Unique plants, gardening items and interesting nurseries in Southern California
I get many questions by phone and email for Socalnurseryplants.com. Many people from foreign countries want to know where they can get seeds for exotic plants (I’m no help there!). Others have practical concerns and can be referred to experts on bamboo, succulents and the like. Then there are questions like Sarah’s below, which is quite specific. I’m hoping my wonderful readers, gardeners and nursery professionals alike will be able to participate in my new Q and A feature:
I’m a graduate student at UC Irvine, and I’m seeking some advice on nurseries and plants in general. I live on campus and have an unenclosed patio space. I want to keep my neighbors off my patio for privacy reasons (since we are not allowed to put up fences), and I would like to get some plants to block my neighbors from coming into my space, as well. I have been considering getting some reasonably sized cacti, but I know that this would not give me all the privacy I want (since my plants have to be potted and wouldn’t get that large). My patio is 10 feet by 3 feet. Do you have any plant recommendations that would cover that space, provide privacy and help prevent people from coming onto a patio, be able to be potted, and are reasonably priced? I know that is probably a tall order to fill, but if you had any ideas of what to buy and where I could buy it, I’d sincerely appreciate it.
My love affair with trees continues. I could have easily built a tour around the trees we saw in Ireland! My favorite is the Monkey Puzzle Tree, pictured above. It’s latin name, Araucaria araucana, is derived from the city of Arauco in Southern Chile, the area it is indigenous to. This conifer (cone-bearing) lives 100 – 200 years on average and some have been alive over 800 years, reaching heights of over 100 feet. Even the individual leaves can live 15 years.
Monkey puzzle trees have been used by the native people of Chile as a food — they have almond shaped seeds — and for ceremonial purposes. They will tolerate most well-drained soils and a cool, mild and humid climate, exactly what this one is getting in the Connemara area of Ireland. This beauty resides on the grounds of Ballynahinch Castle, in the west.
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The trip to Ireland and England I just returned from made me want to become a better photographer. There were many challenges on this trip in terms of filming, and of course, returning with good photos is very important for my website. One of the inherent difficulties of this trip was the weather. It was seldom sunny for the 2 weeks I was there…mostly overcast with occasional rain. Fortunately I can change my photos with the Apple iPhoto program, which I do all the time. Real photographers don’t do this, they manipulate the camera to get all the elements, i.e. the exposure, contrast, definition, etc. that go into making an artistic shot. My objective is to learn how to do this.
If you are going to the Olympics, the following information might come in handy. I ran into a major problem with adaptors. After a few days in Ireland, I needed to recharge my camera and iPhone batteries, using an adaptor borrowed from the hotel. It blew out my charger and my sister’s hair appliance; it just plain didn’t work on the IPhone, and the results were the same with other adaptors. So for most of the trip I was without my camera. I bought an adaptor and cord at the Apple store in London and used my Iphone camera for the rest of the trip. Luckily I had that, because I would have had to buy a camera…everything was so picturesque. The scene above of the Temple Bar, one of Dublin’s oldest (esta. 1840), is just one of many; how do they keep everything so pristine and beautiful there? And why can’t we do the same?
Announcing Socalnurseryplants new QUESTION AND ANSWER FEATURE in the right margin of the home page.….…
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One of the main reasons my sister Mary Lynn and I were able to enjoy our trip to Ireland so much was because we had an ace driver and navigator! Her daughters Lauren, who drove and Kim, who navigated, were gifts from heaven. We knew we couldn’t do it ourselves, but we had a lot of faith in Lauren’s ability, and it was not misplaced. It was an unreal feeling when we left the Dublin car rental in an unfamiliar vehicle after an all night flight. The most difficult part, other than having cars coming at you on what is perceived as the wrong side of the road, is what they call roundabouts, unavoidable interchanges that bear no resemblance to the intersection of that name in the states. This is where having Kim and a GPS was invaluable. Our itinerary, through Authentic Ireland*, involved driving around Ireland staying at castles (actually large manor houses). I’ll have photos to post of this trip and the England trip for some time to come, especially the lovely gardens, trees and plantings. The brassica napus fields in the background are everywhere in the UK and used to make canola oil.
*Authentic Ireland (www.authenticireland.com) We bought our tour from them through Living Social(www.livingsocial.com) coupons and took advantage of the buy 3, get 1 free deal. They were a great travel agency to deal with, especially our life line, Rebecca.
On the Web:
Green Gardens in San Diego has initiated a new website (www.sdgreengardens.com) with growing info and recipes for a new plant each month. This month: artichokes.
Theodore Payne Foundation for Native Plants in Sun Valley is asking for volunteers to help on Saturday, June 2 — go to www.theodorepayne.org.
Los Angeles Arboretum, Arcadia is offering a class on Organic Gardening Saturday, June 2. www.arboretum.org/
Yikes! The trip I’ve been planning in my head for the last 10 years is coming up in a week..and I’m barely ready.. if I’ll ever be! I’m going to Ireland with my sister and her two grown daughters, then on to England with my sister; the girls have to get back to work. One aside I think is interesting: our Irish trip was purchased on the Living Social site. it is basically a coupon, a very good deal for 7 nights at 4 different castles, and includes a car. We bought 3 of these deals, and got the 4th one free. I’ll let everybody know how it goes…
As for the garden, I look forward to publishing more information after my visit. From the photos it appears to be exuberant in a restrained sort of way..this is the gardening of my dreams but it will never happen in Southern California. Helen has a lovely website: www.dillongarden.com.
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Hypertufa is a lightweight material that can be mixed and made into a container that resembles something made out of volcanic rock. Many botanical gardens offer classes in making hypertufa containers over the year, and they are easily made at home. There are 2 classes coming up soon:
Saturday, May 5 @ the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants (email@example.com)
Saturday, may 19 given by San Diego Master Gardeners (www.mastergardenerssandiego.com)
Ahhhhhhh.… the time of the garden tours has finally arrived! Here are some of the best, from North to South:
There are many more tours than those I have listed, and all can be found on search engines. I just want to thank all the garden owners, clubs and organizations who work so hard giving us the opportunity to be inspired by these wonderful gardens!