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SHARING SECRETS: Blue Skies Mean Gardens In Bloom

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let's Talk Plants! May 2023.

Sharing secrets... WiX stock photo.

Current question:

The sky is blue, the trees are full and many of the items in your garden are in bloom. Tell us about them. Old and new, bought or given, good or bad . . . why do you keep them? Also, why did you plant them and how?


Ida Rigby of 92064 shared…

... A real spring (and promise of more) is blooming in my April Garden. There are still some narcissi. The California poppies are twice their usual size. Grevillea thelemanniana is continuing its December (!!) red bloom. Irises are in bud. The knife leaf acacia, which I introduced into the garden for its movement in the wind, has clusters of tiny yellow puffs. There is Tulip bakeri. The wisteria is outdoing itself with exuberant cascades. This is just the beginning!

It's really beautiful in the way an old garden can be, with lots of lovely survivors revived by the rains. Of course, I am still weeding maniacally. I know your garden must also be burgeoning with blossoms and potential fruits for the summer.


Gerald D. Stewart of 92083 responded…

... What's both old and new here?

The orchard, which, as a comfortably confident gay man, I call the Gay Glade, because it's where the fruit hangs out.

I started planting fruit trees in earnest ten to fifteen years ago. For ten years I ended up taking care of my parents, and the Glade was largely ignored because I, alone, monitored them for ten years, 24/7. Since the first of the year, old trees were removed or renovated, and about fifteen new trees were added to the mix. I have found a source for Cara Cara orange trees that should be available in June, which will provide the final citrus. About a dozen stone fruit bare roots were planted. One later purchase, in a five gallon can, is finishing rooting out so it can be planted soon. There are thirty-three trees in all, some have bloomed, others are in the process.

If my research proves accurate, there will be eight to thirteen trees with ripe fruit each month of the year. There are two main reasons for planting the orchard: first, it will be handy to have lemons and limes anytime I need one or a dozen; second, I will be able to harvest fully ripe stone fruit, which I remember from growing up in the 1950s.

A favorite memory is of Mr. Hampton bringing us a batch of Babcock peaches each year when they were perfectly ripe. For me, they were better than candy. I planted a Babcock this year. It may not set a lot of fruit, but I will relish each one. Thank goodness for the Zaiger family's hybridizing. Peaches are one of my favorite fruits, and their series of Pride peaches will give me fruit from late May into August.

A friend who was trained as a classical pastry chef in Germany taught me how to make what he called plum cake. It's a pastry baked with a half of a prune plum on it. It has gotten difficult to find them at the grocery store. A Sugar Plum prune plum was planted this year. It needs a lot of cold, but my hope is I get at least enough fruit to make a batch of plum cakes each year.

The same goes for a Newton Pippin apple that was planted. My memory of the best apple pies, made by my mother, grandmother, and aunt, were always made with Pippin apples. Again, I don't find them at the grocery stores, and they need a lot of cold. And again, I hope to get at least enough apples to make a pie for Thanksgiving each year.

As you have read, the Gay Glade holds a lot of promise to provide fruit of the type and quality I fondly remember from growing up long ago.


Suzie Sherwin says Hi…

... Perhaps this would be on interest to you.*

The eighty-five year old Fuerte Avocado tree currently has avocados and an abundance of new blooms on it! Most likely it was planted by an immigrant from Holland, Anton Van Amersfoort in the 1920s or 30s. This avocado farmer was active in bringing water to Encinitas in 1923 and had many groves throughout Encinitas and Leucadia. Many of these trees are happily growing today. When we first began gardening in our yard, we found several iron pipes used for irrigating the groves in Old Encinitas.

Our yard had one grouping of sparaxis tricolor or harlequin bulb-forming perennials growing 46 years ago! At this time of the year, the red groupings of South African natives are splattered throughout the yard. The shared bulbs are blooming in many yards near and far!

The rock-hugging and shade-loving campanula have likewise spread to all areas of low light in the garden.

Fun memories…still growing today!

* from a page in my watercolor sketch book


Alyse Ford mentions…

... A lot is in bloom in my front yard and back, mainly annuals, poppies etc. Here’s a pic of my front yard.


Karin Esser of 92075, gathered this information…

... This is a 40-year-old, Cup of Gold, Solandra maxima, (all parts of it are poisonous and used in religious ceremonies in Mexico, often with fatal results) that keeps on growing, now to more than fifty feet. For about thirty years it was hanging on for dear life, but now it needs constant pruning.


Tee Gross of 92116 replied…

... Hi, I used to grow Cerinthe in Davis, California, so decided to try growing it here. I purchased seeds and started them outdoors in place late last summer. They have done well. The plants are twice as tall as those grown in Davis. This is now my second batch from volunteers! I did not re-seed.

I will be collecting seed again and will have them available if anyone wants some.


Cathy Tylka of 92025 sounds off for…

... Pride of Madeira that mixes so lovingly with my Pincushion Protea, and the Coral Tree is blooming. I’m having fun with a gifted Bromeliad, and it’s living! That’s always a plus!


Karen England of 92084 admits . . .

. . . that a hundred years ago (about twenty), I got a bucket of Dutch Iris bulbs from Costco as a gift and the bucket got dumped out into my street side garden by accident and the bulbs were never "planted" per se, just left by the road to fend for themselves. Over the years I've forgotten about them because dumping and abandoning is not a suggested bulb planting method. Or is it?


Sharing Secrets Question for next month…

Do you have, or have you made, an implement in your garden that you use to assist you with your fencing, gardening, hangings, etc. Is it meant originally for the garden, or have you improvised? Help our fellow gardeners with your great inventions and/or finds to make gardening easier!


Cathy Tylka, RN, retired Emergency Nurse, found her love of plants and the SDHS merge many years ago. Cathy acted as Treasurer for the organization and volunteer for many activities. Now, more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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