Saturday, July 31, 2010

Complete with dew drops!

The only thing prettier than a four o'clock blossom at night, is one in the morning, complete with dew drops. Isn't this glorious?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


My eggplant seems to be faring well. At least I'm getting plenty of blossoms, but I can't see if they're setting fruit yet. I prolly need to fertilize some more here. You can see plumbago and lavender in the background.

Moth or Butterfly?

I'm not sure if this is a moth or butterfly,
partaking of a buddleia bloom in my garden this afternoon.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mystic Spires in the morning

Welp, it's early Saturday morning and a bee partakes of a mystic spires salvia blossom. I'm recovering from surgery and it's frustrating seeing the things that need to be done in the garden, which I simply can't do just yet. Ah well. Gardening teaches you patience. A lesson very hard learned for this one.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feeling Blue?

I love plumbago. And it's such a bullet-proof plant! Heck, they even plant it along the highways here in So. CA. In my garden, it provides a back drop to the hidcote lavender growing at one end of my herb bed. As hardy as plumbago is, it's the lovely sky blue flowers that enchant me.

Front Garden!

So, this is a picture of my front garden in mid spring. I only have a little spot of "ground" to plant in, so I put in a camellia (double pink), some lobelia (mixed cascade variety) and some English daisies. In various sized pots to the left of the small bed are blue/purple million bells, a pink cascading petunia that bloomed nearly all winter long, a mini rose, and in the front round planter, a dwarf dahlia and some brachycome are just starting out. In the far back left are the upright veronica just starting to bloom, and I forget the name of the large mounded plant. It puts out pretty little purple flowers. I'll have to go look it up, shoot, LOL!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Newell Nursery!

My favorite nursery in the area out here is Newell Nursery. It's located only a couple of miles from where I live, and has a really nice selection of well grown plants. I don't think I've ever had a plant from there fail. Plus, they're really good about trying to get plants I request, even the odd ones! Any success in the garden is going to owe something to having a decent nursery to patronize. Yes, a great garden starts with good soil, but then it also needs good plants! I don't have the patience to grow everything from seed, so thanks to Newell Nursery!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Fluff in the Herb Garden

Well, not quite IN the herb garden. Butt, as seen across the herb garden, is more accurate. She's patiently waiting by the screen door for her silly human to finish taking pictures. Stella is prettier than all my flowers, of course. In this picture, you can see the pink flowering yarrow and the flowering dill. If you want to see more of the pretty Stella, visit her blog:

Fairytale Veronica

Welp, after having seen this plant in a catalog a couple of years ago, and trying desperately to get it for my garden, I finally have a couple of them growing in the small rose bed. I have to say I'm a wee bit disappointed. These are supposed to be bi-color, but I'm not really seeing it, or them, I should say. Frankly, the lavender colored Veronica I have growing in a pot out front is much prettier. But this is the first year, after all. Maybe they'll look more impressive next year. By the way, I ordered the pair from a mail order catalog and thought both of them were dead when they arrived. But, I babied them inside till the weather improved outside than finally transplanted them. Again, they nearly looked dead for the longest time before they started to put on new growth. Definitely not robust plants!

Hyacinth beans are climbing!

I'm really kind of excited! This will be my first attempt to grow these things since I left Orange County. They got started late as my first few attempts to grow from seed were unsuccessful (too much rain!). Butt, finally got them to come up and now they're climbing nicely up the trellis. I've got these growing at the "house end" of my small Ebb Tide rose bed. The real test will be if they bloom in this heat, and set seed to create the beautiful burgundy bean pods that are so cool!

Princess Flower

Formally known as Tibouchina urvilleana. And here's the first bloom of the season! Gorgeous flowers, which I fell in love with when I saw them all over the place back in Orange County. The summers out here are really too hot for this tropical, but I have it planted where it gets afternoon shade, and it's hanging in there. I wish I could have more of them!

Agapanthas, Ready for a Close Up

Friday, July 16, 2010

California Native Flowers

I watched this really wonderful series on KVCR called "Wild Gardens", hosted by Martin Hale, on CA native wildflowers. It really put a bee in my bonnet, and as the series was sponsored in large part by the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, I decided to get myself out there and check it out. A lovely place, and I highly recommend it (in early to late spring, mind you, this is still out in the Inland Empire). They have a wonderful "grow native" nursery where they offer a very healthy selection of CA natives as well as other plants suited to our environment (i.e. mediterranean climate). Check out the plant links at the bottom of the blog for a link to this botanic garden. At any rate, I bought several native species including silver bush lupines and a lovely mix of wildflowers. I planted them all in my flower beds. Would you believe that even in mid July, the wildflowers that you see in the picture above are STILL blooming? We've had temps. in the triple digits lately though, which might finally finish them off for this year. Most of the flowers in this mix are annuals, but I'm hoping they've self-seeded and will pop back up next spring. Small, they are, but gorgeous! Gilias, clarkia and tidy tips, to mention a few. If you're interested in checking out the Wild Gardens series, I think it's currently repeating on KVCR on Saturdays at 12:30. Or, check out this link for DVDs of the series:

Dwarf, double pink hibiscus

I bought a pair of these last summer and put them in. They bloomed a wee bit then sort of went to sleep until we started to get hard frosts. From that point forward, they were gray sticks. I honestly worried that all the frosts had actually killed them both off. Slowly but surely, as spring really did begin to warm things up, the sticks began to leaf out and little pink buds did appear. And then the first lovely blooms sallied forth. Really gorgeous little things!

Yarrow, Pretty In Pink

Borage, Up Close & Personal

Isn't this the coolest looking thingy? Gotta watch out for those hairy stems though, they prickle and itch. Also, ants seem to be inordinately fond of these plants. When it first started to bloom, all the flowers were blue, but after awhile they started to bloom in pink too. Isn't that even more cool? Looks kinda alien, eh?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Herb Bed Filling Out Nicely

I know it's difficult to tell because of the exposure. I take all my pictures with a relatively inexpensive digital camera, and I have no claim to photog fame. Butt, you can see the dill going to yellowy seed over on the right. The tall, billowy plant on the left is the borage. Did anyone know that the hairy stems kind of prick the skin and hurt? Ow. I've got pink, yellow and cream colored yarrow so far, the lemon balm is blooming, so is the creeping thyme, and I've got lovely fuzzy blooms shooting up from the chives. The strawberries weren't a fab idea. They didn't do well at all, and I'll be removing them soon. I've got a half grown pepper on one of my bell pepper plants. But it has a spot on it that's worrying me. There's always a spot, somewhere. If it ain't on me, then it's on the dog, or a dang plant. Sheesh!! The eggplant has been blooming, but I can't quite tell if it's setting fruit as the lavender is all over the place at that end of the bed.

Yep, more Pretty!

This is the "long view" of the perennial bed. The silvery plant you see midway, is the white form of rose campion. I ordered this via mail order and was supposed to get the angel blush (white with a pink eye), but got alba (pure white) instead. Ah well, best laid plans...

Perennial Vignette

Here's one of my favorite little garden vignettes. This is the shadier portion of my 30' long perennial border. It gets full sun in the morning and early afternoon, then has light shade in the late afternoon. I've got East Friesland salvia, and blue pimpernels (anagallis), pink pincushion (scabiosa) and Mars midget (knautia), species geraniums, Hidcote lavender, dwarf agapanthus and princess flower showing here.

The Back Garden, Spring 2010

The best part of gardening is watching the plants grow up and fill out. When they come into their own, it's such a feeling of accomplishment and joy. It's tough to get a decent picture of my back garden because it's 30' X 15'. In this picture, you can see part of the newish herb bed and the otter fountain in the foreground. I've got a verrrry healthy caryopteris growing in the large square planter on the small cement patio. You can see a bit of the bulb and new rose bed in the far right background, and the perennials coming into their own in the border on the left, background.

Creation of an Herb Bed

I had grown herbs in containers for years and really wanted some in my new garden. Butt, once again, I was out of room! The west side of my yard was a real problem child. In summer it got blasted by the sun, and in winter it turned into a sodden mess when it rained. Time for an overhaul. Here's the before picture. All the crap I had been moving around the yard for the past year finally came in handy. I laid down landscaping fabric and used the crap to hold it in place while it killed off the grass and weeds.

I can thank my total lack of patience for the odd bursts of activity that occur infrequently in my life. I managed to wait about two weeks for the landscaping fabric to work on the grass/weeds, and realized it would prolly take more like two years, so I took it off and dug the remaining grass and weeds up by hand. Again, totally amazing I didn't keel over from a fricking heart attack. Seriously! Sadly, I didn't execute a design plan, and ended up with a big flippin' rectangle. I wasn't happy about it, but decided to quit bitching and moaning, bought a mess of plants, and plopped them in the newly created raised bed.

So, to start with, I planted lemon balm in the four corners, three different colored bell pepper plants down the middle, lemon scented thyme, dill, chives and strawberries. The plants against the fence were incorporated from an earlier bed and include plumbago and hidcote lavender. Eventually, I'll get some yarrow, borage, hyssop and some nicotiana (flowering tobacco), to round things out.

Hoisted by my own Rosy petard!

I'd ordered some Ebb Tide roses from Newell nursery last winter, and darned if they didn't come through! Problem was, where on earth could I put them? No room in the perennial border, nope can't put 'em in the plumbago & lavender bed. ACK! I finally had to plant them in the bulb bed. I tried to be as gentle as possible. Butt, the end result: the hyacinths and some of the crocuses came up fine, but the tulips never showed. Nope, not even one. Insert swear word of choice. I'm sure they got hung up beneath the growing rootballs of the roses. Even so, I saw some lovely things this spring, and once the new roses started to leaf out, buds began to form and those first purple blooms began to open, I decided it was all worth it!

See this lovely, lovely rose? Breathtaking, isn't it? It just so happened that the annual flower show was gearing up in Redlands when my Ebb Tide roses first started blooming. I was all excited about entering my very first flower show. I snipped what I believed to be the perfect bud, just starting to open, which would last through the next two days of the show. I gently transported it to the show, arriving one minute BEFORE the deadline for entries. Yeah, I know, I was cutting it close, but for Pete's sake, I surely didn't think it would be a big deal. One minute early and the woman sitting at the registration table held up her hand when she saw me and said, "no more entries". There I stood with my one forlorn rosebud, totally gobsmacked. I slowly walked back to my car, wanting to cry. What a mean person, sheesh!

And then there were bulbs...

I had been dying to plant tulips, hyacinths and crocuses for years and years. So, you know all that junk I moved out of the east part of the yard to make way for the plumbago & lavender bed? Welp, it wound up on the west side and did the trick of killing off grass/weeds in a nice sized area. This time though, instead of the flimsy plastic edging, I got some sturdy edging stones. Heavy as shit, and no fun to drag in and out of the car, through the house and into the yard. Butt, they looked wonderful once they were in place. I planted some pretty violas and sweet alyssum in a thick border around the bulbs. It all seemed so perfect...

Another new bed!

Of course, once you're able to start planting in the ground, well it snow balls. Being a plant fiend, I can't help it. It's an addiction, like any other. So, I created a small flower bed over on the east side of the yard. It got half done without much effort on my part. I had stacked a bunch of yard stuff and empty planters over there when I first moved in, and it killed off the grass & weeds underneath. So, I cleared the junk out of the way and went looking for plants that would be able to handle the boiling hot western sun. I came up with dwarf plumbago and a sturdy lavender. I created a sort of raised bed effect with more of the teal colored edging. Neat, huh?

Gardening on the edge

For a variety of reasons, I needed to put in some edging for the big border. I found some dark teal colored plastic stuff that went in fairly easily, and has been holding up now for nearly two years!

The Border Fills Out

Other plants went in as they became available. Additional salvias were joined by dwarf hibiscus and buddleias and scabiosas. I managed to pick up some more unusual perennials from further flung nurseries, such as parahebe and erodiums and even some pink, large flowered Santa Barbara daisies.

Planting out the border

Once I felt it was safe to start planting, I did just that. Bear in mind, I'd been dreaming about what I'd do if I could ever plant out a nice big perennial border, so believe me, I knew exactly what I wanted. Getting it wasn't easy, but luckily there are a couple of decent nurseries in the area, and one of them, Newell Nursery, was willing to get some of the plants I needed. I planted a trio of lovely roses dead center: Mary Rose by David Austin, my fave Yves Piaget and a new one for me, Purple Heart. I then flanked the roses with my beloved rose campions, and was lucky to get the new variety "Gardener's World" which are doubles!, plus a pair of Caradonna salvias.

My First Perennial Border

When I moved into my latest rental, I was pretty jazzed to find myself with a small backyard. Butt, it's a weird size and shape: 30' X 15'. And it has this ugly,shallow 2 ft. wide cement trench running right through it. I guess it's for drainage, since the yard is most definitely NOT level, and rises towards the back wall. That's another challenge. My yard is backed by a very high cement block wall with 7 ft. high wooden fences on the sides (east and west) and the house, of course. The yard faces south. I moved in on August 1st, 2008. Being the middle of summer, I contented myself with some containers of annuals, since I wasn't about to try and create new flower beds in the intense heat of an Inland Empire summer. When the rains came the following winter, I was able to finally loosen up the soil a little and start digging out what would become my 30' long perennial border at the back wall. Using a pitch fork, I spent a whole weekend digging up grass and weeds and loosening the soil. Flipping hard work, and I'm truly surprised I didn't keel over from a heart attack. The following weekend, I was able to pick up big load of free compost from the city yard. Damn fine stuff, really nice and earthy smelling, still kinda "hot", but no big bits of vegetation or any garbage. I layered that onto my newly created bed and dug it in with the pitchfork. Let that sit for about two weeks to keep perking and start working it's way into the native soil. The result is this picture. Nice, huh?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

To Start With...

I love the picture in the blog header, and when I came up with the caption “The Herbal Corgi”, I decided something must be done with it, hence this blog. Actually, I was thinking it would be such a wonderful name for a little tea shop. Sell the best teas: bagged, loose and brewed, maybe some scones & muffins, even some sandwiches around lunchtime. There’d be a big plasma screen showing British movies, particularly ones featuring people drinking cups of tea, LOL! Stella The Fluff (corgi featured in blog banner) could stroll around at will, cadging nibbles from soft-hearted patrons. There’d be some folk music from the British Isles playing softly in the background. Ah well. Too bad I’m always broke, and prolly don’t have a head for business anyway.

So, what’s this blog about? I’m thinking it’ll mostly be about gardening. I’ll come here and prattle on about this and that, and I won’t have to worry about boring the snot out of anyone. I may meander in thought, as I often do in deed, but it's my blog and I'll meander if I want to.