Friday, July 31, 2009

A nice shout out...

Johnnye Merle's got a nice little blurb in this months edition of Orange Coast Magazine. We were listed along with eight great other Orange County nurseries as a resource for drought tolerant and native plants - something we are very proud of! Having designed gardens in LA and OC for over ten years now, I take great pride in our unusual selection of plants that look great AND are eco-friendly!

As always, we have a great selection of plants in stock right now, and we are even getting an early start on prepping our gardens for fall plantings - be sure to stop in and see us soon!

Thanks to our friends at Orange Coast for the mention - you can check it out here.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Some of our new plants...

We have gotten lot and lots and lots of new plants in over the last few weeks. This summer has been nice and mild - outside of a few brutal days, granted! - meaning more time for gardening! Check out some of our favorites below.

As always, we have a great mix of drought tolerant and natives mixed in with some very hard to find and super unusual perennials, all lookin' for a home!


Colocasia esculenta 'Fontanesii', commonly called 'Black Taro', is one of my personal favorites. It's a tender perennial - won't take a freeze or a drought, but is awesome and perfect for your damp, shady spots. It's basically a water plant, so though it doesn't need to be in water - so long as the soil stays moist and it's in shade life will be good - it can be submerged in up to a foot of water. I'm designing a funky water feature for a client right now, and we are going to be using these for sure!

Still need more stuff for a wet, shaded area? Read on to my next favorite:

Meet Gunnera chilensis! I did not mean to include my foot in the photo, but I'm kinda glad I did, because you can get a sense of scale because of it. Why does this plant rule? Because it clearly is what you use for your 'dinosaur garden' - the thing looks prehistoric! It can get up to 8 - 10 feet wide and tall, though from my experience, it rarely gets that big, and is easy to cut back to keep it more moderate. It is an awesome plant though, to use in a shady corner that you need to add some drama to. I always keep at least two in stock because I love them so much! They seem to be happiest here in Orange with moderate to heavy shade and consistently moist soil - they are drama queens and their leaves will tell you when they want more water! The size, shape and texture of the leaves are amazing! Whenever I sell at a plant show or show potential plants to a garden design client, these are always the traffic stopper plants! We have them in stock right now in five gallons sizes.

Grown by Annies Annuals & Perennials, one of our very favorite growers, Centradenia floribunda “Trailing Princess Flower” is sort of a groundcover, but not really. It gets about 18" tall and has a spread of up to 6 feet. We've been keeping it in moderate shade here at the nursery, but it can take full sun in coastal areas and is perfect for filling in edges or bare spots. Gets awesome purple flowers, though the foliage alone - dark leaves and bright ruby stems - is reason enough to take one home! We have them in 4" containers right now.


I love the color on Russelia equisetiformis 'Flamingo Park', or Pink Coral Plant . Native to central America, you also see Russelia growing all over Hawaii, more often in red, which is more common. The plant can take full sun AND shade, and has average water requirements; from my experience, they tend to do okay with minimal water once they are established, so I'd include them in a low water garden. Plant is meant to be in YOUR yard for several reasons: 1. the flowers are AMAZING - cool little tubes that flower all over and seemingly all year, they pretty much only stop once it gets cold. 2. The stems are equally fascinating; the 'equisetiformis' in the name means it's actually related to this plant (which we also have in stock right now!) - the stems on 'Flamingo Park' are almost like little tubes, with brackets up and down, almost mechanical looking, very cool. And the final reason you should own it is 3. because it blends in well with nearly any landscape style - making it a great plant to use to add both color and 'structural interest' with it's unusual stems.

Chorizema 'Bush Flame', Flame Pea . The flowers on this plant are soooo cool! This is an evergreen plant with arching to semi erect sprays of brilliant orange and pink pea flowers with some bloom almost the year around and peak flowering from fall through early spring. It grows to 2 to 3 feet tall and about 3 feet wide or wider and has bright green heart shaped leaves. You can plant it in full sun to light shade, and it only needs moderate water. Would work great as one of your 'specimen' plants in a landscape, or would be great in a pot.

Another great plant from Annies - Jordaaniella dubia is a rare plant native to South Africa. A drought tolerant ground cover, it has really interesting looking succulent like foliage, but the deal maker on this plant is its HUGE bright yellow flowers. Check out the picture here. Very unusual - you won't find this one very often!

Obviously, we have waaaay more plants than this in stock. Stop by and see us, and feel free to email us with any questions, requests, or for garden design help.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Have You Seen Our Gardens Lately???

Have you been by lately to see what's new at Johnnye Merle Gardens? If not, I just thought I'd share a few picturs with you. After all, pictures say so much more than words ever can when it comes to gardening and flowers!

Stop by and see us soon, something new is blooming every day!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

July Garden Tips

Hard to believe we are already well into July. Luckily, this mild summer has meant we can stay out working in the garden later than normal. Below are some tips inspired by the Better Homes and Gardens website.

* As the weather gets warmer, schedule your gardening for early morning and late afternoon when the air is cooler and the sun not so intense. Keep in mind too that pruning and planting in extreme heat can stress plants out and damage or even kill them; in the midst of an intense heatwave, hold off on gardening. Otherwise, in the summer, I find it best to do pruning either in early AM hours, or even better, in the evening ahead of of a cool(er) night.

* Deadheading 101 -- Keep deadheading. For the most flowers and tidiest garden, deadhead daily. Some gardeners take a few minutes each morning, making it part of their daily routine.

* Keep up with watering chores. While you're at it, give your trees, shrubs, and perennials an occasional hosing down from top to bottom to wash off dust and pests.

* Keep new plantings well-watered. As we always tell our customers, even your natives and drought tolerant plants need to be watered until they are well established. Any plant in a container needs to be checked regularly in hot weather.

* When annuals or perennials get leggy or scraggly, consider cutting them back by one-third or more. With some plants, this not only makes them look neater, but it also often encourages a fresh flush of growth and/or bloom. We are a big believer in 'hacking away' here at Johnnye Merles! It's always a little scary, but in most cases, pruning back always makes your garden come back nice and full. Remember though, again, watch weather conditions before doing so. You have a few more weeks from now to still get away with it, but once August comes along, I'd hold off till cooler fall months.

* Fertilize any acid-loving plants and any that may be showing an iron deficiency; for example, young leaves may appear yellow-green with dark green leaves. Acid-loving plants include azaleas, gardenias blueberries, and camellias. Fertilize containers. Constant watering flushes out nutrients. Fertilizing does NOT have to mean scary looking colored powders - you can fertilize organically; we'll post a whole article on that soon, but to get started, check out these resources:

* Harvesting Vegetables -- Keep up with the harvest from your vegetable garden. Be sure to pick small and often. Tiny filet green beans, for example, need picking daily. And be sure to remove rotting or diseased produce from the garden. They act as disease magnets. Harvest veggies to keep them producing, same as when you dead head flowers!

* Plant late-summer flowering annuals and perennials, as well as heat-loving tropical and sub-tropical plants. You can still plant veggies and herbs too! The beauty of SoCal gardening is that it is year round!

* Enjoy! One of my favorite things to do is sit down on one of our (nearly rotted...) benches in the nursery after working a full day and just take in all the awesome plants, bugs, and lately, even cats that our nursery has! I love watering for that same reason - it's my time to zone out and notice what's blooming, what's growing, etc. I even discovered a huge nest of baby grasshoppers the other day! Have you ever seen baby grasshoppers? They are super tiny and bright green and jump all over the place if you water them on accident - I had no idea! Point is, the whole idea of a garden is to relax, learn, and enjoy, so take the time in the summer months to do it.