Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour
June 2015 Newsletter
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Our writer this month is Phil Harris, a very long-time champion of the Heard’s tour and the driving force for the origin of The Heard’s Foundation.  He was a personal family friend of Mary Lou and is actively involved in keeping her memory alive, especially during tour-time.  His unique garden is located in Cerritos where there are many cleverly built and amusing vignettes. 
While at a local nursery, a salesperson asked if I had a favorite plant “group” or family.  I had never really thought about this, but I responded, “probably the vines”.  “Why?” asked the salesperson.  Well, vines as a group are “moldable.”  They have a growth path that their gardeners can determine.  They are happy wanderers who create a vertical striking floral display from a distance.  Many vines require little care or fertilizer and can be drought-tolerant once established.
Here are my favorites (and not necessarily in order):
Thumbergia alata (Black-Eyed Susan):  They need sun but will tolerate a bit of shade.  Of the various varieties, “Lemon Star” (sometimes called “Sun Ladies”) is a favored variety.  It is thriving along a pergola in the front garden, it blooms year-round, its foliage is clean and it has been cut back several times and has returned (each time just a little slower).  Like most vines, it does not like low temperatures/frost, but it recovers quickly.  “African Sunset” is a variety that has shades of red.  The “Orange” (and original) Black-Eyed Susan is the most striking, but experience with this variety has proven it fades fast in Summer heat and does not return as quickly as “Lemon Star”.  “Orange Clock” has a similar flower without the “black throat”.  Its foliage often browns and distracts from its showy orange flowers.
Solanum laxum (Potato Vine):  Not quite as showy as the thumbergias, but will tolerate a bit more shade and requires little to no fertilizer or irrigation (again, once established).  It blooms year-round, but its heaviest show is during Spring-time.  Some maintenance is required for the ground runners it develops.  This vine grows over an arbor in the front garden and receives afternoon sun.  The colors available are white and purple.  Once in the ground, the variety that performs best is the white.

Ipomoea Indica (Morning Glory):  Gardeners are divided over this vine.  Its runners tend to tangle among themselves and at times look a bit unsightly.  It is grown along a city wall at the end of a cul-de-sac where my home is located, and a lattice of chicken wire provides the support needed.  Runners will require pruning maintenance and judicious Fall pruning is a requirement to keep it manageable. This vine can be used as an inexpensive colorful screen once a support framework is provided.
Solanum Wendlanii (Giant Potato Creeper):  This vine was planted only three months ago and as of this date, I cannot give a recommendation based on its tenure.  During this time, it’s blue blooms are spectacular and long-lasting.  It has grown very fast and the foliage has an attractive luster.  However, it does has small sharp thorns.
Ficus Pumila (Creeping Fig):  This vine has grown on my home for thirty years.  Trimmed regularly with a controlled height of twelve feet, its juvenile foliage is not allowed to mature into the typical “limbs” that you see on abandoned buildings.  It is never fed or watered and it stays green year-round.  It thrives in the shade but it also performs well in the sun.
There are many vines that are successful, but above is what I’d like to share as favorites from my experience.  Your own mileage may vary, but these ask for just a little care and support in which to thrive.  Come to think of it, these vines are not much different than any of us!
The generous financial donations received at the 2015 gardens were given to the Sheepfold, a shelter for women in crisis and their children. These are some of the ways your donations are helping the women and children in this program:
  • Providing transportation to the moms and kids via bus passes
  • Providing meals through-out the week 
  • Providing tools and seeds for the locations that have vegetable gardens onsite
Copyright © 2015 Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour, All rights reserved.

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