Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Rose Pruning Begins

 Today I began my rose pruning jobs.  If you've been following along, you know that this is my busiest time of year(yay!).   Every year I prune about 2500 rose bushes between the last week of Dec(a few of my clients want it early) and the end of Feb. Last year I was still pruning in March!  And these are not just whack whack jobs!  I prune correctly above a bud eye facing outward on every plant!

For those who don't know, we prune roses to:
1.  Get rid of diseases
2.  To make the plant a manageable size.  
3.  To encourage new growth because roses bloom on new growth. 

Thought I'd share today's before & after photos at a job in Arcadia.  Granted that these are scrawny because of too much shade. But this bed holds 93 plants. 

Watch my progress this season as I post my weekly pruning numbers. 

Happy gardening! 

Monday, December 29, 2014

New Plant

In my experience I've found that you should buy the unusual plant when you see it. If I don't, I'll end up pining for it and then it won't be available next time

I was at San Gabriel Nursery today and found this unusual Heather, Erica speciosa. It is from South Africa, wanting mostly sun and well-drained soil. Yay! Hopefully it will like my super sandy soil. I love that red with the green edge! I bet the hummingbirds will love it too!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

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Just a small bouquet of flowers to wish you all a Merry Christmas from my garden to yours. The roses are Robin Alonso with white Tulbaghia fragrans, Gomphrena Fireworks and Eucalyptus. Happy holidays to you all and thanks for following my little garden blog.

Friday, December 12, 2014

December Tiny Bouquet

At last nights SoCal Hort meeting there was a Holiday Arrangement competition. I didn't have a lot blooming since my Mums are almost spent. But I did have two micro miniature roses; Jolly Cupido (red& white) and Cinderella(palest pink). I added some sprigs of variegated Myrtle and put them in a tiny antique bottle. The whole thing is about 3". I joked that you'd need binoculars to see my entry. I tied for the win with another woman. We split the prize basket of wine, sake, chocolate, cheese, etc. I let her have the book The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart because I already own it. Yay!

Do you grow tiny micro mini roses? You should. They're way too adorable an great for tiny bouquets. This is now on my skinny kitchen windowsill.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

More Wine Bottle Edging

Sorry that I haven't posted in a month. There seemed to be nothing new.

Yesterday I added more wine bottles to the south side of our north walkway. We live on a corner and have 2 ways to get to the front door. The soil and water was rushing off when I hand water(as I do the whole yard). My friends have been saving wine bottles for me.

I finally bought some annuals for the border. I'm late because it was hot in Oct, we went on vacation in Nov, some of the Profusion Zinnias still looked good and I had no money. With a little money I bought 2 flats of orange Calendulas. But I had to fix the edging first.

It'll hold the soil for awhile and I think looks pretty. The Calendulas will begin blooming soon

The cobalt blue bottle is my favorite Moscato. I did drink that one :-)


Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Sorry I've been gone for a few weeks. Vacation. First there's planning the vacation, then the vacation, then the recovery from vacation and then the photoshopping of over 1000 pictures.

Today's awesome plant is Agastache "Summer Fiesta". I bought a pink one back in June and it bloomed ALL summer long! So a few weeks ago I saw this coral orangey one and thought I'd try more. And hummingbirds love it. I have no hummingbird feeders but many flowering plants they like.

It's a perennial native to Mexico or Asia(lots of Agastache on the internet). Supposed to bloom in summer but we're still having 70's here. Likes full sun and well drained soil once established. It should like my sandy soil here. I love the color!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Seed Time

The weather has finally cooled down enough to plant cool weather vegetables. It's still warm in the day but quite a bit cooler at night and that makes a big difference. Last week I planted lots of Onions from Onion sets(small bulbs), Garlic and Sweet Pea seeds. So this morning I yanked the Basil and planted more seeds; a bunch of Lettuce, Green Onions, Radishes, Turnips, Kale and Parsnips. I still have Nasturtium seeds to plant all over my front yard between my roses and perennials. I had no luck with Spinach seeds last year so I'm trying to find them as small plants. I saved a spot for them. Now I just need to figure out what to do with Parsnips before they grow. Have you planted winter vegetables?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Tree?

While shopping at Trader Joes today I succumbed to some Autumn decorations called "Pumpkin Tree Branches". They are so pretty that I had to buy some! The branches are really thick that they do seem like tree branches hence the common name. Research says that this plant is actually an Eggplant from Africa! Solanum integrifolium, is its Latin name is also in the Tomato family. I don't know if I could grow it. Maybe next year.  But Park Seed sells the seeds! Happy Autumn!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Most roses and citrus you buy or already are growing in your yard are grafted. Grafting into a different rootstock makes the plant hardier. But you have to watch for suckers. That is a part of the rootstock that grows from below the graft. It's usually right out of the ground or on the trunk low to the soil. If you know you plants well, you'll notice when something looks different. On a rose it is usually Dr. Huey rootstock which is a once (Spring) blooming magenta semi-double climber. You'll see spindly growth with smaller leaves that grow fast and usually get taller than your named/purchased/desirable rose. On a Citrus, it's thick branches with super wicked thorns. On both species it is important to remove those suckers either by cutting or breaking. If you do not, the rootstock may become so vigorous that the grafted part of the plant will die.

Get to know your plants. Happy Autumn!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

What's Blooming

Just wanted to share what I'm taking for show & tell to tonights SoCal Horticulture meeting. In a cool retro container I got from the late Grace Seward are: Gomphrena "Fireworks" that has been blooming all summer, an Orange Gomphrena, Coral Vine Antigonon leptopus (that I posted about recently) and Hypoestes aristata.

My roses look kinda crappy because of so much heat. But these other flowering plants look great! I love always having something in bloom!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Orchid Surgery

Every so often I get a call to divide Cymbidium Orchids. I'm no orchid expert. But Cymbidiums are usually fairly easy. They do like to be crowded. But when they get so much dead growth and are climbing out of their pot, it's time to divide. You can make more plants to keep or give away.

I pull the plant out of the pot and rip it apart! This one was so big and root bound that I needed to use my shovel to slice the middle of the roots. Then I butterflied it, open,  ripped out the dead stuff and made one plant into three.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


I've been noticing all the beautiful Vincas or Periwinkle growing around here lately. They like our summer heat.   

Research says that they are native to Europe, NW Africa and SW Asia.  The purple ones in the photo look a lot like Impatiens. But the leaf tells you it's a Vinca.  Vinca and Periwinkle are both common names for the Catharanthus plant which is usually a summer annual.  

I haven't planted them for myself nor at any job in about 18 years!  They used to get this fungus or something where about 25% of them would die pretty quickly.   I couldn't afford to replace so many plants at a job. So I just stopped planting them.  I stuck to Marigolds, Salvia, and Zinnias for summer color.  

But I've heard that there are some new varieties of Vinca that are resistant to that die off.  Some as you see in the photo still die. 

 Vincas used to come in just purple and white.  But I love that peachy color with the dark eye and that cherry red color with the white eye.  I think I'm going to try them next Spring.  How do you do with Vinca? 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Coral Vine

Vines sure can grow like crazy!  I guess that is what they are meant to do in their natural habitat or in the jungle!  This is Coral Vine or Antigonon leptopus.  Say An-TIG-O-non  Lep-TO-pus(easy as Latin names sound like they look).  It is native to Mexico and is listed as an invasive exotic species in Florida. I can imagine it taking over there.   I love the flowers.

Research says it is evergreen.  But I know it to look crappy in winter so it gets cut back hard.  I had one at our old rental house in Arcadia in a whiskey barrel and would let it climb up a Eucalyptus tree.  But the whole thing was too big to fit in our large(the largest) moving truck.  So, I left it with my neighbor.   Then I hunted nurseries here in Burbank(only 23 miles away) for 2 years unsuccessfully.  I finally mail ordered a tiny 4" pot of it.  I wasn't sure where to plant it, just knew that I needed it :-)  So I planted it on the birch teepee in the front yard on which I also have a climbing rose called Bouquet Parfait.

You can barely see the teepee.  There are 3 legs.  

 The first year it grew about 4 feet and still got cut back in winter. This year it is almost smothering the rose.  It grew so big that I tied a rope from the teepee to the house roof to give it somewhere to go.  It DID!  It has reached the roof about 15 feet away!  My Rick is not too happy about it reaching the roof.  I was worried a little. But I will dig it up and plant it elsewhere in a few months.  But I am enjoying it's flowers and crazy growth now :-)  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Night Blooming Jasmine

Night Blooming Jasmine is native to Asia and the West Indies.  It grows up to 13' tall, takes sun to part shade and is frost tender. Here in SoCal it might get frost burn in winter(if we have a frost) and look crappy but almost always recovers.  It is a fast grower.  Mine is 2 years old but I've been pruning it to make it bushy. 

Hot August Nights are great for Night Blooming Jasmine which is not even actually a Jasmine but Cestrum nocturnum. But not so much for me.  It has been so hot that we have kept  the AC on until almost bedtime.  That means that I can't open the windows to enjoy the intense fragrance of the one Night Blooming Jasmine plant under our kitchen window.  And we live too close to the freeway to leave our windows open at night.  So I would be happy if the weather would cool down at about 6:00 or 7:00PM please.  Can you do something about that?  Thanks :-)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sunflower Heads

Sunflower head by Aprille

This is one of my Sunflowers that was 10' tall! After the yellow petals drop, the head begins to turn downward. Research says you must wait to cut it to obtain the seeds until the back is brown. If you don't wait the seeds will not loosen easily. IT IS TAKING FOREVER! I'm waiting. I just hope the birds don't get them before I do.

Sunflower leaf by Aprille

I have seen finches eating the leaves. Weird, right? They sit on the tops of the leaves and just eat what's up towards the sun. Those leaves are like 10" across. So 3/4 of them turn downwards. Birds can have the leaves but not the seeds. Are you growing sunflowers?

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Bright Spot In August

Just had to share that my Fair Bianca, a David Austin English rose is blooming today. It is a "bright spot" or shall I say a "cool spot" in these dog days of summer and oh so fragrant! I can't wait until Autumn because I'm so tired of sweating. And as soon as the weather cools ALL my roses will be blooming!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Dog Days Of Summer

We're in the middle of the dog days of summer. We've had it fairly good since there's been no 100 degree temps in a month or so. But it has been in the 90s for weeks. I complain about the weather because I suffer(don't do well) in it for a living. I work in the morning before it gets too hot. In SoCal we have summer from June through October. The other 7 months here are the best for working outdoors.

I just wanted to share a bright spot to these dog days. Here is a reblooming bearded Iris Pure As Gold. If you've been following for awhile you know that I love Irises. I have 53 planted, bought 2 yesterday and 2 more came in the mail. It's so wonderful to almost always have an Iris blooming!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Gomphrena "Fireworks"

Back in February I was at my friend Kathy's house taking rose cuttings and I saw this amazing plant in bloom in her garden.  She told me that it was Gomphrena "Fireworks".  Say GOM-free-NA. I promptly went home and looked it up on the internet.   It is from the Amaranth family and native to the tropical Americas, Australia and Asia.    I found plants only sold at Annie's Annuals up in the San Francisco Bay area but it wasn't available then. I put it on my wishlist and waited.  It was probably May when it became available and I mail ordered one plant of it(expensive with shipping) plus a couple others.  I planted it in the ground and it is doing fabulous, blooming almost since I got it.  It is about 3 feet tall now.

Flash forward to last week when I was at my local Armstrong Garden Center and what do I see, a whole flat of 4" pots of that Gomphrena "Fireworks".  Now, it's the dog days of summer, 90º out and I shouldn't be planting. But I was pissed off that it was so difficult to get back in winter and here it is so easy to get now! Ugh, so I bought another.  Had I a bunch of money I would have bought 10 as it's an amazing plant that makes great cut flower filler too!  Said to be an annual, I hope it lasts longer than just this year.  

Happy gardening! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Hose Wreath

I got this idea from Pinterest. But every photo I saw used new materials. I wanted to recycle old materials. Did you save an old hose, maybe to use pieces as tree ties or something? Use a piece for a unique upcycled garden wreath. I added a pair of orange rubber gloves, an old sprinkler head, a tiny clay pot, some used tie tape and a cluster of huge Eucalyptus seed pods from a tree near downtown Burbank that we stopped to pick. Trash to decoration. I hope no one steals it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Planting

On July 31 we will have been in this, our first house for 4 years! It seems to have flown by! But I have just to look at how the garden has grown to see those 4 years.

Since I have my own ground I have a really difficult time sticking to my own rule. "Smart gardeners don't plant in the heat of the summer". The reason for that is, it's hard for new plants to establish themselves in the hot weather. And it has been hot, 90s and humid for the past few weeks. I picked up some mulch yesterday at a nursery for a job and couldn't help but buy this Salvia Patio Deep Blue that I had never seen before. I planted it in the garden this evening. I DO love Salvias. Wish me luck that it doesn't fry in August.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Green Flowers

Usually when flowers are spent, we cut them off to encourage more flowers. It's called deadheading and I know I've mentioned it before. It's what gardeners spend a lot of their time doing.    It makes the plant concentrate on making more flowers instead of making seeds. And most gardeners are all about MORE FLOWERS! I know I am :-)

This is that Hydrangea arborescens Invincibelle Smooth Spirit that I bought back in April that I was so excited about. See here Hydrangea Post.   The flowers start out pink then turn green. The plant was sort of laying down with all these green flowers. So I cut them all off to encourage more pink blooms and to make a bushier plant. I like the way they look so I put them in a vase.  


  Do you grow Hydrangeas?  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Shade loving Vine

There are not many vines that I know that are shade loving. Stephanotis does it's best in shade to partial sun. Mine is on the east side of the house behind a Tangerine tree that also gets some shade from a huge Cedar tree. I know I've posted on this before. But it's summer and Stephanotis smells so good. It's native to Madagascar and thereby its common name is Madagascar Jasmine. It will grow in full sun. But then the leaves will be yellowish and not as lush. So if you have a shady spot for a vine, try Stephanotis. The white shows up at night and the flowers smell yummy all day and night.

Monday, July 14, 2014


Deadheading means removing spent flowers from any plant.  That makes the plant stop concentrating on making seed to concentrate on making new flowers.  So I was on a job today and needed to deadhead a hedge of about maybe 7 Jerusalem Sage or Phlomis fruticosa plants. You might have seen them before. They have yellow flower spikes. The task looked daunting and I only had 45 minutes left at that job. The first pic is "before" and the second is "after". I spent all 45 minutes on it and didn't get around the corner by the porch steps. Just wanted to share my tedious job for today. I hope you has a good gardening day.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


Just had to share how big my Sunflowers are now. Can you see me between them? I'm 5'9". That makes them about 10' tall! I did sow about 10 seeds but only 3 survived. This is my first time growing them and they grew SO fast!! Are you growing Sunflowers?

Monday, June 30, 2014

New Coreopsis

I used to dislike Coreopsis because they're a pain to deadhead. But you get so much color in a short perennial that I guess it's a small price to pay.

Say Core-E-OP-sis. Research says the common name is Tickseed but I've never heard that. It's native to the Americas and likes full sun. The common varieties are yellow and usually grow to about 2 feet tall which is unusual for a perennial. Most perennials grow taller. I'm always looking for something a bit taller than a border but not too tall. Herbaceous perennial as it is, it needs to be cut back almost completely in winter.

There are many new colored hybrids of Coreopsis. I should have bought that pink one I saw about a month ago but didn't. I AM a sucker for orange flowers and blooms that change color so I had to buy this one today even though I'm breaking my own rule about planting in the summer heat. This variety is called "Citrine" after the crystal rock it resembles. Do you grow Coreopsis?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Reasons NOT To Plant

There are reasons you don't see certain plants in people's yards. It might be susceptible to a disease or takes over or something.

This is a plant called Sweet Broom or Genista. It gets beautiful yellow pea flowers in Spring and is always in the nurseries then in full bloom. But you don't often see them in gardens. Why? Because they get a caterpillar that will defoliate the whole plant and kill it! Most folks don't notice the caterpillar until it's too late and wonder why the plant died. One could spray BT(Bacillus thuringensis) to kill the pests. Or one could resist even planting it and buy another plant. Just a suggestion.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


 I planted watermelon seeds in one of my raised beds in the backyard about 6 weeks ago. This is my first time growing watermelon. Last year I did Zucchini in this bed. The year before I had pumpkins grow all over only to have only 3 pumpkins rot :-(. The watermelon are now growing like crazy and have finally started making fruit! Today they are like half an egg sized. I'll post updates when they get bigger. What summer fruit and/or vegetables are you growing?

RIP Harry Lauder's Walking Stick

I finally lost my Harry Lauder's Walking StickCorylus avellana 'Contorta'.   I mail ordered it from Heronswood Nursery back in Oct 2001(still have the tag). I grew it in a container until we moved to this house. I think it's been in the ground for about 2 years. Last year it didn't put out it's leaves until May. This year it's dead :-(  I guess it really does prefer the Pacific Northwest with their rain and moist soil.   I haven't dug it out yet because the curly branches are so beautiful.  I will definitely save the branches after I yank it.   Sad.