Friday, May 27, 2011

Photo - California Fuchsia (Epilobium canum)

This California native is also known as
Zauchneria califonica.
Photos by Doug Kalal

5 Fantastic California Natives for San Diego

These California natives are all tough, drought tolerant plants that are great for our Southern California environment.  Another excellent resource for California natives plants is the web page of Las Pilitas Nursery, located just north of Escondido.

Cercis occidentalis
Western Redbud
A deciduous small tree with pink flowers in the spring.  Redbuds are sometimes grown as large shrubs and can reach 12’ tall by 8’ wide.

Cotoneaster dammeri
A good groundcover for slopes, this plant has white flowers in the spring that turn into red berries by winter.  One plant will cover a 6’ diameter area. 

Epilobium canum      also labeled Zauchneria californica
California Fuschia
A terrific perennial that blooms in the fall.  Bright orange flowers are a real hummingbird magnet.  This native will spread slowly via underground runners to fill in any space.  Nice gray foliage is attractive in the spring and summer.

Romneya coulteri
Matilija Poppy
This perennial grows wild throughout San Diego.  Once established this beauty is tough to remove.  Matijila Poppies are dormant in the summer & fall, waiting for the winter rains.  Once the warmth of spring comes, these beauties explode from the ground with 6’ tall stunning white flowers.  An excellent cut flower that is fragrant as well.

Salvia clevelandii
Cleveland Sage
This San Diego native is great for both slopes and flat areas.  Fragrant foliage combines with lavender blue flowers.  This perennial can reach 7’ wide by 3’ tall.  ‘Winifred Gilman’ is a nice dwarf Cleveland Sage that reaches 3’ wide & 2’ tall.

Photo - Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri)

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at Cuyamaca College

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Photo - Dry Stack Flagstone Seating Wall

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

Garden Elements - Dry Stack Flagstone Seating Wall

Here in San Diego, our rolling hills mean we frequently use some type of a wall to expand a landscape area.  One type of a wall is a retaining wall to hold back a slope.  Sometimes walls are used make a raised bed for a vegetable garden.  I like to use a third type of wall called a seating wall.  Seating walls are generally 14” – 16” tall or the same height of a chair.  They serve 2 purposes, one is a garden focal point and the other is just a place to sit down in the garden.
Flagstone makes an excellent material for creating a dry stack seating wall.  Make sure to order “Patio Cut” flagstone to get pieces that are fairly rectangular in shape.  This will cut down on a lot of chiseling and shaping later in the process.  The material you see in these photos are 2” Patio Cut flagstone pieces from Southwest Boulder & Stone here in San Diego.
Once you have laid out the area for your wall you will need to excavate down at least 4” for a 16” wall. Fill the bottom of the trench with 2” of compacted base material to create a stable foundation for your wall.  Then start stacking your flagstone pieces.  You will need an epoxy to hold the small pieces in place.  Always check that each piece is level as you stack.
The wall in these photos was built by Rossco Landscaping, see my post on 5 Fantastic Landscape Contractors for his info.

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

Photo - Hummingbird Drinking from a Kangaroo Paw

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

Photo - Orange Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus)

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

Photo - Blue Water Fountain

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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gardening Tip - How to Divide a Kangaroo Paw

Every 3 years, Kangaroo Paw plants (Anigozanthos flavidus) can be dug up and divided.  Doing this allows you to get free plants (Woo-Hoo!!) as wells as healthier plants especially if you use these Australian natives in containers.  The plant needs to have a root ball that is at least 18 inches wide and 12 inches deep to be ready for dividing.  The best time to do this is January through March here in San Diego.  Here are the steps;
1)  Pull the Kangaroo Paw from the pot or the ground.
2) Trim all leaves, leaving only about 12 inches.
3)  Lay the plant on its side.
4)  Take a pointed shovel and drive it into the side of the root ball (right into the middle).
5)  Pry the root ball into 2 halves.
6)  Repeat the process with the shovel so that now you have 4 equal parts.
7)  Plant each new Kangaroo Paw into a 5 gal pot.  The root ball should fill about half of the pot.  Fill the rest of the pot with potting soil.  A 5 gallon pot works best because it will keep the water close to the roots of the new plant.
8)  Put 3 Best-Paks in the pot, or any other slow release fertilizer to slowly feed the new plant.
9)  Water immediately.
10) Place the pot in a part shade location while the new roots grow. Water every other day unless it rains.
11) After 1 month, plant the Kangaroo Paw in the ground or a bigger pot.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Photo - Variegated Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata')

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Point Loma.
No that is not a real cat, it's a statue.

Photo - Clivia (Clivia miniata)

Photo by Doug Kalal

5 Fantastic Shade Plants for San Diego

Here are 5 wonderful plants for shady areas in San Diego.  All of these plants need well-draining organic soil to thrive, so see my posts in March about amending your soil.  Photos of each of these plants can be found in the various months of this blog.  Just type the plant name in the blog search box.

Camellia japonica
Japanese Camellia
This evergreen shrub will slowly reach 8’-10’ tall and can be pruned flat against a wall.  There are a wide range of flower choices for this winter blooming plant.  Full shade inland to part shade on the coast.

Clivia miniata
Also known as the Kaffir Lily, this small and tough perennial is terrific under the canopy of a mature tree.  Bright orange flowers add a burst of color on this 2’ tall x 2’ wide plant.  Full shade inland to part shade on the coast.

Heuchera sp.
Coral Bells
As mentioned in this week’s post, this drought tolerant perennial comes in a wide range of foliage colors. Full shade inland to part shade on the coast.

Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’
Variegated Flax Lily
This version of the Flax Lily has long cream-colored stripes running down its length and nice little blue flowers in the spring.  2’ x 2’ in size and full shade inland to part shade on the coast.

Coprosma repens ‘Marble Queen’
Marble Mirror Plant
Look at my post in January for all the details of this variegated, drought-tolerant shrub.  The Marble Mirror Plant looks great against the house and will reach 4’ tall x 4’ wide.  The foliage is great in flower arrangements.   Part shade inland to full sun on the coast.  There is a photo of the foilage in my Top 10 Most Popular Posts to the right of this article.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Photo - Coral Bells Flower (Heuchera sp. 'Marmalade')

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

Photo - Coral Bells 'Marmalade' (Heuchera sp. 'Marmalade')

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

Photo - Coral Bells 'Palace Purple' (Heuchera sp. 'Palace Purple')

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

Plant Review - Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)

In my lecture series, I am often asked what plants would work in the shade.  Coral Bells, also known as Heuchera, are one of my favorite plants for color in the shady areas of the garden.  This perennial grows well in full shade in East County and part shade on the coast. 
What makes Coral Bells so wonderful are the foliage colors of the many cultivars now on the market.  Two of my favorites are ‘Marmalade’ and ‘Palace Purple’ as seen in the photos above.  Coral Bells also have delightful little flowers that look like tiny bells growing on a thin stem.  These flowers are good hummingbird magnets, especially for shady areas that salvias will not grow in.  These flowers will last until mid summer here in San Diego and are also good cut flowers.
Another great feature about Corals bells is that they are a good drought tolerant plant for under mature trees.  Coral Bells will not tolerate poor draining soils, so amend your clay soil with Gypsum and Gro-Power (see my articles in March on that subject). These beauties can get about 24 inches wide and the flower stalks will reach 24 inches as well.  Trim the foliage once a year in the fall to keep the plant looking nice.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Garden Resources - Backyard X-Scapes

Creating outdoor rooms takes an artful combination of many elements; plants, hardscapes, and lighting to name a few.  Once you are past the plants and pavers, that wonderful space still could use another fun element like a water fountain or a statue.  The largest selection of all those wonderful items can be found at a great store called Backyard X-Scapes.
          Located at the 5-805 merge, Backyard X-Scapes carries over 5,000 items to make your backyard more than just a garden. Geared for both the home owner and the industry professional, Backyard X-Scapes also carries a monster catalog selection to supplement the impressive inventory. Here are some of the categories that they carry in stock;
-Gas Powered Firepits
-Outdoor Fireplaces
-Self Contained Water Fountains
-Artificial Boulders for Multi-Tier Water Features
-Wall Art
-Tiki Statues
-Metal Archways
-Stone Benches and Tables
-Bronze Statues
-Tiki Huts
-Bamboo Fencing & Umbrellas
-Barbeque Islands
Stop in and say hi to Steve Raketich.  Steve and his great staff will help you find the perfect accessory for your garden.

Backyard X-Scapes
10835 Sorrento Valley Rd
San Diego, CA 92121
(858) 643-9030

Monday, May 9, 2011

Photo - Water Feature Using a Flat Stone

By using a flat stone, the contractor was able
to produce a smooth sheet of water coming
over the edge of this water feature. 
Care was also taken to make sure that the stone
was perfectly level.  Nature Designs built
this beautiful compact water feature.

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

10,000 Pageviews

Thank you loyal readers.  Today the 2 Minute Gardener crossed over the 10,000 pageview mark after only 4 months!  Most gardening blogs take 1-3 years to reach that mark.  Thank you again for your interest and your feedback!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Photo - The Baby Finches are flying!

A pair of Finches returned this year to build a
nest above my back door. In early April, 3 little babies hatched.
Each day I watched mom & dad scour my backyard,
looking for insects to feed the hungery mouths.
Today, a month after hatching, the babies began to test their wings.
Here is one of them on the ground taking a break.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Lecture Schedule for May & June

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.  I will also be showing you how to plant and maintain these types of gardens.  This series will be coming to the following locations in May & June;

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

Saturday, June 11th @ 11:00am
Rancho Bernardo Library
17110 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego

Wednesday, June 15th @ 11:30am
San Diego County Fair
Flower & Garden Show Stage

Wednesday, June 22nd @ 11:30am
San Diego County Fair
Flower & Garden Show Stage

Wednesday, June 29th @ 6:30pm
Vista Community Library
700 Eucalpytus Ave, Vista

5 Fantastic Small Trees for San Diego

Here are 5 wonderful trees for small spaces in San Diego.  These trees are great for patio areas and are smaller than 20 feet tall and wide in most cases.  Photos of these trees have either been posted already or will be this month.

Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’
Forest Pansy Redbud
A deciduous tree with pink flowers in the spring and foliage that changes from dark purple to green to yellow by the fall.

Lagerstroemia indica ‘Tuscarora’
Tuscarora Crape Myrtle
Another deciduous tree with bring pink flowers in the summer.  This drought tolerant tree loves the heat.

Arbutus unedo ‘Marina
Strawberry Tree
Edible fruit make this evergreen tree a winner with the birds.  The variety ‘Marina’ has pink flowers and has a nice single-trunk form.

Prunus cerasifera ‘Purpurea’
Purple Leaf Plum Tree
A very tough tree for areas with bad soil.  This deciduous tree thrives everywhere in San Diego County.

Cassia leptophylla
Gold Medallion Tree
This tree is evergreen in most years.  Nice summer flowers on an umbrella shaped tree.  If left unpruned, this tree can reach 30 feet wide, but it looks better with proper pruning.

Photo - Crape Myrtle 'Tuscarora' (Lagerstroemia indica 'Tuscarora')

Photo by Doug Kalal

Monday, May 2, 2011

Gardening Tip - How to Grow Roses in Containers, Part 2

        For hybrid tea and grandiflora roses I recommend a 21” diameter plastic pot.  A 15” diameter pot will work for the smaller floribunda and miniature roses.  The ones in the photos were purchased at Home Depot.  Never use a ceramic pot unless it has a glazed interior.  The porous surface of ceramic pots will suck water away from the roots.  Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole in the bottom and never put the pot in a saucer that will keep the bottom of the pot constantly wet.  Roses, like humans, like dry feet.
      Use a good potting soil like Super Soil (sold at Home Depot) for the planting mix.  Since roses in containers need more water and nutrients than roses planted in the ground, use a slow release rose food like Ada Perry’s Magic Formula to give the rose a steady diet of good food, see my post in February about feeding roses.  Also, make sure to have a nice wood chip mulch to keep the soil moist.
      One of the advantages of roses in container is that all the water stays close to the rose and does not run off (but it will run out the bottom of the pot).  If you live in the inland areas (east of Highway 805) of San Diego like I do, then soak your container roses 3 times a week in the summer.  I put enough water on my rose to fill the container about 1 inch.  Less water is needed in the coastal regions and during the cooler months.  Always water in the morning so that the rose foliage can dry out by evening.  This will help prevent diseases like rust and powdery mildew.
      Once you have watered your rose, don’t try to move the container without a hand truck.  A 21” diameter pot with wet soil can weigh over a hundred pounds.  It is always best to move the pots around when they are dry.
      One of my favorite aspects to a container rose garden is the fact that I can move the roses around throughout the year depending on what is blooming. This allows for a garden that is always interesting to look at and a little easier to maintain.

Photo - American Flag

A great day for America!
Photo by Doug Kalal

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Photo - Oriental Garden

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

Photo - Purple Leaf Plum Tree (Prunus cerasifira)

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

Photo - Roses in Containers

Roses after pruning.

The same garden in April.
Photos by Doug Kalal taken at author's garden.

Gardening Tip - How to Grow Roses in Containers, Part 1

      San Diego soil tends to be poor for growing roses.  Either the soil is too heavy and drains poorly (a typical clay soil).  Or the soil might be too sandy or have too much decomposed granite to hold the nutrients necessary for growing great roses.  If you want to grow roses and you have poor soil, you have 3 choices for fixing the problem. 
      You can overhaul the soil and give it the good drainage and nutrients needed for roses.  In March I talked about how to fix poor soil so check on those posts for tips on soil.  Your second choice would be to build a raised bed with retaining wall materials.  A raised bed that is at least 12 inches tall will allow you to plant the roses in good quality soil that you bring in.
      The third choice is to use containers for the roses.  Plastic pots like the ones seen in the photos are great for putting together a rose garden in tricky areas like patios or gardens with rock hard soil.  Another advantage to container rose gardening is that you don’t have to bend down so far to prune the rose.  All of my roses are in containers and I win over a hundred ribbons, along with a few trophies a year from my collection.
      Since I have gone over the 2 minute limit, part 2 will come tomorrow.