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Many years ago, when I first started my Web site, I created an online diary of my gardening activities and observations. However, with work and the commute from Hell, I was often so tired I had to choose between maintaining my garden and maintaining my diary. Sometimes, I did neither. In 1998, I stopped my diary and removed the pages from my Web site.
Now I am retired. I am well-rested and have plenty of time to both garden and maintain a diary. So here it is.
Also see What's Blooming in My Garden Now?
Entries are in reverse order (latest at the top). Daily, I might stoop to pull a weed or use a hose to water some potted plants; however, I don't consider those significant gardening activities. Thus, you will not see daily entries. Also, I might accumulate a few entries before updating this page on the Web.
When plants have well-known common names, their scientific names are given only the first time they appear on this page (entry closest to the bottom). There, the common name is in bold.
Dates refer to other entries in the same year (but perhaps a different page) as the entry in which they appear unless a different year is given.
|Date and Weather||Observations and Activities|
Scattered, thin, high clouds; mostly sunny (sometimes hazy); and mild
|June gloom struck for several days now, a month early. While the afternoons are pleasant, the mornings are gray and drizzly.
Started trimming where the lawn and beds are growing over the walkways in back.
Although the Aristea ecklonii in back looks very nice when in bloom — royal blue flowers resembling miniature iris — these are proving to be invasive. I cut the flower stalks as soon as the flowers fade, before seeds mature. However, new plants are coming up in the west end of the rose bed and the north end of the west bed. When I try to pull them out, I get a handful of leaves; but the roots remain. I might have to use an herbicide.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|Fed the pink clover in the front lawn. Also gave each patch a dose of gypsum to loosen the clay soil so that the fertilizer and subsequent watering will penetrate down to the roots.
Fed the citrus in back with commercial citrus food plus a little zinc sulfate. I also used the same mix to feed the gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii') and tea tree.
Started to feed the camellia bed, but I used up all the camellia and azalea food before I finished. The 'Alaska' azalea in the circular bed that seemed distressed (1 Apr) is now looking much better.
Although it's well past its prime, the peach tree should have a good crop this summer. I thinned the fruit. Not only will this prevent branches from breaking under the weight of the crop, but it will also cause the remaining fruit to grow larger. Since the pits don't get any larger, proper thinning can actually result in more useable fruit.
Some of the recent batches of sand that I bought for making my potting mix has not been as clean as I want. Today, I sifted a significant amount of pea gravel from about cubic foot of sand. The next time I buy sand, I'm going to take the gravel with me to show the staff at the building supply yard.
Parts of the back lawn appear dry. I tested the sprinklers and found three heads being blocked by foliage, which I trimmed away.
Sprayed the artichoke in the back lawn with malathion. The buds were covered with aphids, which were being tended by ants, which in turn keep the ladybugs and other predators away. I also sprayed the Podocarpus at the west corner of the garage, which always seems to become a sticky mess from aphids.
Mostly cloudy, occasional sun, and cold
|Weeded the brick panel around the French lavender (Lavandula dentata) in front.
Finished cutting back the Artemesia in back. I then fed the ones I cut today. Since these are individual plantings and not a hedge, I fed each as I cut it (19 Mar and 1 and 8 Apr).
Finished cutting back the eugenia against the front of the house. This is a hedge, so I delayed feeding the ones I cut last week (9 Apr) until today.
The eugenia along the east side of the front lawn took a much worse "hit" from the Great Freeze of '07 than did those against the front of the house. However, all plants along the east side now have new shoots. I'm going to wait a few weeks before cutting away the dead growth.
Finished feeding the roses in front (9 Apr).
For years, I put a great effort into trying to grow a dichondra lawn (D. micrantha) in my front and back yards. I finally gave up. Now, dichondra is thriving between the bricks in my front walkway, the brick panel around the lavender, and in my front rose bed.
Cloudy, some hazy sun, cool
|Delivered the can of tarragon (8 Apr) to the Oak Park Community Garden. I also gave them several empty plastic gallon cans. They plan to cut the bottoms off the cans. Sunk into the soil of the herb bed, they will serve to contain herbs that would otherwise be invasive. Even with these containers, mint is still prohibited in the Community Garden. At the Community Garden, there were about 10 volunteers clearing and tilling two 10x20 parcels, preparing them for the herb garden.
The sun has progressed enough towards the summer solstice that it shines too long in the morning into the greenhouse window of our breakfast room. This happens because the house is not exactly square on the compass. I hung shade cloth over the window. When it was installed, I had the contractor embed three large hooks into the stucco above the window for this purpose.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|Sprayed the peach tree in back and the roses in front to prevent flat-head borers. While these are a special pest of peaches, I once lost a climbing rose to them.
Fed the Podocarpus near the front door, in an attempt to promote vigorous growth of a new leader (5 Mar). I expect there will be several potential shoots, from which I will choose one and remove the rest.
Started cutting back the eugenia (Syzygium paniculatum) that grows against the front of the house, between the front door and the garage. I was going to do this anyway this year, but the Great Freeze of '07 killed enough growth to make it necessary. I'm not cutting as severely as I usually do (once every 4-5 years) because the shrubs were traumatized enough by the Great Freeze. I had to stop today when the garden waste bin became full.
Fed some of the roses in front. This time, I'm using a rose food that includes a systemic insecticide. This must be dug into the soil, so I could only feed those roses where the soil was still moist but not really wet. After I move the hose that I use to soak each bush for a day and then after those that were soaked dry somewhat, I'll be able to feed more of them.
Cloudy, gray, and cold with occasional mist
|Finished digging weeds out of the brick walkway in front. I also removed some oxalis and other weeds from the front lawn. Now I have to remove the weeds from the brick panel where I'm growing French lavender (Lavandula dentata), between the curb and sidewalk on the far side of the driveway.
The mock orange (Pittosporum tobira) closest to the front of the house has not been doing well. I think there might be too much competition with roots from my neighbor's Italian cypress and my own liquidambar tree. Having soaked it with a slow-trickling hose, I fed it with a generous amount of gypsum (to losen the soil) and a small amount of general-purpose fertilizer.
Finished cleaning the dead growth from the teardrop bed in back. Finished cutting back the Sprenger asparagus. Cut back two more of the 'Powis Castle' Artemisia. Then I fed the teardrop bed and Artemisia. I didn't feed the asparagus, which is actually a weed and doesn't need any fertilizer.
Divided the potted tarragon. (The ants are gone!) I repotted part of the clump with some fresh potting mix. Another part, I potted in a plastic nursery can; I'll give that to the Oak Park Gardeners, who are starting a community herb garden.
A hummingbird built a nest in the dead weeping banyans (5 Mar) on the front porch. This week she and her chicks finally left. I cut them down today. Although some branches still showed some green bark, the green was only in stripes. Thus, I had no expectation of the plants ever recovering from the Great Freeze of '07. Another victim of the Great Freeze was the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) on the patio counter. While I plant to replace the banyans, the counter is crowded; I won't replace the cactus. The other tropical cacti on the counter all survived; one is even blooming right now (a few months early).
Overcast, occasional hazy sun, and mild
|I hadn't planned to do any gardening today. This evening, I went out into the back yard to see how the newly potted basil and dill were doing. I had moved them from the shade of the patio into the sun where the other potted herbs are growing.
I happened to look at the tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) and noticed some ants. On closer examination, I discovered that ants had created nests in the tarragon, oregano (Origanum vulgare), and peppermint (Mentha piperita). The potting mix had been dug out and was spilling over the rims of the flower pots. None of the other herbs were affected. I ran to the garage and mixed a strong drench of malathion, which I used to water the herbs.
I also left a note for our professional exterminator, who is due for his monthly visit tomorrow. I asked him to spray around the bases of all the flower pots in the garden.
Clear, sunny, and mild
|The Dracaena that I cut down last year (12 Nov 06) has good new growth. The other one — the one with the yellow stripes — is far too tall for any of the shelves in the greenhouse window. This morning, I cut it down.
Started weeding the brick walkway in front. I got about halfway done before my old neck and back began to hurt from working on my hands and knees.
Lightly fed the citrus a mix of ammonium sulfate and zinc sulfate. The little that was left went around the gardenia (G. jasminoides 'Veitchii').
One 'Alaska' azalea is quite yellow. I don't know if this is freeze damage, a soil problem, or merely a lack of nutrients. Since none of the other azaleas near it appear that way, I hope it's not freeze damage. To address both the other possibilities, I gave it a dose of gypsum (to break up the heavy clay), sulfur, iron sulfate, and azalea food.
Cut back another Artemisia (19 Mar).
Cleared more dead growth from the teardrop bed (25 Mar). I'm seeing more sprouts of Cuphea hyssopifolia, but I still can't tell if these are seedlings or shoots from the bases of the old plants that froze.
Some high, thin clouds; sunny (sometimes hazy), and mild
|Often, when gardening, my ambition exceeds my endurance. Today, my ambition exceeded the capacity of the garden waste bin.
Finished trimming the dwarf English ivy around the liquidambar tree in front. Then, I broadcast some soil sulfur over the area to further acidify the soil. Liquidambar trees can become chlorotic in the alkaline soils of southern California, so it is necessary to keep adding acidifiers.
Mowed the weeds in the parkway. Then I used a paring knife to weed the bricked area in the parkway.
Cut back more of the Sprenger asparagus. This is not a job to finish all at once. When the shoots die, their tiny leaves become very annoying thorns. Also, the cut shoots seem to fill the trash bin very quickly. Perhaps I might finish next week.
Started clearing the teardrop bed in back. The pink clover, cinquefoil, and Cuphea hyssopifolia were all destroyed in the Great Freeze of '07. However, the pink clover and cinquefoil are now coming back from portions that were shielded by overgrowth and leaf mulch. I also see some new Cuphea growth, but I don't know if that's from existing plants or from seed they dropped last year.
The vegetables for last night's dinner was a mix that included asparagus picked from my garden yesterday. Yum!
I cannot do much more gardening this week until after the trash is collected on Friday.
Mostly cloudy, occasional hazy sun, and mild
|Having bought more generic lawn fertilizer, I finished feeding the west bed in back(19 Mar). I also fed the east bed, except where I had already fed around the peach tree (23 Feb).
Using an acidic mix to prevent chlorosis (ammonium sulfate, iron sulfate, gypsum, and a pinch of zinc sulfate), I fed the liquidambar tree (L. styraciflua) in front. I forgot to include soil sulfur, which I will add tomorrow.
Trimmed the dwarf English ivy (Hedera helix 'Hahn's') on the parkway around the mailbox, only along the curb and driveway. I give up! I can't get cinquefoil (Potentilla neumanniana) to grow there although it grows like a weed in back. Therefore, I did not trim where the ivy is growing into the parkway. Instead, I'm going to plant the entire parkway in this ivy.
Trimmed about two-thirds around the dwarf English ivy bed that surrounds the liquidambar tree. I used some of the trimmings for cuttings, which will be planted in the parkway when they root.
Potted the dill and basil that I bought last week.
Cut out the dead growth from the penstemon in the east bed and began cutting back the Sprenger asparagus (A. densiflorus 'Sprengeri').
Picked some edible asparagus (A. officinalis). Clumps that had been productive for about 30 years rotted in the ground during the heavy rains two years ago. However, seedlings from those plants are now beginning to mature.
The eugenia (Syzygium paniculatum) along the east edge of the front yard appeared quite dead after the Great Freeze of '07. However, I now notice little shoots coming out of the main branches.
Cloudy, occasional hazy sun, and cool
|Fed the back lawn, both the red fescue (Festuca rubra) and all the plants growing through it. Also fed the west bed until I used up all the lawn food.
Finished trimming away the dead flower stalks from the fortnight lilies (18 Mar). Also trimmed away some of the dead foliage.
Cut back one of the Artemisia 'Powis Castle'. Unlike other shrubs that I renovate about once in 4-5 years, this grows fast an needs to be cut every spring.
Cloudy, occasional hazy sun, and cool
|This has been a very dry winter. At this time last year, more than twice as much rainfall had been recorded. Two years ago, we had almost 10 times as much rain. This year began with the driest January in the history of neighboring Los Angeles. So this past week, I left the hose running to soak the valley white oak (Quercus lobata) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), something I have never done before so early in the year. Indeed, in most years, I never water either of these drought-tolerant plants.
The fortnight lilies (Dietes iridiodes) in the back lawn bloom from perennial stalks that might be groomed to remove dead flowers but should not be cut down. Most of those stalks were killed in the Great Freeze of '07 (15 Jan). Now that I see new flowering shoots coming up, I started cutting away the dead ones.
Started planning how to groom the Australian tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum) in the teardrop bed. The Great Freeze killed the foliage on the bottom half, but the foliage on the top half is still quite green. The higher branches even have flowers now. This effect — caused by the cold air settling near the ground — looks strange.
Another victim of the Great Freeze appears to be the statice (Limonium perezii) in the east bed. Dried shoots break away in my hand, and I see no new growth from the roots.
Clear, sunny, and warm
|Bought a dwarf 'Eureka' lemon to replace the tree that finally died (4 Mar). I also bought dill (Anethum graveolens) and basil (Ocimum basilicum), annual herbs to add to the potted herbs in back. I now have some planting to do.
Late last year, we received a gift Cymbidium orchid in bloom. It finished blooming and now shows some new growth. These orchids do best outdoors. Since the time of severe frosts is past, I moved it from our dining room table onto the table on the patio.
Clear, sunny, and hot
|The dwarf citrus is showing new growth. The tangelo even has little flower buds. I fed them a mix of commercial citrus food and zinc sulfate.
All the potted perennial herbs in back survived the Great Freeze (15 Jan) and have new growth. I trimmed them, removing dead growth from last year. I cut the bay (Laurus nobilis) severely although it had no dead growth; I want to keep its foliage proportional to its constrained root system.
Some high, thin clouds; mostly sunny, and warm
|Worked in the garden two days in a row!!
Cut the Podocarpus branch I had been trying to train as a new leader (17 Jul 06). There are some small, new shoots right near the cut. Whichever of those shoots is the most vigorous will become the new leader; then I'll remove the other.
The Rhaphiolepis indica near the sidewalk had some minor freeze damage in the Great Freeze of '07 (15 Jan). They are now showing new growth, so I trimmed away the "burnt" branch ends. The dwarf Rhaphiolepis growing near the front porch showed no freeze damage at all.
The pink clover (Persicaria capitata) in the front lawn had severe freeze damage. However, new shoots are now starting to show through the leaf mulch, which likely kept the plants alive. Today, I used a generic lawn food to feed both the pink clover and also shrubs growing around the edges of the lawn (except for the eugenia (Syzygium paniculatum) along the east edge, which needs to show more recovery before forcing growth by feeding).
The 'Inga' azalea in a pot on the brick walkway also received serious damage, but it too has new shoots starting. I trimmed and then fed it.
The weeping Chinese banyans (Ficus benjamina) growing together in a large pot on the front porch may be quite a different story. Few branches still have any green under their bark. No new growth is apparent. These might be a total loss.
Mostly cloudy, some hazy sun, and mild
|Fed the roses in front and the potted roses on the patio in back, using my standard first-of-the-season mix (27 Mar 06) on all of them.
The wax-leaf begonias that were mush after the Great Freeze of '07 (15 Jan) are coming back! At least four of the six have new shoots. One of them is even starting to bloom.
Fed the potted herbs in back. Put a small pinch of ammonium sulfate in each pot. These herbs generally don't need many nutrients. Since they're in pots with my special potting mix, however, whatever nutrients they have readily leaches away.
The dwarf citrus seems to be getting new growth (except for the 'Eureka' lemon, which I think is dead). I think I even saw some flower buds forming on the 'Robertson' navel orange. I gave each of them a pinch of ammonium sulfate. I won't be giving them a regular feeding until I see how much damage they suffered in the Great Freeze.
Weather data are from the Cheesebro (CHE) weather station, a little less than 1.2 miles ENE of my house.
The high temperature (°F) is daytime for the indicated date; the low temperature (°F) is for the night ending on that date.
The relative humidity is at noon. (In my garden, it is likely higher than reported, a result of regular irrigation.)
Wind speeds (mph) are average (not peak) low and high, midnight to midnight (subject to later correction for diary entries posted before then end of the day).
Rain is in inches. Rain amounts are omitted after 60 consecutive days elapse without any measurable amount.
Season is the cumulative amount of rainfall since the start of the current rainy season, which began on 2 Oct 2006 with the first measurable rain, until noon on the indicated date.
Week is the cumulative amount of rainfall from noon seven days ago until noon of the indicated date. If no rain fell in that period, Days since last is reported.
Characterization of the weather (e.g., Clear, sunny, and warm) is purely subjective; for example, "warm" might occur with higher temperatures than "hot" if the former occurs with lower humidity and more breezes than the latter.
The signature line I use when writing messages about my garden includes the following:
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