Friday, March 22, 2013

Spring 2013 San Diego County Garden Events

A hillside butterfly garden on display in the 2012 Clairemont Garden Tour
It is officially Spring and it’s time to think about attending one or more of this season’s garden events. I encourage you to attend a tour and plant sale in your neighborhood or explore a new neighborhood! Here is a list of events for the San Diego county area:

Through May 12: Visit the Flower Fields in Carlsbad, CA – See the Ranunculus flowers bloom in patterns yet unseen in the 15 year history of the event. Cost $11 for adult, $6 for child. Event website

March 22 - 24, Orchid Show at Scottish Rite Center in Mission Valley. Event website

April 6, 9 AM to 4 PM San Diego Horticultural Society 25th Annual Garden Tour of seven diverse Poway gardens sponsored by San Diego Home and Garden Magazine. Rumor has it that this is one of the best garden tours in the county. Event website 

April 6 - 7, Southern California Plumeria Cutting Sale at Room 101, Casa del Prado, Balboa Park. This free admission event is a cutting sale (cash and check only) with demonstrators and vendors on hand to offer advice on caring for plumeria. Event website

April 13,  9 AM to 3 PM, Fallbrook Garden Tour displays seven gardens featuring water conservation and native vegetation. Tour begins at Fallbrook Historical Society. Event website

April 20, 9 AM to 12 PM, Point Loma Garden Club Annual Plant Sale at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Event website

April 20 - 21, San Diego Rose Show at Liberty Station, Point Loma. Amateur and expert presentation of roses. Cost is $5 per adult, children under 12 are free. Event website

April 20, 10 AM to 4:30 PM, 8th Annual Encinitas Garden Festival and Tour displays eighteen gardens focusing on the use of space. Gardening Sale and exhibitions will take place as well. Event Website

 April 21,  2 PM, 11th Annual Seaside Native Plant Garden Tour, St. Mary's School, Oceanside. Tour will showcase eighteen front yard gardens that focus on native plants. Event website

April 27, 10 AM to 4 PM, 12th Annual Point Loma Garden Walk will feature ten neighborhood gardens and a large plant sale. Event Website

April 27, 9 AM to 3 PM, Friends of East County 18th Annual Garden Tour features six gardens and a craft show. Event website

April 27, 9 AM to 3 PM, 6th Annual Ramona Garden Club Tour and Sale, Ramona Library. This tour will feature six gardens and a large Plant Sale. Event website

April 27,  9 AM to 4 PM, 19th Annual Spring Garden Festival, Cuyamaca College. Learn about urban farming and sustainability. Loads of activities for all ages and gardening skill levels. Please review website because there is some discrepancy between on-line resources of the actual date. Some sites say April 27, others April 28. Event Website

May 4, 10 AM to 4 PM, Clairemont Garden Tour. This 17th Annual event features twelve homes in Clairemont, Bay Park, and Bay Ho. Check out the cool gardens in central San Diego, in the neighborhood I call home! Event website

May 4, Master Gardener Spring Seminar, County of San Diego Operation Center, Kearney Mesa. Take a class from the San Diego Master Gardeners, view demonstrations, and purchase items at the garden market place. Event Website

May 11, 10 AM to 4 PM, Mission Hills Garden Club Walk, Mission Hills Nursery. One of the most highly regarded garden tours in the county in the area of historic Mission Hills. Information is currently forthcoming on garden club website.

May 18, 10 AM to 4 PM, 15th Annual Secret Garden Tour, La Jolla and Muirlands features six secluded, old-growth gardens. The garden locations are a tightly maintained secret until the day of the tour. Event website

May 18, San Diego Floral Association Historic Garden Tour  and Plant Sale will showcase eight gardens in the eclectic and historic neighborhoods of Burlingame and North Park. Event Website

Take a stroll through the garden gate - you'll never know what you'll find!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Reduce landscape damage by wildlife

There are things you can do to discourage pests such as moles, skunks and raccoons from digging up your yard and garden.

There are two kinds of moles that work under the lawn. The star-nosed mole digs at least 6 inches deep and leaves periodic piles of soil that are air vents. The eastern mole tunnels shallowly and it is possible to follow its trail around the lawn and flower beds. Eighty percent of both moles’ diets are earthworms and the remaining 20 percent are soil insects and grubs. They are not eating plant roots.

Mole control is not about grub control in many cases, but it is important to make sure that grubs are not the driving force of your mole invasion. Otherwise, if it is just moles working on that 80 percent of their diet, look at some of the mole repellants that are available.

Skunks and racoons will dig in the lawn, especially in the spring and fall looking for grubs, earthworms or soil insects. Having them digging does not mean there are grubs. They eat the same things moles do, but work from the top down.

If there are less than five grubs per square foot, try some of the surface repellants that are castor oil-based. These mask the smell of the grubs just below the surface. These repellants can be sprayed on the surface, but are not watered in. Spray the areas that are just adjacent to the damaged areas and any areas that have some damage.
Eastern mole
 Photo by Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University


Friday, March 15, 2013

Trending in the Garden 2013

I may be a bit late in posting trends for 2013, but I figured since the active portion gardening season starts in spring, my timing is still relevant. I have been researching gardening trends for the year and have organized them in to three main themes. As with most things under the sun, none of these are new, but rather, many gardening resources and individuals are focusing on these topics.

1. The Sensory Experience in the Garden

Double Delight roses
The sensory experience of a Garden has become tantamount. Many gardeners are focusing on adding fragrant flowers, plants that bring vivid color year round, and use of textures that are delightful to the touch (and also release an enchanting scent). Striking variegated leaves are big this season as they provide pops of color when blooms are scarce. My favorite variegated plant is the Japanese mock orange hedge. I love the pale mint leaves with a creamy edging. The small flowers bloom February through April and are akin to citrus flowers. Gardeners are opting for fragrant flowers over minimally fragrant ones. Roses are following this trend; garden centers and nurseries are stocking more fragrant types of rose such as Peace, Mr. Lincoln, and Honey Perfume. Older, heirloom roses are popular again as well. My favorite heavily scented flowers are jasmine, sweet peas, and of course, roses. Children’s sensory gardens are now in vogue; check your local botanical garden or arboretum for potential offerings. These gardens focus on visual, scent, texture, and taste cues to get children excited about learning where food comes from and the ecology of land stewardship. Creating an herb garden (indoor or outdoor) with kids is a fun home activity to get them interested in plants.

Herbs bring sensory elements to the garden.
2. Urban Farming

Another main theme of 2013 gardening is the idea of creating and maintaining an urban farm in one’s backyard that gives the home owner a degree of self-sufficiency in bringing nutritious food to the table. This movement focuses on more intensive gardening methods (more production per square foot), raising farm type animals (mainly chickens for eggs, but rabbits, goats, and bee keeping are becoming more common), and use of strictly organic methods of growing food. In my mind, there is still a debate to be had between the labels of an urban farm versus urban garden. I think that using the label farm is a bit too ambitious for even most seasoned backyard gardeners and doesn’t represent the way the majority of American gardeners operate. But that is a debate for a later blog post. More importantly, I am very excited about the renewed interest in potager gardening, the design of esthetically pleasing, self-sufficient edible gardens that have their roots (pun intended) in early Mediterranean Europe. Again, more to come in a later blog post.

Flowers not lawns!
3. Ecological Gardening Design and Practices

Ecological practices will continue to influence garden design with a focus on planting native species to support native wildlife, planting of gardens that support bee and butterfly populations, and drought tolerant landscape design for dry areas. Meadows will be replacing lawns, growing heirloom plants and collecting heirloom seeds will pick up steam, and organic methods of pest control, soil enrichment, water collection, and composting should spread. I ditched my lawn years ago and now happily grow fruit trees, wildflowers, artichokes and squash in its place. I am finishing the organic soil amendment of my vegetable beds (with Hubby’s help, of course) with compost and pasteurized chicken manure. I have a pie in the sky dream of building a rain water collection system, but that will have to wait until more immediate needs are met (primarily the spring planting).  

I am anticipating a wonderful growing season this spring especially if the lovely pre-spring weather is an indicator of the future. Daylight savings is already a blessing in allowing me some week-day time in the garden. Did I miss anything? What is trending in your garden for 2013?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Rites of Spring: Sakura Matsuri

One of the more beautiful preludes to spring time is the flowering of Japanese cherry blossoms. The Japanese Meteorological Agency tracks the sakura zensen, or cherry blossom front, as it starts in Okinawa and moves northward to Kyoto and Tokyo then finally to the northern-most  island of Hokkaido.  How lovely to track a front of flowers rather than a winter storm! The cherry blossom is a popular motif in Japanese culture, symbolizing the ephemeral nature of beauty and life itself.  In more recent times, cherry blossoms symbolized friendship between Japan and cherry blossom recipients. Thanks to the generosity of the Japanese people, many nations now have Sakura Matsuri, a festival to celebrate the arrival of the cherry blossoms. One of the most popular, The National Cherry Blossom Festival, celebrates the arrival of the cherry blossoms that surround the Mall in Washington, D.C.

Hubby and I were fortunate to attend the San Diego Japanese Friendship Garden this past weekend to view the blooms, purchase ceramics at the craft fair, and watch dance demonstrations by the local cultural societies.  The Japanese Friendship Garden has completed the majority of the new landscaping in the canyon below the Casa del Rey Moro Garden. It isn’t quite finished yet, but I can’t wait to go back and see the completed water features and filled-in landscaping.  The wisteria near the koi pond was only just beginning to bloom, and I must make another trip to the garden to see the blooms in all their gorgeous, fragrant glory. I love Japanese garden esthetic traditions; allow me to share some spring-time inspiration:
The festival through the petals of the cherry blossoms
Cherry blossom detail
Cherry blossom detail
Koi pond
Overview of main pathway
The bamboo trains the pines to grow in a desired fashion, like bonsai.
Pathway to lower canyon & cherry blossoms
I love rain chains - I want one!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

High on hibiscus

What started as a baby gift in 1989 has grown into a hobby of hybridization, flower shows and meeting other people who have a passion for hibiscus.

Jim Gedicke, a senior risk management analyst at HighMount Exploration & Production LLC, has been growing hibiscus since 1989.
“My youngest daughter was born in 1989,” Gedicke said. “Somebody gave us a baby gift that included a planter with a common red hibiscus in it. We planted it in the yard. It did well, grew large and flowered all of the time. We really thought it was a nice plant.”
Gedicke’s opportunity to enjoy the plant at his New Orleans home didn’t last long.
“We had a really bad freeze during December 1989 and it killed the plant,” he said. “Next spring we went out and bought three more plants. Each year since then we’ve bought a few more and have planted them around the yard.”

While at Dupont Nursery in Plaquemine, La., Jim Gedicke
 checks out the hibiscus being hybridized by the company.
Photos courtesy of Jim Gedicke.
In 2002 while visiting Dupont Nursery in Plaquemine, La., Gedicke had the opportunity to meet and talk with hibiscus breeder Bobby Dupont.
“He gave us tour of the greenhouse and showed us the seedlings he was working on,” Gedicke said. “We bought $80-$90 worth of plants that day.”
Gedicke now has over 130 varieties of hibiscus either planted in his home landscape or in containers.

Detoured by Hurricane Katrina
Gedicke lives in New Orleans, but commutes to Houston for his job. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Gedicke’s job moved permanently to Houston. He still owns his home in New Orleans and rents an apartment in Houston.
Gedicke is a member of the American Hibiscus Society and attends meetings and shows in both Louisiana and Texas.

Jim Gedicke prepares blooms for judging
at a hibiscus flower show in Lafayette, La.
Photo by Damon Veach.
“In Houston since I live in an apartment, I don’t keep any plants on a permanent basis,” he said. “I may bring some plants with me to Houston if I want to attend a weekend flower show and the plants look like they may bloom within a week. If they bloom, I may enter the flowers in a show.”
Gedicke has installed an automated watering system in New Orleans so he doesn’t have to be concerned with the plants while he’s working in Houston.
“I spent about $40 on my irrigation system at Home Depot,” he said. “It’s a manifold that I can hook up with four hoses. It has a battery-powered timer that opens and closes a valve. The hoses are attached to foliar sprinklers. I basically water in the morning for 10 minutes and in the late afternoon for 10 minutes using city water.”
Gedicke said another important factor when growing hibiscus, especially in containers, is using a well-drained soil.
“When I first started growing hibiscus people always told me about the soil,” he said. “I didn’t care about the soil. To me soil was dirt. I found out that the soil is very important and you need to use one that drains well. Based on my experience, hibiscus like to be watered regularly, but they don’t like to be sitting in water. It’s also important to try to water the plants every day so they don’t dry out.”
One of things that Gedicke is going to be working on this year is raising his container-grown hibiscus plants up off the ground.
“I’ve found that earthworms are the biggest killers of my plants than anything else,” he said. “They crawl into the pots through the drain holes and then they can’t get out. Earthworms make castings and after a while the soil holds water and doesn’t drain. This can cause the plants to get root rot. I bought some concrete paver stones to put the pots on those to raise them up off the ground. I found the earthworms will crawl over the stones and still get into the pots. I am now in the process of building some wooden tables along with using cinder blocks so I can keep the pots off the ground to prevent earthworms from coming in.”

Picking varieties that work
Gedicke said he has found the garden varieties of hibiscus are better because they seem to be hardier and bloom better.
“There might be a variety that grows really well and has a nice flower, but if it only blooms once or twice a year you aren’t going to get a lot of enjoyment out of it,” he said. “A lot of it is trial and error to find out which ones do well and which ones don’t.”
Although Gedicke has limited space in his yard he has found the plants do much better in the ground than they do in pots.
“The plants in the ground can send a tap root down to wherever the water is,” he said. “They kind of self-regulate themselves. I never really water the ones in my yard unless it is really a drought period. They usually survive on just the natural rain.
"If you live in an area where you don’t have to worry about freezes, planting them in the ground is better. If you have to be concerned about freezing temperatures then plant them in pots. You can move them around when they are in pots so they are easier to protect.”
Gedicke said one of his favorite varieties is 'Creole Lady'.

‘Creole Lady’ produces one of
Jim Gedicke’s favorite blooms.
“I planted one in my yard and it really grows better in the ground than in a pot,” he said. It is one of my steadiest bloomers in the ground. When it first opens the flower has rich colors that fade and change as the day goes on. If you pick the bloom early in the day and bring it inside, it will keep its rich colors all day. I’ve found that blooms placed in shot glasses make nice indoor table decorations. And the flowers will last a day or two.”
Jim Gedicke uses ‘Love Pat’ for
hybridizing new varieties.
Other varieties that Gedicke likes and he has won flower awards for include: ‘June’s Dragon’ and 'Love Pat'. He said he uses 'Love Pat' for hybridizing because it produces very fertile pollen. ‘Night Runner’ is another favorite that he said bloomed soon after he purchased it when the plant was only about 4 inches tall.
For more: Jim Gedicke,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Community gardens can deter crime

A community garden can draw people together around two common focal points: beauty and good food. The criminal element can be driven out by turning a trash-strewn vacant lot, that is home base for illegal activity, into a place of beauty filled with positive activities.

When neighbors walk by a community garden and see their neighbors gardening, they have common interests to talk to each other about. This can lead to the formation of relationships, connectedness, safer and more positive feelings about where they live and to the development of a community where people look out for each other.
Positive garden activities create safer communities.


Protect oaks from wilt disease by pruning during winter

Oak wilt, Ceratocystis fagacearum, is a deadly disease in oak trees with the red oak group being more susceptible than white oaks. Once oak wilt has infected a red oak tree, there is little chance of saving it.

Oak wilt can be carried to a tree by sap-feeding insects such as picnic beetles. These sap feeding beetles are attracted to oaks with fresh wounds. Picnic beetles feeding on the sap of oaks can transmit this fungal disease.

Avoid pruning of oak trees during the growing season. If pruning of oaks is necessary, it should be restricted to the winter when sap feeding beetles are not active.
One of the first symptoms of oak wilt is browning leaves at
the top of the tree which then spreads to lateral branches.


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Make sure garden plants get a good start

An important factor that will determine the degree of success you have with your garden vegetables and flowers is the growing medium you start the plants in. Seed-starting mixes and potting soils are not created equally.

Soilless seed-starting mixes have a finer texture. Although potting soils may be used to start seeds, they tend to have a more coarse texture.
Healthy garden vegetables and flowers begin with
good growing media.