Rose Care Tips

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I have had so much going on lately that I haven’t had the time to blog as much as I would like to ideally. I do however always have my phone with me, so I am making an effort to give lots of gardening tips lately with my Instagram photos of our garden You can find me at http://www.instagram.com/aliciainwonderlandphotos 🙂 The photo above is an example of one of my recent garden grams!

Also, I recently discovered Periscope, which is so much fun! You can post little live broadcast videos, right from your cell phone (which can also be watched later on replay)! I just uploaded a couple of videos about how I take care of our roses, and how I use them as an important part of my diet. I am really excited about adding these gardening videos into my blogging routine. Be sure to check them out! You can watch the replay of the first one here, and the second part here. Enjoy! 🙂

Backyard Garden Tour – Flowers and Plants!

This is the most exciting part of my backyard garden tour, where I show the flowers and plants I selected in more detail! In selecting my plants, I wanted to make sure that most were low-water plants (with the exception of the roses…those need more water but I justify it because they are my favorite and I use them for lots of culinary uses and herbal teas in the winter). I also gave myself the added challenge of making sure there were no poisonous flowers or plants since our cats and dogs like to nibble on anything they can find. They used to munch on grass, but now that we have no lawn, anything is fair game to them. Also, I would hate for our little guy or any of his friends to get sick if they put a plant in their mouth!

I ended up using a variety of flowers that are actually edible and/or herbs. Roses are edible, as are fuchsias, nasturtiums, and many other flowers. The cats love finding a cozy spot to curl up with some of the herbs I planted such as lavender. Below, I have some nasturtiums, Santa Barbara daisies, geraniums, Mexican sage, California lilac, Shasta daisies, red valerian, elephant’s bush, and a David Austin rose. I planted lots of geraniums and Santa Barbara daisies throughout the garden because they do so well in our climate. They were actually planted here in a couple of spots by a previous owner and survived despite the house being vacant for about a year.

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Another variety of sage with some more David Austin roses.
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My David Austin Malvern Hills rambling roses.
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I selected almost all David Austin roses because I love their scents and old fashioned charm. They look so different from most of the roses that you see these days, and to me they are worth the extra investment.
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Bacopa and ivy geranium in hanging baskets near the Malvern Hills roses.
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Lavender, nasturtiums and our dwarf lemon tree.
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A little vignette of color in a semi-shady area…coleus, fuchsias, bacopa, sweet potato vines, and heuchera.
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These firestick succulents in the center of this arrangement have actually been relocated elsewhere since I took this photo. I learned from one of the instructors in the series of gardening classes I am currently taking that they are extremely toxic and can cause temporary blindness, and even be poisonous enough to kill if enough is ingested. When I initially read about them online, all I saw was that they could be a “mild skin irritant”. Apparently they can do a whole lot more than just irritate your skin!
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I planted pretty much any kind of sage and lavender I could find.
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The bright pink flowers below were actually here when we bought our house. They are one of the very few plants that were here originally that I left growing (there were many diseased, dying, poorly planted, and poisonous plants that I removed over the past couple of years). They are called red valerian or Jupiter’s beard. They are amazing and super hardy. They are self-seeding, and come back year after year. Occasionally, I trim off the spent blooms to clean them up a bit, but they are really low maintenance. They also require almost no water. I literally barely ever water them. Right now, in our horrible drought, they are one of the few plants that I see in the nearby wild areas that are still alive. Even lots of the native plants are just brown with the current drought.

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I also recently found a similar white flower, which I was excited about.
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In the level below all of the red valerian, I have lots of geraniums and Santa Barbara daisies planted. They also need very little water.
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Under our fig tree, I have a little shady area of the garden that needed some shade loving plants. I used lots of fuchsias, with some jade, Persian shield, coleus, and mint. The jade plants were burnt in the heatwave recently but are recovering quite nicely now.
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This is another little shady area under our hibiscus tree. Here I planted helichrysum, begonias, heuchera, fuchsias, coleus, Persian shield and iresine. I just love all of the bright colors in this area. Most people tend to think they have to grow impatiens in a shady area (which I think are such a boring flower), but there are so many more options for shady areas of your garden!

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Behind the row of roses, the sunflowers that my son and I planted from seed are really starting to bloom like crazy. 🙂
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Front Yard Garden Progress!

We have made some good progress on our project in our front yard garden! We have all of the grass out, and all of the new plants in. I have a mixture of drought tolerant plants mixed in with landscape succulents. There are also a few exceptions, like the Cecil Brunner climbing roses that I planted on the arbor (I am just crazy about roses, as you can tell from our back yard), and our fruit trees which need a bit more water, but once everything has established their roots systems, all of the other plants will need very little water!

Originally, I had planted blackberries and climbing white raspberries on the arbor. When we started working on our yard a little over two years ago, we paid for a “garden expert” to come in and give us a consultation, and make sure we were planting things in the right spots, and help with plant identification. She told us that spot was fine for the berries, but it didn’t seem like they were getting enough sun lately because of our huge pine trees. I moved them to the back, in E’s garden, where they get full sun, and they are thriving there. The “expert” also told us that one of the trees that I thought was a fruit tree was just a plain old non-fruiting deciduous tree. E and I just tasted our first apricot off that tree the other day, so sometimes you have to trust your instincts. 😉

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In front of the arbor, I have my new medicinal herbs planted. 🙂 I will have lots of posts coming up about these various plants.
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On the other side, I have some of my culinary herbs. These are the herbs that like dryer conditions. The ones that like more moist conditions are in a small self-watering planter near the front door. I love having all of my culinary herbs closer to the kitchen now, which makes harvesting them for cooking dinner much easier. Before I was walking through a semi-dark back yard and it got frustrating at times.
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The upper half of our yard was a challenge because of the way the hill is graded, but we are going to turn part of the empty part into a dry river bed.
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The dry river bed will continue down through here.
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This fountain is my favorite part of the front yard now. I found it for free on Craigslist, and knew I wanted to use it to plant succulents in. It didn’t have a motor, and seemed to be missing a top piece, but that was easily remedied with the something from the collection of little garden sculptures I had collected for the backyard. 🙂
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I put down a layer of pea gravel in the bottom of the fountain layers, then put in potting soil, planted my succulents, and finished with another layer of pea gravel for mulch.
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There are several types of succulents in here that will eventually cascade over, including string of pearls, string of bananas, and donkey’s tail.
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I planted some larger succulents below the fountain, with some pretty lava rock around them.
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There are varying amounts of sun throughout the front yard because of our huge pine trees, so plant selection for all of the various areas was important. I selected plants that range from full shade to full sun, depending on the location. Some of the plants that I used include Mother-in-Law’s tongue, jade, geraniums, red valerian, Cleveland sage, dune buckwheat (native variety to the Palos Verdes penninsula, which I purchased from our local Botanic Garden), aloe vera, salvia, and a variety of other landscape succulents. Some of the plants that I planted previously include lavender, rosemary, iresine, helichrysum, pink breath of heaven, asparagus fern, and iceberg roses.

If you are planning a garden and are unsure of how much sun a particular area gets, I found a great sunlight meter online that I use to confirm the amount of light an area gets per day, full sun, partial shade, etc. You can find it here.
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We still need to put in mulch around all of the new plants, but we had been having a hard time getting mulch from the location nearby. After I wrote my blog post about free mulch for Los Angeles residents, I have been getting tons of traffic on that post. Coincidentally (or not), we have had a really difficult time getting mulch since then. 🙂 We have gone multiple times lately and the mulch has been all taken. We finally got another truckload the other day after checking with the city on the timing of the refill schedule. Once we get the mulch down, we will be adding in the dry river beds and finally the pathways in the remaining areas. I can’t wait until it is all finished!

Plants Are Like People…They Can Get Sunburnt Too!

When planning a garden, timing is crucial. It is important to plant in early spring or fall so that the plants can establish themselves before dealing with any extremes in heat or cold. The past couple of months, I haven’t done too much blogging since I have been so busy trying to make sure all of our new plants are comfortable in their new environment. With the exception of just a few plants, I selected only things that are very drought tolerant since we are in Los Angeles (we are currently in the middle of a really bad drought here in Southern California).

This week has had extreme temperatures here in L.A., definitely way out of the normal range for spring. Hot even compared to our normal summer temperatures. Like 105 degrees in the shade, just a few miles from the ocean kind of heat. Some of my plants were definitely not ready for this kind of heat. Yesterday was the worst heat all week, and when I went outside in the evening, a lot of my new plants were wilting and looking quite miserable. The nasturtiums in specific surprised me the most…some of them literally got burnt to a crisp! I was surprised since nasturtiums grow wild here along most of the horse trails nearby. However, we don’t normally get that kind of extreme desert heat here!

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Some of my sun-loving succulents also got a bit crispy as well. 😦

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This one surprised me the most…I moved most of my houseplants out of the living room so I could keep the dark drapes closed and keep as much heat out of the house as possible. I relocated all of my houseplants to our two patios so they would still be able to get some sun. These jade plants were placed in the south facing, covered patio and got pretty burnt. I guess the change was too much for them since they had been indoors previously. My outdoor jade plants are all doing okay.

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Last night, after seeing how droopy everything had gotten, I gave everything a good deep watering, and I mixed up a super-revive solution for all of our new plants. I made a diluted mixture of compost tea, seaweed emulsion, fish emulsion, and expired breastmilk that had to be cleaned out from the freezer anyway. I know it sounds crazy, but expired breastmilk does wonders for wilting and depressed plants! It is packed full of nutrients, and whenever I have some to spare, I feed it to whichever plants are most in need of a pick-me-up! This morning, everything looked much better (minus the crispy bits). 🙂

And just for fun, here’s our little cutie, trying to stay cool inside the house. 🙂
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