Monday, January 31, 2011

Plant Review - Mexican Bush Sage

 Mexican Bush Sage produces large vibrant purple blossoms from March through November.  This wonderful Sage loves full sun but will also grow in part shade as long as it gets about 6 hours of sun per day.  Reaching 4 feet tall and wide, the flowers of this plant are great for attracting hummingbirds as well as producing outstanding cut flowers.
          Mexican Bush Sages are easy plants to grow.  After planting, add a Best Pak on the side of the hole before backfilling the soil.  Best Paks are slow release fertilizer packets used by landscape contractors to help establish a new garden, and can be purchased at Miramar Wholesale Nursery or Hydroscape.  
          Here is a brief timeline for growing your Mexican Bush Sage:
January – Add 2 handfuls of GroPower Plus fertilizer around the base of the plant.  This will get the plant ready to start producing the new growth needed for a great floral display in the Spring.
March – Add 5 BestPaks around the base of each plant.  You do not need to break up the packets, just bury them under your mulch.
July – Now that the Spring blossoms have faded, cut your Mexican Bush Sage in half.  This will encourage your plant to produce another round of spectacular blooms for the Fall.  Add 2 handfuls of GroPower Plus fertilizer around the base of the plant. 
September – Add 5 Best Paks around the base of each plant. 
December – The Fall blooms have faded, so now is the time to prune the Mexican Bush Sage all the way down to the ground.  In January new growth will begin to sprout from the base.
          This plant is one the most reliable and eye catching beauties to plant in your drought tolerant garden. Expect lots of hummingbirds in your garden with this great plant!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Photo - Stepping Stone Pathway with Mexican Beach Pebbles

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Point Loma.
ps: Can you find the hummingbird?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gardening Tip - Mulch

          January nights have a wonderful chill to them.  It makes you want to pull out a warm blanket to sleep under.  Plants are living organisms and mulch provides that nice warm blanket for them.  Mulch is any type of material that serves as a top layer above bare soil.  Mulch can be made up of a wide range of materials such as wood chips, rock, rubber, even shredded paper.  My favorite is shredded wood chips.  Unlike the chunky style of wood chips, shredded mulch tends to lock itself into place and not float away in heavy rain.
          Mulch serves not only as an insulation blanket for the soil, but it also helps to keep the soil moist by preventing moisture evaporation.  Finally mulch prevents weeds by acting as a barrier between bare soil and all the weed seeds that float in from your neighbor’s weed farm.
          How much mulch do you need for your garden?  The minimum for a healthy garden is 2 inches (or the depth of your thumb).  One cubic yard of mulch will cover 150 square feet to a depth of 2 inches.  In order to figure out what you need, calculate the total square feet of the project and divide by 150.  For example, if your yard is 30 feet long by 20 feet wide, your square footage is 600 and you will need 4 cubic yards of mulch to cover it. 
One cubic yard of mulch will fit in a standard pickup truck or you can have it delivered.  Miramar Nursery sells mulch in both bulk quantity and by the bag.  One cubic yard of recycled shredded mulch costs $25.  The recycled mulch does have little bits of plastic in it, but it costs half the price of the regular mulch.  You can also buy mulch by the bag for small jobs.  A 3-cubic foot bag sells for $8.00 and can cover 15 square feet.
          So keep those plants nice and warm this winter and cool in the summer by adding some mulch.  Your garden will love it!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great Roses for Your Garden

It's bare root rose season, time to buy new roses for your garden.  Here is the list that I recommend for my clients.  These are the roses that I have found to have a great combination of color and disease resistance.  Enjoy!
1)   Betty Boop - Floribunda
2)   Bronze Star – Hybrid Tea
3)   Crimson Bouquet – Grandiflora
4)   Distant Drums – Shrub
5)   Fabulous! – Floribunda
6)   Fame! – Grandiflora
7)   Firefighter – Hybrid Tea
8)   Fourth of July – Climber
9)   French Lace – Floribunda
10) Gemini – Hybrid Tea
11) Gold Medal – Grandiflora
12) Honey Perfume - Floribunda
13) Iceberg – Floribunda
14) Julia Child – Floribunda
15) Lavaglut – Floribunda
16) Let Freedom Ring – Hybrid Tea
17) Marilyn Monroe – Hybrid Tea
18) Marmalade Skies – Floribunda
19) Mr. Lincoln – Hybrid Tea
20) Neptune – Hybrid Tea
21) Nicole – Floribunda
22) Our Lady of Guadalupe – Floribunda
23) Playboy – Floribunda
24) Prospero - Shrub
25) Sally Holmes – Shrub
26) Scentimental – Floribunda
27) Sexy Rexy – Floribunda
28) St. Patrick – Hybrid Tea
29) Sunsprite – Floribunda
30) Trumpeter - Floribunda

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Photo - Marble Mirror Plant (Coprosma repens 'Marble Queen')

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Tierrasanta.

Plant Review - Marble Queen Coprosma

Marble Queen Coprosma (Coprosma repens ‘Marble Queen’)

          Shrubs are like the hardworking offensive linemen of the plant world.  They serve to block out unwanted fences, house features, AC units and other elements that can distract the eye.  Shrubs are generally not fussy little prima donnas (unlike some perennials) but tough plants ready to do a tough job and let someone else receive all the attention.  But once in a while, a shrub comes along that can do all the hard work and still attract a second look from the casual passerby.  Marble Queen Coprosma is just that plant.
          A native of New Zealand, this excellent shrub is also known as the Mirror Plant.  Glossy foliage gives the plant a shiny and vibrant appearance.  Marble Queen is a new variety that features cream splotches and streaks throughout the green foliage.  This shrub can reach 4 feet tall and 5 feet wide.  Marble Queen Coprosma does best in full sun on the coast and part shade inland.
          One of the great features of this shrub is that it is a very clean plant.  No flowers or seeds, and very little leaf litter makes this shrub a perfect plant for around water features and swimming pools.  Marble Queen Coprosma is also a terrific plant for under mature trees and up against the house.  The shiny, multicolor foliage really stands out in the shade.
          There are over 100 varieties of Coprosma available in the world and about a dozen here in San Diego, but Marble Queen’s reliability and beauty make her my favorite shrub and a great plant for your garden.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Nursery Review - Miramar Wholesale Nurseries

Some nurseries are like Nordstrom: elegant, beautifully laid out with a high quality product (and prices to match).  Other nurseries are like the swap meet: great prices but what the heck is that thing (is it a plant or a cat scratching post)?  Miramar Wholesale Nursery is a lot like Costco: massive, with great prices and very good service.
            Located at the exit of Governor Dr. and highway 805, Miramar Wholesale is a whopping 200 acres in size (larger than the entire Qualcomm Stadium parking lot).  Geared for the landscaper, Miramar is open to the public.  This nursery is set up so that you can drive through the entire property.   
Like Costco, Miramar can be overwhelming to the first time shopper.  The plants are laid out in sections, also known as blocks.  Each block usually focuses on a single type of plant and size such as 15 gallon trees.    First time shoppers should go to the sales office and pick up a map and a product availability list.  This will tell you, for example, where to find French Lavender (block 7C for 1 gallon, block 16C for 5 gallon sizes).  Some of the plants are labeled, but if you are going to pull the plants yourself, you should know what each plant looks like.  However, if you are not sure, just ask.  The staff at the sales office is very helpful. 
Another option is to phone ahead and have the staff pull everything you need.  Rocco D'Eugenio is very helpful when it comes to guiding the public through a pick up order. Rocco can also have everything delivered to your home.  No more trying to jam a 10 foot tall tree into your mini-van.
            In addition to plants, Miramar also sells a wide range of landscape products such as plant food and bulk mulch (which also can be delivered).  Best Paks are a slow release plant food used for both new plants and established gardens and Miramar is the only nursery in San Diego that sells them.  A great little landscape contractor secret, Best Paks are mentioned frequently in this blog.
            So if you are a do-it-yourself gardener looking to save a lot of money on plants and other landscape materials at a one stop location, then Miramar Wholesale Nurseries is the place to go.

Miramar Wholesale Nurseries

5400 Governor Dr
San Diego, CA 92122

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Photo - Chiapas Sage (Salvia chiapensis)

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in San Carlos.

Rose Pruning Demonstration

Looking for some free advice on rose pruning?  Then come see me at Congregation Beth Israel on Sunday, February 13th for an ongoing rose pruning demonstration.  Located at 9001 Towne Centre Drive, the demonstration will be at the temple’s rose garden which is located next to the lower parking lot.  Each demonstration is 10 minutes long and will be done continuously from 10:30am to 11:30am.  This demonstration is free to the pubic as well as members.  No registration is necessary.  Handouts on pruning roses and a list of good low maintenance roses for your garden will also be available.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Photo - Roses (before & after pruning)

     Before Pruning                              After Pruning
         Photos by Doug Kalal taken in author's garden.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Gardening Tip - Pruning Roses

January is the best time to give your roses a good pruning.  This helps your roses by cleaning and recharging the rose bush.  Pruning your roses forces the rose bush to take a 3 month rest from bloom production, which is important for long term health of the plant.  Here are the steps for pruning Hybrid Tea & Grandiflora roses.
§         Remove everything above 3’ from the bud union (where the rose canes meet the rootstock).  All blooms & stems must be removed so that you can clearly see the rose’s canes.  A rose cane is like a tree branch except that it comes from the base of the rose bush and grows upward, producing rose blooms as it grows. 
§         Select 3-5 of the best canes that are growing away from the center of the rose bush. The newer canes are preferable because they will produce better roses.  The canes that are staying should have good spacing from each other.  Don’t pick crossing canes (remove one of them) or canes in the middle of the bush.  The canes that are staying should be at least the thickness of your thumb.
·         After you have selected the canes that are staying, remove the other canes at the bud union with either loppers or a small pointed saw.  Also removes any dead or broken canes at the bud union.
·         If there are less than 3 good canes, just pick the best ones to keep.
§         After removing the less desirable canes, prune the remaining canes by picking a spot approximately 2’ to 3’ above the bud union.
·         Cut the rose cane about 1 inch above an outward facing budeye (where an old leaf makes a scar on the cane).  Make sure to cut the cane at an angle.
§         After pruning the good canes, remove all foliage from the rose bush and make sure to cleanup the fallen leaves on the ground.  This is important for removing the bad over wintering insects and spores that can spoil your rose bush in the spring.

If all that seems a bit overwhelming, just remember that the most important aspect of pruning roses is to clear the center of the rose bush of any stems or canes.  The finished product should look like a vase.

Photo - Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus)

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Rancho Bernardo.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lecture Schedule for February

See, touch and smell some great drought tolerant plants such as California & Australian natives along with unusual Salvias at a free lecture. "30 Great Drought Tolerant Plants for Your Garden," a 50-minute event featuring gorgeous photos, flowers, and fun tales from the field.   Here is my schedule for my February;
Tuesday, February 15th   6:00pm    
Allied Gardens Library,                 
5188 Zion Ave, San Diego
Tuesday, February 22nd  2:00pm    
Fallbrook Garden Club,               
341 Heald Lane, Fallbrook
Sunday, February 27th  11:30am     
Congregation Beth Israel,           
9001 Towne Centre Dr, San Diego

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Photo - Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in La Mesa.

Plant Review - Pink Muhly Grass

Many drought tolerant plants look great in the spring and summer but Pink Muhly waits until football season to put on its show. Starting in October, Pink Muhly does its autumn dance by blooming beautiful light pink inflorescences (stems with small seed pods).
Pink Muhly is a close relative of the California native Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), and loves full sun, but thankfully will also grow in part shade as long as it gets about 4 hours of sun per day.  This grass is very easy to grow and only needs to be trimmed once a year.  Reaching 3 feet tall and wide when blooming, the inflorescences are wonderful for floral arrangements.  
If you have poor draining soil, make sure to add a handful of garden gypsum to the bottom of the hole and then plant Pink Muhly so that the top 2 inches of the root ball is above the soil grade.  After planting, add a Best Pak on the side of the hole before backfilling the soil.  Best Paks are slow release fertilizer packets used by landscape contractors to help establish a new garden, and can be purchased at Miramar Wholesale Nursery or Hydroscape.  Top off the soil with 2-3 inches of mulch to finish the planting process.
          Here is a snapshot timeline for growing your Pink Muhly:
January – Add 2 handfuls of GroPower Plus fertilizer around the base of the plant. 
March – Add 5 BestPaks around the base of each plant.  You do not need to break up the packets, just bury them under your mulch.  For established plants, trim the grass down to your knees to encourage new growth in the summer.  This is the only time you will need to trim this grass.
October – Add 5 Best Paks around the base of each plant and get ready for a show that will last until Valentines Day.
          One last tip, to improve the impact of your garden, always group your plants together to form a mass.  In the photo above I did a mass of 5 Pink Muhly plants together to increase the wow factor for this client’s garden.


Hello fellow gardeners. For years, I have been doing lectures around San Diego on how to have a healthy garden. This past month, one of the attendees from the lecture suggested that I put all this info on a blog for others to see. In this blog I will be talking about plants and gardening tips designed to make gardening more enjoyable. So here we go!