Sharing Secrets  

Sharing Secrets is a great way to tap into the incredible wealth of knowledge our members possess!  We publish Sharing Secrets responses in the monthly Let's Talk Plants newsletter and also pose the following month question for members. We invite our members to email suggestions for the monthly question as well as answers and suggestions for this month's question.

In this forum, we invite members to continue the discussion by adding new posts. 

If you are a non-member, you may read the posts but may not comment.

  • Tue, September 01, 2015 10:41 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Jeannine Romero: Two come to mind immediately; the Japanese Garden in Seattle in early spring is stunning, with an explosion of azalea blooms in this serene setting with Japanese maples and traditional water features. Filoli, in Woodside, near San Jose, is a sprawling garden with a European feel and California vistas. There are several formal gardens with boxwood, roses, fruit trees, and a sunken garden. Lots of wisteria bloom in the early spring, and there are old trees of considerable size and sculptural interest and a grove of olive trees. Oh, and a fab mansion to tour that was used as the backdrop for the Carrington residence in the Dynasty TV series from the 1980s. You can search these gardens on my blog, gardenenvy.net.

    Una Marie Pierce: My friend Krista Mills has my favorite garden. It’s in the middle of Clairemont, where you wouldn’t expect it. It’s on two levels and has palms, succulent, fruit trees and chickens. She keeps it in perfect shape and has beautiful containers and specimen plants. She and her husband, Doug, have done most of the work themselves, including stairs to the lower level. They have a deck and plantings that go down the canyon; a little of everything.

    Wayne Julien: Just visited a world famous garden in Vista, CA on July 18, 2015. It is owned by Dr. Mardi Darian, who has been collecting, planting, propagating and introducing new plants into our area. He is famous for his fantastic palm, cycad, and tropical plant collection. The day was rainy, which reminded me of being in a rain forest with a little humidity to go along with the atmosphere. It was attended by approximately 150 palm enthusiasts as part of the Palm Society of Southern California, which meets every three months at a different garden within the Southern California area. Everyone had a great time with guided tours throughout the garden area. The garden was spectacular.

    Kate Engler: Barnsley House in Gloucestershire, England, the home of Rosemary Verney. Taking my mother to the Chelsea Flower Show for her 70th birthday and then visiting Rosemary’s home, with her as our guide, was an once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Linda Lawley: My favorite garden to visit is the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens. We have visited many times over the years when we vacationed in the area, but now that we have moved to Fort Bragg and only live a short distance away, it is even more my favorite. I may be partial, but the gardens have so much variety to offer. There are 47 acres that stretch from Highway 1 to the bluffs above the ocean. There are formal gardens as well as wild gardens and a fabulous vegetable garden. Part of the garden overlooks the ocean with its crashing waves. There are all kinds of birds in the garden, in the forest, and at the ocean. There is a very nice café, and people are allowed to bring their well-behaved dogs to the gardens. It makes me smile every time I am there. Here is a link to their web site:  gardenbythesea.org. Come visit!

    Sue Nelson: Longwood Gardens at Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The sheer expanse, beauty, and variety of plants are breathtaking. I was fascinated with the water lily garden.

    Susi Torre-Bueno: I really love Lotusland, up near Santa Barbara. What I like the most is that the gal who created the garden, Madam Ganna Walska, believed in doing things in a big way and her vision still persists in the large areas devoted to specimens of single species, or the long rows of fruit trees. There are a couple of good books about this fascinating garden, which is open by appointment only and well worth a visit. On September 19, Lotusland will host their annual “Ultimate Plant Party;” details are at lotusland.org. You’ll be nearby a delightful nursery with wonderful and extensive display gardens, Seaside Gardens (seaside-gardens.com). You could easily spend an hour or more here, and you can purchase most of the plant varieties you see on display.

    Sue Getyina: The Huntington Library Gardens. So many different areas devoted to all kinds of plants.

    Katherine Gannett: I would have to say that one of my favorite gardens to visit is Sissinghurst in Kent, England. Knowing how much thought and planning and time Vita Sackville-West and her husband, Harold Nicholson, put into the garden, it is interesting to see how their plant pairings evolved. The garden itself is large and lovely, from the Priest’s House to the daffodil meadow, to the traditional herb garden, to the large yew hedges, to the bleached lime walk, I find it all very inspiring (and daunting). My favorite plant is probably the little checkerboard frittalaria that appears in several areas of the property. It doesn’t hurt the total old-world effect to have the adjacent architecture as part of the picture: 13th century tower, guest houses, and the half-timbered Priest’s House all contribute to the loveliness of the backdrop. I think this garden is one of my favorites because it is so well-documented, both in Vita’s gardening notebooks and in her correspondence to family and friends. Sissinghurst is where I first became acquainted with the concept of the “white garden.”

    David Ericson: My Mom and Dad’s garden in Santa Barbara. It’s where I first fell in love with nature.

    Donna Tierney: One of my favorite gardens is Koko Crater Botanical Garden in eastern Oahu, Hawaii. It is a lovely garden featuring a dry land collection of plants that is a model of xeriscape concepts on a very tropical Hawaiian island. I love it because it features plants that aren’t found in many other places on the island and are in stark contrast to the palms, hibiscus, orchids, and other tropical plants usually associated with Hawaii. The garden is a two-mile loop trail, which meanders through various dry land plant collections from around the world as well as native Hawaiian plants. The major collections are arranged according to geography-the Americas, Hawaii, Madagascar, and Africa. There are significant collections of cacti, baobabs, dry land palms, aloes, euphorbias, and Adeniums. The plumeria trees are stunning! They are huge and the colors are amazing.

    Mollie Allan: Great Dixter and Sissinghurst Gardens in Kent, England. Glorious!

    Donald G. Yeckel: The favorite garden I have visited is the Montreal Botanical Garden. It has a stunning variety of theme gardens, greenhouses, and displays, but I especially loved its world-class Japanese and Chinese gardens.

    Lisa Rini: Lotusland. Madam Ganna Walska had such diverse taste in plant material, and I loved her use of rocks, glass, and shells. I use many of her ideas in gardens I design.

    Nicole O’Neil: Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden in Seal Harbor on Mt. Desert Island, Maine. Designed by Beatrix Farrand, the garden is beautifully situated in the forest, from which there are views out to sea. Open to the public just one day a week in late July, August, and early September.

    Pat Greer Venolia: The Huntington Gardens in San Marino, California, has been a magic place for me since my grandmother took me there in 1947 (see photo). When I go there now, I’m always eager to see how the climbing Pasadena Tournament rose from 1945 is doing. (My father discovered the climbing variety in a field of Pasadena Tournament rose bushes that he was growing.) Not to be missed: the magnificent old trees, huge camellia bushes, the new Chinese Garden, the fun and interesting children’s garden, springtime, when the wisteria is blooming on the arbor leading to the Japanese garden, and those magnificent, cherished rose gardens… and there’s so much more.

    Amelia B. Lima: My all time favorite garden is Roberto Burle Marx’s private gardens at his home in Graratiba, R.J. Brazil, for the exuberance and all his creativity in arranging plants together.

    Tynan Wyatt: I’ve been to probably 15 botanical gardens or arboretums around the western hemisphere and I still have to give the nod to the San Diego Botanic Garden (which will always be Quail Botanical Gardens in my heart). The only other garden I like more, but isn’t fully open to the public, is my own backyard! SDBG is my favorite because its plantings are diverse, span an enormous botanical richness, are well labeled, well kept, the children’s garden and underwater garden are not only original by extremely well done, it has a surprise waterfall (best way to make a date go from good to great!), the subtropical fruit garden always has something interesting happening, and I almost always learn something new on each visit to the garden. No other botanical garden I’ve been to in California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona, Oregon, or the Dominican Republic does all that and in such a humble way.

    Rachel Cobb: I have had opportunity to travel and see many gardens private and public all over the world. The most memorable garden I have visited was at the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, the Palacio de Generalife gardens. The water-garden courtyard has a long pool framed by flowerbeds, fountains, colonnades and pavilions. The Generalife is one of the oldest surviving Moorish gardens. Locally my favorite place to be is the San Diego Botanic Garden. It has so much to offer and is an easy place to just get lost in your thoughts strolling through the gardens.


  • Sat, August 01, 2015 12:46 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Patty Sliney: Oh, that’s tough because there are SO many good choices! I think one of my most favorite drought tolerant plants is a California native, Zauschneria californica, California fuchsia. It has beautiful, bright orange trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom late summer through fall. The hummingbirds adore it; so do our native butterflies. It is both drought and drip-tolerant, can tolerate summer water, and can take a real beating and come back to its beautiful state. It is well behaved, has a nice mounding habit and provides lovely pops of color.

    Mollie Allan: Birds of Paradise. I love the winning combination of orange and blue-purple. (92064)

    Bruce Hubbard: Parkinsonia aculeata, Palo Verde tree. Love it! Attractive year-round. Small enough for most landscape planting, and will do with no additional irrigation in San Diego after the first year (none at all if planted between November-March).

    Marc Capitano: Heteromeles arbutifolia (toyon) ‘Christmas Berry’. This plant with its serrated holly-like foliage is what gave “Hollywood” its name. Easterners arriving in California thought it was a holly, especially with its red berries around Christmas time. Propagates easily from seed and combines beautifully with Encinos. Five-star drought tolerant. (92028)

    Linda Chisari: Rose-scented geraniums (Pelargonium graveolens). A year ago I took six cuttings from a friend’s plants and simply stuck them in the ground in six different micro-climates in my garden, ranging from full sun to full shade, irrigated and non-irrigated. All of them have thrived on total neglect, apparently no water needed!

    Ari Tanenbaum: If you have space, Coast Live Oak is a beautiful tree! For smaller shrubs, I love grosso lavender.

    Anne Murphy: Salvia chamaedroyoides, Salvia leucantha, Galvezia speciosa. These are highly drought tolerant and are in bloom for much of the year.  

    Sue Fouquette: Hunnemannia fumariifolia (Mexican tulip poppy). Ours gets watered once a week and that may be the reason they bloom almost every month except January. If they just depended on rain, perhaps they would bloom only at the time Eschscholzia californica, California poppy, blooms in spring. They reseed in both sun and dappled shade. Plants are three feet tall with attractive ferny blue-green leaves. The flowers are such a bright clear yellow, matching the flowers on the nearby Thevetia thevetioides tree. In the front yard, I deadheaded them to keep them blooming, but in the backyard I let them go to seed so I can collect the pods, which I donate every year to the California Native Plant Society sale, in Balboa Park, in October. When you pick the tan, ripe seedpods, you’ll know why they are called poppies! They are a good cut flower too.    

    Chris Drayer: I have found a rich vein of useful plants in the genus Kalanchoe. There are a number of sturdy, adaptable, drought tolerant species, which have a lush and leafy, rather than a desert-y appearance. I often get feedback from clients that they don’t want a drought tolerant landscape because they don’t like the “desert” look. I interpret that to mean they don’t like the “spiky plant”, sparsely vegetated cactus garden effect. When I show pictures of some Kalanchoes, like K. bracteata ‘Silver Spoons’ K. orgyalis ‘Copper Spoons’, or K. beharensis (Felt plant), that are used in drifts, like any other leafy perennial, they are usually pleasantly surprised. The K. beharensis also has some beautiful cultivars that are bushier and with better leaf colors.

    Jeff Moore: The obvious answer is succulents (aloes and agaves); but the broader answer is that the question is flawed. The only plants any of us will use from now on are drought tolerant!

    Marilyn Guidroz: Glad that you asked this question. My favorite low water needs plant is by far and away the Leucophyllum langmaniae (Texas Ranger). When all other plants are hunkering down in the hot, humid weeks of the summer months, this one shines! It loves the heat and the humidity and blooms like a showstopper. Not just once but over and over again, all summer long. The ‘Rio Bravo’ seems to work best for our inland gardens. ‘Lynn’s Legacy’ is a close second.

    Vivian Black: I’m very fond of society garlic, fuchsias, and statice. They continue to grow with very little encouragement. (92128)

    Tammy Schwab: Parkinsonia ‘Palo Blanco’ and ‘Desert Museum’, Vitex trifolia ‘Purpurea’ (purple vitex), Desert willow, Texas olive, Leucophyllum candidum (violet), Silverleaf, Hamelia patens (Firebush), Tacoma stans (Yellow trumpet bush), Mascagnia macroptera (Butterfly vine), Agave parryi truncata, Melaleuca encana, and all euphorbia; I have not found one that I don’t like; all Salvia. (92024)  

    Linda?: Jade plant.

    Steve Zolezzi:Without question-Aloes-they live forever without much care and water. They usually don’t hurt to touch, like most Agaves. Most multiply rapidly. They come in all sizes, shapes, and colors and best of all the blooms are great. What more should we need?

    J.R. Miles:This month it is Sphaeralcea ambigua (Desert mallow). The gophers haven’t found it yet; it blooms prolifically with practically no water and no soil amendment. It went from an ugly little, shriveled stick in a gallon pot, to a really attractive bush, in less than one season. One subspecies or cultivar from Arizona has a range of flower colors from light pink to lavender, including the more common orange colors.  

    Jenny Hawkins: Lavender, the smell is divine.

    Sue Getyina: Succulents, grevilleas, and California natives. (92054)

    Bridget Grier: I like Gauras. They grow in a nice full mounded form with lots of small flowers on slender stalks that extend above the foliage and move in the slightest breeze. They don’t seem picky about soil, grow well in full sun and need little water.

    Charlotte Getz: Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’ is one of my favorites. It blooms nonstop and the hummingbirds love the flowers. It is 4 feet by 4 feet with an arching growth habit.   

    Paul Strauss: A few come to mind: Echeveria, like so many small jewels; selected Grevillea shrubs like ‘Peaches and Cream’, Coprosma, ‘Marble Queen’ and ‘Tequilla Sunset’ (colorful foliage).

    Michael Meacham: 1) Pride of Madeira. 2) Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ or any Ceanothus.

    Wayne Julien: My favorite water wise plant is native California sages and hybrid sages. They can go without water once established and provide food for birds and bees. This time of year they are in full bloom and make the garden a joy to behold.  

    Amelia Lima: Agaves are my #1 favorite drought tolerant plants. (92014)  

    Susan L.: 1) Melaleuca nesophila. This is a fast growing shrub with an interesting shape that tolerates poor soil and can be used for a quick informal screen. 2) Ceanothus thrysiflorus ‘Skylark’. This remains a manageable size (3-6 feet tall and 5 feet wide), tolerates some summer water in gardens, and blooms vigorously for a long season. 3) Juniper tamariscifolia (tamarix juniper). This is a good filler plant on dry slopes with poor soil. It has a dark green color and is low growing (1-2 feet high and 10 feet wide) so it does not block sprinklers. To avoid pest problems restrict water in the summer. (92130)

    Timothy Jara: Besides wonderful succulents, aloe, and agaves there are a few perennials that have done well in our hot, inland backyard of Poway. Teucrium chamaedrys, thrives on neglect. Texas Ranger blooms several times with total neglect, with nice purple flowers on a silver bush. Palo Verde ‘Desert Museum’ (love it). Calliandra ‘Cane’s Hybrid’, trees bloom at least three times a year in a light pink. All Alstromeria; especially the hybrids that grow close to the ground. Pelargonium ionidiflorum bloom all spring and summer with bright pink flowers.

    Greg Herbert: Dragon tree (Dracaena draco). We are working at an historic property at 3574 7th Avenue, across the street from the Marston House, near Balboa Park. There is an historic photograph of an 18-inch tall plant, where a 25 feet tall dragon tree is growing now. The owners think it may have been planted by Kate Sessions.   

    Beth Escott Newcomer: We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, drought tolerant plants at Serra Gardens (cacti.com). Here are just a few favorites: Agave bracteosa (Squid Agave), is a small, slow-growing, bright green, spineless agave that works well in pots, rock gardens, and as a focal in small scale succulent gardens. Calibanus hookeri provides a soft grass-like appearance in the xeriscape, and is also prized by collectors for its wonderful caudex. Use Ruschia linealata as a durable and extremely drought tolerant ground cover and even as a lawn replacement; tough enough for dogs, kids, and foot traffic. Dasilyrion wheeleri is a wonderful focal plant featuring silver-blue leaves and a perfectly symmetrical hemisphere, when mature. Note: all of these plants are also frost-resistant and will work in all San Diego zones.

    Mark Riedler: My favorite drought tolerant plant is the Aloe ‘Hercules’, which is a cross between the Aloe bainesii (A. barberae) and Aloe dichotoma. Once established it seems to do fine with whatever rainfall we get in San Diego. I like this plant because of its architectural form, fantastic trunk and hybrid vigor. Mine has grown from and 18 inch plant to about 9 feet in five years, so I would recommend starting with a relatively small and cheaper plant. My zip code is 92024 and there are a number of local nurseries that carry these plants.

    Cedros Gardens: Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’, Leucospermum ‘Yellow Bird’, Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’, ‘Grape’, ‘Eastern Concord’. (920024)

    Diane Bailey: One of my favorite drought tolerant plants is lantana. It comes in a number of color combinations, is easy to grow, generally low growing shrubs, they take moderate to little water once established.

    Cheryl Leedom: My Palo Verde tree ‘Desert Museum’ is definitely a favorite in the garden. The hummingbirds and bees love it, too. Right now it’s in full bloom, covered in yellow blossoms and will flower all summer. The lacy branches sway with the afternoon breezes so it creates motion in the garden too. It lives with us in Escondido, near Lake Hodges. (92029)

    Mark Cassie: I have about 150 roses. They are pretty drought tolerant. I’m not prepared to give up on my garden until this year is over. El Nino is being forecasted stronger and stronger. I can (in the meantime) install rain barrels off of my gutter system, in anticipation. I have put my heart and soul into this garden.

    Greg Hunter: Duranta erecta (tree form). Why: drought tolerant, minimum water, evergreen, long period of profuse flowering of purple flowers and yellow fruit, practically maintenance free, prune it for your own desired shape, fast growing, hardy, and bees, butterflies, and birds love the tree. 

    Donald Yeckel: Succulents will no doubt be a popular choice (and I have many, many, of those), but bromeliads are often misunderstood and overlooked as versatile and attractive drought tolerant plants. In particular, most people know that tillandsias are epiphytic and even in our dry climate need only occasional spritzing to survive and even flourish, but many do not know that many of the bromeliads sold in plastic nursery containers as terrestrial can adapt quite happily to a life as air plants. Others think of bromeliads as shade plants, but there are many species that prefer or at least tolerate sun. All in all, an especially useful plant in a time of drought.

    Sandra Knowles: I love lots of plants, and two of the toughest are agapanthus, which flowers and remains green all year, with or without fertilizers and water, and a variety of chain fern, which forms large, beautiful clumps. The ferns perform all year, even with very dry periods. A little cottonseed meal, a couple times a year is appreciated. Oh, did I mention, they are on the west side of the house in full sun. We live in Encinitas, four miles inland. (92024)

    Nancy Groves: I have a yard full of bromeliads, many of which are low water usage. My favorite is Tillandsia tectorum, which is an epiphyte with very narrow leaves lined with fuzzy white hairs (trichomes) that are large and look bright white. The flowers are purple. I will grow in full sun and is better adapted to areas with low humidity and intense sunlight, though it will it will grow in partial shade and needs airflow. It grows naturally in Peru and Ecuador, on rocks and cliffs. Great patio plant; you can put it in a pot with very well drained mix or just hang it up with wire or fishing line.

    Gerald D. Stewart: This is a no-brainer. Pelargoniums are my favorite drought tolerant plant. Most are native to, or derived from, species that are native to areas in South Africa with a Mediterranean climate like here in San Diego County. As a consequence, once they are established in the ground, they survive on almost no irrigation. As I learned during the drought of the early 1990s, “pels” in the ground bloomed well when watered once a month during the months there was no or very little rain. (92084)

    Cindy Sparks: ‘Silver Falls’ dichondra is the best. I noticed it growing at Hanson Agriculture Center outside of Ventura, a UC test site. We went up there for a field trip on a really hot day (over 100 degrees). They had a 20 by 30 foot planted map of the world, and the oceans were ‘Silver Falls’. I asked how they possibly managed to grow that out there. The reply was it’s really one tough plant, and they hardly ever water it. They just squirt it with a hose if the children are coming for a visit because it makes those areas of the map glisten in the sun, just like the ocean would. I tried it in my front yard. It’s great. Not easy to propagate, but plant it from starts and it creeps around and droops over any ledge or retaining wall. The dog pees on it and it doesn’t seem to mind terribly, plus I only water once every 14 days in my 92107 Point Loma garden.

    Marilyn Wilson: My Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ has a taproot, blooms for months, makes a great cut flower, and has given me seedlings that thrive in areas of NO irrigation. Vista. (92084)

  • Wed, July 01, 2015 12:44 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Christine Vargas: Adding more and more rain barrels and planting more and more cacti and succulents!

    Sue Lasbury: Nothing has changed in my garden in response to our drought. Natives and drought tolerant plants in my garden make that possible. I am, however, starting to think about systems to collect rain water and reuse grey water.  

    Gail Nye:Taking out the front lawn and putting in native plants.

    Richard Cooke:The two actions I have taken are: 1) Replace rainbird sprinklers, currently covering an area newly planted with French lavender, with a drip system. 2) Purchased a chipper/shredder that generates mulch that I can use throughout the backyard, to reduce weeks and retain moisture.

    Annie Arquhart:I put down straw under my fruit bearing trees.

    Stephen Zolezzi:YES - I started changing planting nine years ago with the big freeze. That’s about when the cost of water started to increase too; resulting in a big makeover to a much less thirsty pallet of plantings and it’s worked very well. Not so sure for this summer and early fall, with all the new drought rules and penalties. Most troubling concern is how aggressively the campaign is for turning in your neighbors who may be wasting water. This tends to bring out the worst in people. Let’s all hope El Nino opens up the skies this season.

    Debra Lee Baldwin:I added a trigger sprayer to the end of the hose I use to water my containers and window boxes. The spray goes precisely where I want it to and nothing’s wasted.

    Connie Forest:I have lots of potted plants. I am going to try and get in the habit of saving my nightly bath water and using it the next day to water my plants. It will be a lot more work but it will allow me to continue to have plants that require more water, like annuals and some perennials.

    Marc Stonebraker:We have decided to remove all lawn in our yard (approximately 2000 square feet total) and replace it with hardscape and low maintenance/low water plants, emphasizing those that attract birds, hummingbirds, and butterflies.  

    Patty Vickery:Several years ago I deleted over thirty rose bushes. I have been collecting rainwater for many years also. I take short showers and don’t run water in the bathroom unnecessarily. We don’t flush the toilets every time so I can use enough water for my roses. I don’t know what more I can do.

    Barbara Huntington: I find it much easier to weed my new drought tolerant front yard!

    Vivian Black:I keep a close watch on the weather and since I have a very abundant garden, I need to drip water everywhere. I have three rain barrels; two-250 gallon and one-75 gallon, and as soon as I feel I have maxed them out, I use them. Also I use my koi pond filter water, about 100 gallons of waste water (rich green algae water, 2-3 times a year). My main watering is done around 6 a.m., three times a week for 5 minutes, and everything is on either a low spray or a drip system. I can control the watering system manually and I do if I think it’s going to rain, I turn it off. If it doesn’t rain I turn it on before nightfall. I also collect shower water and sink water and use that in the garden. Plus I do grey water in three places; two reverse osmosis machines at two sinks and my washing machine is piped into the garden and on a pineapple guava tree. I used to water longer than 5 minutes (7-9 minutes) but it seems that 5 minutes is working for now.

    Marlaine Hubbard: Removed all grass from the front yard, reduced 25% of the grass in the backyard. I replaced the lawn with succulents/pots/decomposed granite and hardscape.

    Cheryl Leedom:I’m in the process of converting to micro-sprayers in the garden, wherever possible. I’ve also hauled in several truckloads of compost and mulch for spreading under the citrus trees and around the rest of the garden so I can cut back on the amount of water they will need. In researching this I discovered that the mulch should not be deeper than four inches or it can actually kill the plants and trees. This was news to me! So I guess more isn’t always better.

    Ava Torre-Bueno:I bought my house in 1996 and proceeded to not water at all. In 1998 I covered what was left of my “lawn” with newspaper and then cactus mix and put in a drought tolerant cactus and succulent garden. In normal years I only watered once a month, May through November and then let Mother Nature deliver her bounty through the winter. In the last few years I have had to water once a month, in the winter and twice a month in the summer, and still, I have lost a few plants to the drought. I follow the rules for which day and time I can water and it is no problem at all. I am ecstatic to see that my next door neighbors have taken out their lawn and will be taking cuttings and pups from my garden to start their own low-water landscape.

    Linda Jones:I am in the process of removing lawns, removing thirsty plants (palms) and planting California natives. I am also planning how to group plants by water needs more efficiently. I still have to have flowers, fragrance and some food in my garden so I am trying to balance these with less water.

    Deirdre Swanson:The water issues have absolutely made an impact on how I approach gardening. Coming from the Texas Gulf Coastal area, I already had to rethink my gardening passion. Lately I have adjusted my water usage down by a greater degree. I look at every plant I bring into my garden as a resource commitment and I am changing out all of my thirsty plants for lower water plants. I have designated one area that I allow more water; my raised vegetable beds. They receive hand watering only, so I keep a close eye on water usage. It has been a lot of fun so far making the conversion, but I still have far to go!

    Joan Braunstein:Recently I heard about “diaper gardening.” The gel used in diapers to hold liquid will also hold water near a plant’s roots, when a handful is added to the planting hole. I planted several mints out of the irrigation zone and they showed a need for water every two or three days. I tucking a handful of the crystals from a clean diaper under each plant and now they go a week or more between watering. I add water to the crystals before using; they expand considerably into a gel-like substance. I don’t know what the crystals are made of or if they are good for the soil, and would be interested in any feedback.

    Nancy Carter:The current drought has changed nothing for me because I have removed grass and lawns and maintained a low-water garden at each house I’ve owned since moving to California more than 30 years ago.  

    Linda Canada:We have taken out a swimming pool and replaced the surrounding grassy areas with a rock hardscape and drought tolerant/low water requiring plants. I love the change for its lower maintenance requirements, as well as the water savings!

    Dale Serafin:Yes, all of the grass is out except for the weeds and the replacement is silver carpet. I am watering twice a week and spraying with a weed and grass killer and praying and hoping for the best.

    Sherri Hannan:Yes, to your question. We are placing a bucket in the shower and using the water to water our plants on our veranda. We are not planting in an area we had planned to. We are more careful with water, when hand watering and we are taking out a medium sized lawn. We are on 1/3 of an acre on a corner lot and trying to figure out what to do with a large front and side lawn.  

    Ken Blackford: The drought has not affected my habits as much because I’ve been very conservative with my use of water now for several years, having already eliminated the lawn and migrating to more drought tolerant plants. My plans, however, have changed. I am planning an addition and upgrades to the house and want to incorporate a grey-water diversion/retention system, along with a cistern of some kind for rain water diversion/retention. While perhaps these won’t provide enough water to last through our long dry season, it may make the difference between life and death, for some of the plants I love.  

    Marylyn Rinaldi: We let our grass die; we changed one additional sprinkler station to drip, and incorporated more hardscape.  

    Enid and Mark Sherman: We will get rid of our grass and do a succulent and native plant front yard.

    Catherine Tylka: Well, I used to wine water my garden by hand. I’d get a glass of wine, go out around dinner time or after and slowly drink wine and water by hand some areas that didn’t get water from anyone by God. Well those days are over. I am only doing the birdie watering that I schedule on my timers and what lives, will live; sad to say good-by to the wine watering. Steve Bingham taught me this; he called it beer watering. Anyway, we will see how the garden survives without my help!

    Bridget Grier: I planted three dwarf fruit trees in the same hole with a three gallon olla in the center. An olla is a terra cotta vessel that you bury then plant around it. You fill it 2-3 times a week and the water seeps out slowly and the plants roots grow towards it.

    Cindy Sparks: Sometimes it just happens that things work out perfectly. I am about to begin some construction on the house and it means trashing the entire front yard for a few weeks or months, so I am turning off all the sprinklers there, which will save water. Not that much actually, as my front meadow got watered once every 14 days, but still it should make a measurable difference. Also, today I checked all the controller programs and reworked the “omit” days to align with the city’s new requirements. I’m considering killing off the low-chill sweet cherry trees I tried so hard to foster. They do give me cherries, a very small harvest because I keep them to a very small space, but they require pruning twice a year (keeps them small), feeding, netting before harvest, un-netting after harvest, and of course deep watering. All that isn’t really worth the precious water I give them. So off with their heads!

    Gerald D. Stewart: Most of what can be done has been done. The lawn was removed back in the 1980’s; irrigation is on time clocks that are always off, turned on only occasionally when manually tripping the various stations; plants that require frequent irrigation are grouped together while generally plants that don’t like the rare irrigation have always been encouraged to die quickly, to make room for something that will enjoy a low water environment.  That said, to reduce overall water use, some areas of the acre that require regular irrigation have been eliminated (Dahlia Dell, for example) and others are severely reduced so that difficult-to-replace cultivars are minimally saved (Canna Court provides the biggest reduction in this category). Another major change is I’ve become devout and find myself, frequently when in the garden, praying…. for rain.

    Brett Ecker: The recent drought has peaked my already existing fascination with succulents and other drought tolerant plants. I would very much like to take out lawn and other thirsty plantings from my landscape. I think I will do that, just a little bit sooner now.  

    Greg Rubin: In our case, the drought has simply intensified our efforts. We are no longer doing any conventional sod installations, although we have been converting lots of existing lawns to buffalo grass, as well as native sedges. Or we have been ripping out lawns altogether and replacing them with native landscaping. One of the other interesting outcomes from the drought declaration is that people are delaying ANY type of installation until cooler weather, this fall. Although I fully understand their thinking, we are finding that the more frequent, establishment watering is still less water intensive (in most cases) than what is being replaced. It is fairly easy to run the analysis. Contractors are as busy as they’ve ever been; my fear is being slammed all at once, this fall and there not being enough qualified contractors or plants to accommodate it. On the other hand, people who already have water efficient landscapes are being unfairly penalized for the wastefulness of others. I would prefer that the water agencies come up with different criteria like maximum usage based on landscape square footage. I guess no good deed goes unpunished, right?

    Marsha Bode:Mostly I have stopped planting so many plants, even drought tolerant ones. I water my lime trees (property is a former lime grove) just enough to keep them alive. I water the vegetable garden by hand when it needs it, putting water at the bases of the plants instead of watering all the surrounding dirt. The little rain we had in late spring and the overcast days have been a real bonus for me.

    Charlotte Getz: We are in the process of converting all of our pop-up sprinklers to drip. We are using Netafim, and it works very well.

    Steve Brigham:You wouldn’t think of the Mendocino coast as having climate like Santa Barbara, but that’s the way it’s been here for the past three years. Fortunately, all the plants in my garden are ones that grew well in San Diego, and so even with global warming, they’re all right at home here now! Last year was the third and fourth year in the ground for all the drought-tolerant plants in my relatively new garden and they went through the whole summer without water, just fine, with no ill effects (we have a cool ocean climate here, so it never gets very hot). This year, just to be on the safe side, I’m mulching heavily with wood chips, but I’ve sure got more free time now that my garden is established and fully drought-tolerant and I don’t have to water. We do have to try and save water here these days, so I’d be a hypocrite if I did water my garden this year. So this year I just plain won’t water anything except for the pots of flowers on my deck and my vegetable garden, and I know everything will be fine. Thank goodness for drought-tolerant plants!

    Chuck Ades:The biggest problem I have, which I just became aware of when I posted my water bills for the last three years, is that I have used the hoses in the yard indiscriminately, just grabbing whichever I happen to be near when I saw I had to apply additional water. When I posted my water usage, I saw that the usage changed a lot depending upon which hose I used; the one connected to the house meter or the lot meter. So, now, I have to consult my 2013 bills to decide which hose I should use during each billing period. I bet there are others the same as I am who did not look at their previous bills!

    Steve Wallet and Lisa Rini: I have discovered that my spiderweb broom works GREAT in the garden! I hand water most of my plants (air plants/orchids/bromeliads) and often found a quick squirt of water effectively removed garden cobwebs. This past year I stopped using my water squirt technique and started using my spiderweb broom outside. It works like a charm removing stubborn webs on even delicate plants. So now I do a quick pass with the spiderweb broom before I water. I am hooked, even though my neighbors look at me like I am crazy as I “dust off” my plants!

    Greg and Connie Hunter: Using a lot less water these days. For the past several months, all new plants are drought tolerant. 

    Sue Fouquette:We are getting pretty serious about saving water. Charley has always saved rainwater off the greenhouse roof, in big tanks, and for years we have put a big trash can out to collect rainwater from the gutter over our kitchen porch. Lately, we have been collecting grey water from the washing machine and the kitchen sink, in buckets and watering cans. These are heavy when full and carrying them to plants is going to give me Popeye biceps.

    Joanne Fishman:Last year I redid a couple areas of my property with drought tolerant plants. This is what it looks like now. I am planning to plant “chaparral” on the hill in the fall.

  • Mon, June 01, 2015 12:42 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Donna Tierney: I have water containers out in multiple places. I have planted milkweed and have a lot of natural milkweed on the property. I put out orange halves for the California orioles and nectar for the hummers. I have a number of red nectar flowers also. The birds clean-up leftover grain that my horses leave behind! The quail are here in droves this year eating lots of berries from the native plants (Manzanita, spice plant, etc.) I have a pair of road runners who love to try and catch the lizards!

    Bruce Cobbledick: Planting milkweed, senna, Palo Verde, aloes and native annuals for the hummers and pollinators.

    Marilyn Wilson:I’m a “cut-flower girl” and I’ve found that hummingbirds seem to like EXACTLY the same flowers I enjoy. Throughout the year there are always lots of flowers blooming in my yard. (Having a sugar water feeder doesn’t hurt either.)

    Linda Johnson:1) Monarch butterflies enjoy the milkweed; skippers love the plumbago; swallowtail caterpillars like fennel for munching. 2) Bubbling water fountain attracts butterflies and several birdbaths are constantly visited by many types of birds. 3) Bird feeders (seed feeders and liquid for hummingbirds are a must. 4) Lots of cover for nest building attracts lots of different birds. In the spring, place pillow stuffing in branches for birds to use for nests. 5) No cats outside! Domestic cats kill millions of birds every year. 6) Birds love loquats. They are welcome to the fruit on the high branches. Besides, who can eat all that fruit anyway?

    Patty Vickery:Last year I planted a butterfly garden in my backyard and within days I had a couple of monarchs flitting around the flowers. We have consistently had monarchs and others ever since, when the weather warms up. 

    Sharon Swildens:I keep my hummingbird feeder full at all times and have had two sets of babies born on the premises. Therefore, my hummingbird population has grown to six since they all think they are permanent residents and buzz me if the feeder becomes empty. I randomly fill my bird feeder so the birds empty it very rapidly, but the blackbirds seem to be picking my mandarin oranges all the time and make a mess of the areas around the trees. The lone milkweed plant is picked leafless as soon at the new leaves are formed and right now looks like it may have died with the water cutback. I don’t know if the butterflies feed on the occasional ripe banana that I toss into my staghorn fern, but perhaps they do. My roses also seem to like overly ripe bananas cut up. I have some butterflies and various birds that seem to come and go. It is so hot inland, that when it is cool; I work in the yard caring for my many plants, so I am not out looking for birds and butterflies.

    Carrie Seeman:I have a lot of citrus trees. All year round I have more than I can use, so every day I slice an orange or two, in half and hang them on bushes, vines, and branches to share with the birds. I have not seen butterflies land on the oranges but birds of all types enjoy them, including woodpeckers. Ends of bread loaves broken-up into crumbs are always enjoyed by birds. Crows and scrub jays keep an eye out for me for these treats and are always the first to take advantage of the bread crumbs when they are tossed into the yard. If the bread becomes too dry sitting out in the yard, the crows will stuff their beaks with the bread and go to the water fountain (plant saucer filled with water) to soak the bread before eating. Crows are so smart!

    Sue Getyina:I am planting all the low water type plants I can get my hands on that attract birds and butterflies. I went to Marcia Van Loy’s yard; what an inspiration.

    Virginia Ruehl:I need more examples of milkweed. I am not sure what is what. I am trying to start a butterfly garden. It’s fun.  

    Sharon Ward:I have two hummingbird feeders and 5 milkweed bushes and have seen the monarch progeny.

    Greg Hebert:We specify milkweed (Asclepias species), lantana (Lantana montevidensis), butterfly bush (Budlea species), and add a small water feature, when possible.

    Barbara Huntington: Let’s see, eight hummingbird feeders, four thistle food (for goldfinches) feeders, one feeder that holds sunflower seeds and sometimes dried mealy worms, quite a few milkweed plants, butterfly bush, the Palo Verde is loaded with bees, lots of California natives, a little invasive fennel for the swallowtails, not sure the passion fruit made it for the fritillaries (I need to go check). Oh, two birdbaths and a butterfly feeder, I keep forgetting to fill.

    Fotine Fahouris: I don’t use pesticides or buy plants that have neonicitinoids in the potting soil. We grow milkweed for the butterflies and have a bottlebrush tree that is covered in bees and hummingbirds. Other birds come because of the water feature and my vegetables. It is a small yard but there is a fair amount of birds and butterflies.  

    Vivian Black:I grow a lot of borage; bees love that and I have many Peruvian lilies for butterflies.

    Laird Plumleigh: Think of yourself providing an Airbnb for birds. Running clean water from a re-circulating fountain for both drinking and bathing is five stars. Hummingbirds drink the microscopic droplets from splashing water. Get up early, just after sunrise and set out their morning food, we are talking gourmet seeds tailored to the special needs of the birds you want to attract. The dove and quail mix at Backyard Birds is appealing to almost all birds and has none of the filler found in others. Check the feeders to monitor the activity, in nesting season the consumption can double. Create a landscape that facilitates nesting, they will go to a destination where they feel safe and has material for nest building. Attraction is one thing but as your guests, you need to provide daily feed, water and a secure environment for them to raise their families.

    Wayne Julien:A bird feeder and water work wonders in attracting various types of birds. Butterflies are attracted to my native plants, especially the milkweed plant for monarchs. In other words, give them what they want and they will come. It is amazing to see what a little bit of food and water will do to bring life into your garden.

    Kathleen Arciero:We rely on seasonal foliage to attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Pride of Madeira, rosemary, olive trees, Meyer lemon, and the shelter of our Canary Island palm is a haven for mating doves. California ravens like our bird baths, as does the occasional Copper’s hawk. We recently had a flock of Cedar waxwings pay a visit!

    Susan Krzywicki:A great way to attract birds and butterflies is to use natives, of course! People are really into saving monarch butterflies and know that we must use the narrow leaf or the showy milkweed so our monarchs can lay their eggs. And there are many more pairings like this. For example, in my garden I have over a dozen Tecate cypress. The Thorne’s hairstreak butterfly only lays its eggs on this tree. Both the tree and the butterfly are very rare, so I’ve got a double benefit, habitat and conservation all in one beautiful, scented, evergreen, and easy care, low maintenance (shall I go on?) plant.

    Robin Rowland:Finches, hummingbirds, and orioles frequent our fountain in the morning. The orioles love our Grevillea, “Long John” and the mealy worms that we put out for our house wrens. The hummingbirds and butterflies enjoy the aloes, calandrinia, salvia, milkweed, lantana, lavender, and butterfly bush. We enjoy all of it.

    Lynne Blackman:My yard has plants that I purposely put in to attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. The plants under the living room window are frequently visited. The hummingbirds entertain the cats. There’s also a bird seed feeder that attracts the usual sparrows, doves and a variety of finches; also good for bird watching cats.

    Louise Anderson:San Marcos. I don’t have any “secrets.” We keep both introduced and native cover with seeds and berries for birds and host plants and nectar plants for butterflies. We provide water sources for both. Asclepias for monarchs does well with very little water. The Florence fennel I planted two decades ago has naturalized and can almost survive on winter rain. We harvest early bulbs and that feeds Anise swallowtail butterflies.

    Al Myrick:Well we have a fully mature, canopied 3/4 – acre, canyon lot. We have about 1/3-acre of native plants including, lemonade berry, toyon, Tecate cypress, and holly-leafed cherry. We have 1 or 2 million other plants including, cactus and other succulents, palms, conifers, bromeliads, ferns, epiphyllums, dragon fruit, passion vines, and naturalized free-running fruit trees, such as loquat, fig, pomegranate, citrus, and guavas. Our 3/4-acre property is a permanent home for a pair of red shoulder hawks and their yearly offspring, crows, ravens, goldfinches, house finches, mourning doves, Anna’s hummingbirds, flickers, towhees, phoebes, warblers, and a seasonal resort for orioles, Allen’s, Rufus, and Costa’s hummingbirds, jays, robins, mockingbirds, warblers, parrots, and waxwings. Our Darwinian wilderness is used by monarchs, anise and giant swallowtails, mourning cloaks, skippers, gulf fritillaries, blues, hairstreaks, sulfur and cabbage, painted ladies, and red admiral butterflies. There are some ponds and birdbaths and shallow fountains and a few nectar feeders, but we really don’t try to attract them much, they just come!

    Catherine Tylka:Well I have a garden with California natives, succulents, and Australian plants. The local birds and butterflies love them all. The hummingbirds zoom you when you try to read on the back porch; you have entered their territory. Also, I am very lucky to live on the migration path. Sometimes you do something right!

    Marlaine Hubbard:Blooming hibiscus, lantana, jasmine, duranta, vitex, basil, pink powder puff, and natal plum are the plants I grow. I have two fountains. They congregate at the fountains all day long.

    Sue Fouquette: Besides keeping three birdfeeders full of seed, we have so many plants that attract birds and butterflies. Lately we have been watching Black-headed grosbeaks and Western scrub jays. We stopped feeding Lesser goldfinches because thistle seed is so expensive. Our owl box has never attracted an owl. We were told it may be too high, too far from trees, and shouldn’t face south. Also love watching butterflies flit from various milkweeds and Verbena bonariensis.

    Sharon Reeve: My garden is a bird, bee, and butterfly sanctuary. I base ALL my planting decisions on whether or not it is beneficial to wildlife or not. I do not use pesticides of any kind, except boric acid bait strictly for Argentine ants. Argentine ants are so destructive to the ecosystem and they must be controlled or they kill plants and wildlife. I plant largely natives with either a long bloom time or a sequential bloom time and natives with fruit or seeds that are eaten by birds. Second to that, I use non-natives with wildlife value, like grevilleas, aloes and some prairie plants. I make sure to plant both host, and nectar plants for butterflies. Water is a BIG attractor for birds as long as it makes noise. I have converted a built-in concrete spa into a pond with a waterfall and plants. I get dragonflies and lots of bird traffic. I think a garden that does not have wildlife is it, is a sad garden with only surface beauty. It is so fulfilling to see how the population of wildlife has exploded since I have lived in my house and tended the garden. It now has continuous bird song and butterfly action, not to mention the lizards!

    Pat Pawlowski: Although it’s important to offer food in the form of nectar, fruit, and seed bearing plants, I feel that the most important thing we need to provide is moisture. There needs to be a water source. Birds, bees, butterflies, people—we all need water in some form or other. Even butterflies, though they obtain some liquid in the form of nectar, engage in “puddling” where they land on mud and siphon up moisture and minerals. Remember mud is good. For birds a textured birdbath with gently sloping sides, works best. The fancy glass ones are pretty but the birds can’t easily get a grip. Also the sound of water is like the sound of music to birds; a water feature (it doesn’t have to be large) with gently flowing water over a shallow surface, will draw the greatest number of winged customers. In my yard I have at least a dozen water sources of different sizes and depths for birds and butterflies and have seen dozens of bird species. The butterflies and other beneficial insects seem to like hanging around plants, which are close to water.

    Jo Casterline: When I planted seeds from my Asclepias (butterfly weed)I did not expect them all to come up. I am now pushing 40 plants to reach an edible stage for monarchs. I have some eager butterflies that don’t want to wait. I hate to shoo them away.

    Stephen A. Zolezzi: In place of a flashing neon sign we provide both natural and purchased food, along with shelter to attract our avian friends. As our plantings mature they are able to provide increased variety and quantity of food that is available year round, along with a water feature, which includes a stream used for bathing. Even when adding succulents and cactus to the garden, considering flowers, foliage, and fruit is important to the final decision, and it has worked to provide not only food but shelter and places to nest as well. We are seeing varieties of birds we have never seen before. We would like to host a bird watcher to inventory them.

    Kathy K. Puplava: I am planting California native milkweed! Native milkweed plants can be hard to find, most nurseries sell tropical milkweed. But tropical milkweed may disrupt the monarch’s migration pattern. The native Asclepias plants and seeds can be obtained through ECOLIFE at this link: ecolifeconservationblog.org.

    Gregory Hunter: I keep running water, cascading down a stream to a pond. The birds love bathing and drinking the running water. Also, for over a dozen years I have regularly fed the hummingbirds from a feeder with a red top; they love it. I also have several favorite hummingbird nesting spots in my garden.

    Chrisje Field: I have plants that attract both and put out feeders for the birds as well as water.

    Dannie McLaughlin: First, attending and looking forward to, the workshop being put on by Marcia Van Loy today. Second, I’ve eliminated chemicals and pesticides from the entire garden. Third, I’m contributing to focus on specific host as well as nectar plants to attract a variety of butterflies. Finally, I love feeding the birds. I have at least four pairs of Hooded orioles this year and have finally attracted Bluebirds. I have two nesting pairs. In January I had mini-flocks of robins and Cedar waxwings stripping the pyracantha bushes of berries and enjoying drinks of water from the fountain in the rose garden. So, going forward I will plant more shrubs that produce seeds and berries for the birds, while gradually reducing the number of seed feeders that I am currently using, making them a supplemental rather than primary source of food. This more natural approach is advocated by many, including the Audubon Society.

     


  • Fri, May 01, 2015 12:40 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Donna Star: I live in South Park (92102) and have some gophers that I never see but seem to enjoy rooting through my garden mounds. How can I move them down the hill to other garden spots that I don’t care about? I also have a special visitor that I love in my garden – a mockingbird that serenades me by the hour. I caught his song on audio and made a little video; maybe some of you gardeners might enjoy it too! Visit youtu.be/zGb429gLEGU.

    Mary Poteet: I’ve had a terrible time with geranium budworm (Heliothis virescens, aka tobacco budworm) on my ten giant geranium hanging baskets in Cardiff, 92007. These are year-round baskets. The pupa are probably overwintering in the baskets’ soil and the problem is most apparent in late summer. I’ve tried repeated and frequent treatments of ‘Bt’ as well as Spinosad (.05% in a product called Captain Jack’s Deadbug) but haven’t had much success and would welcome other approaches.

    Lori Kilmer:I have a very large, 70 pound, garden pest wreaking havoc in my greenhouse full of plants. It is after a rabbit that has decided to make its winter home in the greenhouse. The pest has climbed over, on top of and broken many delicate branches of plumeria in the process. The pest goes by the name of Bailey. It’s a good thing she is so cute, or she would be going back to the pound, where we got her. My zip code is 92029.

    Enid Sherman:Raccoons, and nothing has been successful! (92104).

    Sharon Corrigan:Help: grasshoppers. The first group nipped fresh green veggies in the bud. The cold chased them away, the heat is bringing them back. I flushed him down the toilet and felt guilty. (92011)    

    Stephen A. Zolezzi: It’s not a new pest – Rats – it’s just that they keep learning new ways to avoid what worked successfully in the past. They are smart rats, they are ever present and never give up. They especially relish whatever it is I like the most. They will not be intimidated. They reproduce like weeds in the garden. They are the devil in disguise. Their image will not show in a mirror. Are we doomed? NO: the California school for the control/eradication of rats is in session. Using more sophisticated tools we can get this job done. Secret weapon: my wife setting baited and electric traps at 5:30am, while they sleep. Anyone up for fricassee of rat in a red wine? Thanks for indulging my sense of humor.

    Tami Van Thof:California Ground Squirrel, San Juan Capistrano, 92675. Using the squirrelinator.

    Susi Torre-Bueno: After almost 2 years of being gopher-free, I’m plagued with one gopher which will not die. I’ve tried the fabulous anti-gopher plant I’ve used in the past with great success (see the October 2014 newsletter), I’ve tried drowning it, and I’ve tried yelling at it (well, okay, cussing at it). It is contained in one small area, and if it doesn’t die soon I’m getting out heavier artillery – like poisons. (92084)

    Carol McCollum: THRIPS!!!! While they are definitely not new to my yard in Chula Vista (I’ve been here 44 years, along with the thrips), what is unusual is that many people don’t know that thrips bite! They are eensy-beensy (maybe 1/16” long), thin like a sliver; some are brown and some shine golden in the sun. They like many garden plants: roses, carnations, gladiolas, etc., and veggies and lawns. Their bites are itchier and longer lasting than a flea or mosquito bite! Some people get red welts from the bites. If you’ve ever gotten an itchy red bump from being out in the garden, you might have been lunch for a thrip! Or if you’ve found yourself with an intensely itchy rash, you’ve been a feast for a flock of thrips! When I ‘had thrips’ recently, I learned that, of course, thrips will dine on pets too! So that might explain the rash on my daughter’s Corgi’s belly. I’ve never tried to eradicate the thrips. If someone has a suggestion, please let me know.

  • Wed, April 01, 2015 12:39 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Cheryl Nichols:They say Sunset Cliffs has the closest climate to Hawaii on the West Coast. As a tropical garden lover, I recently discovered Jungle Magic Nursery in Encinitas. Last weekend I bought a long coveted Traveler’s Palm (Ravenala madagascariensis), which is already in the ground, planted east/west. I also planted several varieties of Philodendron and small bromeliads. I am finally planting several Ti plant starts, which I (legally) brought back from Hawaii in January. They now have small roots. (92107)

    Tandy Pfost:My garden definitely needs a spruce up. I am in the process of cleaning-up some of the old wood mulch that has not decomposed and laying fresh compost over all the ground. I will use the old wood to make compost. I am feeding everything and need to get started on grafting fruit trees with additional varieties. Now that the gopher is trapped, I will also re-do the herb garden.

    Susan M. Oddo:Butterflies! Butterflies! Butterflies! While we are not especially fond of whole gardens devoted to natives, due to their off-season drabness, we have identified spots throughout the garden where we can tuck in one or two natives around succulents and bushes to support our local butterfly population. Those “one or two” spots added up to about thirty new plants, so we went to Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido to learn more about what plants butterflies need for food or larva. Their website has an amazing aggregation of data about Southern California butterflies. In one raised bed we are creating a mix of natives and plants that Donna and Steve Brigham used in their amazing butterfly garden at Buena Creek Gardens in San Marcos. Here’s a link to Steve’s article in Pacific Horticulture magazine about this garden: tinyurl.com/steve-article. We will also convert a birdbath to a butterfly bog, by laying down a bed of sand and adding just enough water to be visible but not to drown the butterflies when they land in it for a drink.

    Diedre Avery: In my yard, we’ll be growing more herbs for us and flora that the butterflies and birds will love. Too much water went into last year’s tomatoes, with so-so success. I’ll leave the tomatoes to the masters (Home Town Farms in San Marcos;you can buy direct!) and I’ll grow the accompaniments. I will be installing a better drip system this year, also. Finally, basil, basil, and basil; so many to play with. (92025)

    Sharon Corrigan:I just had a handyman add extra drainage holes to one large pedestal cement pot, and then added a base of river rocks and screen to assist with drainage for succulents. I now need to empty out the second one and do the same things, as it turns into a lake and mud pit every time it rains or the irrigation drips in. It takes months to dry out and it kills the succulents. I’ve planted tons of bulbs around the edges of planted areas and they are popping up all over!

    Gwenn Adams:I took inventory of stressed plants, carefully observed the variety of microclimates around the yard, considered water usage/reduction, and have planned new plantings accordingly. Along with adding healthy mulch, granular organic feeding and some soil optimizer, I have been collecting rain water and becoming more concerned with vignette plantings, rather than having a homogenous look. Hearing Debra Lee Baldwin speak has helped me incorporate design principles rather than dealing with annual plantings.

    Vivian Blackstone:I’m planting tomatoes and some herbs, putting in a new peach tree, and heavily pruning grapes and figs. I am putting some new soil on the top of plants.

    Barbara Huntington: Succulents, California natives, plants for bees and butterflies. I am now turf-less and proud of it. I am contemplating a raised vegetable bed with leftover pavers.

    Christine Harrison: My plans are to plant all cover crops in my beds this spring for two reasons. I want to dig them into my soil and see if they really do improve fertility. Also, I’ve found that in my garden, it has become too hot during the past few summers to enjoy working outside, not to mention the water issue and the plants’ increased water needs during our hotter summers.

    Sharon Ward:I am downsizing this year in my garden. My plants have overgrown my deck and pots, the cats have used my garlic planters for their business, and I can barely get through to water. I need to move! (92117)

    Linda Woloson:This spring I plan to focus on soil improvement by making lots of trips to the dump for compost. I am staying out of nurseries to resist planting anything new this year because of the drought. I plan to remove every tree and shrub that I am not in love with to simplify my landscape. Maintaining 2-acres has become just too expensive to water. In the past, I tried to maintain an exclusively tropical garden, but now I am embracing succulents and letting the natives grow when they come up in my gardens; they may be the only things that survive. I do feel sorry for the nursery owners during this drought. (92067)

    Cathy Tylka:I am still working on getting my leggy succulents back into the lower ground and sharing the extras. I guess it’s a work in progress, taking me longer than I expected, although I didn’t give myself an exact timeline. This will neaten up my garden, and then I can proceed to add a few new proteas, I hope. I love the idea of something blooming all year-round and trying to improve on that. (92026)

    Donna Griffin:I am planning to plant some citrus trees in my backyard and some jasmine vines to train up the posts on my back porch.

    Ruth Sewell:After reading the timely article on passion fruit, I purchased a replacement. While in the nursery, the bignonia, Tangerine Beauty, caught my eye. It is now at my front entrance and the hummingbirds found it immediately. Lastly, I am trying the new purple artichokes. (92107)

    Steve Brigham:This year, and right now, I really need to get busy and re-start all my overgrown potted succulents! Just cut the tops off with some stem for rooting, and plant them in a new pot with new soil and you’re good to go for another few years! (Mendocino Coast, 95488)

    Patricia Amador:I’m going to plant herbs and some lettuces. A friend and I are going to build a community garden at her home so that we can plant tomatoes. My yard is mostly shade, hers is mostly sunny, and so tomatoes go there!

    Ellen McGrath-Thorpe:After attending the Holiday Market Place, I followed through and made an appointment with Water Smart for a free survey of our garden. A very charming, young man came out one time and spent some quality time with us reviewing our plants and the changes to our irrigation system that we were contemplating. We are following through on his advice: change out certain parts of our irrigation system with a drip system and 1-gallon emitters on almost all of our plants (drought resistant) and 4-gallon emitters on our roses. We were so glad to get such advice from someone who had no profit motive at stake. (92010)

    Kathleen Arciero:Happy to say we are almost (90%) ready to renovate our front yard. Remove all grass, widen the driveway, improve the entryway to make it more accessible, have a Tuscan/Mediterranean garden style, address water runoff issues (percolating system), look at hardscape materials, and encourage more birds and butterflies. (92056)

    Kenneth Selzer: Prepare vegetable garden for spring/summer plants.

    Stephen A. Zolezzi: Where would a gardener be without the proper tools to get the jobs done as easily as possible? On order for the spring war against critters are rolls of netting, so I get to keep more than 50 percent of my crops; a digital, three-way soil analyzer for proper fertilizer application and to know when water is really needed; a new auger with a long shank, less bending over to plant all sorts of plants; a new diamond sharpener kit, so all my cutting blades turn even hard wood to butter; and finally, get to the big job of removing the lawn to make way for natives and succulents to reduce water usage. Oh, then find the time to enjoy it all!

    Dannie McLaughlin:I am going to continue to expand what I started last year: my butterfly bog and native plant garden. I need to take out a couple of trees in order to do this, but they are past their prime anyway. Because my goal is to attract more birds, butterflies, and all manner of wildlife, I am continuing to garden organically. I can’t thank Ari Tenenbaum (he was the landscape designer for one of the gardens on last year’s SDHS Garden Tour) and his company, Revolution Landscape, enough for helping me walk the walk, so to speak, when it comes to organic gardening. Since Ari and his guys took over tending my citrus and avocado orchard, things have never looked better. Thanks also to Pat Pawlowski for her knowledge and expertise when it comes to California natives and plants that attract birds and butterflies. I already have monarchs and swallowtails in the garden! Finally, my lawn abatement program is well underway. I am removing all of the turf in front of the house. I’m not sure yet what I’m replacing it with, but once the Cypress trees are gone (yes, they are also past their prime; hope no one says that about me anytime soon) I will have a clean slate from which to consider a drought-tolerant Mediterranean style garden. Maybe some olive trees, manzanita, and shrubs with silvery gray leaves. I can almost see it now. Happy spring gardening from 92024.

    Sharon Swildens:Since I have an acre and my summer water bills run $700 to $900 for two months, I will be removing my backyard grass and replacing it with stone. I will put in a few bulbs for the underground creatures to feed on, and remove an apricot tree that does not give fruit. (92064)

    Paula Suttle:I plan to get rid of more crab grass in my garden by gradual removal by shovel. I have 0.8-acres, so it’s slow progress. I plant natives here and there and create small garden patches to weed around. Also, it makes me happy to plant more natives and Australian plants, so I will be doing that as the rains still may come and go a bit. Plants that I can’t keep up on the watering will just have to fend for themselves. I also have an enormous fallen, dead native willow that has smashed some beloved plants, which I have to remove. We have slowly been losing all the ancient willows along our property, alongside Rattlesnake Creek in Poway. (92064)

    Dawne Dickinson: I've planted some San Diego native milkweed seeds that have just started coming up, and will plant some in my yard and some down at Escondido creek, hoping to help the Monarch in my area. (92009)

  • Sun, March 01, 2015 12:37 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Linda Lawley:It is not a new book and probably not in print anymore, but I have to say my favorite garden-related book is Pat Welsh’s memoir All My Edens. I just re-read it for book club and enjoyed it as much as I did the first time I read it. It reads just like Pat talks, and you know how much fun that is.

    Katrin Utt:My favorite story set in a natural setting is Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie. My parents read it to me when I was small and I have read it again and again myself and to my children as they were growing up. I have read all of Wilder’s books; I think they are wonderful. They taught me a lot about nature and about gardening.

    Dee Starr:Night Gardening: A Novel, a fictional love story with lots of gardening by E. L. Swann and Kathryn Lasky.

    Cheryl Hedgpeth Nichols: I had the pleasure of meeting Christopher Lloyd (the gardener, not the actor) several times. What a character! My favorite book of his is Dear Friend and Gardener: Letters on Life and Gardening, by Beth Chatto and Christopher Lloyd. For color and gorgeous pictures I like In a Mexican Garden: Courtyards, Pools, and Open-Air Living Rooms, by Gina Hyams.

    Dan Petersen: Founding Gardeners, The Revolutionary Generation, by Andrea Wolf.

    Robin Rivet:Literature about horticulture science, IPM, plant identification, landscape design, and beautifully illustrated coffee table books line my personal library shelves. However if I were to recommend a timely read it would be Bruce Babbitt’s Cities in the Wilderness. He addresses urban, natural resource management and water issues across America, keenly tied to present and future landscaping in the southwest. He wrote an insightful tome that is empowering and I couldn’t put it down. (islandpress.org/cities-wilderness) 

    Patty Vickery:Hybridizers have been trying to create a blue rose for years without success. Anthony Eglin wrote a mystery with the blue rose as the theme and it was an excellent book: The Blue Rose: An English Garden Mystery. He has just written another book, but I don’t know the name of it.

    Enid Sherman:The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

    Marilyn Wilson:I remember three from my childhood: Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? With silver bells, and cockle shells, and pretty maids all in a row. Alice falls down the rabbit hole (presumably in a garden), beginning her Adventures in Wonderland. Peter Rabbit (along with Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail, etc.) played in Mr. McGregor’s garden.

    Heather Callaghan:The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbach.

    Carol Kumlin:Invasion of the Body Snatchers, original black and white movie.

    Denise Rodrigues:When I was young, The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, was a favorite of mine and they did a good job on the movie. A great example of how gardening heals and bring people together in creating beauty.

    Bea Ericksen:There was this darling book that came out in 2004 called The Blue Rose, by Anthony Eglin. Life begins the day you start a garden. It is an English garden mystery book about a man that hybridized a blue rose. A lot of mystery and unexplained death went along with the story. A good read.

    Tina Rathbone:Mrs. Greenthumbs, by Cassandra Danz. Crown Publishers, NY. 1993.

    Gerald D. Stewart:The horticultural-themed book that has stayed with me for many years is David Fairchild’s The World Was My Garden. The founder of Fairchild Garden in Florida was a USDA plant explorer a hundred years ago, and writes of his exploits, like smuggling date palm pups out of the Middle East so dates could be grown in the Indio, California area. It is a fascinating view into part of what it had taken to provide the incredible plant palate we enjoy today. 

    Kathy Ascher:People with Dirty Hands, by Robin Chotzinoff.

    Marsha Bode:I don’t have one favorite book, just as I do not have one favorite food or one favorite child, but there are four I am very glad to have read. (1) Epitaph for a Peach, by Mas Masumoto, tells the story of a Japanese/American family who is also a peach growing family. Extremely well-written. (2) The One-Straw Revolution: Natural Farming, by Masanobu Fukuoka, who is Japanese, is thought provoking, as it has many original methods and ideas that he has put into practice. (3) Flowering Plants of the Santa Monica Mountains, by Nancy Dale. This is the bible if you want to know what might be growing in the wild area behind your house. There are photos of every plant. (4) Earth on Her Hands, by Starr Ockenja. Great stories, each chapter is of a well-aged woman gardener, to whom many of us can relate.

    Nancy Carol Carter: The World was My Garden: Travels of a Plant Explorer, written by David Fairchild (1938) is a horticulture adventure tale. He headed the USDA Office of Foreign Plan Exploration and Introduction for many years and traveled to every corner of the earth. Fairchild oversaw the introduction of 200,000 economic and ornamental plants to the United States, including the important crop of soybeans. Every Meyer lemon fan can thank Fairchild for hiring Frank N. Meyer, who brought the plant back from one of his four plant hunting trips to China for the USDA.

    Barb Strona:The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

    Bill Tweet: The World was My Garden, by David Fairchild.

    Amelia B. Lima:Cows Save the Planet and Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth, by Judith D. Schwartz.

    Patricia Fishtein:Michael Crichton’s Micro, published posthumously and completed by Robert Preston.

    Susi Torre-Bueno:I think my favorite is The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, by L. H. Bailey, which went through a great many editions. The author is the justly famous Liberty Hyde Bailey, and this is the book (I own the 1941 3-volume edition, about 12 pounds!) that became Hortus 3rd, which many professionals, and quite a few passionate amateurs are familiar with. The Cyclopedia has more personality, I think, and tells a great deal more about the background of the plants – how they came to be found, etc. It also has a very large section about horticulturalists through the centuries, with some wonderful stories. Before the internet, these were references of choice for many people, myself included, who wanted to know more about plants than could be found in popular reference books, including the Sunset Western Garden Book. Here’s the subtitle: “A discussion, for the amateur, and the professional and commercial grower, of the kinds, characteristics and methods of cultivation of the species of plants grown in the regions of the United States and Canada for ornament, for fancy, for fruit and for vegetables; with keys to the natural families and genera, descriptions of the horticultural capabilities of the states and provinces and dependent islands, and sketches of eminent horticulturalists.” Whew!   

    Sonia Hunsaker:Most any Beatrice Potter book.

    Candace Kohl:The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett, written in 1911. This children’s book is the quintessential story of the garden as a symbol of mental and physical healing and redemption.

    Joan Braunstein:For fiction, I won’t be surprised if The Secret Garden shows up more than once. For non-fiction, Pat Welsh’s Southern California Organic Gardening is teaching me many things a newcomer needs to know.

    Anne Murphy:The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. From the Ground Up, by Amy Stewart or almost any of her other books. Into the Garden with Charles, by Clyde Phillip Wachsberger. Consider the Lily, or Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, by Elizabeth Buchan. Plant-Driven Design: Creating Gardens that Honor Plans, Place and Spirit, by Scott Ogden and Laura Spring Ogden. And I Shall Have some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for my own Dirt Road, by Margaret Roach. Merry Hall, by Beverly Nichols.

    Louise Anderson:I loved Johnny Appleseed as a kid. I thought it was just a myth but checking Wikipedia, there was a real person (with another name). Delightful memory. Check out YouTube.

    Mary Roper:I just started a book called For all the Tea in China, about plant hunters in Victorian times. Should be interesting for history and ‘hort’ lovers.

    Wendy Hunt:The Secret Garden.

    Tim Biggart:Are you looking for a good read? Are you a hopeless romantic? Do you love Australian plants? If you fit this category, then I have the book for you! Set in a small town in New South Wales the father of a spectacularly beautiful young woman is looking for a young man to marry his daughter. The fellow must be able to identify all the Eucalyptus species in his extensive collection. It sounds sort of like a fairy tale, which it is. During the enchanting telling the reader learns the names of all the trees and gets a glimpse into the culture of that amazing place. So, look for Eucalyptus, by Murray Bail.

    Ellen Bevier:Onward and Upward in the Garden, essays by Katharine S. White, edited by E.B. White, published in 1979. The Secret Garden: Dawn to Dusk in the Astonishing Hidden World of the Garden, by David Bodanis (1992). Kitchen Gardens of France, by Louisa Jones (1997). Gardens of Plenty, by Marilyn Abbott (2001). The Complete Book of Herbs and Spices, by Sarah Garland (1979).

    Jo Casterline:I am reading The Signature of All Things, by Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Pray, Love). Set in the 1800s, it is about the early research and exploration in horticulture. The characters are interesting. It is a different book and not every reader will stay with it. She is an excellent writer, but I do wonder what attracted her to the subject.

    Steve Bingham:That’s an easy one! One hundred years ago, Australian May Gibbs was writing some of the best children’s books ever written. They were inspired by her adopted country’s vegetation, most notably some of the plants that we grow here in California such as Eucalyptus and Banksia. And so we have the Gumnut Babies and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie (among many other titles), which every child of any age should read and own!

    Beth Callender:A book that was also made into a movie, Like Water for Chocolate. I love the recipe for the rose petal sauce, although my sauce never made anyone cry. 

    Victoria Lea Chapman:Prodigal Summer, by Barbara Kingsolver

    Nelda Johnson:My favorite book that got me started gardening was The Perennial Gardener, by Fred McGourty. I also thoroughly enjoyed Monet's Garden through the Seasons at Giverney, by Vivian Russel. However, neither of the books really apply to the San Diego area, which seems to be the toughest place to garden I have ever lived in.

    Jackie Blank: The Secret Garden, of course.

    Kathy McKee: All My Edens: A Gardener’s Memoirby Pat Welsh – all-time favorite. Mrs. Whaley and her Charleston Gardenby Emily Whaley. Thoughtful Gardening by Robin Lane Fox. Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Lifeby Marta McDowell. The Shy Tulip Murders: A Botanical Mystery by Rebecca Rothenberg (and all of her botanical mystery books). The Cactus Club Killings by Nathan Walpow. Black Orchidsby Rex Stout.

  • Sun, February 01, 2015 12:35 PM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Ken Selzer: We do not do anything to save the rainwater. We do turn off the sprinklers for 2 weeks.

    Marilyn Wilson: I do nothing. I have four rain tanks which can capture 4,000 gallons. They’re full already and I’m making plans to add one or two more tanks in the next year or so (I just HATE to see the overflow go to waste).

    Kathleen Arciero: We have a rain barrel (that is full!). Tony uses the water for his orchids in our atrium. They love rainwater.

    Louise Anderson: A couple of clean, 22 gallon trash cans are under the roof where there are known run-off locations. If I know ahead of time that the rain is coming (i.e., if I remember), I open up the cover of the compost bin and turn over buckets for collection. The birdbaths do get a nice cleaning and refill when it “really” rains.

    Christine Vargas: I have three 55-gallon barrels with diverters from my gutters to them – they are near patios and planters where I can easily use the water, and I also have two 255-gallon containers on each side of the house that I fill using diverters. I even have a short piece of gutter on the roof of my small potting shed that I feed directly into a large barrel – then use the water for my greenhouse plants. I bought some of the barrels from Britt Cool and others from a business on Federal Blvd. in Lemon Grove. They have a huge selection and they advertise a lot on Craig’s List.

    Lisa Bellora: I collect water from our gutters into food grade, 55-gallon drums.

    Will and Bette Childs: We were fortunate to install a pool cover on our swimming pool, circa 1975. It provides many benefits, safety, minimizes pool cleaning, and also collects rainwater. With a pump we pump this water to trash containers and also to four special 50-gallon rain barrels that we recently bought. The great news is that there is a rebate of $75 for each 50-gallon barrel, available from socalwatersmart.com.

    J.B. Riekstins: I have two 60-gallon heavy-duty sealable containers that always get filled first, and then I have two open containers that equal 50 gallons. If there is more than a quick rainfall and I can empty these into 5-gallon buckets, I then refill the 50-gallon containers. I usually catch an additional 20-25 buckets, which equals another 125 gallons, and then I use the water on my roses, buckets first, then the 50-gallon and then the 60-gallon containers. In December I used no auxiliary water (public supply), and I might make it through January if the weather does no warm too much or if we get at least a little more rain. This is all runoff from the gutters and does require a little work, as it is not a very sophisticated set-up. When we get a lot of rain it can get to be a bit of a mosquito larvae problem because I can’t use it fast enough, but the mosquitoes never are allowed to mature. I just water more. Roses like that.  

    Diane Bailey: When it rains I save my rainwater in rain barrels and large trash cans. I then use that water, especially on my potted plants.

    Roz Hill:I have 5 rain barrels that have chains coming from the roof and they catch the runoff. Already some are full. I have a pump to use later on.

    Tandy Pfost: I did not do anything too grand, as I do not have rain barrels. I did put out all my 5-gallon buckets and trash cans, then use the water for the garden. The plants revel in the sweet water from the sky.

    Vivian Blackstone: I have two 250-gallon storage tanks, now full and one 75-gallon tank, also full. A real bonanza, and I will wait for those dry days of summer to use them. I used Brooke Sarson (rainwater consultant), who got me the barrels and a new gutter system (1/2 the price of the old one and better) and, as a bonus, $400 back from the City of San Diego for saving water.

    Chuck Ades: What I will say here is against the “popular” sentiments now. I have a lawn and enjoy it a lot. I have several parties during the year in the yard and on the lawn and all my guests enjoy the lawn also. However, it is a hybrid Bermuda grass lawn. I water it every 2 weeks during the summer. The seeds are sterile and this grass is not invasive into the flower beds. During the summer it is mowed weekly. I mulch all of my garden weekly with the lawn clippings. This has resulted in two things first I have a soil that most Californians would be envious of. In many areas of my garden you can, without a tool, reach down and grab a handful of soil. It is now the best soil I have ever had in my 70-plus years of gardening. The second thing that the mulch does is to hold the moisture in the soil by preventing evaporation and it also helps prevent weed seeds from germinating. Since it is a Bermuda grass, if necessary I could discontinue watering for an extended period of time and it would recover after it is possible to water again. Additionally, in my “jungle” area I allow all the tree leaves to accumulate as mulch. This has been for more than 25 years, so it has a deep layer of decomposing leaves that prevents weed growth and preserves water. I will admit that I have replaced my front lawn with a succulent garden since we don’t party on it and have also added succulents and other low water plants in my flower beds. So the answer to the question is: I am saving the rainwater by mulching my garden, the same way as nature saves it.

    Barb Patterson: When rain is predicted, I run around like a madwoman placing containers, small and large, all over our yard to capture as much rainwater as possible. I then use it to water potted plants for as long as it lasts, which is never long enough. If I could start over, or had the wealth to re-do my little world, I would have an underground cistern that could store all the water that runs-off our roof. It’s amazing how much water a roof can channel. Just amazing!

    Una Marie Perce: I have two 205-gallon rain tanks; one acquired this fall with generous rebates from the City and State that covered the purchase. It is in the front where I attach a hose and water fruit trees, without a pump. The other is in the back and I mostly bucket water and bucket flush until it’s gone. I have a trash can under my decorative rain chain and two others where the roof and gutters slope. They add to the bucket brigade. I keep lids on them and also use mosquito repellant in the water. I hadn’t used the water from the earlier rain when we got the one last week and I mourned the lost water. Maybe I need another tank!

    Sharon Ward: I have a 65-gallon rain barrel connected to our patio cover. I would like more, but we have a small deck. Every little bit helps.

    Al Mazur and Rob Granat: We are in the process of installing barrels to gather rainwater from the roof drains. We have also installed a French drain system around the house that gathers roof runoff where we do not have roof gutters and downspouts. Excess runoff that does not seep into the soil is directed by the subsurface drains to lower sections of the property. Also, much of our property slopes to the bottom of the canyon below. This slope has been terraced, which certainly inhibits run-off. To further retain water, before the rainy season started, I broke-up the hard clay soil near the center of many of the terraces but left the outer edges of these terraces intact. The cracks and crevices of the broken-up soil allow water to seep in and be retained at the terrace rather than just running off over the hard surface of the compacted clay. After the rainy season, I plan on spreading mulch over the terraces.

    Patricia Amador: I gather every empty pot and larger container I can find and put them out in an open space to gather as much rain as possible. The containers are then set aside in a shaded area and used as needed. Happy gardening!

    Janet Voinov: I have nine plastic trash cans located below gutters to catch and store rainwater for dryer times. I immediately put the mosquito donuts in to keep the pests out. I also use my gray water for my plants/garden all year long.

    Linda Johnson: (1) Rerouted all downspouts into 55-gallon rainwater collection barrels that overflow onto the landscape when full vs. going into street/storm drain. Also use garden hoses hooked up to rain barrels to drain in different parts of the landscape, especially for trees. (2) Created rainwater retention strips in long driveway by removing strips of concrete and backfilling with gravel; water stays on property vs. going into storm drains. (3) Installed permeable paving wherever possible.

    Laird Plumleigh: I have a culvert on my property that in a heavy rain receives a lot of rain. Years ago I lined it with concrete but since removed the concrete and built a series of small dams with settling basins dug out behind them. In addition, I diverted much of the water through 4” pipes to other areas of my yard. The areas of the settling basins and diverted water markedly show the benefits.

    Chris Drayer: I’m a little obsessive about catching water for the garden when it rains, since I’ve gotten quite pessimistic about the drought and assume that every rain is the last one we’ll ever get. My house does not have gutters so that rain already gets distributed directly onto the plants. The bigger payoff comes from two other features on the property. There is a low spot in the street in front of my house that becomes a large puddle after every rain, so I go out with a rectangular garbage can, scoop up the water and pour it on the front yard, ignoring the quizzical stares of passing motorists. Second, my main garden contains a remnant canyon where run-off from adjacent streets and properties converges before going into a culvert. After any decent rain a stream flows for a day or so, so I crawl down with 5 gallon buckets, scoop it up and toss it onto the garden areas that tend to dry out first. It has been suggested by sympathetic friends that perhaps I should buy a sump pump with a hose attachment to do this, which does seem like a brilliant idea after I’ve made a dozen or so trips out of the ravine with heavy buckets.

    Jeanne Skinner: Wonderful time to make sure your trees have fertilizer – spikes can be hammered in at the tree root to canopy line. Rake dead needles from pine tree branches and add to compost. Roses should be pruned, de-leafed and fertilized. The healthier your trees and shrubs, the more water efficient are your plants.

    Sandra Knowles: We live in a one-storey ranch style home, which has three sides of garden and one of patio (concrete). On the suspected days of rain, I put out buckets and then empty them into plastic trashcans. I use the water primarily on my bonsai collection and a few lucky favorites in the garden. I currently have nine 40-gallon cans full. If used judiciously, it will last throughout the dry periods.

    Hilda King: Neal installed five rain barrels a few years ago. It’s amazing how little rain fills them up.

    Amelia Lima: I have a perforated pipe connected to the downspout in front of the house that runs through the entire length of the garden, discharging water along the way.

    Cindy Sparks: I don’t have a large holding capacity so I prioritize my needs and use rainwater sparingly. First, I save some for new, indoor seed starting. That is the easiest to do. Second is saturating the indoor potted plants, which I do at each rain by putting them near a barrel/downspout and flushing them with a watering can. Third, I bank rainwater by super saturating the soil by my thirsty trees (I have almost sand, so it is not risky that they will have too much water). I have directed downspout overflows to my avocados and citrus, so those areas will be saturated and sometimes can hold into June before they need more irrigation. Finally, I store what I can in barrels and use it for outdoor pots, veggies, and special plants. Like most every other gardener in the west, I wish I had more barrel capacity.

    Susan Arneson: My favorite SDHS meeting was the presentation by Brad Lancaster [about saving rainwater] and his message continues to inspire me! For the past few years I have worked to make my steep acre resemble a golf course with dips and basins to slow down and hold rain and irrigation water. Now, even my pathways have valleys and any flat areas are pitched towards the hillside. I am an avid believer in collecting rainwater! Three years ago I installed a 6,500-gallon tank to collect rainwater from my roof, and I have future plans. I just purchased a 550-gallon tank, which gives me the ability to collect even more roof water. My hillside solar panels will soon have gutters and a 250-gallon tank. I still have a lot of rainwater wasted because it runs down my long concrete driveway to the street and beyond, so I would like to add a drain at the bottom of the drive to feed a low profile tank to be located in my adjacent landscaping. So glad you asked, as conserving rain has become one of my gardening passions! 

  • Thu, January 01, 2015 10:50 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Roy Wilburn:(1) Attract more butterflies and hummingbirds around our greenhouse by planting and maintaining assorted goodies such as pentas, passionfruit, and milkweed. The kids and residents love what we have done in 2014. (2) Take better care of our protea by installing a drip system and occasional fertilizations. The few heat waves we had last year took out about 50% of them. (3) Install a better irrigation system in our orchards. The existing system was installed 10 years ago when the trees were young, but now they need a more completed and uniform wetting pattern.

    Amelia Lima:(1) Create a vermi-compost bin as a way to recycle all my vegetable peels. (2) Redo my backyard to make it more inviting. (3) Add some natives to my garden, so I can learn more about them.

    Robert Foster:(1) Finish landscaping! In May we ripped out the lawn and re-landscaped approximately 8,000 sq. ft. Have one problem area to complete (have I planted myself into a corner?). (2) Install landscape light so we can quit stumbling around in the dark. (3) Spend more time in the hammock enjoying the new garden.

    Stephen Zolezzi:(1) Finally replace the lawn with natives and succulents. (2) Remove water needy plants. (3) Remove the koi pond; after having cut water usage by over 50% in recent years it seems nothing I have done will get the damn water bill to recede like Lake Mead has, so drastic steps are necessary, which highlight how I think about gardening on the whole. It’s not easy to break long held practices, but it’s where we all have to be; water, it seems, is not always a renewable resource!

    Carol Donald: (1) At the top of my list is to finally make a vegetable garden that looks pretty. I say that every year and it’s always the same “time versus desire” battle. (2) Start seeds in sprouting pots instead of directly in the garden so that the plants get a better start and I can choose more exactly where things will grow. (3) Keep up with weeding again. Last year the garden looked better because I didn’t let the weeds get ahead of me.

    Cathy Tylka:Well that’s easy. My list is long. (1) Want to replant plants that have become too leggy. (2) Need to mulch a hillside. (3) Need to put in some hardy plants on the same hillside. Like I said, it was easy; now do it.

    Jeannine Romero:(1) I will be planting more succulents because I am hooked on them and they make sense in our environment. (2) I will persuade my husband to give up some lawn (unfortunately it will be futile to ask for all of it now) because lawn does not make sense in our environment. (3) I have to get my self-fertilizing plum tree to start producing fruit! Please send tips.

    Tom Biggart:The top 3 thing to do in the garden for 2015 are: (1) Build a gardening work center for my wife to include a roof area to collect rainwater. (2) Mulch, mulch, mulch everywhere, not that our tree man left us several large piles. (3) Remove 2 mature avocados in hopes of lowering the astronomical summer water bill. These are on top of regular maintenance of plantings, weeding, and generally having a fun time in the garden.

    Paula Suttle:I plan to plant more plants that are drought tolerant and take care of the older ones. However, if they do not do well with the water I can give them, I will just let them go. I am just trying to save my trees.

    Nelda Johnson:(1) Trim trees. (2) Make raised beds out of concrete blocks. (3) Put in a drip watering system.

    Vivian Blackstone: I have 32 trees. I need to take some things out of pots and plant them in the ground. Prune, prune, prune.

    Sue Getyina:(1) Replace my lawn with low water use plants and shrubs. (2) Grow lots of milkweed for Monarch butterflies. (3) Plant some fruit trees, like peach and nectarine.

    Dale Rekus:I only have one thing on my 2015 list – do what I failed to complete on my 2014 list!

    Kathy Ascher:(1) Have enough composted material to amend my vegetable beds by spring (because I don’t want to buy it). (2) Start seedling vegetables early enough to keep them rotated (so I don’t have to buy them). (3) Mulch everything (to conserve water).

    Marilyn Wilson:(1) In 2015 I’m going to add gravel. My succulent garden contains a meandering trough that improves drainage and serves as a path between plants that bite (agaves). Originally it was lined with gravel, but that has turned to mud. They sell gravel in different colors and I shall buy the brown stuff, to match my adobe house. (2) I will also kill a number of great plants because I STILL don’t know how to treat them properly, especially those in the protea family. (3) Finally, I shall take an inventory and make sure I have the proper name for each plant and review care instructions (again).

    Victoria Paris:Since I’m an avid rose gardener I’ll be pruning roses, installing a drip watering system, and planting succulents on my front walkway.

    Cassidy Rowland:(1) Dig out raised vegetable bed to line it with metal mesh to keep out gophers. (2) Replace soil in said vegetable bed with the best soil I can find to eliminate tomato nematodes. (3) Add the best compost I can find to said vegetable bed to have wonderful tomato, peppers, and eggplant crops in 2015. Wish me luck!

    Louise Anderson:That’s easy, but may never be done. (1) Weed. (2) Prune. (3) Prune some more. Otherwise hire someone to do it. But as Tom Selleck said, “I can’t find anyone who will work as cheaply as I will.”

    Nancy Carol Carter: In 2015 I will rework my small front garden to recover from a gopher attack, plant some of the ‘grown-up grasses” Mary James wrote about in California Garden, and, with regret, remove a tree that has proved to be a poor choice for its location.

    Gerald D. Stewart says the three top things on his to do list for next year are to continue fine-tuning the irrigation systems (that should be self-explanatory in this drought); planting everything purchased but not put in the ground yet (he’s tired of hand watering plants – or not, then losing them during heat waves); and the third thing is to take more time enjoying the garden rather than all garden time being of the work mode (he says he’s lousy at stopping to smell the scented-leaf pelargoniums). Hopefully, once all irrigation lines are on working time clocks and everything is planted, he can use what had been irrigation-oriented time to wander aimlessly around the acre.

    Anne Murphy:Deal with climate change. (1) Put in more trees, probably white oak (Quercus lobata) and some large mazanita (probably Dr. Hurd) that will be grown as trees, among others. (2) Finish mulching areas that are used regularly. (3) Add more agaves and small leaf salvia (S. munzii, S. brandegei, and S. mellifera) to my non-irrigated steep, south-facing slope.

    Judy LaVine:Our new house will be completed in early 2015, so I will be starting my new garden from scratch. The previous house burned in the 2007 fires, so the landscaping was scorched and then neglected for seven years. (1) Landscape the entrance to meet the HOA requirements. (2) Plant drought tolerant natives and cacti on the western facing slope. (3) Plant for fire resistance around the house. Throughout we will be cleaning up the property, getting rid of dead trees, and encouraging the development of native plants.

    Marilyn Guidroz:My top three garden “to do list” items for 2015: (1) I plan to plant natives, especially trees like California Sycamore and Oak. (2) I plan to remove all water thirsty garden shrubs, like the Buddleias. (3) I plan to bring in more mulch to thicken up the garden surfaces.

    Katrin Utt:I have 60 rose bushes in my small garden, half of them in pots because there is no more room in the flower beds. My top resolution for 2015 is: Do not buy any more Roses! I hope to be able to keep this promise to myself.

    Annie Morgan:(1) I’m doing some major tree pruning to bring in more sun as the start of updating the hodgepodge of a yard. (2) It’s time to simplify and lessen the hand watering, number of pots (hundreds!), and maintenance the garden requires in the hopes of getting it to where I control it instead of feeling guilty and losing plants to neglect. (3) I want each seating area to actually have room to sit and to have a pleasant surround so that we spend more time enjoying the yard. (4) Well it was almost last, but I can’t leave off my goal to continue adding more butterfly plants, for both caterpillars and butterflies, so that there are multiple butterflies of the local species fluttering in the garden daily – such a joy to watch!

    Susan Krzywicki:I’ve got one thing on my to-do list, finish my already started projects. Did I have this as my response when you asked last year? Uh, yes! I think so!

    Joan Braunstein:(1) Find a place for a compost piles, because I hate throwing away valuable vegetable scraps, plus we’re getting chickens! (2) Perfect my tomato growing technique, so I can extend tomato eating season. (3) Get permission to plant in empty spaces around Old Town, because my little plot has run out of room.

    Ken Selzer:Ongoing issues with both fruit trees and raised vegetable beds. (1) Plants that grow best close to the coast/ocean. (2) Controlling insects/snails. (3) Fertilizers.

    Kathleen Downs:My top to do items for 2015 are to get more cactus and succulents worked in and to use more rocks for mulch. Less water, easier maintenance, and easier cleanup. On the vegetable side, my highest priority is picking Roy’s knowledgeable brain to find the most bountiful, flavorful tomatoes for the spring planting!

    Sheryl Bennett:Now that we’ve successfully eliminated our lawn we’ll be redoing the area with drought-tolerant plants. We’ve already started with bringing in loads of amended soil specific to the type of plants (primarily succulents) we plan on using. Next on our “to do” list is to add six more trees to our mixed orchard. We haven’t decided yet on the specific types. Finally, we’ll have a tree service do some much needed work on some of the big trees. The drought has been tough on some of the big guys and they need work!

    Bea Ericksen:In January we will be purchasing mulch from Evergreen Nursery, to spread around the roses and the rest of the garden. This keeps the weeds down and moisture in. A great help for those hot summer days.

    Cassie DuBourdieu: (1) Refine my sprinkler system. (2) Plant new plants; fertilize naturally. (3) Add to compost.

    Lisa Newberg: (1) Hire a landscape designer. (2) Plant raised beds and start veggie garden. (3) Follow design per budget.

    Susi Torre-Bueno: We lost a lot of plants (including well-established California natives) to the drought last year, so some major changes are in order for 2015. In addition to increasing the amount of low-water plants we have, I especially want to reduce the time spent in pruning and maintenance. (1) Remove all dead plants, composting as many as possible. Leave the roots to retain soil on steep slopes. (2) Replace most dead plants from front garden with succulent cuttings from elsewhere in the garden. We plan to limit ourselves to only 8 kinds of succulents (for a more cohesive look), and will plant at least 20-30 cuttings of each kind in large swaths. (3) Replace plants that need regular watering with low-water plants as much as possible.


  • Mon, December 01, 2014 10:45 AM | San Diego Horticultural Society (Administrator)

    Marsha Bode:Everyone on my list gets persimmon fruitcake made with persimmons from my very large and prolific Hachiya persimmon tree. When they first open their gift, lots of fruitcake jokes follow, but once they take a bite all preconceptions fly out the window. I use dried fruit from Frazier Farms or Sprouts instead of the sugary bits in the plastic tubs. It takes a while to chop everything by hand, but it is worth it. A basket with fruitcake, lime marmalade, orange marmalade and plum/apple jam along with some fresh persimmons for color will be offered in the Silent Auction at the November fund raising luncheon for the Vista Garden Club.

    Candace Kohl:I grow lots of Protea family plants, Grevillea, Leucadendron, Banksia, etc. These provide wonderfully interesting and long-lasting greenery. I am sometimes in charge of table arrangements for our events at Friends of the International Center at UCSD, and always use some of these materials. I also often use roses grown by one of my local friends. At Thanksgiving, the Del Mar Rose Society has a program called the Thanksgiving of Roses, where we make up bouquets and deliver them to local residents who are housebound or have been identified as needing some cheering up. There are sometimes 30 or so of these bouquets made up, and I contribute buckets of greenery. Holiday time is a special period to share my bounty.

    Sue Gutierrez: I used the succulents from my garden, dried their ends, and using spray adhesive attached them to purchased pumpkins. I did these in early October, and they were centerpiece decorations for two parties, and I am planning to use them for Thanksgiving.

    Al Myrick:I make palm frond carvings of angels, fish, dolphins, wizards, birds, and so on (whatever is already in the frond and only needs to be carved out).

    Joanne Fishman:I decorate with the following from my garden: pines, pinecones, eucalyptus, Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’, Grevillea ‘Moonlight’, white ‘Iceberg’ roses, and anything else that looks interesting. Maybe the tangerines and pomegranates will still be around.

    Marilyn Wilson:When I prune, I propagate, so I always have plenty of plants to give away . Several of the garden clubs to which I belong have holiday gift swaps, and I am already preparing for those. Of course, I always label my plants so the recipient can look up horticultural requirements (in my fervent hope that the plants will live a long, healthy life).

    Vivian Blackstone:I will probably use my holly for an arrangement. I gave my Ikebana friend bamboo cuttings I had, and she was thrilled and made a beautiful arrangement for the front office. Unfortunately, my maple leaves are damaged looking, but I would have used them otherwise.

    Connie Forest:I have so many succulents outgrowing their pots that I have decided to use pieces of many of them as a basis for a door decoration. I am using a large oval grape-stick wreath as a base, and simply gluing the succulents to the base after adding Spanish moss. I am adding some fake red berries and a bow, and I think it will be quite nice. I don't know if the succulents will survive the holidays, but I have more.

    Enid Sherman:Toyon berries dress up candles, make a table more festive and hang out well for a while with succulents. Succulents are fun for table decorations, or glue gunned down on squashes, Styrofoam forms, and plates.

    Barb Huntington:I have a huge California Native Holly Berry (Toyon) I use for Christmas decorations on the mantel. I also use pine branches from a very large pine tree my son gave me some years ago as about a 3” plant from the grocery store. I may make some succulent arrangements, as I have lots of extras in the labyrinth.

    Robin Rivet:There’s not much collectible from my neglected garden this summer, but I’m always on the lookout for local Bushy Yates; aka Eucalyptus lehmanii (australianseed.com/shop/item/eucalyptus-lehmanii). Of course, those taxonomists have been at it again, and this tree now goes by a new name:  Eucalyptus conferruminata: http://selectree.calpoly.edu/treedetail.lasso?rid=1489. In any case, this awesome species really has spectacular buds and inflorescence, which then evolve into large woody capsules that appear unworldly. I seek them out around San Diego, where they grow with minimal care along highways, parks, and in odd places. If I didn’t have so many fruit trees, I’d grow this puppy just for its cool decorations. Ironically, from afar the tree has a modest and undistinguished countenance, and only close inspection will shock anyone who casually encounters it. Here’s an image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Eucalyptus_conferruminata.

    Jeannine Romero:Succulents, succulents and more succulents!

    Susan Krzywicki:I’ve made a wreath of Torrey Pine boughs that was decorated with mini pumpkins for Halloween, and I will I redecorate it with other objects in the coming days. I always have bowls of the Torrey pinecones ready to use as table decor and scattered around my home when my brother and his family come to visit. 

    Linda Chisari:Since I don’t have a lot of flowers in the garden right now to cut and bring in the house, I’ve been using Ikebana-like arrangements of Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and ‘Setsugekka’. The fine terminal branches are loaded with delicate single flowers in clear red (‘Yuletide’) and pure white (‘Setsugekka’) that will, when arranged in a needles flower holder, decorate the house from now through Christmas. Each flower only lasts a day but there are many buds on each branch and the arrangement lasts nearly a week.

    Cathy Tylka:Rosemary and Cleveland sage are both welcomed inside all year long in flower arrangements around the house, or I just let them dry and they’re keepers for a while. My roses are blooming since the rain, so I'm bringing in a few to decorate the room with and they smell so lovely. Also, I do make arrangements for friends and family using my many succulents, and try to remember the rule of thumb: something tall, something full, and something that drapes or hangs over, to make a nice mix.

    Jim Bishop:Much to some people's surprise and sometimes horror, I use Euphorbia tirucalli (Sticks on Fire) the way others use evergreen branches. My huge pencil euphorbias usually need some shaping, so I prune them and let the cuttings fall to the ground, and try to avoid getting anywhere near the white sap. I let them lay on the ground a few days until they are good and callused over. I then pick them up and use them on top of the wall on the front patio as boughs of evergreens. They can last for up to 6 months. Mix in some round potted cacti and/or luminaries and you have a holiday display that doesn't dry out or fry in the winter sun. One year I even made a wreath for the front gate of euphorbia cuttings and succulents, but I wore disposable gloves and kept my hands away from my face while making it.

    Joan Braunstein:Earlier this year I planted a young Japanese maple in my side yard in Old Town. For whatever reason, it did not make it and was completely dead a few months later. I cut off all the wilted foliage and was left with an attractive array of twigs from which I plan to hang Christmas ornaments and bird treats.

    Susi Torre-Bueno:I make long-lasting foliage arrangements using variegated myrtle (Myrtus communis ‘Variegata’), long stems of rosemary, and stiff upright stems of Cape Rush (Chondropetalum tectorum). These three can look very fine together in a vase for a week or two, and the myrtle and rosemary have lovely scents. To this I’ll sometimes add flowers from aloes (which also last at least a week when cut), which are reliable late fall and winter bloomers. This year I’m also thinking of making small rosemary and bay laurel wreaths or bouquets to give out to my holiday visitors for them to cook with for weeks to come. I have both these herbs in abundance and now is a good time to cut them back.

    Deborah Young: Depending on how well it turns out, maybe some homemade apple cider vinegar in cute bottles? Not a recipient-specific gift, but we have a huge, generous lime tree in the front yard and keeping up with the windfalls has always been a bit of a chore. This year, I put a box labeled “Please Help Yourself” out by the street, and all the falls go in there; people come by and take a couple of limes until they’re all gone.  

    Mary Lee: I use dried/dead frowns from my King Palms to make hanging "baskets" for cuttings from my yard: tillandsia, blooms, etc. Vines from my star jasmine bush form the ties that keep the folded frown basket together. And also vine holders for smaller tillies. And I use smaller tillies to put into my collection of conch and other seashells to decorate my home. I also plan on using some dried bamboo cuttings (from lack of watering before our last rain) as holiday gift bow decorations.

    Cindy Sparks: This year my Kishu tangerine is having an extra big crop. Last year I must have had 1000 fruit, and this year it will be even more. As a result, I'm using Kishu to decorate. In glass bowls, they look great, and if I have some little baggies stashed nearby, when somebody remarks on the fruit I can whip out a baggie, fill it with decorative Kishus, and give it away on the spot. Jeez, it's worse than zucchini already!

    Susan D’Vincent:Like many members, my garden provides a lot for the holidays. For decorations, I can find interesting pieces of wood from cut down myoporum trees, which I decorate with juniper and nandina berries. This fall I found nice, big, fat orange rose hips to use as miniature pumpkins, with little faces drawn on with permanent marker. My full-sized pumpkins, which came from the compost as volunteers, will be used to make hazelnut pumpkin cheesecake, a fabulous Cooking Light recipe. Then, for holiday gifts, I will have low sugar jams made from my fruit trees and, also for the first time this year, even prickly pear fruit. Thank you garden, you were good to me this year, even with the drought.

    Tom Biggart: My wife, Neal, makes incredible jam from the fruit of the jelly palm, Butia capitata, which makes wonderful gifts. Should you have this palm in your yard and do not know what to do with all that fruit, just give me a call and I will come and get it!

    Katrin Utt:I use pine cones that I have collected on my walks through the years. I spray some of them with gold and silver spray paint. They really look festive combined with cedar or fir branches. They also keep for years. 

    Diane Bailey:Pomegranates come to mind first. I have been making some jellies and syrup right now. They make nice gifts. Also, dwarf pomegranates are great in wreaths and bouquets. Regular pomegranates make good centerpieces, bowl decorations, etc. The nice thing about this fruit is that it grows locally with very little water!

    Jane Coogan Beer: This year I will be pruning my six Osmanthus heterophyllus (Goshiki and other variegated selections.) Also known as False Holly, this is the slowest growing shrub, but scattered over my property it gets no care. Thinned from the base, the long prunings are shared with friends and neighbors for table, mantel, door and other decorations. Elaeagnus pungens has been in a corner for maybe twelve years, allowed to form ten plus feet of viney growth in both directions. The small inconspicuous flowers perfume a whole room. The olive green leaves with silver bronze reverse give a fall flavor to vases of Tithonia diversifolia (giant Mexican sunflower). When this needs pruning, the vines can be used for forming wreaths.

    Lynn Becker:Last year I used a collection of abalone shells, and small kitchenwares and pots that were in my yard and kitchen, and filled them with succulent cuttings from my containers. I gave them to parent helpers and fellow teachers at my school. I've started using wine corks as markers; people love them.

    Jill Coughlin: Beautiful fall leaves from Feather Acres Nursery in Solana Beach - since all I have is Torrey Pine needles! They also have a spectacular plain fall leaf wreath nice and full; needs nothing else added to it except maybe a burlap bow if you want, and well priced at around $45. Lots of pumpkins: any size, color and shape; large for outside and small for inside. Baby pomegranates, small tangerines, any small long-lasting veggies. Acorns I picked up back East. Baby succulents tucked in here and there. Broken up pieces of the long Brussels sprout logs they sell at this time of year. Orange pyracantha berries, coffee berries; actually any kind of berry or seeds I see on any bushes anywhere (I keep clippers in my car for a little pruning now and then!). Dried poppy pods. At Thanksgiving we usually set a long table at the end our dining room table so we have a long harvest table. Last year our daughter used small pewter tea sets and other small pewter cups I have and filled them with succulents, berries, pieces of wheat, etc., and set them on leaves scattered all down the table with the berries, veggies, etc. and lots of candles and it looked great. 

    Ellie Knight:Twisted golden willow. Can spray paint any color, great in floral design live or dry.

 Our Mission  To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.

Our Vision  To champion regionally appropriate horticulture in San Diego County.


 



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