Free Herbal Medicine & Eco-Gardening Classes in So Cal!

If you are in Southern California (especially the South Bay area in particular), I have found a great lineup of free gardening classes coming up this summer!

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The photo above shows one of my most recent projects…a new herb garden which includes a variety of medicinal herbs. More on that coming soon!

First up, is a class that I am really excited about…intro to herbal medicine at Sunflower Farms Nursery in Torrance. It is taking place on Saturday, June 14th (tomorrow!) from 10-11:30 a.m. The class will include a history of herbal medicine, overview of common and less-known herbs and their uses, garden tour, question and answers, and more. Attendees all receive 10% off their purchase the day of the class too! I can tell you from experience that they are very knowledgeable about so much, and herbal medicine in particular. The past couple of weeks have been really rough around here since our son started getting all of his first set of molars in. I went into Sunflower Farms last week, desperate for some recommendations of something that could help him. We happily went home with an amazing herb called a toothache plant which has been doing wonders (I will blog all about it later!). At Sunflower Farms, they also have some amazing sample gardens that are worth the trip alone (drought tolerant garden, formal garden, English cottage garden, desert style garden, etc.)!

Sunflower Farms is located at:
17609 S Western Ave
Torrance, CA 90501

Next up is the Eco Gardening series at the South Coast Botanic Garden, sponsored by the Water Replenishment District of Southern California. You need to register ahead of time, but classes are free with paid admission to the garden (and free for garden members). If you are outside of the Palos Verdes area, you should periodically check back on the Water Replenishment District website since they also offer classes in other areas of Southern California as well, such as Lakewood, Norwalk, etc. You can register for the classes and find more info on their website here.

I attended the first class this past week and am very excited about all of the upcoming classes! The first class covered garden design and planning, and gave me some new ideas for our various projects. I even got sent home with a great workbook, some info fliers, and they were so kind as to provide snacks during the class which was great since this tired mama didn’t bring enough to keep my little man occupied. 🙂 The SCBG also has lots of other great classes as well, so be sure to check out their website too!

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Last but not least, the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden also offers a series of free gardening classes! Most of these are already past, but there is one remaining that I am looking forward to, sustainable edibles. A lot of edibles require high water usage, so I am excited to hear what recommendations they have at this class. Be sure to check the Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden website in the future for their upcoming schedules of classes.

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Here We Go Again….

Okay, I will admit it. We are project crazy. We have problems bringing any project to completion because something else urgent always seems to come up. I know that’s typical with homeowners, but we take things to the extreme. 🙂 We finally got everything planted in our back garden, and then we had that awful heat wave. I had been talking about getting rid of all of the grass for a while, but the heat wave made our grass in the front yard look pretty awful. I refuse to drown the darn lawn in tons and tons of water since we are in such a bad drought. I had a plan in mind that was supposed to come later, but it ended up taking priority.

My husband blames one of our neighbors since he asked me when I was going to do the front yard like I did the back yard. I am a Craigslist junkie, and one day last week, I stumbled upon two separate SUV loads full of free landscape succulents. Since my garden design plans for the front included landscape succulents, drought tolerant native flowers, some paths between flower beds and dry river beds, I was pretty ecstatic. Suddenly the front yard makeover got bumped from “when we have a chance” to “NOW”.

When I started planning the back yard makeover, I sketched everything out on paper first, which got translated to a bunch of different versions drawn up to scale on the computer. That was a lot of work but we were trying to make sure we had room to put in all of the structural elements that we wanted. The front yard design was going to be much simpler, and hopefully faster, so I just sketched out the design I had in mind with landscape spray paint.

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Next, my husband rented a sod cutter, then shoveled out all of the grass. He loaded it up in the wheelbarrow, and it all got dumped down into our lower side lot for now. Some of that will be repurposed when we do his rustic man-cave garden down in that area (he wants a bunch of different levels and layers of plants and trees). Next, we started the frantic process of yet again trying to get all of the plants in the ground. I was hoping that we would get more done over the holiday weekend, but since I was fighting off a nasty sore throat and cough, we didn’t get as much planting finished as I had hoped. Hopefully it will all be in the ground shortly!

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Garden Reveal!

Our backyard remodel has been a major undertaking. Way bigger than we would have anticipated. It has taken so much longer than we had planned, and there are still a lot of last details left to finish. When I made over our front yard two years ago, everything went a lot faster since I didn’t have a child to take care of, and I didn’t have my mobility and pain problems. Those two new factors have made this project infinitely slower. I know a lot of people have been curious to see a reveal, so I wanted to post pictures of the progress so far. 🙂

I hated the ugly retaining walls that go throughout our backyard, and I have been trying to convince my husband to let me paint them some bright colors ever since we moved in. Finally, I looked for some examples on Pinterest that were close enough to what I had in mind that helped me convince him that I should paint. E’s garden is so much more fun now that it is colorful. 🙂 I have a really exciting project in mind for the planter above his garden…I can’t wait to get that installed too!

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I haven’t finished painting this area, but that will come soon enough. The table was an antique store find and actually came with four different chairs, but I wanted the set because I thought the chairs would be perfect around our firepit. The table was cute too, and got paired with four chairs that were a great thrift store find at $2 each!

The pink flowers in the top planter are one of the few that I did not plant (along with the roses that they are mixed in with). They were there from a previous owner, and are amazing. They are super low-maintenance, need almost no water, and reseed themselves each year. They are called a bunch of different names, but you can find them at Home Depot under the name Red Valerian. In the bottom row, I have our dwarf almond tree and kumquat tree, which I planted when we moved in. In between those, I planted more low water plants, lots of geraniums and Santa Barbara daisies.

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This is the pergola that my husband built at our old house! We actually had our small wedding reception under this pergola in our old backyard, so it is extra special. (We had two wedding days…the ceremony day that was moved up when we found out my grandma was dying and our originally planned date). The diagonal pieces needed to be replaced after the move, so my dad made these new ones for us! They still need to be painted but look great.

The pergola used to be our patio dining area at our old house, but now it is a play zone. 🙂 Underneath the pergola is the artificial grass my husband installed (more info on that in a later post), and a nice play area for the little guy and his friends. Things are a little more put away than usual today since we are expecting rain, but this is where his bounce house/ball pit normally sits, and his trains are put away from the train table. We actually found the train table for free on Craigslist, but it needed some legs, which was an easy fix for my husband! It is one of E’s favorite things. 🙂 I will post pictures of his bounce house/ball pit when I blog about his birthday party, but in the meantime, you can check it out here.
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This is the part of the garden where all the work really took place…I am going to post some wide angle overview pictures here and then go into more detail about all of the various projects and areas within the next few days!

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Our to-do list for this project still includes installing new raised beds for veggies, completing the irrigation system (I am hand watering for now…not too bad since most of the plants have low water requirements), installing the shade fabric system that will be drawn or retracted over the entire garden, lighting, sound system, waterfall, and adding more decomposed granite as walkway.

We originally were going to put in pavers, stepping stones, bricks or gravel, but then I realized that the decomposed granite that we put down as an underlayer is much easier for me to walk on! I like how it looks and it is super cheap (you can often even find it for free!), and we just need a bit more to thicken it up.

Lots more details coming in the next few days!

Garden Progress!

This project has taken way longer than we expected (of course), but here are some updates! We got everything prepped for our new ground covers. Part of the area will have artificial grass – the play area under the pergola that my husband made when we lived at our old house, and brought with us. The rest of the area will have flower beds, vegetable beds, and some type of hardscape in between. Originally we had planned on gravel, but with my pelvic instability, I have noticed that I have a hard time walking on gravel. For now, we have the layer of base and the layer of compacted decomposed granite down while we decide. It’s actually not too bad on its own, but did get a bit messy after the recent rain.

Below: trenches finished, lines run for irrigation, electrical and ethernet. Yup, my engineer husband is installing ethernet in our backyard. What outdoor living space would be complete without movies, music, and internet?

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The rotted out fence and gate had to come down to make room for the Bobcat to come through.

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All that remained was the reinforcement post that my dad put up when the fence fell down and my husband was out of town.

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E thinking, “Hey Daddy, what’s this thing?”
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E had to pretend to drive the Bobcat.
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We had two huge piles like this in our driveway, one base and one decomposed granite.
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Bringing back the Bobcat.
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Bringing in the huge roll of artificial grass.
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Sneak peek of one of my small flower beds!

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