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.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

My Favorite Lettuce

I apologize for not posting in a couple months. There just wasn't anything interesting to post. I hope your holidays were good. Welcome to a new year!  2018 Wow! 

In SoCal, the best weather(in my opinion) is Fall through Spring. It's cooler. We get rain. It's easier to work outdoors. There's no sweating. I love this time of year when I don't have to buy lettuce in the grocery store for a few months! I grow leaf lettuce instead of head lettuce. That means you can pick leaves off the plant and it still grows. Thats unlike head lettuce where you wait until it is full and pick the entire plant.
Most of the lettuce in this bed has come up well.  There are some empty patches.  The green is super easy while the red leaf is a little harder to get to sprout for me.  

I don't have as good luck with my summer vegetables.  I just can't keep them well watered!  I've tried tomatoes.  I usually grow zucchini and basil.  But last year was so hot I only got a few pieces of zucchini from my 5 plants! 

This is the north bed with lettuce, spinach and sweet peas.  There is also a grape vine and a patch of onion chives that are perennial. And there's ONE Sweet Pea blooming already. What?  

My favorite lettuce so far is Garnet Rose Romaine from Botanical Interests. I think it's a beautiful color and has a pleasant taste. But really it's all about that color! It looks great in salads with contrasting greens. Research says that darker loose leaf lettuces contain more antioxidants than lighter colored lettuce such as Iceberg. The darker leaves absorb more light and are able to synthesize more vitamins! 

I am growing about 5 different varieties of lettuce and 2 varieties of spinach plus Flowering Sweet Peas and green bunching onions in my 3 raised beds. Each bed is 5' by 10'. That means I have 150 square feet of vegetable space. I'd say 3/4 of it is lettuce! The onions take up half a bed.

Do you grow lettuce? What are your favorite varieties? I'd love to read your comments.

Happy gardening!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Cooler Weather And An Adorable Plant!

Ahoy all!  Two weeks ago we had blowtorch Santa Ana winds, 7% humidity and 105º temps.  My roses and Brugmansia blooms fried!  It was horrible!   I am breathing a sigh of relief that we are FINALLY into real autumn weather here in SoCal!  It was cloudy all last week with high temps in the 60's. YES!  Highs in the 60's and low 70s as far as the weather on my iPhone can see!   It is so much easier to work outdoors and the plants(and I) do better when it's not BAKING! Thank goodness!

Here is my new favorite plant.  I know I say that every time a new plant dazzles me.  It's called Gomphrena decumbens Airy Bachelor Buttons.  I ordered it from Annie's Annuals only about 1 1/2 years ago.  Most people know the bedding annual Gomphrena, sometimes called Globe Amaranth.  It IS in the Amaranth family.  They are native to the range of Brasil, Panama and Guatemala.  This one is perennial.  This past spring, one plant was doing so well in my garden. I looked at it and thought maybe it would do well from cuttings.  And it's so cute that I could plant some more.  So I took and potted up 3 cuttings.  All 3 rooted and I planted them around the garden.  Then about a month later I took a few more cuttings.  All of them rooted.  I pinched the ones growing in the garden a little in the summer.  And now they are blooming! SO CUTE!!!  This plant takes part shade to full sun and grows to 2 1/2' tall and wide.  Annie's site says it may reseed like the other Gomphrena in the garden.  See this blog post  Gomphrena post from 2014 I hope it does!

I had to stake this one because the wind blew it over. 

It was really difficult to photograph the tiny blooms. 

Airy is correct! 

I now have 4 plants of this beauty in my garden.  Do you grow it?  
Happy Gardening!