August 2010 Gardening Events & More...

Hot Time, summer in the suburbs and we all need something fun to do. Here is a list of ongoing activities, upcoming events and Festivals to attend in and around the Santa Clarita and Greater Los Angeles area. Have fun!

Don't forget to shop local by attending one of the great Farmer's Markets in our area. Not only does Hollywood and Santa Monica have them, we do too.

Sundays in the College of The Canyons Parking Lot from 8:30am – noon
Please visit my friend Sarah from Worldwide Exotics – she’ll be away for a week or two in August but be sure to see her wonderful plants and utilize her expertise!

The second weekly Farmers Market in SCV is on Thursdays in Old Town Newhall from 3-7pm.

Friday Night Jazz & Blues Concert Series – Fridays 7 – 9:30 pm
Check out Valenciajazzandblues for the schedule of performers.
Lexus of Valencia sponsors this weekly event on Town Center Drive at McBean. The concerts end August 27, 2010.

The City of Santa Clarita’s Concerts in the Park continue through August 28, 2010. They are all at Central Park and begin at 7pm.
City of Santa Clarita Concerts - Check the schedule for your favorites and spend Saturdays in the Park!

8/6/10 from 1 – 2:30 pm
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Plant Information
A free class on a variety of plant-related topics, with botanist Frank McDonough
301 North Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 821-4623

8/7 – 8/9/10
43rd Annual Watts Summer Festival
Noon to 8pm each day
The mission of the Watts Summer Festival, is to present an annual event in the
community of Watts that celebrates the cultural contributions of African Americans,
preserves the history and legacy of the Watts community as well as to memorialize
the thirty four lives lost during the 1965 Watts Revolt.

Huntington Library & Gardens
Free Tour and Plant Sale - every second Thursday

8/14/10 – 8/15/10 9-5pm
Inter-City Cactus Show and Sale in Ayers Hall of the
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

70th Annual Nisei Week Festival
Food, Fun, and Entertainment in Little Tokyo – Los Angeles

8/18/10 – 9am -12noon
Square Foot Gardening
A class on growing food efficiently in small spaces.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
301 North Baldwin Ave.
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 821-4623

8/18/10 – 7pm
Clematis Walk & Talk
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980
Free with Garden Admission

8/20/10 – 7pm
Night Walk
An enchanted evening walk through the gardens.
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980
Fee $15.00; reservations required

8/24/10 - 6 pm
Santa Clarita Valley Green Drinks Meetup
New Moon Restaurant
28281 Newhall Ranch Rd
Valencia, CA 91355
(661) 257-4321
Green Drinks allows for anyone concerned about environmental issues to get together over a drink. Green Drinks events are very simple, informal, unstructured, and self-organizing. We bring together the environmental community and have fun doing it! Please join

For more information on my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Blooming July SCV

Blood Red Trumpet Vine

It isn't summer in SCV without Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus)

The Crape Myrtles are in bloom!


How to Care for Crape Myrtles (Lagerstroemia)

Crape Myrtles are blooming all around us, so what better time to discuss how to take care of them? Crape Myrtles can be planted pretty much most of the year here in Southern California however this time of the year is ideal for selecting your tree or shrub. Wholesale nurseries, that usually only sell to landscapers, have great prices however they often have a smaller selection of varieties to chose from. Have your landscaper investigate retail and specialty nurseries (which will often extend a discount to them) because these venues often have a much larger selection of new cultivars. These trees and shrubs may be of a more appropriate size, color, or shape to be the perfect foil for your landscape design. You may be spending a little bit more, but in my opinion it will be worth every penny if this is a focal point, or accent for your garden. I’m not saying not to use one of the many beautiful older varieties EVER, just not as a statement or for a small area.

Crape Myrtle’s come in standard tree form, and in bush variety so take some time deciding which would work best for you in the situation you would like to use it in. They also come in a variety of sizes, make sure you take that into account as well. Remember, to pick all your plants for your space based on it’s MATURE size and your success rate with everything will go up a notch. The saying SIZE MATTERS is a true one when it comes to plants. They are also deciduous (lose their leaves in the fall) and often have beautiful fall color so take that into account when giving consideration to placement (perhaps not the best for a poolside). They also have beautiful peeling bark which adds to their year round interest. Now that you have selected and purchased your Crape Myrtle it’s time to learn a little bit about what they need and how to care for them.

Crape Myrtles are a full sun plant, they can be drought tolerant (moderate water in Sunset Garden Book) however they thrive and bloom better with supplemental water. They don’t need much pruning, and respond well to both fertilization and mulching. Let’s investigate further:

To plant your new baby, dig a hole about twice as wide as the root ball of your plant and as deep as the can that it comes out of, no deeper! If you plant the tree a little high, (the plant not you) it is much better than burying the trunk too low in the ground. A measuring device is always a nice tool to use (you can just measure using your shovel) so that you don’t have to pull the tree in and out of the hole.

Pruning is not essential for a Crape Myrtle, however it is a great tool to shape your plant. Start out by removing cross branches, dead wood, and small spindly shoots. Then prune to shape and pretty much leave the plant alone after that. Since they bloom on this year’s growth you can deadhead spent blossoms to encourage another set of blooms. It is best not to prune too late in the season as this promotes growth at the wrong time of the year and the tender new shoots could easily be damaged by the cold. Remember if you pick the right cultivar based on it’s size and the space that you have, little pruning will be required. If you buy a plant that is going to be 20’ wide and you only have 10’ you’ll forever have problems (this goes with ANY type of plant).

Water, as with all new transplants your Crape Myrtle needs to be watered regularly while it becomes established. And as with most trees it is better to give infrequent deep watering than frequent shallow watering. So, if you have a slope or clay situation you should cycle your irrigation. A few minutes on, let the soil accept the water for an hour or so, then a few more minutes of water and repeat this process. At this time of the year (July) in this heat it is best to have your irrigation running from about 2 am through 6 am. You will save water and give your plants a fighting chance against the hot summer sun.

Mulch, I can’t ever say enough about mulch. Mulch helps retain water, holds back weeds, provides a nice barrier from yard equipment, and when you are using organic matter (which for all but desert plants is my favorite choice) it “gives back” to the soil. 2”-3” of organic material is just what the tree doctor ordered!

Fertilizing, I like a granular organic fertilizer to help give the Crape Myrtle a boost it does a lot of blooming so it needs some extra food. Balanced fertilizer is okay, but I personally like something with a little extra the middle number on the fertilizer package is phosphorus, which promotes flowers (because it builds strong roots and fruits) so if I have the option I like to have a slightly higher middle number for plants that flower a lot. If you have dogs, beware of organic fertilizer… it smells like lunch and they might just be out there digging. More about that at another time.

Problems - powdery mildew can be a problem for Crape Myrtles however if you plant your tree in the sun and allow plenty of room for air circulation around it (again… size and spacing really matter) your plant should do well. (You can also read up about cultivars that are resistant to specific problems). Sooty mold is another problem that is common in Crape Myrtles it is caused by aphids, which secrete a sticky substance that the mold is attracted to. It can become quite thick and end up damaging the plant because it can’t photosynthesize. The best way to prevent this is by controlling the aphids before they get out of hand. You can spray the aphids with a strong jet of water from your hose, and/or use beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings. If you don’t notice the problem until it the sooty mold has accumulated, you can wash you Crape Myrtle with a mixture of dish soap and water and then hose it off.

If you are reading this and live in the northern most parts of the Crape Myrtle’s zones you should take a few precautions prior to the cold setting in. Water the tree well before the ground freezes and make sure that it has at about 4” of mulch. Even with these precautions, you may find that the tops of your trees may die, just plan to prune in early spring and know that if you plant dies way back you will certainly end up with a plant that looks much more like the shrub shape than a standard tree.

Crape Myrtles are beautiful additions to most Gardens, and as you can see are relatively easy to take care of, so… if you want a nice bright pop of color this is a great plant for you.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wedneday - New Jersey

Columbine - Songbird Cardinal

Leopard Bane, Azalea, & Columbines - nice combo!


All photos courtesy of Clare Oliva & posted to my Facebook Fan Page - Please visit & "Like" the page. If you post photos & allow me to - I will showcase them here.

For more info on my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Where Do You Find Garden Inspiration?

I like to think that every time that I go out my front door, I am headed on an adventure that might broaden my horizons and add to my inspirational bank.

I recently returned from a trip to the east coast, our family visited Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Weston Connecticut, and Rhinebeck, NY. Everywhere we went there was tons of inspiration to latch on to. The lush foliage plants of Long Island and Weston, took my breath away. Walking around my parents or sister’s homes was a thrill for me and although I can’t completely replicate the types of plants that they grow, there was plenty of other design inspiration based on the artistic forms found in nature, color combinations and the way the plants layer one another.

I spent an afternoon with a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen for years, and since he is a garden freak too we decided to spend our time talking in a park half way between my parent’s home and his. I think that it was a great choice. The birds got used to us very quickly, so we had plenty of time to talk and enjoy the plants, the pond and the wildlife. It’s funny that when we were younger we didn’t know that we shared that same love of nature; I guess other things were more pressing at the time.

On another day my son and I ventured into Manhattan, although it was primarily a dining adventure extraordinaire we walked through Bryant and Tompkins Square Parks and I was quite impressed with some of the planting designs that the city has created.

We also had a lot of fun with my little camera (which I had to share because Aidan found a ton of inspiration around him) and looking at that set of photos the design inspiration is endless.

Manhattan may not seem like it would be a inspirational garden destination, however the design elements are easy to modify into hardscape and plant designs…

There and endless amount of inspiration to feed off of, especially when you take the vibe of the city into consideration

I can’t wait to go on another jaunt, not just to get out and get away but also to refuel and fill my tank! (As my friend Sheri likes to say). And speaking of Sheri, if you are feeling the need for inspiration and don’t have the time for a trip out of your neighborhood (cause any little detour will do) take a moment to check out Sheri’s website Sheribabytshirts.com. You’ll be glad you did, the inspiration will flow.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - More East Coast Beauty

Azaleas (not Bougainvillea) for Harriette

Maple leaves in the forest

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Artistic Values - Lenore Holland

My family seems always to have considered art a premium. Whether art took the form of drawing, playing a musical instrument, needlework or gardening both my immediate and extended family has been blessed with talent. As I have mentioned in the past both my grandmother and mother loved to garden and that rubbed off on my sister and on myself. Grandma and Mom both had an eye for a great combination, and my mother’s indoor and outdoor pots still reflect that. Evie sticks a piece of this and a clipping of that into a pot and… a new design is born.

As a young age I also enjoyed drawing and painting, I took art lessons from my neighbor and made sure that I always had room in my High School schedule for extra art classes. One of my High School art teachers even recommended a life drawing class at a local college and my friends and I carpooled to practice figure drawing. I don’t think that I would have felt comfortable learning more and more drawing techniques if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was surrounded by artistic people and especially artistic women. From the time I was a little girl I knew that it was great to be creative and that is because my aunt, Lenore Perskie Holland, created a set of workbooks using her fabulous drawing skills and based on our families. The characters in the book that taught children to count, discern shapes, and pick up differences were my cousins, my brother, my sister and me!

Later on in life Lenny who had taken up needlework began studying illuminated manuscripts and began designing Judaica pieces. My first real experience with her talent was when our Synagogue on Long Island commissioned her to design huge tapestries that could be worked on by the congregants and would later decorate the walls of our sanctuary. Lenny designed these huge pieces, with a little engineering help from my Uncle Artie to get the scale right. The congregation (and even my grandfather) spent the next years using a rug hooking technique to complete the pieces.

Since that time Lenny has created many beautiful pieces of art that adorn her home, my mother’s home, and my cousin Judy’s home. Visiting with Lenny on my trip back home last month was extraordinary because I could see so many of the pieces all together. Her talent is incredible and I know that having a vision that needs to be shared is one reason that she will never ever be bored. She blends Torah with things that are meaningful in her life and always includes birds. Her birds have been with our family forever, from the cartoon birds of her earliest workbooks and cards to the beautifully rendered birds of her current works. Her newest piece which is pictured below is my favorite (maybe I say that each time she makes a new one) because not only does it have beautiful soft greens that speak to me, it is also actually one complete art piece within another and her extraordinary talent for design shines through. The balance is elegant, all the elements are clear and visible, yet at the same time subtle and begging you to take a second look.

I hope you enjoy her artwork as much I do, and that you find someone or something this beautiful to inspire you.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - East Coast Hostas

Hostas gracing a bed on my mom's side yard.

Beautiful Hosta Foliage

Hosta & Maple leaves


What To Do In Your Southern California Garden In July

It's heating up in SoCal, but there are still plenty of things to do in the garden. Take care to work during the cooler hours, use sunscreen and a hat, and drink plenty of water. Here are your chores for this month!

It is a great time to start tomato seedlings if you are interested in having a fall garden. You should also consider some container varieties too, most smaller fruited varieties do well in containers. Here are a few that you might want to try.

Czech’s Bush
Oregon Spring
Patio Orange
Peachvine Cherry
Principe Borghese

Refer to my cool season tomato varieties in How To Extend Your Tomato Harvest. If you don’t want to start from seed make your list for shopping next month. Green Thumb on Newhall Avenue in Newhall, Ca. always has a nice variety. I bet the other Green Thumb stores do too!

In order to maintain you pond’s pH this is a good time to start remove dying foliage on a regular basis.

Check the filter in your water garden or feature to see that it is clear of debris & clogs.

Remember at this time of the year the wind starts coming up, so water your garden early in the morning.

Make sure you grass is not smack up against your tree – it’s not good for them so it's good to make some basins.

It is also a good time to add some mulch if yours has disappeared, it will retain moisture and keep down those weeds.

If you thoroughly water your nut trees you will have richer tasting nutmeats.

You can extend your herb garden well into the by starting some herb seedlings now. Try a variety of basils, oregano and marjoram. You might want to try the cilantro seeds a little later in the year they appreciate the cooler weather

If you are forgetting to water your veggies and flowers on a regular basis, it might be time to install some drip irrigation to them or some rotating spray heads.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener

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