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Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


Orchid cactus after buds are set and again after flowers.
Cymbidium or orchid - hi-nitrogen till July - every ten days
Azalea - cottonseed on surface
Hydrangea - acid now and again before bloom. Cottonseed will do.
Roses: feed well now and each time they come into bloom, with a long acting commercial fertilizer, or use the fertilizer with systemic insecticide and do no spraying except for later for mildew with fungicide.
Lawns get 10-6-4 now.
Daylily, liquid hi-bloom or superphosphate. Repeat after each bloom period.
Fuchsias, last feeding of bloodmeal March 15, thereafter balanced fertilizer on the acid side.
Camellias may be planted.
Repot Orchids before June.
Spray Holly with oil spray only if it needs it, for black sooty mold.
Prune Hibiscus, removing one/third growth, about March 21.
Pinch fuchsias

This is a very good month for cutting and seeds as it is warming up at night. Cuttings of Hydrangea, Fuchsias, Begonia leaf cuttings, Marguerite cuttings, and Zonal Geranium tip cutting now.

Make a moss lined hanging basket and fill it with petunias from a flat, now, and in a few months you will have a bloom that last about six months. Fertilize regularly. Use about 2 dozen plants.

Root some tuberous begonias in oak leaf mold now. I f you have no luck in shade, try in full sun after they have been rooted, and transplanted. Mine stayed in full sun till the second hot spell in Sept. and I am one and a half miles from the ocean.

Get Dahlias in now. Put bonemeal an inch below them. Stake now.

Plant a couple of cherry tomatoes in a large redwood basket and hang it in the sun. One basket will keep two people in salad tomatoes, as well as being decorative.

This is the month to enjoy all of the annuals you planted last fall. Keep after weeds, and bait for snails, and don't let either get ahead of you this month.

Most plants need fertilizer regularly. Folia feed or get a fertilizer that can be thrown around like snail pellets and doesn't need to be worked in. Fruit trees can't be expected to produce fruit without fertilizer.

Florence Sullivan

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California

Calendula in Florence's Garden in February


Calendula can be in full bloom on Valentine's Day. Do note on your calendar to plant them next September or October. Learn to plant the lovely annuals that will soon be in bloom, in early fall, to get the best and most carefree bloom, we have all year. All of the following bloom best in our early spring: Calendula, Iceland Poppies, Primula, Primroses, Cineria, Stock, Marguerites, Daffodils, Freesia, Statice, Callas - boom in February and March if planted in the fall. Buy them by the dozen then, at very reasonable prices. They will all be available in 4" pots at a higher price now. Another advantage of early spring bloom is the dormancy of many insects.

Roses pruned last month can be fed a good 1 cup of balanced commercial fertilizer now, 10% nitrogen. As soon as all of the the sprouts are out.

Buy cottonseed meal to feed Azaleas next mont - good for other shade plants too.

Prune Poinsettias, Lantana, and semi-hard hibiscus, bougainvillea - about the middle of February. Our last freeze date in this area is February 28. Finish dormant pruning early in February.

In spite of the advice of others, I don't fertilize my lawn much now or it gets too think in March and is very difficult to cut.

Cymbidiums get Hi-nitrogen til July.

Epiphillums get a Hi-bloom fertilizer as soon as blooms appear.

Fuschsias get a second and last feeding of blood meal now. 1T per basket and a heaping T per foot in the ground. Don't work into soil.

Pelagoniums gat a pinching now.

Dahlias and tuberrose go in now.

Try another dozen delphiniums in enriched soil. Bait for snails. Or you can use plastic cherry tomato baskets inverted to protect delphiniums from birds and snails.

Make a mum tree. Put 3 plants close together and pinch out side shoots till correct height is reached, then train it like a tree rose. Pompoms are best.

Calendula, carnations, cinerarias, and dahlias always suffer insect damage. I protect from the time of planting with the granular form of systemic and therefore do no spraying, simply using the granules every six weeks.

Meyer lemons do very well here. They are dwarf and look great in a large container.

Try some Azaleas even if they are difficult here. They don't really like our alkaline water and soil. Work an azalea mix into your soil. I don't like pure peat, once dry it is next to impossible to get it wet again.

~Florence Sullivan

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Everything's coming up roses - for me. ~ Ethel Merman

Welcome to my blog, and garden.  Also, welcome to my friends from Sisterhood Stories.  If you have time today, please follow the blog links through "Sisterhood Stories." These are my talented and creative friends, and we link our blogs together.  After you have visited here, please visit Sue at

In the flower bed in front of my house,  I was originally inspired to create a "mini version" of Claude Monet's, Giverny Rose Garden.  I planted a variety of roses in different sizes, colors, and species, with hopes that my flowers would give an impressionist impression.

This is Claude Monet's Garden at Giverny (photo credit shogunangel at flickr)

Here's another view of Monet's Rose Garden, I would so love to visit. (photo credit Valeria)

This is a video link to Monet's Garden; notice he lived to 86, one of the benefits gardening:

This year, I'm in the mood to streamline my flowers, and create a more "tidy" garden styling.  My goal this January is to take out the multi-colored roses I've have had for years, and replace them with one type of rose, on the picket fence.  I'm leaning toward getting roses from the David Austin catalogue.

David Austin Roses are show stoppers.  They're great subjects for photographers, and gardeners.  I just wonder if they will thrive in my California garden?  If you want to swoon, I've pinned some stunning David Austin Roses.  They are divine in the garden, and equally amazing when cut.

At other times, when I'm feeling more sensible, I want to choose tried and true, disease resistant roses.  Being a creative type, things might change after I visit the nursery.  At the moment, I'm leaning towards pink roses on the picket fence.

In Southern California, January is the time to prune your roses. Then, it's time to look around your garden, and see if you want to make some changes, especially if those changes involve roses.  January is a great month to purchase bare root roses. They tend to be easier to plant, and thrive well, after they take hold in the garden. I'm going to look for bare root roses in pink.

Possibly in this bright pink shade:

Or in this pale pink shade:

Or in a darker pink shade:

A garden designer told me his favorite roses on a picket fence in Southern California are blushing pink iceberg roses.  These floribunda roses are bushy, healthy and bloom repeatedly, nearly all year round.

They're not ideal for cutting...

…but they are certainly stylish on a picket fence. (photo credit whowhatwhen??? at flickr)

Meanwhile, my current roses are trimmed completely back, and look like bare root roses.  It's time to make a choice, get the shovel, and plant away.

What are your favorite roses?  Remember to visit Sue at and follow the links from blog to blog for a journey of Sisterhood Stories.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Garden as though you will live forever. ~ William Kent

Today I want to welcome an international group of my talented photographer friends who I've had the pleasure of knowing for several years.  We link our blogs together, creating Sisterhood Stories.  Please follow the links and enjoy a magical journey around blog land and the world.  You will be pleased you did. After you've visited her, please pop over to see my friend Sue

January in Southern California, is a month when you can expect to see beautiful camellia's blooming in the gardens.   I'm very fortunate to live in a 60 year old home, where someone had the forethought to plant these gorgeous flowering shrubs known as camellia japonica's.  In gardening history, they were refered to as the "Japan Rose."

Camellia shrubs grow very slowly, and thanks to the age of the camellia shrubs in my garden, they are very large and abundant.  

Southern California is home to Descanso Garden's, which has the largest collection of camellia plants outside of Japan, and likely the oldest camellia plants in the United States.  If you want to experience gorgeous blooms, and a large variety, please do visit this month. 

Descanso's Annual Camellia Festival is coming up soon. 
February 8 and 9, 2014 at Descanso Gardens

By the way, did you make New Year's Resolutions this year?  I plan on joining a new gardening club. The health benefits of gardening are undeniable.  My friends from my original gardening club, called "The Gardeneer's" lived extremely long and productive lives. Many of them have gone on to garden in the great beyond, but most of them were in their late 90's and even 100+.  

Thank you for stopping by, and please remember to visit the links for Sisterhood Stories, first stopping by to Sue

Happy New Year!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Write on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy 2014!

May each day of this year, be your best.

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


This is the month we sharpen our pruning tools, and get out a good pruning book and study it.  Roses and fuchsias especially need pruning.  The South Coast Botanic Garden usually schedules pruning demonstrations on Sundays in January and February.

January is the month you find certain bare root plants in your nursery that will not be there any other month.  Bare root plants are easier and cheaper to ship and sell.  Wise gardeners shop early to get a good selection and get them planted before they dry out. Among the bare root plants available (often this month only) are: roses, grapes, flower fruit trees, Bechtel crabapple, asparagus, artichokes, rhubarb, and deciduous trees. Apricots do very well here and tree ripened fruit is extra good. Strawberries, and we hear that other berries,  grow well here. Remember Knott's!!  If you are planning a garden with edibles, be sure to keep it separate from flowers if you use systemic sprays.  Be careful that any sprays you use are safe for edibles.

Speaking of edibles, sometime in the Spring plant some beet seeds and don't harvest the beets - pick and use the leaves like spinach.  Used this way, you will have a continuing harvest for several years.  For two people, 20 ft. will give you a meal a week, very easily.

Roses are still blooming, but before the month is out, you must plan to prune them, clean away all of the old mulch, and take all the old leaves off.  Start them afresh by giving them a good spray with a lime sulphur solution.  Buy new bushes now, too.  There will be rose pruning demonstrations at many places this month.

Roses give many repeat blooms here.  They can be fed and the insects repelled by applying systemic     granules every six weeks. Then the only other care would be to spray weekly in the month of May for mildew.  Roses are heavy feeders and need deep watering.  They repay with a mass of roses every six weeks.  Chose mildew free varieties.  Consult neighbors and nurserymen for the most mildew resistant plants in your area.

Fuchsias should be fed blood meal when pruned, but just on top of the ground.  1T per basket, and 1 heaping T per foot of height if in the ground.

Ivy should be cut back now.

Try some delphiniums late this month.  Protect from birds and snails.

Feed the slugs and snails something lethal.

Dahlias can be dug and stored, especially if drainage is poor.  Some gardeners, including myself, leave them in for years, with excellent results.

Prune Spring flower shrubs after they bloom.

You will start your tuberous begonias next month so you might order now if you send away for them.  Local nurseries will be getting them soon.  Get some oak leaf mold to have on hand to start them.  Shade is recommended, but I found I was able to grow them in full sun right up until the second hot spell in September.  Snails love them so much that growing in baskets or pots is much better than in the ground.  Try them, you'll love them.

Cut mums to the ground.  Plant Glads till March.

Fertilize spring annuals, potted plants, clivia, ferns and primroses.

Continue to feed Cymbidiums hi-nitrogen til July.

Hydrangeas should be pruned if you want it low and bushy.

Late February is the best time to prune fuchsias.  It is a good idea to have them free of mites by then.  They will start the new year squeaky clean.

The Fuchsia Fan recommends an improved method:

Day 1.   Vlock oil, 1 tsp. per gallon
Day 2.   Cooks garden insect spray with Thiodan, 2 tbsp. per gallon.
Day 3.   Rest

Repeat three times.  Thereafter use one or the other one time each month and that should control them.

©Florence Sullivan 1986

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful, they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul. - Luther Burbank

Welcome to a new angle on Simply Flowers.  Today, I want you to meet my blogging sisters, and then enjoy flower-filled fashion from "Free People."  

First, after your visit here, feel free to follow links through  personalized stories from an international group of photograhers and bloggers we call "Sisterhood Stories."    We link our blogs together and I'd like to introduce you to your first stop in the circle, featuring the stunning photography of Aziza, from Little Twinkles:

Next, preview "Free People's" Spring fashion, with a rainbow of colors and fields of flowers.  If you'd like to shop, or enjoy the sunshine and style, head over to the "Free People" catalog at

Finally, if you live in Southern California and want your gardens and flowers to flourish, remember to follow this advice from Florence Sullivan, with April Gardening Tips.

Until next time, enjoy your garden and the beauty of Spring!

CATALOG CREDITS:                        
Model: Alana Zimmer, Dorothea Barth Jorgensen, Martha Hunt, and Fei Fei Sun
Photographer: Anna Palma                        
Hair: Amy Farid                      
Makeup: Deanna Hagan 

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


Is your patio spilling over with color? It could be!

Mine is brilliant with pots of blue and yellow violas, pansies, blue ageratum, geraniums,a nd white alyssum. But they were all planted in November and December. So reach for your calendar and make a note to plant these things next year in those months. Even a huge redwood tub of yellow marguerites was planted last fall. The petunias blooming now are left over from last year. All in the sun.

Last month, and this month, is the time to be planting containers and tubs, and moss-lined hanging baskets of plants that will bloom clearn thru till next November. To plant now use for Pink: petunias, White: allysum, Blue: ageratum, potato vine, light blue or dark blue lobelia, Yellow: or Orange: dwarf french marigold, Red: fiberous begonia. These are all for sun. Vinca also.

For shade, now, use fuchsia, white allysum and impatients, but this would be light shade.

Small cyclamen can be purchased now for next winter's bloom.

PLANT - Dahlias from now till mid-June. A handful of bonemeal worked into soil below tubers at planting time is good. Take mum blooming bulbs, braid it and bend it over till completely brown. Try cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket, one basket will supply two people all summer. Put cascade mums into 12" pots now.

SPRAY - Watch roses for signs of mildew and spray it as it appears. Usually next month is bad for this. Spray ground too. Systemic granuales with fertilizer will protect from insects and fungicide to get the mildew. Systemic granules completely protect cinerarias, calendula, carnations, and any other plan you knoww that will get insect damage. Most of the garden will not need spray.

PRUNE - Camellias and azaleas after bloom, but only if needed for shaping and only after reading a book on pruning them. Important too is to remove the dead flowers from plants. Know what you are doing here. Sunseet prints a good book on pruning. Prune cape honeysuckle. Many other spring blooming shrubs need pruning after bloom.

PINCH - fuchsias till May Day.

FERTILIZE - lawns - shrubs and trees and bulbs when blooming.

Epiphyllums get top dreing of well-rotted manure. Hydrangeas get camellia food or cottonseed now. KEEP AFTER THOSE SNAILS.

WEED - Don't let it get ahead of you!

Hint: Even if you have poor reusults with petunias in the garden, do try them in container, epecially in moss lined baket where snails can't get them. Only trouble wa leaf minor and you can control that for six weeks at a time with systemic granules. These granule can be bought with or without added fertilizer.

REMEMBER: A garden is a thing of joy and a job forever! - unknown

Florence Sullivan

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California

Florence Sullivan
September 1, 1913 to February 9, 2009

My friend, and gardening mentor Florence Sullivan, passed away recently at the age of 95 1/2. I had previously asked her daughter's permission to share her gardening tips. She wrote a booklet, with the above title, so any tips I share on this blog, with this title are from "Florence Sullivan," with the kind permission of her daughter Holly.

Since it's already February, I'll do this slightly out of order and start with February.

This booklet contains flower gardening information for a specific area. This area includes Santa Barbara to the Mexican border and from the Pacific, inland to the hotter areas.
To make the best use of this information, may I suggest that you get a thin felt pen with green ink, go to your calendar and turn to the current month. Jot down chores which apply to your garden. Then continue thru the year. Green ink will suggest gardens. Thereafter when you fertilize or spray, make a note on your calendar, in green, to remind you when to do it next. Then you will be organized, and your garden will flourish.
Happy Gardening

Florence Sulivan

Mrs. Sullivan has taught Container Gardening at the South Coast Botanic Garden and lectured to Garden Clubs. She has gardened in this are for 25 years. (Copyright 1986 - Florence Sullivan)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

A Calendar for Growing Flowers in Coastal Southern California


Remember, all beautiful color you see here in winter and very early spring should be planned about this time. The roots get a fine start and much of the best blooms come from this early planting. If your garden is full of mums now, and you lack room, get pony packs and transplant into 4" plastic size pots, and have inexpensive plants ready to pop into place later. If you plant directly into the garden, do it at about 4 p.m. to give the plants a whole cool night to help them thru the next days heat. Shade them for part of the next day.


Our early color comes from planting these now. Stock, iceland poppies, calendula, snapdragons, and try some perennials, now, too. Try margurites, blue daisy, foxglove.

Some seeds could be sown in flats now, if that's your thing. Spring flowers and perennials. A few that do well sown in the garden and reseed year after year are: white allysum, forget-me-nots, bachelor buttons, lobelia, nasturtiums, impatients, California poppy, and orange African daisy, but most others need more care and the see is too expensive to waste trying to sow directly into the garden.

Stop fertilizing hibiscus and other subtropicals so they will harden off for winter.

California poppy if watered in a garden situation makes a fine garden flower. It blooms much longer than in the wild. Lack of rainfall keeps it from germinating on our local hillsides. Remember seeds must never dry out while germinating. California poppy comes in mixed colors. African daisies, the little orange and cream colored kind can be sown soon. They bloom for many winter months.

Now, you have thouh about your winter garden, let's see what needs doing this month.

POINSETTIAS may still be pinched back early this month. Just remove the last six inches of each stock to have double the number of blooms.

FUCHSIAS, keep the dead blooms picked and plan to cut some straggly branches back about six inches.

HIBISCUS should be fertilized for the last time this year, but lightly. Later fertilizing will result in growth tener to frost. This is true of many sub-tropicals.

CAMELLIAS must have mulch renewed or replaced to keep the roots cool and don't let them go in hot weather. Fertilize lightly and thing buds. Be careful not to remove the growing tip which can look like a bud.

IRIS should be ordered now.

MUMS should be cut to about 8" abou the first week in August, then do not cut again. Some gardeners do it a few weeks later but do it! Otherwise, they will get six feet tall and collapse.

Prepare areas for sweet peas, dig in manure, and R.S.A. Let set a few weeks, then plan early blooming kind. Remember they are heavy feeders. When six inches high, pinch tips out.

CALENDULA will get thrip so use systemic granules when planting and every six weeks. Thrip is what causes the buds on otherwise healthy plants to dry up. Thrip have eaten them from inside.