- Author: Betty Victor
On a 4-day getaway, we came across the Greek goddess of youth while site seeing and of course shopping. This Greek goddess is the plant Hebe.
So while we were walking around this big outdoor shopping center, admiring their beautifully maintained landscaping that had a variety of plants and trees. My eyes went to the small bushes covered in dark pink blossoms and dark variegated leaves, that were planted everywhere. On a closer look, I saw that they were Hebe plants as well as Hebe mid-size trees.
I have had a Hebe that's about 8 years old or more, mine is 'Patties Purple' Hebe. Now there are more colors to choose from pink, white, blue and crimson as well as purple. There was only the purple available when I bought mine.
What I didn't know about them until I saw the trees that there are varieties that can grow tree-like up to 6 feet tall. Some Hebe's have large leaves others have very small ones. There is also a variety with variegated leaves.
The Hebe plant doesn't really need much attention, you can fertilize it but really once a year is enough. Deadheading will promote more flowers but I have to confess I don't deadhead mine. Maybe that's because it doesn't need a lot of attention I forget about the plant, but it grows and blooms anyway. An occasional pruning helps to keep it in shape if you like neat looking plants.
Because I have a lot of shade in my yard it still does very well, but really does well in full sun which it prefers.
Some days after working in my yard, deadheading, pruning and cleaning up that is required on some plants I have, gets me thinking why don't I have more easy plants like Hebe?
- Author: Melinda Nestlerode
Last fall I planted a small passion flower vine (Passiflora caerulea) in the corner of my side yard, where the bare fence seemed to call out for cover. I thought that the vine might conceal part of the fence, and the lovely purple flowers would mix well with the orange nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) growing nearby. A year later, the vine has developed into a massive, thriving bush, extending 20 to 30 feet in all directions. Tendrils have spread over the top of the fence into the neighbors' yard, are curled among the branches of the crepe myrtle tree (Lagerstroemia indica) overhead, and have intermingled inextricably with the nasturtium. A good, and very necessary, pruning will keep the plant in check, although this species can become invasive. The best time to prune passion flower vines are in winter and early spring, but pruning excess growth at any time during the growing season will not harm the plant.
Passion flower vines are native to South America but will do well in Sunset Zones 5-9, and 12-24. The species P. edulis produces the edible passion fruit.
The vine was named in the 1500's by Roman Catholic priests, who thought that the flower represented the Passion (suffering and death) of Jesus Christ. The flower's five petals and five sepals represent the ten apostles who remained faithful throughout the Passion, the radial filaments above the petals represent the crown of thorns, three stigmata represent three nails, and the five anthers below them represent five wounds.
Passion flower vines are a favorite food of the gulf fritillary butterfly larvae. Gulf fritillaries are striking orange butterflies, with black spots on the upper wings and iridescent silver on the underside. A tropical and sub-tropical butterfly, it has only existed in the Bay Area since the 1950's.
Some people use the passion flower as an herbal supplement to assist with anxiety and insomnia, and vitamin supplement companies market passion flower as an aid for stress reduction. According to the Mayo Clinic, passion flower might help with anxiety, but it can also cause drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. The flower is used topically, by some, to cure hemorrhoids, burns, and inflammation.
I think I will simply appreciate the plant for its exotically unusual flower, tendency to grow quickly and effortlessly, and for attracting beautiful butterflies into my backyard.
- Author: Maureen Clark
The harvest moon is here and the nights are cooler. Now is the time to think about planting our fall vegetables. I recently discovered a new and cool veggie for the fall. It's called the Kalette. It's a cross between Kale and Brussel Sprouts. There are three different varieties. Autumn Star (early-season harvest), Mistletoe (mid-season harvest) and Snowdrop (late-season harvest). They should be planted at the same time to get a full season of these tasty filly cabbages. The flower-like florets are ready when they are about 2 inches in diameter.
My favorite plants for fall are:
Radicchio: It looks like a little red and white cabbage. Lightly cook it and then combine it with goat cheese and hazelnuts. Yum!
Kohlrabi: It is also called the German turnip. It tastes like a cross between a radish and broccoli. My favorite recipe is Kohlrabi mit Schniken.
Turnips: Oh My! Such a sweet thing when you harvest it young. They are great if you boil and then mash them, and maybe add a little bacon 😊 You can make Turnip Gratin too. It's wicked but very tasty. The trick is to boil them first. They are a great substitute for potatoes.
Broccoli spigariello: This is known for its sweet Broccoli/ Kale flavor. I primarily use it for the leaves. The leaves are used in salads, soups, sauté, and stir-fry.
Tree Collards: This plant grows to approximately 8 – 11 feet tall. You can harvest the leaves all year long. These greens are sweeter than regular Collards. I love to make Pickled Collards Greens with Pineapple. It's excellent by it self or served with pork.
Happy planting and have a terrific time cooking up some yummy things!
- Author: Trisha E Rose
This is my first attempt at pruning the bottlebrush and I envision a “limbed up” bushy tree once I have filled up a couple weeks of green can trimmings.
Below you can see the bougie with a new doubled wrapped rubber Bungie to help get it through our upcoming rain without falling over. Believe me, when I tell you without a Bungie the weight of the wet bush topples over in the first good windy rain we get in November.
- Author: Lanie Keystone
While some may consider white clover a nuisance or even a weed, scientists are now considering it a bell weather of evolution. In fact, it has become a plant to marvel over in some circles.
According to a new study, white clover adapts equally well to cities of all sizes. A recent study in 20 cities in Ontario, Canada--with populations ranging from 400,000 to 1,670--demonstrated this finding. So, why should we take notice? The answer is bigger than those little white “flowers” we find so pesky in our lawns—for those who still have lawns, that is!
It turns out that cities work as great natural test cases for evolution according to research leader, Dr. Marc Johnson. “In many ways, it's an unplanned experiment happening throughout the world over and over again”, says Johnson. With climate change and more than half the world's population living in cities, Dr. Johnson said it is critical to analyze how human endeavors affect the plants and animals around us. And, white clover is the perfect test species to study because, in these studies, it demonstrates that it can evolve and sustain stamina and endurance needed to survive in a variety of climates.
So, the next time we look at white clover, we should do so with respect, since it is one of the most rapidly evolving species of flora on earth. We can take many lessons from this tough little plant as it leads the way to survive in the toughest of urban environments.