Sweet Black Cherry

Written by on 23-Jun-2014

Sweet Black Cherry Dianthus  was a 2014 seedling for me. I got these tiny little seeds from Burpee in march. Not knowing much more than they looked pretty in the catalog and it was a new introduction I was excited to grow them for this years garden for the first time.  I started them indoors in my little ghetto seed starter plastic greenhouse. About two weeks later scrawny little sprouts showed . I was bit apprehensive about setting them outside when April came around. However,  they grew into a pleasant little performer.

Slow starters for sure especially since they are listed as annuals on Burpee's site, they are technically bi-annuals I think. I planted them in strong hot sun  in pots, like the one above mixed with  pink Petunias, Gladiolas and Golden Fleece. I planted then in ground all that made it  through from seedling to production thrived.

They are carefree and fragrant flowers about 13" tall on nice little green mound. as of December of this year they are holding very well in cold nights.

I look forward to year two in the yard, I think they are going to be true winners. More photos to come in 2015.  Worth a try and definitely not available stores, from seed only as of now.

This Ones For The Bees

Written by Matt Macedo on 12-Jun-2014

This ones for the Bees. The catnip and sage pictured above is bumble bee magnet. The hustle and bustle of my flower power yard is loaded with beautiful Bees. Over 50 different varieties I've spotted.  I think most of you reading this know the plight of the disappearing honey bees in the world. So I will save you the soap box lecture. That said I think we should all do our part to plant those bee friendly flowers and trees.

Most of the  burbs near me  are loaded with concrete and lawn lovers. You all know the ones. Easy mow, blow and go yards, many even hire a gardener. lol! Hard to cultivate a mini ecosystem in with some old tired lawn and junipers all around. 

Bees are exciting, buzzing around doing there thing.  They help the yard feel alive. I have no idea where they come from but every year they show up in droves. I have plants  they enjoy through out the season, from an early blooming 50 year old bottle brush tree, to summer blooming blanket flowers, like Punch Bowl (pictured above) and my Lavender Hedge Roses (pictured on the right).

Lately I have though of having a bee hive on the property. I read an all inspiring blog called Tilly's Nest , not only is the blog filled with her great gardening stores but she recently became a bee keeper.  Check it out if you have a chance. After reading it you may also want to keep some chickens in the yard too!

The Right Kind of Hitchhiker

Written by Matt Macedo on 22-May-2014

The Speedwell or Veronica 'Sunny Border Blue' pictured above, I never planted. One late winter day I noticed a few little unfamiliar seedlings popping up. Knowing they were not in the usual suspects from the weed gang I let them grow and grow they did. By late may I had two foot high Blue Speedwells all over in one section of yard. Yahoo!  The funny thing is no one in the neighborhood grows them (no one in the neighborhood grows much, very concrete and lawn people) so where did they come form? I do not know and I don't care because about eight years latter and I still have this super drought tolerant, bee loving show stoppers doing there thing.  They clump extremely well so every now in then in winter I will divide a clump and get some more freebies. 

  The Pink Zebra Mallow to the left was another happy wonderer. In this case I knew where it cam from about 10 years ago I planted one. It was great not as bushy as I would have liked but none the less pretty. It died that season due to mismanagement on my part I am sure.  However about 3 years later a new one popped up. At first I thought weed, because I do get the Blue Mallow, the uglier more invasive cousin, which is great to help cure a cold btw. Normally I pull those out, they can go live on the golf course next me.  However I recognized this little gem from the few seasons prior and you guessed I got another beautiful free super hardy drought tolerant perennial that I treat as an annual. It grew in a crack on a path the dog takes and thrived. 

Now several seasons later I will get pink shruby volunteer now and again, always a happy surprise! Pictured below is just two speedwells together, very stunning.

If You Only Grow One Rose, This is The One!

Written by Matt Macedo on 16-May-2014

In my yard I have close to 150 roses some are okay, some are good and some are outstanding. Voluptuous from Jackson & Perkins is absolutely outstanding (it really is that hot pink) It was their 2005 rose of the year for a reason.  I think I purchased my first one that year. I remember planting it in the front yard not having high expectations because it is a Hybrid Tea, not my favorite type to grow normally.  Probably because Hybrid Tea conjures up old memories of old roses that stand tall do their thing twice a year, adorned with that yellowy green ugly foliage, then proceed to have rust and mildew at the end of the season. Well Voluptuous was a game changer for me.

First off I have never grow a more hot pink flower, rose or otherwise than Voluptuous. Large multi-flowered branches come up all season long from a beautiful dark green 4' to 5' shrub. The impressive part is a single rose from this plant will stay open and beautiful for nearly a month.  No other rose that have grown yet last that long on the plant. These pink beauties are waxy and think. A show stopper and super hardy.

I have little demon gophers in my yard and I will never forget the season they ate my two Voluptuous Roses. Nothing worse then seeing your favorite plants wiggling side to side with no wind in site.  Pissed I was,  quickly I took action and placed the mangled crowns with their roots nearly gone and wilted leaves in a two nice spacious pots. Where they live today prized and cherished.    

  • Mixed in with some pink dahlias
  • right in the middle of a mixed border
  • Mixed in with some pink dahlias
  • right in the middle of a mixed border

I did spray the heck out of their seemingly lifeless bodies with HVH Wake-Up Spray from Hidden Valley Hibiscus.  I think the spray is mostly made up of  Gibberellin if my memory serves me correct. Anyway, by September they were back to life and by the next season they were awake and well. The pictures above were taken at various points this spring and summer 2 seasons after the attack.

Again, if you are looking for a satisfying hot pink rose with no fuss no muss please grow this one. 

Full Bloom

Written by Glenn Stewart on 23-Apr-2014

A 20 year old Azalea in my Livermore courtyard defying the shady planting area... as a rule, Azaleas, Rhododendrons and Camellias do not need to be pruned... but this one got a haircut last season... and look at it now... wow!