Category Archives: The Very Best of…

A Taos, New Mexico holiday dinner all from the Garden to the Table.

Now that Thanksgiving is over the holiday rush is in full gear. If you find yourself having some friends and family over for some good food and cheer remember your yard may hold the key to a last minute table arrangement. Here in the cozy home of my friends in Taos, New Mexico I scoured their frozen withered vegetable and herb garden for textures, fragrances and colors to bring indoors. For this table palette I harvested rosemary, dried yarrow flowers, balsam cuttings, sage, artemesia, jalapeno peppers, juniper, dried echinacea and a few lemons and limes harvested from the refrigerator. The juniper, balsam, rosemary and sage created a nice blend of fragrances along with traditional holiday candles and boughs. Remember, no matter where you live or what time of year it is, you can harvest from the yard, without spending a dime on table arrangements. Happy Holidays and I’ll be seeing you around the garden! :)

Photo credit: Mike Brown

Mushrooms are fungi that are a necessary part of garden and forest decomposition…

The next time you see mushrooms in your garden remember they play a vital role in the decomposition of organic matter. You will generally see them in the early morning hours, especially after a rain. They are responsible for breaking down rotting logs, twigs, stems and leaf litter. They are not seen in a hot compost as they work slower in woody tissue breakdown and are different from bacteria which are responsible for the breakdown of kitchen scraps and garden greens in the presence of oxygen and moisture – which becomes a hot compost. Mushroom spores are carried by the wind and often settle into the nooks and crannies of logs, limbs and leaf litter and remain dormant until conditions are just right to begin their role in decomposition.

Photo credit: Mike Brown

A Tribute to the ‘Musquee de Provence pumpkin’, also known as the Cinderella pumpkin!

This ‘Curcubita maxima’ seems comfortable nestled in this over flowing pot of Scoth moss draped in a swag of garnet colored Chrysanthemums I placed in the garden today. The ‘Musquee de Provence’ pumpkin originates from the south of France and is one of the most highly prized pumpkins by Chefs around the globe. Its orange, sweet and fleshly pulp makes the best of pies! It matures in approximately 110 days and its 25 to 30 pound weight makes it manageable in the garden. As with all pumpkins, it is wise to give it plenty of real estate so it can stretch out its long lanky vines. It is also called the Cinderella pumpkin from the shape of the fairytale carriage that wisked Cinderella away just seconds before midnight. Happy fall harvesting and I’ll see you around the garden. :)

Photo credit: Mike Brown

The wonderful world of color…

The Center Circle Garden at Descanso Gardens where red poppies, blue echium, purple armeria, gold poppies,  purple stock, white and maroone foxglove soaked up the early sun this morning. This garden design was installed back in February and I was unsure of the mixture of all the color choices together on the palate. I reminded myself that Claude Monet painted with every color within his reach to create his masterpiece gardens on canvas. Come out and see for yourself and I hope to see you around the garden.  :)

Photo credit: Mike Brown

Photo credit:  Mike Brown

Remember to leave the leaves on your daffodils after they bloom. The leaves will continue to photosynthesize and harness energy well beyond the blooming and be stored as energy for next years blooming. Let them die back on the plant and cut them off only when they are brown.


Each year after a bloom cycle, Daffodils will multiply and eventually colonize where they are planted. They look terrific planted in mass groupings where they look naturalized. They will do great in partial shade to full sun and can be seen coming up late in the winter for an early spring bloom. There are hundreds of species of Daffodils and Jonquils and numerous shades of yellows, white, cream and tinges of pink. They can be thinned out about every four to five years and scattered over a  larger area for an even more stunning spring showing.

Photo credit:  Mike Brown

For a great Daffodil bloom show be sure to check out Descanso Gardens….but hurry, some daffodils are peaking already.

Visit for more information on other events and spring blooming events.

Everything’s coming up daffodils and mushrooms…

With all the recent rains it’s no wonder the daffodils and mushrooms are cropping up all over the garden. And with the warm weather expected over the weekend, be sure to keep your eyes on the cherry, plum and apple trees, today I noticed the buds were looking rather plump. Have a spendid weekend and I will be back with more updates on Monday.  See you around the garden…………… :)

Photo credit: Mike brown

Today at the garden a heavy frost dusted the bedding plants…

I knew my morning drive to work today would hold a surprise for me as the mountains once again were lightly dusted with snow…….like a layer of confections sugar against a blue blue sky. The bedding plants of Linaria, Primrose, Viola and Scabiosa awaited for me in the promenade at Descanso Gardens for my daily inquistion.  I knew when I saw the carpet of white grass that I might have a  problem and approached the beds with some hesitation. There they stood encased in crystals of ice to which I doubted if they would ever recover. But as the sun warmed the cold ground they proved resilient and steadfast. But nevertheless, the Primrose (pictured below) looked quite spectacular with a frosting of ice as did the leaves of the Anenomes (pictured at the right).

Photo credit: Mike Brown

Be sure to visit Descanso Gardens at 1418 Descanso Drive in La Canada Flintridge. For events and lectures also check out their website at

An early morning sunrise basks the dormant cordon of Crabapples at Descanso Gardens…

You can’t help but notice the cordon of crabapples as you enter Descanso Gardens.  Even in their state of dormancy they are quite striking. A cordon is a technique in which, in this case, crabapples are planted into the ground at an angle and opposing trees are planted in the opposite direction to create this intricate lattice effect. Imagine now when spring arrives and it is covered in pink blossoms! Paper whites are currently in bloom in the beds below them. An added bonus; when the cordon is in bloom the Magnolia lawn behind them creates a dramatic backdrop when the Cherry trees are in bloom too. Stay tuned and don’t miss these spring surprises.