- Author: Brenda Altman
Two springs ago while shopping at a big box store in Vallejo in the pre-Covid era, I purchased a Gala apple tree sapling with its roots wrapped up in a bag. In my mind, I was already crunching into a crisp juicy apple. I was eager to take it home and transfer it to a 7-gallon bucket. I filled the bucket with planting soil and placed in a sunny spot in the garden.
I carefully water the tree and watched it grow. In late summer I found a nice sunny spot in my garden where the tree could get 6 hours plus of sun and dug a 7-gallon hole in the clay. I made it twice the diameter of the little sapling and deep enough so the crown would be above the surface. It grew and grew and the next spring many new leaves and branches appeared but no flowers. Gala apple trees can grow as high as 25 feet or if you get the dwarf type 10 feet.
This spring I got excited as I noticed new buds appearing on the tree. Sure, enough they were flowers! I was going toger apples! How many I did not know. I figured a half dozen or more but I was wrong the tree gave me a dozen-plus apples! Galas are self-pollinating so there is no need to buy another apple tree.
I sampled the apples once they started to change color. The young apples were crisp with just a tinge of sweetness and tartness. As they got redder the flavor grew more intense. Gala apples have a good storage life. Put in a cool place and chomp on them a month later! They will just burst with flavor. Gardening takes patience, it takes time. But if you work at it, you will be rewarded.
I can't wait for next spring to see how many more apples I'll get. I will remove the smaller apples growing next to a larger apple in the hopes of getting bigger apples but fewer apples. I will also prune some of the lower branches.
Sometimes you can find real bargains at a big box store. Do your research before you buy and select the saplings that look promising. If the tree is not already established, I prefer to transfer trees to a seven-gallon container and let the roots develop before I commit them to the ground.
For more information:
ucanr.edu gala apples
- Author: Jenni Dodini
Finally, I found something resembling the site I first found dealing with Borrego Springs. The one pictured is the Dwarf Peacock Poinciana tree, Caesalpinia pulcherrima. The DesertSun.com site is really wonderful in describing the plants in the area. This plant is native to Barbados and is its national flower. It can grow 15 to 20 feet in height, but in frost-prone climates, it stays smaller and can be pruned to make a nice hedge. That being said, it tolerates pruning very well. It needs well-drained soil and full sunlight. The seed pods can be quite messy when they fall to the ground. They are drought and salt-tolerant plants.
- Author: Launa Herrmann
Several years ago my friend Bonnie offered me a slip from one of her favorite potted plants, a large leafy begonia. I placed the cutting in a glass of water next to the window by the sink until roots filled the glass. Then I placed it in a clay pot filled with planting mix. For a couple of years I kept the plant in the house, pinching out the tips of new growth until I realized this begonia need room to stretch. So outside it went.
In the filtered light, more partial shade than direct sun, the begonia thrived, protected by a wooden fence and the overhang of a crepe myrtle tree. I stopped pinching out the tips and basically ignored the plant. The long arching stems reached high above the pot and draped atop a birdbath. The speckled triangular leaves added a touch of whimsy to the angel statue I had set in the middle of the dish.
This summer I truly reaped the reward of nurturing that begonia slip. I had no idea that in the scorching heat it would set bloom and surprise me with a dangling display of flower clusters. A truly gorgeous ball of pink.
Until researching this particular plant and writing this blog, I had no idea how many different begonia types exist. Although I still can't confirm its exact horticultural name, I know my plant is a cane begonia, often commonly called “Angel Wing” begonia. Leaves can grow up to 14 inches in length with stems stretching up to 12 feet.
No longer do I fret that I can't grow the compact brilliant-colored Tuberous begonias in Vacaville's hot climate or that the exotic-leafed Rex begonia lasts only a limited time as a houseplant in my home. Instead, I'm captivated by the endless possibilities of begonias I've yet to try. You'll see what I mean when you visit the long list of multiple categories displayed in the Virtual Greenhouse on the American Begonia Society's website. Be sure to click on the “Begonia Name” to view photographs of each one. (And should you discover the identity of my begonia, please let me know.)
Here's the link:
- Author: Betty Victor
I have viewed posts on Facebook about dandelions and bees which say not to get rid of the dandelion growing in your garden as they are food for the bees. But is that the truth or a myth?
I had not heard this before, so I decided to find out by going to some university websites to see what they had to say about this subject.
In my search, I found out that the dandelion belongs to the Asteraceae family which is one of the largest families with more than 1,620 genera and 27,600 plants, trees, and shrubs. Familiar plants from this family are aster, coneflower, cosmos, and many others.
One thing I did learn in doing research for this blog from the book California Bees and Blooms written by Gordon W. Frankie, Robbin W. Thorp, Rollin E. Coville, and Barbara Ertter is that bees belong to the Superfamily-Apoidea order of Hymenoptera and that there are approximately 20,000 bees across the globe. Here in the United States, there are about 4,000 insects-some as small as ants and some as large as birds. Not sure what kind of birds.
From what I have read dandelions are not the first food for bees. They only go for the pollen which is poor quality for them when that's all that is available for them. They will go for their preferred plant pollen first.
I have an orange tree in my yard, and when it is blossoming, bees of all shapes and variety, cover it taking what pollen they can carry. I also have other plants in my garden that attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies, such as salvia, coneflower, and abutilon. I do not have many dandelions for the bees when there is no other pollen available for them.
As to my search I really did not come up with much saying not to get rid of the dandelions. Because in a pinch, even with the pollen's poor quality, it might help them.
- Author: Erin Mahaney
Despite my vow to avoid purchasing any more clematis —well, this year at least—I couldn't resist snapping up Clematis ‘Little Lemons' when I saw it on sale. This charming super-dwarf clematis has yellow nodding blooms that turn into fluffy, silvery-gold, Dr. Seuss-esque seed heads that shimmer in the light. The lacy leaves are dark green. The plant is a non-vining variety that does well in containers, hanging baskets, or as a groundcover in the front of a border.
‘Little Lemons' is a Clematis tangutica variety. While the full-size variety can grow up to 12-15 feet, this variety is a “super-dwarf” plant that is described as 18-20 inches tall and wide. My plant has grown much wider, approximately 36 inches with its trailing stems, but the height seems to be as described. It has bloomed all summer, from May into September, and will likely continue into early October.
As with other clematis, ‘Little Lemons' prefers well-drained soil and regular water. It needs full sun to part shade. The plant can cause contact dermatitis for some people, so it is best to use gloves when handling it. The clematis belongs to Pruning Group 3, which means that it blooms on the current year's growth. In the winter, plants in this group should be pruned back hard to 8-12 inches from the ground. This variety, however, will typically bloom earlier and longer if the plant isn't cut back so hard.
While I would love to see ‘Little Lemons' in a hanging basket where the nodding flowers could be better appreciated, it's not feasible to maintain a hanging basket in my windy yard. But so far, the plant has done well in a pot tucked out of the wind. While the cheerful blooms are a welcome addition to the yard, it is the silly, fluffy seed heads that make me smile when I walk by. They provide an interesting addition to floral arrangements too. All in all, I'm glad that life handed me ‘Little Lemons!'