November 2011 Bulletin

November in the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden

The monthy bulletin of the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, all-volunteer managed garden.

IN THIS ISSUE: Plant identification, Nasturtium, "Golf Flame" Honeysuckle vine and more.

November in the Garden

Along the upper service road can be found lovely stands of Mexican Bush Sage and a Silk Floss Tree, a lovely intermingling of lavenders and pinks. The Kids’ Adventure Garden is rich in color this time of year.  Look for masses of Orange Clock Vine under the tree house, Salvia Waverly, Lion’s Tail, Shrimp Plant and many of the salvias, including a favorite, Hot Lips!

Next to the Nursery is a stunning Silk Floss Tree in full bloom. A native of South America, it is resistant to drought and grows fast when water is abundant, sometimes reaching 82 feet in height. Easy to identify, it’s unique trunk is studded with thick conical prickles, and when young, the trunk is green.

Many visitors to the Kids’ Adventure Garden ask about the brilliant mass of orange blossoms underneath the treehouse. Well here’s the scoop!  It’s the Orange Clock Vine, discovered by Swedish botanist Karl Peter Thunberg, who found them on his travels to Java and Japan. These vigorous, fast growing vines can drape arbors and porches. Most need full sun, especially in coastal areas, but can take some partial shade.

    -Sandy Krutilek


A Bit About Plant Identification

by Barbara Song, CVBG Volunteer

For clarity of identity, plants have at least two names, a scientific one, (genus) which is followed by the (species) which denotes the variety. For example, Salvia chamaedryoides.

Salvia, the genus is followed by the epithet, chamaedryoides, the variety, a real tongue twister.

Thankfully, common names are found on labels along with formal designations to assist us with our selections when we are plant shopping. Just imagine how confusing it can become when two plants share the same common name, which happens. The word sage for instance is part of the Salvia chamaedryoides' identification, i.e. Germander Sage, though it is a salvia. Salvias are sages, but not all sages are salvias. Jerusalem Sage is a common name for Phlomis fruticosa. Scientific names provide the distinction. Happily, gardeners can choose plants that appeal to them and suit their landscapes while the nurserymen confirm the scientific identifications to keep the records straight.


What's in a Name?

by Diane Conejo


Tropaeolum, that is a mouthful! And it is one of those plants that is not only a stunner in your garden, it is also edible and sustainable.  Thomas Jefferson called the plant “Indian cress” and the leaves, stems, and flowers contain mustard oils that provide the peppery flavor which adds excitement and color to any salad. Even the seedpods, when green, can be pickled and used as a substitute for capers. When mature, they can be roasted. (Information gleaned from Jefferson’s Garden by Peter Loewer)

Nasturtium is from the Latin word meaning “twisted nose”; you can remember it as ‘nasty -tortium’ which refers to someone with a twisted nose who tastes something pungent!   So, that takes care of the flavor of the plant, but what is the Botanical moniker all about?  To Carl Linnaeus, the venerable horticulturist/scientist who gave many plants their names, the broad circular leaves suggested a battle shield and the flower heads of warriors’ helmets or a golden trophy that is awarded for victory in battle. (You can sense where his mind was at the time!) This free association resulted in Tropaeolum majus which actually means, “a large trophy”.

While taking a Botany class, I learned that many flowers display contrasting markings that direct visiting insects and hummingbirds to the sweet liquid called nectar.  I had known about the nectar, but sometimes we miss what is right there in front of us.   The nectar guides are present on many plants and often are actually shaped like arrows, a curving path of colored dots, or perhaps a brilliant star or bull’s eye at the flower’s center. When we take time to notice, we see many examples of this amazingly simple plan to aid in pollination.



Sunday Plant Sales

Gold Flame Honeysuckle Vine 
Lonicera x heckrottii ‘Gold Flame’

Our featured plant this month is the Gold Flame Honeysuckle Vine, a fast growing, hardy vine that takes full sun to partial shade. The fragrant, showy flowers that last from spring to fall, attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Plant sales are held every Sunday at the CVBG from 10:30-2:30 in the area next to the Kids' Adventure Garden, located at 350 W. Gainsborough Rd.  California natives, hardy, water wise perennials, shrubs, trees and succulents, reasonably priced are available. CVBG volunteers will be happy to help you with selections and share their expertise.

Salvia 'Waverly'


Birthday Parties

The birthday parties held at the KAG on Saturdays have become very popular.  So popular that Betty needs more volunteers to give her some help.  It is a lot of fun and not too much work.  Sometimes the kids come in costumes, depending on what the 'theme' of the party may be. The adults set up and take down the tables and chairs. There is a donation to use the garden. You help by keep your eyes on the kids as they get excited about having a party at the KAG.  Sometimes you even get a piece of birthday cake.   If you are willing to help by giving a few hours of your time, give Betty a call at 1-818-889-0560.


Want to Help us Grow?

Do you love Conejo Valley Botanic Garden and would like to help, but just don't have the time to volunteer? Even though much of the work you see going on in the garden is done by volunteers, we still have expenses for planting, heavy pruning and new improvements. These projects are funded through grants and donations from the community.  If you would like to help us grow, tax deductible donations are always welcome and may be made out and sent to Conejo Valley Botanic Garden, PO Box 6614, Thousand Oaks, CA 91359. Thanks for all your support!


The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden Needs YOU!

The Garden is managed and maintained by community volunteers. Without your help, the garden cannot thrive. None of the volunteer positions at CVBG has a minimum number of volunteer hours attached. If you can help for a few hours a month, great! For more information on any of our volunteer opportunities, please click here.




Assistant to the Volunteer Coordinator:  Help recruit new volunteers and match them with garden jobs they might enjoy.

Adopt A Garden: We have an ongoing need for volunteers to join the teams working in our theme gardens. Days and hours are flexible so give us a call.

Garden Nursery: There is no better way to lean about California native and water wise plants than to join the teams working in the propagation and sales nurseries.

The Kids Adventure Garden:  KAG is open from 11:00 to 3:00 each Sunday.  Docents welcome families to the garden, answer questions and ensure everyone is safe and has fun. You will train with an experienced Docent. You can sign up for one shift a month or as many as you want.  Email:

November, 2011