Posts in Plants
Climbing Eden Rose
Climbing Eden Rose In My Potager

Climbing Eden Rose In My Potager

It has taken me three years to cultivate a single bloom from my climbing Eden Rose. It is not easy to find Eden Rose in local nurseries. Search for this rose in pot and bareroot form for sale online. Heirloom Roses is one source for it in a pot.

I first planted my Eden Rose in too shady a spot where it struggled. Finally, this winter I transplanted it to my potager arch to co-mingle with my young Golden Dorsett apple trees. It is very happy now, and has exploded with happy blooms. Eden Rose is a versatile repeat bloomer with an unusual blend of pastel pinks, creams, and yellows. I simply love this rose, and it reminds me of Provence!

I saw and recognized Eden Rose while visiting the magnificent potager, Bastide des Saveurs, near the village of La Cadiere-D'Azur in the Bandol Region of Provence. Here is a link to my past post and visit with Chef René Bérard in May 2015.

Chef René Bérard told me this rose was called Pierre de Ronsard. In the back of my mind, I knew it had another name, and did some exploring. According to Wikipedia, Eden Rose, also known as Pierre de Ronsard was created by Marie-Louise Meilland in France by Meilland International in 1985, as part of the the Renaissance Collection.

Bastide des Saveurs is Chef René Bérard's potager and location for cooking classes. For a treat, visit his website for more information on his quaint family-owned hotel, restaurant, spa, and cookery school,  Bérard Hostellerie.


Provence Morning Light and Eden Rose in Chef Bérard's Potager

Provence Morning Light and Eden Rose in Chef Bérard's Potager

Climbing Eden Rose in My Potager

Climbing Eden Rose in My Potager

Miracle-Gro Garden Interview

Dirty hands are all in a day's work for Bonnie Jo Manion. That's because this avid garden writer, speaker and photographer knows first-hand that working the soil is what it takes to create beautiful things others can enjoy.

It is official, the Miracle-Gro Rose Parade website is up and running with news, announcements, and details on their upcoming float. Miracle-Gro is the Official Rose and Flower Care Company for the fourth year in a row for the Rose Parade, and this year is especially meaningful as their float will be "California Grown" certified. This means that 85% or more of the flowers and plant material will have been grown in California. Today 98% of the roses in the United States currently come from outside of the country. Miracle-Gro is the first major brand to take this hugely visible step to support California Flower Farmers, The California Cut Flower Association, and invite customers like myself to supply flowers and plant material for their float.

Last month the talented film crew for Miracle-Gro visited my garden for a garden interview and a first-hand look at what plant material I will be sharing from my garden for their float as one of the "Miracle-Groers."  In the video you can see the olive tree, lavender, and rosemary cuttings which will make the symbolic journey. 

Maybe I should explain what are "Miracle-Groers" and why they were selected. Four Southern California gardeners and two California flower farmers  were chosen to participate as "Miracle-Groers" and grow flowers and plant material from their gardens and farms that will be used on the float. Not only were "Miracle-Groers" selected on their ability to provide flowers and plant material, they have demonstrated a passion for sharing and inspiring gardening in their communities and beyond, and providing helpful tips and information for conserving water during the state-wide drought. We all are honored to be riding the Miracle-Gro CAGrown "2016 Farm to Float" together at the Rose Parade this coming New Year's Day. Meet the Miracle-Groers, with their interesting backgrounds and stories.


A Special Invitation
Interview & Photo Shoot in My Garden

Interview & Photo Shoot in My Garden



Recently, I received a special invitation. I am one of four California gardening connoisseurs selected and invited to join Scotts Miracle-Groer Team for this year's 2016 Tournament of Roses Parade and ride on their float on New Year's Day.

Scotts Miracle-Gro is a proud sponsor of the historic Tournament of Roses Parade for several years now. Their float this year promises to be particularly exciting as it embraces a "California Grown" theme, and is endorsed by the California Cut Flower Commission. This means that 85% or more of the flowers, seeds, and plant materials used in creating this float are grown in California. 

The float's theme of "California Grown" goes further by recognizing others who are important to gardening and growing in California. Two California flower farmers, Mel Resendiz of Resendiz Brothers Protea Growers out of San Diego County, and Harry and Michele Van Wingerden of Myriad Flowers out of Santa Barbara County, will be spotlighted and riding on the float.

Scotts Miracle-Gro recognizes the importance of California home gardeners. As one, I am very honored to be selected, and in a symbolic gesture I will be sharing and providing specific flowers and plant material from my garden for this special float.

We all know how important school gardens are to our children and the community. This is the second year that Scotts Miracle-Gro has supported the Pasadena School Garden Program headed up by Mud Baron, and he will be riding on the float. 

The icing on the cake, is the charismatic HGTV home design guru, Ty Pennington, celebrity spokesperson and part of the Miracle-Groer Team, also riding on the float New Year's Day.

Clipping Plant Material from My Garden

Clipping Plant Material from My Garden

On a recent blustery Tuesday morning, I had the good fortune of a visit from Scotts Miracle-Gro camera crew for a garden interview, glimpse of my garden, and look at some of the plant materials that will be I bringing to Pasadena for the float. 

I invite you all to start your New Year's Day 2016 watching the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Look for Scotts Miracle-Gro float with all of us proudly riding it, and reflect on all that this float represents--our magnificent flower farmers, our school garden programs, the millions of Californians who love to garden, how we care about our homes and gardens, and all of us who care about giving back.

This coming Tuesday, November 24, 2016 is Scotts Miracle-Gro "California Grown" Kick-Off at the John Muir Ranch Pasadena High School in Pasadena. This day will be full of activities, such as helping Ty Pennington make raised garden beds, helping distribute Thanksgiving produce baskets to the community, enjoying a delightful "Garden-to-Table" lunch, and a chance to meet the Scotts Miracle-Groer team in person.


"Field to Vase" Dinner Tour at Kendall Farms, Fallbrook
Farmgirl Flower Bouquets With Flower Fields As Backdrop

Farmgirl Flower Bouquets With Flower Fields As Backdrop

The setting at host family farm, Kendall Farms in Fallbrook, California, couldn't have been prettier for the "Field to Vase" dinner, second to the last of what has been a whirlwind 10-city dinner tour across the country promoting American-Grown flowers.  

Each dinner has been beautifully orchestrated and it is the ultimate in "al fresco" dining  featuring a four-course "farm to table" dinner, locally grown and made wines, and a special floral designer to highlight the host farm's flowers. Guests are encouraged to mingle with the host flower farmers, featured flower designer, and farm-to-table chef. Goodwill Flower Ambassadors, Kasey Cronquist of Certified American Grown, and Debra Prinzing, Founder of the SLOW FLOWERS movement are present to speak about the evening's event and carry the torch for the growing movement to support and buy American-Grown flowers from your local flower farmers.

Even the Tractor Was Dressed for the Occasion

Even the Tractor Was Dressed for the Occasion

I'm sure not many of the 144 guests who attended knew what was in store for them as they were guided on meandering dirt roads that twisted higher and higher and eventually came  to an open expansive area where the event was held. One continuous table was set in a half circle to take advantage of the postcard-perfect vista and the surrounding landscape of various flowers such as wax flower, sunflowers, myrtle, and silver dollar eucalyptus.

Jason Kendall gave the dinner group a brief history of the farm and tour before dinner commenced. Being a farmer is never easy, and there have been some setbacks such as the 2008 Rice Fire which burned a majority of the farm. What did they do, turned "lemons into lemonade" and the farm has comeback stronger and is thriving. Kendall Farms was Jason's father, Dave Kendall's dream, and the family has embraced his dream. Jason Kendall and his cousin, Troy Conner, are savvy flower farmers in what they grow, how they market, how they build their infrastructure. It was a joy to share this evening with them, and experience first-hand their fortitude, ingenuity, and beauty of their flowers.

Evening Glow Over the Table

Evening Glow Over the Table

Floral Designer for this event was Christina Stembel of Farmgirl Flowers. Chef was Richard Bustos of Heart of the House Catering for Appetizers, Salad, Entree, and Side. Robin McCoy of Robins Nest Desserts, made the Chocolate Torte accompanied with an infused Rosemary Ganache. Fallbrook Winery served their tasty local wines.

Chef Berard at La Bastide des Saveurs
Gracious Chef Réne Bérard

Gracious Chef Réne Bérard

In hot pursuit of cold rosé wines, my husband, John, and myself found ourselves in the fairytale region of southern Provence near the Bandol area. It is breathtakingly beautiful much, like the lower Rhône Valley with medieval hilltop villages and rugged rolling landscapes, with the blissful addition of the glistening Mediterranean in your sight.

We stayed in the hilltop village of La Cadiere-d'Azur, where some of the village's defense walls date back to the 13th Century still stand. By recommendation we stayed at the Hotel Bérard, a quaint family-owned and managed hotel that also boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant. In fact, father, René Bérard, and his son, Jean-François are the chefs.

In my research I noticed on their website, Bérard Hostellerie, there was a property in a garden setting, La Bastide des Saveurs, in which they offered cooking classes, sommelier food and wine pairings, and special events. I innocently asked if we could see the garden at La Bastide des Saveurs--thinking it was a grand vegetable garden. The tour was arranged and the next morning Chef Rene Berard personally met and escorted us the three kilometers to his property.

Yes, La Bastide des Saveurs was a grand vegetable garden or potager and so much more to my surprise and delight! It proved to be one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen, mixing herbs, flowers, and vegetables together. Typical of a potager is a focal point, pathways, and divided parts of garden planted in herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Arches of happy blooming roses billowed along the pathways. I saw one of my favorite climbing roses over and over in full glory, the lovely Pierre de Ronsard, or better known in the United States, as the climbing Eden rose.

Arches of Roses in His Potager

Arches of Roses in His Potager

Chef Berard was so gracious to detail and explain how he used these herbs and vegetables in his cooking. Chef Berard speaks a bit of english, and I speak a bit of french, but we were definitely speaking the common language of "cooking from the garden." On this beautiful morning, the light and landscape added dramatic drama to this incredible garden. I thought to myself, this must be one step away from heaven.

Staked Spiral Tomatoes

Staked Spiral Tomatoes

Chef Berard showed us how he plants many different varieties of tomatoes, and how he successfully stakes them individually, and anchors them with end poles. I must try and find this tomato pole for next year's growing season.

Provence Fountain, Olive Trees and Lavender

Provence Fountain, Olive Trees and Lavender

Everything was spectacular about this property, down to the Provencal fountain holding court amongst the olive trees, lavender, and iceberg roses. I highly recommend looking into cooking classes at La Bastide des Saveurs. Chef Berard will customize cooking classes for a group of six or more. You can find more detailed information at Hotel Berard.

Intrigue for the Rose "Intrigue"

I can't take credit for this incredible bouquet of roses. It was on our lunch table at the gorgeous Rose Story Farm Last spring I had the exciting opportunity to visit Rose Story Farm, a real-life rose farm in Carpenteria Valley just south of Santa Barbara, California. Rose Story Farm is a family owned and operated farm which grows 150 different rose varieties amongst 25,000 rose bushes. It has been on my radar since I first saw an article about it in Martha Stewart Living.

All of these roses are cultivated in soil, cut fresh, and flown all over the country for special events. As you can imagine the variety of roses grown at Rose Story Farm have to meet rigorous standards with very desirable rose characteristics. The mauve rose caught my eye in particular, and I learned it was the "Intrigue" rose. I love the color, and was looking for a great rose for my garden and worked my garden palette.

I was able to find the Intrigue rose and bought several for mass planting curb appeal in the front of my home. It is first of all, a truly striking rose which has small clusters of large, loose magenta blossoms on long stems. It blooms continuously from spring to fall. It is a large rose reaching 4-5 feet tall and 3 feet wide. It's dark plum-tinted foliage is an additional plus, and adds a pleasing color contrast to it's roses. It is  an AARS awarded winner. Here it is blooming to bloom for the first time in March in my garden.

  If you are a rose enthusiast, you must plan on taking a tour at Rose Story Farm. Try and visit the end of April, beginning of May, when the roses are at their height of bloom and beauty. Please share if you have visited Rose Story Farm. Please comment on your favorite garden rose.

Seed Sprouting Success

DSC_0894Chances are you have everything at your finger tips for creating perfect seed sprouting success. Sprouting seeds yourself is economical and expands your ability to grow many more varieties.

Materials Needed: 1) Saved plastic tubs with lids and with bottom holes for drainage. Fruit such as berries are often store-packaged in these containers. 2) Potting soil, or seed starting medium. 3) Desired seeds to sprout. 4) A handy chopstick, to make a hole or indention for your seeds. 5) Label gun to label your seeds started and the date. 6) Spray bottle with plain water to mist your seeds in soil medium. 7) Safe place with filtered sun exposure. 8) Time and patience.

I started my saved heirloom pumpkin seeds this way. I simply picked out my desired size plastic tub container. I filled each tub with moistened seed starting medium. I took a chopstick and made my number of desired holes in each tub for my seeds. I then filled each hole with a different heirloom pumpkin seed, and covered the seed over with soil. Once again, I misted each tub again. If you create a label and date for each tub containing seeds, you'll always know what you planted where and when. I keep the container lid closed, as it acts like a mini-greenhouse creating warmth and keeping in extra moisture for your seeds. This further helps germinate your seeds. I placed each tub in a filtered sun spot, in this case, in my potting shed. Every morning I opened the lid of the tub, and misted the seed starting medium, and closed the lid once more.

In about 8 days my pumpkin seeds had germinated and were too tall for me to close their lids. My pumpkin seedlings were now ready to be transplanted to shaped mounds in the ground. Since I started my seeds in my outdoor potting shed, they are already to be planted in the ground. If you had started seeds in your garage or an indoor environment, you might have to include the step of hardening off, or gradually acclimating your delicate seedlings to the outdoors for small periods of time before actually planting them in the ground.

Here is a fun link for more information on starting seeds, Seed Starting For Real People by Kelly Roberson. She suggests starting seeds in an empty egg carton, as an alternative to plastic containers. Roberson also includes a handy chart for Best and Worst Seeds to Sow Indoors and Outdoors. Thanks Kelly for sharing.

Please comment if you have a favorite method for seed starting success. Please share your favorite seeds to start yourself.

Viva Verbena!

DSC_0460My new favorite perennial plant is Verbena bonariensis, also known as Purpletop Vervain. I planted it in mass on one side of my courtyard next to my olive trees and white iceberg roses, and I have really been enjoying it. It is very low maintenance with high "plant appeal."

It is native to South American and has naturalized in California. It does best in USDA Zones 6-10, prefers sun, and little water. It is a tall structural plant, 4'-6' high and at least 2' wide at maturity. Yet it has this airy quality which brings lightness and motion to a garden setting rather than density. It has clusters of captivating lavender-hued flowers that bloom prolifically from summer to fall. It is an incredible magnet for butterflies and delightful birds such as hummingbirds and goldfinch as an added bonus. Verbena bonariensis can reseed easily and aggressively, so be careful where you plant it.


There is even a dwarf version called Verbena bonariensis 'Little One' which reaches 18-24" high by 12-18"wide in size. A good source for both of these Verbenas is Cedros Gardens, (tel) (858) 792-8640, in the heart of Solana Beach's Cedros Design District.

Here are some tips for using Verbena bonairensis in your garden. Plant it in mass like I did, either as a background or in a foreground as it has such a nice "see-through" quality. It pairs well planted among roses, as mentioned in Carolyn Parker's everything rose blog, Rose Notes. Since it takes hot and dry conditions very well, think about planting it in your driest garden spots. I planted Verbena bonariensis "Little One' directly in my pea gravel around my water fountain. It looks like a cheery volunteer, yet adds interest and a dab of color. Or plant it in a dry spot along a flagstone pathway for a little bit of a surprise element for those walking by.

Please share if you have Verbena bonariensis in your garden. Please comment on how you have it planted and styled in your garden.