Happy Wanderer – Vine Lilac

The Happy Wanderer Vine Lilac or Hardenbergia violacea is making quite a show of itself, blooming in the nursery right now. It is a beautiful, climbing vine with some winning attributes; it is drought tolerant, winter blooming and evergreen, to name a few.

It’s the cascade of purple blooms brightening the garden in late winter and early spring that makes this vine stand out most. Few other plants are blooming at this time and this one looks fabulous!

An Australian native, growing to about 10′ Happy Wanderer Vine Lilac can handle both sun and bright shade. It is hardy to about 20 degrees and at 10 ft. it won’t get out of hand.  It is perfect for climbing up a small structure such as an obelisk, or tumbling out of a large container. It has been successfully grown over a small arbor as well. It can also be used as a bank cover by pinning the branches down. Did we mention it’s evergreen? What’s not to like about this beauty?

Available in a variety of sizes. Plant and enjoy now, then cut back after bloom to prevent tangling.

Dormant Spray for Fungus Control

February into Spring (About Valentines)
The timing of the dormant spray  spring sprayings for various fruit trees can be crucial and focuses on fungus control.

Leaf curl on nectarines and peaches is controlled with an application of  Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide when flower buds swell but before they show any color.

To control brown rot and shot hole fungus on stone fruits, spray Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide when the buds crack and show color, then again 2 weeks later.

For control of fire blight in apples and pears, (if your trees have a history of fire blight,) Spray with Bonide Liquid Copper Fungicide every 5 days during the bloom cycle.

Additional spring spraying will minimize wormy apples & pears. To properly time these sprayings, hang Codling Moth Traps in one of your fruit trees just before blossom time. When codling moths first appear (usually when about 3/4 of the flower petals have fallen from the tree), wait one week and spray with GardenTech Sevin once, and then spray weekly with Captain Jack’s Spinosad mixed with Bonide All season Spray Oil for 2-3 weeks.

Replace traps monthly and repeat spray regime after additional generations of moths are trapped.


Plant for Now & Later

Plant a bumper crop of winter veggies now and start seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers and other summer veggies.

This week is special in that we enter the window of time for starting tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables for setting out into the garden later.  You can also set out starter plants for a second, bumper crop of cool season crops.

Peas, broccoli, onions, and cauliflower set out now can squeeze in a productive run before temperatures rise in June.  Cool season crops, such as these are often planted in September and October for harvest now, but planting now allows you to work in a crop for later spring harvest. This can even out your garden harvest before summer veggies begin to fruit.

Snap peas are great for a quick, sweet snack.  Plant a couple for snacking or plant a 10′ row for meal-size harvests.

Cauliflower comes in hues including orange and white, Broccoli is in stock in green and chartreuse; try something new!

Summer Vegetable Seed Starting

Now is the time to start seeds indoors for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. wee have seeds, seedling trays, seed starting mix, and heat mats to get you going.

Here is an example of the highly informative Botanical Interests Seed packet:

Hungarian Yellow Wax Pepper – Capsicum annuum
Organic HEIRLOOM Seeds 

75 days from transplanting. Developed in Hungary, this early-maturing pepper has a waxy texture that resembles beeswax. Wax peppers are actually orange-red when ripe but are usually picked while still yellow. Great used fresh in salads, pickled, fried, canned, or roasted. 4,500–5,000 Scoville heat units (medium hot).

This packet sows up to 24 plants when started indoors.

When to sow outside: For mild climates only: 2 to 4 weeks after average last frost, when soil temperature is at least 70°F [Warm enough for Sun Bathing].

When to start inside: RECOMMENDED. 8 to 10 weeks before transplanting. Ideal soil temperature for germination is 70°‒90°F. Transplant seedlings outside 2 to 4 weeks after average last frost, and when daytime temperatures are at least 70°F, and nighttime temperatures are at least 55°F. Mild Climates: Also sow in late summer for fall/winter crop.

Harvesting: Harvest when 3″–5″ long or longer and when peppers are yellow or orange-red. Even though Hungarian yellows are usually harvested yellow, they will ripen to orange-red if left on the vine. When harvesting, take care to avoid touching the interior of any broken peppers, as the capsaicin is an extreme irritant, especially to the eyes. Wash hands thoroughly after harvesting, or wear gloves to harvest peppers.

Artist: Pat Fostvedt





Sweet Winter Daphne – A Fragrant Winter Bloomer

Daphne odora or Sweet Winter Daphne is a prize in the winter landscape.  It’s the sweetest smelling plant you will find in the garden this month. Fragrant and also nice looking; forming a shrub to about 3′ high, it requires bright shade and excellent drainage. (We suggest a container with orchid bark mixed into the potting soil to improve drainage.)

Daphne comes in a few different forms, but the Daphne odora, “Aureo-marginata” is our favorite. Its leaves are delicately edged in cream. The leaves do a nice job of framing the dark pink buds. I suppose it would make a nice boutonniere or nosegay.

Daphne needs perfect drainage, but it should not go dry. This may seem an impossible combination… let’s just say it needs both air and water. Experienced gardeners say it’s not as finicky as gardenias.One plant was observed suffering when it transitioned from hand watering “as needed” to automatic sprinklers that water all the time whether needed or not.  It’s better to water by hand.

daphne1Daphne is definitely worth a try. Come smell for yourself.  It’s blooming along our entry path now.

Tips for Pruning Roses

obj6306geo2742pg239p7[1]The suggested time for pruning roses is January in Northern California. Even though your roses may still be leafy, budded or blooming it is time to force them to rest. Pruning them back now, removing every single leaf and dormant spraying with copper will provide a healthy beginning for the coming season.

If you missed our rose pruning classes, here are some tips:

What You’ll Need:

  • Body armor – safety or prescription glasses, a hat, and a long-sleeved sweatshirt will go a long way insulating you from thorny branches; a good pair of leather gloves (the new gauntlet types do a good job of protecting your forearms);
  • Pruning shears – sharp hand shears along with a long-handled lopper and a pruning saw are helpful for hard to reach or extra large wood;
  • Pruning seal – black asphalt or new latex types (sealing cuts prevents the cane borer insect from invading and killing stems);
  • Copper dormant spray like Monterey Liqui-Cop to control over-wintering diseases.

For specific variety and form (bush, miniature, tree & shrub) pruning tips, come in and one our rose experts will the happy to help. In the mean time here are some pruning basics. For the most part, roses produce flowers on current season growth. Therefore, the more new growth you have the more bloom potential you’ll enjoy. Pruning is one way of stimulating new growth.

If your bush form roses have grown sky high lop off the top one-quarter to one-third of the plant so you can more easily and safely do the ‘fine pruning’. For bush and tree forms you always want to maintain evenly spaced canes (stems) around the outside of the plant. The number of canes that you leave depends on the vigor of the plant. Three to seven is the rule in the case of bush roses. Tree roses rarely sprout new canes as they age so encourage and maintain those well-spaced branches. The final height of the canes depends on the variety and vigor of the plant.

We have gotten away from pruning roses to within an inch of their life (6-12 inches). The general rule is to prune back by at least 1/3rd, and no more than 1/2. Leaving the canes a bit longer provides the plant with extra energy for the coming season’s performance. Prune to an outside bud (where a leaf was). This will ensure that the next branch will grow in an outward direction. On both tree and bush roses remove all twigs and stems that are growing into the center of the plant. The extra sunlight will warm the bud union (the central base of the plant from which the rose variety that you have selected has been budded onto the rose rootstock). This encourages more young stems to grow that will be eventually selected to replace the older canes. The extra sunlight also stimulates increased flower production.

Always remove any stems coming from below the bud union. These suckers are vigorous and can over-grow the desirable rose. If your white or pink rose is producing small red flowers it has been taken over by the rootstock rose.

Maintain a nice compliment of permanent climbing rose canes that you will arch against the fence, wall or train over an arbor. The stems that grow off these permanent canes are pruned back to four buds. The resulting new growth will produce a mass of flowers. There are always exceptions to the rule so touch base with our rose experts for just the right pruning guidance.


Dahlia Bulbs Are Now In!

Spring bulbs have arrived; these include bulbs for most of the summer blooming flowers such as gladiolus and dahlias.

Dahlias are beautiful because they are bright and often very large and have the added benefit of attracting pollinators. They also have one of the longest blooming seasons and is an ideal cut flower because it is so long lasting. This beautiful sun-loving perennial bloomer is the official flower of the City of Seattle and also the national flower of Mexico. We offer Dahlias in a wide variety of heights and forms to suit any garden or landscaping theme.

Large dahlias should be spaced 3 to 4 feet apart; smaller dahlias should be spaced 2 feet apart. Plant dahlias in a full to morning sun spot with soil that drains well. Select them now and plant them as the soil begins to warm in spring (store in a cool spot).

Dig a big hole, 8-10″ deep and improve the soil with a generous amount of Gold Rush soil amendment. Add Master Nursery Bone Meal and mix in the bottom of the hole and plant the bulb (actually a tuber) on their side 4″ deep. Nurture them with water and an additional feeding of Rose & Flower Food as the buds form in summer and monthly through September. Watch for a spectacular summer display that will continue right into fall.

Water in and then only water when you see leaves emerge. Dahlias then appreciate moderate water, which should look like a nice thorough soaking 2 to 3 times a week after the weather warms.

For best appearance and to keep the blooms coming, snip off the faded blossoms.

In fall, many gardeners dig up their dahlia tubers to store in a cool, dry spot for winter. We are in a mild winter region, so ours planted here at the nursery bloom year after year without lifting and storing.

Lily of the Valley – Ideal Plants for Attracting Fairies

Tiny, Bell-Shaped Flower Clusters of “Lily of the Valley” are in great demand. The “pips”, like bulbs, are baby root sections of this fragrant favorite grow so well, they often bloom before they are planted.

Give Lily of the Valley pips water and provide some warmth and light and these cuties will sprout and bloom within just 3 or 4 short weeks.

Enjoy their fragrant bloom again year after year. Plant out in the yard, and watch them multiply before they bloom in greater numbers next spring!

These often come into the nursery and are sold out before some gardeners even have a chance to buy one.

Lily of the Valley grows best in woodland conditions; same as fairies: fertile, humus-rich, moist soil and partial to full shade.  Come in for yours soon.

acid-planting-mixBe careful when situating this plant – though it may take a while to get started, this plant will spread rapidly, forming a dense, weed-smothering groundcover.

Lily of the Valley greatly benefits from a yearly mulching of acid planting mix.





January Pruning

What to Prune When

pruning[1]We have officially entered pruning season. Most leafless plants are fair game for pruning right now…exception: Plants like ornamental flowering cherries and plums lilac, hydrangeas that bloom once a year and are leafless now should only be pruned just after they bloom…(otherwise you will be cutting off next spring’s blooms). Most other plants, including roses, fruit trees, Japanese maples and shade trees can be pruned in December and January. Say “can” be pruned as opposed to “must ” be pruned because many plants are fine with little or no pruning. Take advantage of our upcoming free pruning classes, listed below.

Upcoming Pruning Classes

Learn the basics to shape deciduous trees and shrubs, prune fruit trees properly, or get any of your own pruning questions answered. Call 925 447-0280 to register for classes.

Saturday, January 14th for our ever popular ROSE CARE & PRUNING SEMINAR led by the Mt. Diablo Rose Society from 10 – 11:00 a.m. – Seminar will cover proper pruning techniques, feeding, and general care or roses.

Saturday, January 21st from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. ROSE CARE & PRUNING SEMINAR – by Gerry, Alden Lane staff member. – This seminar will cover proper pruning techniques, feeding, and general care or roses.

Saturday, January 21st from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. GRAPE PRUNING with expert, Jim Ryan.

Saturday, January 28th from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the last PRUNING BASICS CLASS. Learn the basics to shape deciduous trees and shrubs, prune fruit trees properly, or get any of your own pruning questions answered.

Saturday, February 4th from 1-2 pm. Get Your Maples Ready For Spring!
Join Japanese Maple expert, Barry Hoffer – He will discuss proper pruning, in-ground and container planting along with root pruning.  There’s something for everyone. Call to reserve your spot in this informational class. Call 925 447-0280

How to Prune Fruit Trees and Roses and More

martinpbookOur favorite reference book for pruning is, “How to Prune Fruit Trees” by Robert Sanford Martin.

It is a great little book packed a wealth of information covering virtually every type of fruit tree and fruiting vine that home gardeners will encounter. It explains how each type of tree produces fruit and what pruning is required to help, not hinder fruit production.

Every fruit tree owner should have a copy. The book also covers grapes, berries, and roses. We have several copies of this book in stock.

Speaking of Pruning;

Pruning Demonstrations – Alden Lane Nursery

Join us on Saturday, January 14th for our ever popular ROSE CARE & PRUNING SEMINAR led by the Mt. Diablo Rose Society from 10 – 11:00 a.m. – Seminar will cover proper pruning techniques, feeding, and general care or roses.

Saturday, January 21st from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m. ROSE CARE & PRUNING SEMINAR – by Gerry, Alden Lane staff member. – This seminar will cover proper pruning techniques, feeding, and general care or roses.

Saturday, January 21st from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. GRAPE PRUNING with expert, Jim Ryan.

Saturday, January 28th from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. for the last PRUNING BASICS CLASS. Learn the basics to shape deciduous trees and shrubs, prune fruit trees properly, or get any of your own pruning questions answered.

January Garden Checklist

checkbox 2017 Roses are arriving every day! Come select early to get growing.

checkbox Choose your Camellias now! Seeing is believing, so choose now while they are in bloom. The selection is great and you’ll be able to pick just the right color for your winter garden.

checkbox Move your living tree outdoors. Care for other holiday gift plants such as azaleas and camellias by placing them outside where they will thrive in cooler temperatures.

checkbox Seed Potatoes are available in early-January. Choose from certified disease-free white, red and russet, blue and gold varieties. Harvest new potatoes when plants begin to bloom in June and more mature potatoes when plants begin to die down in midsummer. Pick up our handy planting guide.

checkbox Feed the lawn monthly even during cold winter months. This not only maintains its attractive green color all winter it also minimizes rust disease and other problems resulting from malnutrition. Masters Fall and Winter Lawn Fertilizer is especially formulated for the winter season.

checkbox The Berries are looking awesome this year! In stock now, we have Olallie Blackberries, Raspberries, Huckleberries, and Blueberries. In addition to all of our berries, we also have Currants, Olives, Kiwis and Grapes. This is the best time to shop for the best selection.

checkbox Coming end of January, please look for our full line of Fruit Trees. From Apples to Walnuts and everything in-between. This really is the best time for selection and planting of Berries, Grapes, Figs, Pomegranates and Fruit trees. Come on by and let our Professional Alden Lane Nursery staff help you select and give you the very best advice on how to plant and care for your trees. We are here to see you through so you get a wonderful harvest year after year.

checkbox Spray Your Roses Now. An application of dormant oil just after winter rose pruning will help reduce pest populations by smothering over-wintering eggs. Spraying fungicides, as well, will halt diseases such as rust, blackspot and powdery mildew. Bonide All Seasons Spray Oil is listed for use on organic gardens.

checkbox Protect frost tender plants when frosts are expected. Spray with Cloud Cover and for added protection drape frost tender plants with Fast Start Plant Blanket Fabric. Try not to let the covering material rest on the plant. String non-LED Christmas tree lights on your frost tender plants when a freeze is expected. The warmth from the bulbs will provide another measure of protection.

checkbox Prune most fruit trees, roses and other leafless trees and shrubs from December through January. WARNING: Do not prune spring blooming shrubs and trees such as lilac, quince, flowering cherry, etc. until the blooming period is over.

checkbox Keep up your New Year’s Resolution . . . join the Livermore-Amador Valley Garden Club (www.lavgc.org) and the Mt. Diablo Rose Society (mtdiablorosesociety.org).

checkbox Think Strawberry shortcake! This is the month to plant perennial vegetables and fruits. You can set our strawberries, rhubarb, raspberry, blackberry and many other cane fruits.

checkbox If you like asparagus, horseradish and artichokes we have starts for those too. Come by and let us help you choose your favorites.
Prevent crabgrass in your lawn before it starts. Apply Bonide Crabgrass & Weed Preventer now to prevent crabgrass seeds from sprouting.