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! 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Kooky Colored Flowers

I've long loved flowers with kooky strange colors. Don't get me wrong.  I adore red and orange and pink and green and blue and yellow too.  But they're everywhere.  I enjoy a flower that looks different from everything else. I bought this Salvia lanceleolata at  The Huntington Library & Gardens a couple years ago.  It's got silver gray foliage. And "lanceolata" means it's got leaves "in the shape of a spear".  I love my "Latin For Gardeners" book.  Find it at amazon here Latin For Gardeners  If you know a little Latin language, it describes the plant. And you'll understand better.

But the best part of the plant is the weird flowers.  They start with what looks like a pink flower within an orange lower. You know how Poinsettias have bracts?  The red part is not the flower but the bract. The little white part is the actual flower. Bougainvillea has similar bracts and flowers.  When the pink flower or corola falls off you are left with what looks kind of bronzy orange bract or calyx.

How they begin
How they end
After some of the pink parts drop off you get what looks like pink AND orange on the plant.   The combo with the contrasting gray foliage is striking! 

 The plant grows about 2- 3 feet tall and wide.  It thrives in full sun with good drainage like most Salvia.  And OF COURSE it is native to South Africa as ALL THE COOL PLANTS ARE!  It is said to bloom in Spring and Summer.  But mine seems to be blooming most of the year.  The only time I cut it back was a little away from another plant.
Was really difficult to photograph. You almost can't see the flowers. 

Sometimes the flowers match the dirt. 

Do you grow any kooky colored flowers?  
Happy Gardening! 

Saturday, July 1, 2017


I've probably posted about this plant before. But every summer Tithonia looks so amazing in my garden that I have to share. I first saw this plant in my friend Loren Zeldin's garden just a few years ago. Why I didn't know about it before that is beyond me. I left his garden, went straight to a nursery(that is now gone) and was thrilled to find the seeds.  This year I mail ordered them from Baker Creek Seeds.  They have tons of interesting seeds. 

Tithonia rotundifolia is native to Mexico and the Southern United States and is also called Mexican Sunflower. Plant Tithonia when you would Zinnia and Tomato seeds around March or April. I start them in 4" pots because then I still have cool season plants(Poppies) taking up space in the garden. When the seedlings have grown up a bit it's usually time to rip out the poppies and plant the summer stuff. I even had a few seedlings come up from last year. Now they are 3-4' tall and popping with flowers. Butterflies and hummingbirds love them. I love them too.

The leaves of a young plant look like Paper Mulberry.


Happy Gardening! 

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Are you growing Zinnias? They're so easy from seed. And there are many varieties to grow. My new favorite is Zinnia Queen Lime. I adore that chartreuse color. I always love green flowers and kooky colored flowers. I'm also growing Carousel, Pink Señorita and Queen Lime Red(which just looks kinda muddy and I'm not including it's pic) and some pink ones that I must not have kept the packet.

Zinnia Queen Lime
Zinnia Carousel

Zinnia Pink Señorita

Zinnias are annuals that like full sun. They're started in Spring from seed and grow during the warm months possibly into Autumn. They are native to the Southwestern United States into South America. They like my sandy soil and blazing sun. Try them if you haven't.

Friday, May 19, 2017


I fell in love with Iochroma a few years ago. Say EYE-oh-chrome-uh. One of my clients grew the purple one. Then I saw it again in a friend's garden. It is a large shrub native to South American forests. I've seen them grow to 8' tall. They take to pruning well and can be kept around 6'. Research says they only grow outdoors in mild zones 8- 10. In SoCal inland we are zone 9. They are not frost hardy. But I haven't seen damage here. We had frost last year it not this year because if all the rain.

Iochroma is in the Nightshade family of Solanaceae which includes tomato plants and Brugmansia -Angels Trumpets. They attract hummingbirds and bees.

I searched for it at many local nurseries without luck. I finally mail ordered the purple, blue and red from Logees Nursery. I love the purple and blue. But the red one I'm not so happy about. It has bigger leaves and very small flowers. We'll see. This year I found a pink one that I ordered from Almost Eden Nursery. It came already about 8" tall. I potted it into a 2 gallon can right away and it already bloomed.  It's lovely!

Do you grow Iochroma?

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Star Jasmine Arch

I apologize for the length between posts. Spring is a busy time for most gardeners. In April I attended/worked the San Fernando Valley Iris show and the Pacific Rose Society/PSWD district con/ARS National Mini rose con. The latter was a huge deal. I was in charge of their bus garden tour on Friday and on Sat I exhibited roses, heard speakers, certificate calligraphy, saw a little bit of the show(I did win one trophy for micro mini- Yay!) and banquet.

Tom Thumb, best Micro Miniature rose.

AND I have spent the last two months weeding and getting my own garden ready to be included on the SFV Iris Society's Iris Trek(garden tour) that was last Saturday. Now that all those are over I can almost just enjoy my garden. But there still is the LA Geranium Society show coming up next weekend May 13 & 14 (Mother's Day weekend). If you're in the Los Angeles area, please come to the LA County Arboretum in Arcadia to see the show and shop for plants.  geraniumsociety.org

 Here is my Star Jasmine blooming over the arch & gate to the backyard. It smells so good. I planted it a few years ago and put up that arch maybe 2 years ago. I love how the plant travels overhead. The fragrance wafts through the backyard and the side yard. I wish you could smell it.

What have you been doing in your garden?  I love comments and hardly get any. 
Happy Spring!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Bamboo Succulent Planters

Last summer I had seen a hanging bamboo planter at a nursery that looked so cool that I wanted to make some! I had been collecting succulents for awhile and had a good selection to use. In autumn I got around to asking my friend Louise who works at The Huntington Library & Botanic Gardens for two big pieces of bamboo. Thanks Louise!  It's good to know people who work at botanic gardens :-) One was so big and heavy I had to cut it right then and there to make it fit in my truck. Good thing I had a little folding saw in my work basket.  I hauled them home. A few weeks later I cut them into varying sizes on the segments. Rick helped me by cutting out the top for planting and drilling holes for hanging. Filled with cactus mix I then planted them with succulents, some were cuttings and some were rooted. I scrounged nylon string for hanging that I found at a job that was trash.  I sold a few at the SoCal Horticulture December meeting and gave some as Christmas gifts. What was left I found places to hang here at our house. 

These two I hung from the roof on the bare wall of the garage. They'd probably look better hanging from chain. But that hasn't happened yet.

The little one hangs below our mailbox by the front door.

These two are hanging on the little chain link fence next to the unattractive AC unit in the backyard.

I think they'll just get better when the succulents grow and cascade. Yay for upcycling!

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Happy Spring!

Spring is here in SoCal. Roses are soon to pop, many of my bulbs are blooming and our Tangerine tree has a carpet of flowers beneath. But I wanted to share this Pelargonium cordifolium blooming today. It's a big plant, almost 5 feet tall. Cordifolium or any Latin with "cord" in it means heart-shaped. And the leaves of this plant are heart shaped.

Happy Gardening!

Friday, February 24, 2017


Today I potted up seeds. It's almost March and things are getting going! I like to start them in pots first because they might get lost in the garden.  I recommend writing out tags to identify what's planted in each pot so you'll know what they are and where to plant them.  

 I started 4 kinds of Zinnias. They are all tall varieties. I can't wait to see those Queen Lime Red ones! Amaranthus did so well last year that I started them again. I've grown Tithonia for several years so those went into pots too. I've been hunting for Euphorbia Snow On The Mountain for a couple years. Finally found it from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Last year I saw red/burgundy/pink tall Queen Anne's Lace in the herb garden at The Huntington. They were AMAZING! Baker Creek had them too. Yay! I hope they all grow! What seeds are you starting?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Sweet Peas

While I'm home again from work because of more rain, I thought I'd share my Sweet Peas with you. This is the first year that I can remember having them bloom in February! Maybe it's because I was good and planted the seeds in September. Or maybe it's all this rain we've had. Today's storm is supposed to be brutal. Glad I went out and cut these. I planted about 5 varieties. The special seeds I bought in England at the Chelsea Flower show haven't bloomed yet. I hope they will soon. Are you growing Sweet Peas?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Sweet Fragrance

Sorry for the lack of posts. I've been busy with rose pruning jobs in others gardens and watching the weeds grow in the rain in my own garden.

My Sweet Olive plant was doing poorly. I only noticed it today because I could smell it walking by on my way to the front yard to do more rose pruning(& weeding). The fragrance is spectacular even if the tiny flowers are not. Funny common name given that the plant is not an Olive at all. Osmanthus fragrans is a tall growing shrub native to Asia. I think the flowers smell like apricots. An evergreen shrub or small tree it grows to about 10' tall in full sun or part shade. Slow to start I never plant them in one gallons. They'll just sit there too long. I always start with a five gallon size.

 If you don't grow Osmanthus fragrans, you should!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Winter Vegetables

I was pruning roses at a job in drizzle today when I noticed their sad tomato vegetable beds with nothing in them! If you're in SoCal, know that this is a great time to grow winter vegetables! What you say, you can grow veggies in winter? Yes you can! I grow a ton of lettuce and spinach this time of year. I grew Kale last year too but seem to have forgotten about it this year.   You can also grow peas, onions, garlic, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts and probably more that I've forgotten!  I have trouble with the brassica family though as they tend to get aphids. But I am a big salad girl. So I love to grow lettuce! I started my seeds back in November. But you can still start some now or set out transplants from 6-packs or 4" pots from the nursery.

I adore red leaf lettuce but it seems to not grow as well as the others for me. You can see what few there are in the top of this bed.  I don't grow peas because I love Sweet pea flowers so much that they have the trellis spot taken.  You can see them in the upper right.   There are also green onions(also called bunching onions) that are perennial(unless you pull them) in the upper bed with spinach. I have some older big ones and some tiny new ones. I've also grown yellow and white onions and garlic in these beds. But they take SO long and are hard to dry. One year I dug them all out and set them on flats to dry. And they still rotted. If you've ever smelled rotting onions, you won't soon forget. And that smell gets on your hands and doesn't wash off.

 I love not having to buy lettuce for about 3-4 months! I've been harvesting for about a month.  I prefer to grow "Leaf" lettuce rather than "Head" lettuce because you can keep picking leaves for salads the whole time. If you grow head lettuce you have to wait until the head is done to harvest. It's a one shot deal.  Leaf lettuce keeps on giving.  I'll be able to keep these going until it gets hot again, maybe by May depending on the weather.  And they're loving all this rain we're having!  

I have had trouble getting spinach to germinate from seed. This time I bought 4 9-packs of plants and set them out so I would have a lot.  You can see a little bug damage. They're not perfect.  
I saw some purple Kale in the grocery store yesterday. It was really beautiful.  I think I might plant some of that too.

Happy winter gardening!