December 2010 Gardening Events & More…

December is upon us… just a few more days in this month and it’s here! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with plenty of yummy food, love and laughter. Here are some fun things that you can do during this very busy month of December.

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
There is also another great Farmer’s Market:
Thursdays in Old Town Newhall from 3-7pm.

Wed. 12/1 – Friends of All Kinds 7pm Newhall Library – A Season of Diversity Event

Fri. Date: 12/3/2010 10:00 AM - Community Gardens of Santa Clarita Ground Breaking
at Central Park -27150 Bouquet Canyon Rd. Santa Clarita, California 91350
Join the Santa Clarita City Council and local gardeners for a very special groundbreaking, commemorating the City's first Community Garden project. Please RSVP to the City at: 661.255.4939 – I hope to see you there!

Sat - 12/4/10 – 10 – 11:30 am
Around the World in 127 Acres - Frank McDonough, instructor
How Low Can They Go? A look at plants at the Arboretum that use the least amount of water. To register call 626-821-4623 or email jill.berry@arboretum.org.
$5.00 Members/$7.00 Non-Members
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Sat 12/4/10 – 10 – 12noon
Arboretum Adventures - Explore the Hugo Reid Adobe
Free with admission Kids & Families

Join your adventure guide as we explore the Arboretum. Each Saturday is new and exciting, and will have a different theme relating to nature. Come early, as space is limited to 25. Children of all ages are welcome! Family adventures will go on rain or shine so dress appropriately!
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Sat 12/4/10 – 12 – 3 pm – Bamboo Room
Organic Fruit and Vegetable Gardening Classes
$22 members/$25 non-members per class
Instructor: Jill Morganelli, Horticultural Curator
Learn to grow fruits and vegetables organically! This class focuses on seasonal production, meets quarterly, and covers a variety of different topics each session.

December offering is: The National Organic Program, Winter Crops and Companion Planting, Winter Weeds and Insects, Winter Disease ID, Treatment and Prevention, Irrigation, Soil Building, Composting and Worm Bins, Pruning Fruit Trees, Gopher-proof Your Planting Bed
For more information or to register call 626.821.4623 or email jill.berry@arboretum.org.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Gifts and Greens
Sat & Sun 12/4 – 12/5 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Van de Kamp
Purchase beautiful botanical décor and greenery to bring the holiday cheer to home or office. A variety of holiday-inspired gift items hand-crafted by talented Descanso volunteers will be sold at this annual boutique. Two wreath-making classes, priced separately, are part of this event. (but open to members only)
Free with Gardens admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors/students and $3 children 5-12
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980

Sunday Date: 12/5/2010 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM - Community Tree Lighting
at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital 23845 McBean Parkway Santa Clarita, California 91355
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital will kick off the holiday season with the Community Tree Lighting Festival. The free festival includes music and entertainment provided by local school choirs, dance studios, and performance groups. Other program elements include photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, cookie decorating, children’s crafts, refreshments, and more. Santa will magically light the 40-foot tall tree at 5:00 pm. The Community Tree Lighting celebration is free and open to the public. For more information, please call 661-253-8089.

Tues 12/7/10 - 10:00am - 12:00pm in Ayres Hall
Old Fashioned Wreath Workshop
$25/$30 non-members (all materials included)
Instructors: Marla Carter, Esme Gibson and friends
Using fresh greens (both the traditional and the unusual) from the Arboretum grounds, make a wreath to welcome in the holidays. Please bring your own gardening gloves, clippers and wire cutters (and any decorations you may wish to add to your creation). This workshop is a very special tradition and fundraiser at The Arboretum. Pre-registration required.
For more information or to register for the class call Jill Berry at 626.821.4623 or email jill.berry@arboretum.org.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden
Tuesday – 12/7/10 - 1:30 – 3:30 pm
Plant Information – Bamboo Room
A free class w/Arboretum admission on a variety of plant-related topics, with botanist Frank McDonough
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Tues, Wed, Thurs 12/7 –12/9/10
Holiday Open House at the Garden and Gift Shop
Visit the gift show for an exceptional selection of seasonal gifts, volunteer-made holiday trees and crafts, succulent and wreaths, jams and jelly, nature inspired ornaments, garden related books, educational children's toys and books and much more.
Light refreshments from 1-3 pm each day
For members only: enjoy an additional 5% (15% total) on all holiday merchandise when you show your Arboretum membership card.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Sat & Sun 12/11-12 – 9:30 & 11 am
Brunch with Santa
Enjoy a visit with the man in red and a gourmet breakfast created by the chefs of Patina Catering in Van de Kamp Hall. Bring a camera: Santa will be available for photos as well. Children will decorate cookies and go home with a goodie bag. Two seatings both days.
$50, $42 members; $19 children 4 to 12; children under 3 free. Reservations required: (818) 790-3663
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980

Sun 12/12/10 – 10:00am - 3pm
Queen Anne Cottage and historic circle
An Old Fashioned Holiday at the Queen Anne Cottage
Free with admission.
Stroll down memory lane and view treasures and furnishings normally seen only through the windows of this charming Victorian-era cottage. Viewing the ornate dwelling in its Christmas finery has become a southland tradition for visitors from near and far. Experienced docents will guide tours throughout the day, providing fascinating information about the history of the Queen Anne Cottage. Following a tour of the Cottage, don’t miss a visit to the Arboretum’s historic Coach Barn and the Santa Anita Depot, reminiscent of days past. No reservations required.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Sat 12/16 – 11 am Center Circle
Enchanted Railroad Storytime
Children and parents alike will delight in imaginative, train-themed stories told live by actor and storyteller Bill Ratner. Enjoy hot cocoa from 10:30 a.m. to noon (free while supplies last) at the train station, then take a ride on the Enchanted Railroad. Train tickets are $3 each.
Meets at Center Circle, weather permitting. Storytelling is free with Gardens admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors/students and $3 children 5-12.
Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Dr.
La Canada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-7980

Sat 12/18/10 – 10:00 – 11:30
Around the World in 127 Acres
Frankenplants Manipulation the genetics of plants hasn't always been as sophisticated as it is today, but the consequences of making a mistake has always been great. Look at the history and consequences of mankind's genetic manipulation by specimens represented at the Arboretum.
To register call 626-821-4623 or email jill.berry@arboretum.org.
$5.00 Members/$7.00 Non-Members
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

Tuesday - 12/28/10 – 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

I hope you like the list that I have compiled and that you can attend some of the events. The Community Garden is near and dear to my heart so if you come to the ground breaking, please come say hello!

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Baby It's Cold Outside!

It's been very chilly the past few days in Santa Clarita and beyond, time to throw a few logs on the fire, bundle up in warm sweaters and make a nice cup of tea. But what about your outdoor plants? It's very early for this, but... here is the link to my post from January on frost and how to prepare for freeze. You need to particularly watch for your subtropicals fruits such as guavas and babaco papaya can be susceptible as are plumeria and many succulents.

I hope this helps and... Happy Thanksgiving!

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Wordless Wednesday - Santa Monica Style

Tropical combo Bird of Paradise & Bougainvillea

The Hibiscus is still blooming

Banks roses blooming out of season

Looking inside a Bougainvillea bract

Kim's Dream...

If you like order this is the design for you! And if you need some order in your life, you should speak to Kim Rocke of New Leaf - The Art of Organizing one of the members of my Harmonious Home Team or Christie Gelsomino - Vision to be Organized

You will be glad you did!

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How To Care For Geraniums and Pelargoniums

Ivy Geranium (Pelargonium) line this stairway

I am very lucky to buy many of my perennials from Greenwood Day Lily Gardens in Somis, CA. and to have access to the knowledge of John Schoustra the owner of Greenwood. John is an authority not only on Day Lily and Iris plants but Geraniums and Pelargoniums as well. Since both Geraniums and Pelargoniums are excellent plants for Southern California I think it is important for me to include information on this blog. Here is the scoop from John Schoustra - Thank you John!

Geraniums and Pelargoniums… Which is which? The botany can be a bit mind numbing, but basically geraniums are generally from northern climates, often requiring a winter chill (vernalization) and acid soil to thrive. Pelargoniums are generally from Mediterranean climates like South Africa and are usually drought tolerant, but damaged by frost. Both genera are part of the geranium family (Geraniaceae).

Geranium maderense puts on quite a show!

Geranium maderense: Usually a biennial, geranium maderense thrives in a tough combination of dry shade and crowded tree roots better than almost any other option. While vegetative, geranium maderense resembles a large (18”-28” W x 24”-36” H) mounding begonia with dissected foliage. During the 3-7 month flower display, it looks more like a sturdy, broad delphinium with hundreds of lavender-magenta blooms. Self seeds readily.

The Pelargonium genus varies greatly and we grow fewer than 500 of the many thousands of varieties in existence. Those that we do grow share a number of care requirements for success in the garden.

Living Soil for Long Life - Most pelargoniums are sold as annuals (disposable plants) and the peat/perlite mixes they are grown in ensure a short life in the ground. Our own heavier compost based mix is more compatible with garden soils, providing a slower growing, but healthier and longer lived plant.

Warm Days, Cool Nights - These plants need the Pacific Ocean influenced climate. Malibu, Pasadena, Concord and San Jose are fine. Phoenix, Chicago and New Orleans are not.

Avoid Soggy Soil, Wet Foliage – When in doubt, water established pelargoniums in the garden less, not more. Once per week should be plenty. Overhead irrigation is good, but avoid watering late in the day or at night.

Cut Back 75% Every Year - The ancestors of our plants inhabited areas of South Africa similar to our chaparral, filling the role of salvias, etc. If controlled burns intimidate you, cut back the foliage by 75% every year, sometime between Thanksgiving and Super Bowl. Depending on the situation, we use pruning shears, hedge trimmers, a weedeater or even a machete. Without the pruning, new growth will initiate from the end of the previous years, leading eventually to woody sprawl and declining vigor.

Small Plants Adapt Best – After years of experimentation, we have decided to grow most of our pelargoniums in deep (nearly twice as deep as most 4-inch) 4-inch pots in compost-based soil that we produce. The difference between our 4-inch grown and a one-gallon is a few weeks of growth, but the 4-inch grown plants live longer and have fewer problems in the landscape.

Julie’s note: John has an amazing nursery, check out his website for mail order (and to drool over) and put him on your “to do list” for a visit in the spring when he opens his nursery to retail on a few weekends. He has beautiful day lily and iris plants as well as a wonderful selection of Pelargoniums and his Geranium maderense are amazing! Once you use them in your landscape… you will want more.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - California Natives

Monkeyflower, Aloe, & Lantana

Matilija Poppy

Alan Chickering Sage


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Santa Clarita Community Garden Plots Available

ITT installs irrigation at the first garden site on Make A Difference Day

I am very happy to be a part of the Santa Clarita Community Gardens Committee, I have been able to participate in the design of the garden and have been very lucky to have had input in many aspects of the project so far. So I was excited to be able to announce in Scene In SCV last Tuesday that we are accepting applications for garden plots. Here is a link to my article, please be sure to pass it on to anyone in the community that would like to start planting vegetables in March 2011!

Our next event will be a ground breaking ceremony in early December, keep your eyes open for information and photos of the committee and the very supportive City of Santa Clarita representatives!

Let me know if you have any questions.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Happy Birthday Aidan & Loren!

I know this is supposed to be wordless but... yesterday was my son, Aidan Molinare's birthday and today is my husband, Loren Molinare's birthday so... Thank you for a great year boys, I hope that this one is the best for you yet!

Queen's Wreath Vine

Coral Bush

Iris blooming for the third or fourth time this year!

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What To Do In Your Southern California Garden in November

It’s time to fall back! Daylight savings time is coming to an end, so that means the days are growing shorter – so you have to make the most of your gardening time. Here is your November list of chores.

November is the time to trim evergreen shrubs; you can also remove & replace overgrown shrubs if necessary.

Would you like a new colorful deciduous tree? This is another good month to pick that tree. If you select while the leaves are changing you are more likely to get just the color you like best. But don’t wait too long… those leaves are falling fast!

You can plant cool-season try some chives & parsley. You can pot up summer herbs & bring them into the kitchen. Your rosemary, sage, oregano, and thyme should continue to flourish through most of the year.

If you haven’t planted cool weather veggies, you’d better start now. There is more detailed information on veggies and herbs in my post How to Grow Winter Vegetables In Southern California for more details.

Fall cleaning is in order, clear out around fruit trees, discard split fruit, check those berries and remove raspberry and blackberry plant canes.

You can plant new citrus trees too; there are still plenty to choose from in most nurseries. If you find bare root fruit trees you can plant them too – mail order will probably be the best way to find them now as the nurseries are starting to make room for Holiday plants.

Other bare root plants you can look for are trees, roses, shrubs, and vines – these can be planted right through January or February in Southern California.

You can prune fall and winter flowering vines and shrubs after they have finished blooming. If you are planting during all your seasons, you’ll have plenty to watch and plenty to do in your garden

Planting winter blooming shrubs vines, and perennials is definitely on the list for this month. Get them in and established and your winter bloomers will give you a great show. Clivia, Ceanothus, Carolina Jessamine, Hardenbergia, Breath of Heaven, and Cyclamen (good Christmas décor!)

You can divide flowering perennials & ground cover - lily turf, irises, agapanthus, day lily plants.

Mulch over tender bulbs (cannas, caladiums, dahlias, tuberous begonias & gladioli)

If your cacti and succulents have bloomed and are over growing their containers, it is a good time to repot them.

You should plant winter annuals - ageratum, begonia, petunia, sweet alyssum, and pansies for winter color.

You can plant new cutting grown Ceanothus plants because the weather is cool and the soil is still a little warm. In general if you can plant your Ceanothus (and most all California natives) during the winter instead of the summer, they will do much better

WATERING NOTE: Up to 80 percent of residential water use goes to maintaining our yards. Is your irrigation system running every day? That’s too much! Try taking a day off the timer, preferably the same day the lawn is mowed, and watch the health of your yard improve. If that day is off already… take another one off. If you live in Santa Clarita you should take advantage of your opportunity to obtain a free Weather Based Irrigation Timer. Call Rene Emeterio of SLM at 805-520-7590. You’ll have a short class to attend, but your landscape and your water bill will be better off for it! You can also contact me for additional information.


This should be your last fertilizer application of the year—that includes your lawn! So don’t let this opportunity slip by. You’ll want to feed citrus trees with a citrus fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound per foot of tree spread.

This is also a great time to fertilize summer bloomers with a high organic phosphorus fertilizer. The phosphorus takes some time to absorb into the plant so November application will mean May – July flowering plants. Remember that the organics will be dog attractants, so be sure to keep an eye on those digging pups!

Note for Palm Trees, shrubs, and ornamentals:

I like slow-release fertilizers because they provide a steady supply of nutrients for the plants over a long period of time. The main advantage of a slow release fertilizer is its convenience. As you can imagine, slow release fertilizers do not need to be applied as often as water-soluble fertilizers. The optimum fertilizer regimen is three applications per year: once in early spring, once in early summer, and once in late fall. Use a balanced fertilizer (equal numbers) with micro-nutrients.

It is also time to cut back on fertilizing your houseplants as well. Make sure not to feed dormant houseplants!

Don’t forget your compost! You can add a thin layer of compost to just about everything - your houseplants & lawn included!

The beautiful garden path above is at the home of and my collaboration with the wonderful Interior Designer Tami Smight. Together we make up half of The Harmonious Home Team. Take a look on my side bar to learn more about my team. Kim Rocke, Elaine Giftos-Wright, Tami Smight and I can help you with every aspect of your Home - we will create a Harmonious Home!

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Fall Color

Southern California's Fall Color

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