The Garden Blog

Mandalas in Nature

Landscape Gardener Tim Chadd at one time designed and replanted Sherman Library & Gardens’ modern formal garden as a living mandala with butter lettuce, thyme, and bok choy. The word ‘Mandala’ is a Sanskrit word for a circle contained within a square, often with sections radiating out from the center point. The process of making mandalas helps to manifest stability in our inner life. I first began drawing and creating flower mandalas when I received a copy of Carl Jung’s “Red Book” which I bring to the mandala classes that I instruct for your inspiration. Throughout his career Jung encouraged his

Read More »

The Hardiest Houseplant You’ve Never Heard Of

Pull up a chair, roll up your sleeve, and put on a brave face because it’s time for your daily dose of trivia! Ready? Let’s begin: What plant is hand pollinated using cat whiskers? Need a hint? This plant shares its name with the mascot of Georgetown University. If you answered Hoya, then treat yourself to a lollipop on the way out. Well played! Plants of the Hoya genus, known colloquially as wax plants, are predominantly vining species native to tropical and subtropical Asia and Australia. They are members of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, whose relatives include horticultural heavyweights such

Read More »

Horsefeathers in Horticulture

Starve a cold and feed a fever. Don’t cross your eyes too long or they’ll get stuck that way. Always wait thirty minutes after eating before swimming. Drinking coffee in adolescence will stunt your growth. Shaved hairs grow back thicker. Unless you were raised by wolves, you’ve likely heard at least one of these admonitions growing up. Perhaps some of you are even guilty of perpetuating these and other old wives’ tales when raising your own children! You can rest assured, though, that adherence to old wives’ tales like these is generally harmless. In all likelihood, the persistence of these tales

Read More »

Captivating Carnivorous Plants

Precocious pitcher plants, seductive sundews and the vivacious, yet vicious Venus fly traps use their alluring bodies to entice their naive guests into a romantic dinner for two. But there’ll be no walk along the beach after this malicious meal. For the carnivorous plant, its date is the main course in this tale of summer love. These carnivorous plants have broken out of their winter dormancy and are ready for the summer sun. They grow in bog conditions of moist soil and pure rainwater and soak up hot, sunny locations. They will charm you with bright colors and striking patterns, resprouting

Read More »

We’re Not in Kansas Anymore

In 1900, L. Frank Baum wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. This classic tells the story of a young girl, Dorothy, entering a strange magical world where she must rely on the help of her friends to find her way back home. As Dorothy follows the yellow brick road to find the powerful Wizard of Oz, The Wicked Witch of the West tricks Dorothy and leads her into a magical field of poppies. Dorothy and her dog, Toto, are induced into a deep slumber from the magical poppies. Baum used dramatic license when he employed opium poppies in his storyline, however in

Read More »

Papaver nudicaule: Iceland Poppies

Papaver nudicaule is the Latin name for the Iceland poppy. The Latin genus Papaver means ‘poppy’ while the Latin specific epithet nudicaule means ‘with bare stems.’ Other common names include Icelandic poppy and arctic poppy. These plants are native to Asian mountain areas north into arctic regions. Iceland poppies are technically considered a perennial but are grown here in southern California as annuals. They are best planted in the fall months into early spring. Poppy plants grow optimally in an evenly moist, well-drained soil with regular fertilization. Along the coast they thrive in a full sun exposure. Each plant features

Read More »

Fall Rains Supreme

Erin Aguiar, Manager of Horticulture Even for the experienced gardener the most challenging plants should also be planted in fall. Some California natives easily succumb to the challenges of the summer dormancy. Woolly bluecurls, Tricostema, is a tricky plant, but the bright blue flowers spikes and the unique aroma makes it totally worth the effort. For the shady spot choose bush anemone, Carpentaria californica, with delicate white flowers and glossy green leaves. There are many plants native to Mediterranean climates, which are well adapted to grow alongside California native plants. Plants from parts of Chile, Southwest Australia, South Africa, and the

Read More »