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July 27, 2011 / Linda Hartong


Location, location, location …. is also true for plants.

My Carmel garden suffers until I give up the notion that I – a Johnson County, Kansas, Master Gardener am not an expert in growing plants outside of Kansas.

I have lots of experience from working in a perennial nursery and designing gardens in Kansas, but most of this does not translate to Carmel.

After several years of making my plants suffer, I realize that “Location, location, location…. Is also true for plants.

How delightful to find that the Bougainvillea,


and dahlias

that are annuals in Kansas City are perennial in temperate Carmel.

How surprising to see Calla Lilly “volunteering “ in my garden.

In K.C.,  they cost so much that many a bridal bouquet is only five Calla Lilly .

The lavender

that struggles in my heavy clay soil, thrives in the sandy soil of my Carmel garden.

The fancy geranium

from which I have taken cuttings in the nursery greenhouse are year round beauties in Carmel pots.

Never before have I seen fields of California poppies

or Swords of Madera.

Even the Oxalis

that Carmelites call a “weed” is welcome greenery to my snow-blinded eye when we come out in January.

I can grow roses

but not like this.

Wisteria also thrives in Kansas but rarely looks this lush.

I really have not emphasized before how important Carmel’s climate is to me. It ranges between 50 degrees and 70 degrees which is totally my comfort level.

My husband , who races vintage cars, is drawn in part by all the wonderful auto events here. We refer to ourselves as “BLOOM AND VROOM”.

Yes I can grow Nicotiana

and mallow

and hydrangea

in Kansas.

And my Japanese Maple does very well.

But while we can find the same restaurants and shops cloned all over America, plants can define a sense of place in a very welcome way.

Kinnikinnick, a California native I have never hear of before,

becomes a workhorse in my Carmel garden.

Ice plant,

ever so invasive, is welcome.


adores this temperate climate.

African Daisy can grow for only 2- 3 weeks in Kansas City.

Thrives here year round.

Trollius is a pipe dream

But not in Carmel

And Zonal Geranium thrives all year round.

Now I have my Monterey County Master Gardener’s website handy and a whole new world of plants opens up to me.

Monterey Bay Master Gardeners – Home Page


Leave a Comment
  1. kathysue / Jul 27 2011 1:02 am

    Yes indeed Linda you live in the most perfect area in the world, or at least as far as I am concerned. Kathysue

  2. Carolyn / Jul 27 2011 1:49 am

    Lovely. Envious of those temperatures in Carmel. Supposed to be 97 here in NC tomorrow. Isn’t it amazing what a difference in climate makes in the plants you can/can’t grow? Even two and a half hours away from the Piedmont of NC to the mountains outside of Asheville at a 4000′ elevation makes a big difference. Though our growing season is shorter in the mountains, the cooler nights allow longer and more vivid blooming. My French hydrangeas in the Piedmont are limp, dry, pale and browning while in the mountains they continue to bloom in the deepest blues. Though there’s not much in the way of soil where our cabin was scraped out of the mountainside and it’s mostly rocks, the perennial flowers self-sow and bloom like crazy. Meanwhile, the excessive heat and humidity and clay soil in the center of the state makes gardening a real challenge – and more than my mettle. And I was really surprised to find that lavender grows really well in my rocky mountain soil and is hardy through the winter, though I can only grow it in pots in the Piedmont – again because of that clay soil.

  3. janet bishop- magina / Jul 27 2011 2:25 pm

    Heart be still….

  4. jeanette sclar / Jul 30 2011 1:15 am

    What plant would be so foolish as to prefer Kansas? Your garden is looking fantastic!

  5. Annie Westlake / Aug 1 2011 6:17 pm

    …..and the Begonias…..I have seen these four feet high in Carmel. Here in the Sierra foothills, my Begonias die out in the winter, and have to be coaxed back in the spring, where they might aspire to to 12 inches. Oh well, some day…..

  6. lorrie / Apr 20 2012 11:11 pm

    As a fellow Carmelite, I appreciate learning the names of so many flowers I’ve admired around here, but never bothered to look up! We are renovating a house at the moment, but I can’t wait to get to the garden/landscape now!!

  7. Lori D'Ambrosio / May 13 2013 8:38 pm

    What are the best type of roses to plant in Carmel? I would love to have a very fragrant climbing rose bush in our garden.

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