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Local Garden Tours and Plant Sales for Spring 2014

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A fairy garden for sale at one the many plant sales I went to last Spring. My daughter loves fairy gardens and I take pictures of them when she isn’t with me to appreciate them herself. I especially liked the tree in this pot.  I think this was a booth that specialized in fairy gardens at the Fullerton arboretum Green Scene.

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.  1779787_591651014236315_237226202_n

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miniature egg terrariums for sale last year in the green house at LBCC plant sale

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the tables in the succulent area at LBCC horticulture dept plant sale last year

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The shade house at LBCC plant sale

 

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.
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Tomato Sale at the Fullerton City College Horticulture Department

  • 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.

  • I also like to stop by the Cal Poly Pomona University Farm Store and Nursery in the springtime. They always have interesting varieties of tomato plants in the Spring and fruit trees and vines year round. That is where I got my Super Marzano last year and Sun Sugar tomatoes, as well as some pretty No Id bearded irises for $1 each. Their tomatoes go on sale on March 15th.
  • The Farm Store at Cal Poly Pomona. They sell lots of specialty items and locally grown produce. They also have a nursery attached to the store

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    The plant nursery section at the Cal Poly Pomona Farm Store

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    Choosing a New Bare Root Fruit Tree – Spice Zee NectaPlum

     

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    Pretty blossoms on NectaPlum hybrid Spice Zee

    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.

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    Spice Zee fruit on the cutting board, before the kids tried it and seconds before it all disappear.

    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.

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    © 2014, .

    Tons and Tons of Vincent Kiwis!

    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

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    How to Prune Bababerries and other Everbearing Raspberry Plants

     

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    Bababerry plants along the driveway loaded with unripe raspberries. This photo is from a few summers ago, but I added it to show what the little raspberry patch looks like.

    The past couple of years I have been received lots of questions via email regarding how to prune Bababerry plants, a variety of everbearing raspberry that grows well in Southern California and other low chill – warm climates.  Managing Baba raspberries is much the same as any other everbearing or fall bearing raspberry variety.  Most folks are able to pick fruit the first year they buy and plant an everbearing raspberry, including Baba. That is not the case on summer bearing raspberry varieties, which only produce on second year or two year old canes.  Since I am in the middle of my winter pruning chores, including pruning out the old wood on the berries, I figured it was a good time to take a short break and post something about it.

    A new or first year cane on a raspberry plant is called a primocane.  A second year cane is referred to as a floricane or floracane.  Summer bearing raspberries only produce one harvest each summer and only on their floracanes.  Those two year old canes are then pruned out in late fall or winter, after bearing fruit. Everbearing varieties produce on the top half of primocanes the first fall, and then on the lower half the following Spring.

    With all everbearing raspberries, the gardener can choose to have either one or two crops each year, depending on the pruning or management technique the gardener prefers to use.  Here at Hanbury House I often to prune to get two crops a year.  To do this, I prune out all the two year old canes to the ground each winter and just prune the top half of the primo canes from the previous season.  Although it is ideal to prune when they are dormant, if you are unsure what to prune at first, the chore can wait until the first new leaf buds begin break dormancy in early spring.

    Usually I can tell which canes are two years old on my Babas just based on how the “skin” of the cane looks. The canes that are grey and/or really flaky looking are usually the old ones that need to be cut to the ground and completely removed. New canes usually emerge nearby. Any canes that are primocanes and produced fruit on the top 1/2 of the cane in the fall, usually look healthy and a medium shade of brown, with the top part being dried looking and sometimes has a few tiny barren side stems where the berries hung last fall.  They will also have new buds along the stem. I prune those canes down only about half way, to the point just below where the last berries grew or above where it looks like there is a live bud still.  Those pruned canes will bare fruit along the rest of the portion of the cane, usually in by mid to late Spring or early Summer.  Then, next winter, I prune the rest of that cane out as mentioned above.

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    Bababerry Everbearing Raspberry Primocane needing to be pruned. I will prune right above the bud in the middle of the picture for fruit in the Spring or Summer.

    The other method to manage everbearing raspberries is pruning all canes to the ground when the canes are pretty much dormant, typically sometime between the new year to early February, basically in the middle of winter. With this pruning method the gardener only gets one crop later in the summer or early fall, instead of two. This is the easiest method, and many folks prefer it, including my friend across the street that also grows lots of Baba berries. It is much less work, and a bit tidier looking. Either method, new canes usually emerge each spring around the base of the plant.

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    Floracane at the end of the growning season on Bababerry. Notice how the cane is greyish and a little flaky. Some canes get even flakier. This is about to be pruned to the ground to make room for new primocanes on the raspberry plant.

    Once a raspberry patch has been established for many years, the canes will have spread out and multiplied a lot.  Any canes that are outside the designated garden bed can be dug up and and used to start a new raspberry patch or shared with friends. The best time to divide and dig out canes, if you want the canes to survive the transplant, is in the dormant season.  If you are just trying to tidy things up, dig out the stray canes at any time of year. If you are still wondering if your raspberry plants are summer bearing or everbearing, here is short list of commonly grown varieties of each. I put an * next to varieties I have grown or my close friend across the street has grown at some point over the last two decades.

    Everbearing raspberry varieties:

    • Anne *
    • Amity
    • Autumn Bliss
    • Autumn Britten *
    • Bababerry *
    • Caroline *
    • Dunkum
    • Heritage
    • Fall Gold
    • Indian Summer *
    • Kiwi Gold *
    • Josephine *
    • Polana
    • Rosanna *
    • Summit

    Summer Bearing

    • Boyne
    • Canby
    • Latham
    • Meeker
    • Willamette

    Bababerries are my favorite, and in my opinion, the best raspberry, out of the all the red raspberries varieties I have grown in our low chill Mediterranean climate.  I hope this helps those of you searching for tips on how to prune your raspberry plants.   If you still have raspberry questions, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to get back to you.

    © 2014, .

    I have caught the Iris Virus

      * Iris Virus = A burning desire to learn everything there is about growing and caring for iris plants. A person with an iris virus reads tons of iris publications and surfs all of the known iris society web … Continue reading

    Adding More Plants To The Edible Landscape

      I actually didn’t get as many new edible plants and trees this winter or spring as I have in past years, but I still probably got more than I really have room for.  Basically, my small urban backyard is … Continue reading

    How to Gently Get A Brooding Hen to Stop Setting

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    Free Reusable Storage Canning Lids that Fit Ball and Kerr Jars

    Once a jar of homemade jelly or jam is opened, reusing the same metal lid and ring that was used to can it can be difficult and messy.  When my neighbor first starting teaching me to can a couple of … Continue reading

    Low Sugar Kiwi Strawberry Jam from Home Grown Vincent Kiwis

    This past growing season, despite the fact we only had a half dozen male flowers on the Kiwi vines, we still had a bountiful crop of Vincent Kiwis, way more than the previous year when we only had two male … Continue reading

    The High Cost of Sub-Urban Homesteading

      Am I imagining it or are edible plants at the nurseries going way up in price due to the increased popularity of backyard food gardening, sustainability, and homesteading? I was running errands this morning, and one of them took … Continue reading