The changing palette of California native plants. We have blooming perennials including the Penstemon ‘Margareta Bop’ discovered at the Las Pilitas Nursery in Santa Margarita. The brilliant colors make it a local favorite Mimulus ‘Eleanor’, at sub-shrub growing 2 – 3 feet tall, has buttery yellow flowers with white margins and orange markings. It is attractive to bees and butterflies. We also have a good selections of manzanitas and a few California redbuds, plus some Salvia Apiana compacta. This salvia is one of the most drought resistant of all salvias.
Strawberries have been incredibly popular this season and we’ve had a great selection with many varieties. They include Sequoia, Albion, Seascape, Chandler and Elan – one of the newer varieties for us. The plants are very vigorous, producing many runners and the medium sized, conical berries are particularly sweet. They are considered ever-bearing, producing fruit from June to frost. Also great for hanging baskets.
Be sure to keep the crown of the plant above soil level; also provide good drainage. Sow bugs and slugs consider the fruit a treat: ‘Sluggo Plus’ is an excellent preventative. Birds can also be a problem: cover with netting or chicken wire. To avoid rotting fruit, lay down a layer of straw or plastic. You will find your home grown berries above and beyond any store bought strawberries!
It’s been a bit of struggle to obtain ground covers this year, but things seem to be improving. For sunny areas we have flats of ice plant and rosemary. Elfin thyme is available in 6 packs – It’s a very compact, tight growing variety of thyme. Woolly thyme is low growing but more spreading than the elfin variety. Shade ground covers include both minor and major Vinca. The major variety is great if you have a very large area to cover. Also here is the variegated Vinca minor – a bit showier than the all green ones and good for smaller areas. Ajuga is also suitable for smaller areas and provides lovely blue flowers in the spring.
What’s happening in the shade house at Bay Laurel Garden Center? On the shelves you will find mostly colorful annuals including Bacopa, Coleus, Ipomoea (Sweet potato vine), Begonias and Impatiens. These annuals should bloom throughout the summer. The few hardy perennial plants to be found are tuberous Begonias, Heuchera (Coral Bells) and Astilbe. Pelargoniums (Geraniums) can often be overwintered, depending on the winter temperatures and their location (sheltering helps). A very showy Alstroemeria with red flowers and variegated foliage can jazz up your containers.
Protection from gophers is indispensable unless you are among the rare few who have escaped their wrath. We can offer three choices. The first, flexible mesh, is the easiest to use. These are the only type that offer 4″ baskets as well as 1 and 5 gallon. The least expensive, pieces of chick wire you put together yourself, can protect 1, 5 and 15 gallon plants. The “Root Guard” baskets are state of the art – they are stronger and more durable – also for 1, 5 and 15 gallon plants.
Vegetables and herbs are flying out the door! We finally received some lemon cucumbers. We have lots of tomatoes – the tried and true including Celebrity, Early Girl and Better Boy. Then there’s Chocolate Sprinkles and French Piglet Black Cherry. One gallon vegetables have been quite popular to speed up the season. We’ll keep adding to the mix whenever plants are available.
The essence of summer – the sunflower and back with us this year is ‘Sunfinity’. The plant, which is pollen free, grows to 3 or 4 feet, and the blooms are excellent for cutting. ‘Sunfinity’ has a very long bloom season, and you can plant it in a container or in the ground. We also have some Monrovia ‘Sunbeleivable’ from time to time as well as the 4″ Titan variety – the really tall one. We’ll hope for additional varieties as the season progresses.