Gardening playlist from Douglas’ YouTube Channel

You can find mangy garden videos over on my YouTube Channel. You can subscribe to that channel to get notice of new videos. You can also watch all the garden-related videos using the playlist shown below.

If you can’t see the video above, please watch the playlist on YouTube



Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

Subscribe to A Gardener’s Notebook podcast via iTunes

Event: The Los Angeles Zoo Docents’ Garden Boutique and Bake Sale – Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Azad logo

What do flowers & flour have in common?

The Los Angeles Zoo Docents’ Garden Boutique and Bake Sale

Benefiting the LA Zoo Docents’ National 2012 AZAD Conference – an annual conference, this year inviting zoo and aquarium docents from all over the U.S. to enjoy the hospitality of Southern California.

We invite you to support us by enjoying plants that please the eye & sweets and savories that please the palate!

WHEN: Sunday, June 3rd, 1:00 – 4:00
WHERE: In the Garden at 536 North June Street, Hancock Park (No reservations, no entry fee!)

Held with the support of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.


Topsy Turvy planter finally put to use


We finally got around to planting this Topsy Turvy tomato planter that our friends gave us last season. It took a fortuitous combination of events to make it happen, though.

First, I made a batch of homemade potting soil to use in the planter. Second, our local Orchard Supply Warehouse had a sale on all edible plants and third, we had planned to spend a lot of time in the garden this weekend working on our big path mulching project. See the post from yesterday for more info on that. )

With all our mature trees, we don’t get a lot of sun, but I tried to place this in the sunniest area I had that also gave somewhere to hang it.

There are 2 plants in this planter —  one a Early Girl and one a Celebrity.

Photos from Saturday6 2011 Kick-off meetup

As I enter my second season as part of the Troy-Bilt’s Saturday6 program, I thought I would re-share the pictures from our big kickoff last May at the Troy-Bilt world headquarters. It was great meeting all my fellow Saturday6 bloggers, playing around with new equipment, seeing and eating great food at Chef’s Garden and finally, visiting my family who live nearby. All the recent work on launching this season of Saturday6 made me go looking for these photos to relive some great memories.


Troy-Bilt staff and Saturday6 bloggers

If you don’t see the slide show above, you can view it directly on Flickr

Mulch for the garden paths…and a little unexpected excitement

We noticed a tree service truck in the neighborhood that had a load of wood chips that was mainly that, wood, rather that the typical load that contains more leaves than wood. We had been thinking of a project for a long time and this finally set it into motion.

After visiting Descanso Gardens years ago, I noticed that they used their own wood chips to lay the paths through the more wild area of the garden. After fighting with the pea gravel that covered the paths when we first bought our house, I have been looking for an alternative for a long time and I thought the idea of wood chips was one of the best. We have been creating our own wood chips using our chipper-shredder, but simply didn’t have enough material to even begin to cover the paths in the garden. Pea gravel can play havoc with the blades on a chipper-shredder, so finding a solution that allowed us to clean up leaf litter without picking up the gravel was high on my list of needs.

Load of wood chip from local tree service

The wood chip as it arrived

The Mulch Pile

Spreading the mulch out and then onto the paths.

Is it hot in here?

Of course, not major project like this goes without a hitch and we had our own little bit of drama.

As you can see in the top photo, the mulch was dumped off the truck into a fairly large and fairly deep pile. While I had learned about spontaneous combustion1 in my farm town childhood – it could lead to fire in the barns in the area — I hadn’t really though about it much since moving to Los Angeles. Spontaneous combustion occurs when materials start to breakdown in an organic process. It is the very same process that creates such wonderful compost for our gardens, but if it runs away it can actually cause piles to smolder, or even ignite. Yikes!

When I went out to move some of the mulch onto the garden paths that evening, I noticed something quite worrisome. From the deepest part of the pile, steam was rising. Not only that, but there was a faint smell of smoldering wood. Hmmm, not good. I knew immediately what it was, although I hadn’t thought that it could occur in this relatively small pile of material.

Sure enough, after digging around a bit I found some areas of the pile to be extremely warm. Opening up parts of the pile would release heat and steam almost like walking into the room after someone had taken a hot shower. Time to get to work. We spent the better part of 2 hours breaking down the large pile into a wider, flatter pile — opening up any areas that appeared to be steaming. I wasn’t worried so much about the pile catching fire, but rather that a neighbor, seeing the steam rising, would call the fire department.

Luckily, spreading the pile out reduced the amount of heat any area could hold and the steaming stopped. I did notice that as we began spreading the mulch onto the paths in the back garden, there were still a few areas that were quite warm. It is my guess that the hot areas are where there were a large collection of wet green leaves. These leaves can start their breakdown very quickly and the mulch around it acts as an insulator, allowing the heat to grow more and more.

So, if you are planning on a delivery of mulch, wood chip or compost, you might want to keep an eye on it and spread it out a bit. Leaving it in a large, deep pile — even for a few hours could result in a little more excitement than you might wish.

Mulch on the paths

Mulch on the paths


Photo: Garden work today. Volunteers gladly accepted! via Instagram

Garden work today. Volunteers gladly accepted! 

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Gardens of LA – Huntington Library, Art Galley and Botanic Gardens, San Marino, CA

Now that Google Maps and Google Earth have such great satellite and aerial imagery, I am revisiting some posts that I made many years ago. I am dubbing this series, The Gardens of LA. Here I will highlight one of the many gardens that can be visited — or at least viewed — throughout our area. I will also be branching out to gardens around the world eventually.

Huntington Library, Art Center and Gardens, Pasadena, CA

#2 Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens

View Larger Map

Arguably one of the best known gardens of all of Southern California, the Huntington is indeed amazingly impressive. Originally the home of Henry Huntington, railroad magnate, Huntington Gardens now covers over 200 acres in gardens of different styles. My favorite is the Japanese Garden, which can be seen on the oval on the left of the of the map above. (Use the + icon to zoom in on the map) although the cactus and succulent garden is also quite striking. One can easily lose and entire day wandering the grounds and always find something amazing to view.

Link: Huntington Library, Art Galley and Botanical Gardens

Previously features on Gardens of LA:



Grass in my garden journal

An Instagram photo of some fountain grass that I sketched in my garden journal.


Video: California Carnivores from

Typically Cool Hunting focuses on art and style type of stories, but this recent video on Carnivorous plants caught my eye for sharing here on A Gardener’s Notebook. Enjoy! — Douglas


“In our latest video we trekked out into the beautiful farmland outside Sebastopol, California to visit California Carnivores, North America’s largest carnivorous plant nursery. We spoke with founder Peter D’Amato about his personal history with these hungry plants, their cultural significance and what it takes to raise up fantastical plants from seed. Taking in the active plant life, we watched Venus Flytraps chowing down and a got a peak inside the stomach of an American Pitcher Plant.

See more of our videos at