I recently saw the 1949 film The Secret Garden, based on the classic book of the same name by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It concerns an orphaned girl and how her life and the lives of those around her change through the restoration of a secret garden in Yorkshire, England. If there is a movie or book that the whole family can enjoy without hesitation, this is it.
When the orphan girl Mary first enters the secret garden, nothing grows but daffodils whose green shoots have just begun to make their way through the earth. Later, after the daffodil blooms, Mary cuts it off and puts it in a vase. The way she looks at it with her affection and the way she touches it is the first sign of her change from a stubborn and arrogant girl to a sensitive and caring soul.
The innocence of children and the rustic beauty of the garden go hand in hand. More than that, the involvement of children in sowing seeds, watching tiny leaves sprout, and harvesting crops from an early age gives them meaning and self-respect. You will also learn about the responsibility of caring for what you grow and giving when you share your harvest with friends.
Cherry tomatoes are a great fruit for children to grow and pick, as they easily fit in small hands. In Southern California it can be harvested almost all year round. My Sungold cherry tomato plant has been in production for at least six months and shows no signs of tiring. It grows into a 6-foot trellis and is still adorned with countless flowers and ever-ripening fruit. My Sun Dipper Tomato plant is still producing, too. Elongated, hourglass-shaped cherry tomatoes that can be dipped in your favorite vegetable or snack dips.
One of the notable shrubs in The Secret Garden is the lilac. Lilacs are large deciduous shrubs that can eventually reach 15 feet in height. Lilacs can also grow into magnificent hedges. But because lilacs are leafless during the winter and bloom for only a few weeks in the spring, few people venture into this gardening.
Speaking of flowers, when it comes to fragrance, nothing beats the lilac. This is due to the fact that “lilac” is an independent fragrance in the world of perfumery. In the age-old technique known as enfleurage, lilac flowers are placed on vegetable fat in the form of palm, cocoa, or coconut butter to extract the essential his oil. In the classic enfleurage, the lilac he is cut for 33 days in a row, and on butter he replaces the day-old flowers with freshly cut flowers.
Lilacs are native to areas with cold winters, so Southern California gardeners may despair at the idea of growing lilacs locally. Yes, and does not require cold winters to flower. Two of his, Angel White and Lavender Lady, are grown at Monrovia nurseries and can be ordered from nurseries that carry Monrovia plants. Descanso hybrid lilac and 250 other lilac cultivars that peak flowering in mid-March are part of Descanso Gardens’ special collection.
Lilacs are known for their longevity, living for over 100 years in their southeastern European habitat on the rocky Balkan slopes of Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia. The main reason for their endurance is their strong sucker tendency. New growth will always be pushed out of the soil, making it easier to reproduce. New plants can be created by simply digging up young suckers, along with their roots, and transplanting them elsewhere in the garden.
Lilacs grow best in soils with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH, similar to those found in most Southern California gardens. Good soil drainage is also essential. If the soil is not well drained, amend it with compost before planting the lilacs. It should be turned back into a pair of leaves. Do not prune branches that have not flowered, except to trim them. For shrubs that have been in the garden for at least three years, remove old branches completely to the base to encourage new flowering branches and keep the plant in a compact shape.
Be careful not to over water the lilacs. Don’t water at this time of year unless it hasn’t rained in a month. Deep soak the lilacs once every two weeks during the spring and once a week during the summer. When it comes to fertilization, especially when there is always a layer of mulch and lilac is involved, it’s really an afterthought. Too much nitrogen causes too much leaf growth at the expense of flower production. When fertilizing, make sure it contains twice as much phosphorus as nitrogen, which promotes flowering. Lilacs grow rapidly to 12 feet and their flowers are famous for being cut for vase arrangements.
from california this week: Nemophila menziesii is one of the few wildflowers in California that can grow in partial shade. I’ll never forget the sight of these mesmerizing blooms sprawling under the hundreds-year-old oak trees of Topanga Canyon. Sow your seeds now for late winter and early spring shows. They do not interfere with the growth of the bulbs and can be grown wherever the bulbs are planted, as they do not interfere with the growth of, for example, white daffodils or yellow daffodils. The flowers will bloom continuously until the end of the year, and then the seeds will be sown and germinated in the same place the following year.
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