Monday, June 30, 2008

An Award

Cindee of Cindees' Garden was kind enough to pick my blog for the Arte y Pico Award. I am very honored to be chosen by such a talented and generous blogger. If you are not familiar with her blog stop by for a visit, you will not be disappointed. Thank you, Cindee!

The origin of the Arte y Pico Award: "This prize has arisen from the daily visits that I dedicate to many blogs which nourish me and enrich me with creativity. In them I see dedication, creativity, care, comradeship, but mainly, ART, much art. I want to share this prize with all those bloggers that entertain me day to day and to share this prize with those who enrich me every day. Doubtlessly, there are many and it will be hard to pick just a few. The people I will name today deserve this prize, as do the very long serious list of bloggers I also enjoy to read. But I will name the first 5 and leave the rest of the work to all the bloggers that visit other's blogs and are nourished by them."

There are 5 rules for this award:

1. Choose 5 blogs you consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogging community, regardless of the language.

2. Each award should have the name of the author and a link to his/her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award winner should show the award and put the name and link to the blog that presented him/her with the award. (I know it says this is a rule, but I also know that not everyone likes to do this. I won't be hurt if you don't!)

4. The award winner and the one who has given the award should show the Arte y Pico blog so everyone will know the origin of this award. Translated, it means "the peak of art."

5. Show these rules.

As the rules go, I too need to choose five blogs I consider deserving of this award for their creativity, design, interesting material, and contribution to the blogging community, regardless of the language it is written in. So, I pass this award on to:

1. Savannah Garden Diary: a garden that makes me wish I lived in Savannah! I admire their ambition!

2. The Hummingbird Garden: a blog filled with beautiful pictures of all kinds of plants that attract birds and of course, lots of lovely photos of birds!

3. Gardening While Intoxicated:
gorgeous pictures of roses and inspired plant combinations.

4. Carrots and Kids: a charming, well-written blog I always look foreword to viewing

5. Compostings: a Connecticut gardener who inspires me to plant more vegetables in neat rows!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Verbena, Daisies and Yarrow

My gardens in San Juan Capistrano are all fairly new so there is still a lot of filling in to do as far as plant growth goes. This one little area that was planted last fall in the 'Flying Rabbit Island' flower bed is doing well and finally showing its potential.

In the background is one of my favorite plants for adding an airy feeling to the garden, verbena bonariensis (I've seen it commonly called Peruvian verbena). In front of that is the very fragrant tagetes lemmonii (sometimes called French Marigold Bush or Copper Canyon Daisies). Some people like the smell, others aren't crazy about it, me being one of the latter. In the very front is white achillea (yarrow) which is a favorite among the butterflies. All of these plants are drought tolerant.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Chartreuse and Burgundy

One of my favorite foliage color combinations in the garden is chartreuse and burgundy and this is one of the best examples of that combination at its peak in my mediation garden. This is heuchera 'Persian Carpet' (I believe), bacopa 'Olympic Gold', and ajuga 'Chocolate Chip'. This area gets partial sun.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sally and the Loquat Tree

I inherited the loquat tree in the Laguna garden. It was most likely planted by the birds many years ago as they pop up everywhere with great enthusiasm. If you are not familiar with them they are a tropical fruit that somewhat resembles an apricot in color and texture but are smaller and more oval in shape. They are quite tasty and they have three large seeds in the center of each fruit. I eat them all them time while working in the garden, but I never really harvest them for some reason. The birds and I are the only ones that really eat them come to think of it. They are actually a member of the rose family and some people plant them in place of magnolia trees because they have large dark green leaves with fuzzy brown backsides much like a magnolia, but the similarity ends there.

The rose is a Sally Holmes climber, one of a dozen that I have growing over arbors that adorn the steps down to the eucalyptus grove at the bottom of the garden.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Aquired Taste

When I first discovered Lamb's Ears (stachys byzantina) I fell in love with its soft bluish gray color, soft fuzzy leaves and easy disposition. I just didn't like the flowers. I would go crazy trying to keep them all cut off, much like other plants that are grown mainly for their foliage. Eventually though, mother nature prevailed and there were more blooms than I could keep on top of so I just let them go and amazingly enough, I actually started appreciating their subtle beauty. And the bees love them too!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Another one of my favorite roses for the garden, Tamora, a lovely David Austin rose. She stays reasonable small (most roses quickly grow overhead around here) and has a pleasant fragrance, as so most of the David Austin roses. I have her in a couple different flower beds and always in a group of three bushes which is how David recommends.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Same Stone, Different Fillers

This is a flagstone path that we put in last fall on the sunny side of the house with woolly thyme as a filler.

This is the same flagstone that we put in on the shady side of the house last fall with baby tears as the filler.

Both are filling in nicely!

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Next to green, the most prevalent color in my gardens must be purplish-blue. It is the backbone color in most of my beds and then I move into either complementary colors or contrasting colors depending on the mood I am after. This crane's bill geranium, 'Rozanne' is one that I use over and over in sunny, warm spots. It blooms most of the year and remains compact when it is cut back in the late winter. It is the perfect size for those spaces in between the shrubs and groundcovers. I have also noticed that the rabbits aren't particularly fond of it, although they did do the initial pruning on some in my front bed late last winter, they seem to have found something else they prefer since then.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

A New View

Behind this bench the planter was filled with large, white azalea bushes when we moved into this house. They were lovely when in bloom, but they were not self-cleaning (they didn't drop the spent flowers) and so there were weeks of brown blooms that were a pain to deadhead. I recently had my son help me relocate all the azaleas to the new areas in the front moonlight garden where they would be more in the background and much to my delight, this opened up the view to the beds behind the planter. I plan on filling in the newly empty bed with ferns and shade plants that will be lower than the azaleas were to keep the open feeling.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tripping Over The Roses

I love abundance in a garden and this is the sure sign of decedent abundance, when the roses are falling all over the steps because they are so lush and heavy. Why stake them, they seem perfectly happy where they are and I have no problem walking around them.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Pink in the Blue and White Garden

This is one of my favorite places in the Laguna garden. It is a shade garden that is the entry to the lower garden and it originally was only supposed to have blue and white flowers. If I have learned anything from gardening all these years it is to be flexible when things don't go as planned. Obviously I didn't get around to adding acidic materials to the hydrangeas which were originally blue and they have now reverted to a lovely shade of magenta. Our soil and water is on the alkaline side and acid loving plants need special attention. Or you can just let them do whatever they want!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Western Tanager Homes

Every year a number of Western tanagers make their nests in the over-sized leaves of our banana trees. This year the bananas were sparse due to the need to thin them out and so the birds chose to nest in the giant bird-of-paradise leaves. They build stringy nests out of fibers from palm trees. They attach the nests so they hang down under the leaves. They are typically up too high in the trees to really observe the babies, but I always find nests in the garden after the first strong winds towards the end of summer.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Pomegranate Bush

We inherited a huge pomegranate "bush" in Laguna down near the bottom of the yard. For years it just grew and produced fruit with no additional water or support of any kind by us. Since the garden eventually made its way down to incorporate the pomegranate bush it produces even more lovely, wonderful tasting pomegranates. I have tried to prune it up into a tree because I think it would be lovely to sit under, it insists on being a bush! As you can see, there are already charming little pomegranates on it that will be ripe in the fall.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Wide Open Choke

If you didn't pick your artichokes to eat, this is what they will eventually look like!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Perennial Penstemon

Penstemon is one of my favorite perennials in the garden. It seems to love my hillside that is on the dry side and spreads easily, but is not invasive. The color and blooms all summer can't be beat. It does add a mid-sized vertical element to the garden bed. It is native to our area, but this particular one is a hybrid and requires more regular watering than the drought tolerant native.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Shady Bathing

I love birds in the garden and have a number of feeders, bird houses and birdbaths. They all require work to keep them clean and filled or else they become a distraction instead of an attraction.

One of my favorite birdbaths is this blue glazed one for reason's other than the the obvious lovely color and structure. The glazed finish is much easier to keep clean than cement ones and it stays cooler. I didn't really plan it, but locating it in the shade cuts down on algae growth (although positioning it under a messy tree might counterbalance that aspect as far as trying to keep it clean). The birds love it too!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So Glad

Years ago I planted a number of gladiolas in the Laguna garden and I always forget about them until surprise, there they are in all their splendor! I actually planted red and white ones that would bloom around fourth of July so I could mix them in with blue flowers for a patriotic arrangement to take to our friends' annual party. There are only a few that still bloom, which reminds me, I need to plant more. They make such wonderful cut flowers and add so much height to flower arrangements and the bees love them too!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

White Eden

I have grown the pink version of the 'Eden' rose for many years and it never ceases to impress me with its beauty. While looking for a climber for an arbor in my new garden I ran across the new version of 'Eden', the white one. It is still a small bush, but the blooms are every bit as lovely as the original and one of the few really full white climbing roses that repeat all summer.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bouquets With Roots

I have a houseful of plants, but every once in a while I crave more color than is available in flowering house plants. As my friend Debby once said, if you bring a plant in the house, it's a houseplant! I recently put together a quick dinner party and my entry was looking a little bleak. A quick trip to the nursery and a few minutes stuffing these four inch color pots into some urns I had and I was quite happy! When they start to look a little tired (in about a month I'll guess) they will go out in the garden where they belong for an extended life!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Beyond the Curve

In an earlier post (Mysterious Curves) I showed a curved walkway that inspired the viewer to continue on the path to see what was beyond the site line and some people requested to see what was actually beyond the curve... so here you go. This is the side garden near the front door of our San Juan Capistrano home.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Reluctant Signage

I try to resist the urge to scatter plaques
and other ornaments with witty sayings
throughout the gardens, but occasionally
I succumb, as in this case.

Easy Container

This planter bowl is located on top of the waterfall filter in our front garden in Laguna. For years I planted it with annuals which I was forever having to replant, fertilize to keep looking lush, and prune and deadhead, all of which was very difficult due to the location of the pot. Finally I resorted to succulents and I have been happy with it ever since. There is a soft, peaceful hue to the colors and it is very low maintenance.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lovely Lavender Lady

One of the best plants for attracting butterflies to the garden is the passion vine (passiflora). It is the favorite food of the caterpillars of the gulf fritillary butterfly which is common to the southerner half of the United States. You must be willing to put up with some damage to the leaves while the caterpillars feast on them, but you will be rewarded with lots of lovely orange butterflies all summer.

There are many different species and colors of this vine and some of them can get very aggressive if not kept in check. I had a red one that actually scared me it grew so fast. I was afraid if I walked through the tunnel it had made over some arbors I had that I may never come out again! I ended up taking it out to allow other plants in the area to live.

This particular specie is 'Lavender Lady".

Mysterious Curves

I love a garden with mystery. One that invites the viewer to wonder in further to see what they might discover. One of the ways to create mystery in garden design is with curves, or more specifically, curved paths.

My garden in Laguna was laid out around existing plants and trees and eventually developed into a series of interconnecting paths that crisscrossed the property. Unfortunately the gardens in San Juan are almost all straight lines with very little mystery. The picture above is one of the few walkways that you cannot see the entire layout ahead.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Native Columbine

This is a sweet little native columbine that is very delicate and simple. It lives in a planter under some palm trees along the driveway in San Juan Capistrano.

One of the things about planting native plants here in California is that there are such diversity in the topography in our area that there are many, many different classifications of native plants.

In other words, just because it is a native doesn't necessarily mean it will thrive in your yard. In fact many of the natives are very difficult to get established and almost impossible to propagate. One of the reasons is that there can be four or five different terrains in an area just a few miles wide.

In Laguna Beach there are native plants that only live on north facing hills which typically have heavy clay soil and some plants that are native only to the south facing hills that have more sandstone in their foundations.

Most of our California natives bloom in the winter which is our rainy season and go dormant in the summer. We often go seven or eight months at a time with no rainfall. The average rainfall for our area is 13 inches a year. But what that really boils down to is that some years we get four inches and other years we get 26 inches. You can imagine how tough the native plants must be to survive, let alone thrive!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

My Favorite Kind of Rabbit

Some rabbits are welcome in the garden.
This is one of them. He doesn't eat much.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

True Blue - California Lilacs

Ceanothus are some of my favorite plants because I love blue flowers in the garden. They are native to California hillsides (thus require excellent drainage) and sometimes called California Lilacs or Wild Lilacs, which is rather misleading because they have no smell.

There are many different varieties from groundcovers to huge bushes. I had one in Laguna that was at least 12 feet high until the voles ate the roots and it died overnight. My heart was broken when I discovered it so very, very dead. I have since replaced it with the smaller one in the bottom picture and it is blooming cheerfully, as if to be consoling while waiting to grow.

Ceanothus varieties with very small leaves are said to be deer resistant, although we all know deer will eat anything when they are hungry enough! These plants are very drought tolerant, although the ground cover type do better with some water in the summer.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Dead Sheep

My garden in Laguna is very loose and flowery and lends itself to whimsy quite naturally. It reflects the beach cottage house and its casual style.

My home in San Juan Capistrano reflects the California Spanish heritage and the landscape is very stately and majestic with over a hundred very tall palm trees on the property. It does not do whimsy well at all.

When we moved into this home last year for some odd reason I ordered this sheep from a garden catalog and when it came I regretted it because it just never "fit" the garden. Never-the-less, I put her right outside the front door much to my dogs' distress (it took them a while to quit barking at her every time they spotted her).

Lately the poor thing has taken to laying on her side. I kind of suspect that a child tried to ride her because she is just that size, and has bent her hind leg. She gets uprighted a number of times a week, but just ends up on her side again.

Maybe she is just tired.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

My New Most Favorite Plant is Blooming!

I love hydrangeas. Except if you cut the flowers you won't get anymore for the season. And for the dormant thing in the winter when they lose all their leaves and look like sticks that died along time ago. And because they produce their buds on old wood, if you even go near those naked sticks with pruners you will be punished with no blooms the following summer.

But now there are the new hybrids called aptly "Endless Summer" and they have the ability to produce flowers on new wood as well as old wood. It sounded too good to be true and I suspected that there was some catch, but I planted a couple bushes last spring and I had blooms all summer AND more and more came even when I cut them to bring inside for arrangements.

They only come in pink/blue and white mopheads so far, but that will suit me just fine.