In search of my mother's garden, I found my own. 
-Alice Walker 

 At a seminar this week, so I thought I'd leave you a lovely quote. xo, Julie


Wordless Wednesday - Look Up, Look Down

Oak Tree Sky

Mixed Media Pathway

Acacia Sky

If you would like help beautifying your life, think about creating a garden with me. You can call me at 661-917-3521, contact me via email at julie@thegrassisalwaysgreener.net or visit my website.


Winter Vegetable Plant List - Southern California

I love being a Landscape Designer in Santa Clarita, and I am lucky enough to be teaming up tomorrow with my friend, Tina Landrum to speak at Green Thumb Nursery in Newhall.  Since one of the benefits of living here is the year round gardening and it is the Harvest Faire, Tina and I will be talking about Edible Winter Gardening.

So, I thought I'd give you a list of the plants I'll be talking about tomorrow.  We'll also be highlighting organics, organic practices, nutrition and how growing your own food nurtures both body and soul.

Pak Choy

Winter Vegetables: 

What to Plant (Seedlings)               When to Plant It                            

Arugula                                            August - January
Bok Choy                                        Sept - Oct                              
Kale                                                 July - September                   
Lettuce                                             August - October                      
Spinach                                            August - October                          


Better late than never, here are a few that will still very likely work, although we are a few months behind.  It has been very, very hot so I think we'll still have more than half a chance!  

What to Plant (Seedlings)                    When to Plant It                               

Broccoli                                              June - July                                     
Cabbage                                             Mid July                                      
Swiss Chard                                       July - August                                   

Swiss Chard

Bulbs (or sets)
Garlic                                                 August - October                           
Onions                                               August - October                           
Shallots                                              August - October                          

Onion Field - Fillmore

Winter Herbs:

What to Plant (Seedlings)             When to Plant It                                

Cilantro                                       Sept - December                               
Dill                                              Sept - December                               
Oregano                                      All year round - a perennial!              
Parsley                                        Sept - December                              
Sorrel                                          Most of the year cooler is better       
Thyme                                        All year round - a perennial!             


There are also plants that do well by seed 

What to Plant (Seeds)           When to Plant it                                

Arugula                                 August - January                               
Beets                                    August                                               
Carrots                                 July                                                    
Kale                                     July                                                    
Kohlrabi                               August                                              
Lettuce                                 August                                               
Parsnips                                July - August                                    
Radish                                  September                                        
Spinach                                August                                                
Swiss Chard                         July                                                    
Turnips                                 August                                               

Radishes & Beets

Carrots & Beets

I like to succession plant the lettuces, if you plant new plants or seeds every few weeks, you will lengthen your harvest.  As one set of lettuces are cut back, new will be growing and you can have lettuce till it gets to hot.

Seeds of Arugula, Kale, Lettuce, Spinach and Swiss Chard can also be planted a little bit late it just means that you'll have smaller more delicate plants - which usually means sweeter leaves. 

If you'd like a little more detail about planting your garden and didn't make it to Green Thumb today, read a bit more in How To Grow A Winter Vegetable Garden.

If you would like help beautifying your life, think about creating a garden with me. You can call me at 661-917-3521, contact me via email at julie@thegrassisalwaysgreener.net or visit my website.


Wordless Wednesday

 Very Red Crape Myrtle 

Salvia and Friends

 Turk's Cap

Saturday is Harvest Festival at Green Thumb Nursery and I'm going to be speaking at 10. Please join me on this fun day and share in all the festivities! Green Thumb is located at: 23734 Newhall Avenue. Newhall, CA. 91321 I hope to see you there.


Edible Gardens

I grew up in my mother’s and grandmother’s gardens on Long Island, picking blueberries, cherries, apples, and sometimes when they hid too long my mother would harvest cucumbers and zucchini that seemed bigger than my head. (Remember never eat anything bigger than your head!) Now that I am a Landscape designer in the Santa Clarita Valley of California, I enjoy adding edibles to my clients’ gardens and of course my own.

I am slowly chipping away at my front lawn, adding both low water/low maintenance plants and edibles. (Yes, I hydrozone so that all are properly watered) I have container designs with squash and eggplant, and I love to add lettuces and greens to almost any container. I also have a beautiful fennel plant (taller than I am) in front of my house where I’ve removed lawn; it is surrounded by gaura, irises, agastache and more. I’d say that about 1/3 of my gardens are edible and I’m hoping to bring more and more clients along for the ride.

One of the gardens I’m working on right now will have a round fountain surrounded by an 18” round planter bed filled with edibles. This winter they will be harvesting succession planted lettuces, a variety of perennial and annual herbs, and edible flowers. I’ll be sure to post photos once we’re planted and growing.

There are so many ways to incorporate edibles into your landscape; of course you can add a kitchen garden into your design, raised bed or right in the ground, it is as old as grandma’s back patch. Or you can start simple, and add herbs to your planter beds. If you want quick results just add some herbs or edibles into an existing bed. Try using either thyme or oregano as ground cover and culinary sage makes a beautiful front of the bed accent! (I like the variegated variety, but the purple one is pretty too and both have wonderfully textured leaves.)

What about introducing some fruit trees? If you manage them right (see my backyard orchard post) you can have months and months of fresh seasonal fruit.

Don’t forget that you can add beautiful flowers too, some are edible and others are good to keep bad insects at bay. Try borage to keep pests off eggplant they also have an edible flower on them that is a lovely lavender color. Dill will help you find out that the hornworms have hit the tomatoes and you will be able to take care of them early. Other edible flowers that I love are nasturtiums and pansies, day lily, and cornflowers. I also love to throw the blossoms of my chives into a salad, and I use the agastache flower (anise hyssop) as a pretty garnish on plates.

There is so much you can do with your garden if you just start thinking outside of the vegetable bed! Think about using the vegetables as an accent, or a focal point. What could be prettier than colorful Swiss Chard?

If you would like to learn more about edible gardening, winter gardens, and the nutritional value of the plants we can grow pretty much year round in Southern California, and you live near Santa Clarita please join my friend, Tina Landrum,  and I for a Complimentary Seminar:  The Edible Winter Garden, on September 22, 2010 at Green Thumb Nursery’s Harvest Festival.  Tina and Julie will be speaking at 10 am, and the festival goes on all day! Raffles, give-aways, discounts, and the Halloween D├ęcor is out!

Green Thumb is located at: 23734 Newhall Avenue Newhall, CA. 91321. I look forward to seeing you there.


Wordless Wednesday


Ornamental Peppers and Cordyline

Desert Willow

If you would like help beautifying your life, think about creating a garden with me. You can call me at 661-917-3521, contact me via email at julie@thegrassisalwaysgreener.net or visit my website


How NOT To Landscape Your Home

Being a Landscape Designer in Santa Clarita, California I walk around with both an eye for design and an eye for the absurd. I must say that driving around our community I think I find more old, tired, or completely bad landscapes than I do find beautiful gardens and I want to change that!

It has been a long time since I wrote a post showing bad attempts at landscaping, so I thought I’d share a little bad taste and explain a few bad practices with the hope that I might prevent a few mistakes.

Some of these photos don’t look bad on first glance, however I’ll tell you why they aren’t good so you know why sometimes things aren’t what they seem.

I think I can divide the issues in to one of  four categories:

Wrong plant for the space

Ficus repens (Creeping Fig) is a great plant to quickly cover a block wall, but don't let it grow on you home!  It can pull off the paint or stucco, and forget about painting until it is removed (quite a chore) and G-d forbid you have to fumigate for termites.  Look at the way this is fig is growing over the window and creeping up into the eaves.  Not good!

Let's see how many big plants we can get into one (too skinny) 2' wide planter bed.  As if the Podocarpus wasn't enough to take over, should we remove it, the Arborvitaes on either side or the fan palm on the right would be happy to damage the house, the planter and whatever else gets in their way.  Those poor spindly roses on either side don't stand a chance!

Planted too close to the house or hardscape 

I love Purple Leaf Plums (Prunus cerasifera) but this poor buy has been planted way to close to the house.  He will certainly be removed before his time and/or subjected to some unsavory pruning to keep him away from the house and hardscape.  I wonder if this was a model, so they wanted it to "look good fast" so typical, however if they had just given him a few more feet away from the house he could have lived a long and happy life. 

This Cypress is not only too close to the house, but it is going to get way too tall for this space (note the awkward growth/pruning pattern already).  If this is a Tiny Towers Cypress it is going to get 25' tall and luckily it will stay about 3' wide, if it is the standard Italian Cypress it wants to grow 80' tall and 6' wide - not good.  A better selection for this spot would be a Green Mountain Boxwood which will slowly grow to about 5' tall, or for a little more height Blue Arrow Juniper will top out at 12 - 15' and be a slim 2-3' wide.  You do have options!

Bad or no maintenance 

This poor tree is being swallowed alive by this ivy.  Yes it is a big tree, and the ivy did look so cute in the pot or flat what it was little and just planted but as I have ranted in my newsletter... If you aren't going to look at and maintain a vine at least monthly, don't plant one.  This is probably a 40 year old tree, I wonder how old that ivy is and when it was last pulled off the tree and or trimmed at all.

This is just plain silly!  This statue (or is it a fountain under there?) looks like it has a skirt on, maybe even with a crinoline under it.  It is quite difficult to kill geraniums in Southern California, so pruning them at least once a decade is a great idea.  Think of all the fabulous plant material we could plant around the base of this, that would accentuate the feature instead of hide it.

Wrong plant for most spaces

Don't plant an invasive species!  This Equisetum (Horsetail) in the middle of this bed is one of those plants that you can just never get rid of, and neither can your neighbor.  This plant will place you high on the list of least favorite gardener of the block.  Other invasives include mint, Mexican Evening Primrose and Scotch Broom.  If you love these plants and just can't live without them, I'd think about planting them in pots instead of the ground.  That Horsetail should have the pot placed on cement, just in case and I'd steer completely away from the Broom.   A good substitute for the horsetail would be Chontropetalum (Cape Rush) or even one of the Juncus varieties. 

Some of these picutures overlap into more than one category but the funny part is, all of this could be avoided if the gardener (and I use that term loosely) had either read the label of the plant they purchased and measured or if the homeowner had hired a real professional.

They say you should measure twice and cut once but I say measure twice, read twice, and plant once. Problems solved!

I hope you enjoyed this little trip down bad landscape alley, remember you too can think before you plant (and if you can't just call me because that's exactly what I do!)

If you live in or near Santa Clarita, please join me on Saturday September 22, 2012 at Green Thumb Nursery at 23734 Newhall Avenue Newhall, CA. 91321. It is an all day event with raffles, prizes, snacks and contests.  I'll be speaking at 10 am and I'll stay till noon to answer questions or walk around the nursery with you.  I hope to see you then! 


Wordless Wednesday

Fountain Grass with Butterfly Bush

Arbutus x Marina Bark

Cordylines - with varied leaf shape

If you would like help beautifying your life, think about creating a garden with me. You can call me at 661-917-3521, contact me via email at julie@thegrassisalwaysgreener.net or visit my website.


What To Do In Your Southern California Garden In September

As a landscape designer in Santa Clarita I did not appreciate that August sure was a hot one this year! I (happily) had a couple of installs during the month of August and although I do not recommend standing outdoors in 108 degree weather selecting boulders, or installing plants in 98 degree weather with the sun beating down, I am happy to say that since a lot of people are looking to water conservation  these days my plant palettes are filled with drought tolerant varieties that will endure this ever increasing heat.

I hope that we are heading into a little cooler weather, and I know that the plants concur.  The month of September is a great time to get some gardening done, and it is even better for planning and designing so we can take full advantage of the great planting weather that October and September will hold for us.

Here is a list of your September Garden Chores - with one addition... and one correction.

Please add:
Pre #1 - Plan, Plan Plan!  If you want to plant drought tolerant plants and natives, get your planning done now.  The best months are upcoming - so take advantage of the air conditioning, a refreshing iced tea, and your ideas to be prepared for your fall planting.

Correction:  Yes, I will be speaking at Green Thumb's Harvest Festival again this year but it is on September 22, 2012.  My talk will be at 10 am and I'll stay there to answer questions, walk you around the nursery or just chat until about noon.  I'm probably going to have a surprise guest so... stay tuned to find out who.  Green Thumb is located at: 23734 Newhall Avenue. Newhall, CA. 91321

Also, my monthly spot on Blog Talk Radio's Artists, Designers, and Things, Oh My!  is coming up on Tuesday September 4, 2012.  We'll be talking about History of Gardening Around the World Part III please listen in, it is always fun.


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