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! 


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Mexican Flame Vine

Senecio (say cen-EH-see-O) is a very diverse genus.   You know Dusty Miller(Senecio cineraria) and String Of Pearls(Senecio rowleyanus), right? The look TOTALLY different!!! Dusty Miller has gray foliage and is mostly grown as a bedding plant accent or border. String of Pearls is a hanging succulent!  Just goes to show that they classify plants by their flowers and not their foliage or habit. 
Beginning of the flower 

 Here is a wonderful plant that I'm so glad I was finally able to find, Senecio confusus - Mexican Flame Vine, Orange Glow Vine or Mexican Love Vine. Common names vary everywhere.  They actually changed the name of this plant to Pseudogynoxys chenopoides.  That is a BIG mouthful! So, it's not even a Senecio any more.  I'd rather call it by the old name. It's much more fun.  
 I love orange flowers and I saw this plant in my friend Loren's garden. He has a huge garden and lots of cool plants. You may remember me mentioning him here before :-)  I went right away to search online and ordered it from Almost Eden Plants just this past April since I've never seen it in any local nursery.  It is said to like full sun to part shade and moderate water. Height may vary from 10-20'. And it blooms through the warm season. That could be March-Nov for us here in SoCal!  It is a tropical plant and only grows in zones 9 - 11 so it won't tolerate a hard frost. It's native to Mexico, Central America and the West Indies and is attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. 

Middle of the flower lifespan
Since mine is still young, every time I see a flower cluster I get happy! 

3' tall a couple weeks ago before new trellis

Nearing the end of color on the flowers

Seed clusters looks like they do on String of Pearls. 

Today with extra trellis action.  4'

I'm sure it will need a taller trellis, stakes or wires soon.  But look what you can do with a couple bamboo stakes and a few zipties!  Research says it roots easily in water.  I'll have to try that.  It is also said the cause skin irritation or allergic reaction. Just what I need with my stupid every-bug-loves-me allergic skin. I'll have to be careful.   

I  have it growing on the east side of a hot fence.  I look forward to it getting to the top.   Do you grow this plant?   

Happy Gardening! 


Monday, September 4, 2017

Pink Gaura

We have just recovered from record heat in SoCal.  We had here in Burbank and the San Fernando Valley 105-110º for a whole week. It was horrible.  It didn't even cool off but to the 80's at night. It was like being in Lake Havasu(which I hated-sorry Havasu people).  I know some people like the heat.  But I do NOT nor does my garden. It's difficult to work outdoors at all. Then on Friday a fire started in the Verdugo Hills just about a mile away! We could see scary flames  from our house for 3 days!   
 The finally put it out(at least on our side) last night.  We even had a little rain last evening and cooled down enough to open the windows.  For those from other places who may not know, in SoCal, we go without rain from about May - Nov. So any rain we do get in the summer is rare and awesome! 

Gaura is a perennial in SoCal that is native from Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.   The common white flowered variety is a noxious weed.  I will never forget mistakenly planting it for the first time for a client in Pasadena where it spread like crazy! I was forever digging it out.   BUT, the pink variety, Gaura lindheimeri Siskiyou Pink is so much nicer!  It doesn't spread but instead makes this airy mass of pink flowers.  I have not had any reseeding in several years in my garden. It has skinny leaves that you can barely see.  It is such a wispy plant that it was difficult to photograph in my garden today.  The flowers look like little pink butterflies.  

So fluffy! 

Gaura grows best in well drained sandy soil(which I have!) and full sun.  If it has one bad quality at all, it is that I have to cut it back about twice a year.  When it stops flowering for a bit, it is good to give it a whack! Then it grows back prettier and flowery.  It is said to bloom in the summer.  But here is SoCal it blooms for quite a long season.  Research says it grows in zones 5-8.  

See how it was difficult to capture in a photo! 

The flowers begin dark pink and sometimes fade to pale pink and white.  Laura is said to grow to 4 feet tall.  Mine are 4'tall and wide.   The name Gaura comes from the Greek gauros meaning superb in reference to the beautiful flowers.

This species honors Ferdinand Jacob Lindheimer (1801-1879), Texas plant collector.

Do you grow Gaura? 
Happy Gardening! 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Flame Acanthus

I saw this plant with the lovely coral orange red flowers at the LA County Arboretum in Arcadia a few years ago. Soon after I was really happy to find it for sale in the nursery at The Huntington Library & Botanic Gardens. I've never seen it in another nursery. It's Anisacanthus quadrifidus wrightii or Flame Acanthus. It's native to the Americas, drought tolerant, likes full sun and attracts hummingbirds.  I think those are all the best qualities in a plant! It grows to about 3' tall and wide. It's blooming right now and will through the summer.  Research says this plant is named for Charles Wright (1811-1885), botanical collector who collected extensively in Texas, Cuba and his native Connecticut. 

Have you grown this plant?
Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017


In SoCal we are spoiled with evergreen plants. Many trees are deciduous here. But no one wants a deciduous shrub. Berberis thunbergii is one of many Barberry native to Asia. So called because of it's thorns and sometimes(I've never seen them) little berries. It is mostly grown here for its burgundy foliage. Because of our mild winters it's only partially deciduous here. It likes full sun and different varieties grow from 3-6'. It's not ubiquitous in SoCal like it is in the Pacific Northwest. I see it once in awhile. This one I planted many years ago at a job in Glendora. It's looking pretty awesome now.

Burgundy contrasts nicely with green. 
Can you see those thorns? 
Don't grab barehanded
Happy Gardening! 

Monday, July 31, 2017

Micro Mini Rose

I love big fluffy double flowers just as much as anyone.  But I adore super tiny flowers as well.  I grow about 25 tiny roses that are classified as "Micro Mini".  In the rose societies, not as many people seem to love the micros.  There are few entries in those classes at rose shows.  I can't help but love them because they are SO DARN CUTE!!! I can barely stand the supreme cuteness!  In Japan they say "kawaii".  From wikipedia - "Kawaii (かわいい[kaw͍aiꜜi], "lovable", "cute", or "adorable") is the quality of cuteness in the context of Japanese culture". That's how I see micro mini roses. 

When we bought this house and I got my first garden, I thought I could plant everything in the ground. I found that some things just didn't do well in my super sandy soil. I almost lost several of my micro mini roses. So I dug them up, rescuing them and put them back in pots. 

Below is Tiny Flame looking super cute in a pot. 

Tiny Flame in a pot

Tiny Flame flowers

The buds are really small. 
Tiny Flame buds
I had to show how it looks as a tiny bouquet.  The whole thing is only 3" tall. It includes the micro mini rose Tiny Flame, a couple sprigs of Asparagus retrfractus and a couple little stems of Serissa foetida in a my favorite tiny vintage medicine bottle.  
Super tiny bouquet

Do you grow Micro Mini roses? I know my friend Kathy Jean does :-) Happy Gardening!