March 2011 Gardening Events & More…

They say March come in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and since I’m writing this at the end of February and it’s wet and wild I would agree with that even for SoCal. Looking at the forecast for early March makes me feel like SoCal might see that lamb pretty early in March. Since we should have beautiful weather, it’s time to get out there and do some fun things around town.

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.

Plant Information 1st Tuesday of the month:
Tuesday 3/1/11 - 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!
LA Arboretum

The workshops have started at the Community Gardens of Santa Clarita! You don’t have to be renting a plot at the garden to attend our workshops. We’ll post more as they are scheduled, our next one is:
Tools and Staking
Wednesday 3/2/11 – 1pm at The Central Park site of the Community Gardens of Santa Clarita
Graham Creme our Vice President and one of the founding members will be there to share his expertise.

Sat 3/5/11
Arboretum Adventures
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: Trees of The Arboretum

Everything’s Coming Up Spring at Descanso Gardens
Saturday 3/5/11 – 1:30 - Maple
Welcome spring with flowers and make your garden the talk of the neighborhood. Mike Brown teaches the basics which include soil preparation, raised planting beds, container gardens and more. $15, $10 members.

Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer – LA Arboretum
Thurs – 3/10/11 – 9:30 - noon – Palm Room
Spring 2011: 8 Thursdays, March 10 – April 28
(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
Tillandsias from A to Z, a Photographic Cornucopia with Paul T. Isley III
Tillandsias, also known as air plants, are among the most interesting plants on earth and some of the sturdiest and easiest to grow. This stunning presentation reveals basic concepts necessary for success. For 36 years, Paul and his partner, Jerry Robinson, have built Rainforest Flora, Inc. into the world’s premier Tillandsia operation. Paul is also the author of the long-awaited Tillandsia II. A plant sale and book signing follow the lecture.www.arboretum.org

Around the World in 127 Acres LA Arboretum
Saturday 3/12/11 1:30-3pm
Plants That Changed the World
A Tour that takes a look at plants in the Arboretum collection that have had dramatic and lasting effects on the history of human beings.
$5 member/$7 non-member per class
Frank McDonough, Botanical Information Consultant, instructor
This class is held in the garden, and requires walking throughout the collections.
Rain or shine/Meet in the Arboretum Library

Los Angeles Environmental Education Fair at LA Arboretum
Saturday, 3/12/11 10:00am-4:00pm
Planting the seeds for a greener future!
Young people, their families and those who educate them will discover the latest hands-on activities, ready-to-use lesson ideas, and useful resources that are easily incorporated into everyday life from leading organizations that promote environmental education and awareness.
Live entertainment with music, crafts and hands-on activities will make this a fun-filled day for all. Visit wild animals, pick-up a free pine seedling, participate in environmental challenges, and take an “Eco-Tour” to some of the unique areas of The Arboretum. Join us for free workshops designed to teach families and children ways they can make the world a little greener!
The Ecological Treasure Hunt is open to students in grades 4 through 12. Using a map and compass, teams will explore the ecological treasures of The Arboretum. Participants are challenged to answer questions about the world of nature. The Eco Hunt is also open to the public.
For more information head to www.laeef.org

Pacific Camellia Society Late Bloomers Show at Descanso Gardens
Sat & Sun 3/12-13/11 - Bloom placement is 8 to 10:30 a.m. Saturday, followed by judging. The show is open to the public from 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Details: www.pacificcamellias.org

Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer – LA Arboretum
Thurs – 3/17/11 – 9:30 - noon – Palm Room
Spring 2011: 8 Thursdays, March 10 – April 28
(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
Seeds, Please: Collecting, Processing and Storing Native Plant Seed with Genevieve Arnold
Native seed ain’t just for the birds! This class will guide you through the fun and easy experience of gathering, cleaning and saving seed from your own native plant garden. Examples of fruit, seed and seed-processing tools will be shown. Genevieve has worked with California native seeds for nearly a decade and is seed room manager at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants. She enjoys the beauty of the native garden in all its phases, including the magical stage of fruit and seed development.

FREE landscape education class...Beautify Your Yard: Annuals, Perennials and Turf Substitutes
Saturday 3/19/2011 9:00 AM - 12:00 pm
Held at: Castaic Lake Water Agency on the hill above Central Park. Please RSVP to (661) 513-1230.

Berry Basics at LA Arboretum
Saturday, 3/19/11 - 10am-12Noon / Bamboo Room
Marc Hall, Instructor
$25 members/$28 non-members
Do you want to learn to grow berries - strawberries, blueberries, and caneberries, to mention just a few? Then this class is for you! Learn: when and where to buy your plants; tips for growing abundant crops; guidelines for tending and harvesting your berries; the best soil and fertilizer for optimal backyard production; the ideal watering schedule; pruning tips and rotational information on disease prevention and insect/bird control; and training/trellising methods.

Free Lecture: The Amazing Lives of Bees, Wasps, and Ants - LA Arboretum
Sat 3/19/11 – 5pm – 6:30 -
By author and entomologist Eric Grissell
Cosponsored by the Theodore Payne Foundation and the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden

The Arboretum will be open to event attendees at 5:00 p.m. (prior to the lecture) and will include a tour of the Arboretum’s Engelmann Oak Grove led by Jim Henrich, Arboretum curator of living collections. Tour begins at 5:30 p.m. sharp; tram leaves at 5:15 p.m. (tram space is very limited – first come, first seated). Lecture begins at 6:30pm.

Family Fun Class at LA Arboretum
Saturday 3/19/11 - 10am – 12noon – Oak Room
Journey Sticks!
Learn how the aboriginal people of Australia used Journey Sticks to record their travels and retell stories of their adventures. Make your own journey stick to bring with you on your Arboretum adventure! This includes a tour of the Australian garden afterwards.

Get Ready to PlantDescanso Gardens
Saturday 3/19/11 1-3pm – Maple
Lacking garden inspiration? Mike Brown provides motivation to get you growing. This class explores a wide range of gardening topics, including soil preparation, garden layout, choosing plants, methods to grow a bountiful harvest and ways to increase the aesthetic beauty of your green space. $20, $10 members.

Sharpen Your Tools – and Save Your Fingers at Descanso Gardens
Saturday, 3/19/11 – 11 am Under the Oaks
Dull tools aren’t just a drag to use – they can cause accidents too. Keep your garden implements in tiptop order, and keep your working parts successfully attached! Presented by Descanso Camellia Horticulturist Wayne Walker.
Free with admission: $8 adults, $6 senior/students and $3 children 5-12.

Ikebana International Show and Sale at LA Arboretum
Saturday/Sunday 3/19-20/11 - 12pm-4 pm & Sunday: 9am-4 pm
Different schools of Ikebana will be represented at this Japanese flower arrangement show, from classical to naturalistic to avant-garde. Arrangements by all levels of artists, from beginners to teachers, will be displayed. Demonstrations of Ikebana arrangements will also be held on both Saturday and Sunday.

Cherry Blossom Festival at Descanso Gardens
Sat & Sun - 3/19 – 3/20/11
Highlights include:
Japanese Tea Ceremonies,Japanese Cooking Demonstration, Prunus lecture, Cherry tree sale, Cherry blossom talk, Bento box lunches and Cherry-Tini cocktail
Activities are free with admission: $8 adults, $6 seniors/students, $3 children 5-12; 4 and younger enter free. Food for purchase.

Santa Clarita Valley Green Drinks MeetUp
Tuesday – 3/22/11 – 6pm
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

The Great Tomato Sale and Talk at LA Arboretum
Wednesday, 3/23/11 - 10am-12noon / Palm & Bamboo Room
Steve Goto, Tomato Guru
Back by popular demand for a 10th year!! Join us for an informative talk plus Steve Goto's Top 25 Tomato Picks for 2011! Learn all the tricks to successful planting and harvesting of the best tomatoes for this area. After the class, attend THE GREAT TOMATO SALE in the patio behind the Gift Shop. You won't want to miss the large selection of heirloom tomato plants. Free with Arboretum Admission – No reservations necessary.

Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer - LA Arboretum
Thurs – 3/24/11 – 9:30 - noon – Palm Room
Spring 2011: 8 Thursdays, March 10 – April 28
(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
Science in the Garden with Rachel Young
With the myriad of garden products, hype and misinformation out there, it can be difficult and costly to weed out what really works. This intriguing and practical lecture covers scientific research in horticulture and plant biology – including new information on plant nutrition, pests and beneficial fungi – that may affect what you buy and the way you garden. Rachel is Descanso Garden’s native horticulturist. Her background in plant ecology and evolution inspires her toward a holistic garden approach that encompasses practices and designs that are organic, sustainable and beautiful..

Fri – Sat 3/25-26/11 – at Tapia Farms in Encino, Ca.
Tomatomania founder Scott has an amazing selection of tomatoes and more… If you are in the market for an heirloom or unusual tomato or pepper, this is the event for you. It will also be repeated the first week of April in Fillmore at Otto and Sons… that’s my favorite location!

Green Thumb Spring Open House
Saturday 3/26/11
Featuring: Julie Molinare and Tami Smight Presenting a Complimentary Seminar:
“Make Your Garden Sing!” from 10 – 11:30 am
Green Thumb has giveaways, activities, and discounts on items purchased!
23734 Newhall Avenue Newhall, CA 91321-3125 - (661) 259-1071
RSVP for the seminar to: rsvp@thegrassisalwaysgreener.net with your name and the code GGB326

KHTS Santa Clarita Home and Garden Show
Sat and Sun 3/26 – 3/27/11 - 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Cost: General Admission $5.00, discount tickets available at KHTS
Location: Hyatt Regency Valencia Hotel
24500 Town Center Dr.
Santa Clarita, California 91355
2nd Annual KHTS Santa Clarita Home and Garden Show
Home and garden products and services presented by over 80 companies and organizations in beautiful indoor and outdoor settings. Seminars and demosntrations by home and garden experts, as well as special events for the whole family. Sponsor and exhibitor opportunities available.
Visit scvhomeandgarden.com or call Gary at (661)600-3048

Around the World in 127 Acres - LA Arboretum
Saturday 3/26/11 1:30-3pm
Sugar & Spice & Everything Nice
An in depth look at the Arboretum herb garden –a collection of culinary, medicinal, dye, fiber, sacred, and spiritual plants.
$5 member/$7 non-member per class
Frank McDonough, Botanical Information Consultant, instructor
This class is held in the garden, and requires walking throughout the collections.
Rain or shine/Meet in the Arboretum Library

Square Foot Gardening Workshop - LA Arboretum
3/26/11 - 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

Orchid Show and Sale
Sat and Sun 3/26-27/11 – 10 am – 5pm
Brought to you by the Cymbidium Society of America, San Gabriel Valley Branch, this show displays cymbidium hybrids, plant displays, sales and CSA information. Potting demonstrations and speakers on orchids will be held every 2 hours on both days.

Thursday Garden Talks With Lili Singer - LA Arboretum
Thurs – 3/31/11 – 9:30 - noon – Palm Room
Spring 2011: 8 Thursdays, March 10 – April 28
(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
Landscape Scenography: Setting the Stage for Garden Mystery with Chip Sullivan and Elizabeth Boults
Our speakers, authors of the recently released book, Illustrated History of Landscape Design, will examine how garden designers past and present have choreographed and sequenced landscape space in some of the world’s best-loved gardens. Their approach is unique in its use of “visual narratives” and sequential drawings – comic strips! – to illuminate the stories embedded in these great garden scenarios. Chip is professor of landscape architecture at UC Berkeley and also the author of Drawing the Landscape and Garden and Climate. Elizabeth is a landscape architect and educator living in Berkeley. A book signing follows the lecture.

I hope you like the list that I have compiled and that you can attend some of the events. Come visit us at the Community Garden in Central Park on Bouquet and visit our Facebook Page for updates and to offer your volunteer Services! We’ll be having an Arbor Day Event in April and a Formal opening in May!

For more on my designs, check out my website


Cold Weather Warning for Southern California

There is a cold weather warning in effect for Southern California, starting tomorrow 2/25/11 and extending through the weekend. They are saying that this is going to be the coldest it has been in years and if you thought 2007 was cold… it might snow as low as 1,000 feet (that means it could be snowing in the Santa Monica Mountains!)

In addition to the information that I am linking below – please note that although most plants will benefit from watering prior to the cold, cactus and other succulents WILL NOT. If they have too much water they will burst and are better a little under watered.

Here is the link to my post on pre-frost preparations and a link to my friend Maurice Levin’s (of Jurassic Garden Cycads) great post as well.

For more on my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Natives & Not So Native

Western Redbud

California Poppy

Cape Honeysuckle


How to Care for Dodonaea (Hopseed Bush)

When it comes to finding a low care, low water, versatile evergreen shrub for the sun, you can look no further than the Dodonaea or Hopseed Bush. You can find it in both a green variety, and a purple variety, so it will fit in with many color schemes. The plant as a pretty, long tapered leaf, and a light airy form, that makes it a favorite among those looking for an informal look. Usually attributed to Australia, it is also found in other places around the globe, primarily in the Mediterranean Climate Zones of which there are five. This explains why they do so well here in Southern California, since we are one of those five.

Planting your dodonaea is much like any other shrub, be sure to dig the holes wide – wider than the container you are removing it from but not too deep. Planting a little high is always preferable to planting too deep.

If you have heavy clay or sandy soils, amend them with organic material, gently remove your plant from the container, loosen the root ball at the bottom, and place it into the hole, then back fill the holes with that mixture. Water the plant gently and press down to make sure that the plant will not be sinking too low, if it does, remove it and put some additional soil in the bottom of the hole.

If you are in a windy area, you can stake your shrubs, so that they will not break. Add a nice 3” – 4” layer of mulch to your planter bed. You want to water your new shrub infrequently but deeply. Having a low water shrub like this on the same water as say turf is a recipe for disaster.

As far as watering, you can allow the soil around this plant can dry out 2-3” down between watering. Your dodonaea will not need to be watered more than two or three times per week, even less once it is established – but again make sure that it has long deep watering. If you have a slope and are losing water, cycle your irrigation. The proper way to cycle is water on for a minute off for a while on for another minute and so on. You can just put a hose at the root and let it run very slowly for a long time, set up a proper drip system, or use soaker hoses, whatever you are most comfortable with.

Dodonaea need to be properly watered during the winter as well as the summer and can suffer more from drying out than from cold temperatures. If it is windy, there is a sudden long sunny hot spell, or the weather becomes very dry check your plants to make sure that they are not too dry themselves - winter or summer. Mulch helps prevent drying out too, so don’t skip that step!

The dodonaea takes well to pruning, it can be hedged, espaliered, or trained into an interesting shape, but it is essential that you prune regularly to maintain size, and for the safety of others. This plant can grow BIG, and if you don’t keep up on it regularly; when you finally do it will look horribly woody. It is good to prune in late winter or spring, best after bloom but since the bloom is inconspicuous and we’re not looking for fruit, I wouldn’t worry too much about whether it’s flowered yet or not.

A nice all purpose organic fertilizer is the best bet for the dodonaea, but it is not a heavy feeder. I prefer (slow release) granular fertilizer myself because I think of water soluble as a quick fix for plants that look peeked. I scatter the granular fertilizer under the plant about the width of the widest branches and water deeply (and slowly).

That’s pretty much all you need to know for a nice accent, a hedge, or a screen for your property. It also makes a lovely container plant when mixed with some draping plants such as ivy geranium, or scaevola. *** Free design tip!
For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Signs of Spring in Santa Clarita

Yellow Daffodils

Flowering Plum Blossoms


For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Feng Shui in the Garden

I have been interested in Feng Shui for quite a while now. I have always had an inkling that the principles of Feng Shui would help me not only in my own life, but in my garden design and in turn my clients. Several years ago I went out and purchased a couple of books about Feng Shui, however they seemed like a bunch of gobble-de-gook written in a manner that was very user un-friendly. I also read things online and realized that it was very complicated and not something I could just pick up reading a little.

Fast-forward a few years; I was introduced to a fabulous woman (and now great friend and colleague) Elaine Giftos Wright at a local Professional Woman’s Organization – The Association of Women Entrepreneurs. Elaine is the Feng Shui Master who is helping me whip my home into shape (it is a process that I am working on all the time) and she is a wonderful teacher. After two classes with Elaine, countless hours asking questions, listening to her, and just hanging out with her I can safely say I know just enough about Feng Shui to be dangerous! Seriously though I use Feng Shui when designing my landscape plans and if I am ever in doubt, Elaine a member of my Harmonious Home Team, is just an email or call away!

Feng Shui actually means wind and water and it is an ancient Chinese philosophy that balances your surroundings to create harmony, and abundance in your life. Elaine and I have collaborated on her landscape, and on the homes of clients. Working with Elaine has really brought about some extraordinary changes in my life and the life of my family and I know that it has added a lot to my client's lives as well. Here is a link to an article that Elaine wrote about Feng Shui in the Garden. Since she is the expert I thought I'd let her do the talking!

The other members of The Harmonious Home Team are, Tami Smight - Interior Designer and Kim Rocke - Professional Organizer. Visit their websites and stay tuned here... I'll be talking more about them as the months go by. Working with any combination of our Harmonious Home team will be an experience that you will not only thoroughly enjoy but an experience that will help you bring more to your life and add to the enjoyment of your home from the curb to the backyard!

Harmonious Home Team – Place It, Beautify It, Harmonize It

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - The Variety of Santa Clarita

Diesel & Lupines photo by Billy Kornfeld of Camelot Moving & Storage - the best Movers in Santa Clarita!

Magnolia Blossoms

Aloe in Bloom

For more about my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


What To Do In Your Southern California Garden In February

No matter how long I live in Southern California February never fails to amaze me – I spent many slushy, cold Februarys in New York so the clear blue skies, sultry breezes, and puffy white clouds of Southern California are such a gift. I don’t have to wear boots or rubber shoe covers every day. I can wear Ugg boots one day, clogs the next, and sandals the third; a true shoe junkie’s dream!

Since we are lucky enough to have year round gardening chores, it’s time to get out there and get crackin’! Here’s your list for the month.

Tomorrow is Superbowl Sunday, so for those of you that have waited to prune your hybrid tea and grandiflora roses… have at it! For my rose pruning post click here:

Speaking of shoes, if you don’t have a pair of good rubber mud boots now is a great time to get them. The winter things are going on sale, and the end of February and March are generally our wet months.

You can order seeds for upcoming planting (those seed catalogs are calling your name) pick some up or browse online.

You can still plant winter crops; lettuces, broccoli, greens, sugar snaps, and cabbage.

Plant those bare root fruit trees and vines, if you need more information check out my post on bare root plants.

Don’t forget your bare root roses, there should still be some around, soon they will be put into cans and they will be quite a bit more expensive!

You can also plant Citrus trees and please be sure to plan ahead to protect them from frost damage. 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 buy stakes that are taller than the tree and I place them so that when I drape my frost cloth over them, none 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 also protect the plants by stringing Christmas lights near them, and turn them on when you know the temps are dropping. Please don’t tent a tree with the lights on… I don’t want you to burn anything down!

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

If you like to plant seeds, you can start sowing warm season annuals. If you are planting annuals at this time, take a little bit of time to make sure that you select varieties that will last for a while. If you pick ones that are happier in the cooler weather they won’t last much longer as our weather heats up. It is often better to wait a couple of weeks and plant annuals that will take you into the summer.

Time to think about pruning your evergreen shrubs, in Santa Clarita, Antelope valleys as well as other colder areas you probably want to wait until late in the month or early March. Where it is warmer the pruning will give your plants a little longer to get into shape for spring.

Pruning winter flowering vines and shrubs like Hardenbergia and some Ceanothus after they bloom gives them a nice clean look, and a head start on next year.

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

You can prune peaches & nectarines while they are in bloom – of all the fruit trees they will 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 cacti or succulents need to be repotted, it’s a nice time for that – just make sure that they have finished blooming.

Don’t forget your houseplants… they could use a little bit of fertilizer now that it’s starting to warm up.

I hope this gives you enough to do, remember those cold weather gardeners are VERY jealous!

For more on my designs: thegrassisalwaysgreener


Wordless Wednesday - Hardscape Material Lovers Unite!

Broken Concrete

Used Brick

Assorted Rock

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