Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cue the Magnolias

Winter in the West is about quince, camellias, daphnes, and magnolias.

Reds, Pinks, Whites, and Purples dot the gardens around the coast.  These bright spots are super showy in a landscape of fallen leaves and bare branches.

Magnolias are the loudest and largest plants in the winter landscape.  The blooms can be enormous - some measure 16" across.  Even the 'smaller' flowers pack a punch.  See Exhibit A to the left.

Small spaces that need a shot in the arm this winter could use Magnolia 'Genie'.  This dwarf is ideal for residential spaces and homeowners alike.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Dogwood Care

Dogwood trees are an interesting bunch.  They grow on several different continents in many different climates, from the snowy Chinese mountains to the humid Eastern US.

One would think Cornus florida, native to the east coast, would like hot muggy conditions.  Wrong.  Too much moisture - humidity or fog - can lead to mildew.  The trees will live, bloom, and grow except the leaves shrink and curl up with black.  Definitely unsightly.

One course of action is to spray them with a specialty fungicide.  Dow AgroSciences makes Eagle 20EW [active ingredient myclobutanil] that wards off mildew.

There are hybrids, like Cherokee Brave, that have been bred to be more resistant to mildew.  The main thing to remember is Dogwoods are worth the fuss!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Feelin Blue

We returned from a trip to Oregon after a healthy dose of rain, cold, and conifers.  It is actually refreshing to feel the rain pounding down, skate through muddy puddles, and experience some semblance of winter.

The grey shrouded landscape has certain ethereal qualities that fit with twisty, floppy conifers.  The picture to the left is an early morning photo from a private garden west of Portland.  The weeping Cedar in the middle is the variety 'Feelin Blue'. 

Trios of conifers can be the best part of a winter garden.  The big pine in the background, a small chamaecyparis in the foreground have their time in the limelight during the grey winter days.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Daphnes & Dogwoods

Spring is right around the corner right?  Well, it can't hurt to fantasize.  And with the right stimulant, dreaming about spring color is effortless.

The lilac daphne is the plant that gets everyone excited about gardening during the winter.  Bare branches explode with color in late January, early February. This daphne instantly turns a bleak yard into a garden.  That's why we're having a Feb 7 & 8 event to showcase it.

Alongside the Daphne will be Wildwood's Dogwoods.  They'll be blooming too, technically speaking.  The small flower probably won't be surrounded by the showy bracts that most people call the flower...  Still, Daphnes and Dogwoods are pretty nice prelude to spring.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Plant Resolutions

Plants like to make resolutions.  We took a poll of the plants at Wildwood and here are the top five.

1. Lose more leaves.  Some plants still have leaves from last year.  They hope the birds will help out at nesting time and remove the stubborn leaves around the middle that are sheltered from the wind.

2. Eat more trace nutrients.  Plants would like to have more mulch this year to improve soil health and make it easier for young roots to grown.  This should help with nutrient uptake.

3.  Find branches that fit.  Sometimes early warm weather makes the plants too excited and they send out long shoots in the spring.  Those branches look odd later in the summer though.

4.  Find companion plants.  Every plant wants to be complimented with other good looking plants around them.

5.  Find a permanent home.  Plants don't like constantly moving from one display to the next.  Photo shoots are all right but they would rather be in a garden where they can spread their roots.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Climbing Mt. Diablo

Most people consider hiking a summer sport.  In California, that means heat, dust, and a brown landscape.

In the winter, the experience is much more enjoyable.  Temperatures hover in the 50's, the fields are green, and the waterfalls are in full effect.

The route up Mt. Diablo takes the better part of a day - if rest stops are a priority.  The surrounding hills were shrouded in mist - it felt like we were in the Andes looking over the jungle.  There was even a rainbow sighting!

The great part about reaching the Mt. Diablo summit is less adventurous folks can drive [or bike] to the top for the same views!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Season of Giving

A great stocking stuffer is a membership to a botanic garden.

Members enjoy a whole host of benefits, including discounts at local nurseries!  Wildwood donates plants to the UC Berkeley Botanic Garden and the SF Botanic Garden.  We also give 10% off purchases to members of those organizations.

For people who don't have a backyard, a botanic garden is a great place to wander and even get their hands dirty volunteering with staff at the garden.  There's often parties and events throughout the year for members of the garden.

Support public gardens and reap the benefits!