Monday, December 31, 2018

Salvia leucantha

I'm sure I've posted about this before. But I just love it when a plant tells you it's time to cut it back! Here is Salvia leucantha - Mexican Sage at a job. The first pic show all the spent flower stems. And if you look closely, you can see all the fresh new growth coming out of the center of the plant. So I cut off all that old growth and left the new growth that will bloom again. Yay, a fresh start for the plant just like New Years Eve.


Happy New Year!
Happy Gardening!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Vine That Must Be Tamed

 I love this plant so much that it is the lock screen photo on my phone. It's Antigonon leptopus or Coral Vine.  I've posted about it before.  It is beautiful in fall when it's blooming.  But it grows like a monster, about 20 feet per year! 

Seen in this photo below, the plant is growing from the right side.  It goes up and all the way over the arch. It would have trailed along even more to the left had I let it covering up many other plants.  I did have a climbing rose on the left side of the arch. But it got smothered and died.  I should have known better.    

Here it is from the street side partially blocked by a neighbor's car. All the pink that you see now is just seed pods.  

It is a plant that goes mostly deciduous in winter, which means it looks crappy then. It takes well to a serious whack every year! In fall I  kept trimming and tying it up so that the mailman didn't have to duck too much. At one point our primary mail carrier wouldn't go under it because of how many bees were working the flowers.  I hate to cut it when it's blooming! 

So today I did the big whack! We're having friends over tonight and I didn't want it to be too dangerous in the dark for our guests.  It filled up two trash cans! You can sort of see the plant cut down to about 12' on the right side.

Here it is mostly cleaned out. 

Here again are the beautiful flowers that make Coral Vine with growing.  

Happy Gardening! Happy Winter! 
Happy Holidays! 

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Sweet Pea Trellis

A few months ago on a walk I found a pile of rebar at a business. I asked if I could I have it and they said yes. I went back with my truck and brought that rebar home. We bent it and made 3 more garden arches. I decided to place the arches between the raised vegetable beds in the backyard. 

I usually plant my Sweet Peas in the other bed where I have a permanent fence for them to climb. But one can't have too many Sweet Peas so I planted more to climb up the new arches over the path between the beds. 

Today I used string just run across then diagonally looped around to give the Peas more support and a place to get them to go upwards. You can buy string trellises. But I'm cheap and like to use what I have. The plants are about 6-8" tall so far. I look forward to having them fill this new space that was just air before.

Today I used string just run across then diagonally looped around to give the Peas more support and a place to get them to go upwards. You can buy string trellises. But I'm cheap and like to use what I have. The plants are about 6-8" tall so far. I look forward to having them fill this new space that was just air before.

Do you grow Sweet Peas?
Happy Gardening!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Cassia Buttercream

Cassia Buttercream is a large shrub or small tree that gets 8-10' tall and wide. It's from South America and only grows in zones 8-10. Cassia or Senna. They changed the name a few years ago. 

I bought this plant as a tiny 4" pot at The Huntington plant sale a few years ago. I potted it up a few times as it grew and then planted it in the ground. Our backyard bakes so much that I wanted some substance back there around my vegetable raised beds. I didn't know that it would get so wide. It's my own fault for planting it where I did at the end of one of the beds. It's so wide now that I can barely get around it. I even cut it back a few months ago. 

In the summer daytime I noticed ants hanging around on the leaves. Usually ants are a sign of another insect because ants cultivate aphids and other sucking insects that secrete sugars. But I didn't see any other bugs. Research says that some Cassias have extrafloral nectaries which attract ants probably to deter herbivores. 

It is a beautiful plant flowering in autumn. But after it's done blooming, I'm going to cut it back and move it to a better spot. Wish me luck!

Happy Gardening!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Pearly Bluebush

Back in March(the date on my photo in my phone tells me so) I was walking around the LA County Arboretum in Arcadia and I saw this plant. It was gray with roundy succulent leaves. I like the look of it. It seemed very different and I had never seen it before. I couldn't find an identification tag or sign. So I tore off a little branch and took it up to Frank McDonough who works there. It took him awhile to figure out what it was. But he did and told me the name. I googled it when I got home and couldn't find any mail order sources. San Marcos Nursery grows it. But they're in Santa Barbara and very wholesale. So, I pined for it.

The next time I visited the Arboretum, there was this nice sign saying Maireana sedifolia. It's a drought tolerant plant from Australia. 

Today I was roaming San Gabriel Nursery and spotted some for sale. Yay! But it was in a 2 gal pot for almost $30! Ugh! I like things in 1 gal pots in the $10 range. I tried to talk myself out of it. But I couldn't. I've said this before here. You've got to buy the strange/special/unusual plants when you see them(especially if you've pined for it) because it might not be there next time! So I did! 

In the past couple weeks I've found several plants that I've been hunting for years! Yay! 

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Autumn Seeds

Hi all. In SoCal we're finally having cooler weather although no rain here yet. And it's October so it's time to plant seeds of winter greens, vegetables and Sweet Peas.

I planted my Sweet Pea Seeds last week (9/28) while it was still Sept because I wanted to get going! Sweet Peas take so long to flower for an annual. I think I've said it before here but in case you missed it: other annuals like tomatoes take maybe 2 months from seed to flower to fruit. Sweet peas take about 6 months from seed to flower. So get going! They like a sunny spot with at least a 6' support to climb.

I planted several kinds of lettuce, spinach and carrots on Monday(10/1). I love not having to buy lettuce in the store from Nov-March or so. I haven't tried carrots in a few years because they tend to fork in my soil. But I was tempted by the seed packet of these multi colored varieties. We'll see how they do. You could also plant broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and beets too.

I think that lower pic is a sweet pea sprout. I hope so. It may be one coming up from last season because they usually take 2 weeks to sprout.

I've also got California Poppies that I got free from the Theodore Payne Foundation that I'm going to sprinkle in my front yard.

Fall weather is the best growing season in SoCal. Happy Gardening!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Happy Autumn!

While you may be having nice Fall weather where you are, it's going to be 91* here in the Los Angeles area. I'm jealous of all those 60 degree cloudy days you're having. At least it's cooling off here to the 60s at night. So here's an indication that it is indeed Autumn here in SoCal, the Freesia bulbs have sprouted!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

More Than Two Is A Collection?

I started with this one, Gomphrena Fireworks.  It's a fabulous plant that does really well in my garden.  It is available through many local nurseries now and mail-order at Annie's Annuals  It is perennial and has grown for me for about 5 years.  Sometimes it seeds itself in other places in my garden. 

Then I found two others in orange and red.     They are annuals.  They grow through the spring, summer and fall.  Then they start to look crappy and appear to die.   Then they seedlings pop up in many of the worst places; right next to a rose bush, in my pathway or in a space all their own.  

Then I found Gomphrena decumbens through Annie's again.  I posted about it on my blog last November here  Gomphrena decumbens It is an adorable plant. 

I always knew about the common Gomphrena or Globe Amaranth that comes in purple.  It is an annual bedding plant.  I found some late Spring at Home Depot in several colors.  They only grow to about 6" tall and are great for border edging.  

In those several sixpacks I bought were mostly pale pink and white as well as a couple purple! I don't remember seeing those other two colors before.  But they are doing super in my garden.  Maybe they'll reseed too.  If not, I hope I can find them again next year.  Maybe I should save seed!!  

So, if you have more than one of something it becomes a collection, right? So, I collect gomphrena. Do you know of any others?  
Happy Gardening! 

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Black Diamond Crape Myrtle

I love burgundy foliage or any plant that has something other than green leaves.  And I LOVE these new(ish) Black Diamond Crape Myrtles!  They are a bushy type version of the Lagerstroemia trees that are ubiquitous in SoCal but with almost black leaves! Find them at   I first heard about them from my friend Steve Gerisher who brought a couple to show at a meeting of the Southern California Horticulture Society a few year ago. He said he got them at Home Depot. I fell in love with them and was on a quest! I searched about 4 HDs in the San Fernando Valley on my way home from a job one day without luck. I finally was able to purchase 2 at a HD in Walnut after visiting my parents in Diamond Bar.  Then they had them in the San Gabriel Valley but not the SFV.  Whatever! I was happy to have 2 colors.  I planted a red one in my front yard and the white one in my back yard.  But I wanted more.  

How gorgeous is this color combo! 

My first Red in the front yard. It's about 5' tall after 3 years. 

Like other Crape Myrtles, they are deciduous in winter, put out leaves in spring and bloom in summer.  Mine are looking lovely right now in the dog days of summer.  This Spring, I bought 3 more- all red. I wasn't able to find more colors. I checked 2 of my local Home Depots without luck.   I planted them in my front yard.   I really want pink and purple now too.   Bushy Crape Myrtles are easily kept at about 6' tall in SoCal.  Regular single trunked tree Crape Myrtles can grow up to 25' tall.  

Bushy Crape Myrtles are easily kept at about 6' tall in SoCal.  Regular single trunked tree Crape Myrtles can grow up to 25' tall.  

Still little but it will grow :-) 

White in the backyard. 

White in the backyard. 

Have you seen these new varieties? They're SO worth growing!  

Happy Gardening! 

Friday, August 24, 2018


I've had this plant for over 10 years. I remember buying it at the South Coast Plaza Flower Show and accidentally breaking off the first flower before I even got it home. I had to wait a year to see another flower. It's called Odontonema callistachyum. Say Oh-daunt-oh-neem-uh CAl-E-stack-E-um. That's a mouthful! Research says a common name is Purple Firestrike. But the plant is so uncommon that I've never heard it called that. 

The spent flowers take on a fuzzy texture. 

I planted it in the ground at our house about 6 years ago on the east side. It likes part shade.  Said to grow 6' tall, mine is about 7' tall and almost completely obscures one of my rain barrels. It is native to Mexico so may be a little susceptible to frost. Mine has had no damage. It is a little mysterious as to when it flowers. It seems to bloom sometimes here or there.  Annie's Annuals says it blooms winter through spring.  But this is August! So, who knows.  

There is also a red version that's Odontonema stricta.

Happy Gardening!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Who Doesn't Like Lantana?

I apologize for skipping July here dear readers.   It was all I could do to just water my own garden(and work in others).  We had the hottest July on record they say.  On 7/6 we had blowtorch weather of 114º here at my house.  I lost 3 rose bushes and several other plants.  The there were so many days in the upper 90s.  I can take 90º easily compared to 114º!   My new little Michelea champaca tree that replaced out giant Cedar is still trying to recover from burned leaves.  Anything that is tropical or has big leaves like Nandina, Raphiolepis, Avocados got burned.  I'm still seeing 4' brown tops of Eugenia street trees in South Pasadena. August is usually the killer.  I don't like it.  Get this summer over with please!  But to think on the bright side, every August day we get through is one we don't have to do again and are that closer to Autumn! 


I thought I didn't like Lantana way back when I worked at the nursery. They smell kinda bitter like grapefruit.   Then I began working in gardens around them and also smelled a sort of aftertaste fragrance.  It starts out bitter then turns sweet like(those tv commercials for) Sour Patch Kids!  Lantana are ubiquitous here in the LA area.  Why? Because they are easy, fast growing, drought tolerant and bloom for a really long time.  Isn't that what everyone wants in a plant?  Except for a prolong hard frost, they are mostly indestructible! I've never lost a Lantana to frost here.  They usually get just a little frost burned tips.  But fast growth also means it may need pruning twice a year if it gets too chummy with plants around it.  If it grows over another plant, Lantana will block the light and may kill it.  So get used to cutting it down. Pruning won't kill it. Oh, I almost forgot- it attracts hummingbird AND butterflies.   

Research says that they are native to the tropical Americas and Africa.   In Australia they are trying to control them from being invasive.  There are many varieties of Lantana, but two basic kinds; trailing are L. montevidensis and upright are L. camara.   I grow 4 varieties in my garden right now.  

Lantana camera "Radiation"
a pale pink peachy one in my garden without a tag. 

Here is a yellow one in my garden spilling out into the street. 

I also grow a pink variety called Lantana "Malibu Beach Cities" that is supposed to be compact growing.  But it is taking a break from flowering right now so no pic.  

On my evening walk I saw this Lantana above growing over an 8' chainlink fence! 

Here I am with it to show how tall that Lantana is! 

 Below please see how much you can cut back Lantana.  That twig at the bottom middle left is it.  I whacked one of mine here about a week ago. It's still green inside the branches. It'll pop any day now despite the 97º it is outside! 

Lantana super whacked in my garden. 

Do you grow Lantana?  
Happy Gardening!