An Alameda Garden: June 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Fling

Sometimes you just have to break out of the usual humdrum routine and have a little Fling. Garden bloggers have been doing this on a yearly basis for the past few years but I haven't been able to make the previous trips, which have occurred in such great garden spots as Seattle, Asheville, Buffalo, Chicago and Austin. This year, however, they were kind enough to schedule the Fling practically in my backyard. It's San Francisco this year, and I'm so, so ready for it.

The Fling runs from Friday through Sunday with a pre-Fling get-together Thursday night. The itinerary includes public and private garden spots as well as a couple great nurseries and the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. I'm particularly looking forward to visiting Filoli and the Sunset headquarters as well as the gardens of designers Shirley Watts and Keeyla Meadows.

But the best part will certainly be meeting so many great garden bloggers who I've only known so far in the cyber sense. It'll be great to meet them face to face and share gardening and blogging stories and tips.

So check back next week when I'll be sharing photos of some of the amazing gardens I'll be seeing and people I'll be meeting. After all, what good is having a fling if you can't brag about it afterwards?

Friday, June 07, 2013

Help with the Summer Pruning

People are often confused about when and how much to prune their trees in the summer. Prune too much and you can take away too much of the tree canopy when the trunk and branches need it for protection from sunburn. Prune too little and the tree can quickly become overgrown, requiring more severe pruning later on. There are plenty of places to read up on how to prune correctly but I've found that nothing beats seeing it done by a pro, preferably in a hands-on setting. Here's your opportunity to do that--two sets of workshops that will get your summer pruning skills up to snuff (or at least considerably improved).

Ann Ralph, formerly of Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, has four workshops scheduled in back yards around the bay area to show you how to summer-prune your fruit trees. I attended a brief pruning workshop that Ann did at Berkeley Hort a few years back and came away after one hour feeling very confident about pruning my trees. Here are the dates and times:
  • Saturday, June 8, Oakland, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • Sunday, June 9, Berkeley, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • Saturday, June 22, San Pablo, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • Sunday, June 23, Kensington, 10:30 am - 12:30 pm
For more information about the locations and to register, visit Ann's website at, email her at, or call her at 209-296-5797.

If you've planted a new tree in the last year or two, you're probably aware that correct pruning in these formative years can make the difference between a beautiful, healthy tree at maturity, or a problematic and potentially hazardous eyesore. Learn the ins and outs of the art of young tree pruning from Brian Kempf, the Director of the Urban Tree Foundation. This workshop, sponsored by Canopy of Palo Alto, will include 1.5 hours of classroom training and 2.5 hours of hands-on field training. No experience is required, but if you do have pruning experience, are a landscape professional, or an arborist, great! CEUs will be available for ISA certified arborists and tree workers. The workshop will take place on June 15th, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Nixon Elementary, 1711 Stanford Avenue in Stanford.
The workshop itself is free but they do ask that if you attend the workshop that you commit to volunteering at one of the follow-up volunteer tree care work days where you can practice your new pruning skills on the following dates:
  • Saturday, June 22nd 9am-12pm
  • Saturday, June 29th 9am-12pm
  • Saturday, July 13th 9am-12pm
  • Thursday, July 27th, 6pm-8pm
These events will give you hands-on training and provide a service to the community. Pruning shears and gloves will be available, but if you have your own, you should bring them.

To register for the Art of Young Tree Pruning Workshop, click here or email

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

A Knock Out® Rose Hedge: You Can Grow That!

I'm getting ready to plant a hedge of Sunny Knock Out® Roses in my front yard. These fragrant, pale yellow shrub roses, which grow 3 to 5 feet high with a 3 to 4 foot spread, will be just the thing to provide a bit of privacy from the sidewalk and shield some of the edibles that I plan to grow out front. I've been growing a couple of them in pots and find them to be as easy to care for as advertised. I like that they don't require deadheading and that pruning is a fairly simple task. I've also found that once they are settled in and established, they are reasonably drought-resistant.

I should note that this is not the prime time to be planting roses. A better time would have been in late winter/early spring, or in the fall. But I rarely am on time with my planting and I find that plants are surprisingly tolerant of my bad planning. Knock Out® Roses are proving to be very tough plants with strong disease resistance, so I expect they will be able to hold their own and settle in well enough as long as I keep them adequately watered through the summer.

So here's the plan for putting in the hedge:

For a hedge that's approximately 16 feet long, I'm planting 5 roses 1 1/2 feet back from the edge of the sidewalk where they will get more than the required 6 hours of direct sun each day. To plant, dig holes that are as deep as the containers they're in and twice as wide. Fill in with soil amended with compost and water them in well. That's all there really is to it. If you are planting in late winter/early spring, check out this video on how to properly plant bare-root roses.

With all the rest of this year to get established and after getting a trim early next spring (check out this video on how to prune Knock Out® Roses), I hope that next year I'll have a hedge that looks something this:

This post is part of the You Can Grow That! monthly blog series. Check here for more posts by other garden bloggers on how to grow all kinds of edibles and ornamentals. 
Photo credits: Star® Roses and Plants/Conard-Pyle

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