Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nursery Visit: Roger's Gardens

Disregarding the fact that summer is officially here and summer is definitely not the optimal time to plant in Southern California, I nonetheless joined a friend this week on a trip to Roger's Gardens, our favorite Orange County nursery.  I brought along my camera on the theory that time spent taking pictures was time not spent picking up plants and placing them on my cart.  I took a lot of pictures but I can't say that my strategy was entirely successful.  I still left the nursery with more than a dozen plant purchases; however, the damages were less than on the occasion of my last visit to Roger's.

Situated in Corona Del Mar, fairly close to both the ocean and the pricey shops that make up Fashion Island, this family-owned nursery has been in business for over 35 years.  It offers seminars most weekends, attracting well-known speakers on a regular basis.  The nursery includes a landscaping service, a florist, an art gallery, and various indoor shops with decorative items of all kinds.  Although I'll pop into the shops to check out the Halloween and Christmas displays during the 4th quarter of the year, I steer away from them on most visits - my plant purchases alone make a sufficient hole in my available funds.  To protect me from my husband's ire, generous friends often give me Roger's gift cards for my birthday and Christmas, which I usually manage to spend within a couple of weeks of receipt even though Roger's is hardly close to home - it's about an hour's drive away in regular L.A./O.C. traffic.

In recent years, Roger's has made a conscious effort to shift its offerings and customer tastes toward more "California-friendly" plants.  This emphasis is apparent from the time you drive into the parking lot.

Planting beds separating the main customer parking area from the surrounding streets

Another view of plantings surrounding the parking lot (I wish I'd asked someone to ID the plant at the front of this border)

Area approaching the main customer entrance, planted with a mass of Echinacea, not yet in bloom
Succulent display just outside the front entrance

As you enter the nursery, there's a raised bed designed to demonstrate how some of the plants offered by the nursery can be used in a garden setting.  The staff changes out the selections on a seasonal basis.  This is just the first of several demonstration gardens.

This is one of the most subdued planting schemes I've seen in this demonstration garden

I'm in love with the Agonis flexuosa on the left, planted here with Trachelium caeruleum and Silene dioca 'Clifford Moor" (I think)

Roger's has given much more prominence to succulents in the last several years.  There are potted succulents everywhere in one form or another.

There are also demonstration garden beds designed to show what can can be done with succulents in a larger landscape setting.

And, of course, there's a large area dedicated to succulents offered for sale, conveniently located near the front of the nursery.

Other areas of the nursery focus on different kinds of California-friendly plant selections.

Like Leucadendrons

More Leucadendrons

A new shipment of Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'

Phormiums and Cordylines in all colors and sizes

A selection of plants from Annie's Annuals & Perennials, a NoCal nursery from which I generally mail-order

Mediterranean herbs suitable for use in landscaping

There are also large selections of the usual nursery offerings.

Bedding plants

Vegetables and herbs


Shade plants

More shade plants (That's not my cart - you can tell as there are no plants on it)

There's an outdoor furniture gallery.

An indoor plants shop.

An ample stock of garden supplies.

The size of the place shows in this photo taken from the upper level.

View from the middle of the nursery on the upper level looking toward the front

So, here's what I bought this visit:

  • 3 Milium 'Flashlight' (I needed more chartreuse in the back border)
  • 2 Teucrium betonicum (to replace the 2 torn out by the evil raccoon)
  • 3 Pentas to plant beneath some roses
  • 1 Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy', a heat and drought tolerant selection that grows to 5 feet with tiny purple flowers
  • 2 6-packs of blue star creeper (Pratia  pedunculata)
  • 3 6-packs of lobelia

Poor picture of newly planted Gomphrena 'Itsy Bitsy'

That's not an outrageous list, is it?  Still, it has suddenly gotten VERY hot here so I've skipped my morning exercise routine and gotten out with my shovel in the early morning to take advantage of the coolest time of day.  I'm also going to need to be extra vigilant about watering my new plants while the current heat spell lasts.  And, I'm going to stay away from nurseries for awhile...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bouquet #4: And now for something completely different

This week, I was determined to compose a bouquet that didn't include either Agapanthus or Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum), which have been the mainstays of my bouquets for the 3 weeks I've participated in the Garden Appreciation Society posts hosted by Erin at The Impatient Gardener.  There are still plenty of both in my garden but, for this round, I thought I'd use flowers I wouldn't normally select in preparing a bouquet.  So here is this week's effort:

The first flower I selected was Anagallis monelli (aka Blue Pimpernel).  I love its intense blue color and the violet-pink tones at its center.  It looks beautiful en masse in the garden but it makes a very wispy cut flower and, unfortunately, the blooms close at night.

Bouquet after Anagallis blooms close in the evening

Anagallis monelli in the garden

I picked purple, pink and other blue flowers to complement the Anagallis.  The purple flower on the lower right is Trachelium caeruleum 'Hamer Pandora'. (At least I think that's what it is - it could be 'Devotion Purple').  It's supposed to grow 3 feet tall but, in its second year in my garden, it's only about 1 feet high.  For some height, I added Salvia 'Mystic Spires' and Agastache 'Acapulco Rose', neither of which I've used before as cut flowers.  It remains to be seen how they will hold up in a vase.  I added Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink' as a filler but that's almost lost in the arrangement's general wispy-ness.  Because I felt the combination still needed punch, I added several stems of Pelargonium peltatum (ivy geranium) front and center.  I have no record of the variety.  The plant moved to this house with me in a pot and has ended up in a sunny spot in the border of my vegetable garden.  Ivy geraniums handle the summer heat here well and, although considered common by many people, they're a sentimental favorite of mine.

Last week's bouquet (shown here) held up well with a little grooming mid-week.  My hope is that the current bouquet will have similar staying power.

Visit Erin's site at The Impatient Gardener for pictures of bouquets prepared by other gardeners.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Summer Slowdown

When summer arrives in our area of SoCal, it generally ushers in a period of high temperatures, low humidity, and recurring episodes of dry Santa Ana winds.   These conditions usually persist well into October.  It's a poor time to plant here and, every year, I tell myself that I'm not going to put in any new plants after the official start of summer on June 21st.  I've reminded myself (again) that planting during this period is a poor investment of time and money.  However, in advance of my summer gardening slowdown, I embarked on a frenzy of new planting activity.

Here's a look of some of what I've put in during the last few weeks:

Okay, this Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt' isn't in the ground yet but it was purchased before the official start of summer!

3 Angelonia 'Angelmist Dark Pink' were added to the dry garden to complement Hemerocallis 'Russian Rhapsody", a reblooming daylily, and Cuphea ignea 'Starfire Pink'

Agastache 'Acapulco Rose' was added to fill a hole created when a raccoon shredded an earlier plant purchase (and it looks good with the daylily too)

Echinacea 'PowWow White' was added to the back border

As was Gomphrena globosa 'Las Vegas Mix', which filled an area formerly occupied by pansies

A group of Angelonia 'Serena White' went into the front border to replace other fading pansies

3 Euphorbia 'Breathless White" were needed to fill the spot formerly accupied by annual Nigella 'African Bride' in the side yard

Some Milium 'Flashlight' was added to give the back border another pop of chartreuse

And I had to pick up Solenostemon scutellariodes 'Fishnet Stockings Coleus' when I finally found it in a local nursery

I decided to give Strobilanthus dyernus (Persian Shield) another try in a pot in a partially shaded area after failing to keep it alive in a sunnier spot last year

While looking for Teucrium chamaedrys, I found this relative, Teucrium cossonii majoricum, a low growing groundcover said to bloom almost continuously  - it's a bee magnet

I picked up this Viola, described only as a perennial variety with double blue flowers, to replace some annual pansies in a partially shaded area
After endless debating as to whether to buy another hybrid tea rose to fill in an empty space in my rose bed created when an inherited 'Sterling Silver" rose suddently died last year, I capitulated to 'California Dreamin'

I'd like to say that this was all the planting I did this month but that wouldn't be truthful.  However, most of the rest of what I planted isn't ready for a spot in front of the camera yet.

Despite all this planting activity and my resolution to hold off on further planting during the summer months, I'm afraid I'm already bending my own rule.  I have plans to join a friend on a nursery shopping trip later this week.  I'm telling myself that the June 21st cut-off date is a bit arbitrary, especially as we've been experiencing cooler than normal conditions near the coast this year.  And I'm planning to buy just a very few things to fill in some empty spots before I really put a final halt on new plantings for the season.  Although, when the last of the pansies go, I may need more annuals to fill the empty spaces...