Fall brings new life to the garden…


Elaeagnus is…oh so elegant…This hedge, pronounced el-e-ag-nus, is actually a wonderful evergreen shrub, providing a splendid screen shown here for the front property along a country road. Elegant Ellie, as I call her, grows quickly becoming dense, full, firm and tough…tolerating seashore conditions, heat, wind and drought.

This hardy shrub is part of the Russian Olive family. Foliage is characterized by gray green leaves covered in silvery dots…these dots often make gardeners think the foliage is diseased…IT IS NOT!


Small, but unusually fragrant blooms are followed by decorative fruit, typically red with silver flecks…much loved by birds in the area.

The scent is very strong along the hedge shown above …the first time I walked by on a late fall afternoon I was overwhelmed by the deliciousness of hidden fragrance.

This evergreen is such an easy welcome addition to any garden…as long as you give it space to grow. It has a sprawling, angular habit of growth with long arching branches that shoot up and out forming a twiggy appearance…until other shoots catch up and fill in the shrub. Often…unaware gardeners, attempt to prune and shape these magnificent shrubs…it seems a bit like those who commit “crape Murder”!! The simplest way to control any growth, if actually needed, is to pick prune! The best place to grow Elegant Ellie…plant her where she can spread and sprawl wherever she chooses to go!

Canna, woulda, shoulda….Miss Cann-do is a tuberous-rooted perennial native to the tropics. Many gardeners actually lift the roots and store over the winter in areas where the ground freezes. As an organic gardener, I have typically left them in the ground to grow and spread  as the soil usually stays much warmer on my program.Large, rich green to bronzy red leaves resemble banana plants. Red, golden-yellow, deep pink and more tropical colors form showy flowers on 3-6 foot stalks in late summer to fall. The red blooms are, of course, a favorite of hummingbirds!

Plants are most effective grown in big groups of one color…roots prefer rich loose soil and can handle plenty of moisture if well-drained. Remove faded flowers to encourage continuous blooming…

This beauty is an old garden favorite and roots are typically passed along to friends and family who garden.

Callicarpa…oh what a beauty…American Beautyberry, is a deciduous, graceful shrub with arching branches cultivated for their beautiful fruit display in late summer to fall. Small lilac flowers appear in summer and are followed by round, lavender to purple fruit, often lasting into winter, after foliage has dropped. The berries provide an excellent food source for birds as winter approaches. Plants bloom and fruit on new wood, so any pick pruning should be done in early spring. I often use this shrub when designing wildlife gardens for clients with plenty of space… to allow these “beauties” to take off and grow. In a landscape plan for a TEXAS property, I used these as a nice border along a wide gravel driveway, separating the yard from the woods nearby.

Southern Wax Myrtle…Another favorite landscape plant! I use this fabulous evergreen in many garden designs as a mulit-trunk tree form replicating olive trees for a Mediterranean style garden. Foliage is quite pleasantly aromatic…and shrubs/trees are so-o-o easy to grow!

Branches are densely clad with narrow, glossy leaves that are dark green with pale undersides. Birds enjoy the berries shown here on the female shrub. [You should have both male and female plants growing in garden.] Grayish white fruits/berries are coated in a waxy substance used in making bayberry candles.

Reasons to grow Miss Myrtle…Tolerates almost ANY growing condition, including very moist soil; very fragrant foliage; excellent landscape plant…attracts birds to the garden! Looks great year round… aka: Myrica

Dazzling Dahlias…Muy Bonita! This beauty is native to Mexico and Guatemala. Somewhat hardy, and, where winters are mild, tubers can remain in ground all year.

With centuries of hybridizing and selection, dahlias have become tremendously diversified, available in numerous flower types and colors!

Miss Dazzle Dally prefers rich organic soil, but please avoid high nitrogen fertilizer or you’ll get soft growth and weak stems. I prefer using rock phosphate and worm castings as side or top-dressing when foliage appears.

There are all sorts of thinning and pinching techniques a gardener can do on all types/varieties of dahlias…way too much info for me to impart or even try to remember! A little research will pay-off or as I do with the few I grow…let them alone as Mother Nature would do!


A Path to Anywhere You Choose… Found this photo in a book. I adore the optic here…and would love to add this look to my garden. Just imagine a nice bench or chair at the end of the circle, or a table and chairs for enjoying a breakfast cuppa or an evening stem…or maybe a nice water feature bubbling fountain…or just as is…

jarLove this oil jar now serving as a fountain…if no electricity available, well, it still looks lovely as sculpture feature.


Hugs and kisses…

Early September…still summer here!

gardeniaA favorite late summer bloom…Gardenia, [Gardenia jasminoides]…is one of my all time favorites. With lovely, creamy white blooms and fragrance beyond belief, the Gardenia is a tradition almost always found in southern gardens. The bloom shown is ‘August Beauty’ from an evergreen shrub easily grown in rich, well-drained acidic soil. Mine grows in a big container sitting by the front door, actually near my lemon trees.

Growing up I remember the traditional prom corsage…an exquisite single gardenia bloom mixed with fern and the waxy green leaves…I felt so sophisticated! So many of the other girls had carnations…simply too ordinary.

Anyway, while the shrub is in bloom I do pluck a single flower and set it in a tiny crystal bowl of water…the bloom will scent an area for hours. Everyday I do this until the blooms finally stop happening…a treat I look forward to every year!

Lemon trees are blooming and fruiting at the same time…the weather has totally confused them! My lemons are growing quickly and will most likely be turning yellow in a few weeks.

This is such a fascinating process to observe…fragrant blooms then luscious lemons later in the season. if the tiny new lemons do not form and quickly turn yellow before the winter freeze, I’ll just move their pots into the garage and place by the window. Of course, lemon trees, if well established and grown organically, can withstand a bit of mild freeze…but not blooms or fruit! Last year I left my trees on the front porch and covered them with a flannel sheet during extremely cold nights, which I think is why they bloomed so much this season…course the seaweed and cider vinegar helped a bit, too!

One of my favorite garden plants is a sweet olive tree [osmanthus]. The tree is evergreen and blooms occur in early spring and again in fall. The scent is reminiscent of  orange blossoms…I remember that fragrance so well from time spent driving south from LA into Orange County in the early winter…orange blossoms in bloom filled the air! Driving with the top down was certainly an advantage during the season!

GARDEN NOTES…By early September you should have a fall-winter greens garden started. As long as temps are below 80 you can plant the salad greens, kale and cabbage starts…I threw out mesclun mix seeds last week and have had to work to keep them watered in the high heat. They’ve sprouted and are forming ‘true’ leaves…must keep soil consistently moist!!

Tomato plants will continue to flower and fruit into the time of first frost…on an organic program. The most important care right now is consistent moisture and removal of many of the leaves that hide fruit from the sun…this will actually encourage the fruit to ripen and reduce watering.

Get ready to plant garlic, shallots and hardy onion sets…I also plant Japanese snow peas from seed. They love cold weather! Foliar spray to feed garden perennials to extend bloom season

Gladiolus callianthus, Peacock Orchid OR Acidanthera, its new name for now, is a relative of gladiolas…masses of blooms in late summer, offers a heavenly scent, somewhat like baby powder.

Plant tiny bulbs/corms in EARLY spring. I plant by the edge of my rock dry creek bed near the path in order to enjoy fragrance as I wander through the garden. They really appreciate the warmth afforded them by the rocks in winter.Corms do need to have consistent moisture in well-drained soil. I have also planted some in pots to enjoy the blooms and fragrance on the back porch.

The Victorians loved these Acidanthera blooms and used them for cut flowers…the blooms and scent last quite a good while in a vase…a sensory delight anywhere.


My rose, Blush Noisette, in bloom…ah, the fragrance is so heavenly! The bush is covered in these sweet little clusters of blossoms.

Now is such a remarkable time of year when the garden is in full, glorious bloom and fragrance fills the path winding through the back yard.

IMG_0300Love the idea of this path and think I will need to find a spot to do this in my yard!!IMG_0858

#hollibcollie on instagram says hello and visit me sometime…

Till later, Cheers, time for a glass of wine,