Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Don't Feed Your Bees

Honey bee enjoying an Ingrid Bergman hybrid tea rose

From Robert Pavlis, Editor of with thanks to Jolene Adams, chief consulting rosarian for the Northern California, Nevada, and Hawaii district of the American Rose Society.

A Garden Myth is Born 

by Robert Pavlis

I don’t know who started the myth, but someone created it on their Facebook page – anyone can do that. They then posted it on some public sites and people shared the post. After all, everybody cares about the bees and we really don’t want to die in 4 years.

The post went viral. I saw it on several gardening groups and right away people posted that they would do this – it is the least they could do to save the bee. People even posted pictures of bees drinking from spoons containing water and sugar. I wonder if the author of this myth is sitting in front of their computer, laughing their head off?

One of the problems with this post is that they included the name, Sir David Attenborough, a well-known broadcaster and naturalist. The BBC looked into the matter and determined it was all fake news, so they asked Facebook to take down the post.

They not only removed the original post, but many of the shared posts have also disappeared. As far as I can tell Sir David Attenborough never said anything about bees and feeding them sugar.

What Is The Harm in a Little Fun?

It seems like no big deal, but it is more serious than you might think. Millions of people have now seen the information and they believe you should feed bees. Very few will see my post and other news items that dispel the myth. They will go on believing the myth, and for the next 100 years, they will be telling their children and grandchildren to feed the bees. You can’t kill a myth once it starts.

Does feeding bees with sugar water do any harm? Yes, it does. I’ll discuss several issues in more detail below, but a serious problem is that some people can’t follow instructions. They have morphed the myth into a better solution; feed the bees with honey and that can be deadly for bees.

Are Bees Dying?

The post says “In the last 5 years the bee population has dropped by 1/3”. Which bee population are they talking about? Honey bees? Native bees?

Honey bee populations have not declined over the last 5 years. There were larger losses than normal this past winter in North America, but that was due to the cold weather. Overall, honey bee populations are on the rise.

Native bee populations are probably down, but we don’t have enough data to reach any conclusion. The data used in the post is completely fabricated.

Without Bees, We Will Die in Four Years

Honey bees are not dying – the numbers are on the increase, and since they are farmed animals we can make more new hives without too much trouble.

Even if all the bees died, we would still have other food to eat. This 4-year thing is nonsense.

Do Bees Need To Be Fed?

The proper way to feed bees – use flowers. Beekeepers do feed their hives in the middle of winter if the stored food in the hive runs out, and they do use sugar solutions. But this is done because there are no flowers open at this time of year to feed the bees. They don’t normally feed sugar water to bees during the rest of the year.

If the bees’ foraging trips are so exhausting don’t you think that beekeepers would have a bowl of sugar water waiting for them at the hive? They don’t need an extra feeding of sugar.

Why Do Some Bees Look Exhausted?

There are lots of reports of bees just sitting. No movement and no flying – they look exhausted. They must need an energy boost! Bees don’t live forever. Their lifespan depends on the type of bee and their role in life. Worker honey bees that are born in the spring only live for 6 weeks because they work hard collecting pollen and nectar. Male bumblebees only live a couple of weeks. A bee that is near the end of its life does not fly around very well. That bee that looks exhausted may need a rest, but there is a very good chance that it is dying. Feeding it won’t change that.

One Beekeeper put it this way, “Bees can and will die from exhaustion, but making sugary food sources
available to save lethargic bees may be doing more damage than good.”

Can a Little Sugar Water Harm The Bees?

Bees don’t need to be fed, but feeding them a bit of sugar water from a spoon won’t do any harm provided this is a one-time thing. The problem is that people have expanded on the myth. If a bit of sugar water for an exhausted bee is good, then a lot of sugar water for all the bees must be better.

People are starting to leave out bowls full of the stuff, or even adding it to their bird baths.
Beekeepers warn that this can have serious consequences. Bees take short cuts. If they can get sugar easily from a bowl rather than visiting a hundred flowers, they will do that. Upon returning to the hive they’ll tell their buddies and the rest of the colony to do the same. Before you know it, you have hundreds of bees.

Not a big deal you say, but the bees store this sugar water in the hive along with the honey. They effectively make watered down honey. That is not good for the bees and nobody wants to buy watered down honey. Beekeepers are asking you not to do this.

 What Is Wrong With Feeding Honey To Bees?

Honey can contain spores of a bacteria called Paenibacillus which causes AFD (American Foul Brood disease). It is deadly to bees. The honey you feed to the bee will be taken back to the hive. If your honey contains this pathogen, there is a good chance it will infect the whole hive. In Australia it is illegal to feed
honey to bees. The treatment for this horrible disease is to burn the whole hive, including the bees.
The disease is fairly rare, but it does happen. Honey should never be fed to bees in your garden. Let

them feed on flowers! 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Andy Easton Leaves Salinas

Salinas Sunset, an original hybrid by Andy Easton
One of the world's great orchid hybridizers has packed up his orchids and departed for Colombia, South America. Andy Easton once rented a considerable space in a greenhouse on Zabala Road, south of Salinas. His time in Salinas was fruitful with the creation of several sensational cymbidium orchids.

The greenhouse was sold a few years ago and he was forced to move out quickly. His hybridizing efforts got a bit more complicated working from several different locations. Nevertheless, he prevailed and this move has gone smoothly - so far.

His wife, Patricia, is a native of Colombia so this move makes sense in many ways.

Here is a video I made using the photographs I took when I first visited the greenhouse in 2010.

View Andy Easton's Orchids by following this link.

cybidium, orchids, andy_easton, easton, salinas, truskot, cybidiums,
Cymbidium hybridizer Andy Easton in his former Salinas greenhouse, Sept. 2010

Saturday, June 23, 2018

America is back!

America, large flowered climber, 1976

One of the lesser traumas gardeners face when planting bare root roses isn't their fault. A mix up back at the processing plant often results in one rose getting put into another rose's package.

When its time for the wrapping and labeling, the flowers, of course, are long since gone. The leaves were stripped off in the field and the canes shortened for easier and more uniform packaging. When reduced to bare root status, many of the canes look the same. They are all grafted onto the same rootstock so examining its roots offers no help.

Inevitably, the true identity of a rose is lost and the bush ends up being mislabeled. Processing plants handle roses in a scale of thousands at a time.

In my case, after years of resisting any new roses in my garden and risking the chance that the bargain bin bare root rose might be infected with rose mosaic virus, I took the plunge this past January and bought Handel.

It was a variety I grew during my first year or two in Salinas and holds the distinction of being the only rose out of the 250 plus varieties I grew that fell victim to a gopher!

My residential neighborhood is gopher free but one maverick critter moved into a neighboring yard when that house was unoccupied and ill-kept for several months.

Handel had provided quick growth up the side of my potting shed and a bountiful supply of white trimmed in bright pink blooms. Suddenly, one day it didn't look so good. The next day it was dead. Panic set in.

None of my roses are planted in wire cages. I bought and used a box trap and caught the gopher within six hours. No further gopher incident has occurred.

So it was with some enthusiasm that I bought Handel this past winter and selected a good and vacant part of the back fence as an ideal spot. It leafed out and stayed pretty much the same size for two months. Then it began sending up long canes and those canes then sported huge sprays of flowers.

The plant seemed to be happy with its location and grew plentiful dark green leaves. The flower clusters grew larger and longer.

When the first flowers opened -- they were orange. The plant was definitely not Handel.

The orange flowers looked familiar though. In fact, I have seen this same rose bush growing in many yards in Salinas. It definitely likes it here. Then, I realized what I was growing -- America!

America sporting its first cluster of blooms
In honor of the Bicentennial in 1976, the great rose hybridizer of the last half of the 20th century Bill Warriner introduced a rose called America. Vigorous and healthy with good flower form and color, America was an easy-to-grow, medium sized climber. (How a salmon pink rose got associated with a red-white-and-blue holiday is a mystery. But, it clearly captured many patriotic souls who bought it, planted it and forgot its name.)

Incidents such as this happen occur regularly in home gardens with many people calling one rose something that it isn't.

I recognized America because I'd also once grew it. It's demise in my yard had more to do with its vigor and the inappropriate place where I'd planted it. I didn't know it was going to get so long and lanky so I dug it out and gave it away.

It's no matter that Handel never made a return engagement. America is back.

climbing rose, America, Bill Warriner, truskot
Planted in February, America will climb to the top of this seven-foot fence producing large clusters of flowers as it goes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Walking Tour of My Yard

Tahitian Sunset in the Morning

If you weren't able to attend last month's open garden. Here's a quick tour of my yard when many of the roses were at their peak.

Welcome to my Garden

Monday, June 11, 2018

Getting a good re-bloom from hybrid tea roses

Double Delight at the Monterey Bay Rose Society Display Garden

With the first flush of roses nearly over, it's time to do something about getting good blooms for the rest of the season.

Although there are many different varieties and species of roses, most people want their hybrid teas to produce flowers throughout the summer and fall. By their nature, all hybrid tea roses are repeat bloomers. It's in their genes and it isn't hard to get them to flower.

Remember, however, that some hybrid teas also have generosity of bloom in their genetic make-up and others are stingier.
Gemini with a side bud that should be removed

1. Water your roses regularly. No growth can happen without water.

2. Feed your roses a little something every other week during the season. I alternate organic and chemical, always making sure that the roses are hydrated well before I add the fertilizer.

3. Include organic fertilizers and amendments every month. This is especially important if your water comes from wells. During its percolation from rainwater to groundwater its pH level has likely become slightly to significantly alkaline. Organic material in the soil will counteract the alkalinity and allow your rose to absorb more nutrients. Roses love slightly acidic soil at 6.5 pH.

4. Dead-head your hybrid teas as soon as the flowers start to drop petals. That means cut the stem to an outward facing bud eye. Do not allow the rose to develop hips. In many cases, by the time the rose bloom drops petals, the rose has already started to send some growth nutrients to a lower bud eye. Look for a place where a new cane has already started to develop.

5. With the added nutrients, many varieties of hybrid tea produce side buds accompanying each larger bud at the top of a cane. To keep blooms at their best and to increase the blooming cycle, it's important to pull off the side buds early. It seems counter-intuitive but it actually does give you many more perfectly formed flowers. The side buds often cause the terminal bud to be lopsided and the side buds are never as beautiful or as large as the main one. Waiting for the lesser blooms to open just steals time from the plant producing first-class flowers.

With the above five steps followed, the duration from attractive bud to a fully opened rose dropping petals averages around ten days depending on outside temperature, sunshine and variety. Then, in another five to six weeks, you'll have more flowers on that part of the bush. The older and larger the hybrid tea, the more likely it will always been in bloom during the growing period.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Plants in the Truskot Garden

West Side of Back Yard

Open Garden: Visitors Welcome
Sunday, May 27, Noon to 5 p.m.
350 Chaparral Street, Salinas

Westerland, a Kordes climbing floribunda

List of Roses

Rose Variety Rose Class Year Location
Alba Semi-plena Alba 1867 Back-Fence
American Honor Hybrid Tea 1993 Back-House
Apricot Twist Miniature 1993 Back-Center
Baronne Prevost Hybrid Perpetual 1842 Front-Yard
Black Prince Hybrid Perpetual 1866 Back-West
Blue Girl Hybrid Tea 1964 Pot
Blush Damask Damask 1000 Walk-Side
Bubble Bath Hybrid Musk 1980 Back-Fence
Cecile Brunner, Cl Polyantha 1894 Back-Shed
Charles de Mills Gallica 1840 Back-Fence
Chic-a-dee Miniature 1990 Back-Center
Children's Hope Miniature 2016 Pot
China Doll Polyantha 1946 Back-Fence
Chrysler Imperial  Hybrid Tea 1952 Pot
Crepuscule Noisette 1904 Walk-Side
Dublin Bay Large Flowered Climber 1975 Back-West
Ellen Wilmott Hybrid Tea 1936 Back-West
Escapade Floribunda 1967 Front-Walk
Gemini hybrid tea 1999 Pot
Gizmo Miniature 1998 Back-Center
Gloire des Rosomanes China 1825 Back-West
Handel Large Flowered Climber 1960 Back-Fence
Henri Martin Moss 1863 Back-Fence
Iceberg Floribunda 1958 Pot
Irresistable Miniature 1990 Back-Fence
Isfahan Damask 1832 Back-Shed
Jeanne d'Arc Noisette 1848 Far-Side
Joseph's Coat Large Flowered Climber 1969 Walk-Side
Kathleen Ferrier Floribunda 1952 Front-Yard
Lavender Lassie Hybrid Musk 1960 Front-Yard
Little Artist Miniature 1982 Front-Yard
Madame Alfred Carriere Noisette 1879 Back-House
Margaret Merrill Floribunda 1977 Pot
Maria Callas Hybrid Tea 1968 Back-West
Marie Pavié Polyantha 1888 Far-Side
Matangi Floribunda 1978 Back-West
Mme. Legras de St. Germain Alba 1846 Back-West
Natchez Miniature 1994 Back-House
Nur Mahal Hybrid Musk 1923 Walk-Side
Oldtimer Hybrid Tea 1969 Back-Center
Peace Hybrid Tea 1935 Pot
Perle d'Or Polyantha 1884 Back-Center
Phyllis Bide Polyantha 1924 Back-Shed
Picasso Floribunda 1971 Back-West
Popcorn Miniature 1973 Back-Fence
Portland from Glendora Portland 1882 Back-West
Radiant Perfume Grandiflora 2002 Pot
Rosa californica Species 1878 Back-Shed
Rosa woodsii   Species 0 Pot
Rosa woodsii fendleri Species 1888 Back-Fence
Russelliana Hybrid Multiflora 1824 Walk-Side
Sacred Heart Hybrid Tea 2002 pot
Sally Holmes Hybrid Musk 1976 Front-Yard
Secret Hybrid Tea 1992 Back-West
Sombreuil Tea 1880 Back-Center
Stanwell Perpetual Hybrid Pimpinellifolia 1838 Back-West
Tahitian Sunset Hybrid Tea 2006 Back-House
The Dark Lady Austin 1991 Pot
Therese Bugnet Hybrid Rugosa 1950 Far-Side
Tiffany Hybrid Tea 1954 Far-Side
Tootie Miniature 2003 Pot
Zigeunerknabe Bourbon 1909 Walk-Side

Agave victoriae-reginae

Partial List of Succulents and Other Plants

Adromischus cristatus 'Key Lime Pie'
Adromischus marianae
Aeonium 'Kiwi'
Agave attenuata
Agave guiengola 'Crème Brulee'
Agave parryi
Agave pendunculifera
Agave victoriae-reginae
Aloe aristata
Aloe iriorum
Aloe labworava
Aloe 'pink blush'
Aloe wanalensis
Artemisia absinthum 'Powis Castle'
Astrophytum myriostigma 'Bishop's Cap'
Astrophytum ornatum
Beaucarnea recuvata
Billbergia nutens 'Queen's Tears'
Crassula ovata 'Jade Plant'
Cycad revoluta 'Sago Palm
Echeveria agavoides
Echeveria 'Blue Prince'
Echeveria 'Dolores Taylor'
Echeveria elegans
Echeveria imbricata
Echeveria nodulosa
Echeveria 'violet queen'
Echinocactus grusonli
Echinopsis chamaecereus
Echinopsis subdenudatum
Ferrocactus latispinus 'Devil's Tongue'
Gasteria 'Ox Tongue'
Hydrangea macrophyla 'Lace Cap'
Hydrangea macrophyla 'Lace Cap'
Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi 
Kalanchoe luciae
Kalanchoe pumila 'Frosty Pink'
Laurus nobilis
Pachypodium succulentum x. bispinosum
Portulaca 'Elephant Bush'
Sedum spectabile
Sempervivens arachnoideum
Trachycarpus fortunei 'Windmill Palm'
Velthemia bracteata
Viburnum davidii

Epiphytic cactus

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Open Garden, 350 Chaparral Street, Salinas

Ellen Willmott, hybrid tea, 1935
Visit my garden on Sunday, May 27, noon to 5 p.m. Gardening public welcome. All parking is on the street. Enter the back yard through the side gate.

I haven't opened my garden for viewing in 7 years and hope that this opportunity will bring many visitors. Several of the roses have been in the garden since 1993 and are showing at their very best this season.

It's an eclectic selection which includes hybrid teas, floribundas, miniatures, shrubs and climbers. I have a good sampling of damask, alba, hybrid perpetuals, polyanthas, species and noisettes as well. I also have an array of succulents and other garden plants which should be of interest.

Baronne Prévost, hybrid perpetual, 1841 -Winner, Best Old Garden Rose at the 2018 Monterey Bay Rose Society show.
The rose pictured above was one of a dozen roses clusters that bush produced. The fragrance is awesome.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Annual Rose Show is this Saturday

Judges from Central California review all the blooms at a Rose Show
Join rose lovers from around the Monterey Bay at Alladin's Nursery and Gift Shop 12 to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 5, for the 2018 Monterey Bay Rose Society's Annual Rose Show. The show features some of the best flowers grown by experienced professionals and passionate novices. Samples of the many forms of America's National Flower will be on display to delight the senses - except maybe touch. Watch out for the thorns.
Perfect Moment, a past Queen of Show

Got a rose you'd like identified? Bring a sample to the show and one of the consulting rosarians will do his or her best in telling you what it is.

In addition to the roses, Alladin's offers music, wine tasting, and delicious food from the grill.

Dazzling display of rose sprays
 Alladin's Nursery is one of the oldest, independently owned and operated garden centers along the Central Coast with hundreds of plants and garden items for sale. It's approaching its 100th birthday and is located at 2905 Freedom Blvd, Watsonville.

Exotic and unusual flowers are always on display
Exit Highway One on Green Valley Road. Drive to Freedom Blvd and turn left. Continue to Alladin's Nursery. Got questions? Call them at 831-724-7517.

More photos from past rose shows:
Northern California Nevada Hawaii judeges: Linda Burk, Jolene Adams, Barbara Gordon and clerk Karl Dosht

Much more information on the Monterey Bay Rose Society home page.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Payoff of Pruning

noisette, truskot, madame alfred carriere, carrièe
Madame Alfred Carrière, noisette, 1875
Madame Alfred Carrière was planted in my garden in the spring of 1993 - one of the first and most steadfast of all my roses. She was purchased from Roses of Yesterday and Today in Corralitos while Pat Wiley was running the business. Many of the others on that first large purchase have long since departed, either by death or extraction.

Madame Alfred was named for the wife of the chief editor of Revue horticole - a 19th century French horticultural magazine. She loves her location on a south facing corner of my house and has continued to bloom steadily all season long - in spite of the mosaic virus it contracted from infected rootstock. New canes arrive every year.

Past recent pruning attempts were committed in a frenzy after large pieces of it were torn from its moorings and flung it into the yard by wicked winter winds. She hadn't been methodically guided and supported properly in years. This season, however, she got the attention she needed and the results are stunning. She will continue to grow and bloom also season.
Madame Alfred Carrière, January 31, 2018, morning

Madame Alfred Carrière, January 31, late afternoon

Madame Alfred Carrière, April 28

At the base of this climber is a shallow ditch which actually carries rain water from the back yard out under the fence to the front yard and eventually down a storm drain. The rose's roots reach out under the soil in all directions. It was given two fists full of alfalfa pellets in February and fertilizer in March and early April. Here's the result on April 28, 2018.

All roses benefit from some pruning. If you hadn't done any this year, you still can cut down on disease and encourage blooms by thinning out your bush and allowing the best canes to develop.

Read more about Madame Alfred Carrière:  Older Post

Monday, April 23, 2018

Look out for Downy Mildew

Downy Mildew on the hybrid tea Sacred Heart, April 2018

Danger. Danger. Danger. Downy Mildew is a disease of many plants particularly vining ones like grapes, cucumbers, melons, and squash but it also will affect ornamental plants including roses.

The weather in Salinas has been particularly unusual in 2018. The rains did not start in earnest until March. By then, most gardens had been pruned weeks before and leaves were already out. When the rains began, temperatures dropped and the leaves were often wet for long periods of time. With ever increasing sunshine and continued low temperatures, the ideal conditions for downy mildew were in place.

One of my new roses, a hybrid tea named Sacred Heart, came from a local nursery. It was in the reduced-for-quick-//sale section of the parking lot and had been at the nursery in all likelihood for at least 12 months. That's usually a plus as such roses are eager to have a new pot and fresh soil and respond well when they get them.

Like all other new plants in my garden Sacred Heart was potted up, pruned a bit with all old leaves removed. I hadn't sprayed the pruned canes with a chlorine solution or hydrogen peroxide but trusted things would be fine. Apparently, it brought many spores of downy mildew with it.

Just last week, I noticed mysterious blotches on its new leaves. I've had plenty of experience with the three common fungal diseases in roses: black spot, rust, and powdery mildew. But these blotches were different.

My first diagnosis was sunburn. It can happen to leaves and canes which have been growing in the shade (very cloudy weather even) and suddenly the April sunshine beams down. Reason prevailed. Why did Sacred Heart get sunburned when the other new roses around it did not?

I reached out to fellow rosarians for help and the answer came in: downy mildew.

All agreed the weather this season has been unusual. Winter came late and wet and often days went by when the rose leaves never completely dried off and the temperatures were often highs around 60 degrees and lows in the 40s.

Other reported effects on roses were short stems on the hybrid teas, many blind shoots (new canes with no buds at the top), and "high rose tide" delays by at least two weeks.
Downy mildew on a hybrid musk showing its stoppage at a vein

Details on Downy Mildew

Unlike the true fungal diseases mentioned above, downy mildew is caused by an organism more closely related to algae. Therefore, fungal sprays won't have any affect on curtailing it. The disease isn't all that common along the Central Coast because we usually dry out by the time leaves are in profusion.

Its spores are airborne and usually associated with poor sanitation and lots of water. It's an algae so think wet: wet infected leaves, stems and soil.

Also different from the fungal diseases, downy mildew is a pathogen. If left untreated, it will kill the plant. It is parasitic.

Jolene Adams, former president of the American Rose Society and a resident of the East Bay, responded with the following comments:

"One of the "defining" characteristics of Downy is that it does not cross the leaf veins.  So - in your photo you can see the blotches of the mildew stop at a vein and start on the other side.

People do get it confused with BS because it is often on the same leaf at the same time.  And its blotches can be oval or circular - but they still do not go into a vein.

Baldo (Villegas,
an environmental research scientist for California’s Food and Agriculture Department and a noted expert of plant pests and diseases) taught us - long, long ago - to turn the leaf over, pinch it closed so the mid-vein stands up and then look closely at the blotch close to it with a 10x or better lens.  You'll just barely be able to see tiny fuzzy growth rising from the leaf surface.

My eyes are so bad now I don't bother anymore. I just de-leaf."

The best control involves isolating the plant immediately if it's in a pot. If that's not possible, pull off all infected leaves and spray what's left with a mild solution of a tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water. If you halt its progress (and the weather warms up again), you will most likely get it under control. As a further safeguard, remember to remove all leaf matter at next season's garden clean up.

Safest way to control downy mildew. Water well and leaves will reappear.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Celebrate Earth Day in your own yard

Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander, Salinas, Gardening, integrated pest management
Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps gavilanensis) in Salinas, California

Ever since I began gardening in Salinas in 1993, I've come across a tiny, worm-like salamander sharing the yard with me. My first encounters, sadly, had to do with mistakenly cutting the poor creature in half with my trowel. Its tail twitched and writhed in rapid convulsions and startled me awake from my routine digging and weeding. It captured my entire attention. I've since learned that that display was one of the slender salamander's primary defense mechanisms.

While I watched its very long tail flop about on the soil, its body scurried away to hide and find a safe place to grow another one.

Working in my front yard recently, I lifted a brick and discovered a slender salamander. It laid perfectly still, its color not dissimilar to Salinas adobe soil. That was another defense mechanism.

Two days before, I'd assembled a terrarium in a fishbowl with dark green ground moss, dried bark-covered rose canes replete with bright green moss, and attractive rocks. I captured the salamander, carried him over to the terrarium and placed him inside. He (or she) immediately disappeared beneath a few rocks and into the moist soil.

This encounter set me on a path of discovery. I needed to know more about California slender salamanders.

In 2001, scientists (Jockusch, Yanev and Wake) did an extensive survey of these long, thin amphibians identifying differences great enough for them to determine several unique species inhabiting California. They include the Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps gavilanensis), the Santa Lucia Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps luciae), and the most widespread - California Slender Salamander (Batrachoseps attenuatus).

Gabilan Mountains Slender Salamanders range begins in southern Santa Cruz County includes the Salinas Valley and San Benito County down to northern San Luis Obispo including the eastern side of the Santa Lucia Mountains. The Santa Lucia Mountains Slender Salamander's range includes the western side of the Santa Lucia Mountains out to the Pacific Ocean and down the coast to San Luis Obispo County. There are places where the two species share ranges. The California Slender Salamander inhabits most of northern California from Santa Cruz County north.

Members of the genus Batrachoceps have several distinguishing characteristics:
  • they breathe through their skin and through cells in their mouths and have no lungs
  • they are terrestrial and do not need water to mature in but need moisture to be active
  • they lay 10-19 eggs in clutches which hatch as live juveniles ready to live on their own
  • they eat insects, insect larvae, spiders, mites, small slugs, sowbugs
  • they are active when nights are warm and the ground is wet
  • they estivate which is similar to hibernate, but occurs during dry periods. However, if the ground is kept moist such as in Salinas gardens. They stay awake the entire year.
  • they have four toes on their front and back legs where most other salamanders have five
  • they use holes and underground passages made by worms or other animals 
  • they are eaten by moles, raccoons, skunks, and oppossums
  • they can live for 12 years.
Slender salamanders are not considered endangered but their habitat is challenged by use of pesticides on lawns and in gardens, by the shrinking size of home gardens, and by the increased amount of paved surfaces.

You can establish them in your garden by providing a few flat boards, bricks and smooth rocks lying on the soil throughout your garden.

In fact, every true garden should have a dark, moist corner with a few rotting logs on the surface to encourage some diversity of life.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ragged Robin meets the Red-Red-Robin

Ragged Robin or Gloire des Rosomanes
. . . and they both go bob-bob-bobbing along.

The American Rose Society gives it the name Gloire des Rosamanes which can be loosely translated from the French as "The Pride of Rose Maniacs." It has been around since 1825 where it was bred by Monsieur Plantier in Lyons using a remontant rose from China and a damask rose, although there may be some doubt to the pollen part.

Ragged Robin (or Red Robin) became very popular as it blooms in large flushes through out the season. What it lacks in form, it makes up for in vitality, color, and generosity of flowers. It's a perfect rose for a fence and will easily go to 8 feet by 8 feet. An annual winter pruning will keep it in check and allow you to thin it out. I've even pruned mine back midseason and responded with a springtime-like flowering.
Gloire des Rosomanes is one of the first roses to bloom in the spring.
Because of its China ancestry, it's one of the first roses to bloom in the spring with a massive display of crimson red petals resting on top of light green, somewhat pointed leaves. The flower stems are short and individual blooms last only two or three days. It cleans itself perfectly. Regular deadheading will keep in flowering all season long.

You may find Ragged Robin blooming in many old neighborhoods in California as it once was used as a rootstock.

My plant was rose rustled out of a yard on Van Buren Street in Monterey. It was easy to root and has been in my garden for well over 20 years. Unlike many old garden roses, it does not send out runners and stays right where it was planted.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Late Spring Flowers by Catharina Klein


Here's a 9-minute video showing the creativity and talent of German painter Catharina Klein (1861-1929) in portraying iris, primrose, lilacs, flowering trees and more. Click here.

A few more pictures in this collection.



Apple Blossoms

Violas or Johnny-Jump-Ups
To see the video with dozens of paintings, Click here.