Winter 2019 Gardening Tips


Happy Winter, Fellow Gardeners!

Mother Nature’s rain was a great way to begin 2019! It has saturated our dry hills and is bringing life to our gardens like nothing else can. Fruit trees, natives, bulbs and grasses have soaked in these moments that restore and bring new life.

The Huntington’s 100th “Life of the Party”

The Huntington’s 100th “Life of the Party”

Our bare root roses from David Austin and Weeks should be arriving any day now. See our list here! We’d like to take a moment to recognize the years of hard work by rose hybridizers. David Austin dedicated his life to perfecting the English Rose and his legacy will live on in gardens around the world. A salute to Tom Carruth, Huntington Garden’s Rose Curator, who continues to breed the top American Rose.

This year we will feature David Austin’s English roses: “Imogen,” “Roald Dahl” and “Olivia Austin.” We will be introducing Week’s Roses: “All Dressed Up,” “Celestial Night,” and the Huntington’s 100th “Life of the Party.” What an incredible year it’s going to be with all of these!

Winter Gardening Tips:

Start pruning your roses. Check your tools for cleaning & sharpening. Stock up on ingredients for Rose Cocktail or Organic Rose food. Shovel Prune to make room for new roses!

Prune to shape your deciduous lilacs, philadelphus and hydrangeas. Remove old leaves and trim off dead stems. This will aid in producing stronger and healthier plants for spring. Feed with organic Rhododendron food.

Plant colorful bee, butterfly and hummingbird attracters. Come in & buy a package of seed to scatter. Botanical Interests has a wonderful and inexpensive selection.

Prune deciduous fruits like plums, nectarines and pomegranates. Don’t forget your grape vines and fig trees – so easy when leafless! You should remove at least ½ of the prior years growth on your Wisteria vines – now is an easy time to prune them.

Ornamental grass pruning. Winter is a great time to prune Pennisetum, Sessleria & Muhlenbergia. 

Plan your perennial flower garden. It might be early to buy, but it’s always smart to be looking out for those hard to find ones! We carry a nice selection from both Native Sons and Mariposa Gardens.

Thanks to all of my friends who give me inspiration!  

Happy Gardening!


November Garden Tips


Hello fellow gardeners!

Fall is knocking on our doors with the promise of cooler evenings!  The scent of the Aloysia Virgata “Sweet Almond tree” and the Osmanthus frangrans “Sweet Olive” are once again in the air. Our Sasanqua Camellias and Senna “Butter & Cream” are exploding with buds and blooms!

What to plant?  

Paperwhite bulbs are sprouting and White Heliotropes are starting to bloom.

Succulents: Some of our favorites with “showy foliage” are; Aloe “Bright Ember” and Echeveria — both “Afterglow”& “Perle Von Nurenberg”.

Fruit trees: It’s the perfect time in Pasadena to plant fruit trees! Donut Peach, Japanese Plum or an Avocado are all great choices.

Fertilize: It’s time to fertilize your fruit trees. We’ve had a bumper crop of figs & guavas ripening this fall as a result of good fertilizing habits. 

Time to trim: As the cooler days begin it’s time to trim your California Native plants. If the summer heat was just too much for some, now is the time to replace them. We stock a good selection of Ceanothus, Manzanitas and Salvias during the month of November. Don’t forget to start cutting back or combing those beautiful ornamental grasses.

Lately I have been inspired by the rose garden at the Huntington Gardens. There you will see a lavender tree-rose named “Love Song” that takes your breath away!  It is surrounded by a bed of Serenita angelonias – giving a “preview” of what is possible for your garden next spring.   Roses from all over the world are shown in the most sophisticated fashion. Amazing all who stroll under the arbors that Henry Huntington dearly loved!

Plant of the Month: Senna “Butter & Cream” is in all it’s glory at this time of the year!  Overflowing with beautiful yellow flowers that have a light fragrance. Considered a shrub or small tree, this evergreen can get between 8-10ft tall and wide. It likes the sun and will attract butterflies, bees and birds. Butter & Cream will make a stunning focal point in your yard at this time every year!



Alan's September–October Garden Tips




The best season to plant in Southern California is Fall. It has been the gardener’s secret for generations in Pasadena. Our warm days are ideal for root growth and the cooler evening temperatures help plants retain moisture. Our last hot days in September are coming to an appreciated end.

What can we plant? 

We recommend the Cole family of broccoli, cauliflower and kale. From seed or small starters; China peas, beets, onions, carrots and spinach. More of our favorite fall veggies include; sweet watermelon radishes, daikon sprouts and edamame beans.

Cilantro and Dill are best planted in cool weather. Garlic chives and Wild Arugula are excellent and the maintenance is easy.

Plant lavenders of all varieties! From French traditional to English and Spanish! Try some of our very own California adaptable versions of “Goodwin Creek” and “Multifida.” They love full sun and open/airy locations. I prefer to plant lavenders in front yards to show them off!

CA Color seeds  
Poppies, Baby Blue Eyes and Lupines.

Perennial Flowers  
Brightly colored perennial flowers such as Lantana serve multiple purposes. They attract bees and butterflies, plus a splash of color to the garden!

Hillside seeding  
Gives you spectacular color and that much needed erosion control! Sow wildflower mixes and water-wise flower seeds!

Saving the best for last!  
You cannot match the blooming spectacle of the Japanese Anemones or the Tiger Eye Abutilon bush! The bright orange fruit of a Japanese Persimmon or the last Pumpkin hanging on the vine. Plant those Coral Bells, Saxifragias and Bronze Phormiums you’ve been promising yourself. Seeing the beauty in the red leaves of dryopteris Autumn Ferns or Chinese Pistachios surely tells one it is Fall!



Alan’s July – August Garden Tips

The dog days of summer are upon us so let’s make the most of it! 

Aloysia Triphylla Lemon Verbena

Aloysia Triphylla Lemon Verbena

Stressed plants?  If you have a lot of stressed plants in your garden the best cure is to apply generous amounts of liquid organic and fast acting fertilizers.   We suggest “FoxFarm” microbrewed fertilizers.   Starting with Bush Doctor’s “Wholly Mackerel” fish fertilizer and “Kelp Me Kelp You” made from seaweed.  These are great for your citrus and guavas too!

Watch out for HUNGRY insects! Rose thrips, mites and aphids are raising cane! We’ve noticed the beginning signs: curling of leaves, discoloration, sparse growth and later sooty mold or flower buds dropping off. Examine your Roses, Gardenias and Fuchsias. Treat with All Seasons Oil spray.

Fall vegetables: Are you looking forward to planting your fall veggies? Our typical planting season begins in late August and goes through the end of October. If you were disappointed with your summer crops and want to get a head start on fall, it’s time to prepare your beds with G&B “Raised Bed Mix.” Are you container growing? Try our FoxFarms “Strawberry Fields” potting mix. Have you ever tried Winter Tomatoes or Purple Cauliflower? Or start from seed Botanical Interest’s lettuce mix and Super Sugar Snap Peas — our favorites!

Summer weeds?  Crabgrass, spotted spurge, purslane (yes, edible weed). Hoe them out! They’re robbing your plants of water and nutrients. Then cover with your choice of bark or corn gluten pellets to prevent more weeds from emerging. 

Plant of the Month: Aloysia Triphylla Lemon Verbena
The fragrance & flavor of lemon. This fast growing perennial herb shrub gets between 6 and 8 feet tall, likes the sun & the heat, well drained soil and is a low water plant once established. It has blooms of small white to pale purple flowers in summer to fall. Its leaves are often used in teas, salads, fruit salads, pestos or as seasoning on meat dishes. They can also be dried and used in pot –pourri, retaining their fragrance for years. Plant it near your doors and windows and it will act as a “natural repellant” for mosquitoes and flies! 


Alan’s May-June Garden Tips


It was a beautiful spring here in Pasadena. As the temperatures rise we are ready to welcome summer and all that it brings!

What’s in bloom? Star Jasmines, Bearded Iris, and perennial Coreopsis Tequila Sunrise.  French, Spanish and English Lavenders are in full floral splendor!  Annabelle and All Summer Beauty Hydrangeas are beginning their long seasonal bloom.

Plant Avocado trees: Bacon, Hass, Lamb Hass and Pinkerton. Give them a few years to grow and bear fruit and you’ll have a nice addition to your salads!

Time to feed your English Roses: Feed them and they’ll respond with excellence — amazing color, size and fragrance!! We prefer G&B Organic Rose 4-6-2 or Growpower 5-3-1 once every month. Our favorite rose for June is Tamora.

Fruit Trees: One of our favorites is a “3 in 1” Espalier Apple featuring Anna, Fuji and Golden Dorsett — all on one tree!! Red Strawberry and Yellow Lemon Guavas are setting fruits for a very promising summer harvest.

Mystery & Veitchii Gardenias: 
They’re great to grow in pots. Use them on your patio to create a “moon garden” and enjoy their late afternoon fragrance! 

Last minute gift arrivals: Sunshine Blueberry plants and wonderful Pomegranate trees.



Alan’s March & April Garden Tips



Philotheca myoporoides “Profusion”

“Inspired after the rains…” Were you fortunate to be in Pasadena the past month? We have experienced the most incredible spring flowering that I can remember. Blooms of pure white adorn the Chinese fringe trees along my drive to work. Purple Wisteria vines are covering arbors and fences along with pink Cecile Brunner climbing roses. Even the dark purple flowers of Clematis “Polish Spirit” seem to be fighting for everyone’s attention!

A forgotten Razzleberry bush in the corner of our nursery is blooming along with a Descanso lilac named “Lavender Lady” and a half way blooming Jasmine polyanthum vine is filling the air with a recognizably sweet fragrance.

Did I forget to mention all the “Pacific Coast Irises” in bloom? Large flowering white “Canyon Snow” and brightly colored Yellow or Blue Douglasianas, cherished by many of our gardening friends. A superb plant to grow along the stream beds of many new and old gardens. 

Roses: In our own back forty, often too hot and sunny for most plants, just about every rose is in bud or bloom!  Perhaps a reward from all the summer “hose watering” just to keep them alive?! The Yellow Lady Banks Rose and David Austin’s “Snow Goose” impressed us the most!

The rainy season will be ending but we’ve got great memories of what our “Spring” blooms are capable of producing with smart watering and fertilizing!

Plant of the month: Philotheca myoporoides “Profusion,” a curious member of the citrus family it produces hundreds of small white flowers with aromatic foliage. This compact shrub grows to 4-5ft in height and is nick named “long leaf wax flower.”

FAQ: When and what should we fertilize all of these trees vines and flowering shrubs with? Organic fertilizers are by far the best! Whether you choose Bud and Bloom by G&B or Dr. Earth or Fish Emulsion, use what best suits you. I’ve got a heavy hand when it comes to feeding so I’m better off using the G&B All Purpose these days.



Alan’s January & February Garden Tips


“Rain, rain, please stay, don’t go away!!

Bare Root Roses: After dormant pruning all the roses, one’s greatest reward is adding a new rose bush to your garden!!

My favorite English roses, all based on color and fragrance: “The Generous Gardener,” “Princess Alexandra of Kent,” and “Munstead Wood.”

Favorite Weeks Roses:  “All My Loving” after the Beatle’s song. New from Downton Abbey for 2017, “Violets Pride” and “Edith’s Darling.” Last year’s huge success, “Anna’s Promise” and Pretty Lady Rose.”

“What’s that flower in bloom this month?”  All over town we have noticed Camellias and Saucer Magnolias from China and Japan in full display. Oriental Hellebores and Razzleberri bushes are also putting on a spectacle!! Joining in are Grevilleas from Australia along with old fashion pink Geralton Wax flowers. As you walk around your neighborhood enjoy these beautiful blooms and get inspired!

Pruning:  Winter also brings us the perfect time to prune our dormant Japanese Maples.  ou will need a sharp pruning shear and a lopper or folding saw for thicker cuts.  

The idea is to prune away the older dead wood and thin out areas that have branches crossing. Take a step back during the pruning process to make sure you are helping to balance your tree’s growth. Some of you folks may have a “Crimson Queen” or cascading variety that requires a downward pruning style.

Time and patience are required, but by spring the rewards are wonderful!

Plant of the month:  Helleborus Orientalis, “Lenten Rose”  This evergreen perennial is a fantastic addition to the shade area of your garden.  It gets up to 1 ½ ft tall and is “clump-forming.” You will be delighted by its beautiful winter blooms! A native of Greece & Turkey, this plant will attract birds, bees & butterflies to your garden.



Alan’s November & December Garden Tips

Groundcover:  It’s a great time to fill in those bare areas with some beautiful ground covers!  Creeping Thyme, Santa Barbara Daisies or Trailing Rosemary are perfect for the job!
Edibles:  Planting edibles is all the rage these days! Join the fun with these winter herbs: Dill, Basil, Rosemary, English & French Thyme and Purple Sage. Easy winter vegetables: Artichokes, Carrots, China Peas and our favorite – Striped Beets!
Fruit Trees:  It’s a great time to plant fruit trees! We have a wonderful selection of plums, nectarines, peaches, apricots, pomegranates, guavas and avocados too!
Irrigation:  We may be watering all winter long. Now is a good time to check your irrigation systems. Drippers may need unclogging and sprayers need adjustments.
Winter Rye:  It’s easy to over-seed your lawn with winter rye: just sprinkle and water! A small amount of water twice a week will keep you and your lawn happy.
Spring Sweet Peas:  Don’t forget to plant your sweet peas now for cut flowers in the spring. Your florist doesn’t sell these!
Plant of the month:  Peppermint Tree “Agonis flexuosa” is a native of Western Australia. This fast growing, evergreen tree will get 25–35 ft tall. The leaves have a wonderful peppermint scent and spring will bring beautiful white flowers. It loves the sun and once established is fairly drought tolerant.


Alan's October Garden Tips

Fall is the best time for container gardens. It’s time to reward ourselves with cool season edibles and/or plants that require less water.

From patio to kitchen: Plant blueberries and strawberries in your patio pots and enjoy fresh berries this holiday season! We carry a year round variety called “Sunshine Blue” and a new strawberry called “Seascape”, try them!

More edibles: Plant your boxes with more edibles! Pick some vegetables, for example: winter kale or leaf lettuce, surrounded by beets or carrots, and add some green onions or parsley. Beautiful to look at and delicious to eat!!

Drought tolerant plants for pots? Try Artemisia Powis Castle, French lavenders and White sage. Herbs such as Rosemary, Thyme and Oregano are also “low watering”.

Cracked pots?! Have you thought of creative ways to use old or cracked pots? Try succulents, they don’t mind a rustic old home or cracks to fill the gaps! Echeverias and Sempervivum (Hens & Chicks) are perfect for that job!

Water conservation: Consider reducing your lawn area. Perhaps build more patio areas and plant (or pot) fruit trees like figs, pomegranates or guavas for live umbrellas. They are easy to grow and will reward you with harvests from October to December.

Plant of the month: Eucalyptus Moon Lagoon (Fine –Leafed Mallee)
It’s aromatic gray-blue leaves are often used in cut flower arrangements. It is drought tolerant and loves the sun. This evergreen shrub can get as tall as 12ft, but if kept pruned to about 4ft you will enjoy the young fragrant leaves.


Alan's September Garden Tips

Fall begins with the last blooms on my Crape Myrtle tree, a golden color on a Gingko, and a reddish caste on the leaves of a Boston Ivy vine. Around Pasadena, our weather may be warm during the day, but the evenings are getting longer and cooler. Autumn brings excitement to our nursery!
Japanese Anemones: keep your eyes out for these, also called Honorine Jobert. They are a wonderful single white flower bound to be in bloom.
Fall flower buds: You may spot flower buds on Dogwoods, perennial White Asters, and colorful Garden Mums getting ready to burst.
Bulbs: It’s time to buy and plant drought tolerant bulbs; Watsonia Red Bugle Lily, Harlequin Flowers “Sparaxis”, and fragrant White Freesias.  Begin water culturing Paper White Narcissus.
Coming soon:  We are expecting a nice selection of California Natives soon!  Ceanothus, Rhamnus, Ribes, Romneya Coulteri, and a Salvia greggi (adopted from Texas) Autumn Sage.
Plant of the month:  Abutilon Palmeri, also know as Superstition Mallow and Indian Mallow. This native loves the sun, is drought tolerant and gets to be 4 to 5 ft tall. You’ll love the addition of the beautiful yellow flowers to your garden.

Alan’s August Garden Tips


Camellias and Azaleas: The month of August is the best time to prune your Camellias and Azaleas before they bud for next spring. Removing dead wood and reshaping will give your plants healthier blooms. It’s time for their last fertilizing of the year with G&B Organic Rhododendron Azalea & Camellia 4-5-2

English Roses: Feed and trim your English Roses. Check them for rose thrips and spider mites – they are tiny and usually found on the underside of new leaves sucking on their tissue. Use Horticultural oil or Captain Jack’s Deadbug to get rid of these pests. It is important to keep your English Roses strong and healthy for the fall blooming season.


Gardenias, Hibiscus & Plumerias: Feed them with Bud & Bloom 3-7-4. Enjoy your “backyard tropical vacation”! A big shade tree might be the perfect place for those Hawaiian plants you’ve longed to own. They may not take as much water as you think and your tree will love it!

Try out a new plant this month: Plumeria tree. This tropical plant is found in the Pacific Islands, Caribbean, South America, Mexico, Philippines, Southern and Southeastern Asia. They can grow to be 30 to 40 feet tall, but also do very well in pots. They need well-drained soil – slightly acidic. Use cactus mix or perlite & sand for planting in a pot.  Plumerias love the sun, but in areas that get over 90 degrees it is probably best to have them in full sun for only half of the day. They bloom from March to October and go dormant in the winter. The fragrance of these beautiful flowers will bring a little piece of Hawaii into your life every day!



Alan’s July Gardening Tips


Watering your garden:  Watering is one of the most important jobs of the summer season. Maintaining a healthy tree or foundation shrub will keep the temperatures lower around your house while adding beauty to your landscape. Deep watering twice a month at the drip line of a tree’s canopy will insure that its roots are getting ample water (even with a sprinkler system). All fruits and vegetables need regular watering and don’t forget to check those drought tolerant plants once a week. 

Vines and tropical plants: This is my favorite time to trim vines and tropical plants. They seem to grow overnight and often need thinning out and shaping. We fertilize with G&B Organic Palm, Tropical & Hibiscus fertilizer 4-6-4.

Got umbrella? On hot days shade your herbs and vegetables to prevent sun burning of tender growth or scalding of tomato fruit and bell peppers.

Problem pests: July is the month to look out for problem pests: grasshoppers, mites and whiteflies. Get prepared with Horticultural Oil Spray and Neem Oil. Try earthworm castings for the whiteflies. We use G&B Organics Worm-Gro – it really works!

We have a nice selection of hybrid tomatoes and basil for planting this month along with Concord Grapes, Raspberries, Blueberries, Apricot trees and Peach trees.  Come in and see us!


Alan's June Gardening Tips

•  Protect soft skin fruit: peaches, apricots & nectarines from pesky critters. Wrapping your tree with netting allows sun and air in while making it harder for the critters to get your fruit.

•  Ants love summer weather: They farm aphids, scale, mealy bugs & other insects.  Use Earth-tone Insect Killer or child and pet safe Dr. Earth Final Stop. Apply only to trails or nesting areas.

•  Prevent spider mite infestations: Spray roses, camellias & citrus with All Season’s Horticultural Oil or Safer’s Insecticidal Soap. Apply in the early morning before the sun is up to minimize over-spraying on our friendly bees.

•  Speaking of BEES: Help bring them back by planting: Scabiosa, Gloriosa Daisy, Borage, Basil, Monarda, Mint & more…

•  Summer vegetables: There’s still time to plant; corn, beets, onions, squash, & modern tomatoes.  Hybrids such as Better Boy, Early Girl & Sungold Cherry are heat tolerant, disease resistant and tasty!!

•  Protect your skin from the sun: Most gardeners -- including myself -- forget to do this. Wear a hat & sunscreen while working in your yard.


Garden Suggestions for May

•  Plant fruit trees for shade & produce. We have: avocados, apples, figs, guavas & peaches.

•  Pull weeds - they take water away from your shrubs & trees. Use a swivel hoe to cultivate simultaneously. Top dress with organic compost.

•  Continue deadheading roses & treat for mildew or rust if needed. Spray with neem oil or Safer's fungicide. Feed every 4 weeks with G&B organic rose 4-6-2 to keep them flourishing.

•  Prune & feed camellias with G&B 4-5-2.

•  Plant corn, squash tomatoes & basil. Longer days will bring nice harvests to the table.

•  Fertilize your lawn for stronger drought tolerance. Use Growpower all purpose 5-3-1 or your favorite lawn food.