Archives for August 2012
Today is my mom’s birthday, so I’m going to write about how to take care of one of her favorite plants, Rose of Sharon. My mom can take a cutting from a family member or neighbor’s plant, stick it in the ground in her Long Island, NY backyard and voila’ she has a new plant. They just LOVE her! Maybe they love her more than she loves them, I’m not really sure.
Hybiscus syriacus is a deciduous shrub, which means it loses it’s leaves in the fall, also these plants actually produce leaves quite late in the spring, so enjoy its beautiful branching structure and use it as a backdrop for winter and spring blooming perennials. The flowers can be single, semi-double, or double and come in a range from white, to pink, to lavender, to blue, some even have an “eye” of a different color, and they are edible!
This is a great plant for full sun to partial shade; you can use it in a border, as a hedge, an accent, or in a container. Some people won’t want to use it as an accent because it is deciduous, but if you use the tip above you might learn to enjoy your garden in a different manner.
The Rose of Sharon attracts hummingbirds, and butterflies, and also brings pollinators (bees) into your garden. Planted in the ground and well established it can be drought tolerant, but it will also take regular garden water. You can prune it into a tree form, create a multi-trunk shrub or as I mentioned use it as a hedge. The Rose of Sharon is VERY versatile.
Here are some basics on care:
- They grow up to about 12’ tall and can get up to 6’ wide, so you should space them about 6’ apart and a bit closer (4’-5’) if you want a hedge.
- Your Rose of Sharon is pretty tolerant of different types of soil, but loves the addition of organic matter. A little compost can go a long way in adding nutrients to the soil, so make it a regular practice.
- You should prune as needed to maintain the shape and size that you desire, and in winter or early spring, prune off last season’s growth. This will help produce bigger blooms.
- In cooler winter areas a nice layer of mulch around the roots is great in the late fall.
- They can be invasive if you let the seed pods develop and you have them in a well-watered situation, the solution for that is easy! Just deadhead (trim off) the seedpods before they mature.
If you are looking for an awesome selection of Hibiscus syriacus and you live in Southern California, look no further than Worldwide Exotics Nursery. They are in Lakeview Terrace, Ca. and have at least three varieties all grown in our harsh heat, so ready to go into your garden! Check out the website, they are open on Saturdays, and by appointment only the rest of the week. (So call before you drive over).
Here’s a little bit of trivia that my mother told me: The Rose of Sharon is the National Flower of Korea, and it is called Mugunghwa. Save that one for your next cocktail party!
Being a landscape designer in Santa Clarita, and a huge edible gardening fan, I am happy to say that it is the height of the season for a lot of my favorite herbs. My basil is looking and tasting fabulous (as long as I trim off the flowers) my oregano is trailing lazily over container lips and garden walls, and my chocolate mint is a pleasure to water as it perfumes the back patio. That said, it is time for me to start planning for my cooler weather herb usage.
It is time to think about drying some of my bounty. Drying herbs is one of the oldest forms of food preservation so there is a long history of utilizing drying to extend your ability to add herbs to your dishes. If you dry herbs you will remove the excess water, which prevents growth of both mold and bacteria, so it is an easy, affordable and safe way to have herbs year round.
First you must know when to harvest herbs because each herb whether root, flower, leaf, or berry has a different best time to harvest. Leaves should be harvested before the flowers begin to open on the plant – that is when they are most fragrant. Flowers such as lavender or chamomile should be harvested just as they begin to open. Berries should be harvested as they ripen (summer and into fall) seeds should be harvested in the fall because that is when they ripen, and roots should be harvested as the plant dies.
There are three main methods to dry herbs, sun drying, hanging herbs, and oven drying. Here is a little about each method, so you can choose the method(s) that work best for you.
Sun Drying – This is a very cost effective method of drying. All you have to do is put a towel on a dry, hard surface (patio, porch, table, planter wall) place your herbs on the towel and make sure that none of them are touching each other. Leave them out in the sun to dry for a bit, checking them in the cool of the evening. If they are completely dry you can bring them in and store them, if not bring them in anyway but put them out again the next day to dry some more. Don’t leave them out over night (especially in humid climates) as they will grab moisture from the air.
Hang Drying Herbs – This is probably the simplest method and works best with herbs that contain little moisture such as thyme, rosemary, dill, and savory. Start off by removing the lowest leaves of each branch of herbs, then bundle four to six of the branches together and tie them with a string. Place each bundle into a brown paper bag with the stems sticking out of the top, and tie the bag with another piece of string. Punch a few holes in the bag for circulation and hang the bags in a cool, dark place for a few weeks.
Drying Herbs in the Oven – This method will dry herbs very effectively and pretty quickly! Preheat your oven to 180 degrees. On a baking sheet place the leaves and stems of the herbs you want to dry. The herbs should be left in the oven for two or three hours. Check them occasionally to see how they are doing. You can also use a microwave to dry herbs however this could pull the moisture out too quickly and cause them to lose their flavor. Simply place the herbs flat on a paper towel in your microwave for about three minute on high. Start with small batches and test the flavor to see if they are up to your standards.
Now you can have garden grown, herbs all year!
Being a landscape designer in the Santa Clarita Valley, and a gardener from childhood I have never had to think twice about the term deadheading. Yes, I know it has other connotations beyond the gardening world, but I’ve always been more of a Rolling Stones fan than a Dead Head so gardening was always the first thing that crossed my mind.
Usually after a job is installed I spend a little time talking with or emailing back and forth with my client to discuss maintenance (we talk about it at the start of the job too). This past week, two different people have responded to my maintenance notes with, “What does deadheading mean?” so … here we go. Deadheading is the systematic removal of spent flower blossoms from your plant that encourages it to bloom more.
Deadheading can be done on a young pliable plant with your fingers/fingernails or on stiffer more brittle plants with a pair of garden scissors or pruners.
Most perennial and annual plants will benefit from deadheading, so have at it! Here is a list and links of some perennials that I’ve written care information on that will benefit from deadheading.
I hope this helps a little, let me know if you have any other questions! If you are interested in creating a beautiful garden with me you can email me at [email protected], call me at 661-917-3521 or click through to my website.