Annie's Awesome Newsletter Archive

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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.

Lessons from a Tomato Whisperer!

Is there anything so delicious as a tomato, fresh-picked from the vine?

No watery, hothouse-grown grocery-store tomato could ever hope to compare to the sweet, bold, earthy, rich taste of a homegrown beauty. And here to tell you all about how to grow the BEST, most PERFECT tomatoes is our favorite tomato whisperer - Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms - on Saturday, May 13, Day 1 of our Mother's Day Celebration!

CA Native Penstemons on Point!

We adore our hard-working native species Penstemons for their durability, adaptability and exceptional drought tolerance. Never overblown with outsized or awkward flowers like some of the hybrid varieties out there today, these fine, fresh fellows provide jewel-toned blooms and long-lasting beauty to the perennial, container, dry or rock garden. Able to handle heat, drought and deer, they're also surprisingly adaptable to many different garden situations so long as you give them good drainage, a sunny disposition and you don't overwater once established. Irresistible to hummingbirds, the tubular flowers were made for our feisty, feathered friends, often inciting them to a nectar-filled frenzy!

Thanks to the perfect storm of cool weather, seed availability and exceptionally good germination, we have for you a fantastic and somewhat unprecedented collection of these gorgeous species all ready at the same time. Since we can't guarantee that will happen again next year – grab one while you can!

Seasonal Plants To Dye For!

Back By Popular Demand!

Sasha Duerr, author, alchemist and founder of Permacouture Institute, returns to the nursery for a Spring/Summer installment of her super popular workshop on using local and seasonal plants (as well as garden weeds and waste!) to make gorgeous, non-toxic plant dyes on Sat. April 29 at 11 am!

Her scrumptious book "Natural Color" sold out last time, but we'll have plenty on hand for an author signing after the talk. Brimming with stylish and easy-to-follow projects that will appeal to both novice and experienced dye-enthusiasts alike, you'll be inspired to explore sustainable "slow-textile" solutions to synthetic chemical dyes and start your own backyard garden-to-garment revolution! How fabulous!