Friday, December 18, 2020

Poinsettias Are Popular in December Flower Arrangements

Poinsettias Are Popular for Decorating Outside 

I remember when I was growing up, we had a poinsettia plant near our back door. For some reason, my mom didn't care for it. Maybe it was because of the sticky white sap that dripped when she cut the "flowers" off to bring them in for December flower arrangements. Some people believe the sap is poisonous, but at worst it can cause skin irritation. She used to tell me it was poisonous.

Here on the California Central Coast, we can put poinsettias and sunflowers together outside at the same time, as long as there is no frost. I shot this scene in December one year as I was walking my neighborhood.

Poinsettias Are Popular in December Flower Arrangements
Poinsettias on Bench in Neighbor's Garden in December, © B. Radisavljevic 

People in frost free zones can plant the poinsettia for winter color in their gardens, as well as holly and pyracantha, which have red berries at this time of year. My area in Paso Robles is not frost free. We do have some nights below freezing. 

Many Motels and Hotels Use Poinsettias for Decorating During the Holidays

We often used to visit family and friends in Southern California for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We usually stayed at a motel in either Thousand Oaks or Orange County, or both. We saw this poinsettia plant on a table in a public area at the Best Western Motel in Thousand Oaks. 

Poinsettias Are Popular in December Flower Arrangements
Poinsettias on Table at Best Western Motel in Thousand Oaks, CA,  © B. Radisavljevic 

This photo clearly shows the parts of the plant. It has evergreen leaves. Red bracts surround the small yellow true flowers. It appears most businesses don't want to mess with the sticky sap anymore than my mother did. They use potted plants to do their decorating. 

Many people give potted poinsettias as gifts. Whether you receive one or buy one to decorate, you may wonder how to care for it. Poinsettias like sunshine, so if they are indoors, make sure they sit by a sunny window. Try to keep the temperature in the room from fluctuating too much. Although  these plants like moist soil, don't let water accumulate in the bottom of the pot's saucer or the plants may get root rot. Your plants will appreciate it if you remove the decorative foil as soon as the holiday season has passed. 

After the red bracts and flowers begin to fall, it's time to prepare your plant for storage if you want to keep it. Prune stems back to two buds and decrease the amount of water you give the plant. It won't be as thirsty as it was.Give it just enough water to keep it from drying out.  Store it in a cool place until late spring when all danger of frost is past. 

When the weather is warm enough again in late spring, you can safely set the plants outside in the sun. You may want to let them adjust by only leaving them out for a few hours a day and gradually increasing the time until they have acclimated to their new setting. Those who live in frost free areas may be able to safely plant their poinsettias in the garden against a south wall to keep them warm and to protect them from strong winds. For more detailed information on keeping these plants alive after the holiday season,  please read How to Care for Poinsettias, published by Better Homes and Gardens.

San Luis Bay Inn In Avila Beach Decorates with Poinsettias 

I took these photos when we were visiting a friend who was vacationing at the San Luis Bay Inn one December. This arrangement was in the lobby. Do you notice the white poinsettias in this display? 

Poinsettias Are Popular in December Flower Arrangements
Poinsettias on Display at San Luis Bay Inn in Avila Beach, © B. Radisavljevic 

I thought this arrangement was particularly striking.

Poinsettias Are Popular in December Flower Arrangements
Poinsettia Decoration at San Luis Bay Inn in Avila Beach, © B. Radisavljevic 

The San Luis Bay Inn was lovely during the Christmas season. I can see why my friend chose to stay there. If you plan to be  in San Luis Obispo County for the holidays, you might want to consider spending your vacation at the San Luis Bay Inn Resort in Avila Beach, just a short walk from the beach. It has everything you could want: kitchenettes in the large suites, wireless internet, large public areas for relaxing, swimming pool, jacuzzi, exercise room, and more.  It's a resort in every sense of the word. You can book through the banner below. Rooms fill up fast, so it's wise to plan far ahead. 


Tuesday, July 09, 2019

The Joy of Herbs

Santolina in June, © Barbara Radisavljevic

I love growing herbs in my garden. They feed the bees in winter when almost nothing else is blooming. In spring and summer they add color to my flower beds. In fall their dry flower stems add interesting shapes and textures. Here are some of my favorites. I took these photos at different times of the year. The santolina above adds a lovely gold to my flower beds.


I grow these sages mostly for their interesting foliage, though the clary sage does bloom in the summer, producing large flower spikes. 
I took the photo above in mid-October. On the left, is tricolor sage. To its right, clary sage. Below is some clary sage in bloom in June. It's surrounded by fading irises and the chard is reaching behind it as its seeds ripen and prepare to disperse.

Clary Sage in Bloom in June, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Wild Watermelon sage adds a bit more color to the garden than some of the other sages.

Wild Watermelon Sage in April, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Garden View of Wild Watermelon Sage in April

The black sage below has finished blooming. It's dry flower spikes are still striking.

Dry Black Sage, © Barbara Radisavljevic


By October, my favorite herb, oregano, is almost through blooming, but you can still see plenty of its white flowers. This is the herb I use the most. I dry some every year. For kitchen use I pick it before before the buds form. but I always leave some to bloom. 

Oregano in Bloom, October, © Barbara Radisavljevic


Below the hyssop has almost stopped blooming, but you can still see a few purple flowers. At this time of year, October, most of the interest comes from the dry flower spikes that hold the seeds. Most of the seeds have dispersed by now. 

Hyssop in October, © Barbara Radisavljevic

The photo below was taken in mid-August and gives you a better look at the blooms and how they contrast with the dry spikes. 

Hyssop in Mid-August, © Barbara Radisavljevic


Rosemary is another of my favorite plants. It provides fragrant branches for winter decorating, and it usually blooms in winter and helps the bees. It's also very easy to root a twig of it in water. I have four large rosemary plants and I rooted all of them from slips from a plant in the backyard. 

Rosemary in December, © Barbara Radisavljevic

Happy Bee Enjoying Rosemary in March, © Barbara Radisavljevic

See some of my other photos of herbs from my garden on these Zazzle products.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Can You Find These in Your City's Downtown?

Remnants of Rural Life in Downtown Paso Robles

My hairdresser gave me a late appointment Thursday afternoon. When she finished cutting my hair she invited me to stick around for a few minutes until she closed so we could take a walk downtown together. She knows I like to walk. We're almost neighbors in Templeton, but we only see each other during my haircuts. I welcomed the chance to walk with her.

Can You Find These in Your City's Downtown? I found a full size pomegranate tree in Downtown Paso Robles.
A Full Size Pomegranate Tree on Pine Street Across from the Train Depot

From Uptown Hair on 7th Street, we walked down Pine toward the City Park. I had been curious about seeing the new senior residential care center near 7th and Pine, across from the train station. Margaret knows a lot of the residents because she takes care of their hair. We didn't go in, but one of the residents thought we wanted to come in so she opened the door. Before we knew it one of the caregivers was behind her, making sure we were not up to anything nefarious.

When we got to the corner we saw the pomegranate tree. I've seen my residential neighbors plant both dwarf trees with inedible fruits and full size pomegranate trees in their yards, but I've never seen one this large around the neighborhood. This one was huge. As you can see some of the fruit is beginning to turn red, but much is still green. I wonder if the homeless folks have discovered this healthy food source yet.

Can You Find These in Your City's Downtown? I found a full size pomegranate tree in Downtown Paso Robles.
Large Pomegranate Tree in Downtown Paso Robles

A Pumpkin Plant on a Commercial Lot?

Or might it be a squash plant? I couldn't get any closer to it since it was behind a fence on private property. In any case, it seemed a bit out of place so close to the center of town, but that's Paso Robles for you. There are still single family homes right downtown.

These urban gardens and fruit trees remind me that Paso Robles is still a city in the north end of an agricultural county. If I remember correctly the pomegranate tree is in front of a single family home. Now the area is mostly commercial. Still, there's an old almond orchard almost right across from the Marriott Hotel and the Gateway Center on Vine Street. And I've even seen deer use the crosswalks on 12th and Vine downtown

Grow Your Own Urban Garden!

Do you see fruits and vegetables growing in your downtown?

Can You Find These in Your City's Downtown? I found a full size pomegranate tree in Downtown Paso Robles.

Friday, July 27, 2018

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?

Early Summer In My Yard

June disappeared before I could finish showing you all of the flowers growing in my front yard. I covered the front flower bed  here. I kept taking photos, but June soon became July before I could get the rest of my photos edited to post. Most of those same flowers are still blooming, since Mother Nature uses her own calendar. To introduce this post we will start with the goldenrain tree that blooms in June. It's still in bloom in July. See why I love to hate it here.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?

A Look at the Side Flower Bed from the Street to the House

It's amazing to me how fast this section filled out once I started planting in 2013. Before that it was almost empty except for a few gazanias and weeds. There was also a holly bush in the middle. Here's a peak at the section closest to the street before we planted it in 2013.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?

Here's the tip of the triangle as it is in June 2018. The lawn is brown due to water restrictions. The very tip is fruity teucrium. It appears something is keeping the drip irrigation from getting past the front flower bed by the house, and I will need to hand water this before it dies. I will also have to find out what's happened to the system so I can get it fixed.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?

By now you probably recognize the yellow gazanias, since they seem to be everywhere -- even in the lawn. Behind the fading irises is a miniature rose. The deep purple iris is still in bloom as of June 11, but is starting to fade.

Below is most of the rest of that bed. Use the irises as a point of reference. Crowding the irises from the left is the Spanish (aka French) lavender. I planted it after seeing it in bloom at Trader Joe's. It reached its peak in May, but there are still a few flowers. Although it's drought resistant, I'm sure the drought hasn't helped it, nor the broken irrigation. It's another plant the bees cover when it blooms.

 Behind the lavender is the wormwood. It's not in bloom yet. Behind it is a rosemary bush that came from a root cutting from a plant in back. In fact, every rosemary plant you see in front was propagated the same way. It doesn't take long for those root cuttings to become huge shrubs.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Yellow Gazanias, Spanish Lavender, Fading Irises, Miniature Roses

Let's take a closer look at the fruity Teucrium at the tip of the triangle. It's also known as bush germander. At least that's what the label said. I'm beginning to think it is really Teucrium chamaedrys "Prostratum because it certainly never became a four-foot high bush. I'm not disappointed because I really wanted it as a ground cover and this one plant certainly covered a lot of ground. It also seems to have overcome the tansy, which will bloom later, whose bright green fern-like leaves are competing for space. Read more about my experience with these plants I intended to be garden friends that complement instead of compete with each other..

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Fruity Teucrium in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic

Normally this is covered with bees, but I didn't have the patience to catch one in this shot. They move so fast!

Moving Closer to the House along the Side Flower Bed

Most of the other flowers in the side bed are not in bloom or are also in other flower beds. Gazanias are everywhere, as is Lamb's Ears. What's different is the blooming sages. Here's an overview of the part of the bed with the most blooms.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?

You've already seen close-ups of gazanias, clary sage, and Lamb's Ears in previous posts here and on my Paso Robles in Photos Blog. Let's take a closer look at the black sage.

The black sage has almost finished blooming, but as of the end of June there were still a few small flowers left to attract the bees. Now all that remains are the skeletons of the flowers which held the seeds. This was taken on June 11. You can still see the tip of one small light purple flower near the center of the left edge between two stems.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Black Sage Up Close, © B. Radisavljevic

Here's how that plant looked in April when more flowers were open.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Black Sage in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic

The dried flower whorls are quite fragrant. They might make a nice centerpiece that smells like sage.

Wild watermelon sage is still in full bloom and brightening the middle of my side flower bed.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Wild Watermelon Sage in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic

Wild watermelon sage requires little attention or water once it's established. It's happy even after this third day of triple digit temperatures, in spite of the drip irrigation being broken.

Here's another photo showing more of the plant and the way its flowers are arranged. As you can see by its leaves, the sages are related to the mint family.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Wild Watermelon Sage in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic

The other plant blooming in my side yard and all over my neighborhood is oleander. This attractive but poisonous plant is quite drought-resistant.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Oleander in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic

I have a long hedge row of red oleander along my side fence. Many of my neighbors also have one or more plants. Some have pink or white oleander shrubs. Click this link to see my photos of more oleander plants and how they change during the year.

The Flower Bed Beside the Garage

This flower bed is shady during the morning hours, but it still has enough sun for flowers to bloom. I have star jasmine all along the garage wall, and it really takes off in June. The bees love it. In the photo below, you can see the butterfly bush in bloom quite close to the garage wall. There is jasmine behind and in front of it, creeping along the ground. I have a much older butterfly bush plant in Templeton that has purple flowers. It got very tall and wide, and one year the wind blew it down. I thought it was a goner. I was surprised at how it adapted and survived.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Butterfly Bush Surrounded with Jasmine, © B. Radisavljevic

Here is a close-up of the jasmine flower.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Jasmine Flower, © B. Radisavljevic

I am also growing some transplants in pots in this flower bed. One of these is lemon balm which blooms in the early summer. The mother plant is in the pot, but more is growing around the pot where it appears the mother plant reseeded.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Lemon Balm Blooming in Early Summer, © B. Radisavljevic

Here's a close-up of the lemon balm flower.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Lemon Balm Flower, © B. Radisavljevic

The pink grapefruit yarrow is also growing in a pot in this flower bed. It was red in May, but is fading in June. The color seems to change with the weather.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in Early Summer?
Pink Grapefruit Yarrow, © B. Radisavljevic

How many of these plants have you seen blooming in your area? Are you growing any of them?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part One

My Paso Robles Neighborhood is Bursting into  Color in June

A lot of flowers that were not yet blooming in May popped out as June began. I was going to squeeze everything blooming in my neighborhood in June into one post, but that post kept getting longer. So this post will show you what's happening in my front flower bed closest to the house. I hope you will meet at least one new flower or herb before you finish reading.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Clary Sage Flower Spikes Next to Gazanias, © B. Radisavljevic

Clary Sage Spikes Appear

Among these new arrivals are the flower spikes of clary sage that bring shades of lavender, orchid, and plum to the garden. Above they are pictured in my side flower bed with the almost ever present cheerful orange and yellow of my gazanias. These clary sage plants all were just seedlings last year, children of their mother in a pot in the front flower bed. Now these seedlings are popping into bloom in many places in my garden. Learn more about The Growth of Clary Sage.

Here's a clary sage bud that appeared the first week of June. Notice the ladybug on the left side of the plant.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Clary Sage Bud and Ladybug, © B. Radisavljevic

Here's a closer look at a bud. Its leaf also has a bug visitor.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Clary Sage Bud with Insect Visitor on Leaf © B. Radisavljevic

This was taken a week later. I got in closer to show you the details of its delicate colors. Clary sage is a plant I appreciate more when I'm not too close. It has a strong odor that I don't particularly like.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Clary Sage Flower in Bloom, June 2018, © B. Radisavljevic

Lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus) Blooms and Chard Bolts

The buds of this flower that appears each June appeared during the second  week. They pushed their way up through the Lamb's Ears, still in bloom, that surrounded them. By this time the chard was bolting. I'll give you a closer look at the seeds later.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Bolting Chard, Lamb's Ears in Bloom and Agapanthus Buds, © B. Radisavljevic

By June 21, the lily is blooming. The chard isn't as tall as it appears, since I was shooting the photo looking up at the lily. You can see more clary sage in the background.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Bolting Chard, Agapanthus Beginning to Bloom, and Clary Sage Flowers in Background, © B. Radisavljevic

Here's a closer look at the seeds of the bolting chard nuzzling up to the irises which are almost completely gone. As you see, I've trimmed a dead one off.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Bolting Chard Invading Iris Leaves,  © B. Radisavljevic

Here are some of the fading irises and the last of the pale ones to bloom.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Blooming and Fading Irises,  © B. Radisavljevic

More from the Front Flower Bed

The borage flowers are on the extreme right, slightly above their large leaves. It's probably obvious that the garden has been doing its own thing since the winter rains. I haven't had time to get rid of the grassy weeds or the burr clover (small yellow flowers) that want to smother everything else.

The catmint, which should bloom any day now, has escaped from its pot and seems to be holding its own, as is the borage which reseeded prolifically this year. A tiny scarlet pimpernel flower peeks out in the middle left between the burr clover and the borage leaves, even with the angel's wing.

On the upper left a single blue scabiosa (pincushion flower) pokes its head into the mix. I'll give you a better look at the individual plants below.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Garden Angel Dreams of Waking up to a Flower Bed without Burr Clover,  © B. Radisavljevic

Borage and Friends

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Borage in Bloom,  © B. Radisavljevic

Above is a close-up of a borage flower and many buds. We are in a heat wave, and judging from the color of the leaves,  I think the borage plants are beginning to die for the year unless some more seedlings appear. That's too bad. I love throwing the flowers in my salads.

Capture June Blooms in Your Correspondence

I've put some of my borage and calendula on blank cards to share with your friends. Adorn your envelopes with roses.

Scabiosa (Pincushion Flower)

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Scabiosa at All Stages of Growth,  © B. Radisavljevic

Above is a more complete scabiosa plant than you saw above. It is a faithful bloomer during much of the year and contrasts nicely with the yellow and orange flowers like calendula and gazania which are its neighbors. In the photo you see all stages of the flower from bud to bloom to seed head. You also see a busy bee foraging on the top right.

Scarlet Pimpernel and Borage

Scarlet pimpernel can be a weed to get rid of or a flower to keep -- whichever you choose. I choose to keep it, since it's more pleasant than most weeds and helps cover the ground. I happen to like its tiny brick-red flower, though the color of those that grow in my yard seem to be more coral than red. Its leaves resemble those of chickweed. In the photo below its tiny flowers surround a borage leaf. Its own leaves are almost invisible in this photo, but you can see a flower popping out from its leaf cluster dangling over the left side of the borage leaf. It's almost the only pimpernel leaf cluster you can see not covered by the burr clover.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Scarlet Pimpernel with Borage Leaf and Burr Clover,  © B. Radisavljevic

Below, the scarlet pimpernel flowers are surrounded with budding borage and the burr clover I'm in the process of removing.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Scarlet Pimpernel with Borage Buds and Burr Clover,  © B. Radisavljevic

Have you noticed in these photos how fuzzy the borage leaves and buds are? They taste like cucumber  raw, but I only eat the flowers that aren't so fuzzy. Leaves, flowers, and stems are edible. Leaves and stems can be steamed or put into soups. Borage also has medicinal uses I haven't explored yet.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Scarlet Pimpernel with Fuzzy Borage Buds and Burr Clover,  © B. Radisavljevic

Nigella and Hyssop

Nigella is a delicate flower I discovered at Fat Cat Farm, an herb farm that later went out of business. I really miss Fat Cat Farm, since it was my go-to place to buy herbs for years. I'm glad I wrote about its history and captured its highlights with video and photos in this blog post. Read about how I discovered Nigella there in Nigella: A Wonderful Garden Surprise. The first ones I saw were blue. The ones I now grow are rose color. You will see both if you follow the link above.

My nigella is going to seed now. In the photo below you can see the large seed capsule on the left in the midst of its thread-like leaves. You can barely see its rose flower behind it. You can also see the yellow flower of the ever-present burr clover hear the top and the purple hyssop flower on the right. They are all fighting for space with the iris leaves which it's almost time to cut off. I will trim the irises when all the iris flowers finally have faded and died. I expect now that the heat of summer has arrived, the nigella will finish reseeding by popping its seed capsules and then also die.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Nigella Capsule Hiding Nigella Flower and Blooming Hyssop, © B. Radisavljevic

It was really hard to photograph the hyssop around the iris leaves. I cut it back last year so there's not as much to make the purple cluster so large this year. The flowers are very small, but the bees love them anyway. Hyssop usually blooms until August, and sometimes a few of the flowers linger longer.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Nigella Capsule and Blooming Hyssop and Burr Clover, © B. Radisavljevic

Hyssop can be used medicinally and in cooking. I have so far used it only ornamentally and to attract and provide forage for bees. As a member of the mint family, hyssop can be used to flavor salads and chicken soup, lamb stew, and poultry dressing. It can also be dried and used as a tea. I have not tried any of these uses yet.

Below you see my rose nigella, also called Love-in-a-Mist. Those thready leaves do make it seem somewhat ethereal. As you look at the top of the flower you can see the beginning of that large seed capsule that will soon form. There is one in the bottom right corner.

 Nigella seeds have traditionally been used to flavor foods, since their taste is said to resemble nutmeg. I have never tried them. Some scientists think they may be slightly toxic. According to Conrad Richter in Safety of Nigella Damascena Seeds, no one has presented conclusive evidence that it is or isn't safe, but he tends to believe that people would not have continued to keep using it through the generations if it had harmed them. He suggests you make up your own mind.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Nigella  Flower, © B. Radisavljevic

Carnations are in Bloom

I'm afraid my carnation plants have not done well for me here. Strangely enough, the one that still survives and blooms came from a  plant over fifty years old. You can read its history in "C" is for Carnations, an earlier post on this blog. This plant is in my front flower bed, but it has almost been smothered by its aggressive neighbors. Its siblings in the side flower bed have been smothered by the gazanias. So this is the only flower I can show you from it this year.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Light Pink Carnation in Bloom, © B. Radisavljevic


I started growing calendula (pot marigold) in Templeton about twenty years ago. I've been saving seeds every year since then, and started my plants here in Paso Robles with those seeds I collected in Templeton. I now can't imagine a garden without calendula. It blooms almost all year -- even in winter when it's almost the only color in the garden. Here's why I love it so much. If you follow the link you will see lots of photos from my garden and of how I use this plant in the kitchen. I don't want to duplicate that here, so I will just leave you with this photo to show you one of the flowers. It is surrounded by Lamb's Ears.

What Blooms in Paso Robles in June? Part 1
Calendula Flower Surrounded by Lamb's Ears, © B. Radisavljevic

See the rest of what bloomed in my front yard in June and July

What do you have blooming in June? Do you grow anything I've shown you here? Any comments on your experiences with them?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...