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SHARING SECRETS: Garden Hearts And Flowers

Edited by Cathy Tylka, for Let’s Talk Plants! March 2023.

Wix stock photo. Sharing Secrets.

This Month’s Question:

In the season of hearts, sweethearts, and all things Cupid, what is in your garden reminding you of this wonderful time of year? Do you plan to add anything that makes you feel like hearts and flowers to your lovely garden?


Beth Van Boxtel replied…

… February 14 is the first day of the year to fertilize roses! I will be fertilizing roses every two weeks (note, for beginner rose growers, there are other products than this one to consider) with Ada Perry’s Magic Formula (sold at Walter Andersen).

Walter Anderson’s sells this wonderful additive. Ada Perry’s Magic Formula is made up of blood meal, gypsum, epsom salts, bone meal and other micronutrients. In other words, it is a terrific stew for making your roses happy. One, twenty-pound bag, will feed about thirty roses. Each rose gets at least two cups in January and two cups in July. Remember, always water your roses thoroughly before feeding.


This echeveria heart is Debra's all-time favorite; shot at Roger's Gardens.

Debra Lee Baldwin of 92026, vibes…

… The photo of the mammillaria was sent to me by Pat Armanino, a Bay Area succulent enthusiast who gardens using a wheelchair. The echeveria heart is my all-time favorite; I shot it at Roger's Gardens. And the flapjack kalanchoes were at Waterwise Botanicals nursery in North County.

Mammillaria photo by Pat Armanino.

Flapjack kalanchoes at Waterwise Botanicals nursery in North County.


Greg Hunter acknowledges…

…Living in Eagle, Idaho, since 2019, it is too early to take pictures in my garden at this time of the year. We are still in our cold season.

May 11th is our first average frost-free date to plant new flowers in our garden. In mid-spring, I will be planting five top varieties of tomato plants. May will also see dozens of tulips and other flowers in bloom that warm our hearts. Happy to send pictures at that time.


Ida Rigby, of 92064, retorts…

…Valentine’s Day reminds me of bouquets and not just bouquets we pick. The garden makes its own bouquets such as in the photo with the dog: Valentine rose (absolutely indestructible and blooms whenever given the slightest drop of water during a parched summer), N. 'Grande Soleil d’Or', a red flowered leucadendron, and California poppy seedlings promising brilliant orange.

Valentine’s Day means bulbs, N. ‘Erlicheer’

(pictured). I have found that Leucojum aestevum, N. Ceylon, N. Carlton, N. Grande Soleil d’Or, N. Avalanche naturalize beautifully in my Poway garden despite warm Southern California winters.

Roses, of course, are for Valentine’s Day. My Old Blush (beloved of rose rustlers) blooms all year, but with rains such as we have had puts out a variety of different shaped blooms (three photos).

Then, always at Valentine season there are all the “firsts”. Today was my first Duchesse de Brabant blossom (pictured)—Theodore Roosevelt’s favorite boutonnière rose bud and my first heavenly scented Mme. Isaac Pereire.

Editor’s note: Ida didn’t care for this picture, (but I love it) so she sent me another and also provided this wonderful feedback…

… “I was not satisfied with yesterday’s murky photo of “Erlicheer,” but wanted to get things off to you. Today the flowers were in full sun, which does justice to them, so here’s a replacement if you want.

I always enjoy reading everyone’s responses to your questions; however, I think that what I really like is that answering your questions always makes me wander the garden a bit and realize how much I love my garden.

Too often I get too caught up in work, for example now, weeding and more weeding. I actually do not mind weeding, but it’s a different focus and there is always one more.”


Susi Torre-Bueno, of 92083, responded…

… My hardworking husband supports my plant addiction, so just about everything in the garden reminds me of his love which is a 365-day

Valentine's card. This year, for my birthday, I got several tons of boulders and rocks for a new California native plant garden area that I’m creating, and it has given me so much joy to be working on this project.


Ray Russell of 92021, shares…

… I have two cats and one dog in my gardens, all in remembrance of pets that have died. Unless my current pet, a cat, dies, I have no plans to add anything other than plants to my gardens.


Gerald D. Stewart of 92083 provides feedback…

… At the main entry to my property is a shrub bed backed by Bougainvillea 'Raspberry Ice'. It is in bloom, the red bracts surrounded by leaves heavily variegated white. It's a perfect plant to bring a Valentine celebration to life.


Cathy Tylka acknowledges…

… I love my reds in the garden and in planters, and these are what’s blooming right now, a red geranium; kalanchoe tubiflora...mother of a thousand; Kalanchoe blossfeldiana, Flaming Katy; and the red cluster protea. Enjoying these for Valentine’s Day or any day. And, of course, sharing when the opportunity permits. And, answering the question, lets me go out and play in my garden!


Karen England of 92084 shares …

Karen's late husband David with his SDGE bucket truck parked on their newly paved driveway by the newly built barn and planted garden in or around 2011.

… that the Valentine’s, hearts and flowers season can be a hard one for her as a widow if she lets it. The garden, especially her husband David’s garden, that she inherited when he passed away in 2014 helps bring her closer to him and eases the seasonal heartache.

He planted the garden in 2011 with plants all of his own choosing (Karen would not have chosen most of, if not all, the plants, she’s not a fan of cactus or succulents, but it wasn’t her garden! He was free to plant what he wanted…) and he enjoyed it up until his last day. With the help of the man who built the garden along with her husband, it is tended to constantly in David’s honor to this day and Karen is learning to embrace (figuratively of course, not actually) cacti and succulents for herself. (See early garden construction photos below.)

David's garden currently, February 2023.


Sharing Secrets Question for April…

It’s getting greener since the rains, just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. What new or renewed greenery is growing in your garden? Do you love it or hate it? And "may you be in heaven a half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead!"


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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