Monday, April 4, 2016

Signs of Life

 It has been a lovely spring for surprises in the gardens. Plants that were sleeping for months if not years have suddenly been replenished with the rain this winter (and I understand more is in the forecast). One example is this variegated acanthus I thought I had lost. You either love acanthus or not so much, but they are survivors in dry shade and a rich dark green, classical leaf and most of the time and I kind of love them! I planted this about a year ago and it faded fast in the dry summer, but looks revitatlized now. Let's see how it fares this summer.

Ajuga is one of my favorite groundcovers with lovely purple blooms low to the ground. Most of it disappeared over the past year, but I'm counting on this little patch that has hung on to grow again and refill the path edges.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

White Blooms

 Spring is a lovely time of year in the Moonlight Garden. With so many white blooming plants in addition to the variations of green foliage, everything kind of sparkles. And yes, those are blue blooms on the rosemary, but I am obviously not a perfectionist!

 The rice flower shrub blooms for months and is kind of huge. It definitely makes a statement and makes up for the bare spot nearby where a white flowered blue hybiscus died suddenly for no apparent reason last year, left a large empy space.

 I do have to replenish the annuals and small perennials in this area a few times a year due to the hungry bunny population that considers this a smorgasbord. 

 The white camellias and azaleas are just starting to wrap up their bloom season.

 Cistus or rock rose is a reliable California native that I should remember to plant more of in the near future.

 I am so happy that the ornamental grasses are coming back after their seasonal cut back that leaves them looking less-than-lovely for a few months. They add movement to the garden that can easily get too stiff.

It is important to me that there is a lot of visual interest, scents, sounds and textures in my gardens and I think this garden covers all those requirements quite nicely this time of year!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Preparing for Easter

 Easter is a big day in the gardens. We have been having an Easter Egg Hunt for as long as I've had a garden to hide eggs in and one of my favorite things is watching the gardens filled with kids hunting over, under and around all the beautiful plants. Throughout the years there are typically anywhere from five to ten little ones doing the hunting and the older kids do the hiding. It started in my Laguna gardens and then moved to the back yard in SJC and now we do it in the Moonlight Garden where the adults can see the fun from the seating area.

Indian Hawthorn
 Because Easter is early this year, the gardens will be in their Spring peak I'm hoping. The scents of flowers is heady and the early spring blooms are really prolific this year.


 I'm hoping the climbing roses and wisteria hang on for another week, although they have been blooming for weeks already.

 One of the most fragrant plants in the Moonlight Garden is the white heliotrope. I planted a number of plants years ago and they just thrive and bloom all year round. They are rather easy to overlook, until you catch a whiff of the cherry pie scent!

The camellias and azaleas are almost done with their show, but the roses starting to open, so it will definitely be a lovely day for everyone!

'Evelyn' rose

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sun and Shade

 Here is another view of the white climbing roses from the last post showing just how beautiful and full they are during March facing the early morning sun! I don't even think they get fertilized!

I have been struggling with trying to fill in this bed under the fast growing California peppers trees.  The trees prefer not too much water or they get root rot, so shade and dry loving perennials were my only choices. There is some late day sun that creeps into one side of the bed in the afternoon which evidently is enough to sustain the purple lantana, the tagetes lemmonii and an 'Easter Basket' rose bush. The plants facing the other way have to be shade lovers or, like the daylilies from years ago that linger there, they may hang on, but never bloom.

My garden helper does not really pay any attention to sun and shade requirements and propagates plants all the time and puts them in where ever they are needed like these Margarete daisies. They need full sun, but seem to be blooming like crazy in this dappled shade. Years ago this bed was filled with beautiful calla lilies that I thought disappeared during the last few dry years, but it looks like they are making an appearance again after staying on the low down until the rains came back. What do I know?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Spring Awakenings

Green Agave
 With this rain we've been having has also come some crazy weather. A couple weeks ago he actually had hail, thunder and lightening, an event that takes place rarely around here. It has happened once before while we have lived in SJC with the same results - damage to the green agaves in the form of pits. It will take a few years for it to completely disappear.

Rice Flower

 I have forgotten how many wonderful spring blooming shrubs I have like this rice flower plant in the Moonlight Garden. I have to confess that I have been to a number of nurseries in the past few weeks and have left with nothing in my car. I am feeling a bit overwhelmed at what needs to be added or replaced in the gardens. I finally decided I have to get busy before I am too crazy busy with other projects in my life to focus on the gardens so I did load up the car last week with a few basics that I can always tuck in somewhere.


 Milkweed is a must to keep the monarch butterflies happy. They struggle through after being decimated by the caterpillars every year, but a few more never hurts.

Right now the scents from the gardens at sunset are amazing and this combination of pink jasmine and Indian hawthorn are partly responsible along with the citrus blooms. Makes me giddy!

The white roses (rosa spinosissima) and wisteria are waking up in the front driveway. I was afraid the hail would ruin the blooms, but there were enough new ones opening up that they took it all without missing a beat. Even though the roses only bloom for about one month out of the year, I couldn't ask for a more prolific rose with no disease or bug problems.

The wisteria here is about a month behind the wisteria in Laguna, probably due to different micro-climates because they are the same hybrid.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


 Finally! After some unexpected rain yesterday I got out and wandered through the gardens and to my delight, there is a collective sigh of relief from all the foliage! Even the drought tolerant plants were getting really tired of having to be so tolerant of years of no significant, deep soaking rain and were showing signs of stress and lethargy.
 But finally there is a bout of growth spurred by the weekly rain we have been having and upcoming spring weather that can't be denied. Even the groundcovers that were the first to give up due to the dry weather have started to reappear.

 Shrubs that I planted years ago that never showed much growth are starting to take off - finally!

 I have planted so many perennials that just kind of dwindled away even though they supposedly tolerated dry conditions that are now bursting with life. 

This is how I think of early spring, flush with new growth and lush, deep colors of green! Finally!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Little of This and That

 I just wanted to share some gardening successes I've had over the winter and some other random stuff! 

First is the abundance of lemons on my little potted lemon tree that sits right where I park my car every day. It always makes me smile when I pull in the driveway with the beautiful shades of green and yellows. I need to make sure to fertilize it this week because there is a big difference in the crops I get from my citrus when I stick to the recommended feeding schedule of four times a year. You can see by the leached coloring in the foliage that it is need of iron. I use an organic fertilizer for citrus.

 I actually followed through with forcing some bulbs this year and they were a delight for weeks!

 One of the first signs of spring is the blooming ornamental pear tree in the Moonlight Garden. It is always a surprise in the middle of winter and it only blooms for about a week so it can be easily missed if I get too busy to wander the gardens in the cool weather.

 Our key lime tree was very prolific this year with lots of fruit to harvest from the ground around the tree.

One of the favorite plants for the bees is rosemary. This large shrub is always buzzing this time of year. It is actually in the Moonlight Garden and breaks the all-white rule, but I let it slide because I love it so.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Late Winter Blooms

 It is hard to believe that spring is just a few days away. This winter has flown by with so many family happenings as well as personal events that took over much of my focus and time. 

 The big El Nino we were counting on to bring us relief from the long drought has been rather winpy to say the least, but there is still more rain in the forecast and the mountain tops are covered with snow, a good sign.

I haven't spent any time in the gardens up until this week, but they have been soaking up the rain and the record breaking heat in February and there are signs of growth everywhere. I am delighted that the abutilons I searched for all over last year have settled in and are blooming like crazy in all the shady gardens that were so bare. I absolutely love their charming blooms as do the hummingbirds. Their structure is a bit leggy and sparse still, but I am hoping they will fill in this spring. I learned the hard way not to prune them too hard because they are slow growers so I am just leaving them alone to allow them to spread out in their light and airy fashion. Because they prefer the shade, they don't seem too bothered by the lack of rain last year and are good sports almost everywhere I have planted them. I am going to figure out how to cut some branches and bring them in the house too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Garden Waits

 It's been a busy month with little getting done in the gardens. I had bunion surgery in late October and have been somewhat incapacitated for too much activity. I did get a walk through the gardens once in a while, which was a little frustrating because there is so much to do and this is such a good time of year to do almost everything.  

 Most of the color is coming from a few potted plants I added for a dinner party we had last month.

 I'm almost healed and looking forward to getting back out there and keeping busy - at least until this expected monster El Nino sends me back indoors!

Yesterday I tagged a number of shrubs that have not fared well during the hot, dry summer to be removed by my garden helper this week. Hopefully I will be able to get to the nursery to pick up some replacements that can get established over the winter. With the holidays coming and the house filling up with family next week, I know my priorities will be elsewhere again soon. Luckily the garden isn't going anywhere, it's always waiting and carrying on without me. Thank goodness!

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Bloomers

'Frequent Violet' Iris
 I have been meaning to write a post about all the plants that have disappeared over the past couple of drought ridden years in my gardens (these are not them!), but it was kind of sad so I decided to focus on a bit of color that is still enjoying the hot weather.

Duranta erecta 'Sapphire Showers'
 I've had to remove a bunch of photos from my computer so it will not punish me, so I have been reminiscing about plants that I had kind of forgotten about.

 I have also been visiting nurseries this week to start thinking about the fall planting plans. I want to take advantage of this forecast El Nino year with the added rain it is supposed to bring.
Queen's Wreath
 It is too hot to do any planting yet, but October is our best month of the year for establishing new trees, shrubs and perennials.

Bird of Paradise
 I am much more disciplined and savvy about sticking to natives and drought tolerant plants after this long hot summer than I am in the spring when I just get carried away!

Rose 'Evelyn'
 It has been a rough year for some of my favorite plants (ahem - roses) and I am rethinking whether or not they are worth the work and anguish they put me through.

Salvia leucantha and Guara
I'm trying to make smart choices and add more of what already is working well. Of course that is the plan. We'll see how it plays out when I actually go to buy the plants!