Hiking in Santa Clarita

Don’t let anyone tell that there are no nature adventures in Santa Clarita. We may live in the suburbs, which make it seem like the only things around are shopping malls and restaurants but nothing can be further from the truth. Santa Clarita has many beautiful hikes both in the valley and a short distance away. If you are a nature lover, Towsley Canyon and Placerita Canyon are two beautiful areas to hike with your friends and family. You can also hit Hasley Canyon and even hike in Mentryville.

The Towsley Canyon loop is not for the faint of heart! The 2-mile loop is really quite doable, and the 5-mile can really get your heart pumping. The best time of the day to hike around Santa Clarita is early, as you know it gets rather warm here and 5 miles of hills is much nicer at 70 degrees than 90. Make sure to bring plenty of water no matter where you hike, wear sunscreen, and bring a camera.

There are beautiful vistas all around, depending on what time of the year you hike there are wildflowers in bloom, beautiful scrub oaks, interesting rock formations and lots of Yuccas. The Placerita Canyon hike is a little less strenuous but no less beautiful, as a matter of fact there are even times of the year that you can hike to a beautiful waterfall. Keep your eyes out for our local hawks, they may seem to follow you, gliding on the breeze and are a joy to see.

If you want to drive a little, you can hit Vasquez Rocks by driving up the 14. Amazing rock formations, little pockets of shade to have lunch in and lots of wildlife and plant life. Be sure to watch out for rattlesnakes, as it gets hotter boots are a must for hikers in and around Santa Clarita to protect those ankles. If you hike with your dogs make sure that they are on a leash, are well behaved and that they have had some rattlesnake avoidance classes or leave them home. Some people take their dogs only early in the year to avoid snakes and I think that is a great idea.

Get out there and get moving, if you live in Santa Clarita you are only experiencing some of our treasures if you have never hiked around here!

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Winter Wonderful

Hardenbergia - Lilac Vine

Onyx - a nice chunk and a tile for outdoor use

Daisy Vine (Montanoa)


February 2011 Gardening Events & More…

We lived through a snow “storm” here in Santa Clarita in January and now we’re in for some warmer weather, Santa Ana winds and who knows what all else! Though we may not know what it will be like one day to the next we sure do know that it is a lot nicer weatherwise out here than most any other place in the U.S. As a New York transplant, I can tell you that I moved here for February. The New York weather in February has just about worn out it’s welcome and the clear blue skies of Southern California are an unbelievable comparison. So enjoy the weather and get outside and do something fun!

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

Now here are some other events you might be interested in.

Plant Information 1st Tuesday of the month:
Tuesday 2/1/11 - 1:30-3:00pm / Bamboo Room – LA Arboretum
Frank McDonough, instructor
Free for Arboretum members/ free with Arboretum admission
Stay on top of the world of botany & horticulture when Arboretum botanist Frank McDonough covers various landscaping and gardening topics plus the latest news in gardening and plant science. Frank will also reveal some of the more important or unusual or entertaining questions that he and the volunteers have received from the public during the previous month. Bring your own plant questions for discussion. You never know what unique and fascinating topics will be addressed!

Photo by Marlon Molinare of Chan Teas

Chinese New Year: Celebrate the Year of the Rabbit
Tuesday 2/1/2011 3:30 PM
Location: Newhall Library
22704 W. Ninth Street, Santa Clarita, CA 91321
Santa Clarita, California 91321
*Children's Program
Tales of Asia and the Pacific Islands are shared, as we celebrate the Chinese New Year. Registration required. A Season of Diversity Event

Chinese New Year: Interactive Art Project
Tuesday 2/1/2011 6:30 PM
Location: Valencia Library
23743 W. Valencia Boulevard
Santa Clarita, California 91355
*Children's Program
Children in kindergarten through sixth grade will create an interactive art piece to represent the Chinese tale of the Golden Carp Boy.
Registration required. A Season of Diversity Event

Thurs – 2/3/11 – 9:30 - noon – Palm Room
Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer
(Please note special times for field trips, self-driven & require pre-registration)
$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
Building a Better Rose Garden with Steve Gerischer
Hear one passionate amateur rose lover’s perspective on making a rose garden, then editing it – sometimes mercilessly and usually with humor – over time, as both garden and gardener evolve. Steve has been collecting and growing roses since childhood. He divides his time between designing award-winning gardens with his firm, Larkspur Garden Design, and lecturing at the Arboretum and beyond. He is president of the Southern California Horticultural Society.

Sat 2/5/11
Arboretum Adventures
Free with admission Kids & Families
Free with Admission
10am-12noon – Oak Room
Meet by the fountain in front of the Oak Room.
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
This month: Native Plant Exploration

Sat 2/5/11 – 9:30 – noon
Discovering Mushrooms at Descanso Gardens – Center Circle
Learn about the fungus among us from mycologist Florence Nishida of the Natural History Museum. This walk and talk includes a one-hour lecture giving basic information about mushrooms, then a one-hour walk to seek and identify the many fungal species that live in Descanso Gardens. Free with admission

Sat 2/5/22 – events all day
Celebrate camellias with faeries, lectures and fun - Descanso Gardens:
The camellia is called the Empress of Winter. And in the Descanso landscape, this winter bloomer has won legions of admirers for the seemingly endless variety of its flower forms and colors.
Descanso will celebrate this signature bloom with a daylong Camellia Festival on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011. with garden tours, a class and a guided walks. Enjoy a variety of activities, including:
· Faery Tours of the Enchanted Forest | 9:30 a.m. to noon | Magnolia Lawn free with admission, first come first served.
· Things to Do With Sinensis | 11 a.m. | Van de Kamp: Botanists call it Camellia sinensis. The rest of us call it tea. $20, $10 members. Advance registration is required; phone (818) 949-7980.
· Camellia Walk and Talk | 1 p.m. | Center Circle: Free with admissio
Saturdays 9:30 am
Descanso Gardens:
Garden Chats With Mike Brown

Back by popular demand: Mike Brown, Descanso’s Display Horticulturist, leads informal talks on gardening issues. Bring your gardening questions. Mike's chats are most Saturdays, except Christmas and New Year's. Meet at Nature’s Table, Descanso’s garden of edibles.
Free with Gardens admission.

Sunday 2/6/2011 2:00 PM – Valencia Library
Adelante: Let’s Go!
*All Ages and Families
This is a musical theatre program about Hispanic heritage in America. Follow Carlos, a modern Latino boy living in Los Angeles, as he tells the story of his ancestors migrating from the Caribbean over Mexico to California.
23743 W. Valencia Boulevard, Santa Clarita, CA 91355
A Season of Diversity Event

Thursday 2/10/11
Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer
(Please note special times for field trips, self-driven & require pre-registration)
$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
Currants, Gooseberries and Manzanitas for Your Southern California Garden
with Bart O’Brien
These beautiful native shrubs and ground covers – also known as Ribes and Arctostaphylos – are among the very first plants to bloom with the coming of the rainy season. Both groups have much to offer to gardens and gardeners: diversity of flowers, fruits, scents and growth forms. Bart is director of special projects at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont and a recognized expert on plants of California and Baja California. He is co-author of California Native Plants for the Garden and Care and Maintenance of Southern California Native Plants Gardens..

Backyard Chickens and Bees at Descanso Gardens
Sat 2/12/11 - 10 a.m. to noon Birch: Turn your backyard in a mini-farm. Local expert John Lyons will teach the basics of raising chickens and backyard beekeeping. $25, $15 members.

Companion Planting at Descanso Gardens
Sat 2/12/11 - 1 p.m. Maple: Learn the basics of “companion planting’’ – as a member, you can bring a buddy for free! Rose Garden Horticulturist Amanda Everett leads this class, which includes a discussion of the benefits of companion planting and how this technique creates a healthier, more attractive garden. Then take a guided stroll through the Rose Garden (one of Descanso’s most romantic spots) for a close-up look at companion plants in the landscape. $20, $10 members.

Los Angeles Mycological Society Mushroom Fair at LA Arboretum
Sunday, 2/13/11 10:00am-4:00pm
Los Angeles Mycological Society (LAMS) will have their Annual Wild Mushroom Fair that includes a demonstration on how to grow mushrooms, cooking demonstrations, a special guest speaker, and wild mushrooms with proper identification on display. Professional mycologist(s) will be on site for consultation. The public is invited to bring their found mushrooms for identification. In addition to the main event, there will be vendors with books/posters, mushroom kits, T-shirts, art related objects on mushroom theme for sale. There will also be educational materials with an environmental focus on display. For more information on the Mushroom Fair
For information on the Los Angeles Mycological Society

Tuesday, 2/15/11 – 6:00 p.m. – La Mesa Jr. High
Theatrical Presentation: Freedom Child
*Adult/Teen/Family Program - Open to the Public
Dr. Bernadette McAllister was 13 years old on May 3, 1963, the day this drama unfolds. She lied to her mother and went to the Civil Rights demonstration in downtown Birmingham instead of to school. Her powerful one-woman show recalls the courage it took for her to march with the freedom fighters. She portrays a young white female college student who marched with her and protected her when the peaceful march took a dangerous turn. McAllister dramatizes the unforgettable events of the "Children's Crusade," and shares with the audience her painful experience in helping to change race relations in America.
La Mesa Junior High School
26623 May Way, Santa Clarita, CA 91351
A Season of Diversity Event

Wednesday, 2/16/11 - 7:00 p.m. – Valencia Library
Celebration of Music Around the World
*Children's Program
Summary: This special puppet show, for all ages, celebrates the diversity of music around the world.
Valencia Library -23743 W. Valencia Boulevard, Santa Clarita, CA 91355
A Season of Diversity Event

Square Foot Gardening Workshop at LA Arboretum
Sat 2/19/11
Your choice of 5 different dates:
Saturday: February 19, March 26, April 30, May 21, June 25
10am-1pm/Garden for All Seasons & Education Greenhouse
Jo Ann Carey, instructor
$25 members/$28 non-members
“Saving the world, one square foot at a time.”
Nothing compares to the flavor of food that is grown in healthy soil, without pesticides, and allowed to grow until just the right time for harvesting. Square foot gardening uses only 20% of the land space of a conventional garden and saves both water and time. There is no tilling of the soil so anybody can do it. Recommended reading: All New Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew, available in the Arboretum Garden & Gift Shop

Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer
Thursday 2/20/11
(Please note special times for field trips, self-driven & require pre-registration)
$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
Plant Favorites from the Huntington Nursery with Shirley Kerins
A special program for plant nuts! Our guest speaker will discuss and show a range of flowering and herbal flora easily grown in Southern California gardens. The morning ends with a plant sale. Shirley, a landscape architect, is nursery manager, manager or plant production and plant sales and curator of the Herb Garden at the Huntington Botanical Gardens. She also designed the Kallam Perennial Garden at the Arboretum.

Tuesday – 2/22/11 – 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

Thurs 2/24/11 10am – 1pm
Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer
(Please note special times for field trips, self-driven & require pre-registration)
$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
Arboretum Plant Introduction Program: A Retrospective with Jim Henrich
Take a walk back in time to when “Los Angeles State & County Arboretum” was actively engaged in plant evaluation and introduction to the landscape industry. Experience an overview of the 116 varieties introduced between 1957 and 1991. Learn the history of the Arboretum plant introduction program, its mission, selection process, benefits to the trade and opportunities for the future. This session includes an indoor lecture and a walk on the grounds. Jim is curator of living collections at the Arboretum. He has held various horticultural positions at the Conservatory of Flowers, San Francisco Botanical Garden, Denver Botanic Gardens and Missouri Botanical Garden. Pre-registration required. www.arboretum.org

Sat 2/26/11 – 11 – 11:30
From Seed to Skillet: Vegetable Gardening with Jimmy Williams & Susan Heeger
Presented by Garden Conservancy and the Los Angeles Arboretum and Botanic Garden at the Arboretum - Illustrated talk, book sale and signing
$20 for Garden Conservancy and Arboretum members / $25 for non-members (includes admission to the Arboretum)
Purchase Tickets online at www.gardenconservancy.com or call 845.265.2029
Box lunch available for sale after the talk; enjoy the afternoon exploring the garden.

Sat & Sun 2/26-27/11
Santa Clarita Street Fair in COC Parking Lot 8
A once-per-month marketplace that is fun, festive and entertaining for the entire family. Open Saturday and Sunday, 8am-3pm. Vendors offer arts, crafts, handmade items and new merchandise presented by some of Santa Clarita’s most innovative and creative entrepreneurs.
So come on by to browse, shop and have lunch. We will have special lunch vendors arriving between 11am and 2pm each day.
So come early and come often as the admission and parking are always FREE!
We will continue to look for new vendors, entertainment and attractions for you to enjoy month after month."
10% of proceeds will benefit SCV Emergency Winter Shelter.

Introduction to Permaculture
Sunday, 2/27/11 - 9:30am-12:30pm Caitlin Bergman, Instructor
$25 Arboretum members / $28 non-members
Please call 626.821.4623 to reserve your place
or email jill.berry@arboretum.org

Create a layered food forest in your own backyard by working with nature, not against it. Discover a growing revolution in
sustainable gardening where overlooked materials become free resources, yields increase, work is minimized, and the mutual support between people and the local environment is restored.
Participants will gain an understanding of the basic concepts in permaculture. Ecological solutions such as composting in place and soil-contouring to conveniently replenish nutrients and
reduce irrigation will be covered.
We'll also do some hands-on permaculture gardening as we tour the Permasphere and learn the ins and outs of the fascinating practices and easy annual maintenance involved in this kind of garden. Be sure to bring water, gloves, and a hat!

For more information: www.SayPermaculture.com

Monday, 2/28/11 - 6:00 p.m. – Santa Clarita Activities Center
A Season of Diversity Contest Awards Ceremony
*Family Program - Open to the Public
The winners of the contest will be honored. An invite-only event.
Santa Clarita Activities Center - 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway, Santa Clarita CA 91350
A Season of Diversity Event

I hope you like the list that I have compiled and that you can attend some of the events. We can always use volunteers at the Community Garden and we’ll be working hard to be open this March, so please visit our Facebook Page for updates and to offer your volunteer Services!

For more on my designs, check out my website!


Wordless Wednesday - January is Hot, Hot, Hot!

Delosperma - Ice Plant



Arbuts fruit - yes it's edible

Snowflake Cookies that my friend VeeAnn made


Bare Root Plants - A Primer

This is the time of the year that you will begin finding bare root plants in your local nursery, a bare root plant is one that is sold with the roots exposed, instead of in a container of soil.

An assortment of plants are available this way such as roses, fruit trees and shrubs, berries, grapes and several perennials including daylilies, irises, and hostas. For these types of plants you will find a significant savings purchasing plants in this condition.

Once you have your plant home it is best to plant it as soon as possible, if you can’t plant it right away the roots need to be kept moist until planting. If you don’t plant within a couple of days, you should cover the roots with compost or planting mix and do not store it in warm conditions or it may begin to grow before you get it into the ground.

Before you plant any new plant you should make sure that you know the needs of your plant. You should take into consideration mature size, sun exposure and water requirements when spotting your plant for planting.

If your bare root plant has a soil level mark, which is darker in color than the trunk, this is the past planting level and the plant should be planted with that point at ground level. Start off by digging a hole 2-3 times wider than the roots and as deep as the level of your soil mark. Mix your native soil with compost or planter mix about 3:1 soil to compost ratio. Make a little cone in the middle of your hole and place the roots over it back fill with about ½ of the soil, tamp down and wet the soil slightly then fill with the rest of the soil, gently tamping down again.

Build a basin around your plant and fill it slowly with water, let it soak in. You may want to do this a few times to make sure that the soil settles and your plants doesn’t sink. Add more soil if necessary moving the plant into place gently.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - January Color

Ornamental Peppers

Some Winter Veggies


For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


How To Care For Nandinas (Heavenly Bamboo)

Heavenly Bamboo, (Nandina domestica), is not relate to the Bamboo we know and love of either clumping or running variety.

The common name was given due to the cane like looking growth of the tall varieties and lacey foliage that it has, which bears some resemblance to bamboo. Although an evergreen nandina will lose it’s leaves if the temperature drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit and at –10 Fahrenheit the canes will die back to the ground… it will however come back in the spring.

The reason that I use this plant in the garden is because it rarely hits those kind of temperatures so we have a reliably evergreen shrub that gives great color and has year round interest. The colors of green that you can find in all the varieties are astounding from blue green, through medium and into light green.

The foliage also puts on an amazing display and depending on the variety can range from yellow, to gold, to orange, to red, crimson, and even pink. In the spring new bronze tinged foliage emerges and is followed by flowers in a creamy white. The flowers make way for bright green berries and by the late summer the berries begin to ripen to orange and then red. The berries remain on through the winter or until the local birds strip them from the branches (which are still covered with beautiful lacey leaves.)

There are so many varieties of nandina that you can find one to fit almost any area you want to use it in. From tall varieties that can get to 8 feet to shorter bushier (my favorites) that are 2 or 3 feet high and as wide. These plants can be used as a screen or hedge, used at an entry or near a patio, and it even makes a great base for a container design. Nandinas do best in full sun with light shade during the hottest part of the day inland to get the most of it's foliage color. It can also be grown in partial shade, so it is a very versatile plant. The one thing that the nandina needs is wind protection; it also likes a somewhat rich, acid soil and likes the soil to remain moist but can be drought tolerant.

Nandina likes to be transplanted in the cooler months of the fall, and to keep it in good shape careful pruning is essential especially with the taller leggier varieties such as domestica or Plum Passion. Pruning is best done in the spring, removing dead, and weak branches first and those closest to the ground as well as old sad looking canes. As with most plants you can remove about 1/3 of the canes at a pruning. Cosmetic pruning to shape can be done during most of the year as long as you don’t prune too much. A balanced fertilizer is all that is needed to keep your nandina in good health, and you will have many years of beauty from your plants.

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Yes, This IS Southern California

Salad on ice - Red & Green Romaine & Arugula were quite crisp!

Ripening Kumquats got a chill.

Phormium (Flax) in the snow.

I thought my Oro Blancos were fresh...never frozen.


What To Do In Your Southern California Garden In January

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2011. Some of you are probably not in the mood to garden this morning having spent a little too much time getting in the mood last night, however you still need your monthly list of what you can work on so here it is on this bright and shiny January morning.

Like other parts of the country you can spend some time perusing gardening catalogs with a cup of coffee or tea, order some seeds, find a new gardening tool or two and spend a little time cleaning up or tidying up your gardening tools. January is Get Organized Month, so your garden shed or toolbox would be a good place to start. If you live in the Los Angles area, you can call my fellow Harmonious Home Team Member Kim Rocke or my friend Christie Gelsemino and they can help you get started.

If you bought a living Christmas Tree this year, it’s time to move it outdoors. If you plan to bring it in every year, keep an eye out for pretty pots on sale now so that you can move it up as it grows in size. Those holiday pots may be on sale.

Now is a great time to shop for and plant both bare root roses and bare root fruit trees. You can also check for bare root trees, vines and shrubs and get them into the ground. The selection this month is growing as the local nurseries move the holiday decorations into the ½ price bin.

You can also plant Citrus trees and please be sure to plan ahead to protect them from frost damage. It’s been cold so far this year, and January has legendarily been a very chilly month. Your subtropical fruit trees would also benefit from a little extra attention. When I plant a new subtropical I like to leave some room around it and put four stakes around it. I like to get stakes that are taller than the tree and I place them so that when I drape my frost cloth over them, non of the cloth will actually touch the tree – I run out in the early evening and tent my babies and remove the frost cloth in the morning as it warms up.

You can still plant cool season annuals, and winter, spring and summer blooming bulbs.

Little Christmas lights draped in and around tender plants also help raise the temperature around them a bit, and let your yard continue to look festive!

Selecting Camellias during their bloom is a great idea – you can see what your plant has to offer. They make a stunning winter display that you can enjoy.

We in SoCal can sow seeds for the hardy blooming annuals, which can save you a little money on seedlings in the spring.

Peach trees can be sprayed for peach leaf curl, peach leaf blight and canker.

You can also apply dormant sprays to trees, shrubs, and vines. I recommend that you apply the dormant spray to your roses at pruning time… Superbowl Sunday. It’s a little too early to prune the roses right now, though the mow/blow/go landscape janitors would disagree with me. I stand my ground.
You can prune evergreen shrubs, and winter flowering vines and shrubs after they have flowered.

Another sowing of winter vegetable seeds or planting of seedlings wouldn’t hurt either; you will have more veggies until it’s time to plant the spring crops.

You can prune your flowering fruit trees while they are in bloom – peaches & nectarines benefit from this but you must wait until you are sure that the blooms have matured enough so that there is sure to be winter survival.

If your succulents and cacti have finished blooming and are too small for their pots, you can still repot them.

Cut back on your indoor plant fertilization, and read my Scene In SCV blog post on How To Care For Holiday Plants if you have received plants that you don’t know how to care for.

I hope this helps you to a great New Year of Gardening, enjoy yourself and have a great 2011!

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener

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