The Garden Fanatic -- Steve Kawaratani

“People are never free of trying to be content.”

-- Murray Bookchin

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it.”

-- Russell Baker


The middle of June brings graduations, visitors and relatives from out

of town and booth construction at the festivals. Traffic is on the rise,

flags are waving, and Saint Catherine’s (not to be confused with my

Catharine) is hoping that divine intervention won’t be required for


approval of its project. With summer just days away, it’s also time to

get the garden in shape.

Admittedly, June is a difficult month to be content -- it is the

transition between spring and summer. Gardeners must overcome the morning

overcast gloom, which promotes mildew on everything; snails and slugs in

the ivy (walk carefully as not to walk on someone’s pet); and fungus

gnats in the lawn. The afternoon brings a blazing sun, which requires

multiple watering of new flowers; protection for tender plants (and


yourself) from sunscald; and the proliferation of mites and aphids.

After the rush of spring, we tend to become a bit noncommittal about

our gardens. After all, summer vacation is just days away for many.

However, this is very dangerous, because there is much to be done. Why

risk the humiliation of an ugly garden?

Our gardening list begins with a summer mulch of planter mix on

everything-- including annuals, perennials and trees. This will help to

conserve moisture and reduce water consumption. Don’t forget to water


your tomatoes and roses -- even levels of moisture are the key to

success. Established plantings should be watered as needed, in response

to the weather, rather than on a time schedule.

Roses should be fed with a balanced fertilizer, Miracle Gro for Roses

is an excellent product. This is particularly important after a flower

crop ends. Annuals and perennials will also benefit from monthly

applications of fertilizer. Afterward, soak the soil thoroughly to

prevent fertilizer “burn.”

With anticipated warmer weather, raise the lawn mower so the grass is

cut higher. Water deeply and as infrequently as possible to encourage

deeper root growth. Lawn fertilizer should also be applied monthly during

the summer season. Your favorite nursery can assist you with just the

right product for your specific type of grass. Judicious use of

herbicides can be effective in controlling weeds and crabgrass.

Many potted plants, such as fuchsia, tuberous begonias and other shade

plants are at their peak during the early summer months. Provide plenty

of water and light shade. Watch plants in containers carefully -- don’t

allow them to dry out during warm weather.

Summer pruning should be completed carefully -- mainly to maintain

space for your plant and yourself. It is OK to pinch back leggy growth on

annuals and perennials to create a more attractive plant. Don’t forget to

deadhead spent flowers on all of your plants!

Catharine and I are headed down to Mexico City for a visit with our

son, Cooper, this weekend. We will have celebrated my mom’s and Linda’s

birthdays and Father’s Day prior to our departure. I anticipate that

Laguna’s traffic, pollution and mansionization issues will appear

negligible upon our return. I guess everything should be considered in

perspective. See you next time.

* Steve Kawaratani is the owner of Landscapes by Laguna Nursery, 1540

S. Coast Highway in Laguna Beach. He is married to local artist,

Catharine Cooper, and has three cats. He can be reached at 497 2438, or

e-mail to