10 Ways to Keep Your Garden Vibes Going This Spring

Photos by Ryan Benoit

If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, chances are spring is making itself known in all its bold, sneaky, fragrant ways. Your lilacs are jamming. The daylilies are on deck. You can almost taste the tomatoes! But…what else is there?

Every year we like to, you could say, amend our spring experiences with some extracurriculars. Basically, do a few new things that deepen our awareness of plants so we can live this season to the fullest. Here are some things we have done, want to do, and recommend doing to cultivate even more inspiration:

1. Join a plant society (or attend a show). Want to meet fellow plant lovers who are interested in a specific family or genus? (For example, Epiphyllum.) There are societies that meet regularly to trade notes—and seeds and cuttings!—about plants ranging from carnivores to camellias. The shows hosted by these clubs are also a great way to see prize-winning specimens. Bonus: most shows also feature sales where you can buy rare species! This year, we’re excited to attend our first carnivorous plant society show and sale here in San Diego. It’s the society’s second year holding meetings; so if your area doesn’t have a society, maybe it’s time to start one.

If you can’t settle on one family or genus, join your region’s horticultural society. We’re excited to join the San Diego Horticultural Society and attend next month’s “Bromeliads of the Wild” discussion.

Dionaea m. 'King Henry', Dionaea muscipula 'King Henry', Dionaea muscipula 'Green Dragon', Dionaea muscipula, Green Dragon, King Henry

Got a carnivorous plant obsession? We do. That’s why we’re joining our local carnivorous plant society.

15th Annual Drought Tolerant Plant Festival - LACSS - The Horticult

Last May we attended the Los Angeles Cactus & Succulent Society Plant Show & Sale. This year the show is June 11-12. More details here.

2. Take on a garden project. So far this spring we’ve installed a new trellis for our passion vine, made an impromptu air plant chandelier, and built a new habitat for our Asclepliad collection. (Sneak peeks are on Instagram; posts are coming soon). Garden projects can take 15 minutes or they can take weeks. Source some garden projects from books (like Celestine Maddy’s A Wilder Life) or blogs. The best part? It’s a great way to enjoy being outside for the best weather of the year.

One of our tallest garden projects this year was building a new trellis for our passion vine.

We also built a habitat for our Asclepliad collection. Check back for the full post coming soon!

3. Put your plants on Instagram. If for no other reason than keeping a log of the plants that you bring into your garden. Start tagging your plants by their scientific and common names and you may be surprised at how many other people have also properly tagged their plants! This is also a good way to make some Instagram friends. (Shameless plug: Here’s ours.) And if you tag your plants #thehorticult, they show up right here:

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4. Visit a botanical garden near you. Can you believe we’ve never visited San Diego Botanical Garden? We’re hoping to correct that next month. Also incredible is the fact we haven’t revisited Lotusland since our trip back in 2009, when this blog was just a twinkle in our eyes. Most botanical gardens will keep the green flowing in their conservatories for winter visits, but spring will probably offer the greatest wow factor. That said, we do love our autumn visits to public gardens.

We really need to stroll down the green brick road of Lotusland in Montecito, CA, again. We credit this garden with forming our initial passion for plants.

5. Tour some home gardens. A few weeks ago we attended the Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour and were spellbound by the gardens were saw on L.A.’s Eastside, yards growing native irises, poppies, flannel bush and Ceanothus. Most tours throughout the U.S. are in April, May and June, so Google around to find one in your area. In our opinion, visiting other home gardens is the best way to gain inspiration for your own space.

We’re also excited to be attending theLa Jolla Secret Garden tour for the third straight year! You might remember that during our first year, our garden was one of the stops along the tour…

This Pasadena garden stole our hearts at the Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 3 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Don’t go astray at a garden tour, or you could be mistaken for a garden yeti.

6. Take a gardening class. Many local nurseries host free or low-cost classes and workshops. Learn how to care for your citrus trees or finally try your hand at some bonsai. If your local nursery doesn’t have classes, check out YouTube tutorials, or better yet, enroll in online classes offered by Garden Tribe.

Tom Jesch co-founder Waterwise Botanicals and Robin Stockwell of Succulent Gardens

Tom Jesch, co-founder of Waterwise Botanicals nursery in Bonsall, CA offers classes on succulent care at their annual Succulent Celebration. This year the celebration is May 20-21.

7. Start using Reddit to identify your plants. Stumped? Here’s our secret source when we can’t identify a plant: a subreddit by the name of What’s This Plant. Yes, there are plant ID apps, but the technology isn’t there yet. The beauty of this corner of Reddit is that live, human gardener redditors will look at your plant photo (which you should upload first to Imgur) and tell you what species/hybrid they think they see.

We love the passion flower identifier…and wonder how many passion flower ID requests were submitted before this was added to the sidebar.

8. Order plants online. Can’t find the plants you’re looking for at your local nursery? If the shop is unable to source them for you, try ordering them online. The prices are actually quite comparable and online stores are pros at shipping them. Expect most of the plants to be quite young, so an 8-foot-tall loquat tree might not be doable. We’ve had good luck ordering rare plants at online retailers such as Logees, Longfield Gardens and California Carnivores. Oh, and why not order a bulkload of air plants at wholesale prices?

 

For rarer tropicals we’ve had great luck with Logee’s. Extra points in the comments if you can identify these plants!

9. Focus on your soil. There aren’t many plants that won’t benefit from adding a little pumice to your soil. Pumice is a volcanic rock that, when applied to your soil, helps to aerate roots, retain moisture, and provide/maintain nutrients. California-based General Pumice sent us a bag, and we’ve been adding this magical ingredient to all our new plantings. We’re getting ready to order some more!

10. Party with plants. Attend a plant party or throw a party of your own in your garden. Even if your sole outdoor space is the balcony where you hoard your plants, consider putting the punch bowl out there, so your guests can mingle with the greenery.

We’re excited about next month’s Succulent Celebration at Waterwise Botanicals and also next week’s Art Alive event at San Diego Museum of Art. Tickets are still available for next Friday night’s Bloom Bash!

Spring on.

—TH

You’ll fit right in with a flower crown at this event.

Marilyn M. Williams, Bridge & Bay Garden -Club of Coronado -- Floral interpretation of "Portrait of a Man" by Sebastiano del Piombo

Art Alive features floral interpretations of SDMA’s permanent collection. Here, Marilyn M. Williams of Bridge & Bay Garden Club of Coronado interprets “Portrait of a Man” by Sebastiano del Piombo.

Jolene De Hoog Harris of The Dutch Flower, floral Interpretation of "The Young Shepherdess" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Jolene De Hoog Harris of The Dutch Flower, floral Interpretation of “The Young Shepherdess” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau.

Di-vine.