I just attended the San Diego Home Gardening Seminar at the University of San Diego. This was the third one that I have attended and what a fantastic event it is! There were three 1 1/2 hour sessions. The hard part was picking from the eight different concurrent classes during each session. I could only pick three classes, but I think I did pick wisely. I came away from the seminar with three new inspirations: natives, planting from seeds and succulents. (I also managed to find time during the lunch break to buy a pot of succulents that you can see a close up of in the photo above.)
It does seem a bit ironic that I went all the way down to San Diego to hear the first speaker, who happened to be Carol Bornstein, the director of Nursery and Horticulture Outreach at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. I love the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, so when I saw her talk on "Imagining the California Native Garden," I signed up. She was an extremely knowledgeable and articulate speaker and she gave a good overview of the diversity of natives that we have in California. I came away from the talk with a renewed interest in increasing the number of natives in my garden. Some of the plants I'm particularly interested in adding are: Manzanita, Ceanothus, Erigeron, and perhaps a Coffeeberry shrub.
Planting from Seeds
One of my favorite garden books is "Pat Welsh's Southern California Gardening: A Month by Month Guide." My friends Bertie and Mike gave me this book years ago, and I have lived and gardened by it. It is that good. Pat has been a speaker at every Spring Seminar, and I have attended her classes at every one I've been to. Even if the topic doesn't initially appeal to me, I know that Pat's way of presenting it will be inspirational. This talk called "The Magic of Planting with Seeds" was no exception. She arrived with a number of props—seed packets, flats of dirt, small rake, even a kettle for boiling water. She showed us her simple techniques for planting seeds and gave us a really wonderfully detailed handout of what seeds to plant when and how. I was surprised by how easy it could be. After all, there are many seeds that reseed themselves—and at the very least, that's where I will start. And, who know, before long I may have a big wild flower garden like hers, entirely grown from seeds.
The last, but not least, class that I took was "Designing with Succulents." Now, succulents are something that I always thought I should have more of, but didn't really know how to incorporate into my garden. Well, I really couldn't have picked a better class for getting enthused about using succulents in my garden. Debra Lee Baldwin is so enthusiastic about succulents, you can't help but get inspired to use them, too. She is a photojournalist who has written the wildly successful book "Designing with Succulents." Her talk was accompanied by some of her many beautiful photos of succulent gardens. It was amazing to me the variety of succulents and the interesting combinations of succulents that she presented. My first step is going to be to start using them in containers. I always have problems keeping my container plants watered and healthy. Succulents are my answer there. And then I will see if there aren't some other ways I can creatively combine succulents with the rest of my Mediterranean plants.
So, I am very glad I had the chance to attend another of these Master Gardener seminars. April is just the right time to get thinking about the garden, and I am literally ready to put on my gloves!