Tag Archives: garden

Jeff’s Chair

When I got married last September, my new husband moved into our 800 sq. ft. cottage that was already bursting with the bodies, belongings and energy of three females. He’s managed to shoe horn some of his furniture, knick-knacks and all of his clothing into this home, but I think he still feels like he doesn’t have many places that are just HIS.

Except for one.

He selected and bought this sweet blue chair at the Alameda Antiques Fair and has placed it in the sunniest spot in the garden. I can often find him in the afternoon, sitting here- his feet up on a small bench- reading or snoozing.

Sunny Sitting Spot

Completely surrounding his chair, starting with right in front and moving clock-wise, are Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’, ‘Madame Hardy’, ‘Graham Thomas'(on the fence), ‘Tamora’, ‘William Shakespeare’ and ‘Pat Austen’. I fear that in a month or so he won’t be able to find his chair , let alone sit in it!

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Evolution of a Gardener

When my interest in gardening and garden design began, I was drawn to very bright colors. (I also disliked foliage variegation and Hated succulents!) This attraction lasted, believe it or not, for about 10 years. Cut to 1995: I had just started my business and was doing mostly flower garden maintenance. A little planting and design, but not much. I would also occasionally help out Sue Fitzsimmons, garden designer extraordinaire (and the reason I do what I do). What I noticed about the plants she chose was that there were a lot of pale, pastel, muted colors. In other words, the gardens were Cool. Sophisticated. Relaxing. Calming. Ahhhhh. Ok! I thought, these are the kinds of garden that Real designers create. And it wasn’t just Sue. Everywhere I looked- design magazines, plant catalogues, garden tours, etc. there were muted shades of greens, grays, blues, pinks, creams and whites. It felt really good to me and my preferences started to change. I eventually got to the point where I said that I disliked most reds, yellows and oranges in the garden. I considered these colors to be garish, harsh and aggressive. Now granted, I live on the Coast and we have lots of overcast or foggy days and cool colors in the garden do complement these gray skies, but NO hot colors at all?? Pretty closed minded, right? Here’s some pictures of my garden that were taken 2 & 3 years ago:

See a theme?? Very Coooool….. For the record. I love these images and I love these colors, but recently I’ve been ITCHING for something more. COLOR. Bright, vibrant, warm color. Tangerine, raspberry, lime, and purple.

I saw this image from Annie’s Annuals recently (see a couple posts ago!) and can’t get it out of my head. It has inspired me to go for it in my garden this year:

Vibrant Colors- from Annie's Annuals catalogue

Aren’t these colors just luscious? ¬†(broken record?) I’ve just now completed stage one in my color renovation. I’ve planted about 30 new perennials & annuals in the ground. The reason I had the room to add these plants is because this winter the gophers ATE about 40 Bearded Iris (bastards!!), 4 Nepeta ‘Six-hills Giant’ (which take up lots of room…) and also a few of my large English Lavenders decided to give up the ghost on their own. All this space is now filled with soon-to-be-brightly-colored plants with nice, snug gopher baskets around their roots. There’s nothing I can do about all my softly-shaded roses at this point, so it should be interesting to see how all this comes together!

The next stage is POTS. LOTS of color-poppin’, gotta-dance pots.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Container Victory Gardening

Home food gardens are more popular now than they have been since victory gardens during WWII. 40% of the food consumed in this country during that time was produced in home and community gardens! Though they’ve never been a bad idea, in fact I’ll talk about why they’re such a good idea in a moment, they fell out of favor with the majority of people for various reasons- the main one being inconvenience.

When a person could buy almost any type of produce they wanted, at almost any time of year, from their local supermarket- that was pretty darn convenient compared to the relative inconvenience of maintaining a vegetable garden!

Personally, it wasn’t until just two years ago that I started my own. I just assumed they were too time-consuming for me, or… too inconvenient. Ironically, what finally got me growing my own was our local Farmers Market. I simply got used to eating delicious, nutritious food and wanted more access to it!

keep reading

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Roses, Roses, Roses (lest you forget!)

Rosa 'Just Joey' ... yummm!

Rosa 'Just Joey' ... yummm!

Rosa 'Carla can't remember' with bumble bee

Rosa ‘Carla can’t remember’ with bumble bee
Rosa 'Bobby James'

Rosa 'Bobby James'

Rosa 'Cornelia'

Rosa 'Cornelia'

Rosa 'Fourth of July'

Rosa ‘Fourth of July’

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Low Maintenance, Dry, Bachelor Garden

This was a fun garden to create. My client wanted almost zero involvement in his garden. The only thing he was interested in (beside not having to do anything) was that the garden look interesting and tidy. For this design I started with the style of the house. You can see from one of the ¬†images below that the house is very boxy with a flat roof. Sort of mid-century style, but built in the early 80’s so not nearly as cool as, say, an Eichler design. Needless to say, (but I will anyway!) an English cottage garden or a traditional, formal garden would be very out of place here. I ran the idea of a mostly succulent garden with boulders and gravel by him and he said go for it. So here’s what I came up with:

Really Heavy Rocks

Really Heavy Rocks

These rocks were a royal pain to “place”. They ended up being 2x as heavy (& expensive) as they were estimated to be. The four guys I hired to move them the 6-8′ from the sidewalk to where they are now were amazing and never got discouraged, though I was ready to cry after about an hour! I was seriously ready to hire a crane to place them, but the guys kept moving them, inch by inch, and after FOUR hours they got it done. They didn’t even act like they wanted to kill me when I said things like, “Could you move that one two inches to the left with a quarter twist?”

Front Garden View

Front Garden View

Here’s a more complete view of the front. The boulders in the first image are to the left, just out of the shot. In addition to the low Agaves, etc., I introduced some vertical lines to the design with Equisetum, Papyrus and Phormium. The client wanted a fountain, and thought maybe he wanted an Italianite, classical style piece, but was very pleased with the natural stone fountain (see center of image) we created for him. I didn’t know if I would like this garden when I started it- I’m more drawn to soft or symmetrical forms- but this ended up being one of my favorite gardens so far!

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garden glam

A few months ago my friend, Paolo Vescia, (who is a very talented professional photographer) came over and took some photos of me in my garden. I wanted some images I could use for promotional materials, ie; website, brochures print ads, etc. I had no idea that they would look like total glamour shots!

Like this one...

Like this one...

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