Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Moonlight Garden

I've written here and there about the Moonlight Garden in SJC. It is only about a year old and so it is still maturing and filling in with all white flowers. There were only palm trees and grass here when we moved in a couple years ago.

The way it is laid out it is hard to capture in photographs because it actually wraps around a large play lawn.
There is a path that we put in out of DG that weaves in and out of the existing palm trees. We call it the tricycle track, but it is more likely my wandering path through the garden with a cup of tea or glass of wine.

The flower beds on either side of the path are filled with shrubs, vines, perennials, grasses and annuals, all with either white blooms or white in the variegation of the foliage. There are many green shrubs that are used as a background color.

There are a number of places to sit in the Moonlight Garden, to observe the scenery from different angles. And yes, it does sparkle in the moonlight!

(Click on photos to enlarge)

Monday, June 29, 2009

Lion's Tail

A long blooming shrub, leonotis leonurus, or Lion's Tail as it is commonly called, is a plant that I have always admired in other people's gardens, but only got around to finding a spot for it in my garden last year. I have two of them in SJC, this one that blooms all summer and fall, and another that is in a corner and has yet to bloom. I suspect that that latter is not getting enough sun. It is a very drought tolerant plant that is a member of the mint family, but from my observations it is a more civilized family member that stays where put!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Swan River Daisy

I adore fine little plants that you can put in the ground and then forget about, allowing them to take on a life of their own, rambling around rocks and through cracks, weaving interest throughout other plants. Brachyscome, or Swan River Daisy is one of those plants. I use it as a filler that blends well with other plants in full sun. It is a perennial in our climate and gets to be a substancial mound with a two foot spread in the right conditions.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Dry Garden

The street-side garden is filling in slowly, but is finally showing some color. The green agave, blue senecio and orange lantana have similar requirements and look good together. A perfect relationship! Eventually this area will only be watered about once a month in the summer and not at all during the winter, but there are still areas that have new plants that are not established enough to tough it out during the summer months, so it is still getting watered weekly.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Very Vulnerable

You can see in this picture my two gardening companions (actually there are three but the cat didn't make it into this photo). I have always been careful to make sure my gardens were pet/wildlife/kid friendly and could take a great deal of abuse, like a 100 pound dog traipsing through the flowers.
I have also been striving to do more mass plantings of bulbs as opposed to plopping in one here and there.

Now my two goals have collided with these mass plantings of lily bulbs I purchased at a garden show earlier this year. The ones above are a bed of about 50 Casa Blanca lilies in the Moonlight Garden. They are surrounded on two sides by the beginning of a boxwood hedge, but are completely open on the other two sides. See that lawn behind them? That is where a lot of ball playing goes on with dogs and kids. What was I thinking? It will be a miracle if these make it through the season unscathed.

These are 50 stargazer lilies I bought at the same time (they were practically giving them away) in my backyard garden. If you look closely at the left hand side of the picture you will see my shepard's tail after he exited the bed, albiet somewhat gracefully. There is also the beginning of boxwood hedges going in here which will eventually add some protection, but until then, these lovelies are very, very vulnerable!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Pond au Natural

This is what the little pond in Laguna looks like this time of year before it becomes engulfed in water hyacinths. It is a just a hole in the ground with a pond liner and rocks around the perimeter. It has cheap goldfish to control the mosquitoes and is very clear water with no form of artificial filtration. Once we had a very large frog living in there, but I'm not sure he is still there. It is a mystery to me how frogs get into ponds because there is no other water anywhere near this tiny pond!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Easy Steps

These are the steps in the bottom part of the garden in Laguna. They are made from 4X4's and rebar. Although I didn't make these steps I did make lots of them throughout the hillside garden before I had any hardscape put in professionally after the garden was about eight years old. At one time these steps were covered in wooly thyme (which is now just on the edges) but a critter kept digging it up looking for grubs so I settled for gravel to keep them from getting too muddy. Steps are easy to do it the hard clay soil because they keep their shape while you are digging them out and installing the risers.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Jolt of Color

There is nothing like lobelia to give a bright jolt of color to a garden bed. You can see this little patch of 'Purple Palace' across the entire yard. Although technically it is an annual, it lasts a few years in our climate. Here it is mixed in with white bacopa under some roses and daylilies. I love the intensity of the color!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Looking Up

A truly wonderful garden for me is one that has interest in all directions, even up. I habitually look at the ground when I walk. I think most gardeners do. But I am delighted when I look up and find something to draw my attention overhead, like this passion flower that is dripping down from an arbor that is over a path in my Moonlight Garden. It was supposed to be an all white flower, obviously miss-marked. But I am granting it a reprieve to stay in this white garden since it is providing me with such charm.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Getting A Lift

This jasmine vine has found the perfect companion and the perfect spot in our front garden in Laguna. It is growing happily with our old Monterey pine for support right near the front gate, where its lovely scent greets us when we walk in the yard.

Friday, June 19, 2009


I love big, overblown roses, but I also love the simple few-petaled roses and 'Playboy' floribunda is one of the latter. It has that orange-y pink-y coloring that I am crazy about and each bloom has five outer petals and four inner petals surrounding a yellow center. Why is it called Playboy? My guess is that it is his rather flirty nature!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Part of the Charm

Having an old established garden like my one in Laguna (okay, old and established to me is 14 years) means that there are a number of items in the garden that it took time and patience to collect. One of those items is this compass rock that sits in the ivy in a fork in a path, pointing out the directions to the garden traveler. It charms me every time I see it!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I have grown Spiderwort (tradescamtia virginiana) forever in my garden because I love the bright purple flowers against the bright grassy leaves.

It is a perennial that is a member of the same family that Purple Heart, Wandering Jew and Moses-In-The-Cradle belong to as evident in the flower stems. The top photo is the common one that I always see at the nursery and the bottom photo is a hybrid (sorry, don't know the name) that has more yellow in the leaves and a lighter shade of purple flowers. It grows in the sun or shade and requires regular water, but can live in soggy soil. I've also seen it with pink flowers.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Balloon Flower

I had almost forgot I had this charming little perennial until I spotted it at the back of one of my beds, misplaced for sure because it should be up front where it can be seen. It is called the Balloon Flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) or Chinese Bellflower because of the way the bloom resembles a puffed up balloon before it opens.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sweet Peaches

Today I ate my first peach of the season and it was delicious! It didn't come from one of my small trees but it was wonderful never-the-less. This is what my peaches look like. I rarely ever get to the few that the little trees produce before the birds get them, but I love watching them grow. Eventually my trees will be big enough for fruit for all of us to enjoy!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Make Mine Munstead

I don't think there is any lavender hybrid that I don't grow in my gardens. I love them all and they love our climate as long as they have good drainage. This is 'Munstead', a smaller variety that is just charming. If you look closely you will see a number of bees in this picture. They seem to love it as much as I do!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sweet Little Mound of Peruvian Lilies

I have written about alstroemeria before and I feel bad that I cannot locate the tag with the specific name of this one because it is quite a performer in the garden.
It has variegated foliage which adds a lot of interest even when it is not in bloom. Sometimes Peruvian lilies can get very tall and leggy, but this one is a compact little mound and a prolific bloomer. Even though the stems may not be long enough for big bouquets, they are very charming in a small arrangement and just like the tall ones, they last for weeks when cut!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

An Extreme Rose

I just had to share this 'Paul Ecke' rose again which is so unusual and dramatic. It is kind of a scraggly bush so I may end up moving it somewhere where it can blend in with other plants a bit more instead of the prominent spot it is in now.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

White Daylily

Like most other gardeners, I am a fan of daylilies. They are such dependable elements in the garden I doubt I have a mixed bed anywhere that doesn't have at least one daylily in it. When it came time to populate my Moonlight Garden with white flowers I didn't even think about daylilies since they just don't come in white. But then when I was putting my order in last year from Oakes Daylilies I took a peek at what they list as 'Near Whites'. As I guessed most of them were just really pale shades of yellow or peach. But then I spotted 'White Temptation' and after reading the reviews I thought I would give it a try. Sure enough although it has a yellow center it is close enough to white to stay in the white garden, and I am pretty strict about flowers that get a pass in this area!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The 'Confusing' Blue Hibiscus

In my last post I wrote about my pure white "Blue Hibiscus' and I confused a few people that are not familiar with this plant. It is not the hibiscus from Hawaii with the large, flashy flowers which is a tropical plant, although it is a member of the
malvaceae family so I guess you would call it a distant cousin. A cousin that grew up in Australia, where this plant is from, as are many of the plants that do well in Southern California.

Unlike the tropical hibiscus, this plant requires little water and has few pest or diseases. It is a shrub that gets to be about five feet tall around here. It typically only comes with flowers in shades of purple, except for one white cultivator. Hope this clears up any confusion!

Monday, June 8, 2009

A "White" Blue Hibiscus

I use Blue Hibiscus (alyogyne huegelii) quite often in my gardens because I love the color and they are so drought tolerant and bloom for most of the year. The key to keeping them blooming and attractive is to constantly cut them back, otherwise they get leggy. Having an all white garden is an adventure in seeking out good performers with white blooms and this 'White Swan' Blue Hibiscus meets that criteria.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Prolific and Fragrant Groundcover

Pennyroyal (mentha pulegium) is a member of the mint family that has a strong spearmint fragrance. It is a low grower that likes a cool, moist site. I have it growing here (where my Annie is checking it out) under the grape arbors. It was planted last fall from plugs and as you can see has spread enough to almost cover the retainer bricks which was my objective. It can be used as a tea, but it can be poisonous if consumed in great quantities.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Elusive Blue Hydrangia

This hydrangea is a rare sight in a Southern California garden. Because our soil and water is on the alkaline side, the ph level necessary for blue hydrangeas is rarely ever just right. Even if I use supplements to alter the ph, the best I seem to ever do is get a lavender bloom (although I must confess I am not that diligent about adding suppliments). I crave those big blue blooms that I've seen in southern gardens where huge bushes dominate the landscape, but either I need to move or be more diligent in manipulating my soil. This one was blue when I purchased it and it was in the house for a couple months and my guess is that the blooms had already formed before it got moved into the garden. I will just have to enjoy it while it lasts because I suspect it will be a lovely pink next year!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A Perfect Match

The other day as I was wandering through the garden I noticed this calla lily (whose name escapes me) that has come up in the middle of a sprawling shrub of lobelia laxifloria. They have the exact same coloring and are perfect compliments to each other with the lobelia having small leaves and flowers and the calla lily having large, variegated leaves and dynamic flowers. One of the nicest things about having large gardens is being able to play around with colors that I never would use as my first choice for a garden bed, such as red and yellow!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Niobe Clematis

Clematis are not seen in many gardens around here. It is a bit tricky to grow and I think there are so many easier options that most gardeners don't bother. I have killed my share myself and so whenever I have one that is thriving I am thrilled. Niobe is considered a red clematis but it is more of a deep wine color here, which I like a lot! It is in partial shade in a container sunk in the ground.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Blue and Green and... Red?

This is my garden outside the front door in SJC. It was grass until about a year and a half ago at which time I planted a number of shrubs and perennials and filled in with a few annuals. The color scheme is bright and cheery, my favorite blues, purples, a bit of yellow and white and of course, green. Everything is growing and filling in wonderfully, including a rather 'loud' volunteer!
This red impatiens must be reseeded from the plants that were here when we first moved into the house. I'm sure I will take it out any day now, but it kind of reminds me that too much perfection can be boring