Friday, August 30, 2013

The Dog Days Of Summer

I haven't posted in awhile or so because we finally got to the "Dog Days" of summer.  That includes temps up to 105º!  I spend my precious mornings working in other people's gardens.  Gotta make a living.  When I get home it's too freakin' hot to go outside!  I wait to hand water my whole yard(takes me 1 1/2 hrs) until evening.  This means I can't really do anything in my own garden but water!

What is blooming its head off in my backyard vegetable garden is Garlic Chives.  It was supposed to be regular Chives, the tag said.  But regular Chives have pink flowers and don't grow as big.  I am not the best cook.  But I do cut these leaves and use them in sauce for dipping potstickers/Chinese dumplings.  This plant is about 1 foot across and the flowers are about 1 1/2 feet tall.

And you can see the female praying mantis below that I found while watering this evening(and the fried rose blooms behind it).  I see them most days in my clients gardens. But I've only seen 2 in my garden.

If you enjoy my blog or have a question please comment!  It's super easy to register.  And then I'll know that people read this. Thanks for visiting.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Before this year, I hadn't grown Coleus in about 15 years. I had terrible luck with them back then. They got botrytis(which is a furry fungus you might have seen on old fruit) and turned icky enough to yank the plant. So I thought I couldn't grow them. That was when I was gardening in containers because we rented. Now that we have our own house and garden(3rd anniversary already here 2 weeks ago) I thought I'd give them another go.

Research shows "Coleus" is now a common name. The latin name is Solenostemon scutellarioides.  That's a long one! And usually I am fanatical about using botanical names, but Coleus will have to stay for me! They're native to Southeast Asia and Malaysia.  Here in SoCal they do best in part shade. I planted mine on the east side of the house under our huge Deodor Cedar tree and by our porch. You can also see my bottle border in this first photo.

I love burgandy and purple foliage because it shows up so well amongst everything green.   There are SO Many different types and colors of Coleus.  There are ones with pink, orange, red and combos and fluffy edges and stripes, golden with green in the leaves.   I was limited by what I found in my local nurseries.  And I was skeptical so I only tried a few.  I was looking for one in particular that I saw this Spring at the South Coast Plaza Garden Show that was green with purple veins. So gorgeous, but they didn't have it for sale and I couldn't find it.  Maybe next year!  

 I adore ORANGE and had to have this Coleus.  It's so pretty in the garden!   Coleus get tall and leggy.  Like Basil, Fuchsias, Iresine and Chrysanthemums, often pinching will produce a bushier leafy plant .  If you don't know, "pinching" is pruning with your nails instead of clippers.  The tender new growth is super easy to "pinch".  I actually think it's fun.

They have been wonderful!  Watch out for snails and slugs as they can be damaging to the plants.  With my sandy soil I haven't seen ANY of them.  The plants probably won't make it through the winter.  But one never knows. I have an Impatiens that I've had in a pot for several years.  

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blue Succulent

 This is a beautiful blue succulent from South Africa(where so many wonderful plants originate) called Senecio mandraliscae.  It's sometimes called "Blue Fingers" because that's what it looks like. It grows about 1- 2 feet tall and about 3-4 feet wide.  I adore blue foliage because it is such a pretty contrast to everything else that is green. And 90% of plants are green.   

I had one pot of it when we moved.  I separated it into about 6 pieces and that had roots and a few that that were just cuttings. Succulents are so easy to grow from cuttings.  You just cut off a piece of the plant, remove about 2-3 inches of the lower leaves and stick the stem in the ground. Water a bit and there ya go!   The plant will grow.  I planted them around the edge of my front garden by the street as we don't have sidewalks. In about 1, 1/2 years they are about 2-3 feet across already!   

This plant takes full sun. It is drought tolerant when established but will tolerate water too.  In our super sandy soil they have been very happy.  

They started to flower.  But in my opinion, this plant is better grown for it's foliage than it's flowers.  As you can see in the photo below, the flowers just make it look kind of messy.  

So I have been cutting off all the flowers to make a nice tidy plant.     What do you think, flowers or no flowers?  Let me know.  

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pink Angel's Trumpet

I was very happy to catch this moment in a photo. This is an Angel's Trumpet or Brugmansia suaveolens. While the common variety, my white one blooms freely and for many days, this pink variety blooms only briefly. I got this plant from a friend when she moved to a colder climate so I don't know which variety it is. Research shows there to be many different pinks.

Brugmansia are native to South America and all parts of the plant are poisonous. I don't think it's dangerous to grow toxic plants. It's just good to know not to eat them.

Because it is native to tropical climates, it is frost tender. In the Los Angeles area this winter we had several bouts of extreme cold. I missed the first night and woke up to burned leaf edges. I covered the plants with sheets the next few nights. It was amazing how quickly they recovered. About a month later we had severe hail that shredded the foliage. Again the plants recovered.

Angel's Trumpets come in white, pink and yellow. Fast growing in sun or shade, it is a wonderful plant.