Mom's Garden: Summer White

Hope everyone is having a great summer so far! 

This massive bunch from Mom's Garden is brought to you by two stunners and personal favorites of mine, Oak Leaf Hydrangea and rose 'French Lace'.  

Hope you enjoy!

Flowers in this group include: Oak-leaf hydrangea, Mophead hydrangea, David Austen rose 'French Lace', Hellebore, Columbine, Achillea Milefolium (Yarrow)

...and a couple more that we don't know the name or how they popped up in the garden... hee hee!

Mom's Garden: Bees!

This post has been about a year in the making. We've gotten to a point where, I think I can share it with all of you... Mom's Garden has bees! (although, I think maybe this should be filed under Project Adventure... ) 
Mom has been obsessing over bees for a long, long time. It's like her totem animal or something. I remember when I was about 6, watching Mom pet honey bees while they were busy working on the roses. Yes, I just said petting. "They're totally harmless, hon. They're too focused on collecting pollen to worry about what I'm doing." She'd even pet the big black carpenter bees and the super fuzzy striped bumblebees. With her finger outstretched and a serene zen-like expression on her face, petting the back of a bee while it had it's face buried in flower... this was my experience with bees. My friends were usually hysterical at the sight of one. They always thought I was nuts whenever a bee landed on someone's shoulder or blanket, I'd pick it up barehanded and toss it toward the flowers. What else would I do? That's what I knew. My grandfather had several bee hives when Mom was growing up. I even remember the white boxes stacked up in my grandparents backyard... so, maybe it's a family thing.

Mom has been dreaming of having her very own hive for who knows how long. She's been reading about them and befriending Backwards Beekeepers to learn all she can about keeping them and how to "acquire" a hive. About a year ago, low and behold, a hive swarmed into an empty wooden box in her back yard! It was late in the summer, so we decided to leave it there so it could establish itself (you don't really want to move a hive in the wintertime because added stress is hard on them when there's not a lot of food around). Meanwhile, Mom voraciously read up on beekeeping for real. The hive was there for over a year. The time came when we were ready to transfer the hive into a proper bee box. Then, literally 2 days before we were going to transfer the hive, it left (or, as beekeepers call it, absconded)! We were pretty bummed. As luck would have it, that very same weekend, someone dumped a swarm into a cardboard box at the end of our street. Victory!

Good thing we had prepared a bee box, so it was all ready and waiting for the new hive. {more on the DIY project later} Normally, what you do with a new hive is cut the comb into big pieces and tie or rubber band them into frames that slide into the bee box. We couldn't do that. These bees had twisted themselves up in a tight ball in a bamboo bush, so there wasn't much to work with. So with a little help from Backwards Beekeeper David, we decided to just give them room to make their own comb, then rearrange it later, once they were more settled.
So, we've had a hive chillin' in the backyard for about 6 months now. It's pretty cool. 
Here's me and Mom looking pretty happy with ourselves after adding a second box on top of the original (that came later). More on harvesting our first bits of honey later on!

Mom's Garden | Monarch & Milkweed

This episode of Mom's Garden is brought to you by monarch butterflies and the milkweed plant! {hooray!}
When it comes to monarchs and milkweed, think: "If you plant it, they will come". 
{cue Kevin Costner, hee hee}
No, seriously tho. Plant some milkweed in your garden {if you're in the zone for it} and you'll have cool stripe-y caterpillars & orange butterflies in your yard almost instantly. Those little guys have a radar for milkweed like pregnant ladies to peanut butter & pickles. There's been a population explosion around Mom's Garden, so I thought I'd snap some pics and share with you the magical wonderland that is monarchs and milkweed... {cue sprinkley, fairy music}

The milkweed plant {genus: Asclepias} is aptly named because of the milky juice that comes out of stems when cut {which has many uses, one being a quick remedy for poison ivy! Learning new things here, people}. Monarch caterpillars eat milkweed which contain chemicals {cardiac glycosides} that, in turn, make the caterpillar super nasty-tasting and potentially poisonous to predators. One thing to note, because the caterpillars love this plant soooo much, they eat the heck out of them and leave them as leaf-less sticks. If they run out of leaves, they'll even eat the stems. So, don't get all angry if the plant isn't perfect and beautiful. Remember, it's there to make the monarchs big, fat and happy.

Look at this squee leeetle tiny guy! Inne cuteh?! {size comparison: check out the orange aphids next to him or the ant in the upper right}

{the photo at the start of this post is no trick of photoshop. Ain't it über cool? Sometimes the best stuff comes from lame accidents}
oh, and PS, while I was snapping away, I found lacewing eggs! Aren't they neat-o?! If you ever find a lacewing, don't kill it! They are probably one of the best bugs around your garden and eat lots of bad bugs, like aphid. We heart lacewings. {maybe I'll do a post on those soon too... cuz they're pretty}
UPDATE: Apparently, monarchs will hook themselves just about anywhere to make the transition from crawly critter to flutterby. From garden hoses to metal ladders. Keep your eyes peeled!

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Project Adventure/Mom's Garden: Baby Shower

A couple months ago, my friend Jin and I embarked upon the time-honored tradition of planning and hosting a Baby Shower. It was very lucky that Jin & I have a similar taste in decorating ideas, otherwise, things could have been a total disaster. We planned and plotted our strategy via the perfect vehicle for creative inspiration, Pinterest. We scrambled and sorted until things were just right, picked and positioned the best from Mom's Garden, crafted and created all we had imagined. Saturday was finally the day. 
I have to say, I think it turned out perfectly.
The super cool and effervescent Kara, of Mi & Mo Photography was there and captured the most gorgeous shots anywhere. Man, she made it look so professional, it's hard to believe that it was ours! Those kind of images just make you all dreamy-eyed with endless party decor possibilities. She even did a blog post on it, if you'd like to take a look at the awesome pictures.

One things for sure: hosting parties of any kind are a heck of a lot of work, but man, are they fun.


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Mom's Garden: French Radish

Springtime is in full effect in Southern California and Mom and I have totally re-done the veggie garden.
Too many years Mom has been sitting by watching all of her hard work get eaten by the bunnies, peacocks {yes, peafowl} and other nasty, annoying critters. So, we've constructed a kick-ass no holds barred enclosed area {it even has doors!} to keep most of them out. It doesn't stop the slugs, and of course the rats & squirrels can climb it, but we'll take any victory we can get {fingers crossed}.

Some of our first harvests were luscious bibb lettuce and these awesome little guys, the French Radish. Well, really it's called a French Breakfast Radish, but people seem to get weirded out by associating radishes with breakfast. Anyway, these little guys are not only super duper cute and a pretty red-pink-white ombre color, they have a lighter, less "snappy" flavor than your run-of-the-mill radish. 
A little dash of salt and... crunch! Yummy! 

Mom's Garden: Early Spring Mix

It is so hard to believe that I'm talking about a spring mix of flowers in February. February! *shakes head in dismay* But, that's the crazy we get in Southern California. While a lot of people are sitting under feet of snowdrift, I'm outside in flip-flops picking daffodils... go figure.
Today's bunch is a luscious group of daffodils, white and green hellebore, snowflakes  {if you aren't totally obsessed with hellebore & snowflakes, you should be}, maidenhair fern and a few sprigs of blooming rosemary. Looks great on the sill above the kitchen sink.

Can I tell you how obsessed I am with these things?! 
*eye-roll and sigh* Ugh, man are these awesome!


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Mom's Garden: Rose Pruning

The other day, I went with Mom to a rose pruning workshop at Roger's Gardens in Newport Beach. Apparently, in Southern California, now is the time to start chopping back your roses. In our area, it never gets cold enough for the roses to loose all their leaves naturally. So, we have to help them along. Pruning roses keeps them in top condition, shape and size for the area you have planted. If you let a rose continue to grow, it becomes "leggy". Canes get longer & thinner, and blooms are fewer, weaker & smaller. Pruning roses in the winter prevents plants from spending unnecessary energy on growing and producing blooms when sun & nutrients are at a minimum. It's surprising how agressive you can be when cutting them back.
Despite the fact that Mom has told me a million times how to correctly prune a rose, I have never really been super confident. So, she and I went out on a rainy Saturday and cut back a section of her rose garden. It was fun and a learning experience. I'm definitely getting the hang of it!


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Mom's Garden: Winter Red

Snap! The Holidays are upon us. For such a seemingly cheerful time of year,
it sure does cause quite a ruckus, yes? {sigh} Roll with the punches, I suppose.
Southern California is seriously lucky for having such a long bloom season {I mean, it's 70 degrees in November! Sheesh!} - otherwise I wouldn't have this super awesome arrangement to show you. I snapped up this happy little party of flowers in about 5 minutes flat. Chartreuse and bright magenta-ish red is a crazy combo that just works. And, I thought it'd look great in my trophy vase by Yellow Owl Workshop.
Rose: David Austin 'Prospero'
Variagated leaves: Coleus 'Aureole' (Painted Nettle)

Mom's Garden: Artichoke

I was talking with someone the other day and the topic of artichokes came up. I started waxing poetic about how awesomely wonderful artichokes are to eat, and not only that, they are great in flower arrangements! My friend looked at me and said, what a peculiar idea! She had never thought about what an artichoke really is. Most people think that it's a vegetable, but nope! It's a flower. A pretty great, perfectly beautiful flower, that is part of the thistle family. ...and! the bees can't get enough of them.
It just so happened that at the moment, Mom had an artichoke growing in the garden. Most of the flowers had gone way past eat-ability into full-fledged flower mode. So, I thought I'd share a couple photos. Hope your summer is going great!

Mom's Garden: Sweet Pea (Lathyrus Odoratus)

Sweet peas! This is one flower I am uber fond of. Growing up, Mom always planted sweet pea seeds along a fence in our yard. This fence was about 80' long - resulting in sweet pea madness. My best friend and I would go out on a summer day and literally load dozens of giant coffee cans full of them. We would make fairy-princess crowns, necklaces and bracelets out of them. Some kids have lemonade stands; I had a sweet pea stand. We sold bunches of them for ridiculously cheap... like $2. We thought we were millionaires. Years later, I saw them at the Union Square Greenmarket in New York. They were selling bunches for $20. I stopped dead and my jaw was on the floor. Twenty dollars!? They are awesome flowers, but how could... how would anyone buy sweet peas for that much!? *shrug and shakes head in dismay*


These flowers smell so nicely {hence, the name} they will fill a room with fragrance. The only sad thing is {and probably why they are so expensive at markets} that they don't generally last a long time in a vase. In order to get more time out of them, change the water every day. And, if you can, trim a bit off the stems too. Happy Summer!


Mom's Garden | Iceland Poppy & Anemone

Today's Mom's Garden is all about a couple of my most favoritist flowers: Iceland Poppies and Anemone! Mom and I planted these little suckers sometime in early October. Growing up from bulbs, they have been going gang-busters for the last couple of weeks, signaling the start of spring! I believe they are flowering a bit early because of our warm weather... normally they come up in April and May. 
My parents have peacocks in their neighborhood and they love to snack on the petals, so I decided to snag a bunch before they're gone and share them here.

I love the bight colors and the crepe-like texture to their slightly translucent petals. Such delicate things! These are flowers that even look good while wilted and dying.

Go out and find some - these little things are guaranteed to brighten your day.


Mom's Garden | Tangerines!

While those of you on the east coast are enjoying the snowflakes and frigid temps, I'm sending this to you to brighten your day. Tangerines! They are such a happy fruit, don't you agree? {sigh}
Mom has a tangerine tree in her garden, in an area she calls The Orchard or, as her Dad used to call his back-backyard area, The South 40.
Fruit typically appear on this little tree from October to April. They all ripen at just about the same time, so when it's fruiting, man is it fruiting! I picked 66 tangerines and barely made a dent! Super sweet, only a tiny bit tart, bite-sized with skin that falls away super easily {and doesn't get under your fingernails}. So yummy!

Mom's Garden | Flower Mart: Narcissus Papyraceus

Another reason why I love the end of the year is because it signals the appearance of one of my favorite flowers. Narcissus (or, Paperwhites). Yes, I know you can force them in a jar all year, but there's something so much fun about having paperwhites when it's cold and gloomy outside.
Of course, they smell ah-mazing. 
And, did you know? Put them in the sun. They sparkle... how awesome is that?
I snagged some paperwhites from the Flower Mart as well and thought I'd share. 

And being a kind of Greek Mythology geek, there is of course a version of the tale of Narcissus. A vain boy who was very beautiful, spurned many women. One woman prayed to the goddess Nemesis so that he may always know unrequited love. The goddess cursed Narcissus so that when he was out hunting one day, he saw his reflection in a pool and fell in love with himself. He stayed staring along the waters edge and wasted away. Narcissus flowers are said to have grown where he died.
There's your Greek Mythology lesson for the day. 
Moral? Keep your ego in check, otherwise, keep away from mirrored objects. 

Mom's Garden | Pretty in Pink

Flowers from Mom's Garden. Have I ever told you about Moms Amazingly Incredible Garden? 
Well, it's just awesome.  Every time I come home to visit, I ransack all the plants and make the most gorgeous arrangements. So, now that I'm back in L.A. the ransacking will become a regular thing. 
And I will share them with you.
Roses, Zinnia, Verbena, Gomphrena and a dried artichoke for puffiness.