Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sweet Groundcover

I've been in the Los Angeles Geranium Society for about 20 years so you know I love Geraniums and Pelargoniums. 

Here is a species Geranium unlike most of the fancy hybrids everybody grows. Pelargonium ionidiflorum is a ground cover that blooms most of the year. Say "EYE-oh-NID-i-flor-UM".  Latin is easy.  it grows about 3' wide and only about 3" tall. The magenta pink flowers bloom best in full sun. I have several plants in the ground on the south side of my house in blazing sun all day. Annie's Annuals talks about growing it in a hanging basket.  I think it does better in the ground.  In the spring of this year my plants were almost covered in flowers.   Still it blooms in August as well but maybe not as much.  

The species name ionidiflorum comes from the Greek word, ion, which means 'violet color', and the Latin word florum, meaning 'flower'. And of course it comes from South Africa, from where all the cool plants hail.

You can find this plant at many nurseries. Buy one, grow it for awhile and then divide it to spread it around your garden.

See how small the flowers are with my dirty fingers 

Happy Gardening! 

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Special Tree

If you've been following along, you'll know that in February of 2018 we had to have our probably-as-old-as-our-house Cedar tree removed because it kept getting browner and browner. We were heartbroken to lose that tree. Read my 2018 post here Lost Tree.  But I think that a true gardener will mourn the loss of a plant and then start planning what plant could go in its place.

BEFORE we lost the Cedar tree I was exploring my local under the power lines nursery that shall remain nameless. I was poking around and found a couple 15 gallon trees hidden between some Magnolia soulangeana. I thought it was Michelia champaca. I was excited but had to ask. The employee there who knows me asked his boss and confirmed. I had seen this tree available in another nursery for $250 or tiny trees mailordered for $40. They are desirable because from their fragrant flowers Joy perfume is made. Back at my local nursery I asked to be able to buy one tree. They said no, that they were growing them up for larger containers. I begged and the boss relented and sold me one for $85.00. I brought it home and kept it in its pot in the backyard for 6 months.

So, this is the tree that I planted in our front yard where our Cedar tree was. Michelia champaca is related to the Magnolia. It grows only in warm climates and is native to tropical Asia. There are some of the white version at my beloved Disneyland's Haunted Mansion in Anaheim. And actually the people who name plants recently changed the name from Michelia champaca to Magnolia champaca.  They must have decided they were more than just related.  But I hate it when they change names.  


Research says that the tree should grow to about 30' tall and blooms in summer. I've been giving it extra water after that blowtorch weather of 114 we had last year on July 6, 2018. That weather fried some of the top growth. It recovered so I was excited to see its first flower this week. Yay!

Enjoy your summer.  I just try to stay cool, keep from getting heatstroke and keep my garden watered.  Bring on Autumn! 
Happy Gardening!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Snow On The Mountain

Here is a super easy plant that is hard to find. Snow On The Mountain or Euphorbia marginata. One doesn't see it that often and never in nurseries. I hunted for several years after seeing it in a clients garden without luck. I finally found seed and mail ordered it from Baker Creek Seeds. But they don't seem to have it now.  

Like the Pointsettia which is closely related, the flower is the tiny white part not the colorful part. The white and green are actually leaves. I love this plant for contrast and the illusion of light in the garden.

It's an annual that likes warm weather and is native to temperate North America. Set out seeds in Spring, water and stand back. There's nothing to it really. I even had some reseed from last year. They grow to 2-3' tall and like full sun to part shade.

You should try them! Happy Summer Solstice and Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Here is a wonderful plant that I love. It's Tithonia rotundifolia or Mexican Sunflower. This one came up by itself in my vegetable bed from last years plant. I grow it from seed, available at nurseries by Botanical Interests. The flower is about 3" across and attracts butterflies. 

This one came up by itself in my vegetable bed from last years plant. They like heat and sun and grow 2-3 feet tall. 

And they make good cut flowers. 

 The plants will last until frost with a little deadheading. I just bought a packet to sow more in the front yard. Do you grow it? I've only ever seen it in ONE friend's garden.

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019


Here is a strange plant. Strange in that it comes up in one place, grows for awhile, dies, comes up in another place but never goes crazy. Lychnis coronaria is native to Asia and Europe. It has felty gray leaves and comes in shades of pink and white. Thank goodness I got the magenta one because white flowers and gray foliage just does not do it for me! I love the contrast of the bright colored flowers and the gray foliage. A friend gave me the plant about 5 or 6 years ago. It has moved all over my front garden. The leaves grow about 8" tall. Add the flowers and the whole thing becomes 2' tall.

Let's see where it comes up next?
Happy Gardening!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Yellow Ornithagalum

Sorry I've neglected you. Spring is crazy busy. In April there was the Iris Show, the Iris Trek, the Rose Society Show & district convention. Then this month there was the Geranium show, Mother's Day AND we took a little trip to El Paso, Tx and Carlsbad Caverns, NM. So in my garden there is a lot of work needed! The irony of a fabulous spring bloom from lots of rain is all the deadheading needed afterwards! I still have lots in bloom but also lots of work.

So I just wanted to slip in a little update with a little bulb blooming here, Ornithagalum dubium yellow. It's so cute. Most times you see the white. I also have orange but they're getting swallowed up by a bigger plant.

This is a bulb from South Africa(as most cool plants are) that blooms in Spring here in my zone 9. What's nice about it that it blooms when all my other bulbs(Sparaxis, Honeria, Gladiolus) are done. So yay here comes a little pop of bright yellow! The flowers come up only about 8-10".

Happy Spring! Happy gardening! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Vine With Cute Flowers

I saw this vine blooming at San Gabriel Nursery about 2 years ago and thought it was super cute. Aphanopetalum "Gossamer Wings" has pale yellow greenish flowers and glossy leaves. Say "AF-an-O-pet-uh-lum". I had never seen it before, not in anyone's yard, at any Botanic Garden, nor at any other nursery. I thought about it for a few months. That Fall, I bought a one gallon plant and planted it in my garden on a birch branch teepee. 

It is from Australia and said to like shade or part sun. I planted it on the east side of our house. It got some shade from our big Cedar tree. Well, if you have been reading awhile, you know that unfortunately we had to remove that big tree last February. I think the vine has been in for about 2 years and it looks great this year despite the extra sun it receives now. San Marcos Growers says it will only grow 2-6' and that it is drought tolerant. 

My teepee looks a little wonky. But the plant is doing very well. And the flowers are so cute I can barely stand it. It's been blooming for about a month.

 Happy Gardening!

Saturday, March 30, 2019


I still love this plant. Hermannia verticilata or Honeybells. It's flowers are so cute that I can barely stand it! I got it at The Huntington Library & Gardens plant sale about 5 years ago. I've never seen it available at another nursery.  Every spring it gets covered in the cutest little 1/2" yellow bell flowers. It is said to be fragrant but I don't smell anything. But who can tell when citrus trees and jasmine perfume the air right now! 

It's from South Africa of course, as all the interesting plants are. I grow it on the east side of our house in a small slightly raised bed next to the path to our door. It only gets about 18" high and maybe 3' across.  It can take full sun to part shade. 

Have you grown this plant?  I'd love to read your comments.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sweet Peas!

I love Sweet Peas!  I think I must post about them every year when they are in bloom.  Why? Because they are awesome, fragrant and the wait is so long for them here in SoCal!  Plant the seeds in Oct and you will have blooms in Spring.  Or for me this year with all the rain we've had, my first blooms were in February! You read it correctly! FEBRUARY!   Crazy, right?  I used to plant them in our backyard along my permanent fence for climbing things in one of my three raised beds.  Last Fall, I found some rebar and we curved them and made a tunnel between two of the raised beds. I planted Sweet Peas on both sides of the beds to go up the rebar.   And I planted them on their usual fence spot too.  One can't have too many Sweet Peas(unless they're coming up all over your yard in the wrong places like someone I know) 

They are maybe 8' tall and above the fence here.

So far only 3 varieties have bloomed.  I'm pretty sure I planted more than that.  But I'll have to wait and see. And I did not keep those empty seed packets.  I'm guessing that like many other plants, they are early mid and late blooming varieties. 

It's odd that the ones planted on the fence have bloomed taller than the fence.  But the ones planted along the rebar where they have more height to grow up are shorter.  What's up with that?  

Here I am in between the rebar with the Sweet Peas.  
Are you growing them? I'd love to read your comments.  
Happy Gardening! 

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Weed or Not?

This one is called Oxalis purpurea Garnet. I got it from a friend many years ago. I love the compliment of burgundy foliage and pink flowers. 

It's a bulb that comes up in the cool weather and blooms. Then it dies back when it gets hot. It originates from South Africa(as many of my favorite plants do). 

This is what it looked like this morning at 7:30AM when it was 37º.  Brr.  But Oxalis just shakes it off. 

Do you grow the desirable Oxalis or the weedy Oxalis?  I grow both unfortunately. 

Happy Gardening! 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rain & Another Orange Vine

Ahoy plant lovers! Sorry I've been absent for awhile. January is all work work work rose pruning jobs. And even though it's not an El Niño year it sure feels like it with all the rain we've had setting me back so much. But with lots of rain makes a good spring bloom! I finally finished pruning my own rose bushes just a couple days ago. I weeded along the way.  But there is still so much more weeding to do.  And the rain keeps bringing more weeds.  So, it's good and bad.  

Yesterday in drizzle after a postponed job I was out in my garden putting alfalfa and Epsom salts on all my roses(a handful of each on the soil next to the plant). So I'm super glad it poured rain overnight and this morning to water it in. It's always tricky getting nature to work for you. Put out food and hope it rains. If it doesn't, the fertilizer could burn the plants. So yay! 

So between rain showers I noticed that my Pandorea Golden Showers burst until bloom! Yay! I love orange flowers. I forget where I first saw this plant. But I hunted for it and always found it super expensive. Then I took cuttings from a friend and they didn't take. Then I finally found it at a decent price. It's only been in the ground for maybe 2 years. As you can see it's kinda sparse growing up one of my rebar arches. But the flowers are so pretty. The common Pandorea is pink. So, orange is special. 

Happy Gardening!