Friday, December 30, 2011

Photo - Moreton Bay Fig Tree (Ficus macrophylla)

This massive fig tree has been a centerpiece of Balboa Park
for nearly 100 years.  When I was a boy, children were allowed
to play in the tree and climb all over the branchs and aerial roots.
Arborists realized that the tree was slowly dying from all of the human
interaction so a fence was erected around the canopy edge to keep
humans away.  The tree has thrived so much that the fence has been
moved out to keep pace with the expanding canopy size.
Note my 2 sons standing in front of the tree for scale.

Photos by Doug Kalal, taken at Balboa Park

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Photo - Arabian Lilac (Vitex trifolia)

This drought tolerant shrub has foliage that can vary from
purple to silver.  Arabian Lilac is not a true lilac, although
it does have small fragrant flowers and reaches 5' tall x 5' wide.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at Balboa Park.

Photo - Mexican Blue Hesper Palm (Brahea armata)

This drought tolerant palm is a native of Mexico
and noted for its stunning foliage.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken in Balboa Park

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Photo - Queen Palm with a holiday reindeer

Queen Palms are the work horse palm tree here in San Diego.
They are easy to grow and cheap, eventually reaching heights
of 30 to 40 feet.  Here are some Queen Palms in Balboa Park
with a friendly reindeer in the foreground.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Concrete Stairs with Copper Hand Rail

The concrete for these stairs had the color
pre-mixed before pouring so that it would
last longer than staining.  The railing was made
from copper pipe that was heated and bent
to match the curve of the stairs.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in Encinitas

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Photo - Canary Island Date Palm and Santa Claus

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah and Best Wishes for a
wonderful New Year to all my readers. 
 My family and I went for a walk in Balboa Park today
 where it was a wonderful 72 degrees.
Here is the outdoor Santa from the park
 with a large Canary Island Date
Palm tree in the background.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Photo - Pink Muhly (Mulhlenbergia capillaris)

For my 400th post I decided to go back to the plant
in a client's garden that was the source of my very first post.
This ornamental and drought tolerant grass produces
beautiful seed efflorescences every fall.  This photo is from the bloom
at my client's house back in late October of this year. 
Compare this photo to the one on the right side of this page. 
That photo was the very first photo I put on this blog
and it is still the most popular of all the plant photos I have posted.

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

Monday, December 19, 2011

Photo - California Fan Palm (Washingtonia filifera)

This is the only palm tree native to the state of California. 
It is a close cousin of the Mexican Fan Palm.
This photo was taken at Anza-Borrego State Park,
where this grove of palm trees are growing in a canyon
hidden in the hills above the Los Cabesa camping area.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Photo - RCP Block & Brick

Here is the address of the RCP design center in Santee along with RCP’s web page.

RCP Block & Brick
8755 Magnolia Ave
Santee, CA 92071
(619) 448-2240

Photos by Doug Kalal

Garden Resources - RCP Block & Brick

         I love designing landscapes with Stone Top Tumbled Pavers.  The colors and textures of this material are far superior to concrete for only a little bit more money.  Whenever I present a design using pavers I like to suggest to the client to come with me to the RCP Block & Brick Design Center in Santee.  RCP has 5 San Diego County locations: Escondido, Encinitas, Santee, Lemon Grove and Chula Vista.  The Santee location is the one with the amazing display of over 100 different types of outdoor materials.  At the design center, homeowners can get different ideas for pavers, retaining walls, stone veneers, flagstone, landscape pebbles, BBQ kits and even artificial turf.
          RCP is a treasured local company that has been in business since 1947.  All of the great materials that homeowners see at these retail outlets come from right here in San Diego County.  RCP operates 2 manufacturing plants, one in Santee and the other in Otay Mesa, so you are also supporting local jobs when you shop at RCP.   Here is the address of the design center in Santee along with RCP’s web page.

RCP Block & Brick
8755 Magnolia Ave
Santee, CA 92071
(619) 448-2240

Photos by Doug Kalal

Monday, December 12, 2011

Photo - Creeping Myoporum (Myoporum parvifolium)

This fast growing groundcover is great for sunny slopes.
Each plant rapidly grows out to a 5' diameter. 
Plant Creeping Myoporum every 24 inches to get
a dense coverage that will cut down on weeds.
This groundcover is also drought tolerant but
can't handle foot traffic.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Photo - Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia noblis)

The beautiful gray foliage of this palm looks great against a
dark building.  This palm will reach 40 feet slowly.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken in Balboa Park

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Photo - Triangle Palm (Dypsis decaryi)

This elegant palm tree is a slow grower (about 1 foot per year).
It looks great up against a wall and will eventually reach 20 - 30 feet. 
The Triangle Palm gets its name from the the shape the fronds make.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Photo - Paddle Plant (Kalanchoe thyrsiflora)

This unusual succulent looks great up against a small wall
where the foliage can contrast with the color of the wall.
The wall will also help support the large flower stalks
that appear in the Spring.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Plant Review - Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus sp.)

Here in San Diego we are blessed with the most moderate weather in the continental United States.  The high today at my house is expected to reach 71 degrees.  Because of this great climate, we have a tremendous selection of palm trees that will thrive in our gardens.  However, there are parts of San Diego County that do get snow and occasionaly I am asked to design a tropical garden in those areas.  When it comes to palm trees for cold climates, the Windmill Palm (Trachycarpus sp.) is one of the best.

Phil Bergman of Jungle Music Palms and Cycads is one San Diego's leading experts when it comes to palm trees.  He has written a great article about the Windmill Palm.  Here it is;,%20the%20Windmill%20Palm/windmill_palm.html

Here is more information on this great nursery:

Jungle Music Palms, Cycads and Tropical Plants
Nursery Location: 450 Ocean View Ave., Encinitas, CA  92024
Nursery Phone: 619 291 4605
Nursery Hours: Monday - Friday  10am - 3pm
 Saturday 9:30am-4:00pm
 Sunday typically closed
Directions to Nursery:Freeway Close. Take Freeway 5 to Encinitas
(10 minutes south of Oceanside, 30 minutes north of San Diego).
Exit Leucadia Blvd West (toward ocean).
Immediate left on Orpheus Ave, left on Union St,
Right on Ocean View Ave to Nursery, which is at 450 Ocean View Ave
Mailing Address:3233 Brant Street, San Diego, CA 92103

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Photo - Jute Netting on a Slope

Jute netting is an important component of properly
planting a slope.  After adding soil ammendments,
lay the jute netting to hold those ammendments
in place.  The jute netting also will hold the bark mulch
in place which will the new plants get off to a better start.
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at a client's garden in La Mesa

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photo - Marjorie Channon Pittosporum (Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Marjorie Channon')

This tough shrub is great for creating a 6 foot tall hedge,
especially against a fence or under a tree.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Photo - Caribbean Agave (Agave angustifolia marginata)

This stunning succulent has very sharp spines and is
very drought tolerant.  Caribbean Agaves are best used
as a focal point in a succulent garden and away from
any possible contact with humans or pets.
This succulent reaches 4 feet tall and wide.
For more information about this plant and other
great succulents, see the Village Nurseries web page
Photo by Doug Kalal, taken at Village Nurseries

Photo - Raised Vegetable Bed/Seating Wall made from Country Manor Keystone

Country Manor Keystones were used to make this raised
vegetable bed.  Raised beds make for easier gardening
by reducing how much the home owner has to bend down
to manage the crops.  I designed this raised bed to be 16 inches
high so that it could also serve as a seating wall, thereby adding
room for a dozen guests to sit down in this back yard.

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

Photo - Wichita Blue Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum 'Wichita Blue')

This beautiful shrub has stunning blue/gray folaige
and reaches about 10 feet tall x 6 feet wide.
Wichita Blue Junipers are also drought tolerant
and low maintenance shrubs.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Photo - Camellia 'Cherries Jubilee' (Camellia japonica 'Cherries Jubilee')

This stunning flower won Best Cut Flower at the 2011
Coronado Flower Show.  This shrub blooms December to
April and can reach 8 feet tall.  Japanese Camellias do
best in part shade on the coast and full shade inland.
Photo by Doug Kalal

Photo - Field Turf (Artificial Grass)

For more information, check out Easy Turf’s web page and
give them a call to find out how they can install Field Turf in your garden.

Photos provided by Easy Turf

Garden Elements - Field Turf (Artificial Grass)

In San Diego, rising water prices along with maintenance costs have made standard turf lawns a significant long term expense.  When a home owner looks at the total cost of maintaining a lawn (water, mowing, fertilizer, irrigation repair), they will discover that their 500 square foot lawn ended up costing a total of roughly $5,000 to maintain over the course of ten years.  Other issues with the standard sod lawn include dog damage and difficult growing conditions such as tree shade and poor drainage.  A growing trend in San Diego has been to do away with sod lawns and switch to artificial grass.
Artificial grass has come a long way since the days of cheap Astroturf laid over concrete.  The best in artificial grass available today is Field Turf which is made and installed by the Easy Turf Company, based here in San Diego County.  Field Turf is now used in many football stadiums, from high school to the NFL.   The three reasons for its popularity are durability, drainage and most important of all, reduction in maintenance expenses. 
Field Turf is backed by a 10 year warranty for residential landscapes.  Field Turf is made from a high quality polyethylene material that is coated to resist water and sun damage.  The backing that holds the “grass” fibers in place is designed with hundreds of tiny holes in each square yard of material.  This design is far superior to the felt backing found in some cheap artificial grasses.  Underneath Field Turf, 3 layers of fill and aggregate material are installed to further aid in cushioning impacts and improving drainage.
The result is a lawn that is as soft as grass but drains better.  Another benefit of Field Turf is the reduction of weeds and weed flowers.  This in turns reduces allergies and bees in the lawn area.  Dog urine also drains right though Field Turf without discoloring the material.  Even doggy landmines will not discolor Field Turf thanks to its polymer coating.  One drawback of Field Turf is the heat issue.  Field Turf will be warmer than regular grass, although it retains less heat than concrete.  
Field Turf costs about $10 to $15 per square foot which makes it a little more expensive than concrete ($8 - $10 per sq ft) and considerably more expensive than just installing a sod lawn ($2 - $4 per sq ft).  But when you factor in the water and maintenance cost savings, Field Turf ends up costing about the same over the course of ten years.
For more information, check out Easy Turf’s web page and give them a call to find out how they can install Field Turf in your garden.

Photos provided by Easy Turf