Friday, April 29, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

5 Fantastic Landscape Contractors for San Diego

In honor of my 100th post for this blog, I am starting a new category of post called “5 Fantastic..”.  Here is the first one.

I have worked with all of these contractors on jobs throughout San Diego.  2 of them have already been mentioned in previous posts.  Some of them are great for large jobs, some for small jobs, but they are all good, licensed contractors.  Here they are, in alphabetical order;

Dame Landscape
Steve Dame
License # 808111
(760) 443-0522

Green Gardens Landscape
Tyler Bilyk
License # 871156
(858) 539-3120

JCMS Landscaping
Jesse Cyrns
License # 716313
(619) 334-9464

Nature Designs Landscaping
Steve Jacobs
License # 597755
(760) 945-4321

Rossco Landscaping
Ross McCright
License # 515049
(858) 472-9459

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Photo - Floribunda Rose 'Tuscan Sun'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Nursery Review - Jungle Music

     In San Diego there are some terrific specialty nurseries.  When it comes to palms and cycads, the best in the county is Jungle Music, up in Encinitas.  Jungle Music is owned and operated by expert Phil Bergman and it is a treasure chest of everything from the ordinary (King Palm) to the very unusual (check out Phil’s Blushing Palm).  My favorites are the Mexican Blue Palms (Brahea sp.). 
     The web page for Jungle Music is one of the best in the country.  Phil has listed countless articles on everything from how to plant a palm tree;
To diagnosing cycad problems;
If you are interested in palms or cycads, the Jungle Music web page is the first place to start.
      This weekend Phil is having his annual 2-Day Palm & Cycad Sale where a lot of his incredible specimens are 20% off.  May is a great month for planting palms and cycads.  So head on up and check out the fabulous Jungle Music.

450 Ocean View Ave, Encinitas, CA 92024
(619) 291-5605  (Phil’s phone)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Photo - Ladybug on Golden Gaillardia

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at Miramar Nursery.

Photo - Planting Rocks

A rock that has been in a garden for decades has
been slowly buried by dirt, mulch and plants.
These type of large rocks add character to the garden.
If you just drop a rock on your yard, it will look like
a rock monster pooped there.

Dig a hole and bury at least 20% of the rock.

Then bury the rock with dirt and later mulch & plants.

Now, you have a planted rock.

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

Gardening Tip - How to Plant a Rock

       I know what you are thinking.  “What is that weird designer from San Diego talking about?  Who wants to plant a rock?”  Let me explain.  Occasionally I have a client who wants a rocky, minimal plant landscape.  An important aspect of making the new rocks looks natural is “planting them”.
      The next time you are walking in a canyon, look at the rocks.  Over the last few thousand years, those rocks have been slowly buried with debris.  In order to make the rocks in your new landscape look natural, you need to bury them.  Here are the steps.
1)     Buy a rock.  KRC and Southwest Boulder & Stone are 2 very good places to buy rocks in San Diego County.  Here are their webpages;

A medium size boulder, like the one in these photos, can weigh a couple of hundred pounds.  Unless you want to destroy your vehicle, let the vendor deliver it.  They have special trucks with a mini crane that can place the boulder directly into your landscape.
2)     Dig a hole.  In order to make the boulder look like it has been there for thousands of years, you need to bury at least 20% of the rock, so start digging.  Dig the hole before the rock is delivered.  If you just drop the rock on the ground and don’t bury it, you are left with something that looks a rock monster just pooped on your yard.
3)     Inspect the rock before placing.  A really nice rock with have variation in the color, rough edges and shape.  Before the crane drops the rock in the hole, inspect the rock to pick the most interesting side.  The crane operator can spin the rock so that you can see all sides.  Make sure the best side of the rock is the side that is above ground and the most visible to you.
4)     Put the rock in the hole.  Have the crane operator drop the rock in the hole.
5)     Backfill the hole.  Fill in extra soil and mulch around the rock so that it looks buried.  I like to place plants close to the rock so that the plants will eventually partially cover the rock and give the landscape a nice aged look.  The rocks will also help the plants by serving as mulch for the plant’s roots.
6)     Water the rock.  No, I am not kidding.  Rocks in a quarry get covered with lots of dust.  After all the mulch and plants are in place, water the rock to rinse it off.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Photo - Pondless Water Feature

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

This lovely stream wraps around a small patio and ends in a
"pondless" rock bed.  This was done because the owner
has a small dog and was concerned about the dog falling into
the water feature.

Photo - Aeonium 'Kiwi'

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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Photo - Sunshine Gardens Nursery

Photos by Doug Kalal, taken at Sunshine Gardens Nursery

Nursery Review - Sunshine Gardens

 To combat the effect of the internet, some bookstores over the last 10 years have converted some of their space to cafés and reading lounges.  This has been successful in bringing new potential customers into the bookstore by making the store more of a destination.  Sunshine Gardens in Encinitas has taken this approach one step further.  At Sunshine Gardens, you can find a café, a florist shop, a toddler play area and coming soon, a woodcarver studio. 
This sprawling site is located just down the street from the San Diego Botanic Garden (formerly the Quail Botanical Garden).  One of my favorite items at Sunshine is the tremendous selection of herbs and vegetables.  I took a client there and using just what was available at Sunshine, put together a nice container garden of tomatoes, herbs and other vegetables.
This nursery has been family owned and operated for the last 40 years and the staff displays that family style of caring customer service.  In addition to all the fun food items, Sunshine has a nice selection of succulents and drought tolerant plants.  It is definitely a great place to visit after the seeing the San Diego Botanic Gardens.

Sunshine Gardens
155 Quail Gardens
Encinitas, CA 92024
(760) 436-3244

Photos by Doug Kalal, taken at Sunshine Gardens

Friday, April 8, 2011

Coronado Flower Show

        Come see the largest tented flower show in the Western United States at the Coronado Flower Show this coming weekend.  Saturday, April 16, 1pm - 5pm and Sunday, April 17, 10am - 4pm at Coronado's Spreckels Park. 
        This is my favorite flower show for a couple of reasons.  First is the diversity of entries.  I will be entering everything from succulents to salvias to roses.  The Coronado Flower Show also has kids entries, table decor, shadow boxes and dazzling floral arrangements. 
        The second reason is the history of the show.  Four generations of garden enthusuiasts have been bringing their entries to Spreckels Park.  I first entered the Coronado Flower Show in 1973 with a cute little animal made out of potatoes and other food items.  Now my entries are a little snazzier as you can tell from the Marilyn Monroe Rose photo I posted earlier in the month.
        The trophies are all perpetual, with the past winners' names engraved on the trophy.  I always get a chill whenever I win a trophy and find my mother's name among the past winners.  My mom is still a force at the show.  The camellia photos below are from her garden.  A few years ago the two of us won 9 trophies.  Last year, my daughter, age 7 at the time, won her first flower show trophy.  So come on down and see which Kalal wins the hardware this year.

Photo - Camellia reticulata 'Harold Paige'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Camellia japonica 'Henry E. Huntington'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Camellia japonica 'Shala's Baby'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Photo - Landscape Timber Stairs

Here are those stairs in construction.
Photos by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Rancho Bernardo.

Garden Elements - Landscape Timber Stairs

 As mentioned in previous posts, San Diego is the land of many slopes.  I have talked about the plants for the slope, now let’s talk about how to get up and down that slope.  Stairs can be made out of many types of materials.   Concrete, pavers and flagstone are a few that I have worked with.  For a more natural, rustic look try landscape timber stairs. 
          Landscape timbers are 6” x 6” pieces of lumber that are treated to resist water and termite damage.  The most common type of landscape timber stairs consists of a 4’ wide front piece and 2 side pieces that are usually 12 to 24 inches in length.  The 3 pieces are bolted together to form a step in the shape of a “U”.  The steps are then bolted on top of one another with rebar and filled in with decomposed granite (mix in some stabilizer to resist water damage).  These types of stairs are great for large properties with lots of little hills.  Landscape timber stairs cost a little less than concrete.  Since decomposed granite can be a loose material (even with stabilizer), it is not recommended if you have large dogs whose claws can tear into the material.
          If you are a reasonably skilled carpenter then here is great link that shows you the steps for building landscape timber stairs.  Otherwise hire a good contractor like the ones mentioned in the blog for a professional installation. 

Here are some photos of landscape timbers stairs from one of my jobs.
Photos by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Rancho Bernardo.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photo - Hybrid Tea Rose 'Marilyn Monroe'

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at the Coronado Flower Show.
This trio of my roses won the trophy for best 3 roses.

San Diego Rose Show

The San Diego Rose Society presents its 84th annual rose show from 1 to 5 p.m.  Saturday, April 30, at the Ronald Reagan Community Center, 195 East Douglas Avenue, El Cajon.  Admission is $5 per person with children under 12 admitted free.  Parking is free.  A hosted rose show tour will be led at 3 p.m.  For more information email the show chair Linda Clark at or go to

Lecture Schedule for April & May

Do you want to see some of the plants from this blog up close and in person?  Well then come on down and meet me and the plants at my lecture series.  "30 Great Drought Tolerant Plants" is a free lecture where you can see, touch and smell some wonderful alternatives to grass.  This series will be coming to the following locations in April & May;

Tuesday, April 5th @ 6:30pm
Encinitas Community Library
540 Cornish Dr, Encinitas

Wednesday, April 13th @ 11:00am
Rancho Santa Fe Community Library
17040 Avenida de Acacias, RSF

Tuesday, April 19th @ 6:30pm
Rancho San Diego Community Library
11555 Via Rancho San Diego, El Cajon

Saturday, May 7th @ 3:00pm
Del Mar Community Library
1309 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar

Wednesday, May 18th @ 6:00pm
University Heights Public Library
4193 Park Blvd, San Diego

Photo - Tropical Garden

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

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Photo - Ocotillo (Fouquiera splendens)

These photos were taken at the Wind Caves in Anza-Borrego State Park.

The Wind Caves are in the lower left corner of this photo.

The Wind Caves are the names of these formations
that the wind blasts out of the sandstone. 
We actually camped next
to them (on the non-windy side).

This one was growing out of the "roof" of one of the caves.
All photos by Doug Kalal.