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Edited by Cathy Tylka for Let’s Talk Plants! June 2024.

Question for this month –

All the rain brings May flowers. Well, we do live in southern California and have flowers all year long, but I bet you have something special, new, or just want to share this year’s floral gathering! And remember, we love different shades of just green too!


Congratulations to Jim Booman! He's our first ever quarterly Sharing Secrets contributor hat winner.

He shared two secrets in the last quarter garnering him two chances to win and his name was pulled out of the thirty or so entries from the April, May and June 2024 Sharing Secrets questions. (Jim please send an email to to pick your hat from our SD Hort merch store and arrange delivery!)


Answer the Sharing Secrets question of the month at least once every quarter and you could win a hat too! More Sharing Secrets drawing information below...


Cindy Bruecks of 92107 claims… 

… When I put micro-spray emitters into the front garden, I didn't fully realize the flexibility that would give me. Now I have a small hillside absolutely bursting with Alstroemerias in their spring finest, which will continue to bloom as long as I (micro-spray) water them, plus, right alongside I have a beautiful White Sage, Salvia apiana, also in full bloom from winter rains, and which receives absolutely zero supplemental water from my system.

The old way, the spray sprinkler heads put water everywhere. Now I can easily direct the micro-spray to or away from key plants. So top performing natives can be interspersed without fear of giving them summer water.


Barbara Huntington of 91913 shares… 

…Some succulents, roses, iris, amaryllis, and the bluebird of happiness!


One can still look at every wonderful thing out there blooming and in photographs, even if playing in the dirt is not in the cards!


Ida Rigby of 92064 proclaims…

… The only way to begin to characterize this spring’s joyous celebration of the rains is to quote the aphorism...

“One picture is worth a thousand words.” So, only photos this month.


And looking at the picture above this, Tynan Wyatt praises…

…This year I went big on bearded irises. I have loved these for years; such lavish blossoms and they are a plant that wants to survive. I wanted to also try more Pacific coast hybrid irises but finding a nursery that carries them locally or does mail order has been a challenge. Oh well, just another thing to look forward to in the gardening journey.


While Jim Booman of 92084 praises…

… Sarracenia hybrids are in bloom in May in pots. So many colors. Most people here have never seen them, yet they grow very well in full sun in San Diego. 

They are NOT natives. These are bog plants native to the S. E. USA; so, they will work in Koi Ponds. It works if left in the pots and placed on rocks in a Koi Pond. Submerge the bottoms of the pots in 2" of water. 


Norma Jean declares…

… This orchid has been sitting in my patio for several years. It’s never bloomed. This year it started growing two strange looking pods which I’d never seen before. One morning I checked it and found the first pod had opened. Later the second pod opened too. I moved the plant indoors so everyone could enjoy it. It reminds me of the orchid corsage my grandmother would wear for special occasions.


I think it’s an Edgar Foster Daniels Orchid.


Karen England of 92084 can’t stop enjoying…

… her Scented Geranium slope in bloom. In the morning, as May gray or June gloom, dissipates, the sweet fragrances of these blooming scented geraniums (there are five scent classes of Scented Pelargoniums: mint, lemon [citrus], rose, pungent [aka stinky] and [all one class] fruit, nut and spice, with countless variations within classes) waft on the breezes into the house and office.

Here’s a bit of a backstory on this slope, and the map below is excerpted from Karen’s little self-published booklet titled Scented Gerani-Yums! Cooking with Scented Pelargoniums, by Karen England ©2004. (Wow, looky! It’s the twentieth anniversary of this little booklet. Talk about time flying. I will gladly give any San Diego Horticultural Society member a PDF facsimile copy of this out-of-print booklet, no charge. Just send an email to with Scented Gerani-Yums! in the subject line and I will email you a copy. FYI – the price of a PDF of the booklet is $5 for non-members.)

I, once upon a time, (twenty-three-ish years ago) had twenty-five plus varieties of scented geraniums planted on a large slope in neat swaley (I made that word up, but it fits) rows with a couple growing in containers exactly as my original drawing shows.

Those neat rows lasted a hot minute before growing pandemonium took over (without much water from me and no fertilizer ever I might add. Can you imagine how fast they would have grown if I had cared for them?) Neatness and rows of any kind were almost instantly gone, and it became survival of the fittest scented pelargoniums. At some point, maybe twelve years ago or so, a few hybrids emerged about the slope. These are herbs that I call Edgehill Herb Farm scented geraniums numbers one, two and three. I have given cuttings of them to others because they are delicious even though accidental. Let me know if you want some…

From left to right, me with Edgehill Herb Farm Scented Pelargonium no. 1, (or is it no. 2 or 3?) Strawberry, Clorinda, Mable Grey, Old Fashion Rose and Lemon.


Cathy Tylka, usually of 92026 celebrates…

… The Palo Verde in bloom in Tucson! But I have one at home and it’s much taller and is starting to bloom, too!

It's not spring in Tucson without carpets of yellow Palo Verde flowers.

Here’s a portion of an article about them called Fun Facts from the Arizona Daily Star…

“1. The bark of a Palo Verde Tree is green because it's filled with chlorophyll. 

Unlike most trees, this plant gets a lot of photosynthesizing done through its bark. According to The Arizona Native Plant Society, only about a quarter of the Palo Verde's food is produced by the leaves.”

“2. It's the Arizona State Tree!

Designated as Arizona's state tree in 1954, the Palo Verde joined the ranks of the cactus wren, bola tie and saguaro cactus blossom as a state symbol.”

“3. There are different types of Palo Verdes.

Arizona hosts two native species, the Foothill Palo Verde and the Blue Palo Verde.

The Foothill Palo Verde, Cercidium microphyllum, can be found mostly on rocky slopes. They have a yellow-green trunk, tiny leaves and pods that constrict around the seeds.

The Blue Palo Verde, Cercidium floridum, can be spotted next to water sources, like washes, and have a blue-green trunk. They grow faster than the Foothill Palo Verde but have a shorter life span.

The Blue Palo Verde typically blooms first, in March and April. The Foothill Palo Verde blooms later, in April and May. The flowers also look a bit different!”

“4. There's also a species called "Desert Museum"

Yep, it's named after the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. According to a Los Angeles Times article, the name was created about 30 years ago when staff members at the museum began to notice thornless palo Verde Trees that bloomed throughout the summer.”

“5. They can easily live a century

The Foothill Palo Verde can live to be about 100 years old. Some can even age up to 400 years.

“6. Blue Palo Verde can grow up to 40 feet

The Foothill Palo Verde usually matures at less than 30 feet, (in Arizona).”

“7. You can eat the seeds

Palo Verde Seeds have been used and eaten for hundreds of years, the Desert Museum says, with the Seri eating them fresh, toasted or ground as flour and the Tohono O'odham eating them fresh from the pods.

You can also wait to harvest them until the seed is fully developed and the pod is dry, usually in summer. At this stage, they're best eaten sprouted. Learn more about the harvesting process here.

“8. You can also eat the flowers

You can eat these yellow bursts of spring raw. Sprinkle some in your next salad.”

“9. They may not contribute as much as you think to your seasonal allergies

According to this TikTok from Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden, Palo Verdes rely on animals like beetles and bees to pollinate them, unlike other plants that rely more on wind. "The main culprits are wind-pollinated plants," they say.

The pollen produced by Palo Verdes is said to be sticky, making it more difficult (though not impossible) to travel far in the wind. However, the large quantities of dried fallen yellow flowers are known to do some damage when carried through the wind.”

“10. The cactus is their best friend

According to a Desert Museum fact sheet, the Palo Verde is the primary nurse plant for baby saguaros.”


Don’t forget! Each person who has answered each month's question is entered to win a FREE SD Hort Hat each quarter. Answer all three months of Sharing Secrets questions in a quarter and you have three chances to win!

Winners will choose from two hat styles and several colors.


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 volunteers for many activities. Now, she is more than happy to assist in gathering questions to ask you in the Sharing Secrets area of the Newsletter.


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