Posts in Trees
Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread
Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread, Perfect for a  Gift

Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread, Perfect for a  Gift


If you are lucky to have a kumquat tree, you must have this recipe, Kumquat-Cardamon Tea Bread from Bon Appétit November 2005. The secret ingredient is 2 cups of kumquat puree and maybe another secret ingredient, crushed pineapple in its own juice. Wow! Such a moist and delicious tea bread. This recipe makes 2 large loaves, or several mini gift loaves. Topping each tea bread with a citrus glaze and slices of kumquat makes this a beautiful presentation! Enjoy!

Kumquats are very versatile and can be used in meat sauces, salads, and sweets. Kumquats can easily jump between sweet and savory, and beckons you to use your imagination. 

Kumquat Trees Can Be Grown in a Container

Kumquat Trees Can Be Grown in a Container


Digging into my archives here is my post on Knock-Out Kumquats, from November 2008, for more information about growing kumquats in your garden. Do you have a kumquat in your garden?



How To Espalier An Apple Tree

DSC_0956 Espaliered fruit trees are an art form which are fun and add a special touch to your garden. Espaliered fruit trees have many great characteristics: 1) they can take up less space then normal, 2) by virtue of their design they allow more sun and air to circulate promoting better fruit production, and 3) harvest is generally easier due to their size and design. For more detailed information click on my previous post, The Art of Espalier Fruit Trees. For centuries, the art of espalier fruit trees has been very popular. As space continues to be a premium, I see more espalier trees in garden designs in this country.

The photo above is an espalier Fuji fruit tree which I have had for many years. It makes a nice fence along the side of my chicken coop. This winter I purchased a bare root 'Ein Shemer' apple variety, which is a great low chill variety for Southern California and a good pollenizer for 'Anna' and 'Dorsett Golden' apple trees which I also grow. I wanted to repeat the low espalier fence along my chicken coop. Apple trees are one of the easiest fruit trees to espalier. Buying fruit trees as bare root is a great time of year to begin your espalier design.


Steps to Create a Simple Espalier Apple Tree:

1) Find a bare root tree that has a nice defined straight trunk with lateral branches coming off of it or numerous buds swelling on the trunk.

2) If you are lucky to find a tree that has lateral branches started where you want them, carefully trim off the rest of the lateral branches. Secure your lateral branches with a bamboo pole and garden tape or other structured sturdy material. Young espalier trees will need some type of espalier support until the trees mature and can hold their design.

3) Next trim off the top of your trunk to 8-12 inches above your lateral branches you are keeping. Make sure there are buds on the tree trunk below your cut. Buds grow into potential lateral branches, and eventually cordon arms.

4) The art of espaliered fruit trees is all about directing the energy and growth of your fruit tree for your desired design and form. The lateral branches you have left will bud and grow on the ends. This will create your first set cordon arms for your design. Once you have gotten the length of your desired cordon, usually 6-7 feet in width for an apple tree, then you can let the buds on your trunk grow upward until the tree trunk reaches another desired spot for a second set of lateral cordons. You can even try for a third cordon over time if you like.

5) As you apple tree continues to grow, pinch and trim your apple tree to keep creating your first set of lateral cordon arms, and second set.

6) It is as easy as that. Be sure and water deeply once a week your apple tree. As your apple tree matures, you can easily prune and shape your tree in the winter when it is dormant, and again in the summer, as long as you are careful not to prune the fruit spurs.

Please share if you have tried to espalier a fruit tree.

Podocarpus Icee Blue

Podocarpus Icee Blue I am in the throes of landscaping my back garden this spring. One of my favorite new additions is the Podocarpus Icee Blue or also called Icee Blue Yellow-Wood, Podocarpus elongates "Monmal'. I love not only the striking blue-gray foliage, but the upright columnar form which is so distinct. I first saw this Podocarpus Icee Blue in a private garden in Oakland, California on a garden tour. Wow, it knocked my socks off. Notice how beautiful the blue-gray foliage looks against the brown color stucco of the house.

This is a slow growing conifer with fabulous upright structure. It thrives in USDA Zones 9-11, in partial to full sun. It likes regular watering, and more in extreme heat. The Podocarpus Icee Blue is slow growing to 15-25 feet, and 15-25 wide if you don't prune it. I find the Podocarpus Icee Blue readily available in local nurseries.


I have tall house edges I want to soften and necessary drain spouts that I want to hide. I wanted an upright tree that looked dynamite. Since it is so close to my house, I am planting these trees with root barrier material, as a precautionary measure, so I don't have to worry about the roots affecting my building foundation. I'm planting these trees against my white stucco home, which has a wine-colored trim appropriately called "Wild Raisin." I know the color combination is perfect for my home and garden setting.

The homeowner in Oakland planted her two Podocarpus Icee Blue in a container, as an option.


Please share if you have a special tree in your garden that you particularly enjoy. Please share if you have a Podocarpus Icee Blue in your garden.

Beautiful Blood Orange

DSC_0660 A few years ago I planted a Moro Blood Orange tree, after making this gorgeous Blood Orange Upside Down Cake adapted from the March 2010 issue Bon Appetit. This recipe is simple to make, and calls for creating it in a skillet. Packed with flavor but not overly sweet, it is a perfect way to end a special meal this time of year.

From this recipe, I knew I needed to have fresh blood oranges from my garden every year. Besides the Moro Blood Orange there are two other blood orange varieties available, Sanguinelli and Tarocco.

For those of you in warm sunny climates that can grow citrus, citrus is ripe and readily available this time of year. Lush citrus, especially the blood orange, can awaken your senses and create instant festivity. Grapefruit, lemons, kumquats, and oranges to name a few citrus types can add surprise and zest appeal to many types of dishes and drinks.


Look how fabulous the Moro Blood Orange is as a juice, or perhaps a ruby garnish. What a great way to make winter vanish in a heartbeat. Blood oranges remind me too of this special time year--Mardi Gras Carnival with all of the hoopla and joyous celebration.

IMG_5298 Recently, my husband John, and I had the opportunity to experience first hand the fun and excitement surrounding the celebration of the evening Carnival Parade in the streets of downtown Oranjestad, Aruba in the Dutch Carribean.

Magnolia "Little Gem" Tree

One of my favorite trees is the evergreen Magnolia grandiflora Little Gem. I love it's shiny green and brown foliage as much as it's magnificent white 5-6" blossoms. It is perfection. This bee was so happy, I could of sworn it was dancing.

The Magnolia Little Gem is a dwarf Southern Magnolia with dark green foliage and a compact upright form suitable for smaller gardens and planting areas. It can reach 20 to 25' high and 10-15' wide. These magnolia's can be espaliered and coaxed into shapes. I have two Magnolia Little Gems fan-espaliered in my front flower beds against white stucco walls, and one stand-alone growing upright with the beginnings of an arch welcoming those entering my driveway.

Magnolia Little Gem, likes full sun, moderate water, and are optimally grown in zones 7-9. Not all magnolias are evergreen, but this variety is. It is a heavy bloomer, blooming from early spring through late summer with it's magnificent billowy pure white flowers. Once the flower is spent, each flower pod continues to dry intact, adding further interest and character. These trees are relatively disease and pest resistant. A Magnolia Little Gem can be grown successfully in a container, and placed on a sunny patio or deck.

I like to decorate around the holidays with boughs of magnolia branches on front doors, holiday tables, across fireplace mantles, and along railings. It's deep green glossy leaves, paired with a rust-brown under side, bordering on copper is is a natural and eye-catching style for the holidays.

Please share if you have a Magnolia Little Gem in your garden.

Flashy Flannel Bush

A friend of mine gave me a cutting of what I know now is Fremontodendron, Fremontia, or Flannel Bush. I planted it in a corner of my garden against my brown woodland stucco wall, and basically forgotten about it until now. However, this spring-blooming evergreen shrub with its brilliant yellow starfish-shaped flowers, won't allow this plant to be a wallflower anymore.

The Flannel Bush is a native shrub to California and some parts of Arizona, within optimum Zones 4-24. It is a shrub, but can be shaped into a small tree by pruning its lower branches. It is a fast-growing plant, which can reach up to 20' tall and 12' wide. It naturally has an irregular shape, so it benefits by pinching young growth to encourage new branching and shaping by pruning unruly long shoots.

The Flannel Bush likes full sun, and no additional water. It thrives with the average annual rainfall it receives in its native habitat. It is extremely drought tolerant. It has shallow roots, which means young plants may need to be staked. It can be a short lived shrub, and some fellow gardeners consider it a bit finicky to grow. It is a low maintenance shrub.

If you have yellow in your garden color palette, or need a spark of yellow at times in your garden, you might want to plant a Flannel Bush. Plant it, leave it be, and wait for its wonderful spring awakening with its dark green foliage and rich lemon yellow flowers. This is what is blooming in my garden right now.

Please share if you have a Flannel Bush in your garden. Please comment on your experience growing a Flannel Bush.

VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme...

Attention Chicken Lovers! Spruce up your chicken coop for VintageGardenGal's Annual Chicken Coop Photo Contest. Send in your photos this coming May!

Encinitas Garden Festival is Saturday, April 30, 2011. For more detailed information and tickets, please visit Encinitas Garden Festival.



Lavender Twist Redbud Tree

Lavender Twist Redbud Tree in Spring Time Look at this beauty. Last fall I purchased this redbud tree, grown by Monrovia at a local nursery sale. I had a perfect spot for it in my garden, close to a guest bedroom window. A quiet garden spot where it can take center stage. Now, in early spring it is coming to life and blooming in weeping branches of pink showy flowers.

It's official name is Cercis canadensis "Covey." It is a smaller deciduous evergreen species which reaches 6' tall and 6-8' wide. It has an enticing weeping branch structure which slightly twist, adding more to it's drama. A spring burst of lavender pink blooms follows the outline of its branches.

The Lavender Twist Redbud tree is hardy in zones 7-9. It likes full sun, and moderate regular water. Once its spring fashion show ebbs, deep green heart-shaped leaves emerge. Select pruning should be done after it blooms.

The Lavender Twist Redbud is a North American native. Besides the attraction of this tree's appearance, it is also used in landscapes for fire-scaping purposes. There are many varieties of redbud trees, which cover a multiple of zones, for those of you not in zones 7-9. This is a great tree to have in your garden for four season interest.

Please share if you have a redbud tree in your garden. Please comment on what you like about your redbud tree.


VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme...

Attention Chicken Lovers! Spruce up your chicken coop for VintageGardenGal's Annual Chicken Coop Photo Contest. Send in your photos this coming May!


  The Encinitas Garden Festival is Saturday, April 30, 2011. For more information, go to Encintas Garden Festival.

Follow That Inspiration

Magnolia Blossom Inspires I was able to landscape in front of our home quickly, simply because I was inspired by a perfect $10.00, five gallon "Little Gem" magnolia tree. I have always loved magnolia trees. When I saw this "Little Gem" magnolia tree, I thought  I could create something different and focal using espaliered magnolia trees. From this one special tree, I drew inspiration for a color scheme, complementary plants, and garden style.

When inspiration strikes you, act on it quickly. You can get inspiration from just about anything and anywhere. It can be an object, a color, a setting, a single tree, or even a beautiful phrase of words. You just need to be open to it.

"Little Gem" magnolia trees have beautiful green leaves on their top side and a distinct brown-bronze color on their underside. inspiration, chocolate or bronze color, wtih a smidge of blue-purple color, and a hint of deep wine-cranberry pink color. From this palette, I looked for plants that had these colors, that were low to medium height, drought tolerant once established, and were basically in the Mediterranean style. The following is a list of plants I used in my design.

Chocolate Color Plants Magnolia Tree "Little Gem" New Zealand Flax, Platt's Black Summer Chocolate Mimosa Tree Bugleweed Bronze Ajuga Reptans Red Fountain Grass Red Hook Sedge Pittosporum Harley Botanica (Bronze Structure)

Blue-Purple Flowering Plants Rosemary Tuscan Blue Rosemary Huntington Carpet Duranta Sweet Memory Nemesia "Blue Lagoon" Bugleweed Bronze Ajuga Reptans (Blue Flower Spikes) Ceanothus Concha

Pink Flowering Plants Redbud Tree Lavender Twist Muhly Grass Mallow Barley Boysenberry

I might have waited until spring to landscape in front of our home, but inspiration hit, sparking this planting. The fall season is perfect for planting, and establishing plants over the rainy winter. Most of these plants were on sale which was an added bonus.

Resources: Armstrong Garden. Evergreen Nursery, and Home Depot.

Please share if you have been struck by an inspiration that prompted something new in your garden. Please comment on some of your garden inspirations.

VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme... From Our Coop to Yours, Happy Thanksgiving!