Saturday, November 20, 2021

Gardens and the Holiday Season


As we move into the season of all things merry and bright, us gardeners want to remind you that plants can play a pivotal role in your holiday season as well. Below are just a few ideas….


Plants make great gifts


Granted, being gardeners, we might be a little biased here, but really, plants DO make great gifts! Everyone can use an extra houseplant or two to brighten up a dull spot in their home or workspace. Plus, the gift a plant seems to say “I have faith in you. You can keep this living thing alive!”, and, well, we all need that kind of encouragement in our lives right now, don’t we?  If you aren’t sure what type of plant to give someone, go for easy to grow houseplants like Sansevieria (snake plant), aloes, jade plants or Peace Lily.


This time of year, we also start to see some seasonal favorites pop up: this is when the classic poinsettia makes an appearance, of course. This year, don’t throw them all out when the season passes – they can make a really cool little shrub/tree when planted outside, or be a year round houseplant! We also start to see one our favorites, the  “Christmas cactus”.  These are really a type of cacti native to Brazil, the common name for them stemming from when they tend to bloom. Super easy to grow, we think these are a really underrated plant! Don’t forget about living Christmas tree options, too – a cool way to bring nature inside, and to grow something outside once the season is over. 


Pumpkin succulents and other garden themed centerpieces


Bring the outside in with some unique table décor this holiday season! “Pumpkin succulents” are pretty easy to make. I am a fan of NOT carving out the pumpkin and instead just glue moss to the top of the intact pumpkin, and then attach succulent cuttings. I find they last much longer this way, in fact, it’s quite surprising how long these last! When the pumpkin starts to look a little mushy, you can either peel the moss off and plant it with the succents intact, cut of the top of the pumpkin and plant it with the succulents growing on top, or, just plant the whole pumpkin up to the top. With that last option, you’ll get a succulent garden, some compost, and likely some pumpkins growing from the seeds the following year!

Living wreaths


The trend of ‘living wreaths’ has been gaining traction for years now. In a nutshell, it’s about taking branches and shaping them into a circle (you can buy premade ones at most craft stores), and in a similar way as you would with succulent pumpkins, adding moss, and then attaching a variety of succulent cuttings to it; you can find lots and lots of ‘how to’ videos of the process online.  You can easily give such wreaths some holiday flair by including pine cones, faux or real (dried) red berries, ribbon and other seasonal bling to your creation.


Making the wreaths is also a great group activity for holiday parties and gatherings. Rather than watch TV together on Thanksgiving, enjoy the California sunshine and go outside and make some living wreaths and bring a bit of nature into your holiday celebrations!



We hope this holiday season finds you and yours enjoying nature and getting lots of time to play outside. Bring some plants into your holiday celebrations this year, and get your nature fix!

Friday, September 10, 2021

Fall Harvest


Fall Harvest


It’s almost pumpkin spice time! Regardless of if the weather cooperates with our #fallvibes or not, moving into the autumn months is one of my favorite times of the year. Maybe it’s the new school year, but I’ve always associated this time of year with new starts, new beginnings and potential. It’s also one of my favorite times of year as a gardener. With that in mind, for those with plants on the brain, there are three areas to focus on for the upcoming months: cleaning up your garden, replanting outside, and making sure you are well stocked on houseplants for the winter months to come!


Fall and early winter months are ideal times for getting your ‘garden house in order’. Think of it as spring cleaning…only in the fall, and you know, in your garden! This is the time of year we clean up our little nursery, as well as our clients gardens. Prune, round up leaves and other debris (compost ‘em but don’t let them rot in beds!) bring in some fresh soil amendments, and do some general ‘sprucing up’.


Rudbeckia, poppies and salvias are your ‘standard cottage garden’ plants to put in the ground this time of year, setting up your garden for guarantee blooms in the months to come. Hardy and tough, these are great additions, and do well when planted in the fall and early winter months.  Plus, these plants will continue to show up in your garden year after year: let poppies go to seed, and rudbeckias and salvias get cut back in the winter so that they can look stunning in the spring.


Looking for some indoor plant ideas? Indoor plants aren’t as dependent on seasons as outdoor plants are, though availability does differ based on the time of year. If you are looking to bring some blooms indoors, check out the trusty “Christmas Cactus”, technically a cactus native to Brazil called “Schlumbergera”. They bloom near the end of fall and start of winter, and are a great way to bring some cherry blooms indoors! We love Caladiums, too – though they don’t bloom, they provide great color and are easy to grow.


Are you in the ‘I want to grow houseplants but I don’t know where to start” club? There are three plants that you can’t go wrong with. Sansevieria (commonly referred to as ‘snake plant’) comes in all sorts of cool colors and shapes. This plant is super forgiving (couldn’t we all use some more forgiveness?): they are easy to grow, can tolerate a wide range of light conditions and doesn’t need much water. That description could also apply to the Pothos family, too – we love them for their color, hardiness, and Instgramability! Rounding out our list of ‘you can totally grow this indoors’ would be the always popular Philodendrom family: lush, happy, and easy to grow, they are a great addition to your houseplant family. Worried you don’t have enough sunlight in your place to grow houseplants? You can get a “grow light” that replicates the spectrum of light provided at the sun, and you don’t need a special light fixture – there are bulbs available that fit standard lamps, we have seen them at Home Depot for less than $5!


We hope you get a chance to enjoy the changing season and all the promise that comes with it. We’ll be having a garden party as part of Country Roads annual Holiday Open House on Saturday November 6th – join us!


Enjoy the pumpkin spices and the sunshine!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Winter Garden Tips!

Winter Garden Tips
Winter has arrived! Thankfully, for most southern California gardeners this doesn’t put a damper in our gardening plans, but, in fact, provides the opportunity to take advantage of planting winter loving plants, and getting your garden in tip top shape for spring!
There are all sorts of things that can be planted this time of year: cool season vegetables like beets, carrots, Swiss chard, kale and lettuces can go into the ground now, and can even be started by seed!
This is also the season to start planting your cottage garden classics, ensuring bountiful blooms for spring. Sweet peas should go into the ground during these cooler months – we will have a big selection from Annie’s Annuals in stock this season – and this is also a good time to plant delphiniums, too. We also like to start planting poppies now. The eschscholzia species grows very well here; you know that poppy as the ‘official California state flower’ that comes in a vibrant orange, but we also have it available in some really cool other colors like rose, alba, yellow and even a new variety called ‘Champagne’. Interesting fact: the species was named around 1810 by a German botanist who was exploring California and the Pacific coast. 
For all of these winter plants, be sure you are planting them in soil that drains well, as you don’t want them to get water logged by winter rain, which can cause them to rot. You can ensure this happens and promote aeration in your soil a few different ways. One way is add amendments designed to improve clay soil. Be sure to avoid mulch right now, as mulch can bog the soil down. Look for soil amendments that are specific to promoting better drainage – you can even add a few bags of cactus potting mix to your garden to achieve this.  Another way is to literally poke holes in your flower beds! There are tools available to achieve this, spike aerators can be found in hardware stores (shout out to Orange County Farm Supply, one of our favorite spots for all things tools!) for as low as about $25. Another method to improving drainage is to turn over the soil. If you don’t have a lot of material planted already in your garden, literally take a shovel, dig down, and flip the soil. You can do this on a smaller scale with a hand trowel, turning the soil over in the area you are going to be doing planting. In fact, it’s a good habit to get into any time you plant, as it promotes healthier soil and prevents compaction.
You don’t want to fertilize too heavily in the winter, as this is not the season that you want to promote a lot of growth. This is a good season to add amendments though, especially those that are low in nitrogen. We like worm castings and bone meal for this purpose.
Remember too, this is the time for cool season bulbs! Though a bit of work, planting bulbs is a time honored, fun tradition for many gardeners – we all have our favorites. You can also plant seeds for plants like nasturtiums and Larkspur during the winter, too.
            There is no rest for the active gardener! Get out there and make the most of these winter months!
PS: Mark your calendars now: our Spring Garden Party for 2020 will be on Saturday March 21st!

Monday, June 24, 2019

Summer garden tips

Summer is here…does your garden have its ‘beach body’ yet? 
by Brande Jackson
The summer solstice has come, the days are noticeably longer, and stores have long been selling July 4th decorations…that can only mean one thing: summer is here! What does that mean for you and your garden? We’ve got a few tips on how to get you garden into 'summer shape'.
1. Take advantage of that June gloom! Those June mornings are PERFECT for getting your garden game on. Use that weather to prune, plant and get the heavy work done. Yes, you’ll feel better not laboring under a blazing sun, but what really matters is that you won’t be stressing out your plants, either. Get prepared early in the season, before the weather warms up.
2. Toughen up that garden! Prune before the hottest days of summer hit, and try to plant as early in the season as you can, too (though you can certainly plant year round). Pull the weeds, throw down a layer of mulch (we like shredded bark the best), and start to do what is known as “deep watering”; basically, soak your garden on a more infrequent basis.  This will help it acclimate to hotter and dyer conditions. It doesn’t mean you won’t have to water in the heat of summer - you will - but deep watering encourages deeper root growth and ensures that water penetrates the top layer of soil, which is what you want.
3. Release the bugs! We like to release ladybugs into the garden around this time of year, as they help with aphids and other pests that begin to proliferate in summer months. While you are at it, be sure to keep an eye out for mosquitos – they were bad last year!  There are organic options for treating them, some geraniums you can plant that act as natural repellants, and be sure to treat any water features you have in your garden as a precaution, too.
4. Throw some shade! Provide some temporary shade to the hottest parts of your garden during the summer. Even plants that are meant for full sun can get damaged when it’s really crazy hot. Pick up some market umbrellas and stagger them around your yard, or find some cool looking tapestries and tie them up as temporary shade cloth. You don’t need to construct anything permanent nor does it need to be expensive, but temporarily shading parts of your garden during the hottest days of the year can go a long way towards keeping your plants healthy and happy. To figure out where your garden could use a ‘shade break’, look for plants that are wilting or looking kinda crispy when it’s hot, even after a good watering  - those are the ones that probably need it.
5. Get planting! There are all sorts of plants that thrive in the summer months. Salvias, sunflowers, succulents….and those are just the ‘S’ plants! Veggies to plant this time of year include squash, corn, eggplant, tomatoes, swiss chard, pumpkin, most melons, and cucumbers.  Get growing!
Late spring and summer is a fine time for getting outside and playing in your garden. Just take a few steps to get prepared, and you can enjoy your yard all season long!

Saturday, August 01, 2015

New plants!

New arrivals are in our garden, and just waiting to go home with you! We just got a new stock of Annie's Annuals & Perennials on our shelves, as well as a HUGE selection of air plants. 

Check out some of our summer goodies:


Have you tried out air plants yet? Easy to grow, fun, and super weird, they meet all of our requirements for an awesome plant. We have a big selection that just arrived last week - over 100 plants! Stop in and check them out!

Psoralea pinnata “Kool-Aid Bush”

This South African shrub or small tree is a a great choice to bring some height and interest to your garden. It reaches to about 12 feet in height, with dense soft needle like foliage - super cool.  It is said to bloom in it's first year, featuring bright lavender blue, sweet pea like flowers. And the name? The comes from the sweet scent of the blooms. Really fun, cool plant!

Asarina scandens ‘Sky Blue'

Asarina is a type of vine that is easy to grow, hardy, and comes in a variety of colors. The "Sky Blue" variety is one of our very favorites, though, and not one that we get in all that often! Fast growing, it reaches 8-10 feet in it's spread. It's great on a trellis, on a wall that needs coverage, or even a pot!

Crassula capitella “Red Pagoda”

This plant just looks so...geometric. Architectural. We LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Hardy, full sun, low water, great as a border plant or in a pot, and it blooms super cute white flowers in the summer time! 

We, of course, have much more than this in stock right now. Come on in and check us out - we are open every day from 10am - 5pm.