Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pinch Me

I'm pretty negligent about pinching back the chrysanthemums in the gardens. Most of them do okay without too much pruning during the year and don't get too leggy and floppy. Not these ones! They definitely need some pinching to make them presentable at all. Next year, next year!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Raven

This summer we added a new piece of art to our gardens in SJC. It is a raven by artist Gerard Basil. It is entitled 'fortis miles' and is bronze and French limestone.
It was made especially for this spot in Palm Alley and the medallion around his neck was designed to signify our family crest by myself and the artist. I like the raven because there are so many crows and ravens and hawks in our area that they are as much a part of the landscape as anything else and add a lot of drama to the skies in our area. Ravens are very smart, social birds. We rescued one many years ago and turned him over to the local bird sanctuary where he was nursed to health and released. He used to come every Saturday morning while I sat on the deck with my coffee and greet me with a raven-speak thank you! This one is right on target for the season!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sad Salvia

Here is another example of an unhappy plant placed in the wrong spot. This is salvia 'Black and Blue' and it grows quite contently in other parts of the yard with little damage from insects or disease. For some odd reason (most likely the color looked right here when it was small) I put it in a narrow planter next to the house along the driveway in SJC. It doesn't get enough direct light and not enough air circulation as well as the roots are probably cramped. When a plant is under stress it sends off signals that insects pick up on and they head in for the kill. With not enough vigor to defend itself, the poor plant starts looking like this. I will come to its rescue and transplant it out in the open garden beds and fill in this area with some smaller plants that can handle the shade and we'll see what happens. There are some daylilies and impatiens that are growing quite happily in this bed also, so I know it is just this poor salvia.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Can't Remember

I am very fond of this charming perennial that is blooming right now in my garden, but for-the-life-of-me, I can't remember it's name! It is about four feet tall and herbaceous. Luckily I can enjoy it without addressing it formally!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Another Update on the Gravel Garden

All of the hard work is done in the gravel garden. The gravel is in and it is just lovely. It has a delightful ambiance and a pleasant crunch underfoot. I think it works well because of the dappled shade and green walls that keeps it from feeling too hot and bare.
The row of boxwood that seems random off the center of the space was a solution to what I though would be a problem slope area. I was afraid that people would slip on the grade created from the tree roots. It turns out that it is not slippery at all and all my concerns were for nothing. I am leaving the boxwood in because I kind of like the character they add. I can always move them later if they don't work with the furniture which is my next project. When people come over we always drag them down there and I'm sure that they think we are crazy, after all, it is just a bunch of gravel where there once was grass, but we love it!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Ground Hugging

I know I've mentioned it before, but verbena is a wonderful low growing shrub in our area that doubles as a colorful groundcover that is drought tolerant, attracts butterflies and is not bothered by bugs. This stand of it is on the backside of Flying Rabbit Island in the backyard in SJC and gets no attention at all. It always impresses me when I walk around the back and see it, hugging the ground and keeping the weeds at bay. It's not so aggressive that the daylilies are smothered and thrive easily in the midst of a sea of lavender.

Friday, October 23, 2009


A few more goodies from the nursery that will bridge the holidays. Three real pumpkins and one 'faux'. After Halloween the black one will be retired to storage and the remaining will be Thanksgiving ornamentation!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

No Self Control

When I should be focused on what my needs are for the big picture landscape, I am seduced by novelties at the nursery this time of year. I always buy "black" pansies to set the haunting mood for Halloween. Of course I am most likely the only one that ever notices or appreciates them, they get lost in the landscape fairly easily, and even in containers most people miss their subtle charm, but that's okay. They delight me every time I walk up the front walk and that's worth it to me!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Getting Picky

This is Joseph's Coat climbing rose that is on my list to relocate this winter. I put it in about three years ago to cover the pillars in front of the house in SJC and it has been a big disappointment. It rarely ever blooms and is plagued with bugs all summer, a sure sign it is in the wrong spot. I have seen it looking amazing in other people's gardens. Most likely not enough sun in the spot it is in (actually there are two of them, one on each column). I will be on the lookout for something with charm and requirements that are more consistent with this space and Joseph's Coat will move to the sunny back yard. No use fighting Mother Nature!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Late Season Iris

There is something wonderful about iris that bloom in the fall. They are considered re-bloomers, however not all of them labeled as such deliver with consistency. This one is "Frequent Violet" and I divided it in June, thinking that it had stopped blooming. Now I have a number of little trimmed off plants with blooms. I am delighted!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Colors of Autumn

I have never intentionally gone out and bought chrysanthemums to plant in the garden. They are most likely to end up there as an afterthought when I purchase them for holiday decorations and stick them in an empty spot after the blooms have faded. I typically forget about them until I notice them about to bloom in the fall and them I am so pleased when they put on their fall show so unexpectedly when other plants are winding down.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ms. Sago Palm

Our female sago palm is sporting a brand new set of fronds (they aren't really fronds as the sago is not really a palm, but a cycad) above the seed pods that she produced last year. I have read that it takes about six to nine months to germinate sago seeds and I get enough pups from her base to keep me supplied with all the sago palms I need, so I am not even attempting to crow them from seed. She is looking quite full and lush this time of year!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Big Leaves

We can't grow hostas here (other than as annuals) because it doesn't get cold enough to give them the chill they need to return every year and our humidity is low so even as annuals they typically are disappointing. The one large-leaf plant that does well in the shade for us is ligularia. It grows in dryish shade and as long as you keep the slugs and snails at bay, has few problems. It also adds some leave variety to all green beds. They do get tall yellow flowers, but I grow it for the foliage.