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Photo: Daffodils at Sunset

Daffodils at Sunset

Spring is coming…I promise! You need no more proof than these lovely daffodils. You might notice that some of these are already fading, as they have been blooming for over 2 weeks now.

I promise that the snow will eventually melt — the bulbs will emerge (if they haven’t already) and before you know it you will be complaining about the humidity and the mosquitos. I know this, as I will never lose the memories of growing up in rural Ohio and doing just that. (SMILE)

Event: Tomatomania 2011 – Encino – March 25-27

It is almost time for Tomatomania again. This yearly event with both California and New England locations kicks off the growing season with tomato seedlings in hundreds of varieties, from heirloom to modern hybrids.

We are lucky in that one of the major locations is within a mile of our house and garden, so it is always easy to check out “the mania” and see what is new and cool this year.


Here is a video with Tomatomania founder, Scott Daigre, from 2008. I am going to try and get a new video with him during this year’s event, so what AGN for more updates.

Current confirmed dates include…

  • Encinitas (San Diego), CA – March 19 – 20 San Diego Botanic Garden

  • Encino (Los Angeles), CA – March 25 – 27 Tapia Brothers’ Farm Stand

  • Fillmore, CA – April 1 – 2 Otto and Sons Nursery

  • La Canada Flintridge, CA – April 2 – 3 Descanso Gardens

  • Ojai, CA – April 8 – 10 Flora Gardens Nursery

  • Sonoma, CA – April 16 -17Cornerstone Sonoma

  • Fullerton, CA – April 16 -17Green Scene

  • Lothian, MD -April 29 – May 1 Greenstreet Growers

  • Litchfield, CT – May 20 – 22 White Flower Farm

  • Boston, MA – May 22 only Mass Hort’s Elm Bank

**Dates confirmed as of February 15th, 2011.
Exciting new additions to the sales schedule will be announced as confirmed!

Evergreens of all sorts


Eucalyptus tree

One nice thing about our garden is that we have a host of evergreen trees and shrubs, so even during the winter the garden still looks pretty green. Of course, with our wonky rain cycle, Winter is usually the greener part of the year anyway. It is the summer months that turn everything brown. (or golden, as I prefer to say (SMILE)) We have a large Eucalyptus, Ficus, Carrotwood and pine trees in the garden along with a few deciduous trees like Ash, Camphor and our huge Elm tree out front. The azaleas, which make up the front garden are also evergreen. These azalea replace any lawn we might have in the front garden and I prefer doing their once-per-year haircut to the constant management of a lawn.


We host a party in the garden each summer and I am always a bit dismayed how rough it looks. The bulbs are all spent and the paths are dusty for want of rain. The roses can even start to look a little shabby. They like the sun, but the heat tends to wilt them or, during the hottest years, dry the blossoms while they are till on the plant.

While the trees do tend to shade the garden quite a bit and prevent us from growing vegetables, their benefits in cooling and reduction of our air conditioning bills is well worth it. They have become a bit of an expense, though, as they are so large that we can no longer prune them ourselves. We have to call in the tree crew that climbs up into the top of the trees and prunes from there. This is typically a $200-$300 expense for our largest trees, so you usually don’t do it more than every 2-3 years.

So, even though we don’t get snow here in Los Angeles, evergreens can keep your garden looking fine throughout the year much as they do in the colder climes of North America.

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Male pollen cones on black pine

Male cones on Black PIne (?), originally uploaded by dewelch.

I believe this tree is a black pine, as it was planted as part of the original Japanese theming of the gardens. The previous owners had many Japanese garden plants and decorative elements, but we have reverted the garden to mainly a tiny woodland environment.

If you can identify these trees as something else, please let me know. Plant identification is not necessarily one of my strong suits.

The cones on this tree, and the 8 or so others in the garden, send up huge clouds of pollen if you brush by them at this time of year. I can imagine a allergy sufferer would be in big trouble if they were to wander through the garden at this time of year.

It is just one more sign that our California Spring is not too far away. Spring and Fall are so truncated out here, though, that if you blink you might miss them passing at all. The season seems to move directly from Winter (with cool temperatures and rain like we are having now) and Summer with its high temperatures and drought conditions. Fall suffers the same short fate, passing by before you even get a chance to experience it.

…and the wind does blow

…and the wind does blow, originally uploaded by dewelch.

No wind today. It was a gorgeous day with white puffy clouds and blue skies. Instead of gardening, though, we went to the local archery range and park for a little practice with our local SCA group. We concentrated mainly on throwing knives and axes, a very good way to get out any tension and stress that might have built up over the previous week. (SMILE)

Actually, there was a little gardening today. Joseph took the line trimmer to some of the grass that has exploded in the front garden. We have had a good year for rain, so far, and while the roses have exploded in growth so has the grass and weeds. I will let things dry out for one more day, then pull some weeds, as the slightly damp soil should make it easier.

The windmill in the picture was a gift from my wife several years ago. I grew up in a small town in Ohio where windmills were very common, so she thought is would be a pleasant addition to the garden. It has been, too. (You can see a short video of the windmill in motion in this video) I love sitting out there and watching it turn in the wind, adjusting to the changing direction.

Waiting for spring

Waiting for spring, originally uploaded by dewelch.

Took a few cold minutes between the raindrops to grab some picture of the garden. This older watering can was left out and ended up gathering a bit of rain to use later.

I have thought about installing some rain barrels int he garden, but the work and expense involved never seem to overcome the thought of how little rain we get most years, even in the winter months. While this year is turning out to be nicely wet, we have had drought years where it didn’t rain more than a few inches the entire year.

Maybe I just need to “step up” and get the barrels installed, much like I did with the compost piles a few years ago. Those have certainly ended up being very useful, maybe the same could be said for rain barrels.

Photo taken with iPhone using Toonpaint

I Like This – February 18, 2011

Event: Great Backyard Bird Count info from Animalbytes

My friend Keri Dearborn has some info on this year’s Great Backyard Bird Count over on her site at Keri is leading a bird count at the LA Zoo on Friday, February 18, 2011. Get all the info from the links below.

Great Backyard Bird Count, Los Angeles

Great Backyard Count – Main Site

A little time in the garden this weekend

I finally found that this weekend I didn’t feel I have a 100 other tasks to complete, so somehow I ended up in the garden. I really had only planned to filled the bird feeders, but then I allowed some other tasks to attract my attention

First was just a little cleanup in the back woodland area. The Iron Plant had a bunch of spent leaves so I took a few minutes to clean them up. There are a lot of leaves to clean up back there, too, so I need to drag the chipper shredder out of its shed and put it to work again. I hope it will start after a few months of storage, but if not I have a few friends I can all on for their mechanical expertise.

Garden Cleanup

Next, I finally got around to planting the sword ferns I pulled from a friend’s garden. I have had these in pots for months. I figured they would die before I got them in the ground, but they actually seemed to thrive in the pots, especially after the big rains we had last month. There are even a few, new fiddleheads forming on the base of each one. Still, it was time to get them into the ground, so I took a bare area in the deeply shaded south bed and spaced the three out to give them some room to spread. I think this is a good spot for these ferns and hope they fill the entire end of the bed. It was looking pretty sad, but I think this will green things up a bit.

This picture shows them in their new home.

Newly planted sword ferns

Finally, I happened to notice the wisteria had suddenly spring to life. It had been completely bare just a few days ago, but now the plant at each leg of the pergola was throwing off green leaves with abandon. I had hoped to neaten it up a bit before it leafed out, but that will have to wait until the mid-season pruning in the few months, I guess. We are still in a recovery period for the wisteria, due to the severe pruning we did when the pergola was built, so no flowers this year. Maybe next.

Wisteria leaves

Until next time, go enjoy your garden!