From the producer: October 17, 2008

By golly, I told you I’d do it!  I didn’t photograph all the butterfly hordes in my garden this past week, but here are a few.

Queen on Gregg’s mistflower

Gulf fritillary on tithonia (Mexican sunflower)

Monarch on Gregg’s mistflower, lettuce hoop in background.  That’s why I haven’t dug the plants that spread to the lettuce bed.  I’ll move them after butterfly season.

Nearby, on the back fence, here’s one of the bees contending for a spot on goldenrod.

The goldenrods showed up without any help from me. They do tend to “travel,” as in pesky, and look ratty most of the time.  Still, I always keep a few for this season of harvest. And, they could care less if we’re in flood, drought, freeze, or other emotional weather crisis. I understand that there is a dwarf version out there, but I got these for free.

A few feet away, the flame acanthus and lantana were getting hit, too, though everyone had gone to bed when I took this one.

All over the garden, in sun and semi-shade, the asters exploded, the best performance in years. Guess they liked last winter’s compost.  Here they are in the front window bed.

Around the tree in back, the Salvia regla and plumbago went neck to neck for attention.

In that bed, the shrimp plants refused to give up their months-long title for attention.

On chores, I got the lettuce garden and Harvey’s garden planted with seeds of cilantro, arugula, raddichio, and various lettuces.  I’ll keep seeding every two weeks and give them their yummy fertilizer (seaweed/fish emulsion/molasses) now and then.  In our lettuce bed, I put in a few lettuce transplants to get things off to a hopeful start, and some new Italian parsley, since last year’s bolted when it hit 101.

In Harvey’s bed, I also seeded Bright Lights Swiss chard. I put a parsley plant under the yaupon holly for a little shade while things are so hot there.  The tithonias are also shading things a bit, too. By the time it cools off, it’ll be time to cut them back to let the teenaged seedlings go to town in winter’s gentler sun. This weekend, I’ll plant his carrots, using a tip I got from a gardener.  I’ll fill up an ice tray with water, stick a few seeds in each slot, and freeze overnight. The next day I’ll plant each cube.  Supposedly the freezing helps break down their seed coats, and it’s easier to plant them, too.

In the crepe bed, I planted a few purple Dark Lolla Rossa lettuces (since they were grown by local Gabriel Valley Farms) to liven things up, and planted ‘Rhubarb’ Swiss chard transplants to take over when the cosmos give up.  I peppered them with a few California poppies for a red and gold experience next spring.

I moved one esperanza (Tecoma stans) to the sunny part of Amelia’s fence near Harvey’s garden, between my Maggie and Peggy Martin roses.  The other one and the Iceberg rose went to sunny former photinia-ville.  I’ve gotten lots of questions about esperanzas not blooming, and I know it’s because they don’t get enough sun.  They go crazy in shopping center beds, a tip-off to what they want: scorching sun.  We’ll see if this does the trick. I will also mulch them this weekend and protect them if we get a killer winter freeze.

Have to say that in former photinia-ville, the Satsuma I moved from its pot a few weeks ago is like a new plant!  It’s growing like crazy.  Good move.

This week on CTG you’ll get some great ideas from Adam Diaz of Plantescapes Gardens, for creating destinations and enclosures with plants.  If you haven’t met him in person yet, you can’t miss this incredible nursery that includes a rotating art gallery featuring local artists.

Definitely, Plantescapes is a destination itself!  Interesting plants, fabulous pots and accents (for indoors and out), and a helpful staff, which includes his garden-savvy mom.

On tour, I’ve been waiting a few years to tape Mark Biechler and Briana Miriana’s restored garden on the east side. I saw it when it was still a dusty overgrown dream waiting to happen.  Now, they’ve created a destination in a small yard that renews the spirit of their old house. It has the sense of an old-time garden, where tradition meets a few new twists.

Mark and Bri also have a sense of whimsy, and two of their “yard ornaments” are cocker spaniel fence toppers they scavenged. Last year, when we discarded our old gate, I couldn’t resist salvaging the Afghan hound ornaments from them.

But I coveted Mark & Bri’s  cocker spaniels.  So, we made a trade:  now, we each have a cocker spaniel and a hound!

Still working on a plan for them, but as you know, gardeners aren’t happy if they don’t have a plan in the works.  Until next week, Linda