Thursday, July 31, 2008

Summer Sunset In The Garden

Here is the view from our Laguna Garden as the sun is setting over the Pacific. You can only see the sun set from the garden this time of year because it moves back behind the hill as the days get longer, making summer even more special.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Fuchsia Fuchsias

Fuchsias are a very popular plant in our area and were in every garden and hanging from every balcony in the seventies and eighties. They fell out of favor somewhat when the dreaded fuchsia gall mite invaded our area and infected many of them, leaving gnarly twisted new growth and stunted plants. Since then many of the hybrids that were susceptible have disappeared from nurseries with the more resistant varieties remaining. This particular one has lived for the past ten years in my front shade garden in Laguna and although it does get gall mite every spring I am able to keep it in check by removing and discarding the effected new-growth foliage every year.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


One of my favorite roses (okay, I know I say that about all of my roses) is Fame! It is such a cheery rose with its ruffly petals and bright deep pink color that you just have to smile when you look at it! It has a slight fragrance and is a fairly disease resistant, at least in my garden.

Monday, July 28, 2008

One Naked Lady

The other day I was noticing Amaryllis belladonna, common name, Naked Lady blooming around town. It seems I always forget to plant them until I see them in bloom and then regret that I hadn't go around to buying any bulbs. Then the other day I was walking around my garden in Laguna which has a sad case of the summertime blues and is looking a bit ragged around the edges, if you know what I mean (note the weeds popping up behind the bloom above), and there, down near the bottom of the hill was this lone Naked Lady blooming away with abandon. I then remembered that a few years ago I picked up a couple bulbs someone had brought to a Master Gardener's meeting to share with the group. They sat in the garage for months before I grabbed them and put them in the ground without much thought. What a lovely surprise for me this week!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Black and Blue... and Gold

I use a lot of salvias in the gardens. They are so user friendly and they bloom almost year round. This is one of my favorites, Black and Blue. It is growing here in this flower bed under a window along with a bright daylily who may or may not be Stella d'Oro.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Southern California Sky

I am a docent at the Hortense Miller Garden in Laguna Beach. Hortense is an amazing woman who gardened on a hillside for nearly fifty years. Before she settled in Laguna, she and her husband Oscar traveled the world. When it came time to settle down she said she wanted to live where the bougainvillea grew because it was so beautiful against the bright blue sky. I concur.

For more of this week's skies around the world go to Skywatch!

Royal Sunset

Outside the living room doors in San Juan Capistrano we removed some shrubs recently and replaced them with lavender and roses. On either side of the dinning room window we placed iron trellises and then went looking for some climbing roses that would somehow complement the gold color of the house. I choose the Royal Sunset rose mainly because of it's color, but now I realize that not only is this a pretty rose, but a very fragrant one too! It has that old-fashioned rose smell that you can catch a whiff of from a few feet away, making it an even better choice!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Tenacious Pansies

With the exception of a few really hot days in May, we have had a relatively mild summer. Proof of that is these pansies that are still blooming like it is the middle of spring instead of the middle of summer! Today it is around 73 degrees outside and although the sun is shining right now, we still have a thick, gloomy marine layer in the mornings which is typically called 'June Gloom'.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I love the look of gaura in the garden. It is so light and airy and moves with the slightest breeze like a swarm of little white butterflies. It is very drought tolerant (native to Texas) and easy to grow and I think it adds an interesting texture to the garden all summer.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Street Side Garden

Here are photos of the new street side garden in Sn Juan Capistrano. We put it in last fall and it is finally filling in nicely. Previously there was some tacky looking grass here among the tall queen palms. We took the grass out and went for a more drought tolerant style of garden. We also added the gravel path. There are still some changes I want to make this fall to add more color in a few places, but overall I'm very pleased with the outcome.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Beauty Next Door

Okay, this isn't my yard, but the view of my next-door neighbors yard from my driveway. Isn't it beautiful? There must be thousands of agapanthus in bloom under this ornamental plum tree. Charms me every time I come home.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sago In Bloom

Although they are very popular and sought after plants in our area, I personally have never been crazy about sago palms. They aren't really palms but members of the cyad family, distant relatives of conifers native to Japan. Their leaves are two to three feet long and very leathery and sharp which is why I would never plant one, they hurt!

At my house in San Juan Capistrano there were two sagos in the entry planter when we moved in and they are actually in bloom right now. I have never seen them bloom so it is somewhat of an event. At this time the blooms look very different on each one of them and so I'm thinking that maybe they are in different stages of development or else one is a female and one is a male? Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sky Watch Friday July 18th

This is the sky in Laguna Beach,
right behind a wind sculpture by
Seattle kinetic artist Andrew Carson.

View the sky from around the world at
Sky Watch Friday

Cape Fushia

This charming perennial (phygelius capensis) is growing in my San Juan Capistrano garden. It is easy to grow and quite drought tolerant once established. It grows to three or four feet high and wide and can tolerate some shade but flowers best in full sun. So far it is pest and disease free and I suspect it will stay that way. You typically see it in orange, pink or yellow, but I couldn't resist this pure white one.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tamora Too

Please forgive my redundancies, I know I posted earlier this season about the beautiful David Austin rose, Tamora, but these blooms are from a new bush I just put in this spring and I think they are just gorgeous! They have a lovely scent and it appears I just can't get enough of them!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hello Hollyhock!

I only put in a few hollyhocks this year in the San Juan Capistrano garden and only one of them is blooming so far, but what a beauty!

Monday, July 14, 2008


I have written about my love affair with the white re-blooming hydrangea called 'Blushing Bride'. I have it a number of places in the garden and all of the shrubs are consistent as far as their color and appearance goes, with the exception of this one. For some odd reason it shows a little green (see the back bloom hiding under a leaf), a little blue and a little pink. I can't think of a reason for this other than maybe it gets a little more light than the others or maybe I put something in the soil while the new bed was being prepped. Either way I still love it!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Soft Impatiens

I don't know about other places, but impatiens are used everywhere around here and they self-seed even when not intentionally planted. I have tried to keep my use limited to the white variety, although some bright red, pink and orange ones keep coming up where they have been planted by the previous owners. That is up until now. The new soft yellow ones have captured my attention and I have put them in under some green agaves and so far I am impressed by their muted understatement.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rooster and Roses

This old terracotta rooster has been living happily in my Laguna garden among the roses and helichrysum for about 10 years now. I think he is quite charming.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Salvia and Marilyn Monroe

Although I love all roses, I tend to stay away from most hybrid teas. I find them to be somewhat difficult and I just prefer big bouquets of old-fashioned roses to the single stemmed 'teas. That being said, one of my favorite hybrid teas is Marilyn Monroe. I just think it is one of the most beautiful blooms there is out there. I swear the petals are like a satin gown, a creamy peach color and the most unique texture I have seen on a rose. She has a slight fragrance. I only have one planted in my Laguna garden and I did have problems with blackspot the first couple of years, but she seems to have adapted to our cool weather and has made herself quite at home amongst this patch of salvia that has invaded her space.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Lovely Memorial

This is a 'special edition' memorial rose to commemorate a wonderful woman named Mary Lou Heard. She owned a charming little nursery here in Orange County that specialized in romantic gardens. She also organized one of the best garden tours in the county lasting two days in spring with around 15 to 20 homes with romantic gardens. Mary Lou passed away about five years ago from cancer and Roger's Gardens (another local nursery) came out with this limited edition rose that was only offered one year, in her memory. I have three of them in my Laguna garden and they are a lovely tribute. Her many fans have kept the garden tour going and it is still a wonderful event.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Beauty Is In The Eye....

This is a once beautiful cluster of Eden climbing roses that live along side a banister by my patio. Somehow they have succeeded in keeping every petal that existed on the original blooms and they have all turned to a lovely tea-stained color that exhibits just how far behind I am in my deadheading! Oddly enough, they have been there for a couple weeks and show no signs of further deterioration and I may just leave them for the summer and call them "antiqued".

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ghost Imprints

One of my favorite characteristics of the agave plant is what is called a 'ghost imprint' on the leaves. Before the leaves separate they are pressed tightly together and then emerge with the imprint of the leaf that was behind it. I think they make a lovely pattern on a striking plant. This is a small one that resides in a pot near my front entrance in San Juan Capistrano.

Flopping Daisies

This is a corner in my Moonlight Garden where, among other things, the Shasta Daisies grow. Because is gets afternoon shade the flowers tend to be a bit lanky and tall. In the case of the daisies they have chosen to 'relax' and lounge a bit among their neighbors. I look at them and think about putting in a hoop stake but that's as far as I get, thinking about it. So far they don't seem to be crowding out any other plants so I think they will just continue to sprawl for now.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Love Them or Hate Them

I happen to love them, perennial morning glories that is. Many people think they are nuisance plants and I'll admit they can be invasive and must be kept in check, but I just love the deep, rich color that evolves throughout the day. I also love the shapely green leaves and its overall enthusiam, willing to grow and thrive were other plants languish. In my Laguna garden I had six iron arches placed next to each other, inspired by pictures in Martha Stewart's Living Magazine many, many years ago. They were beautiful and the centerpiece of the garden. About eight years ago we had hardscape put in throughout the garden and where the arches were became a brick and wood arbor. For some reason the morning glories never took to the arbor like they did the arches and always looked scraggly. This years I finally gave up and took them out and put in wisteria which I am sure will take a few years to fill in fully. There are still morning glories here and there in the garden and they always make me smile.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


Not many annuals make it into my gardens, but I do welcome the re-seeders like nasturtiums and nigella, commonly called Love-In-A Mist. They both show up every year and put on quite a show of color in unexpected places. If they look out of place where they decide to sprout, they are easily pulled up. If you keep them dead headed they will continue to bloom, but when they are looking tired, I usually let them go to seed for blooms the following year.

Nike on the Rocks

As finicky as clematis can be in Southern California, some are troopers and I must say, this 'Nike' is one of them. It is growing in its original pot that is sunk into a gap in the rock waterfall we have in Laguna. It has been there for about seven or eight years and it withstands all kinds of abuse and still surprises me with beautiful magenta blooms every year.