Posts Tagged ‘wisteria’

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!


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!


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.


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, 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!


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.


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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The spring indicator at my home is the white wisteria bush on the front fence.  This photo was taken March 13, 2007.  The buds are just beginning to grow long, and the sculptural vine is still mostly bare.  The photo below was taken 30 days later, in April o7.


This is what the vine will look like this year in about 1 week.  So, looks like we are one month ahead of the 07 spring season.  I wonder what the research on conditions would show.  More rain this year?  Doubtful.  More warm weather? Perhaps.  Global warming?  Maybe I should check it out!  Okay, I just found this insanely cool site Weather Underground.  You can look up historical temperature data here, check it out!  In December, January & February of 2007 there were an average of  30 “growing degree days”, and in 2009 the number of growing days where the average temperature is 50 degrees, is 27.  It’s interesting but temperature seems to be a small part of the growing and flowering habit of fruit trees, vines and perennials.  I would guess a detailed journal that includes water, feeding and pruning might shed more light.  Also, the age of the plant?  Maybe.   I am going to wander over to the Rancho Los Cerritos and check out their Wisteria Vine.  It’s old and giant, and I am curious to see if it’s blooming!  Get planting…looks like we are having an early Spring!

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