Annie's Awesome Newsletter Archive

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Photographing Flowers with Saxon!

Join us for the third installment of our popular garden photography workshop on Saturday, July 22 at 11 am with Saxon Holt, one of the most respected and talented photographers in the garden world.

This year, Saxon will be focusing on photographing flowers in conjunction with the release of his new e-book "The Photobotanic Guide to Photographing Roses". Whether you shoot with a mega-pixel SLR or a smartphone, you'll get insight and tools you can use right away to take your garden photography to the next level. Read Saxon's latest blog post for a quick tip that can instantly improve your photos before even pressing the shutter.

Mint to Be - Plant Agastache Now!

Valued for their long-lasting vibrant blooms, stalwart nature and imperviousness to drought, deer, bugs and heat, "Giant Hyssops" offer a smorgasbord of sustenance for butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Hey, that's great! But there's more! You can make teas, jellies and sachets from their fragrant, minty foliage and brighten a room with their long-lasting cut flowers. No wonder they're adored by gardeners far and wide – with several varieties hardy to USDA zones 4-6, almost everyone can grow them – especially as they make stunning Summer annuals where they're not hardy.

Gardener tip! Agastache like well-drained soil and full sun. They'll live longer and be happier the less you baby them, so low to average water and average to lean soil is best, no clay please! If you plan on growing them as annuals or short-lived perennials, go ahead and indulge them with fertile soil and frequent waterings, they'll grow extra big and lush – a good option for colder climate gardeners!

Urban Herbalism!

We welcome back Sarah Sutton, Landscape Architect and author of “The New American Front Yard: Kiss Your Grass Goodbye” to talk about one of her favorite topics – healing herbs in the garden on Saturday, July 8 at 11 am!

Herbs have myriad uses for daily ailments like sore throat, upset stomach, toothache, headache, minor cuts and skin irritations – the list goes on! Come learn tips and techniques for growing, harvesting and utilizing various popular garden herbs, CA natives and even common garden weeds in your herbal medicine chest. Hands-on demonstrations and recipes included! Sarah will be joined by herbalist/naturopath Cheri Jaques, who has been working with herbs for over 35 years.

Make Monarchs Great Again!

August through October is the
height of butterfly season!

Consider this your friendly gardening public service announcement that NOW is a great time to plant Milkweeds so migrating Monarchs might find them in late Summer and Fall and lay their eggs among the leaves. A prized nectar source for many butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, Milkweed is also the sole host plant for Monarch butterflies and essential to their survival!

With a number of environmental factors impacting Monarchs in a very negative way – climate change, habitat loss and increased use of GMO's and herbicides just to name a few – it's up to us gardeners to help bridge the gap for Monarch populations. Planting Milkweed along their migratory routes gives them sustenance and a food source for their voracious babies when they need it most.

Summer Fruit Tree Pruning & Grafting Workshop!

John will cover basic tree ecology, anatomy, form and function and will give special emphasis to the difference between Summer pruning to control growth, tree size and "calming" the tree, and Winter pruning to stimulate old wood on established trees. Pruning to control pests and diseases, to improve flowering and fruitfulness and thinning to increase fruit size also will be explored!

As a bonus, he'll discuss custom grafting your favorite varieties onto appropriate rootstock – especially timely in Summer when you can take freshly pruned branches and use them as a source for grafting material! Whether you're a seasoned pomologist or planting your first fruit tree, John's extensive knowledge and passion will get you fired up about growing your own fruit!

Umbel-ievably Cool! Bee A Garden Trailblazer – Plant Umbels!

We tumble for umbels! With fanciful, flat-topped flower heads that lend a touch of lightness to the garden and robust, ferny foliage mounds providing depth and texture, these carrot-cousins (in the family Apiaceaea) are also wonderfully magnetic to all manner of pollinators and beneficial insects – especially butterflies! In fact, few other flowers feed so many with such little effort – with sturdy, upright stalks to four, six, even eight feet tall, advertising their perfectly engineered landing pads to every bee, butterfly and syrphid in flying distance!

We've got a great selection of some of the rarest and most unusual species in the genus available right now, just in time for National Pollinator Week! We guarantee you'll be amused by these floral snack stations and amazed by the antics of all the pollinators who visit! Bonus: umbels are tough! They may look delicate and magical in the garden, but they are long-lived, reliable and often drought and deer resistant. They make smashing cut flowers, fresh or dried!

Buckwheats and Ceanothus and Sages AND Manzanitas - Oh My!

Drought tolerant CA Natives have your back!

Join Garden designer and CA natives expert Pete Veilleux for a super fun and info-packed talk on Saturday, June 10 at 11 am about The Fab Four for Fighting the Summer Doldrums: Buckwheats, Manzanitas, Ceanothus and Sages! 

These four fine groups of California native plants provide a wealth of drought-tolerant variety and structure to your native, habitat, dry or cottage garden. Get to know a few of them and you’ll have flower power and provide habitat for all manner of pollinators, birds and wee fauna all year long!

Boom! Pow! Summer WOW!

And just like THAT ... it's time to think about your FABULOUS SUMMER GARDEN!

As the season slowly shifts to sunny Summer, we find ourselves unceremoniously ripping out our Spring annuals (so floriferous, they've been blooming their heads off since March) and replanting our demonstration gardens with big-bang-for-the-bloom Summer-to-Fall favorites that promise to evoke ooohs and aaahs from our visitors come June all the way to September (and beyond!).

With longer days affording a few more precious minutes in the garden, you'll find yourself out enjoying the buzzing bees and cutting bouquets in your own Summer paradise ... that is IF you get a move on and plant some simple Summer season extenders soon!

Grow Beaucoup Bouquets!

Bouquets, posies, nosegays - we love them all!

Is there anything so pleasing and therapeutic as gathering up the garden's bounty and bringing it indoors? It's like taking an instant mood-elevator to the top floor! Join us as Julie Chai, editor of the wondrous new book Floret Farm's Cut Flower Garden, tells us how to grow, harvest and arrange stunning seasonal blooms cut from your own garden on Saturday, May 27 at 11 am!

Floret Farms is a shining light in the seasonal cut flower movement and the heart-stoppingly gorgeous blooms grown by owner Erin Benzakian have captured the imaginations and hearts of flower-lovers everywhere via her incredible Instagram feed and website. Her new book, edited by Julie Chai, a longtime Sunset Magazine staffer and editor, is a treasure trove of magnificent flowers and breathtaking arrangements organized by season.

Bees Need Your Help!

We welcome back the fabulous and talented Kate Frey, author and top notch garden designer (two-time Chelsey Garden Show gold medal winner!), for a stellar talk about her most passionate subjects: Gardening for bees, beauty and diversity!

As bees the world over struggle for survival, it's more important than ever to plant bee-friendly gardens that sustain and inspire. It's totally doable and easy, since so many of the flowers that offer pollen and nectar for bees make us gardeners happy, too! And for fruit and vegetable gardeners, inviting nature's most productive pollinator into the yard can provide an impressive increase in yields and better-tasting produce.