Tuesday, September 30, 2008

One of My Favorite Parts of Fall in Southern California: the California Native Plant Sale Oct 11 & 12 2008

I just got the postcard today!  Admission is free and this comes perfectly timed for Fall Planting Season.  This is a great place to find beautiful native plants for your area, even if you have dry shade, full blazing sun or live in a boggy canyon bottom.  Plus they always have great food, so I'm in.

They have very knowledgeable people there to get you all het up to go native,  posters, books, free classes and lots of plants and seeds from area nurseries.  It's fun to meet the actual grower of your new plants and you are supporting a local area business.  I also get a lot of satisfaction from buying an endangered plant (from a certified grower) and then learning exactly how to take care of it in my exact garden so I too can save seeds and grow them out.  But wait there's more:  you'll get a free gift if you join the California Native Plant Society.

There are two free classes over the weekend:

Saturday October 11, 11:30 am Caring for Native Irises
Saturday October 11, 2:00 pm We Took Out The Lawn & You Can Too

Sunday October 12, 11:00 am 20 Year Native Garden Case History
Sunday October 12, 1:00 pm Attracting Birds & Butterflies in Your Garden

It's at the Sepulveda Garden Center, 16633 Magnolia Blvd, in Encino between Balboa and Hayvenhurst.  It's across from the public gardens on the other side of the freeway from Tapia Bros.

Find out more at the CNPS website.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Liquid Amber Tree Brings Autumn to Los Angeles

I went in search of some leaves changing color for my LA blog just to prove we have Fall in Los Angeles. 

I knew I could rely on our Liquid Amber trees for a little fall color on this first day of Autumn. 

In LA Liquidambar styraciflua are used as street trees and a whole street lined with flaming red trees is very dramatic.

These trees are native to North America.  Their Latin name is Liquidambar styraciflua and they are also called American Sweetgum or Redgum.  

Kids know these trees by the little balls full of stickers they produce.  We called them Sticker Balls, but others may call them Monkey Balls.  When they dry they are pretty sharp.  They also are prized by crafters for their unique form, but they won't be dry for a few more months.

Throw a few colored leaves around the table tonight or make a little bouquet for your desk to get into the Fall mood.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pretty, Perky Peppermint Leafs, Planting Tips and Derby Day

One of the peppermint plants in my latest score from the 99 Cent Store is variegated. I took a close-up just for fun to share with my gardening pals. I admit to being fascinated with the many color variations that show up on plants like these.

OK, here's my hot mint tip: Never, ever plant mint in the open ground. You cannot contain it and it will take over your yard. EVEN IF you have a yard that kills everything. Trust me.

Now, I know peppermint has nothing to do with regular mint. But it's still minty so this is where the Derby Day part comes in.

Mint always makes me think of my old pal Nancy. She was from Kentucky and like any proper southern belle she had one hell of a kick-ass Derby Day party every year. She'd pile bouquets of roses everywhere (It's the Run For the Roses). It was almost always a perfect day to be outside on the patio and the evenings were balmy. And she had a friend who would make mint juleps from scratch.

I'm just a barbarian from The Wild West so I know nothing of the finer points of proper mint juleps creation. But I do know it involved fermenting mint (regular mint, not peppermint). And I recall stories of her Julep Alchemist looking for heaps of fresh mint every year. We would heartily enjoy many drinks, pick our horses and get misty-eyed with Nancy when they played My Old Kentucky Home. And even though the race started early in the day Pacific Time, the celebration would continue on into Sunday evening. And since we didn't know any better about not drinking too many juleps, there would be many of us calling in sick on Monday morning. Tuesday we'd have a recap and a good laugh.

My dear Nancy has moved on to a place where I hope they have equally outstanding Derby Day parties, and she doesn't have to worry about her guests dropping the good crystal on the patio. So, the next time you smell some mint I suggest you too think of balmy days, roses and good friends.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Mixed Herbs: Latest plant rescue from the dollar store, can you name them?

I just scored this pot-o-herbs the other day. It would be easy for you to name them if you could smell my blog!

There's one herb that will either grow upright or over the pot (and I happen to have a page on it). A second that will grow upright and a third one that trails. One is variegated.

OK, ready for the answers?

Rosemary, lemon balm and mint. Rosemary is the pine-needle looking one growing upright. The lemon balm has a bright lime or apple green लीफ shaped like an elongated heart. The mint has the darker green leaf and there's also a white and green version.

They are all completely root bound. It has been over 100 degrees here so I've been watering every day even though they're in the shade. But I'm not sure if there is any dirt in there!

I'm going to have to at least get the rosemary out of there and into a much bigger pot. Somehow I'm going to have to at least divide the other two. I still may end up with a little of both together. That's OK. They smell great!


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