- Author: Alison Collin
One of the first to flower is Phlox subulata, the needle-leaved phlox, sometimes referred to as a moss pink, which makes dense mats of green leaves through the summer, goes dormant during the cold weather and then erupts into a brilliant carpet of either pale or dark pink, or lavender blue. A hybrid, 'Candy Stripe,' is more drought tolerant than the species. It grows about 6” tall and up to 2ft wide. It is not a desert plant but seems to cope with less than average water and is happy in a lean soil. The only down side is that it becomes brown and dead looking in the winter.
The Delospermas (shown at the top of the article) are low-growing small leaved succulents which are surprisingly hardy, forming dense mats 1-2” tall and up to 2ft or more wide. The daisy-shaped flowers come in a variety of colors, magenta, purple, salmon and yellow. I grow one called 'Firespinner' which is a striking orange/yellow combination the petals of which glisten in sun. These plants like a regular, moderate supply of water through the summer, giving them just enough to keep them green and healthy looking. My plants were covered in snow for a long time last winter, but were unscathed when the melt exposed them.
For fall color Zauschneria 'Everett's Choice' ( also known as Epilobium, California fuchsia, or hummingbird flower) is hard to beat. This native plant produces a profusion of bright red flowers from late summer well into fall. It grows 2-4” tall but will spread 3-5' wide, and as its common name suggests, it is loved by hummingbirds. It does best with summer water and a little afternoon shade in the hottest areas but is also drought tolerant, hardy and usually trouble free apart from occasional infestations from sphinx moth caterpillars. Other Zauschnerias grow taller and can become rangy without some pruning, but still have the striking tubular flowers.
Teucrium, or germander, comes from the Mediterranean and is at home in poor, rocky soils. T. majoricum is low growing to about 2ft wide, with narrow gray leaves and a steady production of pinkish-purple flowers on the end of its stems. It is easy to grow as long as it is planted in a sunny spot, has free draining soil, and is not over watered
Convolvulus sabatius is a member of the Morning Glory family but is nowhere nearly as invasive as the large flowered varieties. It is a low-growing, spreading plant which is hardy to Zone 8, although my plant came through last winter in spite of being covered with snow for several weeks. It is a little slow to get going in the spring, but then produces a steady stream of flowers until the first frosts. These are violet-blue in color. Unlike some of the previously mentioned plants the stems do not root to spread, but arise from the crown of the plant which makes it easy to control.
These plants aren't the only options available for low-growing color, but they are a good place to start.
(All photos by author.)
- Author: Alison Collin
As winter turned into spring and the 'Bartlett' pear tree flowered and leafed out, I celebrated my great gardening success. In fact I was jubilant because it looked as though I had finally won the battle against fire blight! For the first time in four years there were none of the telltale signs of this disease - no blackened leaves or "shepherd's crook" stem tips. For a time it looked as though I would never win, but careful pruning and rigorous attention to hygiene had finally paid off.
My only problem now was how to restore the tree into something that would justify my title of Master Gardener.
The tree had put on a lot of growth last year, and in typical pear fashion, all the new growth was fastigiate, shooting skywards with nothing but weakly attached, narrow crotch angles around the trunk and vertical stems emanating further out from the old, lateral branches. It looked a complete mess, and in spite of studying this problem over several months I had no idea how to tackle it. I became paralyzed with indecision and did nothing.
This spring, the tree was covered in flowers and set a good crop, which for once were not damaged with frost rings, and there was still no sign of fire blight. However, as I thinned the fruits I noticed that some of them were distorted, and a few of the leaves were developing blisters and brown spots suggesting that the tree had a new problem: pear blister mites.
By this time of year there was no hope of getting any control by spraying, so my next chance will be after harvest, in October or November when the mites travel away from the leaves and take up residence in the developing buds for the winter where they are again protected from the effects of sprays.
There is a small window of opportunity during this migration, and I will check for mite activity by sampling buds at various intervals and looking at them under a strong magnifying lens in order to monitor mite activity, and then spray to control. In order to comply with organic growing principles the chief methods of control available are either oil sprays or sulfur sprays. Some pears such as comice or Anjou are damaged by sulphur which cuts down on options for those varieties.
I think that I would rather deal with fire blight!
Maybe next I will be luckier.
For more information:
- Author: Carmen Kappos
If you want an easy care, hardy addition to your garden, then shrubby cinquefoil is great to consider. It's a tough garden plant that keeps producing its carefree flowers all summer long. The species name was updated to Dasiflora fruticosa, but it is still sold under an older name of Potentilla fruticosa. A native plant to northern United States and Canada as well as Europe and northern Asia, it's well-loved with many cultivated varieties. Shrubby cinquefoil is easy to grow, even in poor soil. For high altitude gardens it tolerates very cold temperatures and handles crushing snow well.
Here's a list of features for this hardy shrub that works well in borders, as a foundation plant, or in mass plantings.
- USDA Hardiness Zone 3 – 7
- Once established is considered “water wise”
- Grows well in poor soil
- Low maintenance
- Medium fire resistance
- Easy to grow
- Few pest problems
- 3' tall to 6' wide, can be pruned to height
- Rounded growth habit
- Dark green, soft pinnate leaves
- Cold hardiness
- Handles crushing snow
- Long summer blooming
- Non-toxic to dogs and cats
- Cultivated plant flower color choices: bright yellow, light yellow, white, cream, apricot, coral, pink or yellow tinged with orange.
Four different flower color specimens may be seen at the pocket park at the base of the Mammoth Lakes entrance sign. There you can see bright yellow blooms, light yellow blooms, pink blooms and white blooms during the summer months. To visit, park in the lot for the Police Department and courthouse and walk over to the small water-wise demonstration garden created by the local water district.
- Author: Dustin Blakey
I control most of my garden weeds by hoeing and pulling. This morning I was doing a quick once-over with the hoe before work when I was inspired by the abundance of purslane present in the garden to write a quick post on hoeing. Maybe we'll call it Advanced Hoeing? (Done!)
If you've read Alison Collin's previous article on hoes you should be familiar with these tools. I primarily use a hula hoe.*
If you look at how a hula hoe works, it kills weeds by cutting the top of the plant off of its roots. I have very good luck controlling annual grasses, lambsquarters, and Russian thistle. Two weeds that the hoe doesn't work well on are taboose (AKA yellow nutsedge) and purslane.
The lack of control by hoeing taboose makes sense. It has small nutlets that regrow new plants if the top is cut off. I have to dig those out. Taboose control is mostly just a factor of how much effort I want to put into the task. I mostly just live with it, digging a few out when I'm feeling a surge of ambition.
More interesting is the issue with purslane. Purslane is an annual with a fleshy taproot. You would think that hoeing would be very effective in controlling it. But it isn't. If you're not careful, hoeing can just spread it around.
I started this summer with just a little bit of purslane in the garden. Mostly I was fighting grasses, and being my usual lazy self, just hula-hoed up everything and moved on to other tasks. I knew that was probably a bad idea, but: laziness. I ended up spreading purslane all over the place!
Here's the problem: purslane is succulent and easily re-roots. (In fact, you can propagate it that way on purpose!) My hula hoe basically just chopped it up and spread it around. If it's a tiny plant, you may get some control by cultivation or hoeing, but soon thereafter it's no longer effective. All I did was transplant it!
If you're using a hoe, there are some extra steps you need to take with weeds like this that can both tolerate drought stress and have the potential to grow new roots.
First, make sure that the surface of the ground is going to be dry during the heat of the day. Adjust your watering schedule if needed. Next, when you hoe (or pull) purslane, make sure the whole plant ends up upside-down. It will not root easily if it is inverted, and the dry, hot conditions will hopefully kill it quickly. If you really want to be sure you're not going to spread it around, you should rake it out after hoeing. That's good advice for any weeds. Lazy me just leaves it if it's not too giant.
There are two other common weeds that you should also handle differently when hoeing. Field bindweed and bermudagrass tend to spread if chopped up and spread around. These need to be either dug out thoroughly and removed or controlled using other methods. See the pictures below to learn to identify these.
You are better off not jumping in and hoeing these two baddies since they are easy to spread. Consult UC IPM for control advice first.
If you have more questions on controlling weeds in the garden, or you're just a hoeing enthusiast who would like to swap stories with like-minded individuals, contact our Master Gardener helpline at email@example.com.
* It's probably better to call it something generic like a stirrup or scuffle hoe, but those neural connections fused in my brain decades ago, so I'm calling it a hula hoe. Whatever you call it, it's a great garden tool.
- Author: Joan Nash
In 2013 I declared war against the codling moth. Why? I have two beautiful apple trees and by July 80% to 90% of the apples are riddled with nasty, little worms.
Know Your Enemy: The codling moth life cycle is pretty basic. Moths emerge mid spring, fly into apple, pear, walnut trees. They mate, lay eggs, eggs hatch, worms slink to the fruit, burrow in and make a mess. Fruit falls to the ground, worms burrow underground, pupate and wait for mid-summer to do it all again. Sometimes three times!
Disrupt The Life Cycle: I went to UC Pest Notes for advice. They advise cultural modification first. Best to have nothing growing under the tree, pick up any apples that have fallen from the tree. This helps prevent the worms from going underground and pupating. Next, thin the apples in the tree. When the apples are in clusters leave one apple (painful but it helps). Also, space the apples 4” to 6” apart. Prune some of the suckers or branches in the canopy of the tree. This eliminates any infested apples that are hard to harvest.
I cleaned under my trees, thinned and pruned. What if that's not enough? Again, UC IPM's Pest Notes! Along with some graphic photos, these guide supply you with other ways to disrupt the codling moth life cycle.
Be Relentless: So in 2013 I did it all. I cleaned, thinned, pruned, trapped, calculated and sprayed. Then repeated it again for the next codling moth generations. It was a lot of work!
Harvest time arrived and guess what? IT WORKED! I DID IT! I CRACKED THE CODE! Couldn't wait to spread the word! But, before I went on the road,
I decided to use the 2014 apple season to tighten up my presentation.
The 2014 season was a disaster! Worms in almost every apple.
Persevere: I continued through the seasons using the Pest Note's advice and added a few new steps. One year, with a minimal apple crop, I removed every apple I could reach, thinking no apples for the worms = no food, no pupa, no moths. Didn't work. Another year, I spent the summer in my trees trying to remove every infested apple. HA!
2023. I was nosing around YouTube for some apple inspiration, and I found an apple grower in Australia with a few, new to me, codling moth ideas.
This farmer layers cardboard mulch under the tree. Thinking, if the pupa can't emerge as moths, it might reduce the worm population. And when the moths are flying in the tree (a few hours in the evening for 2 or 3 days) this same smart farmer lightly sprays the tree in hopes of wetting the moth's wings to inhibit their flying and egg laying.
Well, I can do that. So, this year I covered all the steps from previous years and added the cardboard mulch and water spray steps.
The first generation for this year has passed. I see little damage. After the second and possibly third generation come and go, victory? We will see.
UC ANR's pest notes for codling moth can be found here: https://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7412.html