As so many of us try and figure out what the heck we’re going to do for Summer vacation during a pandemic, let us suggest a relaxing week of Garden-cation! Instead of soaking up the sun on a tropical beach or paddling around on a mountain lake, you could be digging in the dirt and planting for fabulous late Summer bloom! OK, maybe that doesn’t sound quite as glamorous as an exotic getaway, but it’s way better than all the risky alternatives. And the payoff will be spectacular come August and September!
As a totally surreal Spring has shifted toward a beautifully cool and sunny Summer, we find ourselves unceremoniously ripping out our Spring annuals (so floriferous, they've been blooming since March, oblivious to the pandemic-related chaos around them) and replanting our demonstration gardens with Summer-to-Fall favorites that promise to evoke ooohs and aaahs from June all the way to September (and beyond!).
Let's give a shout out to California! Anything that buoys the spirit is a good thing right now, and few floral displays are as pure as our state flower in bloom. Whether they're dotting the hillsides from afar, popping up on trails or even growing in highway medians, California poppies are here to bring cheer.
They are also the epitome of easy. Drought tolerant and deer resistant, adaptable to poor, dry soil, as well as rich, garden soil, they're the kind of over-achieving plants that look oh-so-good with minimal effort on your part. In fact, Cal Poppies live longer if you keep them on the dry side over the Summer and self-sow reliably for free plants. Super pollinator friendly, you'll often find bumblebees sleeping in the closed blooms if you get out into the garden early enough!
Harder to spell than to grow, Alstroemerias offer some of the best high gratification to low perspiration ratios around! Gloriously large flowered and TALL (to 3-4'), long, strong stems make them an iconic cut flower, lasting a couple of weeks in a vase. A hummingbird favorite, extra large flowers also boast showy nectar guides that lure bees and butterflies to their bounty.
Easy and carefree in almost any soil – although you'll get a crazy EXPLOSION of bloom in rich soil with regular water and adequate drainage – they'll spread to a 3-4' wide colony over time (or grow them in a large container if you don't have room for them to spread out). Long-blooming late Spring to Fall, they're heat tolerant, long-lived, disease and deer resistant and hardy to USDA zone 7. Maybe for the first time ever – all four of our favorite varieties are ready at once!
Now more than ever, we gardeners are retreating to our yards as a place of solace, cheer and hope – a safe haven from all the uncertainty and anxiety we experience every time we read the news or turn on the TV. We NEED our gardens more than ever to lift our spirits, keep us active and help us from going stir crazy while we safely shelter in place and limit our social interactions. Lucky for us, the season is still ripe for planting!
We're super picky about our bulbs. We nurse and nurture many of them from seed, grow them out for a year (or two!) and then divide them, meaning they're time and space consuming and maybe not all that practical but hey ... who said gardening was entirely about practicality? Well-rooted and ready for prime-time, all bulbs are in active growth in 4" pots when we ship them out, ensuring they're alive and thriving, ready to be planted the minute they get to your garden.
Your window to plant annual California native wildflowers comes to a close mid-April but there’s still plenty of time to get these sweethearts in the ground now for Spring bloom! One of our favorite bloom-at-the-same-time combos – and easiest – is this timeless cottage classic featuring our ever-present Springtime staple Nemophila menziesii "Baby Blue Eyes", and fellow natives sunny Eschscholzia caespitosa "Tufted Poppy" and cheery, cherry Lupinus succulentus ‘Rodeo Rose'.
Join us Saturday, March 21 at 11 am for an inspiring session with the ever-engaging Bart O'Brien, Director of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Regional Park and co-author of the truly excellent books Reimagining the California Lawn and California Native Plants for the Garden.
When our seed source for Papaver commutatum 'Ladybird' proved unreliable a couple years ago, we knew we were in trouble. As one of our favorite, most reliable and best-selling poppies, our gardens and display containers just wouldn't be the same without it! Thankfully, after a couple years of getting things sorted out and (ok, mostly im)patiently waiting, we're excited to announce that the Lady is back! And with plenty of time to plant for spectacular Spring shenanigans!
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 subjects – healing herbs in the garden on Saturday, March 7 at 11 am!