- Author: Trisha Rose
Woke up this morning to the sound of rain drops hitting the skylights, nice. Summer rain is very uncommon and July is historically our driest month here in Solano, so any rain is very welcome to our parched gardens. This year I have held off planting much since early spring. The garden gets very little water and any new planting will have to wait until we get rain in the fall.
I have been "capturing" water from my kitchen sink as I am waiting for the water to get hot for various chores. This water goes to hand watering the Butterfly Bush (Buddleja davidii 'Variegata') and the Flowering Maple (Abutilon striatum 'Variegata') both are doing pretty well. Yesterday I realized I was looking at a branch of the Butterfly Bush which had reverted to the all green form. I have read to cut those branches back to the main stem which I did, hope no more appear.
Just heard some thunder so maybe there will be a little more rain today, I can do without the lighting though, that's the last thing we need with our bone dry hills.
- Author: Betty Victor
A trip to AT&T Park in San Francisco for a Giants baseball game, gave me a chance to see the vegetable garden they have. The garden with the co-operation of the Giants and Bon Appétit is to be a teaching garden.
The over 4000 square foot garden is located behind the centerfield wall. All the beds are raised, which makes it easy to tend and pick the produce; this also prevents people from walking on and mashing down the plants. In the center of each bed they have planted small trees, lime, lemon, avocado, and cumquat. Around these trees they have a variety of vegetables growing. One bed is planted with tomatoes and basil, another is planted with artichokes and many varieties of lettuce. Two beds other beds are filled with almost every herb including borage that grows, and they must like lemon grass, because they are growing a lot of it. Throughout the beds they have planted violas, marigolds, and pansies.
There are three vertical tall towers that resemble tall strawberry pots, in which they have kale, strawberries, lettuce. On further investigation, I learned these towers are Aeroponic towers. Each tower can hold up to 44 plants.
Another bed has peppers, squash, blueberry bushes; the vegetable will be harvested year round to be used in the community and by some of the vendors at the park.
The garden is open to all who attend the games. There is a fire pit to sit around, a bar that serves drinks and snacks. In a few weeks, they will open a restaurant called “The Garden Table” which will feature produce grown in the garden. This garden has two purposes; one that some of the food venders at the park will have use of the produce, the main purpose is to be an outdoor teaching garden for youth groups in the bay area. Their goal is to teach the youth about healthy eating, sustainability and gardening in cities along with nutrition. Another benefit is that instead of throwing away the coffee grounds from the coffee that it sold at the park, they will use it to fertilize the beds.
They have a sod field growing in the garden area; this sod is used in the playing field if necessary. You can picnic on the sod and children can play on it.
The center field wall is too high to see the game, so they have big screen TV's for that. It is a wonderful garden to visit and to see what they have done with space, to watch a baseball game and have fresh greens for your snack is a good day-especially if your team wins.
- Author: Sharon L. Rico
In July, Agapanthus africanus are blooming everywhere. Noticeable in the foreground of local gardens, they stand out when mass-planted. This year they are spectacular all around Vacaville. Hardly noticeable when they are not blooming, they really put on a show when the umbrella-shaped clusters of flowers open. The flowers have always reminded me of fireworks or sparklers, so the fact they bloom every July seems appropriate.
Agapanthus are commonly known as ‘Lily of the Nile'. They belong to the Liliaceae family and originated in South Africa. Their flowers are shades of blue (light to dark) or white. Usually planted in the spring, the plants require water to get them established; afterwards they are pretty drought tolerant. They do like to be mulched. Although snails and slugs like hiding in their fountain-like clusters of foliage, they are not susceptible to other pests.
Agapanthus do not require pruning. After blooming, the dried stalks and dead leaves should be removed. They can be divided to propagate in the early fall, although rarely need dividing. As they mature, they thicken at the base and occasionally you may see their fleshy tubular roots creeping above soil level. They make wonderful container plants, especially the smaller varieties mentioned below. Fertilize the plants in the early spring with a granular fertilizer such as 6-10-4.
Agapanthus comes from the Greek word meaning “flower of love”. ‘Midnight Blue' has the deepest violet-blue blooms. Peter Pan' and ‘Tinkerbell' are both dwarf plants that look great in containers. ‘Elaine' has large clusters of purple-blue blooms on four-foot stems.
I am enjoying the display of Agapanthus around Vacaville that grow along fences, against homes, along driveways, around ponds and swimming pools and in containers. This perennial is on display this month.
Recently, a friend cut about 10 stems of her Agapanthus and placed them in a tall clear vase. She added powdered floral preservative to the water and told me they would last for over a week if the water was changed daily and the stems were trimmed. What a spectacular display they made!
- Author: Karen Metz
It's an interesting growing season this spring and summer given our drought. Instead of aiming to have my plants thrive, I am trying to have them survive. My small front lawn is getting watered less than once a week. (Don't tell my husband, but I've wanted to get rid of the lawn for some time. He wants a lawn). Needless to say it's not very happy. The rest of the landscape is getting watered about twice a week. The last week I've been taking stock of how things are going. I want to see what I may lose, what will survive and what is, surprisingly, seeming to thrive. This information will be helpful on choosing what to replace the lost plants with down the road. I have two holly trees that are not faring well. One, I think, I will probably lose. Several things are doing okay but not thriving; my butterfly bushes in both the front and back yard look stressed. They will make it though, as will my lavender. My Lilies of the Nile, Agapanthus, are blooming their hearts out but the foliage definitely looks stressed.
Several plants look great through it all. My Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, is blooming profusely and I have to continue cutting the shrub/small tree back. The Grevillea is thriving to my husband's dismay, he hates it because of its prickliness. The hummingbirds and I love it because of its flowers. My Egyptian Sage which I believe is in the Perovskia genus, is blooming and growing. I am surprised at how well my Fern Pine, Podocarpus gracilior, has done. It remains lush and green. As expected, my olive and pomegranates are weathering the heat and water restrictions without much difficulty. The Shasta daisies bloomed well though they look a bit ratty now. The Euphorbias are fine as are the Agaves and the New Zealand Flax, the Phormiums. In the future I will want to fill in any empty spots with hardy plants that thrived during this drought.