November 2010 Gardening Events & More…

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog posts, since this is November would like to let you know how thankful I am that you have allowed me into your life this year. I enjoy sharing the things that I love; gardening, landscaping, family and friends and you have been generous in allowing me to have this platform to do just that. Over the past year I have tapped into myself even more and now realize that my creativity extends into writing, which is a huge surprise to me. I really love it!

Thank you to all my friends that have encouraged me in this venture (and I hope you know who you are,…yes you) I would also like to thank the many new friends that I have made over the year, your response has been amazing to me. I appreciate your support and hope that I can support you too – I want you to know that I’m here for you this coming year and… into the future. Happy Thanksgiving!

On to events… As always, I want to remind you to shop local, and get the freshest produce around by heading out to the local Farmer’s Markets in Santa Clarita:

Sundays 8:00am – noon
College of The Canyons Parking Lot
Don’t forget to visit my friend Sarah from Worldwide Exotics – she’ll be back in September, so put her on your list and utilize her expertise!
There is also another great Farmer’s Market:
Thursdays in Old Town Newhall from 3-7pm.

In October the Human Relations Forum for the City of Santa Clarita had it’s official kick-off for A Season of Diversity, a program designed to promote cultural understanding in our community.

A Season of Diversity events began in October and will continue until the end of February 2011. All of the events are free of charge and are offered at locations throughout the City. I am including the events for November here, because I think they are informative and important for our community. In addition to the events they are sponsoring a contest, “What does cultural diversity mean to you?” all students are welcome to participate. Write an essay, create a poster, or submit a video that reflects this year’s theme. Application and additional information can be found at: SCV Human Relations Forum.

Tues - 11/2/10 – All Kinds of Friends 10:30 am Newhall Library – A Season of Diversity Event

Tuesday - 11/2/10 - 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden (Bamboo Room)
Plant Information
A free class w/Arboretum admission on a variety of plant-related topics, with botanist Frank McDonough

Sat. & Sun 11/6/10 – 11/7/10
Celebrate the art and culture of Japan at Descanso Gardens
Descanso celebrates Japanese arts, crafts and culture with the annual Japanese Garden
Free with Gardens admission: $8 adults, $6 senior/students and $3 children 5-12, 4 and younger enter free.
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980

Thursdays 11/4/10 & 11/11/10 (11/4 has field trip to Nuccio’s Camellia Nursery)
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Garden Talks with Lili Singer
Fall 2010: 8 Thursdays, September 16-November 11
9:30am–Noon / Palm Room
$100 for the series, $20 per class / Reservations or you may pay at the door
Information and registration: 626.821.4623 or jill.berry@arboretum.org

Saturday 11/6/10 - 11/7/10 – 9:00am – 4:00 pm
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
The San Gabriel Valley Cactus & Succulent Society exhibits the splendors of the fall and winter, growing succulents and cacti rarely seen in summer shows. Featured plants will include succulent pelargoniums, wild relatives of the common geranium, and cyphostemma, succulent members of the grape family.

Tues - 11/9/10 – Anime – Pop Culture of Japan 4 pm Valencia Library – A Season of Diversity Event

Sat 11/13/10 – 10:00 – 11:30
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Around the World in 127 Acres - Frank McDonough, instructor
Pyromanic Plants A look at the fire ecology and what plants do to survive and thrive in areas that are prone to frequent conflagulations.
$5.00 Members/$7.00 Non-Members

Tues - 11/16/10 – Paper Magic with Origami 4pm Valencia Library – A Season of Diversity Event.
Wed - 11/17/10 – Make a Native American Medicine Wheel 4pm Newhall Library – A Season of Diversity Event

Sat 11/20/10 – 10:00 – 11:30
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Around the World in 127 Acres - Frank McDonough, instructor
World Wide Wood Discover the many timber-producng trees from around the world that are in the Arboretum's collection.
$5.00 Members/$7.00 Non-Members

Thurs - 11/25/10 – seatings at noon - 2 pm
Thanksgiving at Descanso
Patina Catering will serve a bountiful harvest feast of turkey and all the trimmings. All the fun of Thanksgiving with no dishes to wash! There will be two seatings in Van de Kamp Hall.
$45, $37 members. Children 12 and under, $17. Free for children 3 and younger. Reservations required: (818) 790-3663
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980

Tuesday - 11/23/10 – 6pm
Santa Clarita Valley Green Drinks Meetup
Salt Creek Grill
Towne Center
Valencia, CA 91355
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
Green Drinks MeetUp

Tues - 11/30/10 – Whales and Walruses: Canadian Eskimo Art 6:30 pm Newhall Library – A Season of Diversity Event

For more on my designs, check out my website!


Wordless Wednesday - Oranges

Lilies! An amazingly colorful present.

Lion's Tail

Cotoneaster cascades over rocks

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


How To Compost

I am honored to be a featured writer for Scene In SCV, and earlier in the week I posted about my experience learning about and actually composting. My family and I have a Worm Composting bin and we and our worms are very happy about it.

I hope you will take a moment to read my article on composting and hopefully starting a compost bin of your own! Next Saturday October 30, 2010 there is a composting class that you can attend:

Beginning Smart Gardening Workshop - Composting Info
Castaic Lake Water Agency 27234 Bouquet Canyon Rd. Santa Clarita, 91350

FREE Smart Gardening Workshop - Learn about backyard composting, worm composting, grass recycling, water-wise gardening, and fire-wise gardening! Compost bins can be purchased at the subsidized prices of $40 each for a backyard compost bin and $65 each for a worm compost bin (this price includes 1/2 lb of worms).

Here is the link to my composting post.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Hot Color Combos

Coreopsis & Friend

Dwarf Pomegranate & Pumpkin Top



How to Care for Camellias

Southern California shade gardens would not be complete without the addition of beautiful Camellia plants. They are a wonderful evergreen shrub for a well watered garden that adds lush elegant blooms and glossy green foliage, however it is important to take their needs into consideration in both planting and continued care.

Camellias prefer well-drained soil that is slightly acid (5.5 – 6.5 are ideal however 7 and under should work) with lots of compost material, their roots need to breathe (like most plants) so dry hard soil or wet and soggy soil will promote root rot and kill your beautiful plants. Peat moss, and oak leaf mold both provide humus and lower the pH to more acid ranges. Commercial Azalea/Camellia mixes are also a great source of planting material for your plants.

There are two main types of Camellia, japonica and sasanqua. Sasanqua is often called a ‘sun camellia’ because it will take some more sun than the other varieties, still it is best to keep your Camellia in dappled sun and if it is in a location that gets some full sun it should only be during the morning hours.

When planting a camellia from a container it is important that you don’t plant it too low or not being careful about it settling. Dig a hole 1 ½ times the depth of the root ball and twice the width, back fill with loosen the native soil so that the root ball extends about 2 inches above the ground. Now you can fill in with ½ native soil mixed with your planting mixture (Camellia/Azalea mix or equivalent concoction of your own). Whatever soil is left over should be used to create a basin for watering. Water you plant well, making sure that it doesn’t sink. Once you are satisfied it is staying where it should top dress you Camellia with mulch.

Since Camellias have surface roots they can be seriously hurt if you cultivate around the roots, the mulch really helps in this case – keeping weeds down and keeping the roots warm in winter and cool and moist in the summer. Camellia’s dormant season is from about early September until they have bloomed, they then begin their growth cycle around April. When the camellia is dormant it is not able to tolerate fertilizer that produces growth (nitrogen) so don’t fertilize during it’s dormancy, you can kill it that way. That being said, the dormant season is a good time for repotting and transplanting camellias in the ground. October is a great time because they are dormant and the summer heat SHOULD be over (hope this is the last week!) they also have a great start with months in which to develop strong roots and acclimate before next year’s growing season starts.

It is important to prune camellias, pruning is done to keep the camellias to a specific size (regular pruning is important if you are planning to keep them smaller than they grow other wise you will prune off the wood where the blooms grow), create space for blooms to grow and open fully, and for the camellias to allow some branches to grow thick to support the weight of their beautiful blooms. As with roses, begin by pruning out dead wood and cross branches, next you may need to thin out the remaining branches. If your camellia has not be pruned for a few years it may have inferior blossoms because the green canopy is not allowing enough light in to produce larger stellar blossoms – thin them out!

You may also find that you need to disbud in order to produce great blooms – if you are not a camellia collector you may prefer many smaller blossoms… your choice. The less buds you have the bigger your remaining flowers will be so selectively removing buds could be in order.

If you are growing your camellias in containers make sure that you re pot (up) every two or three years. The soil can become heavy with years of water and will not hold nutrients. Also, you want to allow your camellia to grow gradually within each container – if you plant your camellia in too large a pot you will surely end up with root rot, it’s just too easy to over water. Your container needs to have adequate drainage (remember they don’t like wet feet) – and like most of my pots I like to put a layer of gravel in first. Use Azalea Camellia mix in your pots, you don’t need any native soil it will just bind up the roots of your camellia sooner and can cause problems. Each time you repot your camellia trim the roots and inch or two and repot with fresh potting mix. Once your camellia is in it’s full size container (many years) you should continue to repot every three years or so.

Your camellia needs high acid fertilizer but only during it’s growing season. You can purchase a commercial fertilizer (organic preferred) or you can mix cotton seed meal (four parts) with one part iron. Make sure that you don’t have too much nitrogen – so check your labels. Make sure that your camellia (as with all plants) is well watered before you fertilize it and that you do not over feed. Over feeding in weather over 90 degrees can be especially dangerous as the plant will draw in a lot of fertilizer quickly and can be damage. Remember only fertilize between April and September!

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Santa Clarita Color

Roses always work in Santa Clarita

Lamb's Ears

Halloween Pansy Time


How to Grow a Winter Vegetable Garden in Southern California

We are very lucky to be living in Southern California, where the days are warm and the climate is perfect to grow cooler season vegetables in the wintertime! The Hot Santa Clarita sun often shortens our cooler spring vegetable season when the plants bolt early or dry out, so you will find that some of the standards that you plant in early spring can also be planted in the fall time to grow through the winter. If we don’t have a freeze, most of your vegetable and herb crops will take you through the winter.

If you are starting from seed, being late matters however there are plenty of seedlings in the nursery at this time, so you won’t miss out on planting unless you are a couple months too late.

A nice trick (especially with leafy crops) is to plant in succession. That means plant some now, some more in two weeks, more two weeks later etc. If you do that you will be harvesting throughout the season. When harvesting pick some but not all of the leaves and your plant will continue to grow more lettuce, arugula etc.

Raised planter beds are a great way to control your environment, you don’t have to deal with the soil that you have, you can create your own mix! If you have problems bending you can build the bed up to suit your needs and.. They look pretty too.

Here is a list of vegetables that will do well in Southern California and some tips to grow them, so don’t hang up your gardening gloves yet!

Arugula – This peppery leafy vegetable is great in salads, as a bed under figs drizzled with balsamic and more. Inland planting time November – March on the coast you can start earlier and plant longer.

Artichoke Plants

Artichokes – you can plant them now, depending on size they can take two years to bear. These are perennials, so you keep them in your garden and wait for them to bear fruit and if you let the artichoke go too long you will have an amazing lavender thistle-like flower. They should be planted 4’ apart – they get BIG!

Asparagus - the time to plant is January and February. These are also a two-year crop; they need a special bed and care, so make sure to read up on them prior to starting your crop.

Beets – You can plant in August or February through April inland. On the coast you can plant them most of the year starting in January right into early fall. They should be planted (if by seed) in rows that are 18” apart. I’d put the plants that far apart if using seedlings.

Bok Choy Seedlings

Bok Choy – Planting time is September and October. Great for stir-frying!

Broccoli – Did you know that there are not only green but colored varieties? Check out a purple variety for a change of pace. They can be planted from December through February inland, start a little later on the coast. They should be 12 – 18” apart.

Brussel Sprouts – these are awesome looking veggies, the little sprouts grow in a spiral pattern around a central stalk. From what I’ve read they should be planted from January to July on the Coast… but I didn’t find an inland planting time and haven't tried any yet. I guess I’ll just have to try some and let you know how I did next year! Space these 24” apart – the stalks are pretty thick.

Cabbage can be planted in February inland – but of course it is in the nurseries already because planting time for the coast starts in August. It’s been pretty cool around here lately so it might be worth a try now. If you plant some now and then again every few weeks (or every month) you won’t lose out if the first planting doesn’t work.

Carrots can be planted from seed or seedling and planting time is from September to April inland. They can be planted almost year round on the coast. If you are planting in hard clay soil you might consider planting the cute little Thumbelina Carrots – they are small round carrots and they don’t have to push down too far into the soil. It is always best to cultivate your vegetable bed at least 12 – 18” down so the root veggies don’t have to work so hard. If you plant rows they only need to be spaced 2” apart.

Garlic! This is an awesome crop and easy too. Get some good quality garlic cloves… those are your seeds. Plant them in the ground and in the summertime you will have fresh garlic. Each head has lots of cloves so… lots of new heads of garlic. I found a great article in the NY Times and posted it on my Grass Is Always Greener Facebook Page – take a look at it.

Red Romaine Lettuce in a Six-Pack!

Lettuce – I love leaf lettuce, Romaine is one o my favorites and I found both green and red-leaf Romaine this year. There is also red oak, curly leaf and many more. Inland planting is November through March but with coastal planting starting in August the lettuce is available now too.

Mustard Greens

Mustard Greens – You can plant August through October and as long as until April on the coast. They should be spaced 8” apart. I don’t have any good recipes or this veggie, so if you do… let me know!

Sugar Snap Peas

Peas and Sugar Snap Peas can be planted from September through January and even earlier and later on the coast. They should be grown on trellises or poles for support.

Radishes – Planting time is September through April but pretty much all year round on the coast. Plant these from seeds. I often mix these with scallion seeds in the warmer month to make sure I remember where my scallions are planted. Scallions take a long time to germinate and mature and you could forget and weed them away. If you plant them mixed in with radishes by the time the radishes are done the scallions will be peaking up and getting stronger and bigger.

Rhubarb is another perennial and can be planted during December and January. They need to be 36” apart because they get pretty wide. An important note about them is that their leaves are poisonous so if you have animals that chew this is not a good plant for you!

Spinach – Plant this veggie September through January inland and August through March on the coast. They can be fairly close together because they taste best when picked young. This is a great succession planting!

Here is a list of herbs that do well in the cooler weather:

Rosemary (it’s a bush so make sure you give it enough room or plant in pots)

You might also try Chives Dill and Parsley if you find them. Dill and Parsley like it cool anyway. I have had Chives that have lasted three years now. Basil is pretty iffy because it likes the heat and is annual but… if you planted some last summer and let it go to seed you might find some growing in March.

I’d love to hear how successful you are with your venture!

For more about my designs: The Grass Is Always Greener

Happy 70th Birthday, John Lennon!

"Love is the answer, and you know that for sure; Love is a flower, you've got to let it grow." -John Lennon


Wordless Wednesday - Sun Play

Fountain Grass In The Sun

Spider Lily

Dwarf Sweet Pea Shrub - almost always in bloom


What To Do In Your Southern California Garden In October

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler, so you need to make the most of your gardening time. Remember October is a WONDERFUL time to plant in Southern California, so take advantage of it. Here is a list of some things that you should be doing in your garden now.

The new “cooler” season annuals are starting to become available (bet they just loved our heat wave last week) you can chose from a nice selection for beautiful fall color.

Divide Irises (you only need to divide every 2-4 years) and plant new ones normally I’d say September but… it got really hot near the end and… I forgot to remind you! Take a look at the post How to Care for Iris for more detailed information.

If you are working on a three season or year round garden, it’s a good time to buy and plant fall and winter blooming perennials, shrubs and yes…even trees.

Think about planting California Natives, fall and winter are a great time for our natives if you get them in now they will benefit from any winter water we get.

It’s time to continue planting bulbs – both winter and spring blooming. If you haven’t purchased them yet… get going. Online or in the nursery there are plenty out there waiting for you. Here are two great online resources: Vanveen Bulbs and Brent and Becky's Bulbs.

You should prune your fall flowering vines and shrubs after they have finished blooming.

You can sow your cool season vegetable seeds now, and in the next couple of weeks put in those seedlings that you can find at the nursery.

Fertilizing time for your cacti and succulents – those that are blooming or growing will benefit from a nice fertilization.

Plant groundcover! This is one of the two best months for ground cover in our area. The months of March and October groundcover really take off in. Check your yard and see if you need to fill in anywhere or see if you just want to rip out some thirsty lawn.

Watch for trees with fall color. Over the next two months you will start seeing leaves change, which signals the perfect time for you to select the tree of your dreams. By selecting trees during this time of the year, you will know what color your tree will turn. There is a large range of yellows, oranges, and reds and by selecting now you can find the colors that speak to you. Remember it’s your yard, make it truly your sanctuary.

Keep an eye on the shadows in your landscape. As the days grow shorter the trees and even your house will cast longer deeper shadows, take note so that as you are planning your garden you don’t plant sun lovers in the wrong spot.

Buy Pumpkins! If you haven’t grown yours this year, you need to go shopping. A trip to the pumpkin farm with the kids or even Trader Joe’s can yield some real beauties. They make a great long lasting decoration for your porch, indoors and… don’t forget that pumpkin pie. Anyone have a great recipe? Send it to me and I’ll post it! (With a link to your website of course)

Take a look at your houseplants, I bet they could use a little bit of fertilizer too. Just because your plants are inside, doesn’t mean they don’t need a little bit of TLC. Wash off leaves, with a soft cloth, give them a little spritz from a water bottle – give them much need air circulation and tell them how much you like them! If any of your plants are looking a little peeked, it is still warm enough to put them outside for a bit of time in dappled shade (or deeper if it’s a no sun kinda plant.) They will thank you. Note: please don’t put Ficus benjamina in direct sun – you will BURN their leaves!

For more information on my designs, take a look at my NEW Website!

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