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Archive for the ‘Garden’ Category

Pink Dahlia 2

Well that’s a long title! I started out with a question about storing dahlia tubers in our warm climate in SoCal and ended up with a whole mish-mash of advice. Here goes…

It’s time for fall garden care and clean up. If your garden is anything like mine, it has been totally fried by the drought and relentless summer heat. I vacillated between trying to get my very-thirsty plants enough water and feeling guilty about using precious water when we are experiencing the worst drought ever. Hearing the messages that we need to dramatically reduce our water use and that we can’t expect much if any rain this winter made me feel very self-indulgent about watering my garden. So I watered, then I didn’t, then I panicked when my plants started wilting, and watered again until I felt too guilty. Needless to say, my garden looks awful. My container plants suffered the worst – many will need to be replanted or, better yet, retired.

Clearly I need to completely rethink the whole garden and start replanting with drought-tolerant plants. That will be a slow process. This is not cheap as you all know!

And because no one really knows what the hell will happen next and solid advice for our new reality is slow in coming, that’s probably a good thing. It will be a little while before the experts figure out the best way for us to deal with it. In the meantime, pray, chant, dance for rain; whatever you think might work, but do it because things are looking really bad.

The best I can tell you right now is to cut back your damaged plants, but not too much. They don’t need more stress. Clean up fallen garden debris thoroughly and mulch like crazy – 3″ at least, keeping it a little bit away from the crown of your plants and at least 5″ away from tree trunks.

As for dahlia tubers, in our warm climate you can leave them in the ground to overwinter. After they have died back, cut the stems back to between 1″ and 4″, clean up the surrounding area, and put down 3″ of dry mulch. They will re-emerge in the spring when the ground warms up again. One caveat is if you live in an area near the canyons or in the foothills where you get more than a light dusting of frost. In that case read this post that Mary Beth did a while back about digging up and storing your dahlia tubers.

That’s it for now. I’m out to the garden to start triaging my sad-looking plants.

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Durango, Colorado

Purple Passionflower

Irvine, California

Macro photo of Orange Tulip Petals

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This is a bit late, but if you live in or around Irvine you’re going to want to come by the South Coast Research & Extension Center (SCREC) this morning for the 4th Annual Residential Demonstration Landscape Open House & Vendor Fair (phew – doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue does it?).

Today from 9 am to 2 pm there will be garden industry vendors and water agencies showing the latest methods to reduce landscape water usage. Master Gardeners will be speaking about composting, small space gardening, pest control, and edible landscaping. Plus, best of all, there will be a plant sale (cash or check only).

You’ll also marvel at SCREC, a beautiful rural oasis in our busy suburban/urban environment. Most folks have no idea what a treasure we have here in Irvine. I often do my Master Gardener volunteer hours there pruning in citrus, persimmon, pluot and cherimoya groves. They also have 3 residential landscapes demonstrating different levels of water conservation through landscaping and planting.

I’ll be there as a “seed planter/floater.” So come by and say hi. I guarantee you’ll learn something to improve your home garden.

Event is today 9am to 2 pm at SCREC 7601 Irvine Boulevard, Irvine CA 92618. All lectures and demonstrations are free. Plant sales are by cash or check only – no charges. Click here for more info and a list of speakers, demonstrations and vendors.

 

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Irvine, California

Pink Coneflower

 

 

Durango, Colorado

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I mentioned the passing of our amazing Bea Grow a while ago. Her death last December was sad, but now comes the truly unbelievable news that her garden is to be dismantled bit by little bit. I was as shocked as I imagine most of my fellow gardeners were when I read the craigslist notice of the sale of the contents of her house and garden that my friend sent me.

Disposing of the house contents I can understand, but taking apart the garden? Say it isn’t so!

This is a beautiful and amazing space. Bea was a true master of her craft and the garden she created on a hot, Southern California hillside was a joy to see. There are surprises and delights wherever you look — an adorable beehive watering can nestled amongst the greenery, graceful fountains and pedestals, a bird house with Bea’s little wren friend flitting in and out, delicious color combinations, and, amazingly, a rhododendron. Who but Bea could grow a rhododendron in San Clemente?!

Bea was very generous about showing her garden and with gardening advice. You could ask her anything and she would tell you her formula. I was pleased to hear that she credited watering with a weak solution of fish emulsion (one of our favorite techniques) for her success with containers plantings.

And it wasn’t just the garden that was beautiful. Bea was as lovely and gracious a person as you could ever meet. She was kind, funny and humble. The day I visited I asked if I could take her picture. She said yes, but she didn’t think I really wanted to do that. She told me she wasn’t a very good subject as she was very plain-looking. On the contrary, I told her, and I meant it. See for yourself. Not conventionally beautiful perhaps, but beautiful nonetheless; Bea was as lovely looking as any flower in her garden.

Bea (3rd from left) sharing her gardening tips.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Bea and her garden since I heard the news. The sale of the contents of her garden seems so wanton and disrespectful of a life’s work. Surely there’s some gardener out there who would love to buy Bea’s house and put his or her touch on this jewel.

I know all about change and impermanence and have meditated on this concept often. But this week I am struggling with it. Sometimes it’s just too soon.

And, no, I’m not going to the sale. As much as I’d love to have a small piece of Bea’s garden to put in mine, I don’t think I can bear to see the destruction of her work. The memory will be enough.

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Another in a series of posts to bring you interesting garden-related stories. This week we have links to a few articles we think you’ll like and news about events in Southern California.

A Plan to Turn Brooklyn’s Unused Acres Green: This article is about a truly great idea that a group of Brooklyn gardeners called 596 Acres (the total of unused public acres in Brooklyn) had to find and cultivate all the unused lots that dot the city. LOVE this idea!

Humans aren’t the only ones making things grow. Apparently the male Bowerbird, who builds elaborate bowers to attract a mate, is responsible for a lot of new plant life.

Here’s a lovely tribute to a lovely woman and an amazing gardener, Bea Grow. I had the pleasure of meeting her and visiting her beautiful garden a couple of years ago. Bea died last December and is sorely missed by the O.C. gardening community.

Click the link for a round-up of all the O.C. garden tours. Should have gotten this link to you sooner for all the April tours, but there are plenty on the list for May. One I highly recommend is the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour. It’s free (donations encouraged) and it’s fabulous — this weekend, May 5 – 6.

There will be a workshop on Edible Gardening in Small Spaces by my fellow Master Gardeners at the Orange County Great Park this Saturday. Here’s the description: Limited space? Master Gardeners are here to show you the ins and outs of getting a great yield from little places. Choose your favorite vegetables and learn how to make the most of them.

And finally a few words about a great event that I was a part of last weekend at the Orange County Great Park; the Artisan Food and Arts Festival. It was an all-day celebration of artisan food, sustainable gardening and art.

Chef Linda Elbert (of The Basement Table) and I collaborated on Seed to Plate: Cooking from the Garden, a presentation about growing your own vegetables and preparing them. I really enjoyed sharing organic growing tips with our audience.

Afterwards, I was able to spend time taking in the other chefs’ demos, the restaurant booths, sampling the food from the food trucks and seeing the art exhibits. Some of the art is still up. I highly recommend that you go see Tom Lamb’s exhibit of aerial photography called Marks on the Land: The View From Here.

The entire event was so much fun — kudos to my friend Maya Dunn and the Great Park staff for a fabulous job of pulling it off in grand style. Let’s hope that it comes back next year!

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Saturday: The bees are coming today! To get ready for their arrival, I’m preparing their sugar syrup and making a homemade version of Honey B Healthy, a nourishing supplement that is added to the syrup.

I’ll be teaching my co-workers how to be beekeepers and they’ll be installing the bees on Sunday with my guidance. Ray built us some beautiful Top Bar Hives (Thanks, Ray!) which will be their new home. We are very excited!

We have, over the last couple of weeks in our (very little) spare time, been creating a bee and butterfly sanctuary. It’s in its beginning stages and will soon be filled with plants that all the local pollinators will want to come and visit. We are also adding a labyrinth that will be planted with medicinal herbs and a vegetable garden filled with heirloom vegetables. The hives will be nestled in this wonderful little spot we’ve created located in the Animas River Valley.  It’s coming together beautifully and I’ll be posting pictures of the hives and gardens soon.

Happy Spring everybody!

Recipe found on the Beekeepers of the Ozarks:

Honey B Healthy (generic)

  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 1/2 lbs of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon lecithin granules (used as an emulsifier)
  • 15 drops spearmint oil
  • 15 drops lemongrass oil.
  • 6 drops of thyme oil (optional)

Dissolve lecithin in 1/4 cup of water. This may take several hours. Bring water to a boil, remove from heat and stir in sugar until dissolved. Stir in lecithin until dissolved. Stir in essential oils until everything is evenly distributed. Cool before using.

I use 1 tablespoon per quart but I don’t use thyme in my mixture. One to two tablespoons per gallon works if using thyme oil.

Makes about 2 quarts.

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