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On Friday afternoon I hosted my fellow designers at a garden party. I'm quite proud of how good the garden looked when the guests arrived. A lot of work went into it. Here's my car trunk full of mulch and soil amendments.
My 🚗 was a bit back heavy yesterday.

I bought decorations like this string light that I put up on the fence.
The new LED light string is "warm white ".

many more garden photos under the cut )

I think it does look inviting. My coworkers all said that it was inspiring to see such a nice garden. So, while it was a lot of work to get it to this point, I think it was worth it. Particularly as I'm the one who gets to enjoy it the most.
Morning light 2.
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Today I went to Almaden Valley Nursery in south San Jose. It was a very productive shopping trip. Particularly as my car was getting serviced while I was enjoying the nursery.

I got there a bit early. This is what I saw as I looked through the window. There were at least two nursery cats, I discovered later. They were chatty and friendly. It was pretty cold and drizzled on and off but petting the cats helped my mood.
Gift shop cat. 🐈

I took this picture for a friend who loves true blue flowers. They're Corydalis curviflora Blue Heron. Sadly my friend can't grow these. Nor can she grow Meconopsis, another true blue flower.
Wow, these Corydalis curviflora Blue Heron are very blue.

lots and lots of plants )
apel: (garden_inthe)
As I wrote back in August, my ideas about gardening and garden design have changed quite a lot over the last few years. When I first moved to this climate, I wanted to grow all the things I wasn't able to grow back in Europe. I loved all flowers all the time. The bigger, the better! No grasses or succulents for me. I thought they were boring.

But I've come to realize that a grass or succulent that is happy, is much prettier than a half-dead flowering plant. My taste has also developed over the years. And of course being ill, means I'm not able to spend as much time and physical effort on gardening as I used to.

While I've been ill, I've been watching British gardening programs. It started with The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. It's about six garden designers who compete about getting to design a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The show was great! Very inspiring. As a result I've been rethinking my design choices for my own garden, specifically for the large border.

Here's an overview. There are three arches. The first one contains Rosa 'Pink Perfume', the other two hold Salvia canariensis. It looks pretty messy in the photo and also in person. I'd like something a lot more designed.
Overview of the large border from the south

photos and plans )



Aug. 31st, 2014 10:51 am
apel: (garden_inthe)
Salvia canariensis var. candidissima
Sun, 4-6’ tall & wide.

Salvia sclarea 'Piemont'
Sun/Pt. Sun, To 5' high & 1.5' wide.

Phlomis purpurea
Sun/Part Sun, 4-6’ tall & 4’ across

Graptopetalum paraguyense 'Pinky'
Sun/Pt. Sun, 3-10" tall and up to 3' across.
apel: (garden_inthe)
My taste in plants for the garden has changed a lot since I moved to California in 2008. When I first got here, I was all over the plants I couldn't grow back in Europe. In particular I loved the bold and colorful flowering plants: bougainvillea, mandevilla, all the different kinds of fuchsias, gaura and many more. Having flowers year round and lots of them was my main goal with the garden. I still love many of these plants but many disappointments later, I've given up on some of them. Now I'm seriously contemplating succulents and grasses, both of which I used to scoff at as boring. In a way I still think they're boring, but they grow well in my difficult garden. A thriving succulent is much prettier than a dead bougainvillea.

The garden this evening.
April 2010: Iceland poppies, sweet peas, snapdragons and pinks in the foreground.

I've killed two bougainvilleas and too many fuchsias to count. Pelargoniums tend to get some sort of fungus in my garden, both in pots and in the ground. I recently learned that it's because I water them from above in the evening. That's the time I have for watering, so I'm not going to buy any more.

There are also plants that I still love and plant: salvias and agastaches come to mind. Both have pretty flowers and attract hummingbirds. Major pluses in my book. Viola tricolor is another flower. It self-seeds in the pretties locations. I've loved it since I was a kid. Such pretty, whiskered little faces!
July 2014: Viola, self-sown in succulent container

When I think back on other successes in my current garden, investing in self-watering containers is a big one. I've got a nice collection of those and they've proven themselves time after time. For example I fell in love with abutilons in Carmel and tried growing them in shady spots in the ground but they just don't do well. It's much hotter and drier here than in Carmel. But they thrive in large containers with a reservoir of water at the bottom.

Abutilon flowers.
March 2014: Abutilon in self-watering container

Another winner was my swing. It's one of the first things I bought when I got a balcony in my first apartment. I moved it with me to the house in 2009 and I've spent many, many happy hours in it. In fact that's where I'm sitting now.

Fountains have also proved worthwhile. I have several and love them all. There's nothing like moving water in the garden, even if it's just a trickle.
The fountain splashes less now.
April 2013: Fountain, mains-powered
apel: (garden_inthe)
One of my favorite plants in the garden right now, clary sage.
Salvia sclarea inflorescence.
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I went to Palo Alto and visited Elizabeth Gamble Gardens and Stanford University. Elizabeth Gamble was married to one of the founders of Procter & Gamble. 12 photos, including one of a flower I haven't been able to identify.
apel: (garden_inthe)
The pansies in the shady pot by the bedroom door weren't pretty anymore. They got an aphid infestation and I didn't notice in time. Today I took them out and replaced them with a very traditional bedding scheme: an outer ring of English daisies Bellis perennis and an inner ring of dusty miller Senecio cineraria. The daisies are a deep pink, cultivated variety of the little white daisies that you find in most lawns. Dusty miller is a traditional silvery foliage plant with deeply cut, felt-like leaves.

The pansies that used to live with the French lavender I replaced with a perennial -- Siebold's stonecrop Hylotelephium sieboldii. Wikipedia informs me that it's named after the German physician and botanist, Philipp Franz von Siebold. He had a fascinating life, including an eight-year-long stint in Japan that ended because he was accused of spying. He introduced a number of Japanese plants to Europe, including the now ubiquitous hardy shade perennial, hosta.

While I was at Lowe's I found the mate for the obelisk that I've got the mandevilla trained on. It's a black, conical obelisk with a little bird on top. I've installed it in the pot that houses the bougainvillea and the cyclamen. Hopefully the bougainvillea will be happier now that it has something to grown on. It certainly looks better. You can also appreciate the cyclamen better now that it's not buried under big bougainvillea leaves.

Unfortunately it has both aphids and white fly. The obelisk made it easier to spray the undersides of the leaves with soapy water. Hopefully it helps. I sprayed everything while I was at it. That's the beauty of only having a balcony with 4 pots -- I can deal with everything at once.
apel: (garden_inthe)
I put new flowers in some of my pots on Saturday and then I photographed them yesterday. The pansies in the first photo are new. The bougainvillea and cyclamen aren't.
Pansies, Chianti Mixed

This pot has housed the pelargonium and mandevilla for a couple of months now. They both seem happy, if a little crowded.
Pelargonium and Mandevilla
Desktop, feel free to use.

The pansies are the same kind as in the pansy-only pot above -- Chianti mixed. I got them at the Sloat Garden Centre in San Bruno on Tuesday. The butterfly lavender and pink primroses are from Lowe's.

Working with the lavender was intoxicating. Such a wonderful scent! Even better than normal lavender.
Primroses, pansies and Lavandula stoechas
apel: (Default)
I sat on the balcony for some leisurely deadheading for a while this morning. Most of my plants are doing very well. The mandevilla and pelargoniums are going gangbusters. The vinca are doing very well too. I love the dark pink colour of the vincas.

The busy lizzies are suffering a bit from the sun on hot days. I've moved the pot further back on the balcony. Hopefully that will take care of it. I also rotate it when I remember. When it gets a little bit cooler, I can probably move it further out again. They don't cover the pot yet but with the mulch of pebbles from Michael's it still looks very nice and tidy.

The one pot that has problems is the corner pot with the shepherds hook that the hummingbird feeder hangs from. The bougainvillea lost all its pretty, pink bracts. The shrub itself seems healthy and has new growth. So I'm guessing it was just transplant shock.

On one of the small-flowered petunias, parts had died back. I removed the wilted parts. It wasn't much, so I think it will do fine. The other small-flowered petunia is doing well. The large-flowered, proper petunia is getting old and leggy. I will have to replace it with something else soon. Too bad because I love the large, velvety deep pink flowers. Not sure what to replace it with. It's probably too early for winter flowers like sweet peas or pansies. This pot also needs more mulch.
apel: (garden_inthe)
Hakone is a traditional Japanese garden south of San Jose. It has a pond, waterfalls, fat koi and all the other things you expect in a Japanese garden. And still I didn't come away from the experience feeling that I'd seen anything special. Maybe authentic Japanese gardens aren't all they're cracked up to be. Or it could be that this one just isn't all that good. Other Japanese gardens I've seen have certainly made much more of an impression on me.

Something that Japanese gardens have in common with Capability Brown's gardens is that they control the vistas that the audience sees. They direct the user's experience and emphasise the juicy bits, while skimming over the less interesting bits. Rather like web pages, come to think of it. :-)

At Hakone there was always something in the way, or a void was framed instead of something interesting. The designers failed to exercise their judgement to the degree that is necessary to create something splendid. Instead it's a kind of humdrum garden. If you've never seen a Japanese garden, by all means go but don't expect to be bowled over.

Anyway, there's only one photo that I think is worth sharing from Hakone. It's of one of the turtles sunning on a rock in the pond.
Turtle in the pond at Hakone
Wallpaper, feel free to use
apel: (garden_inthe)
I got four large galvanised steel planters at Ikea. Today I drilled holes in the bottom and filled each of them with half a bag of red lava rock and potting soil to just below the rim. I've also watered them.

The plants I bought at Annie's Annuals in Richmond are soaking in the bath tub while I decide how to plant them. The colour scheme is pale yellow combined with hot pink and dark purple.

These are the plants I've got: Now to decide how to combine them. Obviously I want the three specimen plants in separate pots. That leaves me with one pot with no centerpiece. That's OK. I'll go for a sort of meadow effect in that container.

Next I don't want flowers of the same colour combined. So, e.g. the yellow hollyhock will not share a pot with the scabious, because they're yellow too. I'm going for contrast.

This is what I've come up with. Feedback welcome.

Pot A
1 Alcea rugosa, yellow
3 Salpiglossis, purple

Pot B
1 Lobelia speciosa, purple
2 Viola 'Etain', yellow

Pot C
1 Ipomoea tricolor, pink
3 Fragaria vesca 'White Delight'
3 Fragaria vesca 'Golden Alexandria'

Pot D
3 Dianthus gratianopolitanus, pink
3 Scabiosa ochroleuca, yellow

Alas, it's now dark so the actual planting will have to wait until tomorrow.
apel: (garden_inthe)
The process of discovering and reconstructing the Lost Gardens of Heligan were made into a TV series. It was the most successful gardening series ever. Having watched the DVD, I can say that the sense of discovery and suspense was in a class of its own for a show about gardening. Even Kieron was fascinated and he's not really into gardening.

seven garden photos (including a rooster) )

Some parts of the garden were there just to be enjoyed by the family that owned Heligan. This Italian garden is an example. It includes a little house, where we sheltered from the rain.
Italian garden in the rain
Wallpaper, feel free to use
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Back in April, Kieron and I visited Snowshill. I posted a few photos then. Here are more.

The church in Snowshill.
Snowshill church
Wallpaper, feel free to use

three flowers and a cat )
apel: (garden_inthe)
I've been taking photos of my garden on a roughly weekly basis over the last year and a half. The result is a Weekly Garden photo set with 45 photos in it on Flickr. It's probably best watched as a slide show to appreciate the changing seasons.

Here are two examples of recently uploaded photos. This one is from the end of April this year.
The Pink Border in late April
Wallpaper, feel free to use

This one I took on Wednesday this week.
The Pink border this week
Wallpaper, feel free to use
apel: (garden_inthe)
The Pink Border in the evening light
Wallpaper, feel free to use
apel: (garden_inthe)
I went to my favourite local nursery today and bought some plants. Having removed the white foxgloves from the Pink Border, I had a gap. Louise's pots have not performed well, so I also wanted to get some new plants for her.

For the Pink Border I got a pink penstemon and some "red" lobelias that look more reddish purple to me. For Louise I got rudbeckias and some more pinks. I also bought tomato feed.

I've spent the afternoon putting in the plants I bought and fertilising. That was very enjoyable. Everything looks a lot nicer and neater now after all my tidying. I also tidied up a bit in the Blue border. The geraniums and campanulas had stopped flowering so I cut them back. Time well spent.

Now I'm going to watch Midsumer Murders and wait for Kieron to come.
apel: (garden_inthe)
I wrote this as a response to a post in [livejournal.com profile] gardening but thought I'd share the goodness here too.

My favourite book all categories is probably Nigel Colborn's Great Plants for Small Gardens. The photography is sumptous and very inspirational. Colborn also knows what he's talking about.

For hard facts, you can't go wrong with the Royal Horticultural Society. Their Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers is guaranteed to help you find plants that work for our garden and that won't make your garden look like everybody else's in your neighbourhood.

I also like Beth Chatto's books but they're only for people who really enjoy plants.

Having lived on both sides of the Pond, I've found UK books to be a lot more thorough than American books. They start with the absolute basics but then go much further than American books. Having said that, a book about your local conditions, no matter where on Earth you live, is always going to be helpful.
apel: (garden_inthe)

Garden 27 June 2007
Originally uploaded by Mjausson
When I got off the tube this afternoon, it was sunny but there were very dark clouds visible to the west. I knew I'd have to walk as fast as I could or I'd be drenched. It was spitting by the time I was halfway through my 20-minute walk back home. By the time I was 50 yards from the door, the spitting had turned into large drops. I ran and the downpour started right as I was walking through the door.

The photo of the Pink Border in my garden is taken 20 minutes later when the worst of the downpour had calmed down.
apel: (garden_inthe)
Before lunch today I was going to write about what a frustrating day it had been so far. But as the weather got even more oppressive, so did my headache until I felt that my head was going to explode if I had to hear one more THUMP from my cow-orkers' monotonous taste in music. So I went home.

That was a good choice. I've been pottering in the garden since I got home. My head still hurts but I'm a lot more relaxed. Green, growing things are good for the soul. My garden is happy, and so am I. The photo below is from yesterday.

The Pink border, yesterday
Wallpaper, feel free to use

Tomorrow I'm going to Norwich. I've got everything I need, so I'll be OK. Besides, it's not the wilderness. If there's something I've forgot, I can probably buy it in the High Street in Norwich. They've got a Boots and an M&S, what more can a woman want?

Now I'm having some chicken and something to drink. If I've got to have a headache, it should at least not be exacerbated by dehydration. Soon it's time to go to bed.
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