Magnolia Trees

I love magnolia trees! I have two kinds in my yard: Souvlangeana and Genie. Souvlangeana is more common in my area. It is a pink and white colored flower. It starts out with a deep purple bud then once it starts to open, it turns light pink like the first picture below. The Genie is the second picture and it remains a dark purple throughout the flowering cycle.

I bought the Souvlangeana thinking it was going to be a dwarf tree but later found out that it is not a year AFTER it was planted in the ground (oops!). Magnolia trees will grow to be over 15 feet tall and definitely should be careful when planting them too close to your property or power lines. The Genie tree above is two years old and is about 4 ft tall. They were only about 1 ft when I first planted them.

Souvlangeana flower.

The tree above is the Souvlangeana. This one is about two years old also. This year it has bloomed a lot more than the first year. The first year I had only one flower!

This is my Genie tree that is about to have two flowers. See the purple flower above.

This is my garden on an early morning stroll. Lots of pretty colors out there. I love pinks and purples so there is a bit of that here. The neighbor behind me grew bougainvillea but he told me most of the blooms are on my side as you can see the deep purple colors.

Below are some of my other favorite things growing in the yard.

Rose mallow

Abandoned succulent that is about to set gorgeous yellow flowers. I rested this bunch against a dirt area with no water and total neglect. Look how happy it is. It’s about to have beautiful yellow flowers that bees are attracted to.

Happy succulents: Aeonium kiwis.

This picture above is an onion that I put in the ground. The stalk is growing to about 3 foot tall, stiff, and strange-looking like something out of the movie Little Shop of Horrors.

That’s all for now. Next week I will share about turning some of my favorite trees into bonsai.

Poppies, Ranunculus, and Hibiscuses

I have been feeling a little overwhelmed with taking care of all my plants. The heat and strong winds caused a lot of stress to me and my plants. Everything got dried up quickly and the leaves were turning yellow. I am spending a lot of time watering, mulching, and fertilizing. Along with caring for these existing plants, I also had some seedlings I was growing from a couple of months back. Several of the poppy seedlings I put out in the ground got eaten by pests or die from heat. It was very frustrating to see all your hard work go kaput within days.

Right now my biggest challenge since I have a million plants out there, is I need to figure out an irrigation system. I have been DEEP watering many plants by carrying buckets around the yard. It is hard work and my right arm has been screaming in pain! Mulching helps a lot in keep plants happy but summer heat of 85 degrees Fahrenheit or more here will demolish many plants in no time. I need to be prepared.

I have also inherited 8 of my father-in-law’s trees so even more plants to care for! I feel it is my obligation to not let plants die, that’s why I work so hard in watering, mulching, and fertilizing. I did get a very nice red maple and a redbud tree from my father-in-law that I have always wanted so that’s a good thing.

As hard as I have to work for my garden, they still bring me the greatest joys in seeing them bloom in the spring and summer months. I think this year my garden will be quite EPIC and I can’t wait to see mature plants bloom more prolifically. I also added some newbies like these ranunculus and poppies below which are devastatingly beautiful.

All of the above pictures were from a Champagne ranunculus collection. It’s hard to believe but the various shades of orange, salmon, and pink is from the same plants at different times of the day and after a number of days. They have been in bloom for at least five days already and they look like they will last a few more days. I am thrilled with having ranunculus in my garden. These have my favorite colors pink and coral. I definitely want to add more of these for next year.

The above picture is my Afghan poppy. It is the most amazing looking poppy and plant I have ever seen. It is about 4′ tall and the flower stayed like this for several days, unopened. I’m not sure if it would ever open because today my gardener blew the petals off (I’m so mad about that). If you look out in my yard and you see this amazing plant standing majestically in pink and white, you would smile at it too. Luckily, there is another bulb forming below this flower so I should have another flower soon.

These purple poppies are called Poppy of Troy. I was lucky enough to get several flowers. They are sneaky though. They bloom early in the morning and by afternoon the petals usually fall on the ground. I am at work during the times they bloom so I had to ask my husband to take these pictures during the day. I love these. The purple is so beautiful.

The above are Apricot Chiffon poppies. These are sneaky too, blooms during the day and closed up by late afternoon.

The rest of the below pictures are some of my favorite blooming hibiscuses. These are gorgeous and will be blooming for the next several months.

I hope this post showed you some of the best things God has to offer for us to enjoy. With a little of our own hard work these beauties will give back tenfold!

Succulents with Flowers

Around this time of the year many succulents are blooming or growing babies. I found a few of these adorable Echeverias at my local Walmart Garden Center. They have tags on these pots but I’m not sure I can trust Walmart’s labeling. Anyone interested in the actual names written on the pots let me know and I will find out for you.

I’m not an expert on these plants but it appears winter is their time to flower and shine as you can see here. This one below is so adorable and its flowers are in my favorite yellows and pinks. Echeverias tend to shoot out 8-12 inches tall flowering shoots like this. The flowers last about a week or more. They don’t require much water in winter but definitely more in the hot summers, maybe once a week in extreme Southern California heat. They like morning sun and afternoon shade. Too much sun especially in the summer will scorch their leaves.

This one below is also very beautiful. I love these shades of pinks and yellows. I especially like that the plant has these colorful petals. My camera skill is not so great in capturing flowers up close, as you can see the flowers looked a little blurry.

Another Echeveria below with light blue green leaves.

The pink succulent below is an aurora borealis kalanchoe. It is so pretty with green, pink, and cream leaves. In late fall and winter it shoots out 7 inches long stem of pink flowers. Super adorable! These flowers are bell-shaped.

I cannot remember the name of this orange succulent below. I’ve had this for a while but this is the first time I’ve seen it bloom white flowers.

The awesome pink plant below is a “cobweb” Hens and Chicks succulent. It sprouted these adorable pink flower stems and I believe these last almost a month. It has white cobwebs on top of the plant as you can see. Very unique!

As usual, I’d like to end it with other highlight blooms from this week. Here are some amazing blooms from my Red Baron and Babcock peach trees. The Red Baron will eventually have reddish leaves in the fall and that is one of the main reasons I purchased this tree last year. This tree is the closest thing to a red maple which is what I wanted originally. After seeing these beautiful reddish pink blooms, I think I made the right choice in choosing this tree because those flowers will turn into peaches!

The Babcock peach tree’s blossoms look like cherry blossoms from far away. They are so pretty and delicate. The inside of that flower looks like a butterfly landed right in the center.

My bearded irises are blooming like crazy too and it is about three times more abundant than last year. I also inherited a purple iris from my father-in-law who passed away a couple of weeks ago. It bloomed the day after I brought it home from his house.

Anemones, Passion Flowers, and Alstroemerias

The weather has been warming up a bit in Southern California this week and I am seeing some pretty amazing flowers out in my backyard. This time I have the prettiest anemones, passion flowers, and alstroemerias in the greatest shades of purples and pinks.

Bluish purple anemones
Magenta-like shades of purple anemones in the early stage of bloom
Anemone changed to lavender colors by the next day or so.

Anemones is my new favorite flower this year. I recently discovered these delicate poppy-like flowers earlier this January. I bought the two above purple and pink anemones from my local Walmart a few weeks ago. The roots were root-bound and the leaves were yellowing from neglect but I am happy to say I was able to save those two. They seemed to be very happy and flowering. The pink is dark pink before it opens up but changed to lighter colors of purples and pinks as time goes by after it bloomed.

The passion flower plant vigorously climbing on a trellis entrance leading to my garden.

The above pictures are my purple passion flower plant. Isn’t that a magnificent and unusual flower? These pictures are from my first flower from that plant. The rest of the bulbs are coming but it has been several days and they haven’t made an appearance. I can’t wait for them all to pop out and eventually turn to fruit. I’m not quite sure how that works yet whether the flower turns to fruit later on or does it require another passion flower to pollinate. I will post later on if it ever becomes a fruit.

The above picture is my purple alstroemeria. I love this color of alstroemeria. It is truly that vibrant and stunning in the garden. This is the first time I’ve seen it flower and I’ve had it for at least one year.

I will leave you with a collection of some of my other favorite plants and flowers that did not managed to get a full post on its own.

Two beautiful hibiscus plants above: orange hibiscus and a deep red hibiscus.

Picotee amaryllis

Strawberry pot
Flower buds from my Red Baron peach tree

Pre-Spring Blooms

There are a few unique and interesting flowers that appeared this past week I wanted to share. A few were unexpected surprises because they haven’t bloomed much in the past. This year started out with some BEAUTIFUL blooms that I haven’t seen before.

The above picture is my muscari plant. They grew from tiny little bulbs and spread themselves all over my garden. I had planted them over eight years ago and each year around this time they would make an appearance. The last two years I haven’t seen much of them but I guess the weather must have been good for them this year. They are only about 6-7 inches tall but each clump has about this many flowers. I regret not getting a side view of these beauties for the blog. Their tiny bulbs have spread out over the years so I actually have over 12 clumps of these flowers in one area of my garden.

These white flowers are so darn cute and I don’t remember ever growing them. I have never seen them before (I think) and I don’t know what they are! If anyone out there recognizes them, do tell. They looked like they came from bulbs. There are several of these in my yard in a couple of places. I must have gotten them years ago because another plant that looks similar to this one appeared nearby. This pinkish red flower below is so pretty and vibrant. The flowers are only about 2 inches wide but they are so adorable and unique in my garden.

This adorable pink hibiscus below just bloomed this week. The flower is about 5 inches wide and it is a complete showstopper! I need to figure out how to get this hibiscus to bloom more because for the past three years it would only eek out two or three flowers a YEAR, one at a time! Talk about stinginess!

My aeonium Sunburst succulent also started growing new babies this winter. See them growing on the sides there? Absolutely the cutest! The mother plant is almost 2 feet tall with a face about 18 inches wide (yes, she’s a big one!). I believe she has been in the ground for about 2 years. She was only about 6 inches tall when I put here there originally.

Below is a beautiful but a little bit neglected geranium. I love these beautiful purple maroon flowers and it is so low maintenance. I grew these on a partial shade side of the house but it doesn’t have any trouble flowering as you can see. It does look a wee bit dry from lack of watering but it’s a knockout in the garden. It spreads its roots out over time and you can pluck them out to give away or plant in other places.

Lastly, these pretty bright orange and purple daisies are just screaming for attention in my garden! They are wickedly pretty! I love their bold colors!

Purples and Pinks

I must have said it many times but purples and pinks are two of my favorite colors in flowers. You can probably tell from the pictures of flowers in my garden. To me these colors signifies femininity and gentleness. I guess you could say I am a little feminine because I like beautiful flowers and jewelry too.

In this post, I wanted to share some of my favorite purple and pink flowers. Let’s start with pinks…

These are beautiful camellias in the pictures above and below. The light pink is really delicate and gentle, this is the ultimate feminine beauty. I have had such a difficult time getting this bush to bloom before but this year has been more abundant. I think the improvements came after I started watering and fertilizing it more!

Jasminum Polyanthum Pepita: beautiful pink buds turn into fragrant flowers
Rose Mallow

I love, LOVE these daisies! I love the blending of pinks and whites. There are even shades of salmon colors in this flower. I can’t wait for it to fill my backyard!

Now the purples…

Alyogyne huegelii Blue Hibiscus

This “Blue Hibiscus” really does look more blue than the picture showed. For some reason I cannot catch the blue colors on this camera, it always comes out looking this purple. It is beautiful with several blooms at a time. The location for this plant is pretty dry and clay-like so I am happy it is doing well here.

Purple statice
Purple daisy

The above flower looks almost like a Lauren’s Grape Poppy but I think it is an anemone. It has that beautiful shade of purple. It opens during the day which I don’t usually get to see but evenings come, they closed up and so I had to FORCE it open here.

Oh, I love magnolias so much. This is a pretty purple magnolia. This is the Souvlangeana variety. It start out like the first picture. The flower takes several days to open up fully but I think the color is the prettiest when it first start to bloom, after that it is mostly white.

These are all the pretty daisies in my garden. I put together this bouquet for my friend for her birthday this week. Let’s hope it brightens her desk today!

Dogs in the Garden

One of my favorite things to do is hanging out in the garden with my dogs and my flowers. Looking at old photos this year, I found many adorable pictures of my dogs hanging out in the yard helping to dig holes, eating rotten figs, or just enjoying the sunshine. Here are some of my favorites.

Hunter is the tan and white Harrier dog we adopted from a pet rescue in Mexico. We drove about two hours down to San Diego and picked him up. He was about 8 months old when we got him. Below was his first day home with us.

Below is the picture of him now. Not much different but you can tell he has aged a bit after four years. He is rounder and communicates with deep meaningful looks more often than he used to.

This look says, please let me go behind the fence where the fig trees are
Lord Waggles

This Café au lait colored dog is named Lord Waggles. He is mixed with some type of small dog breeds but I think he is most like a Maltese mix. He is so good-natured and a true gentleman. He is the quietest of all little dogs that I’ve ever seen. We adopted him from a friend who adopted him from another family who no longer wanted him. He was about a year old when we got him. He is five now. I cannot understand how anyone could give up such an adorable little guy like this one.

His chin is a little dirty because he was eating slugs and dirt in the backyard.
This was a picture of my yard about three years ago. Below is the same area now, more frontal view.
I had to put a little white fence in the bottom right of this picture because my dogs were digging a large hole there near my clematis.
Hunter is up to no good as usual.

The picture above is my favorite of all Hunter pictures. I fenced off this fig tree area so that he can’t go in and snatch figs off the trees. Somehow, he found a way to get in but he doesn’t know how to get out. I left him there for about 10 minutes. I meant to leave him in longer to punish him but I gave in.

The other day he wanted me to let him in behind these 2 foot tall chicken wires so he can look for figs to eat back there again. Look at his pitiful face begging me! First he would look towards the gate, then turns around and looks at me, and back at the gate.

Today I found a few more beautiful flowers in my yard to share. I will leave you with this collage.

Winter Blooms

The last few weeks I have been blessed with quite a few winter flowers. My daffodils and narcissus bloomed a lot more than last year. What is even more surprising is that I thought they only bloom during spring yet these are blooming now in my winter garden. Perhaps our Southern California weather is confusing these poor plants.

I think there are about 15 flowers in my narcissus bed now, whereas last time I had two. The yellow colors of these narcissi really stood out in my mostly green garden right now. The daffodils are beautifully colored but it has a little bit of a stinky floral fragrance as well. Below, my pink hyacinth is wedged in with the narcissus and are blooming also.

Stinky daffodils

My Queen Anne’s Lace bush is also flowering like mad in the garden. They are taller than me (5’2) and falling all over other plants in the garden. I have no idea how to stake them at this point but I had to cut some down to tidy the pathway a bit. The cut flowers turned into a beautiful, unusual bouquet something-or-other here. The flower is about 5-6 inches wide.

Another adorable plant that bloomed is my calendula “Pink Surprise” that bloomed out of season right now. This plant usually blooms in the late spring or summer but here it is now. This flower is really magnificently colored just like in the picture. It is a perfect blend of red, yellow, and orange. This makes me smile when I see it out there. It has survived ALL YEAR long in the heat and cold while all the other calendula died. What is most surprising is that it had the weakest flowering period of all the other calendulas out there. I guess it spent all its energy on sustaining itself instead of flowering last year.

Last and one of my most favorite, the chrysanthemums. These are the largest mums I have ever seen! Last week, I went to an Asian flower market fair and they had these for sale. I bought a container and I knew these mums could be split into several plants. Well, after I bought them, I split them into seven plants. I cut off the flowers to have this beautiful bouquet and planted the roots. The flower is about 4-5 inches wide. Oh, they are so beautiful. They brighten up my whole house!

Beaded Xara Necklace

With the weather being so cold in the morning, I haven’t been outside to work in my garden. I thought now would be a good time to talk about my indoor garden of beads.  

Long before I started gardening, I was interested in beading, crocheting, and knitting. Now, with the weather being colder outside, I have been focusing more on these indoor hobbies.  

Let me start first with beading since I have been doing them the longest.  I discovered beading six years ago during a vacation to Portland, Oregon with my family.  I bought a bracelet that someone knitted using fine silver wires and Swarovski beads.  I always thought beading was about stringing beads onto a rope or chain and call it a bracelet or necklace but now, I realize there is so much more to beading. The bracelet below was the inspiration for all of my beading work thereafter.  The bracelet also spurred an interest in knitting and crocheting because I wanted to make a similar bracelet myself.  Alas, I have not been able to duplicate such a bracelet.  I am still trying to perfect my knitting.

I tried making some of my own bracelets shortly after unsuccessful attempts to make that inspirational bracelet. Here are some my very early bracelets. Shown below are three different bracelets with color combinations to go with my outfits at the time.

Decent right? But not the greatest!

Below are some earlier ones that were much more improved. These are just a small sample of what I’ve made. I will show other ones on other posts.

Beaded bracelet and ring I made

For now, let’s concentrate on my latest addition: the Xara necklace. This necklace can be achieved by following Debbie Roberti’s Xara pattern.  It was fairly easy to do and it took me about 3 hours to complete.  The hardest and most time-consuming part of beading is choosing the right beads and color combinations to make with the pattern.  I have a stash of beads from other projects so I tried to work with what I have first.  The large center beads in this necklace is the Paisley Duo and it has two holes, on the top and bottom of the beads.  In making these jewelry pieces, I always choose color combinations that work with my wardrobe.  A lot of times though, I find that I love greens and purples with gold or bronze similar to those found in jewelry from India. 

This necklace I made in silver tone but with a little bronze to make some of my dark-colored outfits stand out more.  I love the look of silver and gold together too. 

There you have it! I hope everyone enjoyed my bit of beading today even if you are not interested in girly beading stuff.

Borage

A few years ago I was looking for plants with blue colored flowers and stumbled upon this herb called borage.  Borage is a plant I highly recommend growing if you are looking for a low maintenance, inexpensive plant to fill your garden.  This plant requires average water and full to partial sun.  They grow very fast and the spring is when you will see the most flowering.  However, they have been flowering this fall and winter here in Southern California too.

Borage can grow about 30” inches tall and 18” wide. If you let the flowers stay on the plant it will set seeds and appear everywhere in your yard!  I don’t mind this kind of invasive plant because it is quite pretty with blue star-like flowers. All parts of the plant are edible, except the root.  I have not tried to eat the flowers yet but the leaves taste delicious. They are hairy and spiky so you would have to be careful when you pick them.  Once they are washed, they are not too spiky.  People say they taste refreshing like cucumbers but I think they taste like something else which I have no idea what, just that it is herb-like.  Sometimes, I would pick up the leaves right off the plant and eat them (and saying “ouch, ouch” as the spiky hair pricks me!!!). The nice thing is bees and butterflies love them so it’s a great pollinating plant.  

In the picture above the borage sprouted in this hibiscus container and makes a nice decoration for my otherwise boring pot. They have really huge, green 6-7 inches long leaves. I did not plant those guys there, they just sprouted about 3-4 plants. Soon they will have nice blue flowers to go with the pink hibiscus. I can’t wait for spring to arrive!

In my garden there are a few other wonderful things happening this January as well. I discovered my narcissus, hyacinth, “Pink Surprise” calendula, and the Alyogyne huegelii “Blue Hibiscus” flowered. What a wonderful surprise for a very windy winter! Also, I have no idea what the white flowers are in this group so if anyone knows, please let me know. Happy Sunday!