Monday, April 20, 2015

A Veg Table

My interpretation of a "salad box" using things found around the house. This is designed to feed one person a variety of green stuffs until the real heat sets in after May Gray and June Gloom, if any, near the fourth of July. It is shaded in the afternoon.

The cut-and-come again saucer. Leaves to be harvested one at a time to be used in stir-fries and spicy salads. "Cut & Come Again" Mustard Greens and "California Spicy Greens" from Renee's Garden Seeds, and Komatsuna Natsu Rakuten-Summer Fest, Hybrid (Japanese mustard spinach) from Kitazawa Seed Company

Armenian cucumber. Tolerates high temperatures. To be transplanted later. From Ferry-Morse

Celeriac. Prefers constantly moist soil and cooler temperatures and a rich diet, therefore large saucers. Leaves will be used as a salad herb until the root matures. From CalPoly Farm Store

Summer spinach, Okame hybrid. "An early-maturing hybrid, this Japanese variety is recommended for summer harvest as it tolerates hot, dry conditions, is slow to bolt, and has good resistance to downy mildew." From Kitazawa Seed Company

I am experimenting here with various ways to "beat the heat" ...

* using heat tolerant varieties ... Armenian cucumbers, Okame spinach,  and komatsuna Summer-Fest

* harvesting the biggest leaves one at a time when appropriate ... "Cut & Come Again" Mustard Greens and "California Spicy Greens"

* keeping water in the saucer for more evaporation to cool off the plant ... the celeriac

* adding shade when needed

* small enough so that nothing is wasted

Water will have to be renewed every 3-4 days so the mosquito larvae, wrigglers, don't hatch. Water isn't an issue here because everything is in a container with a saucer beneath.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Lady Gardener (new photo added)

Quotes in italics from the David Austin website:

"This is a particularly interesting rose in that it is the first in the English Old Rose group which has apricot flowers. Named to raise awareness for Plant Heritage and their important work to protect Britain’s garden plant diversity."

Let's see how mine grown in southern California compares to what is written. 

Starts off pale pink

Deepens a little as it opens up

Altogether an excellent garden plant that will repeat flower quickly, stand up well to rain and stay very healthy. Uh-oh, getting a little raggedy here.

"They are of a rosette shape and very full petaled with a large button eye that gradually opens up; the petals loosely arranged in a quartered formation."  Looks about right to me.

These are large, about 4" across, and of a beautiful shade of rich pure apricot that pales towards the outside of the bloom. Adding a little apricot color now; 2 1/4 inches across

"There is a particularly lovely and strong tea fragrance which has hints of cedar wood and vanilla." Slight, unusual, but not "rosy". Maybe it will smell stronger when the sun hits it? Maybe tomorrow there will be more apricot and it will be larger?

Taken four hours later after being in the sunshine
 with the "large button eye" appearing.  Usually I buy roses when I can see the blossoms, but this time I went by the tag. My mistake.

Monday morning, 2 days later, a different flower, perfect! larger and more apricot. It likes fog. So do I!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Water on the brain, Water down the drain, Oh, when will it rain again?

Thoughts on California's latest water restrictions and how to prioritize in an established garden. An opinion.

20-35% reduction is for water agencies supplying cities, not residents. Cities can reduce water usage in parks and median strips.

Example from Alhambra, a 20% reduction required, from Google Maps

Example from Newport Beach, a 35% reduction required, from Google Maps

A recent New York Times article states:
Governor Brown directed the State Water Resources Control Board to impose a 25 percent reduction on the state’s 400 local water supply agencies, which serve 90 percent of California residents, over the coming year. The agencies will be responsible for coming up with restrictions to cut back on water use and for monitoring compliance. ...  The specifics of how this will be accomplished are being left to the water agencies.

This does not say that an individual resident must cut back 20 or 35%, only the water agency or the city. 

Many Southern California cities, including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and Long Beach, already have mandatory restrictions in place. But most communities across the state are still relying on voluntary conservation.

Friends who reduced water usage voluntarily in an earlier restriction in a nearby large city (2009?) were hit with further restrictions when the city adopted new standards. Volunteers reduced 14%. City required 10% of everyone regardless. Early adapters were stuck with a 24% decrease. Unfair. Unfair. Just a story told by friends.

We don't have to make ugly changes like this one. Ugh. One of Loree's of danger garden WWTT (What were they thinking?) moments.
from Sierra Club Angeles Chapter

If you want to do rock gardens you can't find better examples than Denver Botanic Gardens and Panayoti Kelaidis' prairiebreak which features many lovely landscapes.
Does that cactus have a happy face or not? Photo by Panayoti Kelaidis at Denver Botanic Garden

How to prioritize if you already have a garden

1. Don't plant new plants in the ground. Labels say drought tolerant when established. This takes time from six weeks to two years. Meanwhile more water is being used almost daily.

You could put them in a light-colored container or pot in the shade and check the drainage frequently.  I well know that many suitable plants are only available when blooming in summer.

2. Don't fertilize. New succulent growth requires more water to keep from wilting and dying at the tip.

3. Let the annuals go (die) first. They are easiest to return. Do not deadhead. Do not remove seeds. Self-sowing annuals will survive as a seed bank underground until rain comes next year or maybe the year after that.

Example 1: Wildflowers in our southwestern deserts.
Linanthus breviculus by Tom Chester, April 14, 2015, at Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve near Phelan

Example 2: Verbascum in the garden.

4. Maintain native shrubbery. Sometimes it doesn't show sign of stress until it's too late. Be observant. Has it lost its shine?
Salvia dorrii by Tom Chester, April 14, 2015, at Puma Canyon Ecological Reserve near Phelan

5. Maintain trees. So difficult to replace. The drought and restrictions are not going to last forever and the trees are the slowest growers and maybe not be replaceable in your lifetime. Besides they provide benefits like shade which keeps the evapo-transpiration rates down.
Weeding Wild Suburbia has some good thoughts about the value of trees.
Photo by Saxon Holt on
6. In the long run, we do need to change our priorities to a new aesthetic of what looks nice in the dry West. See for photos and more on this topic.

7. Water is a commodity. You can buy water. Think Sparkletts and Arrrowhead on a grander scale.

What Decanso Gardens did when they lost their water supply: Descanso Gardens lost its main water source in the station fire. David Brown, executive director, said the fire melted PCV piping that brought the water into storage tanks from nearby Hall Beckley Canyon. “The tanks were empty, as well,” Brown said. “We imagine the firefighters used the water.” The tanks have been a major source of water supply for the botanical gardens for more than six decades, having been established for that purpose by Descanso founder Manchester Boddy. Until a repair is made, Descanso will see its water bill from Valley Water Company double. Right now, they’re spending $600 a day.

For laughs to lighten up things ...What my neighbor did to reduce water usage or WWTT as Loree of danger garden puts it. He planted 10,000 square feet of concrete or more than enough for the family cars, all five of them, for a family of four.

The strip next to the street contains ice plant on a timer that goes on rain or shine, from Google Maps

I would love to hear comments and discussion on this. These are my opinions. Are they valid? What are your thoughts and opinions?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Visit to the Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch

The  Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch is located on the Cal Poly Pomona campus.  It features products from the campus farm (animals), orchards, nursery, and apiary.

W.K. Kellogg (April 7, 1860 – October 6, 1951), was an American industrialist in food manufacturing, best known as the founder of the Kellogg Company, which produces popular breakfast cereals.
  In 1925, he purchased 377 acres (1.5 km2) for $250,000 in Pomona, California, to establish an Arabian horse ranch. The Kellogg ranch became well known in southern California for its horse breeding program. In 1932, Kellogg donated the ranch, which had grown to 750 acres (3 km²), to the University of California.  Many things happened in the intervening years. The ranch eventually became part of California State Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo. It became known as the Kellogg Campus, and in 1966, it was separated to form California State Polytechnic College Pomona (now California State Polytechnic University, Pomona). -- from Wikipedia
CLA Building on the campus of Cal Poly Pomona with the San Gabriel Mountains in the background. -- from Wikimedia Commons

The Drive

The map given on the website is NOT to scale. It is a long drive, but pretty, through the San Jose Hills.

I learned ...

* Mt. SAC is a huge college
This air photo from shows only part of Mt. SAC but it includes the surrounding hillsides in the same view. The walnuts grow on the shaded slopes.

* the hills are drier than I have ever seen them, even the shrubs are crumpled up. This is an endangered habitat called walnut woodland. It will, however, revive when the rains come. It has survived thousands of years.

The Store

* the parking lot roses were outstanding, huge and covered with blooms, each standing well apart from its neighbor. But the lot itself is small and crowded with cars waiting for spaces to empty.

A smudge pot used to heat oranges groves when frost was expected, caused the worst smog you can imagine, much better now with so many regulations concerning fuels

* the store itself was disappointing to me. It sold stuff you could find at any tourist stop across the USA. I expected local.

* the farm grown produce offered for sale was over-sized, wilted and moldy.

* the nursery was better.  The tomato and pepper selection was as advertised, over 80 varieties of tomatoes and over 50 varieties of pepper.

I contained myself with the tomato selection and bought only Hawaiian Pineapple, Persimmon and Stupice.  These are experimental. I have never tried them before. Couldn't resist comparing two orange/gold/yellow tomatoes with fruity names. What fun!

Nu-Mex Suave Orange, supposed to taste like a habanero, but mild

But I went wild with the peppers. The kind of peppers I prefer are neither bells nor the kind that is dried and ground. I use peppers for breakfast with eggs and tortillas; they are very flavorful like the kind that is dried, yet meaty like the bells. Last year, the Nu-Mex 6-4 produced prolifically for me. The ones I bought this day are improved Nu-Mex: Joe E. Parker (2), Suave Orange, and Hatch Red, plus a replacement for my four-year-old serrano.

They were selling celeriac which surprised me as I thought it was a cool season crop. But I bought two to experiment with anyway.

The sun was definitely in the wrong position to take pictures, or rather I was there at the wrong time of day to get many good ones.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Wordless: Raindrops on Roses

'Heritage', an English rose, very fragrant

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

When the Olive Leaves Turn Silver

When you look at an olive tree, its leaves are normally olive-colored without wind or in the prevailing wind which, in this location, is the sea breeze blowing from the southwest.

When a storm is coming in, the leaves on the upper branches turn silver because their backs are exposed to view since the wind is in a different direction, in this case, south-southeast indicating a frontal system is on its way.

If you listen to the wind in the fan palms, you can also tell when rain is coming because the noise is much louder than a normal sea breeze for the same reason, the fronds are in an unusual position.

Color of olive tree without wind

The wind begins; you can see silver in the middle of the olive tree and a bit of blue sky; watch the tips of the Italian cypresses on the right

More silver leaves, more gray sky

With silver highlights and a darker sky
Bending with the wind, a lot of silver; look at the cypresses on the right

Way out west, they got a name
For rain and wind and fire
The rain is Tess, the fire's Joe and
They call the wind Mariah

from Paint Your Wagon, a musical comedy, with book and lyrics by Alan J. Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe.

Olive branch showing both sides

Silver side

Olive side

Together showing the great contrast

There's a storm comin' in

And it's here!

Substitute the word "storm" for "coach" and sing loudly!

There's a coach comin' in!
There's a coach comin' in!
Comin in!
Comin in!
Comin in!
Comin in!
Comin in!

There's a coach comin' in
If you listen you can hear it
A clip-cloppin' over the hill
And the sound that you hear
Is as good to your ear
As the call of a wild whippoorwill

There's a coach comin' in
You can feel it gettin' near
All at once then it bursts into view
And it looks to your eye
Like it fell from the sky
Like a coach full of dreams come true


There's a coach comin' in
There's a coach comin' in
And it's here!

from Paint Your Wagon

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The News for Today

The Meteorological Department


I think the weather has been like a see-saw. When it gets hotter in the Pacific Southwest, it gets colder in the Northeast and all the rain and snow slide to there leaving us dry, dry, dry.

The New Acquisitions Department

Rosa First Prize, rose-pink with an ivory pink reverse, withstood today's extreme heat perfectly well

Rosa Belinda's Dream, looking a little ragged from the heat

Rosa All American Magic, what a surprise I happened upon at the nursery today, only the buds look a little peaked, otherwise holding up well; I think the coloring, red and gold turning to pink and cream, is magical

The Animal Farm

Happy fish; a big, heavy clay pot; what should he be eating or spewing forth? any ideas?

Cotyledon campanulata, sometimes called octopus cotyledon

Cotyledon orbiculata 'Elk Horns', love, love, love the blue gray color on this plant as well as the irregular leaf shape

The Opinion Desk
(added Fri Mar 27, 10:43 am)

After reading On Lady Bird Johnson, Beauty, and Tulips v. Daffodils by Susan Harris in Garden Rant

1. What is wrong with Lady Bird's "focus on the aesthetic — pretty flowers?"

2. "The desire for beauty in our yards is under attack these days." Why is this?  Who says?

3.  "Would mums, annuals or roses be used today?" Why not? They're are just as pretty as ever, if not more so.

Pam Penick at Digging has some beautiful posts about the Wildflower Center. This is the latest one:
Gorgeous weeds and walls at the Wildflower Center

It is a beautiful and innovative garden. I'd go for a walk there anytime, but I'll make do with Pam's admirable posts about it.

What is it with these media people? Who is gaining money out of stuff like this? I did take some of these statements out of context, but why were they remarkable at all?  The original article quoted in the rant is much better.