I have lots to update the blog on, but I won’t put it all in one post. Life has been pretty busy around Hanbury House, but first and foremost, it is plant sale season! For Hanbury House blog readers that are local to SoCal, this weekend and next weekend is the LBCC Horticulture Department Club’s 2015 open house and annual plant sale. Normally it starts mid week just before Easter break, but not this year. This club sale is a great chance to stock up on summer veggies, drought tolerant perennials, and all sorts of great plants at really good prices. I have posted about it before because it is my favorite plant sale, so if you want details of what to expect, click here to see my post about it from last year. However, it is always a little bit different, depending on what the current students’ focus is on. This year they will be featuring Milkweed plants for attracting Monarch adult butterflies and feeding the larvae.
A list of California native milkweeds to look for in your local nursery:
- Asclepias albicans (whitestem milkweed)
- Asclepias asperula (spider milkweed)
- Asclepias californica (California milkweed)
- Asclepias cordifolia (purple milkweed, heartleaf milkweed)
- Asclepias cryptoceras (pallid milkweed)
- Asclepias eriocarpa (woollypod milkweed, Indian milkweed)
- Asclepias erosa (desert milkweed)
- Asclepias fascicularis (narrow-leaved milkweed)
- Asclepias latifolia (broadleaf milkweed)
- Asclepias linaria (pineneedle milkweed
- Asclepias nyctaginifolia (Mojave milkweed)
- Asclepias solanoana (serpentine milkweed)
- Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed)
- Asclepias subulata (rush milkweed)
- Asclepias vestita (woolly milkweed)
Lots of photos of these native milkweed plants can be found at http://calphotos.berkeley.edu if you type in the genus and species or common name in the search box
My next few posts will probably all be garden or backyard related because over the last six to nine months a lot of changes have taken place in the backyard that I never took the time to update on. A quick summary of what to expect…We ripped out 1/3 of the backyard grass and I expanded some of the flower beds, I planted lots more reblooming irises, we took out the drought tolerant flower bed just outside the backdoor, we got a new natural gas BBQ, we removed the old concrete patio adjacent to the garage and installed paver stones and back door steps, the chicken flock was thinned to just two, and I think I finally learned how to graft (but I have to be really careful reporting that last one.) I have been told by other gardeners photographing grafts that ‘took’ and bragging about them can cause them to fail. I hope that isn’t true because I am really excited about the grafting because once I master it, I will be able stop collecting so many individual trees and have a bunch of “Franken-trees” instead with multiple grafts.
Since seedless mandarins and tangerines, like Cuties, Halos, and Delites have become so readily available in grocery stores during most of the year, my kids have gotten really picky about the occasional seeded mandarin from our own backyard tree. It … Continue reading
With the extended drought, I have barely kept my Bababerry patch alive, and not had any surplus to share, so I was very happy to hear that this excellent berry is back in commercial production. For anyone not familiar with Bababerries … Continue reading
A little over two years ago, my daughter, B, started an after dinner gardening project. She plopped a discarded cut off pineapple crown of leaves into a pot. She treated it like many of her succulent plants: no prep, no … Continue reading
Most of my flowers and perennials these days are generally low water users, at least once they became established, however the same is not true of all my edible plants. When the state officials announced the need for even deeper … Continue reading
I look forward to this time of year all winter long, the Spring Garden Tour season and annual plant sales sponsored by some of the local non profit horticulture groups.
For many years now, my favorite plant sale has been the Long Beach City College Horticulture Department’s annual spring plant sale and fundraiser. This is their 42nd year and the sale falls on April 16th -18th, 2014, the week before LBCC has their Spring Break. If you are a local gardener and plan to attend, come early and don’t forget to bring a wagon. Its open from 9 to 6. I always manage to buy more than I planned on at this one sale. In past years, I have bought some great plants here I might not have tried or found otherwise like a dwarf variety of ‘lion’s tail’ Leonotis menthifolia, Psidium cattleianum ‘strawberry guava,’ Lobelia laxiflora ‘mexican bush lobelia’, ‘garden mister’ fuchsia, correa ‘dusky bells’ australian fuchsia, and gallaridia. Here is another post I did about it last year that describes what to expect.
There are many other sales and tours I don’t want to miss out on including the following:
- The Fullerton City College Horticulture Department is holding their annual spring plant fundraiser on Sat. May 4, Sunday May 5, and Sat. May 11. When I was at their tomato sale I noticed they already had a nice selection of perennials in the growing areas. I was delighted to find my favorite red cherry tomato for sale at the tomato sale. It is called Sugar Snack. It used to be availble from Burbee, but in recent years I have not been able to find the seed from any reputable garden retailers.
- Fullerton Arboretum Green Scene is a regional garden fair with hundreds of small local nurseries and garden vendors setting up booths for the weekend of April 12th and 13th, 2014. Before going to the LBCC plant sale, this was always my favorite garden event. I marked it on my calendar almost a year in advance to not have any conflicts. If you go, don’t forget to bring your wagon to this one! In my opinion, the best booth is always the California Rare Fruit Growers fundraising booth. They always have it well staffed with volunteers and members to help with questions. Some of my most loved rare fruiting plants have been propagated by their members, including Bababerry, Strawberry Verte Fig, Big Jim Loquat, Triple Crown Blackberry, Jupiter Grape, Neptune Grape, and Niabell grape. I also bought other berries ( Josphine, Caroline, Rosanna, Anne, and Kiwi Gold raspberries) from the CRFG booth, but none of them thrived more than a few years in my Southern California garden, unlike the Baba raspberries and the Triple Crown blackberry. My neighbor across the street bought most of her exotic tropical cherries from them as well, including Cherry of the Rio Grande, Red Surinam Cherry, Black Surinam Cherry, and Capulin Cherry. Every year the CRFG booth has a few new and different plants, depending on what the members donate. This year I am hoping to find a new grafted loquat. I am specifically looking for Vista White or Strawberry, but they haven’t had either one the last few years when I looked. There is a arboretum members only pre-sale the hour before it opens, and some of the best stuff gets sold during that time. I also used to always attend the Fullerton Arboretum’s Monster Tomato sale, but after last year’s disappointing, not so great looking, but pretty expensive tiny tomato plants, I am no longer acquiring my tomatoes from their sale. Plus the crowds just got worse every year. Hmmm. Instead this year, my mom and I grow some of the hard to find tomatoes, like Super Marzano, First Prize, Sun Sugar, and Big Zac, and we bought the rest, including sugar snack and Matt’s Wild Cherry from the Fullerton City College Horticulture department’s tomato sale this past weekend.
- Theodore Payne Foundation Native Plant Garden Tour is April 5th and 6th. It is a big tour of drought tolerant gardens throughout Southern California. The Westside and Southbay gardens are on Saturday and the inland gardens are open on Sunday.
- Fullerton Beautiful Tour is an excellent tour of 10 different private gardens each year, but I am bummed because once again I have a conflict and can’t attend. It is on April 27th, 2014.
- Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour was not held in Spring 2013, but this year it is scheduled for Saturday, May 3rd and Sunday, May 4th from 10 am to 5 pm. It is a diverse tour of private gardens opened for the public to tour with the proceeds going to local charities. This one features urban homesteads, fancy formal gardens, Japanese inspired gardens, formal gardens, cottage gardens, and more. It has something for everyone’s taste. Some years I only visit one or two gardens, but in other years I stop in at all the gardens within my local area. The gardens go as far South as the Southern end of coastal Orange County and as far North as Long Beach. Most of the independent Southern California coastal nurseries will be getting a tour newsletter with times and addresses sometime in April.
- Long Beach 3rd Annual Lawn to Garden Tour is also on May 3rd, 2014 from 10-2:PM so I will hopefully be stopping in at some of these gardens on the same day as the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Tour. This is a tour that highlights local front yards that have recently transitioned over to more waterwise and drought tolerant designs and that have eliminated or greatly reduced their lawns.
I have been wanting to take out our front lawn for more than a decade, but between my kids, the dog, and the other neighborhood kids, my lawn is still actively used and does serve its purpose. However, it is not a beautiful show piece. It only gets enough water to not die and often has brown patches and bare spots. Other houses on my block have participated in the lawn to garden program, and now their kids play on my lawn instead. Have I ever mentioned, on this little culdusac of 19 houses, there are 26 kids!? That is one reason we stay here on our little postage stamp sized urban lot. Once most of these kids have outgrown the need for a big lawn with a shady play area my maple creates, that lawn will be history. I have dreams of expanding my iris, alstromeria, and salvia collections and putting in either pomegranates, loquats, persimmons, figs, and/ or pineapple guavas out there, all of of which are drought tolerant fruit choices.
When the weather is too cold to do much work outside, I get a little over zealous and try propagating all sorts of plants, just to see if I can. Since I got a couple of new heat mats for Christmas, I am in the process of propagating a variety of plants including ‘Parfianka’ Pomegranate, ‘Sweet’ Pomegranate, ‘Strawberry Verte’ Fig, ‘Bababerry’ plants, Thornless Raspberry plants, and tomato seeds. Because I spend so much time doting on the cuttings, my hubby says I am going to turn into Jordy Verrill from Creepshow who ends up covered in Alien Weeds if I am not careful. I hope not. Well, if I find a mysterious meteorite in the backyard, I promise I won’t put water on it!
Although I don’t have room for anymore Pomegranate trees, I had read they are one of the easiest fruits to propagate, so I just had to try. And it’s true! I took a half dozen of cuttings from each of my two trees on January 14th, and I already had to transplant some of the little trees yesterday into 4 inch pots because the roots were growing out of the peat pellets and out onto the heat mat. If I had know it would be this easy and quick to start pomegranates, I would have taken more cuttings. With the continuing drought in California, pomegranates are a good choice for a drought tolerant backyard fruit tree so I shouldn’t have a hard time finding new homes for the little pomegranate trees, once they are bigger and acclimated to the outdoors, especially since they are less common varieties.
- Prep rooting medium like perlite, vermiculite, or peat moss. I used Peat Moss pellets this time and soaked them ahead of time. I have them on a tray over a heat mat.
- Take cuttings about the width of pencil and about 3 to 6 inches in length with sterile clippers.
- Score or injure the cuttings near the bottom end.
- Dip in rooting hormone (optional.) I like Dip and Grow liquid hormone for this, but be careful and follow the directions carefully.
- Place cutting in rooting medium.
- Mist a few times a day and water as needed.
- Watch for leaf growth.
- Transplant when they have sufficient leaf growth or like in my case, the roots outgrow the peat pellets.
- Slowly acclimate them to the outdoors.
- Over the first season of growth, pinch to make them bushy.
Normally in the winter months, the rainy season in SoCal, I have the gray water diverer on the washer machine in the off position so it will empty to the sewer, not the garden. Southern California usually gets plenty of rain to take care of the landscape until late March or April. This year is the earliest we have had to switch back to using grey water, since first using it back in 2007.
We have had next to nothing in the way of winter rainfall this year, and the citrus trees are starting to show signs of needing additional water. The leaves have rolled up a little, like taco shells because they are water stressed. The Improved Meyer lemon and Bearss lime look fine, but the Cara Cara and Mandarin both have some curled up leaves on the sunny side. I have read sweet oranges are less drought tolerant. Odds are, it will reduce the flowering and fruit crop on both this year. If the citrus trees look thirsty, that means the apples and stone fruits are probably needing water too, eventhough they don’t have much in the way of leaves yet to show it. Therefore, it is time to start moving my greywatering hose around from one mulch basin to another. I also put in a request to the city today for a mulch delivery so I can top off with a thicker layer. The chickens will have a field day with it!
I normally try to be conscientious about not wasting too much fresh water on the landscape, but this year the governor has announced that Californians need to use at least 20% less water. That means we will have to use even less than we normally do. I will probably let both the front and back lawns die. Sorry about that chickens; they love the grass! Maybe the fluffier mulched ground will make up for it? Sadly, I also plan to remove some of my less waterwise edibles, like my low chill Sunshine Blue Blueberries. I can always easily replant those if water is plentiful again in the future. I am worried about my raspberries. I have yet to try grey water on them; this year will be first. If they can’t take it, they will also have to go temporarily. I am glad we have our grey water divertor valve for the washer machine so at least my mature fruit trees won’t die.
I have tried a lot of different brands of biodegradable laundry detergent to use with the grey water system, and I am certainly not loyal to just one. This week, I bought one I haven’t tried before from Trader Joes that my hubby suggested we try. Trader Joes used to sell one called Ecos, but I don’t know if this is the same one just with a TJs label. Have any of you used this detergent? And does it clean well? Or do you have a favorite Biodegradable or Bio-compatible detergent?
I know, I know, I shouldn’t be thinking about buying and adding more bare root fruit trees, since my yard is already crammed full, but it is hard to not collect one of everything, and even more so, after K shared some of her Spice Zee nectaplums last summer. Back in early July, K generously gave me a half dozen Spice Zee fruits, even though she didn’t have much of a crop yet since the tree is only 3 years old. I cut the first few up, and they were gone in seconds. My normally easy going kids, got into a shoving match over who got the few slices of the remaining fruits. I have never seen them act that way over fruit! I have tried a lot of different stone fruits at the local farmers markets over the years, and honestly, the Spice Zee was probably the best tasting stone fruit I ever tried. Usually the best tasting stone fruits need more chill than we have around here in coastal Southern California, but this nectaplum only needs about 300 chill hours, making it a good choice for a low chill fruit tree. The fruit looks like a white nectarine and the taste is sweet and rich. On top of the amazing taste, the tree is really pretty. It has purple red leaves in the Spring, resembling a Flowering Plum a little bit, and turns green as the summer approaches. Spice Zee would make a good tree for guerrilla gardening and planting in a median strip because of its similar looks to flowering plum. It could probably go unnoticed until it was heavy with fruit. After very little consideration, I decided I am going to have pull something out and plant one; it is just a matter of deciding who goes. Hmmmm….Sorry Red Baron.
Note: If you are looking for where to buy a Spice Zee NectaPlum, K’s tree was purchased locally at H & H Nursery in Lakewood, CA.
Okay, maybe not tons, but at least 50 or 60 lbs. of Kiwis, is my guess at this point. Although in past years, I have grumbled and griped a lot about the lack of pollination on my Kiwi vines, this … Continue reading