- Author: Elvira Bautista DeLeon
I did not know anything about you but you caught my attention at the Vallejo People's Garden on Mare Island a couple of years ago - blooming side by side with organic vegetables and herbs on raised beds; spilling in between raised bed walkways; anywhere and everywhere inside and outside the fenced garden.
You look so cheery with bright daisy-like blooms in shades of golden yellow-orange, apricot, cream, and soft lemon-yellow colored flowers radiating from center discs. Your flowers come in single and double blooms on stems with long narrow fine-haired leaves, round on the ends, and quite aromatic. Your vibrant colored flowers attract not only passers-by but especially butterflies and other pollinators.
Your height is perfect. You do not grow too high at 1-2 ft and branching out beautifully at 1-1 1/2 ft wide.
I picked some seeds from your dried, spent flowers and said to myself, ‘maybe I can sow some of you in my backyard.' This was around three summers ago. I sowed you in my sloped side yard and in the kidney-shaped backyard planting area where two agapanthuses, two giant birds of paradise, a single rose bush, marguerite daisies, a bay laurel tree, and a motley of weeds grow.
Then spring came. Guess what! You did not disappoint. You began displaying your splendid blooms in the side yard, the backyard, and everywhere. I made a bouquet of your orange flowers with fillers of Italian flat-leaf parsley white blooms and gave them to a dear friend who was recovering from surgery. She loved them!
The literature I read says you grow in Zones 6-10 and your seeds are sown in late summer or early fall in mild winter climates. Well, I've been sowing your seeds all times of the year. As your flowers dry and tiny, worm-like curved seeds turn brown on your flower heads, I pick your seeds and sow them everywhere in the backyard. Even more wonderful, your seeds get blown by the wind and they germinate and grow where they land - just like Mother Nature intends you to grow. You, my friend, are an annual but you are self-sustaining and self-sowing. Instead of deadheading your flowers, I let your flower heads go to seed so you can keep on growing which makes you a perennial for me. You become dormant in the wintertime but as soon as the rains come, you start to grow and begin to show off your colors way before springtime.
Last year, I had some problems with you - powdery mildew and aphids. They were localized in some areas where you landed so I decided to uproot some of you so you didn't infect the other plants. Hopefully, you will be pest-free this year. I will thin where you grow in mass to prevent any more problems. We shall see. I will also grow you in pots this summer so I can enjoy your cheery colors in autumn inside the house.
Thank you for keeping on giving and putting a smile on my face every time I see your cheery colors.
Cheers and Love,
Genus: Calendula officinalis
COMMON NAME: CALENDULA, POT MARIGOLD
Plant Type: Annual
Dwarf strains (12-15 inches high): Bon Bon, Fiesta (Fiesta Gitana) and Daisy May (semi-double flower heads).
Taller strains ( 1 1/2-2 ft): Flashback (orange, peach, apricot or yellow with red or maroon reverse); Kablouna (pompon centers with looser edges); Pacific Beauty and Radio (quilted, cactus-type blooms); Apricot Twist (double, soft-apricot orange flower heads); Snow Princess (creamy white with brown or yellow centers).
Care: Sow seeds in-place or in flats in the late summer or early fall in mild winter. Thin to 10-18 inches. Work in compost before planting. Adapts to most fast-draining soils. Remove spent flowers for continuous flowering. Best in full sun but some shade tolerated.
DK Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers.
Penguin Random House, Fourth Edition, The American Edition 2019.
The New Sunset Western Garden Book. Edited by Kathleen Norris Brenzel, 9th Edition, Second Printing 2013, The United States of America.
The Little Guides HERBS. Consultant Editor: Geoffrey Bernie.
Published by City Fog Press, SF, California, Reprinted 2001.
- Author: Karen Metz
At this point in my gardening journey, I have learned to pay attention to what other gardeners are successfully growing in their yards. When several gardeners that I know grow the same plant and are very pleased with it, my interest is definitely piqued. Even better if the gardeners are geographically scattered throughout the county, as this generally means the plant can tolerate some variable conditions.
That's just what happened with Bulbine, Bulbine frutescens. Initially, I was a little underwhelmed, as my plant was very small. But the second year it got larger and started blooming and blooming. We've had a fairly mild winter, so it's just kept right on blooming. Usually, the plant will bloom from spring through fall in our area.
Bulbine is originally from South Africa and is very drought tolerant. Sunset Western Garden Book shows it can be grown in Zones 8,9,12-24. It will attain a height of 1 foot and can ultimately expand to a clump about 2-3 feet wide.
I love the various descriptions of the plant, which I found in several resources. Sunset calls the leaves “slender, pointed pencils”. The ASU educational site describes the plant as an “urban sea anemone”. All the sites agree that the flowers of the main species are bright yellow and are produced in arcing spike-like clusters. There are some varieties that have orange flowers.
Bulbine can handle sun and heat, but can also tolerate partial shade. They don't need much water. They don't need fertilizer. They do need well-draining soil although they are tolerant of varying soil compositions. Most websites agree they can tolerate temperatures down to 20–25-degrees Fahrenheit.
Bulbine does not seem to be susceptible to any plant diseases or insect predators! The National Gardening Association's website even lists it as being deer resistant. And it also lists it as being an attractant of bees and butterflies.
Since the plant grows in clumps, it can be divided up and shared. It can also be propagated by stem cuttings and the yellow species by seed. The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science calls it a” great pass-along plant”. The University of California at Davis has named it one of its Arboretum All-Stars. This plant is definitely a winner.
- Author: Launa Herrmann
Eventually, as the finches frequenting my bird feeder became prey and the doves and Quail no longer walked the fence, I knew the time had come to defeat the ambitious Blue Jays.
For more information on coconut fiber including photographs, charts, and scientific data, visit https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/coconut-fiber
- Author: Betty Victor
I do not know about anyone else, but one thing I have noticed since COVID this year is it seems like once a week, I get gardening catalogs. Catalogs I have not received before.
But I must admit they are interesting to look through and see all the beautiful pictures of the flowers, shrubs, and vegetables, a lot of old varieties but a lot of new ones-at least new to me. This made me wonder if the pictures are touched up like the ones you see in the food magazines. I say this because I saw a TV program that showed how the food magazines touch up some of the food to make it look so good.
But back to the catalogs, these are the catalogs I have received from out of state:
Territorial Seed Company, Burpee Seed, Johnny's Selected Seeds, and Breck's.
Now-on to some of my favorite nurseries that I have been known to buy from. I am sure most of you know about the local nurseries in our area if not here is a short list:
Morningsun Herb Farm, 6137 Pleasant Valley Rd, Vacaville
Lemuria Nursery, 7820 Serpa Ln, Dixon
Mid-City Nursery, 3695 Broadway , American Canyon
El Rancho Nursery, 3098 Ellsworth Rd. Vacaville
Some of my favorite out of county nurseries are:
Annies Annuals, 740 Market Ave, Richmond
Talinis Nursery, 5601 Folsom Blvd , Sacramento
The Plant Foundry, 3500 Broadway Sacramento
And of course, High Hand Nursery, 3750 Taylor Rd, Loomis
The Petaluma Seed Bank, 110 Petaluma, Petaluma
Flowers by The Sea is an online-only, which specializes in salvias (sages), I have ordered from them and have been very satisfied. So, enjoy nursery shopping. I know I will.
- Author: Jenni Dodini
Well, after turning in my last blog, Jennifer (UCCE Master Gardener Program Coordinator) asked, "What scientific research did you find to support corks helping keep moisture in the soil?" There really wasn't any when I did my blog. I think that I got carried away by all the pictures. Then I focused on the wood mulch that is bad for the plants and how that was wrong. Then it really got to bothering me that I had not followed my own advice and "do your research," so after the fact, I went and did my research. This is what I found, and it was not that easy. I ended up on these sites: OrganicAuthority, Smithsonian, GardeningKnowHow, and Univ. of Washington/Elizabeth C. Miller Library/ Gardening Answers Knowledge Base. They were the only ones with actual information.
Quercus suber, or Oak cork tree, is primarily native to Spain, Portugal, and the Mediterranean.
The corks that we know come from the bark of the tree and as most barks, contain Suberin "which is a waxy, hydrophobic substance." As with other barks, it repels water rather than holding onto it. The inner tree wood does not contain Suberin. The average cork tree lives about 150 years and is of ecological importance to the animals and the financial livelihood of the people in the areas where it grows. The bark is stripped from the trees once every 9 to 12 years and takes that long to grow back. The stripping process does not harm the trees. The average tree produces about 100 lbs of cork per stripping. One ton of the bark yields about 100,000 corks! Cork takes a REALLY long time to decompose unless minced up. I couldn't find any information on any nutrition it provides though.
So, what was my take away here? The corks in the bottom of a pot will help promote drainage. Corks in the top of the pot or on the surface of the soil will help lock in moisture, the same as any other mulch. And, DON'T FORGET TO DO YOUR RESEARCH!