MY LIFE WITH PLANTS: Branching Out



By Jim Bishop.

The second year at my garden in Encinitas, I continued to remove grass and iceplant and expand the flower beds. I added a bed that wrapped around the patio and built large wooden planter boxes to go up against the house under the eaves. I replaced the bedroom window with a French door that opened into the backyard. Under the eaves I hung large clay pots with heavy rod iron hangers. I'd plant them each spring with tuberous begonias, fuchsias and trailing lobelia.

And my obsession with plants continued to grow, but I was still heavily influenced by plants more suited to the Midwest than San Diego. I started regularly watching the Victory Garden on PBS and continued visiting gardens and nurseries, and reading books and magazines looking for new plants and ideas.

I continued to grow plants from seed, but also added many more bulbs. I bought lots of plants via mail order. I tried many varieties of daffodils....but found that a pale yellow large cupped "ice follies" did very well for me. I experimented with freesias and planted as many as I could find. I started growing dahlias. I had also learned a trick, that if I planted the ranunculus bulbs later in the fall, they would grow shorter and be less prone to falling over when in bloom.


I added more roses to the garden. I visited the San Diego Balboa Park rose garden in November to observe which roses were still in full bloom. This led me to add mainly florabunda roses to the garden. There were 2 roses that really did well for me. One was a tall reddish-orange floribunda called "Impatient". After a few years in the garden it produced over 300 flowers at one time followed by more flower sprays throughout the year. Another favorite was a short floribunda called 'Sunflare' also with large sprays of flowers and a delightful licorice scent.


My color tastes were also starting to develop. I learned that I liked lots of bright sun-colors: bright and pale yellows, oranges, coral, and tangerine contrasted with dark blues, lavenders and purples. I developed a dislike of red flowers since the color was difficult to work with. My favorite flower color was soft coral, almost the color of a Dreamcicle ice cream bar. At the time, it was nearly impossible to find plants that bloomed in this color. The closest I could find were bearded irises, tuberous begonias, and impatiens.


I was also starting to realize how much work it was to maintain a flower garden was and started looking for plants that had longer bloom times and needed less deadheading. Some of the the new hybrid nemesias fit both my color tastes and bloomed from fall until the first hot days of summer. Inspired by all the annual statice, Limonium sinuatum, that grew along the train tracks in Encinitas, I grew several cultivars from seed.

I was also starting to have pest problems with snails, whitefly and spider mites. The overhead sprinklers caused problems with knocking over delicate plants and shattering blooms.

I became known at work for bringing in huge floral arrangements on Monday morning for the reception desk and my office.


  

Our Mission  To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.

 

Our Vision   To champion regionally appropriate horticulture in San Diego County.

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