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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Gail’s Garden - September 2011

I’m enjoying a wonderful crop of my favorite cutting flower this summer: Peruvian Lily, or botanically speaking: Alstroemeria.  I have a number of different varieties in pink, orange, and golden yellow colors: red, purple, and white are also available.  A new variety for me this year is the salmon and gold “Third Harmonic”: it’s producing loads of flowers in a big pot on the deck where it gets daily water and 1/2 day sun.  I throw some coffee grounds on for fertilizer when I think of it. 

In order to keep your Alstroemeria blooming throughout the summer be sure to deadhead: don’t just cut off the seed heads, remove the entire flower stalk (grasp the stalk firmly and pull, it will come right out!) .  Cut with long stems, these Peruvian Lilies last for 2 week in a vase: I like to combine them with my favorite “weed” harvested from the roadside: Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota).  Local growers Emerisa Gardens on Irwin Lane in west Santa Rosa have a great selection of Alstroemeria in many sizes and colors.
When you are down in Petaluma be sure to stop by Cottage Gardens on Petaluma Boulevard North:  always an inspiring store to visit with wonderful displays of gorgeous plants.  They create amazing succulent displays in fun containers: always gives me new ideas for my small collection of potted succulents.  They also have a great selection of terra cotta pots in unusual shapes and sizes, lots of trellises, and water features.

Interested in native plants?
Getting ready for fall planting?  There are a number of events this Fall that will be of interest to you.

“Growing Natives:  Inspiring and Enduring Gardens”  is  a two-day symposium focusing on designing, installing, and maintaining native plant gardens. It is in the East Bay on  Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18.   Saturday talks in Lafayette will be offered by Carol Bornstein, Michael Craib, David Fross, Luke Hass, and Deva Luna.  Sunday workshops in Berkeley will be offered by Jocelyn Cohen, Stephen Edwards, Katherine Greeberg, Don Mahoney, and Pete Veilleux. To  get more information and register, visit:

Saturday, October 1 and 2 is  the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society’s Annual Plant Fair.  Over 20,000 plants, including bulbs and ferns, will be offered for sale. Talks will be offered both days. For more information, visit

The Santa Rosa Milo Baker Chapter of the California Native Plant Society , will hold it’s Fall Plant Sale on Saturday, October 9, 2010 from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM at the Santa Rosa Veterans' Memorial Building.  Lots of great plants at very reasonable prices and knowledgeable people to answer all your questions about growing them. 

By the way, do you know what we mean by fall planting for natives?  Not in September, when it is so hot and dry, but in October or November when rains have started, soil is moist, and the days are cooler.  With 5  months before summer comes, plants have a chance to establish a strong root system capable of handling some drought.  But don’t rush to cut off their water completely! 

Plan to install a drip line and water drought tolerant  native plants regularly and deeply through the first summer (I usually do this 3 times a week). Cut back watering in the second summer to 1 time a week: by the third summer you may be able to go without supplemental water.  Of course, you must always be guided by what the plants are telling you: if they look droopy and don’t flower well, they may need more water.

Questions about your garden?  Send me an e-mail at, and I will try to help!

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