- Author: Betsy Lunde
Today was quite interesting! I’m trying to do something (anything) in the back yard and the crows continue to caw: nothing like having your yard used as flight training school. Somewhere in the high grass near the shed is a “baby” crow who is not too sure about how these feathery things work. The term “baby” is not too descriptive – he/she is larger than the size a dove but young nevertheless!
I almost stepped on junior(ess?) yesterday while checking out the progress or lack of it I’m making in the side yard. (After 2 weeks previously of hacking and whacking at the rambler roses there, I’ve relocated a large raised bed with nothing in it. Well, almost nothing – “Bobbie James” decided to toss a runner in there and now it sits – denuded, but lethal all the same. Can’t dig it up – did I mention that I’ve been hung up at home for 2
months with a badly sprained knee (a knee, you say, surely you mean an ankle); nah, a knee and without 2 decently working knees, one simply doesn’t dig – trust me, brace and all—it doesn’t work! So I do what any other dedicated gardener does: I just stood there and glowered at it! The bush didn’t take the hint – it wants to bloom. Giving it another very short haircut, and it looks soo much better already.
But I did find a project: making 13 boxes for the upcoming Succulent Box planting class. Bruce, the woodworker, cut all the pieces of wood to size and I put them together! Ok, so I put them together with a lot of stand-by assistance in the form of advice. Bruce sat in the garage cum workshop (garage, yes right – couldn’t get a car in there with a shoehorn or wax from a candle.
I have found out more about 45 degree angles and how not to cut them than I care to know. When I get back to work and the State Parks Department goes into the box-making business, I’ll be in charge! But, I’ll graciously decline the job. Seriously,
I can now understand why these things are expensive – they are time consuming. But that not all I did...
For a long time now, I’ve wanted to catalogue my books so that I can not only find one when I need it, but also to crack down on duplicates. You know, when you find 2 or 3 of one book but not the one you thought you had and desperately need now!
The whole process only took 4 days – emptying shelves, entering, and replacing. Another time consuming job, but one that’s done and over. I have only 12 duplicate copies of
volumes now to get rid of. I’ll be sending Jennifer a list in case somebody needs additional books for their gardening libraries. It was actually rather nice to go through the books and see which were my mother’s first and which she bought for me.
Well, I’ll quit for now. My this and that ideas are coming to the fore and I need to write myself a note for future ventures outside. I sure hope the crow learns to fly in a hurry so that I can go out to the back without the constant cawing and dive bombing from mom and dad. Heck, I’ll teach him/her how to fly myself!
- Author: Jennifer Baumbach
Gardeners are always finding new ways to spice up the garden. After visiting the San Francisco Garden Show, held in San Mateo, I saw a lot of new ideas about how to reuse materials in the garden. Succulents seemed to play a big part of the reuse. At the Sunset venue, I saw this great table made from a recycled wooden pallet. It had this trough in the middle of the table that was planted with succulents. Très chic! Of course there is the ever-popular Succulent Gardens booth with their colorful varieties of succulents. If you visit this booth, you have to sharpen your elbows and dive in. Many of the people are fanatics about getting just the right succulent for their home. Among the other booths, I saw the use of succulents in grapevine wreaths, but what caught my eye was this cute 6”x6” redwood frame of succulents. I am sure many of you have seen the walls of succulents, and if you haven’t, they are something to behold. But this small frame really appealed to me, so I thought I would purchase the kit and try it making it at home. I purchased mine from Succulent Gardens http://sgplants.com/ . They have several sizes of frames to choose from. The kit came in the mail with the frame, consisting of recycled old growth redwood, a landscape fabric mesh, and a concrete board backing. Other items in the kit were the cactus/succulent mix, and of course, the succulents. On their website, they have a video of how to plant the frame with the soil and succulents. It’s worth a look.
I worked on my frame yesterday afternoon. I sat at the kitchen table and separated out the succulents by type. I then cleaned off the old leaves from each of the succulents. I then put the soil into the frame and packed it in. Once that was finished, I carefully placed the succulents onto the face of the frame. I also incorporated a few succulents I had at home just to make it more interesting. Since none of the succulents have roots at this point, I could arrange and rearrange the plants to my liking. What is going to be hard is the long wait until the succulents’ root-that will take about 6-12 weeks. After that, I can water the frame and hang it up. I will keep you posted on the frames progress.
- Author: Karen Norton
How to protect your succulents from frost
Now that the weather is getting colder and now that I have added succulents to my garden containers, it is important to know how to protect them from frost. Usually perennials respond to winter cold by dying to the ground. In spring, their roots send out new growth. But many succulents from mild climates don't have this adaptation, and need special care when grown where temperatures drop below 32 degrees F.
Here are some tips from succulent photojournalist and author, Debra Lee Baldwin.
-- Don't peel away dry leaves attached to a succulent's trunk or stem. They protect it from temperature extremes (cold and hot).
-- Keep succulents on the dry side. Cells that are turgid are more likely to burst when the liquid within them freezes.
-- Move potted succulents beneath a deck, tree or eaves. (I try to tuck them next to the house in corners that are covered)
-- Place pots against walls, hardscape, boulders and/or shrubs that absorb and slowly release the day's heat. South- and west-facing exposures are best.
-- Drape succulents with frost cloth (sold at nurseries) or old bed sheets. Avoid plastic, which traps moisture, doesn't let plants breathe, and intensifies sunlight.
Should your succulents become frost-burned ~
-- Remove collapsed leaves only if it's likely they'll stay moist and decay. But if they'll protect the plant from future frost, leave on and prune in spring.
-- Preserve the geometry of slender-leaved succulents (such as agaves and aloes) by trimming tip-burned leaves to a point, rather than cutting straight across.
-- Chalk it up to experience. Now you know that particular plant is vulnerable and needs a protected location. (This is my gardening style that I am trying to improve by joining the Solano Master Gardener program).
- Author: Karen Norton
Recently I escaped the summer heat and ventured to the Succulent Extravaganza hosted by Succulent Garden’s owner Robin Stockwell. This working nursery is in rural Castroville and gardeners flocked there September 30 and October 1 to hear presentations by landscape architects, garden curators, authors and succulent growers. They also enjoyed great hospitality, free treats, habitat walks, and extensive shopping through three green houses.
I planned my trip to hear Debra Lee Baldwin, author of Designing Container Gardens with Succulents. She gave tips for eye-catching containers and showed numerous slides that accentuated her main design principle of repetition. She stressed repeating shapes or colors found in the containers with color and shapes of the succulents. She also said that a new trend is to put semi-precious stones into containers with the succulents. She recommended mounding the soil in the center when planting a pot to create height and depth.
Debra’s “not so secret” succulent planting mix contains potting soil and pumice (crushed volcanic rock). She said that pumice is easily attained at local livestock supply stores under the brand name, Dry Stalls. She adds this to her mix to promote drainage.
Another attraction for me at the nursery was the outside gazebo that was wall papered with panels of hanging succulents. The succulents were planted in plastic hanging forms that allowed the creators to use plant shapes and colors to develop designs. On another building, I looked up to find a beautiful succulent mural or what Robin calls a “living wall”.
On a much smaller scale, I made my own vertical garden by using wooden wine box for the container. It is easy to remove the wooden lid, cut a piece of ½ inch fencing the same size and slide it in. Next I filled the box with a cactus mix blend of soil (before I heard Debra speak) and poked succulent cuttings in the squares. Then you keep the box in a shady spot, lying flat until the succulent grow roots and they don’t come out when you tug on them. After about six weeks, I hung up my box to enjoy.
Now I have a whole new appreciation for succulent design, versatility, and variety of plants. With the new plants I picked out during the succulent event, I am looking for containers and areas in the garden to create eye-catching designs.
- Author: Sally Livingston
After attending a session on succulent container gardening at UC Davis, I decided to try it. This is my first attempt. When I purchased the succulents, I thought it would be too crowded in the planter but there is space. As they grow, I think it will fill it, but if not I plan to add some other succulents.
There are many kinds of succulents and I just got a few different ones. They have shallow roots so I put rocks in the bottom of my planter. Then I used packaged soil designed for succulents or cactus mix. It is more porous that the usual potting mix and helps retain water for longer periods. This one is located at the entrance to our gazebo and gets morning and early afternoon sun then some shade. It seems to be doing well. I water it about every two weeks slowly with at least a quart of water. But if I forget they are very forgiving. This winter I will move them to a sheltered area when frost is in the forecast.
You might want to try this type of gardening. There are so many different and variety of plants that it is fun to select a interesting combination for your container. And it doesn’t require a lot of care or frequent fertilizing.