Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Another Coprosma

I have several Coprosmas for their pretty colorful leaves. Say KO-praz-ma. The common name is Mirror Plant because the leaves are SO SHINY. They are leathery and feel really smooth. This one is Coprosma 'Evening Glow'. I think the colors are sublime! Coprosmas usually grow 3-4 feet, some bigger leaved varieties grow taller.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Kangaroo Paw

This plant is native to Australia, and Australian plants grow great in SoCal. Kangaroo Paw, Anigozanthos has a furry flower and strap like leaves. The flowers come in red, orange, yellow and green. The plants grow to about 3-4 feet when flowering. I have seen some new dwarf varieties that only grow to about 1 1/2 feet. As most Aussie natives, Kangaroo Paw is drought tolerant and will rot with too much water. Flowering usually occurs in Spring. But I have seen them bloom from winter through summer!

This orange one is growing in one of my client's garden in South Pasadena. And the color is really that bright! Research tells that the flowers are bird pollinated. So enjoy those hummingbirds!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December Fabulous

I adore Pointsettias. I must buy several every December, some for indoors and maybe one or more for my porch outdoors. I think they're beautiful! I love them perfectly red, marbled(which I can't seem to find), "Jingle Bell" which is red with white speckles, "Country Quilt" which is red and yellow, double flowered, curly flowered. I don't really care for them in white or pink though. They look kind of fake to me. But I adore this variety called "Ice Punch"! So pretty!

Poinsettias are native to Mexico so they sometimes do well planted in the ground here in SoCal. It always seem that the fancy varieties do not. I have seen them grown in gardens and they get about 7 feet tall! I was taught by a friend to prune them on St. Patrick's Day and Independence Day to manage them well.

Enjoy the holiday colors!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Autumn Bouquet

I cut some flowers yesterday and had to take a photo. That is an orange spider Chrysanthemum that I divided from a client many years ago. Those spidery mums you just don't find in nurseries! I know many people dislike orange but I love it!
The purple is Hypoestes aristata. Most know the other Hypoestes, the Pink Polka Dot plant which is H. phyllostachya. This purple flowered variety grows to about 3 feet and always flowers for me in Nov. I pinch it a bit all summer so it will have more flowers. After the blooms are spent I cut it down to the new growth coming out of the bottom. It's a fabulous perennial. I look forward to seeing how it grows in the ground.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Plant Those Daffodil bulbs!

Today I finally had time to plant my 16 lbs of Daffodils = 180 bulbs.  Yay!  They arrived last week after a 6 month wait! I had to order them in June because last year they were out of many of the 
varieties I wanted.  Many you can't find at your local nursery. 

 I layed them all out with tags first.  I think the rule in planting bulbs is to dig the hole 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 times the size of the bulb. Always plant bulbs point up, that is the growing point.

I planted Bell Song with the little pink cup.  Dickcissel has the little white cup.  Jack Snipe is short and white with a yellow cup.  Tete a Tete is super cute at only about 6 inches and all yellow. I adore Hawera(little yellow blooms on 10 inch stems) and Thalia(all white) because they are the triandrus type of Narcissus meaning that they make sometimes 3 blooms per stem. 

Most of the bulbs will naturalize for us here in SoCal.  Hawera is iffy but I love it so!   So go out and plant some Daffodil bulbs and we'll all have beautiful flowers in late Winter early Spring.  Let's hope we don't get that hot spell in Feb that we usually get.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Yard Planting Begun!

So, if you've been following along you might know that we bought and moved into this house 1 year and 3 months ago.  It took us 6 months to remove the 4ft Boxwood hedge that went around the corner. Then I had the grass dug out this past August. Then it was too hot to plant. I've been spot spraying Round-Up on the Bermuda grass sprigs that sprout(it's called DEVIL grass for a reason).  And since the horse manure mulch guy will not come this far, I have to pick up the truckloads myself! I've picked up and spread 4 truckloads so far.  I decided it was finally time that I could begin planting!

So today I planted my Black Peppermint Willow Tree- Agonis flexuosa 'After Dark'.  I bought it in a 5 gallon can about 3 years ago and potted it up to a 15 gal can(because the 15 gals are $$!).  It is supposed to get only about 15 ft.  I love the burgandy black foliage! And it smells deliciously like peppermint, hence the common name.  

Also I've got 200 something roses, about 10 Salvia, 3 Camellia sasanqua, 3 Euphorbia cotinifolia(burgandy leaves), 3 Brugmansia(Angel's Trumpet), Chrysanthemums, Pelargoniums(Geraniums), variegated Agapanthus, Tulbaghia violacea variegated(Society Garlic) and T. fragrans(sweet smelling) 4 Osmanthus fragrans(Sweet Olive), 3 Dodonea viscoca purpurea(Purple Hopseed Bush), 16 lbs of Daffodil bulbs and many other shrubs and perennials to plant.  So, that garden is coming! Yay!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Cyclamen is the most fabulous choice for cool season color in SoCal! They are a flowering bulb native to Europe and the Mediterranean that prefers shade or part sun.   Growing only about 8 inches, they are supposed to come up in the autumn and stay up through spring dying back in the summer.  But I have had have some plants keep their foliage and flowers through the Summer(in pots).  They bloom in ranges of pinks, red and white and purplish.   How wonderful if they would come in orange or yellow(which is so deficient in shade gardens).  

If you look at the flower closely, it is the only flower I know that actually turns itself inside out when it opens!  Pretty cool, huh? 

 And those mottled heart shaped leaves come in such beautiful patterns.  I have seen some with so much gray in them they look variegated! Since it's a bulb, it likes well-drained soil and will rot if not given such! 

 Folks here love to plant the white Cyclamen with red Pointsettias for holiday accents and sad to say so many rip them out after Christmas.  Because they are a bulb, they are a little more spendy than average annuals in 4" pots.  The going price is $3.99 -$4.99.  For shade, Cyclamen for autumn and winter and Impatiens for spring and summer.  But that's a whole different blog post! 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Tree Book

I love bark on trees, colorful bark, bumpy bark, bark that sloughs off, curly bark, peeling bark....    I just wanted to share a wonderful book that I bought today.  It's called "BARK, An Intimate Look at the World's Trees".  It has amazing close-up color photos and is large; 10 by 13".  

I bought it today at a great bookstore called Hennessey & Ingalls in Santa Monica. They have books on art, architecture, gardening, photography, design and more.   Rick and I make the pilgrimage maybe once a year.    But I think I paid too much for it($45).    Barnes & Noble and  Amazon  have it for about $30.   If you love trees and their beautiful bark, you should check it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Orange for Halloween

I love orange and am constantly perplexed why so many people don't enjoy this wonderful color! In our harsh sunny climate orange is bright and showy. Here is an orange Kalanchoe. They also come in red, pink and white. Kalanchoe is pronounced CAL-an-KO-E and is a succulent plant that blooms for us in cool weather. It grows about 12" tall and takes part shade to sun. The more fun, the redder the foliage. Yay for orange! Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yellow Shrimp

I know that I say this a lot. But I love this plant! Pachystachys lutea or Yellow Shrimp plant is tropical and native to Peru. In SoCal it grows to about 3 feet. I am on my 3rd try as it's frost tender. It blooms most of the year here. Those yellow parts are bracts with the white part being the actual flower, like Pointsettias and Bougainvilleas. I haven't tried propagation from cuttings yet but read that it's fairly east to root. Grow in part shade and protect from frost. Yellow is a rare color for shade, not seen in Azaleas, Camellias nor Hydrangeas. Yay for yellow!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Super Easy Daisy

Euryops daisy is one of the easiest plants to grow. I don't really know a common name for them. Everyone just calls them Euryops, pronounced  YER-E-ops.  The latin name is Euryops pectinatus, from the Greek "eurys" = large and "ops" = eye referring to the showy flowers.  Pectinatus = from the Latin meaning pectinate (i.e. with narrow divisions like a comb referring to the divided leaves).  Thank you internet!  So, I guess it means big eye with comb like leaves :-)  And of course they hail from South Africa where our climate is similar and from where all the cool plants originate.

I have seen them on an east side with only morning sun and in the south and west where they get full afternoon sun.  They bloom wherever but really prefer full sun! There is this green leaved version plus a gray leaved version.  I prefer the green over the gray(and I usually love leaves that are other than green)  because often they revert to green anyway.  The plant grows pretty fast; about 3 feet in one year and up to about 5 feet.  They bloom when you wouldn't think a daisy shouldn't; Autumn through Spring here in SoCal. 

What is great about Euryops is that if it gets too big, just whack it back!  It takes to cutting down to bare stems.  Try that on a Marguerite and you'll be sorry, it'll be dead(I know from experience).   Sometimes the young plants can get rangy.  Just  cut each stem and 2 stems will come out making the plant bushier.

Enjoy the sunny daisy flowers of Euryops!  

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Sun Fuchsia

They call this a Sun Fuchsia but it's name is Fuchsia Gartenmeister. I love that coral orange color. It takes sun to part shade. It has small long tubular flowers. Like other Fuchsias it is prone to that Fuchsia mite that contorts the new growth and aphids too. But if you can keep them away this is a fabulous plant that is showy and only grows to about 3-4 ft.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Curly Leaved Willow, no REALLY curly!

So you all probably know what they call the corkscrew Willow - Salix tortuosa.  Florists use it as interesting filler or as dried branches because the branches are sort of curly.  A few years ago at the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona I noticed a weeping tree with curly LEAVES!  There were several of them and they were about 40 feet tall.  I've always loved curly things(maybe because I have straight hair.)  The leaves were each curled around and so pretty!  I know that sometimes curled leaves mean bugs inside.  But this is not like that!

 I took a few cuttings.   I understand that September is not that good a time to try to root cuttings of a plant that is going to lose it's leaves soon.  But that is the only time I was at Fairplex!    They did not root :-(   I had even emailed them in the Spring to see if I could go and take cuttings then with no reply. I don't think they care.  2 years ago I took more cuttings when I was at the fair volunteering.  They rooted!
 Yay! Yesterday we went to the FAIR and visited my tree or my "baby mama". 

Fairplex in Pomona has been around since the 1930's so who knows when these trees were planted.  I did notice yesterday that 2 or so of the trees are gone because they took down some buildings :-(   So there is only one left.  

These are my 2 baby trees.  I rooted 3 cuttings and gave one to a friend.  It is such a precious plant to me and I don't even know the name!  I have searched the internet endlessly and can only find "tortuosa" which this is NOT!  If you know the name, please share!   I love my Curly Leaved Willows.  Now I just have to figure out where to plant them in my new garden.  I'll probably just plant one in the ground and keep one in a pot for just in case :-)   Happy gardening!  

Sunday, September 25, 2011


Bauhinia is a varied genus. Most people know the Orchid tree - B. purpurea. I have a vine version called B. corymbosa that has smaller leaves and pale pink flowers. But my favorite is the shrub B. galpinii! Native to South Africa(as so many cool plants are) this Bauhinia is a shrub that tends to vine. It grows freestanding but also wants to weave itself with others. It can be kept at about 5 feet but wants to grow to 10 feet. And as my friend Alice knows this plant laughs at pruning. The flowers are so pretty, coral orangey and a unique shape. I don't care if it grows like a crazy plant. I love it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


Just a little Sweet Pea update today. Got sprouts? I do. If you haven't planted those seeds, go do it NOW! And in 6 months we'll all have flowers to enjoy. :-)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Summer Scent

If you have any sort of shady spot, plant a Stephanotis vine! Mine is not in the ground yet as you'd know if you've been following along. My ground is almost ready for planting if the darn weather would cool down! My Stephanotis is in a 15 gal. can with a metal trellis leaning against the house. Stephanotis has glossy green foliage, grows about 20ft and blooms fragrant waxy white flowers in summer. I have been told that they were often used in bridal bouquets.

A few nights ago(back before this blowtorch weather) I was washing dinner dishes with the kitchen window open and the wonderful wafting scent of Stephanotis did waft itself inside to me. It smelled so good! I mentioned to Rick how I love being able to open the kitchen window.

I should explain. When we bought this house a year ago, there was one of those pop out garden windows in the kitchen. What a waste of space! It was so impractical! You can't put plants in it or they'll fry like an ant under a magnifying glass! I'm not the best cook and when I seared pork loin roast it made the kitchen smokey! But I couldn't open a window!!! So, about 6 months ago I had a friend rip out that garden window and replace it with a regular double hung window, that opens! So now I can let the smoke out and the flower fragrance in!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sweet Pea Time!

I just planted my Sweet Pea seeds.  Thought you'd want to know :-)  Sweet Peas are the only annual(I know) that takes 6 months or more to flower from seed.  That is WAY too long!   But we HAVE to wait if we want them!  Other flowers for instance Marigolds are about 60 days from sprout to flower.   So, plant them soon as the time is NOW!  I love Sweet Peas and they always remind me of my Grandmother.  Come Spring, we'll all have wonderfully fragrant bouquets of them.

And since you're here, I'd thought I'd share my most favorite tool.  It's called a "planter" and is not often found in garden centers or nurseries.  I take it to every job.   It has a round pointed end like an inverted shovel on one side and a pointed end like a pick on the other.  It is much easier to use this in the overhand direction like a hammer than it is to use a trowel(which I DO NOT own!) in the underhand awkward direction.  I  use it for planting bedding plants, bulbs, weeding and more.  And the pick side is good for digging around bulbs that you don't want to slice.  The metal does wear down.  Where does it go?  And the wooden handle may break.  But it's super useful if kept with care.   Happy September!

Monday, August 29, 2011


Maybe Phlox is common in the Midwest or East. But in SoCal it is rarely seen. Maybe that's why I love mine so much! This white flowered sweetly scented herbaceous perennial is called Phlox paniculata 'David'. I used to have a client named Betty Wall who would mail order plants often. She liked her plants tidy and small so I was always dividing her Iris, Asters, Mums, Phlox, etc. And she'd let me take some home. I got this Phlox from her. I've read that some Phlox are tempermental and mildew prone. P. David is super easy and disease free. It comes into flower on 12-14" stems in August. Each stem then begins to look like the flowers are spent. But in a week or so a second set of blooms come from that same stem. In winter the stems turn brown and need to be cut to the ground. In Spring new growth starts low. And when summer rolls around again so do the blooms. My client Betty Wall died about 4 years ago. I still think of her and smile when I see this Phlox in bloom. I can't wait to plant it in the ground in Oct when my garden is ready and look forward to dividing it to make more in a year or so.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Wildlife

Just wanted to share a photo of a beautiful dragonfly. This guy was seen in a backyard in Altadena. The wings are so sheer you almost can't see them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

August Dislikes

Eastern or Northern gardeners who have a shorter gardening season may love August.  In SoCal, I HATE August! I work out in it and have to get up super early to beat the heat. Then I'm stuck home indoors in the afternoon and can barely water my roses let alone deadhead them!  But we have been pretty lucky this year with no August temps in the 100º area.  

There are 2 things that occur here in August besides the icky heat; Naked Lady bulbs bloom and fig beetles  are around.   Both are beautiful.  One is super annoying.  Naked Lady is the Amaryllis belladonna flowering bulb.   It looks like a regular (Christmas or Spring blooming)Amaryllis but puts out it's leaves in the cool weather, sheds them when the weather warms and then blooms without foliage in August.  Hence the "Naked" part of its name.  

The Fig beetle or fruit beetle is not really that bad because it doesn't do damage to flowers like the smaller Japanese beetle of the midwest and east. The huge and disgusting grubs that are it's larval state do eat things underground but not terribly that you'd notice damage above ground. This beetle is about an inch long when it's wings are closed and about 3 inches long when it's wings are out.  It flies rather awkwardly like it's too heavy to  be airborne.  It bumps and bonks into things and makes a sort of electrical sound sometimes.  And to bare all here, I have an irrational fear of them.   I can hear them coming and my instinct is to hide behind whoever is nearest.  I think it stems from a long ago trauma that no man can understand(and they will taunt me with them if they can).  Once while driving along the 605 freeway near Norwalk about 20 years ago in my old VW Bug with no air conditioning and the windows down, one flew into my car.   I freaked out and had to exit the freeway and open the doors and get out as fast as possible. I can't even remember how I got the beetle out of my car.  It was horrible and I hate to relive it even while typing.

4 houses ago when I lived in a little rented house in Monrovia, I had no dryer. The back yard had a fig tree, a persimmon tree and a black walnut tree. The beetles would circle the walnut tree all day.   I would do laundry as early as I could and hang my clothes on the line.  Then I had to wait until dusk or dark to take down my clothes because the beetle was not flying then.  Needless to say, all my clothes were faded.   That backyard also had oodles of Naked Lady bulbs that flowered every year at the SAME TIME AS THE BEETLES WERE OUT!  So, I can't really like Naked Lady flowers because it's all tied together in the trauma that is in my head.

You'd think after all this time working outdoors that I would not be afraid of this stupid beetle any longer. That is not the case :-( And I anxiously look forward to September every time August rolls around.   But on a positive note, every day I get through August is one less August day I must endure :-) Come ON September!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Pentas is a wonderful plant. It comes in many colors from red to pink, lavender and white.   My pink one and my red one I grew from cuttings.  This pink one is my second as my previous one was too old and when I went to de-pot it(from it's whiskey barrel), it had hardly any roots and I had to chuck it :-(  But I got a new one :-)  The hummingbirds love them.  The plants take full sun to part shade.  I have mine on an east side but at our old house I had them on the north side.  The pink and red ones grow to about 4 feet.  My white one stays compact to only 2 feet.   Nurseries used to carry all kinds of Pentas.  Most that you'll find now are the lower growing varieties.  But I love the taller ones as they fill in a space better and the hummingbirds will be safer away from the ground and cats.  They are all frost tender and they bloom almost constantly!  How many plants do that?  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Another Urn

I guess I'm into urns now as I recently found another one. This is small, fiberglass and about 12" tall and purchased at Home Depot for $15.00. I planted it with a miniature Ivy Geranium called Gay Baby. It gets tiny white flowers. Let's hope I can keep it looking good until the next Geranium show in May. Thanks for the idea from my friend Joe who showed a Gay Baby in a fancy footed pot 2 years ago.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Beautiful Tree

On of my favorite tees is blooming now in the Southland.  It is Eucalyptus ficifolia. The Latin for the species means leaves like a Ficus as you can see it's leaves are very green instead of the more common Eucalyptus grey. "They" recently changed the name to Corymbia ficifolia. Oh, I HATE that and refuse to call it that. It will always be a Ecualyptus to me.  The flowers are exactly like all other Eucs.  And like other Eucs, this tree is native to Australia.  Australian plants grow very well in the Los Angeles area as well as all of SoCal because we have a similar Mediterranean climate with only Winter and Spring rains.  The flowers range from white to coral to orange to cherry red and orange red.  I love the orange and red ones.

 This tree grows to about 25' which is small for a tree compared to the Eucalyptus citriodora(Lemon Gum) which grows to about 70'!    I have seen E. ficifolia grown as street trees in Glendale, parts of LA, Pasadena and Altadena.   I would LOVE to have one for my yard.  But I NEVER see them in nurseries. They are said to only flower after about 7 years.  So you won't know what color flower you'll get!  Ugh! :-(  I guess I will just have to enjoy them when I see them while driving.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Purple Foliage

I love foliage that's other than green because 90% out there is green! Burgundy, red, pink and variegated leaves are beautiful! And colorful foliage makes all the green around it look good too.   Here's a plant with gorgeous purple leaves. It's Strobilanthes or Persian Shield. It likes partial shade and dislikes frost. That is why I'm on my 3rd or so plant. We don't get frost every year just every 4 or 5 years. Strobilanthes will grow about 2-3 feet tall. It takes to pinching nicely otherwise the branches get long and lay down. And a bushy plant shows more leaves. And who doesn't want to see more of these beauties?