Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sweet Pea time!

Nothing quite says 'cooler weather' to a gardener (well, to a gardener in Southern California that likes English and cottage garden classics...) like the mighty Sweet Pea! Lathyrus, the formal botanical name for the lovely Sweet Pea, is a large, diverse family of legumes. They are "native" around the globe in temperate climates, having been found in Europe, East Africa, South America, North America and Asia.

They are none for doing best out here in cooler weather, and are often planted fall through winter. Sweet Peas are pretty easy to grow - rich, "composty" soil, average water, and full sun is about all they need to do well. Be sure to give them a trellis or something to grow on - they are basically 'mini vines' that need support to do their best. About the only thing you can't do is plant them in really hot weather - they just won't do as well in the heat.

They are also kinda 'historical' - some of the varieties we carry were first bred a few HUNDRED years ago! Sweet Peas are part of a heirloom gardening tradition, keeping 'old' species of plants alive and in cultivation; you can read a bit about some of the varieties we are stocking below.

We have seven varieties of Sweet Pea's in stock right now, all grown by the always impressive Annie's Annuals & Perennials in Northern California. They in 4" containers and ready to go home with you! Check out the photos, provided by Annie's, below:

 The "Cupani" variety has a lovely 'two toned' color to it! Here is what Annie's Annuals has to say: 
"History & scentual pleasure! ‘Cupani’ was first cultivated by a Sicilian monk, Father Francis Cupani, who found this intensely scented wild sweet pea growing near his monastery in 1695. In 1699, he sent some seeds to a teacher in England & so ‘Cupani’ is the first recorded Sweet Pea to be cultivated. Though the beautiful deep purple-blue & violet bi-colored blooms are smaller than modern hybrids, ‘Cupani’ retains the original fabulous fragrance loved by Father Francis. No other sweet peas are this fragrant."

"Annie B. Gilory" is a pink variety first cultivated in 1907.  This variety tolerates heat a bit better than others, and has some of the best cut flowers (oh yes, Sweet Peas are GREAT in your flower arrangements!) of any Sweet Pea you will find!

Meet Lathyrus "Bary Dare": vivid, cherry red and ready to bring a boost of color to your yard! We love this variety for the bright dash of color it brings to a tradition of plants that tend to fall on the pastel end of the color scale. Pair him with some of the black varieties we'll be getting in soon!

"Erewhon" was cultivated in New Zealand, and we looooove the two tone color pattern! 
One of our very favorites!

This purple delight is known as "Lord Nelson". The flowers are really almost navy blue, very deep and stunning; in addition to color, Lord Nelson is grown for the powerful, rich, lovely scent it carries!

Check out "Painted Lady", and other favorite! Here is what our grower, Annie's Annuals, has to say:
"One of the five original varieties of Sweet Peas grown in the 1700’s, ‘Painted Lady’ is definitely one of the easiest to grow & we are so grateful it retains its original rich sweet scent. Vigorous & heat tolerant, it’ll grow to 8’ tall, bearing hundreds of 1.5” cherry & white bi-colored blooms on 8-10” stems – totally the best for cutting! Self-sows reliably so you never have to go without!"

How awesome is THIS color pattern?!?!? This Sweet Pea is "Wiltshire Ripple" and it's very very nice! Chocolate and burgundy in color, this lovely variety has a strong, heady scent as well!

All Sweet Peas are annuals, but will self sow - meaning, they will drop seeds and come back on their own - if you leave them alone! Bait for snails when they are young, as snails do love them, unfortunately, as much as we do! Other than that, try a few of these garden classics out, and have fun!

*all photos by Annie's Annuals & Perennials

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Pictures from the fall gardens!

Check out some shots of our garden that we took at sunset yesterday! 

We are looking quite full right now, AND are having a SALE this weekend only - 20% off all plants!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Mightly Scented Geranium!

photo courtesy of Flickr user @theManWhoSurfedTooMuch
From the Garden: The Mighty Scented Geranium!

    Happy fall! Autumn is one of our favorite seasons for gardening, and among the many plants we focus on this time of year is the lovely, mighty, scented geranium!

    Scented geraniums are much different from the ‘boring’ geraniums you might be used to! Members of the Pelargonium family, these plants are unique in that their distinct aromas emerge from their leaves, not flowers. The leaves have a scent gland located at their ‘base’, and lightly ‘crushing’ or squeezing the leaves results in a release of the oils that give these plants their unique smell! They flower with small white, pink, and occasionally yellow buds, but the leaves - with interesting shapes and texture and aroma - are the real stars of the plant. Scented geraniums originated in Africa, and made their way to Europe sometime during the 1600’s; the Dutch East India Company was trading them by the 1650’s, in fact.

    These are  remarkably easy plants to grow: give them full to partial sun and average to little water, and they will thrive! Seriously, that’s all it takes! The only real requirement they have is for good drainage, which is a must: their roots do not respond well to staying damp or wet.  Outside of that one fact, they are super easy to grow; we like to tease our clients that it would take a lot of effort to kill these plants! What we love best about them is that if they start to look a little ‘leggy’ or spindly, you need to only cut them back and they will flourish, coming back with a vengeance. Likewise, they are very easy to grow from cuttings, so once you have one thriving, you can easily grow your own additional plants, or give them away as gifts.  They do great in pots, hanging baskets, and mixed into your garden beds; throw them into your herb garden or veggie garden for a great, edible, addition of smell and color!

    Scented geraniums have a wide variety of uses. They can be dried and used in potpourri or sachets, and even added to your bath! In the kitchen, they can find their way into teas, flavored syrups, and jams. Some bakers line the bottom of cake pans for subtle flavor, while others use the leaves of these edible plants to garnish and decorate. You can flavor sugar with scented geraniums: alternate laters of sugar with leaves in an airtight container, let it sit for a week, and soon enough you will have flavored sugar to use in baking! Plus, in addition to of all of their many uses, they bring great aroma and texture and interest to any garden.

    There are many, many varieties of these plants, as many as 80, in fact! Currently, Johnnye Merle’s stocks a few of our favorites: coconut - which we adore for not only the amazing aroma it produces but also the delightful little flowers that pop up in the spring - is by far our favorite. We also love peppermint - known for it’s broad, fuzzy leaves, we have one growing outside our front door, in fact! - apple, nutmeg, and chocolate. There are also rose, lemon, lime, and apricot ‘flavors’, and several varieties that are bug repellants as well!

    Stop by our gardens to pick a few up and check them out! We sell them in small, 4” sized containers, making them a fun, affordable addition to your garden AND kitchen!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Just in: herbs and scented geraniums!

Scented geraniums!?!?!

We just got in a big 'ole batch of everyone's all time favorite: the lovely, easy to grow, hardy, great in your tea, great in your baking SCENTED GERANIUM!

Varieties include apple, chocolate, coconut (our fav!), nutmeg, peppermint, old fashioned rose, lemon and many more! We also updated our selection of herbs and have some fun, funky, and of course WEIRD stuff waiting to go home with you this weekend!

Plus, we still have all sorts of great plants from Annie's Annuals & Perennials in stock, too!

Hope to see you soon! Happy gardening!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

New plants this weekend!

Like many of you, we are in the midst of cleaning up our gardens after those crazy, hot, Santa Ana winds last weekend! 

But, the wind has passed, the rain has come, and the weather has gotten cooler, making it the PERFECT time to do some planting and pruning and general garden goodness! 

We are getting a HUUUUGE (seriously, like 50 different types of plants!) order from Annie's Annuals & Perennials tomorrow, including Fuchsia ‘Mrs. McDowell’, pictured below! 

We'll profile more of our new arrivals in the days to come, but be sure to stop by and see us this weekend, and take home some new treasures for your garden!