Saturday, August 11, 2012

Mount SAC Horticulture Department Tour

This months plant information class met at the Mount SAC horticulture department for a tour by production assistant Ruben Flores. Ruben showed us the new demonstration garden, the new turf demonstration garden and wiffle ball diamond, a production greenhouse devoted to Poinsettia production, and several interesting small garden areas that were chock full of lush plantings. 
The cactus and succulent demonstration garden; it was just planted the week before our tour. 
The new wiffle ball diamond; this was no easy project -the first batch of decomposed granite had to be replaced because it was contaminated with mud. 
We saw this pretty blue-flowered weed growing around the new ly constructed classrooms there. Solanum eleagnifolium is a member of the nightshade family that some consider a candidate as a water saving ornamental plant; problem is that it's also a weedy plant that is toxic to livestock. 
Our guide, Ruben Flores, started our tour in the houseplant greenhouse. 
A large production greenhouse devoted to growing Poinsettias. Their are bout 4800 of these growing in this greenhouse, if they were to sell these at retail for $10 a piece they would gross $48,000. 
Ruben shows us one of the hidden shade gardens. 
Hidden shade garden. 
The plants growing on the log in this greenhouse are orchids and ferns. 
Society garlic blooming in the hot summer sun. You can guess what this smelled like. 
A beautiful South African cycad. 
There was a large shade-cloth covered garden located in front of the horticulture department offices. Besides being a relaxing water feature the pond in the garden contained more than a few beautiful Koi.
Here's a diagram of the demonstration garden that's currently being installed at Mt. SAC. 
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Friday, August 10, 2012

Grafting Tomato Plants

One of the big problems with growing heirloom tomatoes is their lack of resistance to root diseases and nematodes. Grafting an heirloom variety on to a vigorous disease-resistant root stock not only gives the plant resistance to these disease, it can also lead to earlier fruiting and larger fruit as well. You can buy grafted tomatoes out of state (although right now plugs of a tomato graft called 'Might-Mato" are being sold by a California plug grower and may start showing up at retail nurseries here soon) , or you can try your hand at grafting your own. Tomato grafting usually requires a greenhouse, but you might be able to get results in a plastic tented area under shade-cloth.  Here are some videos and links that will help you get started:

North Carolina State pamphlet on tomato grafting. 

University of Connecticut IPM tomato grafting webpage. (sells tomato grafting kits)

Article on tomato grafting on "The Atlantic" magazine website. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Where Can I See Examples of Mediterranean Gardening?

Q. I'm designing/planting out my back yard mediterranean style here in Santa Clarita. Can you tell me where I can go and see a nice example of this landscape style? Somewhere open to the public?
I'm having a blast learning all about this type of garden!

Thanks, Jenny

A. Hi Jenny,

We have good examples of Mediterranean gardening here at the Arboretum. Our entryway, South African section, South African aloe walk, Demonstration Garden, Canary Island Exhibit and our Water Conservation Garden are all good examples of plant selection that is appropriate to our Mediterranean climate here. Our sister garden in Torrance, the South Coast Botanic Garden , has a Mediterranean garden and there is a public community garden, the Arlington Garden, whose eclectic style consists mostly of Mediterranean garden elements. Below are some examples of Mediterranean climate appropriate gardening here:

The Undersea Garden's plants are perfect for Mediterranean climates like ours. 

South Africa receives most of its rain in the winter and then stays mostly dry for the rest of the year. This is a true Mediterranean climate so many of the plants that grow there are perfect for Mediterranean gardens. Pictures above is the aloe trail winding through the South African plant collection here. The exaggerated colors are the result of the setting sun.  

Our Demonstration Garden, located fairly close to the Arboretum's entrance, has several small sections devoted to Mediterranean and California native gardening.