Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Gardens


One of the biggest perks of living in Southern California is the fact that we can garden all year long. I must admit, I gloat a little tiny bit when I read Facebook status updates from my friends filled with tales of snow shovels and frigid temperatures as I work away in our nursery! I’ll trade my shot at a white Christmas for a chance to garden year round any time.

It’s easy to go into hibernation mode during these chillier months - but winter is a great time to be working on your yard, and it can help to keep you in shape and aligned with those New Years Resolution goals as well.

There are all sorts of things that can be planted: cool season vegetables like beets, carrots and lettuces can go into the ground now, and can even be started by seed. I planted some of these seeds in our gardens at the nursery during the first week of December and have already seen some fast growth. We are going to have some really cool seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for sale in the nursery in the beginning of February; we expect to have a great selection of unusual vegetable and fruit seeds available at that time, which we are really excited about. Planting these cool weather veggies now is great prep for your bigger spring gardens, and nothing will satisfy a severe case of spring fever like some early season veggies ready to be prepped and cooked!

You can still have color in your garden as well. Winters at our nursery are known for nasturtium and larkspur all coming back to life; it never fails to amaze me how these little plants come back after disappearing for the previous nine months! Pansies, violas, primrose and snapdragons are some other annual color that you can depend on during cooler months. Create your own new winter tradition in your yard and plant some sweet pea seeds, there are tons of varieties and color available, both in our nursery and via online resources.

Besides planting, there are all sorts of ways to occupy your time in the garden during the winter: start a compost pile, build a mini greenhouse or ‘hot house’ frame and start your seedlings, check out seed catalogs, build some new raised beds...the list goes on and on!

If anything, the winter months seems to make us appreciate the season more than any other time of the year. I’ve also come to really appreciate the look of deciduous trees in the winter, their bare branches almost become a type of sculpture in the garden. Winter makes me slow down and pay closer attention; those bare branches will one day yield bright green and yellow leaves again, and if you watch close enough, you can see it happen, day by day. That, too me, is what winter gardening is all about - appreciating what we have, patterns of growth, cycles of life, and the promise of a green spring.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What's in the garden right now...

As all my friends have been updating their Facebook pages with talks of snow and ice, I’ve been working away in the garden! Our traffic might leave a bit to be desired, but the weather in Southern California can’t be beat for gardening. I spent a good chunk of last weekend getting ready for the rainstorms this week: planting, feeding, cleaning. Now I’m letting the rain do its thing...

Once we dry up a bit, you can do the same! Here’s a quick look at some of the super cool plants we have in stock right now that are looking to go home to your garden...

Black Aloe

Black Aloe

I love the color of this plant - sort of a varigated tone, a minty green almost. And I love that most aloe’s boom in our cool winter months.

Sea Holly

Seal Holly

One of my most favorite plants of favorite plants - and this particular variety has awesome color - a total sucker punch to your garden design, looks great this time of year!

Euryops Sunshine Silver

Euryops ‘Sunshine Silver’

A cheery little daisy in bloom right now.

Scented Geraniums

Scented geraniums and vintage garden accessories

All sorts of great scented geraniums in right now - lemon, nutmeg and (my fav) even a coconut scent. I grow these in my kitchen in pots (use them for flavoring and garnishes) but they do well outdoors, requiring very little water.



Every garden needs it. You can’t go wrong!


Papaya plant

Only a few of these little 4” trees in stock - I planted one in our garden and consequently am a little bit obsessed with it now. Growing papaya is not only cool, but it LOOKS cool!

Come by and say hi - lots of great stuff in stock right now!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Fall gardens

Our gardens are looking soooo good right now! Lots of new stuff, we've been planting for fall and winter, moving stuff around - stop by and see us!

We'll profile specific plants soon - we just got a truck load of VERY cool herbs in today...

Fall in the garden

Lavandula and Euphorbia

Euphorbia and native grasses

Fall display

Fall display

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

New stuff!

More details to come shortly, but wanted to post a quick update. Last week saw several truck loads of plants come our way! New awesome plants are in right now, including about 25 different things from Annies Annuals, one of our very favorites.

Stop in and see us - we are getting our fall displays up right now too!

Fall displays full of new plants!

New stuff!

Lavender, million bells and campanula.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Plant sale!!!!

Johnnye Merle's Annual


It's that time of year again!

From now through Labor Day Monday, Sep 7th, all plants - including plants already marked down! - are 20% off!

We have got some HUGE plans for fall: new plants, new displays, Saturday AM classes, new garden accessories and much more. But, we gotta make room for all of our new stuff, so, as has been our tradition, we are offering some great end of summer deals.

ALL plants in our gardens, even those already on sale or marked down, are 20% off for this special week. It's a win win - you get some great plants at a great price, and we get to make space for all the awesome new stuff we have coming in!

Stop by and see us soon! Sale ends on Monday the 7th.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

More new plants

Here are some featured items that we have new in the garden right now:

Chocolate cosmos - always a favorite, great color, a fun, low growing perennial. Lots of blooms!

Hollyhocks are always a favorite! We have them in color packs right now: pink, yellow, and the awesome black!

Million Bells provide great perennial color to pots, borders and hanging baskets. These things are almost always blooming!

These nasturtiums are very cool - a red flower, and darker colored leaf than you normally see. They are displayed here next to some very cool new echeveria we got in that are just about to bloom!

Duranta Geisha Girl is another favorite - we are big fans of Duranta in general, and this particular variety has a stunning bloom to it!

Cordyline Ruby - SUCH cool red/pink color! This is a must have!

We are down to our last few Brugsmania - don't worry, we will get more soon! - but the white bloom on this is truly stunning! Pictured in the background is Imperata Red Baron, one of our all time favorite ornamental grasses!

Come in and see us soon! We have all sorts of fun stuff available to make your summer gardening fun, and we'll be gearing up on our fall inventory real soon as well!

Friday, August 14, 2009

More design work...

I finally uploaded some photos from another recent design project. This residence is in Corona Del Mar; the homeowner, Jenny, is a long time client - we first worked with her sometime back in '03 or '04, we think, but the years get a little blurry!

For Jenny's home, we provide a maintenance, going in about two or three times a year with new, fresh plants, helping with pruning and planting and sprucing things up in general. Her landscape is one that is fairly mature - again, some of the plantings we brought in are six or seven years old now - but a little 'fluff' a few times a year keeps a garden interesting and looking its best.

Jenny's landscape started out very English/traditional cottage when we first planted it. In the years since, we've incorporated more and more drought tolerant succulents, some fun tropical specimens, and a small veggie and herb garden for her four year old son.

These type of landscape projects are always fun for us. It's really rewarding to get to see a garden design mature and age and to be able to maintain and tweak it over time, not to mention the fun in keeping long lasting relationships with clients!

If your yard need a 'fluff' or a makeover, please don't hesitate to contact us. And don't forget, we also have a Garden Design Special this month, so if you have been thinking about recruiting some help planning your garden, now is the time to do it!

Our garden helper Harrison. The garden itself is about twice as old as this four year old!

Front walk way headed to the front door, which is planted with a mix of perennials, succulents, annual color and background height such as phormiums, cestrum and acacia.

Close up of some plantings - echeveria, sedums, euphorbia and a varigated iris in the background.

Another close up: geum, lavender, aeoniums, rosemary, euphorbia and loropetulum all live happily together!

One of my favorite spots in the garden: a semi-shady area where ferns, grasses, anemones and hydrangeas fill up the landscape!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Need some help?

We've been super busy out in the garden lately - it's been a great summer so far! We are excited to offer a design special this month. In addition to having great plants available, Johnnye Merle's also offers some great garden design services. Check out what we have available for this summer...


Feeling overwhelmed by all the different cool plants to choose from?

Let us help!

Johnnye Merle’s Gardens is offering a design special this August!

For plant orders of $250 or more, we can do the following:

1. Visit your home/project site to help you design your garden*
2. Select the plants you need for your project and make soil recommendations
3. Sell you our awesome plants at our discounted design rate to save you $
4. Deliver them to your home & set them up exactly where they go
5. You plant them and live happily ever after with an awesome garden**
*limited to a 30 mile radius of Orange; for projects outside of that range, a small fee applies
**or, for an additional cost, we can plant them for you!

Working with a garden designer can save you time and money, and help you finally get your dream garden.

We are here to help you, with over ten years of garden design experience and excellent plant knowledge! We can put your project together quickly, are reliable, and focused on helping you create a garden you’ll enjoy!

Email Us!
Or call and leave us a message: 562.296.5700

Sunday, August 09, 2009

New stuff...

So, we got LOTS of new plants in this Friday. As in, seriously, a LOT. I wasn't in when the trucks arrived late Friday, so you can imagine my surprise (dismay?) when I got the nursery Saturday AM and discovered this waiting for my attention:

All those plants on the ground for as far as the eye can see? All new. Five hours later, I finished pricing and displaying everything...but it was worth the effort, as we have some intensely cool stuff out in our gardens right now. I'll post some specifics later, but trust me, it's well worth your time to pay us a visit soon!

We've been doing a lot of garden design lately too. If you feel overwhelmed about what to get for your garden and how to set it up, shoot us an EMAIL and we can help. We have a special going on this month, for plant orders over $250, we'll come out to your house to see what you need, pick out plants for you, give you a discount on the cost of plants, deliver them, and set them up/place them exactly where they should be planted. You pay for the cost of the (discounted!) plants and take care of planting them, we take care of the design, delivery and placement.

It's the deal of the century! Well, at least the deal of this month...

Thursday, August 06, 2009


Echeveria are one of our very favorite plant families here at Johnnye Merles. There are versatile, easy to grow, and look awesome year round and mixed into virtually any garden design style.

They are technically a succulent, though we find them to be much more hardy than the tender succulents you might be familiar with. Native to Mexico through Central American into northwester South America, they seem do do particularly well here in Southern California as well. Cool fact? They were named after an 18th century Mexican botanical artist, Atanasio Echeverría y Godoy. They are low water/drought tolerant plants, making them a perfect choice for your water conscious gardens and pots. Even better though, is that based on our experience, many of them are able to tolerate a certain amount of shade and even some frost, making them even more versatile!

When designing with Echeveria, you have a lot to work with: versatile growing conditions, an amazing array of colors and blooms, and a cool, ‘architectural’ quality to their leaves and structure. I’ve worked them into garden designs of all types, with much success: native/drought tolerant plantings, ‘minimalist’ landscapes using a lot of grasses and succulents, as well as classic cottage and English style gardens. Care is very easy; clean out dead leaves, and I like to prune back the dead stalk once they are done flowering. Even though they are drought tolerant, occasional deep watering and fertilizing will get an even better performance out of them if you are able to do so.

I took a few photos of some of the Echeveria we have in stock right now at Johnnye Merles - check out the variety and diversity of these plants, and of course, be sure to stop in and take one home!

Echeveria "Pul-Oliver"
Echeveria Pul-Oliver

Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy'
Echeveria 'Topsy Turvy’

Echeveria 'Afterglow'
Echeveria 'Afterglow’

Echeveria 'Shaviana'
Echeveria 'Shaviana'

Echeveria 'Perle Von Nürnberg'
Echeveria 'Perle Von Nürnberg’

Echeveria haagai tolimanensis
Echeveria haagai tolimanensis

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Design project

In addition to offering a great, diverse selection of plants, Johnnye Merle’s also provides top notch garden design services. Below is a project we just worked on this past week.

Before #2

Above is the ‘before’ photo. For this project, the client wanted to help with a big area she recently had stone and brick laid out in. Having lived in the home for only a year now, this was one of her big ‘pet peeve’ areas; before the stone, it was a strange, elevated ‘platform’ featuring weeds and dirt! As it sits below a giant avocado tree and is in the direct line of sight from the other outdoor sitting area, we suggested she have it paved or set in stone, and turn it into a fun seating area with pots, a water feature and fire pit. Once she had the hardscape completed, she reached out to us for help with selecting pots and plants, placing and planting them, designing and building the water feature, and picking out garden furniture and accessories.

This is still a work in progress, but you can see from the photos below how much we were able to accomplish in one day! Last week, we helped her pick out a selection of pots that accented her garden and reflected her own design tastes, purchased wine barrels for the water feature, and we put together a plant selection for her as well.

Then, we put it all together - utilizing existing stones, bricks and random flagstone pieces, we created ‘risers’ for the pots, grouping them in interesting little vignettes. We are very big on using existing materials that a client might have - the previous homeowners left behind a huge selection of random stone pieces, so it was great to put those into use. The wine barrel water fountain also features lots of 'found' objects.

We also cleaned up and planted to flower bed areas that are adjacent to the patio area. We planted the pots using plants that are primarily drought tolerant and ‘architecturally interesting’, proving year round diversity in color and foliage structure. For the bedded areas, which are shaded and damp, we went with shade loving plants that could deal with the run off of water that happens because of the slope of the deck. Same goes for the water feature plants, which are in a shady corner that tends to stay moist.

(It was getting dark as we took photos - we’ll post better ones soon!)


'After photo'; not the best shot, sorry!

Water feature

Water feature - we built this using wine barrels, a galvanized tub, some rain gutter pieces and a small water pump. We love how it turned out!

Potted plant design

Potted plant design

Potted plant grouping

More potted plants - notice how we utilized existing stone materials to give the pots more height and to 'polish off' the groupings.

In addition to providing the design work and plant selection, partnering with Johnnye Merles on a garden design project can also SAVE you money. For this project, for example, the client was able to purchase pots at a wholesale price, saving considerable money, and likewise the cost of plants was discounted since she was also utilizing our design services. Plus, collaborating with a garden designer can help to avoid mistakes - small and large - than can sometimes cost money as well!

We’ll post more photos once the plants take root and fill out a bit more, and we find the perfect benches and chairs for our client...

If you are interested in our design services, please feel free to email us for more information!

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!!