better than cutting because it keeps the plant cleaner, less mess and no chance of rot.  

You should be able to find them in the nurseries now. But they tend to be a little spendy.  This purple one I got at Trader Joes about 4 years ago.  The flowers kind of burn in the sun.  It's planted on the south side and gets sun almost all day.  But it's very happy.   

Wikipedia lists 122 different species of Alstroemeria.  But I think all my dwarf varieties are hybrids.

I think I have most colors.  I have seen a mostly white one and some reddish orange with splashy veins that I want.  They are so wonderful that I need to collect them all! 

I finally got this variegated variety called Rock & Roll last year. It is one of the taller growing varieties.  But the variegated foliage lets me forgive it's floppy habit.  It is even more expensive that the regular Alstroemeria.   But I got a deal from a local under-the-power-lines nursery. :-) 

Do you grow Alstroemeria?  Do you have a color that I don't?  Do tell! I enjoy your comments here.  Thanks for visiting.  

Happy Gardening! 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Lost Tree = New Flower Bed

So, we used to have this big Deodar Cedar tree. It must have been planted around the time the house was built in 1941. It was as tall as a telephone pole, maybe 50 feet.  The last two years it kept getting more and more brown :-( I was worried that I might have watered it incorrectly.  But we had that big drought.  Many trees are dying in the southland.  I have seen many Cedars looking iffy too.  Finally I saw no more green on our tree and we made the decision to have it removed.  It was/is very sad. 

Tree BEFORE :-( 

The tree trimmers came and spent two mornings cutting it down in chunks, hauling away the branches and finally grinding out the stump. 

I had a big circle of bricks with plants surrounding the tree. I had to remove all the plants and pot them  up for replanting later so the tree guys could work.  I think I might have only lost one plant, my favorite dwarf Calliandra.   But I already ordered another from Almost Eden Plants just in case. 

Then I was worried that my yellow Clivia plants along the porch might fry in the summer sun. It's eastern exposure but still gets hot. So I dug out one of my 4 big plants, replanted a big piece behind the Tangerine tree and took the rest to the Southern California Horticultural Society meeting. 

I decided to link two flower beds together to make one long one from the teepee to the North(right in the pic).  Why did I need more pathway when I could have more planting area?   The teepee with a climbing rose is in the south end and my new tree will be on the north end. 

  I layed out all bricks. Actually they are pieces of that long scalloped edging that came with the house that I broke into brick sized pieces.  I don't like scalloped edging but I made use of it.  

I spent 2 hours "planting" the brick chunks.  I'm not sure about that pointy corner on the right since all other edges are round.  But it is to not waste too much planting space as our brick walkway is nearby.  

Below is what I planted.  The new tree is Michelia champaca alba that gets fragrant creamy white flowers and is related to Magnolia. Since there will be more sun now I planted several roses I had in pots and many of the plants that I had removed from the spot.  I also just got an order from Annie's Annuals and planted 5 new plants from her :-) And I still have space for more perennials. 

Here is from the other side.  

It was really sad to lose the tree.  What is funny is that I spoke to several neighbors about it and both asked me why we had the tree removed.  They couldn't tell that it was dead. Maybe because all the growth was up high.  But still I think that is weird.  

I believe the sign of a true gardener is to mourn a lost plant but to then get excited about what they can plant in its place! 

Happy Gardening! 


Wednesday, March 14, 2018


This weekend I got the idea from Flea Market Garden Style magazine to plant in teacups. So on Monday after my morning job in Pasadena I scoured 3 thrift shops and found two acceptable teacups for $3.49. I asked my Rick to drill holes in the bottoms of them for drainage that night. One must use a masonry drill bit. The smaller one was really hard and he almost gave up. Use masking tape on the bottom and drill through it. The tape keeps the ceramic/porcelain or whatever from splintering or cracking. 

Cute, right? Now I want more teacups because I have many little succulents. Here they are with a fern on a small table on our front porch.