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.