Monday, June 27, 2011

Results from the San Diego County Fair Flower Show

Here is the follow up to my article last week on the San Diego County Fair Flower Show.  Here is the list of winning entries that came from my garden.

Category                     Flower Name                   Place
Rarest Bloom             Chinese Foxglove              2
Largest Bloom           Sunflower                          2, 3
Multi-Color Bloom    Gaura                                   3
Bloom in a Bowl        Sunflower                            1
Succulent Bloom       Aloe brevifolia                  2
Blue Bloom                 Argentina Sage                    2
Green Bloom             Green Kangaroo Paw         2
Purple Bloom            Butterfly Bush                     1
Orange Bloom          Sunflower                            3, 4
Red Bloom                 Red Kangaroo Paw             3
Yellow Bloom           Moonshine Yarrow             4
Apricot Bloom          Delta Leaf Sage                    4
Most Striking Color  Graffiti Pink Geranium     3
California Native       Cleveland Sage                   2
Sunflowers                  Lots of winners

My Coprosmas also won multiple awards in the foliage category.

I also won the trophy for best in cut flowers for my Teddy Bear Sunflower that was a floating entry.

Photo - Bird Bath

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

Bird baths are a great way to attract small birds
into your garden. Place your bird bath close to a tree. 
Then run a drip line up the tree and onto
a branch that overhangs the bird bath.
That way, each time your irrigation system comes on,
a small amount of water will be added to the bird bath.

Photo - Baby Sage (Salvia microphylla)

Photo by Doug Kalal

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Behind the Scenes at the San Diego County Fair Flower Show

Have you ever been to the San Diego County Fair, strolled through the Flower Show and wonder how all those terrific cut flowers get entered?  Last night, I decided to keep a diary of the crazy process that we flower show exhibitors go through to enter all those flowers.

3:00am  The alarm goes off, it’s time to load the flowers into the minivan.  Oops, I forgot that I promised my wife that I would clean the kitchen before going to bed.  So at 3am, I am doing dishes.  Ugh!

3:30am  Now it’s time to load 4 boxes of flowers into the van and head for the fair.  I am bringing about 100 flowers to enter.

4:00am  I arrive at the O’Brien Pavilion at the county fairgrounds.  After unloading the car, I round up 70 vases of various sizes and set up shop on a table.  There are about 4 exhibitors here.

4:30am  Now that all the vases are filled with water, it’s time to pick the best 70 entries of the original 100.  Each flower is given a fresh cut and placed in a vase.  If need be, the flower stem is wedged in place with a styrofoam peanut so that the flower is as upright as possible.

4:45am  The 3am wake up call is starting to hit me, so it’s time to see if Jerry (another flower exhibitor) brought some of his wife’s great crumb cake to give me a jolt of sugar.

5:15am  Woo! Hoo!  Janet (flower show staff) is here with the donuts for the exhibitors.  It’s time for more sugar.

5:30am  Still grinding away putting flowers in vases.

5:45am  I have finished 2 of the 4 boxes of flowers.  Time for another donut!  There are about 20 exhibitors here.

6:00am  The sun is rising now on the outside of the building.  Have I really been up for 3 hours?  Ugh.

6:15am  All 4 boxes of flowers have been put in vases.  The original 100 have been whittled down to 70.  Due to entry restrictions, I can only enter 2 flowers per class.  There are 26 classes in the “Other Specimen Bloom” that I can enter, which means I can only enter a maximum of 52 entries.  Here is where the strategic decisions are made.  Do I enter that sunflower in “Yellow Bloom”, “Largest Bloom” or “Sunflower”?  I have about an hour to made all these decisions and fill out a tag for each entry.

6:45am  I am getting sleepy again, time for another donut and more Diet Coke to keep me awake.  Yes, I am aware of how silly it must seem to eat all these donuts and then drink a diet soda.

7:15am  I have whittled the 70 flowers down to what I feel are my best 52 entries (including some roses and dahlias).  Now it’s time to place every entry on the proper table in its proper class throughout the hall.  I have 45 minutes left before the entries are closed.

8:00am  The show chair closes the flower show to entries, but I am still placing.  Now the race is on to get the flowers on the table before each flower show clerk checks the tables. 

8:15am  I have finished placing all the flowers.  The leftover flowers that did not make it into the show are made into a bouquet for the flower show staff.  It’s time to clean up my huge mess.

8:30am  Flower Show judging begins and will end by 11:30am.  I will check back on Friday to see what I won.  Stay tuned to this blog for the results.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Photo - Yellow Yarrow (Achillea millefolium 'Moonshine')

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Teddy Bear Sunflower (Helianthus annus 'Teddy Bear')

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Yellow Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos flavidus 'Big Roo Yellow')

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

Photo - Hybrid Tea Rose 'St. Patrick'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Sunflower (Helianthus annus)

Photo by Doug Kalal

5 Fantastic Plants for Yellow Cut Flowers

In honor of the San Diego County Fair, I will be talking about cut flowers for the next 2 weeks.  If you want to see these flowers in person, then go to the flower show at the fair.  I will have my entries there Tuesday thru Friday each week, but the flower show is there everyday.  For a flower to be considered a good cut flower, it needs to last at least 3 days in a vase.  Yellow cut flowers look great when they are paired with purple.  Search my blog for photos of these plants.

Achillea millefolium ‘Moonshine’
Yellow Yarrow
This perennial also has nice gray foliage and gets about 2’ wide.  Yarrow is also a drought tolerant plant.

Anigozanthos flavidus ‘Big Roo Yellow’
Yellow Kangaroo Paw
With long 4’ tall stems, this dramatic perennial looks great up against a wall or fence. 

Freesia – Yellow Variety
These beauties bloom in early spring (here in San Diego) from corms, then go dormant in the late summer.  A native of South Africa, these perennials are great in the front of flower gardens.

Helianthus annus
These annuals come in a wide range of sizes and colors.  The best way to grow sunflowers is to buy seeds in March, and plant them in one gallon pots.  After 2 weeks the seeds will be sprouting.  Leave them in the 1 gallon pots for another 2 weeks and then plant them in the ground.  It takes about 90 days from planting the seeds to the flower bloom.

Rosa hybrida ‘St. Patrick’
Hybrid Tea Rose ‘St. Patrick’
This large hybrid tea rose reaches 4’ in height and width.  The blooms have a slight tinge of green on the edges.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Photo - Synthetic Shade Structure

This lightweight synthetic shade structure was built by
Skyline Sunrooms.  By choosing a synthetic structure, I was
able to run the electrical cables for the lighting inside of the posts
to create a clean look.  Here is the link to their web page;

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

Photo - Tiny Tower Juniper (Cupressus sempervirens 'Tiny Tower')

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

Photo - Fourth of July Climbing Rose

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Photo - Flagstone Patio with Dymondia

This was my garden at the 2010 San Diego County Fair.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Monday, June 13, 2011

Photo - New Gold Lantana (Lantana hybrid 'New Gold')

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus)

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

5 Fantastic Rabbit Resistant Plants for San Diego

Although there is no such thing as a rabbit proof plant, bunnies will usually skip these 5 plants and look for something else to munch on.  Search my blog for photos of these plants.

Achillea millefolium
This perennial is also a terrific cut flower and comes in lots of colors.

Cistus x purpureus
Orchid Rockrose
A tough shrub that works on both slopes and flat spaces, reaches 5 feet wide and tall.

Epilobium canum        also known as 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.

Lantana hybrid ‘New Gold’
New Gold Lantana
A tough, drought tolerant shrub that is also good for slopes.  This variety tends to be a more prolific bloomer.  New Gold Lantana reaches 6 feet wide and 3 feet tall.

Mimulus aurantiacus
Sticky Monkey Flower
This California native is also a terrific hummingbird plant, 3 feet tall x 4 feet wide.

Photo - Yarrow (Achillea millefolium 'Summer Pastels')

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Baby Bunny

This cute little bunny has taken up residence in my backyard,
along with all the wonderful birds I see on an hourly basis.

Photo - Orchid Rockrose (Cistus x purpureus)

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

Friday, June 10, 2011

Photo - Camellia sasanqua 'Kanjiro'

This wonderful evergreen shrub can take part sun inland
and full sun on the coast here in San Diego.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Rancho Penasquitos.

Photo - Dogs in the Garden

Quite a few of my clients have dogs.  Whenever I come over to check on a client's garden, these wonderful dogs will follow me around looking for some love.  Here are some of the wonderful tail-waggers that have enjoyed the gardens I have designed for my clients.

Photos by Doug Kalal, taken at client gardens all over San Diego county.

Photo - Water Feature on a Slope

This project had a steep slope in the backyard.  A retaining wall
was built to expand the backyard. The rest of the slope was
planted with drought tolerant plants with a water feature
coming down the middle to serve as a focal point.
The water then cascaded over the retaining wall (see photo
in the top 10 post labeled "Water Feature on a Retaining Wall")
into a small pond.

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Photo - Hummingbird and Chiapas Sage

This Chiapas Sage (Salvia chiapensis) was planted in a
rose garden to attract hummingbirds.  This is an organic
way to rid the garden of aphids.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Point Loma.

Gardening Tip - Killing Aphids Without Chemicals Part 2

This post is a continuation of the one from earlier in the week on Aphids.
     Hummingbirds are also outstanding hunters of aphids.  10% of a hummingbird’s diet consists of aphids or other very small insects.  Put a hummingbird friendly plant such as Hot Lips Sage within 20 feet of a rose bush, and that rose bush will never have aphids.
      Ladybugs, also known as Lady Bird beetles are also great hunters of aphids.  If you pour chemicals into your garden, all you are doing is killing all the beneficial insects and letting the bad bugs have free reign in your garden.  Ladybugs can be bought at any good nursery like Walter Andersens.  They are fun for the kids to release and watch fly about the garden.  Most will fly off in the first hour but some will hang around in your garden.
       Water, hummingbirds and ladybugs are great ways to rid your garden of aphids without using chemicals.  I stopped using insecticides in my garden 9 years ago and each year I win 150 to 200 ribbons for cut flowers at the San Diego County Fair.  You can have a beautiful garden without the chemicals.  Just use the tips above and keep reading this blog.

Photo - Grandiflora Rose 'Rock N' Roll'

Photo by Doug Kalal

30 Great Drought Tolerant Plants

Learn about 30 wonderful drought tolerant plants for your garden plus how to install and maintain them at this free lecture.  This power point presentation will feature gorgeous photos and fun tales from the field. There will also be sample plants to see, touch and smell.
This series will be coming to the following locations in June;

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

Monday, June 6, 2011

Photo - Blasting Aphids With Water

Photo by Noah Kalal

Photo - Aphids on a rose bush

Photo by Doug Kalal

Gardening Tip - Killing Aphids Without Chemicals Part 1

      If you read a bottle of insecticide (any chemical designed to kill insects) it almost always says in small print, “Can be used to control aphids, cicadas, etc…”.  The late great rosarian, Phil Ash would always chuckle at this and bellow, “I don’t want to control insects, I want to kill them!!”  But the overuse of chemicals can have a serious impact on human health.  It almost rendered my wife sterile, but that is a story for another day.
      Sometimes the best inspiration for gardening can come from the movies.  One of my kids’ favorites is Pixar’s “A Bug’s Life”.  If you recall, in the movie, the two things that the bugs feared the most were birds and water.  These are the two weapons you can use to rid your garden of aphids without using any chemicals.  Let’s start with water.
      Aphids have a piercing-sucking mouthpart with tiny barbs on it. When an aphid is born it might only move an inch away from its mother, jam its mouthpart into the plant tissue and remain in that one spot for the rest of its life (7-10 days).  It is this inability to move after feeding begins that is the insect’s weakness for you to exploit.
      Aphids can easily be killed by water.  I have about 50 rose bushes that I water by hand.  After I soak each rose I give the rose a “power washing”.  This is done by simply forcing the water out of the hose at a high velocity with your thumb or other device.  I always blast the middle of the bush and take care not to hit any flowers.  Once an aphid sinks its mouthpart into a plant, the insect is completely defenseless.  If you blast the aphid with water, the insect does not wash off of the plant, it gets blown apart and you have a happier rose.
        Since we are out of time, part 2 of this topic will come later in the week.
"Power Washing" a rose bush, Photo by Noah Kalal

Photo - Hybrid Tea Rose 'Signature'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Friday, June 3, 2011

New Lecture Series - "Patios, Pathways and Plants for Fixing Your Landscape"

Want to improve your landscape but are not sure where to begin? “Patios, Pathways & Plants for Fixing Your Landscape” will give you great solutions for creating a dazzling outdoor environment at your home. This free presentation will cover a wide variety of topics such as the different types of materials to use for patios, plants for hummingbirds, what to do if you have shade areas or slopes, what drought tolerant plants are best for you. With dozens of plants and material examples to see, you’ll be inspired to transform your yard into a beautiful landscape!

From the creator of the popular series, "30 Great Drought Tolerant Plants" comes this new lecture series.  “Patios, Pathways & Plants for Fixing Your Landscape” is available for libraries, gardens clubs and other private organizations.  For more informations email Doug Kalal at