Barristers Nursery

Bush Roses – Easy To Have Around!

June 7th, 2013 by admin

There are sev­eral spec­tac­u­lar bush roses read­ily avail­able to us in our local nurs­eries, some are well know to the avid gar­dener, while oth­ers, to my amaze­ment, still remain unfa­mil­iar. Need­less to say, they are no sub­sti­tute for stem roses if you want cut flow­ers in the house (stem roses hold the flower longer once cut, give you much more length on a longer stem and are unlim­ited in vari­ety and color.) Bush roses on the other hand are very heavy bloomers, gen­er­ally don’t get any taller than 2’ to 3’ and require “shear­ing” rather than prun­ing in Jan­u­ary. In addi­tion to all these good traits, they gen­er­ally are pest and dis­ease free. Rust and black spot, the major trou­ble­mak­ers to roses, seem to play a lesser role with bush roses. They work won­der­fully as a showy hedge or can be incor­po­rated in plant­ing areas to com­pli­ment your exist­ing land­scape. The most impres­sive ones, and the lesser known are:

Tomora – 3’ high
Com­pact rose, with gor­geous apricot-pink-yellow flower. Shaped like deep cups in the style of the roman­tic roses of past cen­turies. Leaves have a red tinge to them which makes a stun­ning con­trast to the flower. Scented.

Gruss aus Bay­ern (Greet­ings from Bavaria)
Deep red, medium sized flow­ers. Heavy bloomer. Blooms prac­ti­cally all year round. Eas­ily grows to 3’, maybe a lit­tle taller.

White and red sim­plic­i­ties are very attrac­tive and take quite a bit of shade com­pared to other bush roses. When kept at about 2’ they are gen­er­ally quite good bloomers, not any­where as impres­sive as the (other two) above men­tioned, and fill out nicely. Left to grow any taller they tend to look rather “skin­ney”. They also come in pink and yel­low. The pink is def­i­nitely the least attrac­tive of the bunch. The yel­low is awfully good look­ing. The leaf is such a dark green, and shiny, so it com­ple­ments the yel­low won­der­fully.
In my opin­ion, these are excel­lent choices for your gar­den. All roses need full sun, light after­noon shade (later in the day) is good in the hot months. Remem­ber, good drainage is essen­tial, as with all plants, and don’t for­get to feed them through­out the grow­ing sea­son. If you mulch the soil around the base of the rose, you will help con­serve the mois­ture and keep down the weeds at the same time.

No two hillsides are the same!

June 7th, 2013 by admin

No two hill­sides are the same!

Many cus­tomers come into the nurs­ery inquir­ing about plants that would be suit­able for a hill­side. Although this is a direct ques­tion, it is not always pos­si­ble to give a direct answer if we know noth­ing about “your” hill­side. How steep is it? Is it a hill­side you can actu­ally “mean­der” through? Does it have easy access for main­te­nance? Are you look­ing out onto the hill­side from your kitchen win­dow or your main room and there­fore wish to have some­thing really eye-catching? Is it very sunny? Does it have any irri­ga­tion? Are there steps going up to the top where you can have a “look-out” bench? Etc., etc., etc….. You can under­stand how your ques­tion is not pos­si­ble to answer with­out acquir­ing a great deal of infor­ma­tion before we can make any sug­ges­tions.

Also, we don’t know what your gar­den looks like! Is it Japanese-inspired, con­tem­po­rary, or full of Cal­i­for­nia natives and grasses? Does it mat­ter if it has a “style” or would a good ground cover do? So, if you do intend to plant your hill­side or slope this year, here are some sug­ges­tions to con­sider.

AGAVES can be an excel­lent choice if that’s a look you like and will work in your exist­ing land­scape. There is a wide selec­tion of very attrac­tive vari­eties avail­able to us in Cal­i­for­nia, so shop around. Many of them spread 3’ – 5’, which cov­ers a lot of hill­side! As well as being (rel­a­tively) low main­te­nance, they require lit­tle water. So the more they spread, the fewer plants you need to buy.

GRASSES too, are excel­lent options. There are so many stun­ning grasses in Cal­i­for­nia — the selec­tion is end­less. Since they come in every color, tex­ture and height, it doesn’t take very much work to “cre­ate” a lot of inter­est with very lit­tle effort. Most grasses are “clump­ing” in their growth habit and do not spread very wide — unlike suc­cu­lents and agaves. You can, how­ever, do a com­bi­na­tion of suc­cu­lents and grasses, which can look really spec­tac­u­lar.

GROUNDCOVERS — It is impor­tant to dif­fer­en­ti­ate between ground­cov­ers that have a super­fi­cial root sys­tem, com­pared to those that are intended to “knit” the soil together. Those with a more super­fi­cial root sys­tem are good purely for “fill­ing in” between plant­i­ngs for effect, on flat ground. For a hill­side, you need a more sub­stan­tial root sys­tem that will help hold the hill­side (soil) in place. Some com­mon ground cov­ers, such as ivy, or vinca major, work very well in cer­tain loca­tions. How­ever, using peren­ni­als that work like ground cov­ers is gen­er­ally the best way to deal effec­tively, long-term, with a hill­side – and cre­ate more inter­est, too.

When Irish Eyes are Smiling

June 7th, 2013 by admin

Charles the Gardner-It’s time to acknowl­edge a job well done.

Charles is the “old-time” gar­dener every­one would like to have tend­ing their gar­den. He is a trea­sure of the past, know­ing when to plant which bulbs where, the impor­tance of cut­ting off the dead pods on the crape myr­tle before the next bloom, and what’s ail­ing any plant just by look­ing at it.

Today the term “gar­dener” is often mis­un­der­stood and under­val­ued and I hes­i­tate some­what in describ­ing him as a gar­dener, because he is SOMUCH MORE!

Unfor­tu­nately, Charles and I don’t see each other more than 3 or 4 times a year, but I’m always informed of his com­ings and goings by the grow­ers we both pur­chase our plants from. On the occa­sions we do bump into each other, how­ever, only min­utes into our greet­ing our con­ver­sa­tion auto­mat­i­cally turns to the first bloom­ing plants in view and he will always men­tion the next tree or shrub he is look­ing for­ward to see­ing in bloom in the next upcom­ing sea­son. The last time I saw Charles was in mid March. He had just loaded his truck with an impres­sive num­ber of del­phini­ums and ranun­cu­lus for a client and was, in his words, “look­ing for­ward to plant­ing these beau­ties” that very after­noon. The plant­ing area was already pre­pared, he informed me. “The del­phini­ums”, he said, “ would be planted amongst the infor­mal spirea, yarrow and ice­berg roses”.” And the ranun­cu­lus, well,” he said, with such cer­tainty in his voice that I wouldn’t have dared to ques­tion his deci­sion, “they always look their best planted en mass in a cir­cu­lar bed of can­dytuft.” His hands all the while paint­ing out the loca­tion of each plant vari­ety – Charles talks about his plants with the same affec­tion some peo­ple talk about their grand­chil­dren!

After 30 years of gar­den­ing expe­ri­ence this Irish­man from Done­gal is in the envi­able posi­tion of choos­ing his own clients – although he has never said this directly to me – I know it to be true. He reserves 3 days of his week to main­tain sev­eral very big homes in an exclu­sive part of town and the other 3 days for land­scap­ing and plant­ing for his other clients and refer­rals. Charles says he never tires of his work because every­day, there is some­thing new to appre­ci­ate and, in his line of work, no two days are ever alike. “See­ing the new buds appear on a favorite shrub or tree,” he says, “and know­ing when you come back again in a few days time it will be in full bloom, that is a feel­ing that never gets old.”

He read­ily admits that over the years some of his plant­i­ngs have given him a lit­tle more grief than oth­ers in get­ting estab­lished, “but you need patience,” he said in his strong Irish brogue. “Patience is the one thing nature teaches you when work­ing with plant life – and say­ing a few Hail Mary’s, of course, doesn’t hurt either!”

Charles expe­ri­enced long ago the spir­i­tual bond that con­nects man and nature and this is what I meant when I said Charles is not “just” a gar­dener. He brings so much more to his work, and reaps the many rewards, too! As I left him that after­noon, I reminded myself to take heed of his good-natured advice. Her­man Hesse, the Ger­man author and poet said, “Patience is the hard­est thing in life to learn, but the most impor­tant.” I wanted to feel the same joy and won­der that Charles dis­played on see­ing the first del­phini­ums appear in the cool of Feb­ru­ary and our col­or­ful neigh­bor­ing ranun­cu­lus which remind us of the approach­ing spring in March.

I can’t wait to see the mag­no­lias in bloom!


Baby, It’s Warm Outside!

June 7th, 2013 by admin

We are all con­cerned about our water­ing habits this time of year, and so we should be (and real­iz­ing that sum­mer is just around the cor­ner with even higher water demands can cause us to worry before it even arrives), but as with all things in life, wor­ry­ing is not the solu­tion – action is!

Accord­ing to the Water Dis­trict of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia 70% of our house­hold water usage is for out­door land­scap­ing and pools. That sta­tis­tic is stag­ger­ing! With very lit­tle effort on our part we can make an astound­ing impact on our water usage, with­out feel­ing deprived or that we have to sac­ri­fice our beloved plants.

Most home­own­ers, unbe­knownst to them, usu­ally over­wa­ter! So, this is our start­ing point. Before the days over go and look at your sprin­kler sys­tem and deter­mine how much water is being used and when. Before we actu­ally start a land­scape project we check the water­ing sched­ule of the client (mainly to see if they have a pat­tern of over­wa­ter­ing) and help them to water cor­rectly, sav­ing them water and MONEY! If you feel inse­cure about under­stand­ing how the sys­tem is set up, ask your gar­dener. Many gar­den­ers are famil­iar with the sprin­kler boxes and can help you under­stand how many min­utes and how many days you have your sys­tem on. If he is unable to help, talk to your neigh­bor, you can help each other to save water and money while hav­ing a nice neigh­borly chat!

When you water is very impor­tant. You should water early in the morning when it is cooler and this allows the plants to “sit” in the mois­ture (which allows the water to really reach the roots of the plants) before the heat kicks in. Water­ing at 11:00 in the morn­ing is not advis­able, it’s far too late – once sum­mer comes around the soil is already warm so the water has less of an impact on your plants and usu­ally evap­o­rates before it even hits the tar­get! You don’t need to be water­ing every­day. Obvi­ously, if your gar­den has a great deal of sun to con­tend with, you will require more water than a shade (or fil­tered light) gar­den, but water­ing every­day is not nec­es­sary. Always mulch – it is a great way to retain mois­ture in the soil and keep weeds down at the same time.

These are such minor changes, but very, very effec­tive if we all “dig-in.”


June 7th, 2013 by admin



We Design and you Install — take the fear and expense out of your landscaping project!

June 7th, 2013 by admin

Bar­ris­ters Nurs­ery believes every­body deserves a beau­ti­ful garden.

Per­haps land­scap­ing your prop­erty was part of your plan this year, but you decided to wait because of the cost. So, we decided to come up with a plan where every­body wins — you, your gar­den and the econ­omy! We do the design, posi­tion the plants in your gar­den and you install — with your gardener’s help, of course!

Most home­own­ers are unsure of what plants will do well where and spend many years, and many more dol­lars, try­ing to fig­ure it out. We will work with you to cre­ate the gar­den you would love to have by choos­ing the appro­pri­ate plant­i­ngs for your setting.

What’s Your Style?

* Mediterranean

* English

* Water wise suc­cu­lents and Cal­i­forn­ian natives

* Cottage

This is how it works. For each plan we selected the right trees and plant-life that will thrive in your gar­den. We will take the guess­ing out of the plant­ing. No more plant­ing shade plants in the sun! All designs can be tai­lored to your gar­den style and plant selec­tion preference.

Each plan includes:

* 2 x 15 gal­lon trees, 30 x 5gallon con­tainer plants, 20 1gallon con­tainer plants and 8 bags of soil amend­ment.
* Avail­able to you at $3000.00.

Of course, we are not lim­ited to 4 design plans. If you have an estab­lished gar­den and wish to upgrade cer­tain areas, we can con­sult with you for an hourly fee to review your prop­erty and cus­tom design with com­ple­men­tary plant choices.

For more infor­ma­tion con­tact us at

Bar­ris­ters Nurs­ery
915 El Cen­tro Avenue
South Pasadena, Cal­i­for­nia 91030
Bar­ris­ters Nurs­ery & Gift Shop

Let’s Separate! I mean the agapanthus and daylilies, of course.

June 7th, 2013 by admin

If you have a lot of over­grown clumps of aga­pan­thus and daylilies in your gar­den this is a per­fect time to, not only dig them up and sep­a­rate them, but to use them to fill in any empty spots you have in the rest of the gar­den.
If you’ve never done it before, dig­ging up the clumps (of any­thing) that have been in the ground for a lengthy period of time requires a strong back and is phys­i­cally very demand­ing (ask your gar­dener for help) — don’t do this alone. Also get him to stick around to help you sep­a­rate them too.

Sep­a­rat­ing plants, par­tic­u­larly the above men­tioned, is really quite easy. After they have been dug up they will still have a fair amount of soil attached to them (let’s assume each clump has 10 plants to it). You can do one of two things or your gar­dener can, with you super­vis­ing. Many gar­den­ers don’t know how to sep­a­rate plants so you can guide him through the process after read­ing these instruc­tions.

Take the shovel and cut the clump into 4, just like cut­ting into a pie (12 to 6, 9 to 3) and cut off some of the soil still attached. You may have a lit­tle dam­age at the base of the plant but these plants are tuber­ous so it really doesn’t mat­ter very much. Remove any dead foliage and then plant them as is — if the foliage is droopy, cut them back leav­ing just a cou­ple of inches. Each plant­ing (4) should con­sist of 2 to 3 aga­pan­thus.

The sec­ond approach would be for you to use your hand shears to “loosen up” each plant to get 10 plants out of the clump. I would sug­gest, the first time around, use the shovel method as it will save you time and the plants will fill out sooner. Treat the day lilies the same way. Because lilies are much smaller than aga­pan­thus, I would just cut the clumps into 4. Don’t even bother sep­a­rat­ing them indi­vid­u­ally, it isn’t worth your time. Day lilies should always be cut back before plant­ing as they droop heav­ily once dug up.

As you know, there are a lot of vari­eties of aga­pan­thus and day lilies, some short some tall, so when you dig them all up make sure you remem­ber which are which and you plant them in the appro­pri­ate spots in the garden.

Let’s Get Acquainted — Meet the Coprosmas, one of the nicest plants you would wish to meet!

June 7th, 2013 by admin

This is a plant I cher­ish for many rea­sons and am always sur­prised how few peo­ple are famil­iar with this hand­some fam­ily of plants.

Native to New Zealand, copros­mas are right at home in this part of the world. The glossy leaves and vibrant col­ors (the vast major­ity are var­ie­gated which adds to the appeal of this plant) are stun­ning. We have sev­eral vari­eties in the nurs­ery and there is not a bad one amongst them. They do very well in shade and require very lit­tle main­te­nance — other than a lit­tle “shap­ing” through­out the year. Because their col­ors are so vibrant they are sim­ply indis­pens­able to a shade gar­den. Great con­tainer plants too!

Mar­ble Queen — glossy green leaf with creamy white tips — medium sized leaf — gets 3′ high and 2′ wide. Looks gor­geous next to dark greens and whites.

Beat­ons Gold — yel­low is the dom­i­nant color, with a tinge of green — very tiny leaf — this gets about 4′ high and 3′ wide — makes a smash­ing dis­play of color.

Pink Splen­dor — the leaf has 3 col­ors to it — pink/yellow/green — stun­ning! — medium sized leaf — looks best kept at 3′ high, 2′ wide.

Rain­bow Sur­prise — just the name con­jures up an array of col­ors — also has 3 col­ors in the leaf, pink/green/yellow, pink being the dom­i­nant color — small leaf — slightly pointed — looks best at 3′ high, 2′ wide.

Kiwi Gold — tiny, glossy leaf — yel­low being the dom­i­nant color with a splat­ter­ing of green — works well as a trail­ing plant — can get to 3′ high with cor­rect trim­ming — 2′ wide.
Cutie — strong green/brown leaf with tiny leaves — won­der­ful against whites — would work well as a low grow­ing hedge — keep 3′ high, 2′ wide.

Evening Glow — green tends to dom­i­nate leaf with pink and yel­low shap­ing the tips — keep 3′ high, spread 2′.

It is some­times dif­fi­cult for the home­owner to deter­mine just how accu­rate the label is on plant con­tain­ers. As accu­rate as it may be for the grower (if he is in San Diego or per­haps up north close to the water rather than inland) it is some­what dif­fer­ent for us in LA due to the hot sum­mers — that can linger right into Novem­ber! It is much hot­ter here than where these plants are actu­ally grown. The infor­ma­tion on the label is not to mis­lead you and it is gen­er­ally very use­ful, but you may encounter a dif­fer­ence in plant growth — how high and how wide a plant grows — once you have planted it in the ground. On the con­tainer labels of copros­mas, for exam­ple, most of the above men­tioned plants grow to be 4–5′. My advice is to keep them at 3′ (high) because they seem to flour­ish bet­ter than let­ting them get too tall.

But, when in doubt, just exper­i­ment! They may just reach their high­est poten­tial in your garden!

Don’t forget the Camellias!

June 7th, 2013 by admin

It’s easy to over­look prun­ing camel­lias in Jan­u­ary and Feb­ru­ary, when you’re out in the gar­den doing your yearly win­ter cleanup. As you know, camel­lias bloom in those months so obvi­ously nobody wants to trim them when they are in full bloom. Depend­ing on the type of weather we have been hav­ing and the vari­ety of plants you have, camel­lias are usu­ally over their bloom in March/April. So, make sure you make a nota­tion on your cal­en­dar — for end of March early April — and see what it is that you need to do to keep them healthy and happy.

The vast major­ity of camel­lias usu­ally look neglected, dense and woody. One rea­son for this is due to ‘for­get­ting’ to trim them after the bloom­ing sea­son. Another is, of course, believ­ing that they can flour­ish on lit­tle water to no water. This is not true, at least not until they are fully estab­lished (around the 3rd year) and then you can water by need. Camel­lias don’t like to be over­wa­tered but they also don’t like to be deprived of it either. Good drainage is absolutely essen­tial for the suc­cess of these plants. Unfor­tu­nately it is com­mon to see camel­lias planted in com­pacted soil and bone dry. Because you have the irri­ga­tion sys­tem on, you assume they are get­ting the required water, but if the soil is hard and com­pact any water you give them will just roll off the soil — the soil is so hard it is unable to pen­e­trate and nour­ish the plant.

Camel­lias are not plagued with many prob­lems, but they have a few — more often than not it is the home­owner that cre­ated them.

Poor drainage is the biggest prob­lem for these plants — so if you want them to thrive and be healthy, make sure you work the soil well before plant­ing and con­tinue over the year(s) to observe the con­di­tions they are liv­ing in. Plant the base of the plant slightly above ground to your soil level (like aza­leas) and do not cover the plant with soil. Use lots of organic mat­ter (peat moss/ground bark) when plant­ing and cover the base with lots of mulch to keep the roots cool. They are acid lov­ing plants so you need to fer­til­ize with acid plant food (don’t over feed) avail­able in all nurs­eries. If you expe­ri­ence heavy leaf drop or some burned leaf edges, it could be due to overfeeding.

Petal blight can be a prob­lem — but if you start off with healthy habits with camel­lias it is less likely you will encounter this prob­lem — the April prun­ing will be the first step in keep­ing it healthy. Petal blight is rel­a­tively easy to iden­tify as the flow­ers and the edges of the leaves turn an ugly brown rather quickly. Always bag the fallen flowers/leaves and remove any dis­eased flow­ers still on the plant and throw them into the trash. It is wise to remove any fallen flow­ers through­out the year as this the very thing that will encour­age the prob­lem — keep the area clean!

So, the rest is up to you. Her­mann Hesse said “if you love your roses, tend them.” Need I say more!