Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hummingbird Entertainment

Inside the window behind this abutilon plant is my treadmill. I spend a tortuous half hour on it a number of times a week and the one thing that is pleasant about the whole experience (other than when it is over) is that the hummingbirds love visiting the abutilon and are constantly flitting around it while I work out.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Clematis and Resident

While snapping a photo of the first clematis blooms of the season on this Niobe clematis, I noticed the spider that has rolled the upper petal into a neat little shelter.
This 'Henryi' clematis is blooming behind a bench near the play lawn (thus the wiffle ball) and I am afraid to move it because of the chances that it will not survive the move. It was in a flower bed before I reorganized the entire area. At least it is protected and I know where to peak to enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Amber Carpet Rose

There are few roses easier to grow than the 'Carpet Rose' series. They aren't really groundcovers as the name would imply, just small shrubs with lots of blooms and few diseases. I grow white ones and a soft pink one called "Apple Blossom". This is a new introduction this year named "Amber" and when I saw it the first time at the nursery it had burgundy foliage with these peach color blooms. I thought it was very unique and bought three for a new flower bed I was putting in at the time. A couple weeks later I was describing it to a friend and when I went to show it to her the burgundy foliage had turned completely green. It must have been in the shade or cold or some different climate to change color so dramatically. Oh well, it is still a pretty plant.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Easy Going Wallflower

Erysimum, or as it is known by its common name, Wallflower, is a staple in my flower beds because of its easy going nature.

It is a perennial that blooms here for about ten months out of the year if it is deadheaded about once a month. Other than that it has few requirements or problems.

It does require regular water and so I place it in partial shady areas that don't dry out too much. It gets to be about two feet high and wide and it is easy to forget about which is why I guess it is called "Wallflower".

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Happy Cat

The catnip always makes our cat, Goose, happy. It is amazing how much she loves it and rather amusing to see her swoon and roll around when she is around it. It is a member of the mint family and so must be planted where it can be contained. Must be nice!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Perfectly Constructed

We have a TV outside mounted under an overhang. It is one way to get DH outside during baseball/football season. The other day we noticed two little finches flying back and forth to the TV and on closer inspection realized that they were constructing a nest in the bracket holding the TV. This is no place to raise young ones (due to the start of baseball season) and so we decided to take the nest down, unless there were already eggs in it. Luckily the birds had not laid any eggs yet so it came down and we turned on the overhead fan, hoping the movement would discourage further construction in the area. The nest is perfectly assembled with an outside made up of woven twigs and palm threads and the inside a soft composition of fluffy plant materials and downy feathers. I hope the finches weren't too disappointed and found another spot to raise their young.

Better Late Than Never

These snapdragons were planted early last fall, the ideal time to plant cool season annuals for a long bloom period over the mild winter months.

Unfortunately they sat like sulky children until about a couple weeks ago and then they shot up and are starting to bloom, finally! Hopefully I will get a few more months' blooms because of what we call May Gray and June Gloom, overcast spring weather along the coast, before the heat of summer does them in. Occasionally I have had snapdragons that hang on throughout the year if the summer is mild. That would be great here because it is a narrow little planted that they add a bit of color that I like.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Window Planter, Before and After

This is the small planter under our dining room window in SJC and what it looked like when we moved in two years ago. Nothing wrong with this tidy little hedge, other than maybe a bit boring.
This is what it looks like today. The color of the house is always a challenge to work with when placing blooming plants next to it, but this 'Royal Sunset' climbing rose works well as does the Spanish lavender. The lavender will bloom like this for a few months and then be cut back and the gray-green foliage will be a backdrop to the carpet rose 'Amber' that is planted with it. Overall I'm quite pleased with this combination.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Fine, Fine Wine

One of the new iris I put in the SJC garden last year has finally bloomed!

'Fine Wine' was definitely worth the wait!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who Knew?

I've never grown leptospermum (tea tree) in my gardens before. They are usually sold clipped into tight little lollipop trees around here, which do nothing for me. They are also a rather stiff plant. However I bought the charming little pink and white one for this flower bed because the colors were complimentary to the other flowers in the bed, like this osteospermum, 'Sheila'. At the time I didn't even realize what it was, I just liked the form and blooms and I was a bit surprised when I realized it was a tea tree. It will most likely get huge, but so far I am quite fond of it in this place.

Saturday, April 18, 2009


Alstromeria are favorites among florist and for good reason. They last for weeks when cut and have nice long stems. The flowers look like an azalea and come in a variety of colors. They do need regular water to perform well. The unique thing about this perennial is that instead of cutting the stems, either when gathering them for bouquets or deadheading, they should be given a sharp tug which will break them off at the base and encourage new flowering shoots. In our area they start blooming in early spring and go on and on for months.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wisteria Tree

This is my little wisteria tree in SJC. Growing a wisteria tree is a true act of patience because it takes many years for it to really look like anything other than a goofy mistake. If I hadn't seen a gorgeous old one at a local nursery I would have never attempted it. It will be years before the 'trunk' gains any girth and it will have to be pruned aggressively a number of times a year, but I hope it will be worth it.

I have a white one in Laguna that I have had for about six years and it is still in that awkward stage, not really a tree, not really a vine, but I keep hoping. The trouble with the white one is it is planted in the middle of a garden bed and it blends in with the white flowers of a spirea that blooms at the same time behind it. The lesson here? Think about the background of a plant that you want to be a focal point.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Indian Hawthorn

Few shrubs are as worry free with such a long bloom time as rhaphiolepis indica or as it is widely known, Indian Hawthorne. I inherited dozens of these bushes in SJC and I confess, I have removed lots of them to replace them with more variety.
There are still lots of them on the property and the picture above shows them blooming along the driveway. They bloom for six to eight weeks in late winter or early spring and the bees just love them! I must admit I am not crazy about the bronze color of the new foliage, but other than that they are drought tolerant and worry free all year round. But you must love lots of 'pink' because that is what you will get if you plant them!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just Joey

Not a big fan of hybrid tea roses, but 'Just Joey' is an exception!
Blooms at least six inches across and a wonderful fragrance makes it a must in both of my gardens!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

If I had It To Do Over...

...I would have planted all two dozen of these dutch iris in the same spot instead of polka-dotting them in groups of three throughout the property. It would have made a much bigger statement. This is a common problem I have in putting plants in the ground that I need to correct. One here, two there and so on instead of in one large mass. Next time!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Aquilegia Returns!

Even though aquilegia (Columbine) is considered a perennial, the only way it returns in my gardens is if it reseeds itself. Until now!
This tall purple beauty (whose name escapes me) has lasted throughout the summer, fall and winter and is now blooming in my SJC garden again.
I am thrilled!
I love the lacy foliage and they are one of my favorite flowers for the shady areas with a definite woodland feeling. You can almost see the fairies dancing around them.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

'Easter Basket' Rose

The appropriately named rose, 'Easter Basket'.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Mary Frances

If you buy an iris in a nursery around here chances are it will be Mary Frances like this one that has just started blooming in my SJC garden.
I am not sure why nurseries sell so few iris. They have beautiful flowers, few pests or diseases, are drought tolerant and have some of the most beautiful flowers imaginable. It may be because most of them only bloom for a couple weeks of the year. Even the reblooming ones only have flowers for a few weeks sporatically. So many people in our area want plants that bloom every day of the year. To me that would be like eating the exact same thing every day. Why not have an ice cream sundae once in a while for a treat? That is what iris are to me in my garden. A bit of an indulgence that makes life interesting.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Old Garden Rose

Rosa spinosissima is an old garden rose that I have had for two years. It did not bloom last year and I was considering replacing it if it did not bloom this year. Much to my delight it made a lovely showing for about three weeks early in the season and therefor may stay.
Old garden roses are ones that have survived hundreds of years (this one is from 1600's) and are fairly tough shrubs. The only downside is that they only bloom once a year, but when it is as lovely a show as this, I'll be happy to wait!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Aeonium 'Zwartkopf'

Few plants add as much drama in the garden without blooming as aeonium . Especially 'Zwartkopf" with its deep maroon almost black foliage.
It is not just interesting, it is also problem free and ridiculously easy to propagate. I have it all over in both of my gardens and they all came from a single plant that I bought years ago.
They will get leggy, but some people prefer the architectural form of tall ones with stems showing. I prefer them short and full, which is probably why I have so many of them. Whenever the stems get taller than I like, I just break them off and stick them in the ground somewhere and let the smaller ones on the bottom take over. They are also great in containers and are very drought tolerant. They need full sun to maintain the dark color.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Honey Perfume

As fragrant as it is beautiful! Compact and disease resistant makes 'Honey Perfume' a wonderful rose for most gardens!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Wild Crocosmia

Crocosmia is a volunteer in my Laguna garden, having jumped the fence from the fields on the other side. I do appreciate it for its ease and enthusiasm, and because the hummingbirds are particularly fond of the orange tubular flowers. Unfortunately it spreads like crazy and in no time at all creates a thick stand that chokes out other plants. I remove it vigorously from this spot it especially loves in with the roses and clematis, but leave it down in the more natural areas of the garden. It is unfazed by my efforts to control it and returns every year to rub leaves with the more cultured flowers, much like a horticultural bull in a china shop.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Painted Japanese Fern

When I first planted this Painted Japanese Fern 'Pictum' there was no ground cover around it and it just kind of blended in with the soil. Now that the Australian violets and volunteer wild strawberries have embraced it, the colors really stand out and attract the eye.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Cracked Pot

I had ordered this pot last year from a mail order catalog and it arrived in pieces. The company agreed to replace it at no charge. Instead of throwing away the broken pottery, which was still lovely even in pieces, I found a place and a plant for it in the garden as shown above.
And here is the lovely pot that came all in one piece!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Not My Favorite, But...

I must admit I never would have picked out this color of azaleas if I were buying them at a nursery. They came with the house and were planted in all the wrong places. This was a grassy area that was shady and damp most of the time until we removed the grass and put in a flagstone walk. I needed plant material so I moved the azaleas over here and added tree ferns, ferns, Australian violets and a number of other shade plants. I am actually enjoying the bright, bold color this time of year and they are performing beautifully so I guess I can live with the cherry red.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Pop Top on BOP

Every once in a while a Bird of Paradise flower will show this unusual phenomenon, when a second bloom comes out of the first bloom, facing the other way. I had one last fall and missed taking a picture of it, but I got lucky a second time.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Brugmansia Tree?

Brugmansias or Angel Trumpets as they are commonly called, grow with exuberance in our area. They often develop into small trees like this double one I have had in Laguna Beach for about ten years. When I first started growing them I showered them with all kinds of attention which was what I had learned on-line. Fertilizing once a week, watering every other day, but eventually the demanding schedule fell to the wayside and it turns out they are just as happy. The fragrance is heavenly in the evenings.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The New Veggie Garden

We are fortunate to live in a place that has access to lots of fresh, organic produce. One of the largest organic farms in Orange County is within walking distance and there are various farmer markets in every city on different days of the week. Because of that I have only grown a few fresh vegetables in my gardens, usually intermixed in my flower beds.
This year I decided to put in a dedicated vegetable garden for a change in SJC. I choose an area that used to be the cutting flower garden and moved all of those plants to areas in the back yard to replace lawn. (Okay, I didn't do it, but I supervised!)
After having read five or six books on vegetable growing I designed a plot with raised beds and added some large containers I had that weren't in use. I found the trellises on sale for $25 each and plan to paint them. I have unabashedly copied the birdbath circle from Rosalind Creasy's 'Edible Garden' books. I know that I will spend more time there (which is a requirement for vegetable gardens) if it is a lovely place, so the overall design and ultimate beauty of the space is important to me. It seems like it is taking forever to get the structure finished, but it will be done any day now.