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Kathy's Garden Chats - 2013

March 2013 | April 2013 | June 2013 | July 2013

September 2013 | June 2016

You can contact Kathy at

 June 2016

Kathy's Garden Chat

Rose Haven has been in full bloom, and that includes some of the California natives. While many of the California natives bloom in the fall and winter, our Matilija Poppies are making a great show now.

Matilija Poppies are a bush poppy. Right now some of them are about six feet tall bearing huge white blossoms with yellow centers. They are not easy to transplant and get going, though we are trying. They are spreading nicely in the sandy soil, in a spot carefully selected by an accomplished grower. Probably the easiest way to get them going is with purchased plants from a reliable nursery. They are a bit tricky to start. If you want to try this late in the season, a little shade cloth might help, and despite their drought tolerance, they should not dry out their first year.

We are working to get the California native and drought tolerant area of the garden mapped. If you are interested in these plants or the back part of Rose Haven, give me a call and we can make a committee. Kathy 951 693 2814.

Botanical Description: Matilija poppy is a glabrous, shrubby perennial, heavy branched and woody at the base, growing to 8' tall. The showy white flowers are the largest of any plant native to California, and look like fried eggs. There are 5-8 per stem and the six petals are usually crinkled with many yellow stamens and a single large pistil. The three sepals are glabrous, which differentiates it from the other Romneya species, trichocalyx, which has bristly or appressed-hairy sepals. The leaves are alternate and have 3-5 main segments which are somewhat dentate or cleft.

Matilija poppy inhabits dry washes and canyons below 4000' in coastal sage scrub and chaparral away from the immediate coast. It is an occasional resident in the Peninsular Ranges, but is more common in the Santa Ana Mountains to San Diego County, being found also in the Santa Monica Mountains where it was probably begun by transplanting. It blooms from May to July. The name Matilija (pronounced ma-TIL-i-ha or ma-til-EE-ha) appears to be of Chumash origin, and I have seen one source that relates the name to a Chief Matilija who lived in Ventura County. The name is used also for Matilija Canyon above the community of Ojai and Matilija Creek in the Los Padres National Forest.

Rom'neya: the namer of the plant Romneya coulteri, the matilija poppy, wished originally to name it for Dr. Thomas Coulter (see coulteri) who first collected it, but the name Coulteria was an already established genus, so he decided to honor him instead by selecting the name of his great friend and fellow Irishman Dr. Thomas Romney Robinson (1792-1882), a prominent astronomer, for the genus, and that of Dr. Coulter for the species, and in so doing to link their names forever (ref. genus Romneya) Pronunciation: ROM-nee-a KOLE-ter-eye. Click here for Wikipedia's Botanical Term Meanings.

Matilija poppy
Matilija poppy
Pollinating bees
Pollinating bees

 September 2013

Kathy's Garden Chat

September 6: Hi, all you garden enthusiasts. The tomatoes are producing , the basil is gorgeous, we have lots of things growing and the heat is horrendous. Naturally, this is the week-end we chose to divide the Vogel Iris Bed. Join us Saturday, September 7th at Rose Haven Garden.

Since it is so hot, we are starting as early as our poor bodies will get us out there, 7:30. We must raise the water lines, dig out the Iris, spread amendments and roto-till them in, divide the iris, replace the water lines and replant the Iris.

If we get plenty of people, the majority of this work should be done by nine. By ten we must quit, whether finished or not, as the heat and humidity are projected to be at least as intense as today.

Dividing the Iris is the most interesting and educational part of the operation. To be of any value, the iris must have its name attached. No name Iris are generally just pets for homeowners, they have little or no commercial value.

It is towards learning the technique of marking the location of each plant that we are working. The Public Garden Association, of which Rose Haven is a member, is calling this mapping "Youtopia", and pressing hard for everyone to learn. It is not hard and once you get the technique it is much easier than labeling and it is permanent, Everyone knows that labels get grown over, blown away, lose their markings and color, and are generally very frustrating.

Come out and see how Youtopia can work for you and your garden. We will have ice water. The heat is such that if we want coffee it should be afterwards, at Starbucks perhaps.

 July 2013

Kathy's Garden Chat

July 25: Come and get it. We have gobs of Basil. Cut a few plants. Make some Pesto. Take enough to dehydrate, cook or freeze. It will make you rich in phytonutrients. Delicious, gorgeous, clean and going to seed fast.

We still have Kale, and the internet is full of delicious salad recipes. The variety is very mild and delicious,cooked or raw. I know it certainly has improved the diet in our home. Just help yourself, remove the clamps and reach right in. You are welcome to our garden.

Pictured to the left are our new irrigation valves to control the water in the 'Tree of Life'. Nardo has raised them, protected them with UV resistant paint and reinforced each with a stake. Sturdy, and a huge improvement as we will be able to control the water ourselves without fearing the black widow spiders and goopy water that always collects in those irrigation boxes. We can see to adjust the timers, change the batteries and even I, with hip problems, can enjoy helping with the veggies.

We are moving ahead. The strong wire from Lyse' garden has made a big difference for us, too. We just have to accept that everything but onions and garlic has to be protected.

Report from Tree of Life

July 5: We are about through making a semi-permanent bed to grow squash, pumpkins and other things that must be protected from everything but gophers. The Greenthumbs got the net over most of the bed, the chicken wire is attached to the lattice, and we put down compost and watered it in. The water is on, thanks to a beautiful new valve set-up from Nardo. We are ready to plant.

Our basil and kale continue to produce and there is plenty to share. The tomatoes look puny, but I think that is because we planted many varieties and some are doing a lot better than others. Also, the squirrels are helping themselves to all that soften a little. There are some rabbits living in that cool area, but at least they do not like the foliage. Nardo's organic spray seems to have done a good job on the aphids.

We had some lovely, very green plants with flowers like little daisy's growing round, but research suggested it was fever-few. While it is a respected herb, it is also a little indigestible and many people are reactive to it, so we removed it from the vegetable garden. If anyone is interested in that plant they can contact me as there is still one hidden away for adoption. Thanks to everyone who helps or enjoys our gardens. Kathy

 June 2013

June 4: Hi Everyone:
After all the activities of the last few weeks, life at Rose Haven is getting back to normal. Water leaks, potatoes decimated by squirrels, more families coming out for our third Saturday program. We have our successes and our "learning experiences".

We had great harvests of a sweet and tender kale, crunchy peas and fresh onions. These are powerhouses of anti-oxidants; kale seems to be the most nutritious veggie on the planet. You can even make kale chips. Hopefully members who come up to Tree of Life and students who work with them learn how to grow and use more healthful foods and ingredients.

A new ray of light is that the potatoes we have in the new grow bags, protected by Jomari's grow box on top, survived the incredible attacks of hungry critters (e.g. gophers, rabbits, squirrels, insects).

We have a lot of tomatoes doing well, and basil as a gourmet touch. You too may be able to grow them more easily than the creature favorites, but fencing still helps.

We will be able to start squash and melons as soon as we get our water system squared around again. Thank goodness Nardo is helping us; he foxed two awful leaks last week. We drove a post right through a main pipe. My fault for not remembering there were pipes in that bed. We are documenting everything for the future.

We are going to use very thick straw mulch and butcher paper to institute sheet composting for weed suppression. We can not use the 20% vinegar in the beds without changing the ph level, so it will be for the paths. We will keep everyone informed about the vinegar. Hope it works because I hate having to use chemicals.

Remember you can always phone us about food or recipes or just to chat Kathy Katz at (and Barb Purdy at

 April 2013

At the Tree of Life we are planting tomatoes on Saturday. They are beautiful, strong, organic plants, raised from seed by Barb Purdy. We need help planting them, there are a lot. You can come help; share your expertise and/or learn from others. Remember, like the super sweet kale and other vegetables and herbs up there now, you will be welcome to pick and take home the bounty of these seedlings. Come out and have fun planting. We well start around nine.

Attention, attention!!!!. This is the news all have been awaiting. Those roses, the ones climbing the arch at the entrance to Rose Haven, are in full bloom. The color is a show stopper. In fact, they are stopping traffic, or should be. You are about to find out their name and story.

According to Phyllis Bettelheim, 'Fortune's Double Yellow' was grown on the Santa Rosa Plateau in the late 1800s by Parker and Elena Dear (see above image). It was the Santa Rosa Ranch then, the roses were famous, climbing on porch and arbors. People came by train and buggy from all over Southern California to view them and picnic. Those flowers were lost to fire years ago, but we have two specimens doing beautifully at our place. Come take a look and feel proud of what we do. They are on either side of the iron arch. You might want to acquire a bloom. Or two. Maybe a dozen — but leave some for others!

Ok, now is the time for a walk around the garden, any garden. Magnificent. At Rose Haven the daffodils are about done, the roses are just popping and the Ceanothus (California Lilac) are blooming. There are several in the native plants area. One is blooming now. We planted them two years ago, some succumbed to that early heat wave last year, so we are pretty proud of those that made it.

The wild things are growing like weeds. Oh, they are weeds. We have to get rid of some of them, and the hand digging at the Tree of Life organic vegetable garden is tough. The teenagers who do that work are busy with Senioritis, Spring Break, and the fact they far exceeded their community hours requirements months ago. Have to remember that weeds are the real food of the birds and native critters, we just don't appreciate them much in our gardens. :)

There is beautiful kale ready for you to harvest up there. Just remove a clamp or two from the top of the wire protectors and pick or cut the number of leaves you can use. It freezes nicely, can be braised, made into kale chips, and chiffonaded into soups and salads. Recent science makes it the healthiest thing you can eat, it seems. Just a little helps our health a lot. What better way to get it than fresh and tender, instead of the big commercial bunches you get at the store. Also, there is leaf lettuce in a wire box. Like the kale, just cut or pinch off the amount you need.

Please remember that if you have any questions about what is blooming where or what to eat, just e-mail or call. I will call back or get you in touch with an expert. Kathy.

 March 2013
Regarding our Garden,

This is a short post because many of us are going to Rose Haven tomorrow (Saturday) to plant and dig holes for many new roses. If you just have a few minutes and a little muscle or cold tolerance, pop by for a short time and enjoy the company of our group and the beauty of a great winter day.

The Daffodils are blooming their little heads off. We have to thank Rebecca for that. The roses are just beginning to show color and there are buds all over the place. The California poppies have little hearts of gold, but not quite showing much.

Up at the Tree of Life vegetable garden we have kale, lettuce and beet greens. We are harvesting the leaves like they do at the expensive, organic section of the market, rather than harvesting the whole plant. That makes everything last a lot longer. If you would like a sample bring a little bag and we will help you pick some. Everything is protected by wire fencing, as the bunnies love those fresh leaves like we do, so just ask if you need some help.