Friday, September 30, 2011

Sensational Succulents for San Diego

It’s time to recap all the fantastic succulents we looked at this week.  These plants are great for low maintenance and very drought tolerant gardens.  Here they are along with links to all of my posts on these beauties.

After Glow Echeveria
Echeveria sp. ‘After Glow’ 
Blue Chalk Fingers
Senecio vitalis
Blue Chalk Sticks
Senecio mandraliscae 
Blue Sky Echeveria
Echeveria sp. ‘Blue Sky’ 
Burro’s Tail
Sedum morganium 
Crinkly Echeveria
Echeveria sp. ‘Crinkly’ 
Kiwi Aeonium
Aeonium sp. ‘Kiwi’

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Photo - Topsy Turvey Echeveria

The orange flowers of this succulent contrast nicely with
the soft gray foliage.  Echeverias are terrific small succulents
for containers or tight spaces.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Photo - Mother of Thousands (Kalanchoe daigremontiana)

This short lived (3 years) succulent is a great container plant.
Needing no care and almost no water, this succulent
forms hundreds of smaller plantlets on the tips of its leaves.
These plantlets fall off to form new plants.
Mother of Thousands produce spectacular flowers at the end
of their lifespan just before dying.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Blue Sky Echeveria

This beautiful succulent blooms in the late summer and early fall.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Rock Purslane (Calindrinia grandiflora)

This tough succulent looks great in the Spring
when it is covered with tall purple blossoms.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Burro's Tail (Sedum morganium)

This cascading succulent is terrific in large containers.
Combine this plant with the Paddle Plant for a beautiful look.

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

Gardening Tip - How to Plant Succulents

    Succulents need good draining soil to thrive.  If you are planting your succulents in the ground, then make sure the planting area soil drains well.  If you have heavy or clay soil, there are 2 solutions.  First you can amend the soil with gypsum and Gro-Power to improve the chemical composition of the soil.  Here are 2 links to other parts of my blog for tips on using those soil amendments.

Another way to improve the drainage is to create mounds for the succulents.  Bring in a few yards of cactus soil, or just add bags of perlite to existing soil in order to have soil that drains well.  Ideally you should have 50% perlite and 50% original soil. Mix this new soil with the old soil and create mounds.  While you are at it, add some nice rocks from KRC Rock for some terrific material contrast.  Here is their web page.

Another way to grow succulents is in containers.  Here is a great video from the legendary succulent designer and author, Debra Lee Baldwin, on putting together a great succulent container.

Photo - Aeonium 'Mint Saucer'

A beautiful succulent that can reach 3 feet in height.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Variegated Brazillian Aloe (Furcraea foetida mediopicta)

This versatile succulent looks great in a container or
as a focal point in a drought tolerant, low maintenance garden.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Blue Chalk Fingers (Senecio vitalis)

This succulent is more of a mounding plant than its
cousin, Blue Chalk Sticks, which tends to grow like
a groundcover.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Echeveria sp. 'Topsy Turvey'

The unusual foliage on this succulent looks great when planted
in mass along with Kiwi Aeonium and After Glow Echeveria.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Photo - Kiwi Aeonium (Aeonium sp. 'Kiwi')

The Kiwi Aeonium has beautiful foliage on a compact succulent.
This succulent reaches 2 feet wide by 1 foot tall.
This is the 3 gallon size sold at Miramar Wholesale Nursery.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Echeveria sp. 'Blue Sky'

This small and beautiful succulent flowers in the summer.
These succulent photos were taken at Miramar Wholesale Nursery
which has a great selection of succulents.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)

This succulent is great for tight areas along walkways.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Photo - Echeveria sp. 'After Glow'

This compact Echeveria has great burgundy foliage
that is tinged with a pink edge.  This succulent gets
about 2 feet wide and flowers in the fall.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Variegated Agave or Century Plant (Agave americana 'Variegata')

This stunning specimen is a great focal point plant
that need almost no water and maintenance.
For more info on this great plant, click on this link
to Dave's Garden Blog

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

Saturday, September 24, 2011

It's Succulent Week!

For the next 7 days I will be featuring succulents in a series of articles and photos.  Succulents are an oustanding type of plant for low water and low maintenance gardens here in San Diego.  If you have a question you would like answered in this blog about succulents, just ask it in the comment section below.

Photo - Blue Chalk Sticks (Senecio mandraliscae)

This succulent ground cover is great for modest slopes.
The blue/gray color of the foliage contrasts nicely with
other bright succulents such as agaves and aloes.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Friday, September 23, 2011

Photo - Mediterranean Sprurge (Euphorbia characias wulfenii)

This Euphorbia is great for rock gardens and requires little water or care.
Here is a great webpage about propogating euphorbias.

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

Photo - Sticks on Fire (Euphorbia tirucalli)

This beautiful succulent is also very large,
growing up to 8 feet in height x 6 feet wide.
Sticks on Fire are great for low water and low
maintenance gardens.  Like all euphorbias, Sticks
on Fire has toxic sap, so don't use this plant
in gardens with dogs or small kids.
Here is another blogger's take on euphorbias
Photo By Doug Kalal

Photo - Echeveria sp. 'Crinkly'

This small succulent is great for pots.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at Solana Succulents
Here is their webpage.

Nursery Review - Solana Succulents

One of the great things about living in San Diego is that our mild weather allows for dozens of pocket nurseries to thrive in all the nooks and crannies of the county. As a landscape designer I love to discover these hidden gems. Solana Succulents sits right on Highway 101, just north of Lomas Santa Fe Dr. and is so tiny you could drive right by it. But whatever you do, you have to stop by and see it.
Jeff Moore is the one man show behind the best little succulent nursery in town. Filled with all kinds of unusual specimens along with some of my favorites like Aeonium ‘Sunburst’ and Echeveria ‘After Glow’, Solana Succulents has something for every succulent garden.
Jeff is also great at recommending a perfect plant for each garden. For small containers Jeff likes to recommend the new crinkly hybrids of Echeveria. Jeff also has some unusual Agaves for larger landscapes. Going to Solana Succulents is like going on a little treasure hunt. You never know what discovery lies around the corner. In the middle of the nursery say hello to Lucy, the Cuban Iguana, sitting high on her perch. Like Lucy there are wonderful little treasures to find at Solana Succulents.
Solana Succulents
355 N. Hwy 101
Solana Beach, CA 92075
(858) 259-4568

Photo - Pork N Beans Sedum (Sedum rubrotinctum)

This ground cover succulent is great for tight spaces and
cascading over pots.
Miramar Nursery (where this photo was taken) has a
great selection of sedums sold in flats.  Here is their webpage;
Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Aeonium 'Kiwi'

This colorful and compact succulent is great around statues.
Solana Succulents is great store for this plant and other
low maintenance succulents. Here is their webpage.

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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Photo - Stone Top Gray Paver Patio

This paver patio is surrounded by tropical plants
such as Hebe, Cupheas & Canna lilies.
For more info on pavers, here is the link to RCP Block & Brick's webpage.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in La Jolla

Photo - Weed Block

Laying down a heavy duty weed block on flat landscape areas
is a good way to reduce long term maintenance.  Water and
nutrients can still flow through the fabric but weed seeds can't.

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

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Photo - Water Feature on a Slope

This property had a large slope that flowed toward the
house.  I designed a water feature that started at about the
mid point of the slope and cascaded over a retaining
wall into a pond close to the client's back door.
This created a stunning view from any of the back
windows of the house.  The contractor, Nature Designs
Landscaping, also added lights along the entire
water feature, so that, at night, the effect is

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Nursery Review - Jungle Music Palms & Cycads

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

Photo - King Palm pruned badly through electrical wires

This poor King Palm was planted under power lines
by someone who did not realize what a fast growing
palm tree it was.  Instead of removing the palm, SDGE
kept trying to prune the palm tree to get it to grow
through the wires.  After a year, SDGE ended up
removing this tree.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Date Palm (Phoenix dactylifera)

Photo by Doug Kalal

5 Fantastic Palm Trees for San Diego

Palm trees grow easily in out sunny temperate climate.  Here are my favorites for San Diego gardens.  Pictures for these palms can be found on my blog, just enter the plant name in the search box.
Archontophoenix cunninghamiana
King Palm
This slender and fast growing palm will eventually reach 50 feet in height.  A self-cleaning palm, King Palms tolerate a wide range of soil conditions.

Brahea armata
Blue Hesper Palm
This native of Mexico has beautiful gray foliage and is drought tolerant.  Also known as the Mexican Blue Palm and can reach 30 feet in height.

Butia capitata
Pindo Palm
Beautiful curved foliage makes this palm a terrific focal point plant for tropical gardens.  Grows to 30 feet tall.

Dypsis decaryi
Triangle Palm
This palm is named for the triangle that the fronds form from both the front and top view.  This is a very effective palm tree for screening.  Triangle Palms reach 30 feet in height.

Phoenix dactylifera
Date Palm
This native of the middle east is a tall and elegant palm tree used for high end resorts around the world.  This beautiful palm looks great with uplighting.  Date Palms are slow growing (less than 2 feet per year), can reach 50 feet in height and are drought tolerant.

For a more detailed list of palms for a wide range of uses, check out this link from Jungle Music Palms & Cycads.

Photo - Triangle Palm (Dypsis decaryi)

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - King Palm (Archontophoenix cunninghamiana)

Photo by Doug Kalal

Monday, September 19, 2011

Photo - Custom BBQ & Firepit Seating Area

This custom BBQ was designed to serve as the focal point
for the client's backyard.  A seating area was integrated into the
BBQ counter to create a versatile outdoor room.  Flagstone
tile laid over concrete was added as the finishing touch
for this wonderful space.

Photo by client.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Photo - Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium peltatum)

In San Diego, this perennial blooms all year in frost free
areas.  The other great feature of this plant is that
it is a self cleaning plant - I wish my kids were self cleaning!

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

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photo - Country Manor Keystone Seating Wall

The Country Manor Keystone blocks in this photo were
used to create addtional seating for this dining area.
Seating walls are great garden elements that serve as both
focal points and supplemental seating for garden events.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo - Gaillardia (Gaillardia x grandiflora)

This drought tolerant ground cover comes in a wide range
of yellows, oranges and reds.

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

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ask Doug - "Why are my rose blooms so small?"

"Doug, my rose blooms are not as big as they have been in the past.  Any ideas on what is the cause?"

In the heat of the summer, roses consume more water and food than in the spring just to keep the plant metabolism going.  Unfortunately, most gardeners do not take this into account and roses tend to actually get less water and food in the summer.  After all, who wants to be out in the heat working on the garden when you can go to the beach, the zoo and all the other million things to do here in San Diego. 

Basically less food and water means smaller blooms in the summer.  So what can you do?  I recommend a slow release fertilizer for roses that only needs to be used twice per year.  The best rose food available in San Diego is Ada Perry’s Magic Formula.  This food is only available at Walter Andersen Nurseries in Point Loma and Poway.  Ada Perry’s Magic Formula is made up of blood meal, gypsum, epsom salts, bone meal and other micronutrients.  In others words, it is a terrific stew for making your roses happy. One twenty pound bag will feed about 30 roses.  Each rose bush gets 2 cups in January and 2 cups in July and always water your roses thoroughly before feeding.

Also, make sure to add some mulch to the roses to help the plant conserve water.  See my article below for more info on mulch.

Photo - Floribunda Rose 'Nicole'

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Dymondia (Dymondia margaretae)

Dymondia is a tough, drought-tolerant ground cover that is good for
 foot traffic areas like next to the driveway seen in this photo.

Photo By Doug Kalal

Photo - Small Stream Water Feature

This shallow stream was designed to wrap
around the shade structure to maximize
the sound impact.  The stream ends in a
pondless water pool created by stacking
rocks on top of heavy duty plastic crates.
The stream is flanked with Creeping Thyme.

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

Monday, September 12, 2011

Photo - Fern Leaf Lavender (Lavandula multifida)

This mediterranean native is a great drought tolerant
plant that is also nice for cut flower arrangements.

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

Friday, September 9, 2011

Gardening Tip - Using Mulch for a Healty Garden

          Here in San Diego, summer always seems to arrive in August and September.  The hottest day of the year at my house was 2 days ago, September 7th, when the tempature hit 98 degrees.  When it is this hot, mulch is critical for helping plants survive.
            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 cool in the summer by adding some mulch.  Your garden will love it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Photo - Best Paks

Read my article below on how to use Best Paks to feed your plants.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Ask Doug - "What is an easy way to feed plants in pots?"

"Doug, we planted Blue Point Junipers, Kangaroo Paws and New Zealand Flax in some large pots.  What is the best way to feed them?"

Plants in containers need to be fed more frequently than plants in the ground because the nutrients in the pot can wash out of the bottom of each pot when the plant is watered.  The best way to feed container plants is to use a time release fertilizer.  The least expensive, slow release fertilizer available in San Diego are Best Paks.  Best Paks are small packets the size of tea bags.  I use 9 packets for an exsiting plant in a 20 inch diameter pot.  Best paks are also what landscape contractors use when installing a new landscape. The food lasts for about 6 months in a container.  Best Paks come in bags that hold 100 packets.  One bag costs about $12.00.  Here in San Diego, Best Paks are only sold at Miramar Nursery and Hydroscape.  Here is the spec sheet for Best Paks as well as the websites for the retailers that sell them.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Photo - Flagstone on Stairs

These concrete stairs were covered with flagstone to 
match the rest of the patio and then mortared in place.

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

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Photo - Rose Scented Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

This is a terrific and tough geranium that is also drought tolerant.
Fragrant foliage and great cut flowers are another feature of this
perennial.  Like most geraniums, this one is frost sensitive. 
Any tempature under 35 degrees will kill the top, but the
plant will bounce back in the spring.  Rose Scented
Geraniums are also very easy to propogate from cuttings.

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

Monday, September 5, 2011

Photo - Tropical Water Fountain

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

Photo - Prostrate Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis 'Prostrata')

This drought tolerant plant is great for slopes.  Prostrate
Rosemary blooms in the winter and gets about 4' wide.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Tough Plants for Your Garden - Rosemary

     Ah Rosemary!  Doesn’t the thought of that wonderful plant just make your mouth water?  Rosemary Chicken, Beef with Rosemary, Cornish Game Hens with Garlic & Rosemary.  Of all the drought tolerant plants that do well in San Diego, Rosemary is the most versatile.  Beautiful blue flowers in the winter, good for slopes and flat areas, full sun to part shade under trees, Rosemary is one of my favorite plants.
          There are basically 3 types of Rosemary.  The first is Tuscan Blue Rosemary.  This is the variety ordered by chefs in great restaurants.  ‘Tuscan Blue’ is the most flavorful of all the rosemary varieties.  It is however, also the tallest.  'Tuscan Blue' comes in at a robust 6 feet tall and 2 feet wide.  Next are the medium sized varieties.  ‘Ingram’ and ‘Lockwood de Forrest’ grow about 4 feet and wide.  The last type of rosemary is the prostrate variety.  ‘Huntington Carpet’ reaches 18 inches tall and 6 feet wide and is great for slopes. Rosemary is a great plant for areas that receive full sun during some part of the year and shade during other parts of the year (such as under deciduous trees).  Walter Andersen Nursery also sells a pink rosemary that does well in a container.
          Here is a link to some recipes for using all that Rosemary.  Enjoy!

Photo - Recycled Concrete Patio

This patio was made from an old concrete sidewalk that
was being torn out to make a wildlife garden.  The contractor
laid a base material down with the rocks as a border.
I then selected the concrete pieces and laid them in this circle.
The concrete was then stained and Dymondia
was planted inbetween the pieces.

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

Looking for Free Landscape Advice?

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!

This lecture series will be coming to the following locations this Fall;

Saturday, September 10th @ 11:00am
Rancho Bernardo Library
17110 Bernardo Center Dr, San Diego
(858) 538-8163

Saturday, September 17th @ 2:00pm
Fallbrook Library
124 S. Mission Rd, Fallbrook
(760) 731-4653

Wednesday, October 5th @ 6:00pm
Mission Valley Library (next to IKEA)
2123 Fenton Parkway, San Diego
(858) 573-5008

Tuesday, October 11th @ 6:00pm
Tierrasanta Library
4965 La Cuenta Dr, San Diego
(858) 573-1384

Wednesday, October 12th @ 11:00am
Point Loma Garden Club
Portuguese Hall
2818 Avenida de Portugal, San Diego

Thursday, October 20th @ 6:00pm
La Mesa Library
8074 Allison Ave, La Mesa
(619) 469-2151

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

This tough and small tree is drought tolerant and
and loves the heat.  This tree is ideal for patios
and parking lots because of the compact root structure.

Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Country Manor Retaining Wall with Tumbled Paver Patio

These short County Manor retaining walls were used
to create a small patio surrounded by planting beds.
The patio was made with tumbled pavers.

Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's house in La Jolla

Gardening Tip - Fixing Clay Soil with Gro-Power

     Hard clay soils present a series of challenges for growing healthy plants.  Gypsum is a good additive for removing salts from a clay soil.  Today’s post will talk about Gro-Power.
      Gro-Power is a soil conditioner that adds organic material and mico-organisms back into the soil.  Without these micro-organisms, the soil cannot process any plant food for the roots of your plants.  Basically, trying to feed plants stuck in hard clay soil is like trying to eat pizza with your mouth wired shut.  The food just has nowhere to go.  With an organic fertilizer like Gro-Power, the plant roots can actively process the nutrients in the soil.
      Gro-Power can be used in both new and existing landscapes.  For new landscapes, rototill Gro-Power in at the rate of 150 lbs for every 1,000 sq ft.  For existing landscapes, use 1 to 5 cups based on plant size every 6 months (see package for details).
      Using gypsum and Gro-Power will help turn that rock hard clay soil into a better environment for your garden.  Gro-Power is available at most nurseries and garden centers.