May 2012 Bulletin


May 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: Honey Bush (Melianthus major), Red Hot Pokers and more.

Honey Bush

Honey Bush, Melianthus major is a bold and dramatic evergreen shrub hailing from South Africa. Bluish-green, strongly toothed and divided leaves make a perfect foil to the showy foot long spikes of reddish-brown flowers in spring. It grows rapidly to 6 ft. or even up to 12 feet in rich soil.  It is drought resistant, attracts hummingbirds and is deer resistant. But beware, all parts of plant are poisonous if ingested !

The leaves exude a strong smell when bruised or crushed, a characteristic which is referred to by the Afrikaans name which means 'Herb-Touch-Me-Not.' This is not the 'Honeybush' of Honeybush Tea fame, that product being derived from a plant from the legume family, Cyclopia genistoides.

    -Sandy Krutilek


A California Poppy Bonanza Right in the CVBG

by Barbara Song, CVBG Volunteer

Not to be missed is the astonishing display of California Poppies at the Conejo Valley Botanic Garden.
Unusual weather patterns and late winter rains this year have helped to create a volume of our state's official flower, Eschscholzia californica, California Poppy, throughout the garden. The KAG has an unusual appearance of poppies in bloom amongst the perennial penstemon-a glorious combination of deep purple/blue and orange.
Soon the Matilija Poppies, Romneya coulteri, will flower in abundance, just in time for the annual Matilija Poppy Festival in May. The garden is lush with blooming trees, shrubs and plants. Worth a visit to be sure.


What's in a Name?

by Diane Conejo

helleborus lividus

Red-Hot Poker

PNamed for Professor Johann Hieronymus Kniphof, an 18th century botanist, Kniphofia is a plant originating from South Africa that has captured the spotlight in California gardens because it can be drought-tolerant. The Torch Lily is normally found in boggy, wet environments, but will tolerate dry conditions without supplementary water except in Summer to promote increased flowering. The tubular flowers attract pollinators (i.e. bees, butterflies & hummingbirds) with an abundant nectar. The species name ‘uvaria’  refers to their shape, ‘like a bunch of grapes’. The inflorescence is a raceme, flowering from the bottom to the top over several days, changing color as it progresses through its bloom cycle. The upright stems topped off with brightly glowing tips well resemble a torch or hot poker.

This plant appreciates moderately rich, well-draining soil, sun or partial shade and will reward you with colorful blooms throughout the year.  The Plant Sale at the Botanic Garden is known to carry this popular selection from time to time, so go by on Sunday (11:00 - 2:30) to check them out! They are right next to the Kid’s Adventure Garden!

Just a quick warning, there is one Hellebore whose name says it all. It is the Helleborus foetidus or “Bearʼs -Foot Hellebore. The word foetidus means “stinking” and it gives off a malodorous scent when the leaves are crushed, so DO NOT plant near a footpath! It will give your holiday guests pause as they walk to your door craving the scents of the season! Happy New Year!



Sunday Plant Sales

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. 


Irene Benyoung is willing, by special  appointment only, to meet customers at the Plant Sale area on Wednesdays. Please contact her by e-mail to make an appointment.


Seen Around the Garden

Look for the Pacific Coast Native Irises in bloom in the Kidsʼ Adventure Garden and the Chinaberry Tree in bloom by the Nursery. 
                                                                            Photos by Pat Carlson


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:

May, 2012