Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, November 17, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 12



 Mountain Views News Saturday, November 17, 2012 

One Of A Kind: Featuring unique homes and gardens and the people who create them 

Story by Chris Bertrand Photography courtesy of Ecke Ranch


The potted red poinsettia has become a staple of dramatic and colorful floral display 
and gift giving for the Christmas season over many decades. 

As a new SoCal resident in the 1980’s, I remember my awe when first driving past 
acres and acres of Ecke greenhouses with poinsettias under cultivation beside the 
I-5 in San Diego County. It had never occurred to me to ponder where all those 
beautiful, tropical flowers came from.

It’s likely that the six to ten foot displays of poinsettias (their normal mature height) 
in a few local Los Angeles gardens are the result of a holiday gift from a past decade 
or two or three. 

According to the University of Illinois Extension service, this Euphorbia plant which technically displays its 
bracts not flowers, is a native Mexico. It was introduced to the United States in 1825 by a botany lover, and the 
United State’s first ambassador to Mexico, Joel Poinsett. Hence its current common name, the poinsettia. As 
an aside, Poinsett also started the institution which eventually evolved into the Smithsonian. 

Though they are commercially grown in all fifty states, according to U of I, ninety per cent of all the flowering 
poinsettias got their start at the Paul Ecke Ranch, which originated in the Encinitas area. Over $200 million of 
this popular Christmas flower are sold each year, mostly over the six week holiday season. 

Now, for those cutting edge gardeners who must have the latest and greatest horticultural development, Ecke 
is offering an orange poinsettia, destined to adorn the Thanksgiving table, right next to your pumpkin pie.

I must admit I did a double take last week, when I spied one of these orange wonders, Orange Spice, at an 
Armstrong Garden Center. I had to check to see if my sunglasses had altered my color vision. Occasionally, I 
had ventured away from the traditional red, to a pink or a white, depending on my decorating theme, or the 
offerings at my neighborhood Costco. But was I ready for orange? I was intrigued.

The outside garden managers at Monrovia’s Home Depot, Kim and Sharon, alerted me years ago of their 
practice of stocking a new or unusual variety of poinsettia each holiday season. I was instructed to be on the 
lookout for the highly anticipated delivery each Christmas and to “grab em” right away, if I wanted something 
horticulturally unusual for gifts to fellow gardeners, or for display.

After decades of full production, the Ecke Ranch people have been breeding and producing cuttings only over 
the last decade, producing new and unusual color combinations for growers to “finish” then sell to retailers, 
according to Cheryl Ann Crysler at their Encinitas headquarters. 

Their “Orange Spice” is out in the stores now, ready for Thanksgiving enjoyment, available at some nurseries, 
retailers and big box stores like Costco, Home Depot, Lowes, Sam’s Club and Walmart. 

Other distinctive poinsettias released for this holiday season, according to Crysler, are:

“Tikal Red – A beautiful landscaped poinsettia that is a sister to our Advent Red which came out in 2011. This plant is an early variety and can already be found in retail stores as it blooms early for the season.

Premier – Another early variety, true rich red. In 2013 consumers will have an opportunity to purchase premier in a pink and Jingle.

Monet Early- One of my favorites, a compact plant which starts out pink and with maturity turns an intense reddish pink with bright green leaves. Great for a gift or to create a stunning combo with orchids.

Jubilee – One of the best presentation poinsettias, you can find it in a deep red and pink. In 2013 consumers will have the opportunity to pick the full color line, Red, Pink, White and Jingle.”

In case you’re wondering, it’s time to clear up that urban myth. Poinsettias are, in fact NOT poisonous, according to the California Poison Control’s website (, which says “Eating many 
leaves may cause mild stomach upset. The sap from the plant may cause skin rash and should be washed off with soap and water. Contrary to earlier beliefs, poinsettias are safe in the home during the holidays.”

Even if you’re not adventurous enough to choose an orange poinsettia for your Thanksgiving table this year, here are a few summarized tips from the Ecke organization for purchasing and caring for your 
poinsettia, no matter what the color: Choose strong stems with no breakage or wilting. The brightly colored bracts should show no green edges. The presence of tight yellow cyathia (cluster of flowers), with 
little pollen present, indicates the poinsettia is fresh. Protect poinsettias from temperatures below 50 degrees and avoid cold drafts or excessive heat. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Fire and Forest Officials Ask Public's Help to Stop Spread 

Idyllwild - The goldspotted oak borer (GSOB) has been detected in a recently-killed California 
black oak tree in the Riverside County mountain community of Idyllwild. Larvae extracted from 
under the tree bark were subjected to DNA analysis at the University of California Riverside and 
confirmed to be Agrilus auroguttatus, the scientific name for GSOB. This new detection of GSOB 
represents the first long-distance movement of the beetle from its known area of infestation in San 
Diego County, 40 miles to the south. It is believed to have made the jump from San Diego to Idyllwild 
through the movement of infested firewood. The infested tree is slated for immediate removal 
and disposal.

The GSOB is transported in oak firewood, so 
it is critical that Californians keep firewood 
local and not move it out of the area. Here are 
some immediate steps to help stop the spread 
of GSOB:

• Use firewood from local sources - 
“Buy it Where you Burn It” 

• Leave firewood at home - do not transport 
it to recreational cabins, campgrounds or 

“The public plays a key role in stopping the 
spread of the destructive GSOB,” said CAL 
FIRE Director and State Forester Ken Pimlott. 
“When choosing firewood make sure you buy 
it from a local source and not from out of the 
area. This infestation could have devastating 
effects on California and we all must work to 
stop its spread.”

The California Department of Forestry and 
Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) is collaborating 
with the University of California, the U.S. Forest 
Service and the County of Riverside to develop 
a rapid response plan for GSOB in San 
Jacinto forest communities. Surveys are already 
in progress to determine the extent of the infestation. 
Property owners in the Idyllwild area 
will be receiving additional information in the 
coming weeks on the GSOB and how to assess their own oak trees as well as a list of recommended 
contacts for questions. These infestations can be very destructive to our forests, communities, individual 
properties, and are extremely costly to control. 

“This discovery of GSOB in Riverside County is of great concern,” said CAL FIRE/Riverside County 
Fire Chief John R. Hawkins. “These mountain communities have endured years of drought and 
bark beetle infestation and we need to work collaboratively with the public and all stakeholders to 
stop the GSOB from further destroying our forest and oak woodlands.”

Anyone planning to purchase or burn firewood is encouraged to visit to 
learn how help stop the spread of GSOB and other pests through the movement of firewood. For 
more information on GSOB visit


In spring and summer, it's easy to envision ways to enhance your home's curb appeal with a 
trimmed lawn, planted and potted flowers, and patios and decks arranged with outdoor furniture 
and an inviting grill. But when the leaves fall and the temperatures drop, even homes in temperate 
climes undergo a winter transformation that can challenge a seller to create exterior appeal.

When it comes to landscaping and colorful plants, there are plenty of ornamental grasses and 
plants that look great in wintertime. Purple cabbages, fountain grasses, and potted evergreens 
along pathways and by the door all add seasonal color and appeal. And obviously, your sidewalk, 
entry path, patio and deck should be clear of leaves and/or snow.

Be sure to keep in mind that shorter days mean that buyers are that much more likely to see your 
home after sunset, so make sure all your floodlights are clean and in working order, highlighting 
your home's exterior features. Lamps with soft lighting in all your windows will also offer a warm 

Finally, just to cover your bases, have photos available of your home in all its glory during the 
spring and summer months. This gives buyers a better sense of your home's appeal during all the 
seasons of the year. Your agent will have more tips for attracting buyers in any kind of weather.

We’d like to hear from you! What’s on YOUR Mind?

Contact us at: or
mountainviewsnews AND Twitter: @mtnviewsnews

Mountain Views News 80 W Sierra Madre Blvd. No. 327 Sierra Madre, Ca. 91024 Office: 626.355.2737 Fax: 626.609.3285 Email: Website: