Sunday, March 27, 2011

New plants for rainy days...

Hi there! Quick post; I'll edit with more descriptions later, but wanted to post some photos of our newest arrivals before I head out to the gardens for the day. The rain is starting to clear, spring is here, making it THE time to start planting!

Stop by and check out all our cool new plants!









Saturday, March 19, 2011

Happy Spring - new plants in for this weekend!

Happy early spring!

A little rain won't dampen our excitement about spring being near! In fact, today, Saturday, would be a GREAT day to plant; plants benefit from rain water, and nothing could be better for newly planted additions to your garden than some good rain water to welcome them home!

Winter gardens

Check out our list below for some of the very cool new plants we just got in!

Brassica oleracea - "Walking Stick Kale". Seriously, how cool does that look!

Geranium maderense "White". Giant geranium! Super cool! We have one planted in our garden that has taken OFF - we can't wait to see it bloom!

Heliphila longifolia.
You've got to see this in person to really get it - awesome blue blooms that are intense! In a good way! :)

Nigella hispanica 'African Bride'. We are LOVING the unusual bloom on this thing!

We also got a HUGE selection of poppies in - big Papaver style ones, California natives in unusual colors, the every popular 'Greek Poppy' - stop in and check 'em out! It's a great time of year to plant poppies, and even though many are technically an annual, they reseed easily, which means if you plant them once and take good care of them, you'll be rewarded year and after year when they pop to life in your yard each spring.

We also still have a big selection of sweet peas available - this will probably be our last batch, so pick them up while you can!

As always, these new plants tend to fly outta here pretty fast, so stop in before the rains and take some new treasures home with you!

PS: check out our garden beds too! Darcy and I have been working hard and getting the garden planted and ready for spring!


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Gardens as connections to our past

The article I write for the bi-monthly Orange Plaza Review was just published; if you don't get a chance to check out the had copy, you can read it below!

Gardens as Connections to Our Past

Gardens provide us with countless offerings: flowers, fruits and vegetables, beauty, a place to escape, a healthy environment. But some of what we gain from the things we grow are much more subtle. A few months ago, I wrote about how gardens provide us with inspiration that goes far beyond the soil and sun and seeds; this season, as the ground awakens and spring brings new life, I am thinking about how gardens provide us with a link to our past.

The inspiration for this article is two fold: the gardens I’ve created for myself, for family, for customers and with students have all been on my mind, as well as the importance how those places reflect our heritage, our ancestors, and the like. Then, quite recently, at Country Roads, where our garden shop is located, we lost a long time friend and customer in a very tragic, sudden way. Our reaction, after the initial shock and sadness, was to come up with some sort of way we could remember her in our store. “Doing something in the garden” seemed like the only natural choice.

I like that gardens can be place of remembrance, in happy, health ways. Early spring of each year, I always plant bachelor buttons, the blue, cheery cornflower (Centaurea cyanus) that my grandmother, and namesake of our nursery, Johnnye Merle, had growing in her garden. I remember her telling me about how she’d always have to remind the gardeners that came to cut the lawn underneath her giant Magnolia tree to leave the little patch of dirt where their seeds lay hidden alone; she loved that you could “mistreat ‘em, ignore ‘em, even forget to water ‘em”, but year after year, those seeds would germinate, come to life with a shower of bright blue color. So I too now plant them, and even though she has since past away, I feel connected to her from these seeds that stay the same, that give me the same plant she herself had grown some fifty years before and enjoyed. And in turn, I hope to share that story, that legacy, with the next generations of our family. On her birthday this year, I made a small donation to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center in her memory, doing a small part to keep the legacy of wildflowers of my grandmother’s Texas youth alive. I could think of no better way to remember her than with living flowers for generations to come!

When I am in the garden, in many ways, I am also reflecting the many lessons and tips picked up from so many people over the years, appreciating all that I have been taught as I care for my plants. When I plant heirloom plants and seeds, I am also connecting to the past; there is a huge ‘movement’ of gardeners that cultivate and save heirloom plants for this very reason. It is quite remarkable to think that you are growing the same plant that someone grew hundreds of years ago, eating a vegetable that has not been modified or changed since that time! These plants, handed down from generation to generation, are a direct link to our past, and are also important to our environment: they are usually naturally resistant to many pests and problems and weather extremes, provide a diversity that is critical to maintaining genetic diversity, and are generally always organic, grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. In the after school program I run (, we often create gardens with our students with this idea in mind, growing plants that relate to individual student’s unique heritage and ancestry, providing them with a ‘living history’ of where they come from, and what people have done for generations to live, while also teaching important lessons about the environment, botany, and science.

We will be remembering our friend Faith, who we lost this month, in our gardens at Country Roads this spring. Creating something that is living, vibrant, full of color and that contributes to the environment around it is the best way we can think of to pay tribute to someone who embodied all of those things. Gardens provide us with a unique opportunity to remember, to connect to our past in a meaningful way; every time we get our hands dirty and work with the soil below our feet, we are contributing to our future while also remembering where we came from.


Quick garden tips:

*Heirloom seeds will be in this March at Johnnye Merles! March is a GREAT time to start your seeds.

*For those of you who aren’t into waiting and starting seeds on your own, we’ll also have heirloom veggie plants available, along with all sorts of great annuals and perennials for early spring planting.

*We’ll be celebrating spring this March with a garden party! Visit our website for more information.

*Spring is also a great time to start revamping your garden; if you need some help with design, take advantage of our garden design services!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Scented geraniums, herbs, and leafy greens!

Super quick update before I head out to the garden today!

We got some new herbs, scented geraniums, salvias and veggies in - come check ‘em out and get planting this weekend!


Scented Geraniums are easy to grow and smell wonderful! Edible - used for flavoring, in teas, etc.
Wonderful plants for flower gardens or pots!

Full sun, low water. If they get too unruly, cut them waaaay back and they’ll grow back nice and full!

Check out all of the fun ‘flavors’ that we have in stock.


Green smoothies - blending green leaf veggies & herbs like spinach, kale, parsley, chard, collard greens, lettuce, arugula, dandelion, etc. - is a GREAT way to live healthier and get nutrition that is often missed.

Growing your own ‘smoothie’ is even better! Check out our selection of super easy to grow leafy greens to get yourself started. All they need is some sun and water and you are set - they can even be grown in pots!


Salvias, or sages, are a HUGE plant family.
They are known for having an amazing selection of bloom colors, and being very easy to grow!

Most take full sun, and average to low water. When they get to big or unruly, just cut them back and they’ll look better than ever.
A great addition to any garden!

We also have a great selection of thyme, mint, oregano and basil in!

Come see us soon!


Saturday, March 05, 2011

A perfect weekend for planting!

The weather is suppose to get up into the mid 70's today in Southern California, clear & sunny and everything fresh from recent rains. All of that adds up to a PERFECT weekend to spend some time in your garden!

AND, to add to your bounty of happiness, we JUST got some new plants in from Annie's Annuals late yesterday! They'll be out and displayed and ready to go home with you by this afternoon. You can also visit with Darcy and I then - we'll be working away and planting, while also dispensing advice, as needed, about gardening, compost, beer and love.

Stop in and see us!

Winter gardens