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Archive for the ‘Cutting Garden’ Category

Monarch & Zinnia
While my yard is not an official Monarch Way station…the basil and zinnia bed certainly qualifies for a butterfly garden.  Zinnias are on the list for nectar plants adult Monarchs love and I can say first hand they do!  Easy to grow from seed and really hearty in the hot hot sun.  I wonder if it’s too late for another good crop?  I think I’ll plant a couple of flats in the front tomorrow and see how it goes.  Couldn’t hurt!

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Basil & Zinnia Porch

Zinnia from seed mixed in with the basil starts –  my new favorite combo right at the front porch.  Nothing better than opening the door and grabbing handfuls of basil, bunches of sorrel, ears of corn, and a few flowers for decoration.

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forgotten-basket-ii

A flower arrangement for Mrs. Hardy, and countless other items on the day’s to do list scrambled me just enough to end up driving across town to The Family Plot, without a basket or bucket. Luckily I had some plastic cups in the trunk. A baby cauliflower, a few beets…My dash and back seat were so royal on the ride home!

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I have been trying to make frequent trips to check on the strawberry patch. The crows, squirrels, and mice and taken a break from ravaging…and I was able to fill three cups with the sweetest most delicious strawberries ever!

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If it hadn’t been 104 degrees that Monday, I could have filled the entire back seat of the car with sweat peas! Not all is lost however, the seeds are setting and there will be enough to create a 50′ wall of fragrant heirloom sweet peas next winter!! There will be several packets available at the Los Cerritos Carnival – Saturday May 16th from 11-3pm.  Be there or be square.

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I received my daily delivery of Dirt du Jour, with the heading “Six plants you can’t live without!”. Launched by the Sunset blog, Fresh Dirt, the meme question for every blogger today is a good one and thankfully we don’t have to have only six. It’s interesting to think about and even more so, to consider everyone else’s faves! Today everyone try to choose six plants…just six! I am totally partial to edibles, but not just edible for me. I have to think of the birds and the bees! So here is my list…and it wasn’t easy!

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White Wisteria, because it provides seasonality in the Southern California garden. Architectural in it’s bare winter form. The promise of spring and snowstorm of white flowers in March. Then the chartreuse hedge of thick vines and feathery leaves, that provide shade and shelter for tender spring flowers and a natural den & hide-out for the outlaw cat. In the fall the leaves turn yellow and drop, while the seed pods crack open like a natural fireworks display!

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Icelandic Poppies are amazing! The vibrant colors and tissue like petals are dramatic enough to be displayed one stem at a time. I usually plant them mid-November in front of the wisteria vine where they are beautiful and prolific until Easter. The bees just roll around in the blooms and can barely fly their legs are so heavy with pollen. As soon as the petals drop off, dead head the stems for longer lasting production.

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Yarrow, is a tremendous asset to any garden for so many reasons! The fern like leaves and tiny flowers have powerfully beneficial qualities. From medicinal teas and poltice to pure nitrogen for your compost pile. It is a nectar flower for butterflies and just plain beautiful!! I also love the way it naturalizes in So Cal as a native it’s just perfect.

french-thyme

French Thyme, is my culinary must have herb. I use it in soups, stocks, sauces, stuffings, while roasting a bird, while finishing an item on the grill with a final smoke out (I dry the stems and throw the little herbal bale on to the fire and close the lid for that first delicate smokey bite). It has a terrific mounding growing habit and is easy to multiply by laying the soft woody stems on the ground and covering with soil. The tiny flowers are also great for garnish. Love it!

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Lantana Tree-I don’t know if life would be the same without my lantana tree just outside the dining room. This little guy and all his cousins just love to sit a spell…before the frenzied quest to hit every single flower in each of the clusters. Bees, Hummingbirds and Butterflies are abundantly present in the garden when the lantana is blooming. When I was a kid we used them as Barbie bridal bouquets.

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Maidenhair Fern – I just love them! The black stems were used in basketry to create designs, they are pretty hearty for a fern. In the ground on the Coast they do well in a full sun location. I use them as a house plant for as long as possible, placing them in stressful situations like low light and no drainage. When that party is over I put them in the ground to create a lovely shade border that is iridescent in the moonlight with the bright green new leaves shimmering against the dark stems. Plus, my grandma’s bridal bouquet was a huge bunch of maidenhair fern with gardenias, so fabulously simple and elegant.

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rancho-tiny-cosmos

At first glance it looked like a tiny cosmos.  Friend to tiny butterflies.  But just clicking through the Theo Payne website (my new fave-this week), I think I am going with Santa Susanna Tarweed. Love the name!  It is in the aster family and in fact it is a nectar flower for hummingbirds, butterflies and bees!

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Catalina Cherry.  I really like that we can have a cherry in So Cal.  I will be looking for the cherries in a couple of months.  This nursery, Las Pilitas in Santa Marguerita, looks like it would be worth the drive.

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I know the nasturtiums are a prolific pain to some, but I love them!  The picnic area has fields of them on either side of the path, and we were noticing how much larger the leaves are on the shady side.  Nasturtiums have a slightly peppery flavor and can be used in salads as a lovely garnish or stuffed and served whole like a squash blossom.  The immature seed pods can be pickled and used like capers.  If using as a fruity salad dressing add a little honey for sweetness.  You can also make a nice chiffonade of the petals and use in a compound butter.

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Flower

A friend queried me to identify a flower. I took a look at the pic and immediately recognized it to be one of my all time faves, the Ranunculus! I planted them, dug them up at the end of the season, saved and split them (they triple every year) and planted them in the fall again, year after year. They were always everywhere in my garden. Then I got into Icelandic poppies and sort of lost interest in the Ranunculus. How could I be so shallow? What was I thinking! This year, at the request of my garden partner, ranunculus’ are back and mixed in with my poppies. I am glad they’re here and I’ll never turn my back on them again.

I found this site Wayne’s World with a good q & a on growing ranunculus bulbs…Wayne points out they are actually tuberous roots. Not tubers, not bulbs, tuberous roots and they are lovely! So Wayne here, answers a bunch of questions and does a groovy little experiment with different types of Ranunculus. Some clusters he splits up before planting, some he leaves in a bunch. He says they seem to do better if you follow the separation rule. Read it if you’re interested in a few good answers, to a few good questions. Go, run, find them – you won;t be sorry. They are super easy to grow and terrific as cut flowers.

This reminds me of the crafty angle. One time a friend told me that the Mexican paper flowers were based on the Ranunculus. I thought, Oh Yeah! They do look like that flower I love! I found this great site, The Mexican Dress, and plan to take a closer look at the dresses and patterns when I am done with this post. I am getting way off track here, but I also found this fun site in Texas with Mexican Paper Flowers for sale. Sometimes the crafty aspect is an inevitable consequence of such a brilliant subject. Learn how to make them here.

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