Newsletter for April 2023

Spring flowering trees are such a joy! Plums, pears, crabapples and red buds. The native redbud grows naturally as a multi-stemmed shrub but can be trained as a tree. It is extremely drought tolerant. The non-native varieties i.e. Canadensis “Oklahoma” and other varieties are normally grown as standard trees. All have the fuchsia bright blooms that appear before leafing out.

The deciduous Magnolia often referred to as “Saucer Magnolia’ has striking flowers in shades of white, pink and purple. It’s usually grown as a large, multi-trunked specimen. This Magnolia prefers afternoon shade in our area.

There’s a low rumble inside the vegetable grower community – “Where are the cucumber plants? – Where are the peppers?” Blame March. It’s been cold! But things seem to be looking up next month. And then there’s the luxury of not having to deal with the drought. You can get a head start with gallon plants of tomatoes and peppers. We have some walls of water type protection to minimize the cold nights. Row cover can also help.

New and exotic tomato varieties always abound. Here are some names for 2023. Tomatoes – “Sunset Torch”, “Red Pearl”, ” Aussie”, and “Long Keeper”. Peppers – “Chicago Hot Dog”, “Italian Roasting Carmen”, and “Dragonfly”. Of course we’ll have all the old favorites as well as the heirlooms at Bay Laurel Garden Center in Atascadero. If you have some room, I suggest the Italian squash “Rampicante”. The leaves are large and they ramble on, but the squash (which appears in different shapes) is quite delicious with a somewhat nutty aspect.

There’s been an amazing interest in house plants lately at Bay Laurel Garden Center. We just received a shipment with some exotic choices. A colorful Philodendron among the myriad species is “Prince of Orange”. The plant will ultimately grow 2 feet tall and wide. The new leaves emerge a bright orange and gradually change to dark green. Good light is necessary to ensure the best color. We also have several Anthuriums in both 4′ and 6′ sizes. These are great house plants that display colorful flowers for a very long time. And out of bloom, the plant is an attractive foliage plant.

Take advantage of the cool weather and plant some very cool annuals. Check out the flowering bulbs at Bay Laurel Garden Center. We have Blue Freesias and Ranunculus including chocolate and Italian Anemones. Other notable imports from Italy are the Iceland poppies. Iceland poppies from Italy! Newly added in the shade house are double flowering primroses – they look like little rose buds. Next to them you will find the ever popular Columbine.

Many of you take great pleasure in starting your own seeds. We have some items to assist you at Bay Laurel Garden Center in Atascadero. We have seeds, of course. And we offer trays, some including a heating mat. Also we have bio-degradable starter pots and seed starting soil mix. We still have wildflower seeds including California poppies, California natives and two types of clover for erosion control.

The warm growing season has barely begun and we sold out of dahlia tubers! But fear not – a new shipment is on the way at Bay Laurel Garden Center. In addition to the dinner plate varieties, we will have decorative types as well as cactus flowering. Perusing our current bulb selection you will see two pink lilies. They are quite different. The Amaryllis ‘Belladonna’ leafs out in spring, then dies back and flowers in late summer. It is extremely drought tolerant. The Crinum lily has long, strap-like leaves. It prefers shade and sends up fragrant, pink flowers in summer.

Native California plants are always in season at Bay Laurel Garden Center in Atascadero. Right now the most spectacular flowering shrub, Ceanothus, is showing off its brilliant violet-blue flowers. We usually recommend these plants as specimens. Ceanothus can be somewhat temperamental, often only living 5 to 7 years, but it’s worth the investment for such great color. We also have some very handsome manzanitas for sale. We expect more of everything as the weather behaves!

Weeds! The result of our bounteous rainy season. We have all purpose herbicides at Bay Laurel Garden Center. Broadleaf ones for your lawn, and ones that remove grassy weeds from ornamentals. Then again, there is that satisfaction of tugging the critters out with your own bare hands!