Maintenance Information

If you are searching for particular maintenance information, please see the blogs for the months that correspond to the time frame that you are searching. Also check the labels of the blogs (at the base of the blog page) for blog subjects that might be helpful.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Helping SubTropicals to Overwinter

We haven't had many hard freezes in the past few years but delicate sub-tropicals i.e. bougainvillea, gardenia, mandevillea, hibiscus etc.................need some help even in mild winters.

Spray these plants in early December with Wilt-pruf or Cloud Cover anti-dessicants to help them survive the winter cold.

If there is a warning out for a hard freeze cover plants with an old sheet or ground cloth (never plastic!)
supporting cloth off of the foliage. Putting a lamp or light (turned on) below the cloth adds heat to help in a freeze.

Move potted sub-tropicals under an overhang on a warm wall (south or west facing).

When planting these plants try to locate them below an eave on a warm wall so that even in winter the wall will warm in the day and retain some heat at night.

Avoid pruning back frost damaged areas of plants until way after the last freeze to allow plants additional coverage from old foliage and to see where new sprouts will appear.

Powdery Mildew

A fungal disease, Powdery Mildew, shown here on the leaves of a Lilac shrub is a common problem in our area.  Many times it is not a serious disease appearing on leaves just as the plants are about to go dormant or die off for the winter.  New growth in the spring can also be affected and the leaves usally drop off or can be removed without treatement.

The fungus is most common in the foggy,humid  days of spring and fall clearing up with the advent of warmer weather or the chill of winter.

Some plants are very prone to powdery mildew and it requires spray to help contol the disease on those plants- Squash, Zinnias, Hollyhocks,the older Rose hybrids and Dahlias are some plants that spring to mind.

Plants that are in areas of poor air circulation, the wrong light for the plant or overly humid areas can become so diseased that the plants will never thrive, so choosing the right location for the plants and not overcrowding or overwatering helps also.

With all fungal diseases it is important to remove any diseased leaves from the area below the plants as they fall or hand pinching out diseased leaves to stop the spread of the spores.

Sunset Western Garden book sites this fungus as one that likes dry surfaces so they suggest spraying plants with a jet of water early in the day to remove spores.  They also site sprays of baking soda or garlic diluted as helpful non-toxic methods for treatement.
An anti-dessianct of Wilt-pruf or Cloud Cover can aslo help to block the action of the fungus.

As I said this is a common, mildly serious disease which usually clears up on its own so my action is to just remove diseased leaves and make sure I rake up under the diseased plants.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Back on the Web again!

Well, it turns out that my old computer suffered from massive internal issues so now have a lovely updated version with super fast stuff and fancy,schmancy everything so am good for awhile.  I am looking forward to getting back to blogging!

So- late summer in the garden. Time to prune out excessive growth, dead wood and revamp mulch areas. I have been doing a lot of clean up lately stream lining the look of the garden to alleviate that "overgrown" feeling. As you can imagine my garden is full of plants! It has been steadily filling in over the last 10 years here, so it is time to selectively remove and prune back the major plants.

This time of year we have the Indian Summer weather and it takes a toll on the garden leaving things looking tired and wilted. I just added slow release fertilizer and I am doing a bit of extra watering with the hose cleaning the leaves of dust and cobwebs plus giving extra moisture. Always water in fertilizer well after application to avoid burning. We are picking Apples now and they are superb. Be sure and remove dropped fruit and spoiled fruit from trees to avoid pest and disease issues.

I will add photos as I get the new Adobe Photoshop software. Am excited to be getting ready to offer more photos through web albums so will add the link for that as I have it ready.

Enjoy and hope you have time to relax in the garden!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Slightly Interrupted

Dear Blog Readers, Friends and Countrymen,

I have been offline of late due to a crash- a computer crash that is. Will be up again posting beautiful photos, informational blogs and giving Lois advice as this glitch gets worked out.
For right now I am making due with a friends laptop and missing all my files on my regular computer.

Technology is a blessing and a curse!

Have fun in your garden, out playing at the beach or in the hills and enjoy this great summer weather.

Cheers from...........................................Lois

Monday, May 16, 2011

Bay to Breakers 100 years- we did it!

For my 50th year I thought I should have a big birthday challenge and have some fun too! I chose to join a team with other single Moms and do the 100th Bay to Breakers Celebration Race. We walked it moving along with thousands of costumed party spirited participants from the Embarcadero over the Hayes Hill though Golden Gate Park and down to the Ocean.

We were scrabble letters and tried to spell out fun sayings and funny words. The crowds defeated that but we did have a blast seeing all the amazing costumes, ridiculous antics and spoofs on current affairs.

I have been trying to visit San Francisco more and do events, learn the neighborhoods and sight see just for fun. This day took us through a fabulous course and included the inhabitants making merry as well. I really enjoyed catching glimpses of the City at its best. Wonderful old Victorian Homes, beautiful Parks and lots of public Art and Festivities.

Don't know if I will do it again but it is a day I will never forget and one that gives me happy memories.

Must have been great when you end up on a beautiful beach with a view of Mount Tam.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Creative Solution to a Big Eyesore

I saw this water tank up in a development in El Dorado Hills and was glad to see some creative camoflage not to mention public art! Homeowners with big properties often are required to have water storage tanks in case of fire or emergency. We are also using them now for gray water storage. They aren't this big but are still intrusive. They are hard to hide so why not use them as a canvas! It was interesting that the trees that they had planted in front of the tanks to hide them from the neighborhood had not survived so luckily the mural was in place. On smaller lots the tanks are often very visible and difficult to screen so I was encouraged to find these examples of tanks that "blend in" with the environment. My friend that I was with mentioned another example of a mural on a tank with the incredible hulk breaking through with gushing water- a more humorous interpretation! We had a great hike up there and the views in the spring from above Roseville and El Dorado Hills is spectacular! Happy Spring Everyone and I hope you all can get out and enjoy the wildflowers!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

New Member of the Family

I am overjoyed to announce the arrival of Isabel Sofia to our family! My daughter, Christine, and her husband, Carlos, have a new baby girl as of March 28th weighing in at 7 lbs 4 oz. She is beautiful and doing very well indeed. I got to go down and visit them this last week and we had a lot of fun hanging out with the baby. Looks like I will be spending some time on the road going down to L.A. to visit often. Can't wait to teach her the names of all the flowers and play games in the garden!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rose Care

When I first started studying Horticulture I didn't really think much of Roses. To me they were just spiny, diseased and gawky looking plants with an occasional nice flower. Then I started growing them and everything changed. I discovered the many varieties of Roses from ultra fragrant to ultra vibrant. Wow! I fell in love.

These days I usually have at least one scratch from rose thorns and always have one of our Roses blooming even in the winter.
I am amazed at how tough the plants are and what they become over time. As the plants age the trunks and branches become thick and tough supporting big plants with numerous blossoms mostly in spring but on and off all the time. At this point Roses are like candy to me and I never tire of trying new varieties and pouring over catalogs. So what does it take to grow lovely, healthy Roses? Well, some fairly general stuff.

First of all- Roses are not drought tolerant. They need consistent water throughout the year.
Let the area dry out in between watering and soak deeply 2-3 times a week.

Roses need sun- at least 6 hours. Hot reflexion off building is not great for them and burns them so it is better to have them out in an open area. Climbers can be on walls but use a trellis to allow for air circulation.

When planting use lots of compost and dig a big hole. If using bareroot roses follow planting instructions carefully being sure to poke in areas around roots with your hands or a broom handle to fill in air gaps around roots.

Feed them. They like rose food or slow release fertilizer. Follow label directions and water in well so roots don't get burned. Feed roses at least once a year in early spring.

Dead head old flowers. Cut back spent blossoms to the first 5 leafed stalk consistently to perpetuate bloom.

Prune back in January. Always prune Roses in the dormant season removing dead wood, shortening canes and cutting crossing branches. For climbers leave the main canes and cut back lateral branches to 3-4 buds. Miniature roses and floral carpet roses just need a little thinning and to be cut back about 4-6" at all branch ends. Pruning revitalizes the plants and keeps them full.

Don't crowd them. Over crowding causes areas of poor air circulation where diseases and pests can live.

Choose the best quality plants. Don't buy your roses from Home Depot! Order first quality Roses from Jackson and Perkins. They are the best and will do very well in the garden.

Enjoy and love them- they like that best!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Rodent Explosion!

Over the years I have battled Squirrels,Gophers, Rats, Moles and the occasional Rabbit but now a full fledged war is on!

The mild weather and late spring rains have created a huge population of rodents in our area. Add to that the depletion of natural predators and we have a big problem on our hands.

Rabbits aren't just in the wildlands anymore they are creeping into lots of urban areas and have been eating a perfectly trimmed skirt around shrubs, ruining lawns and decimating flower beds.
With Gophers eating the tops and Deer browsing too, some areas have become very frustrating garden spots.

If you have a Deer Fence then adding aviary wire along the base will help keep Rabbits out. Deer repellent also works for Rabbits, so that can help if they haven't taken over the garden.
Inside the fencing the Rabbits need to be trapped and moved out into the woods.

Gophers are also taking off and we now routinely use galvanized aviary baskets to plant in but make sure the wire extends up high enough so they don't dive over the edge into the root ball!

Gophers also can be trapped or there is a pretty good pellet drop tool for poisoning them. Not so great for wildlife and cats though!

Let me know if you need a referral on Rodent trapping or information on Deer tolerant plants.
There is no sure things with Deer or other pests but the damage can be kept down with some evasive measures.

One of the key things we have found with these pests is that herby, auromatic plants seem to be something that Rabbits and Deer dont like and even Gophers avoid.
At least these are plants that are good for humans and bees plus are low water requiring!

Squirrels and Rats are also an issue. They eat bark off trees, your fruit and the tips of branches just as they bud out. They are impossible to control and the best solution is a really good hunting cat (or a pack of them). Dogs help a bit but can't get up high enough to be a real threat.
They are way out of control in terms of population size so trying to dissuade them from living in your attic or nesting in dense foliage is a definitely called for. Covering trees with bird netting or mesh doesn't work for these guys at all. Best to plant fruit trees away from powerlines, fence lines and other adjacent trees. An Arborist friend pointed out that the powerlines are the Squirrel highways!

Good luck and I hope you are not a casualty of the rodent war!