Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Consuming the Rabbit

This tagetes lemmonii is coming close to enveloping our Flying Rabbit statue in the back yard in SJC. My DH keeps asking me why I don't cut it back. (BTW, the statue is straight, my photo is crooked!)

This is what it looks like on the other side. Too beautiful to cut back right now!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Working It

Although there are fall changes in our native landscape, they are typically subtle with the exception of our native sycamore trees. If you want to see changes in the landscape in the fall you have to work it. Birch trees are a luxury here because they are not drought tolerant. I have one near the front door in SJC in a little garden that gets a bit more water than the rest of the landscape. It is my little indulgence so I can enjoy a bit of fall color and texture.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

White Rebloomers

I was complaining earlier this year about my white iris not blooming in the spring, but I take all that back. They are putting on quite a show in the Moonlight Garden this month, a year after being divided. This one looks like 'Frequent Flyer' although there were some 'Immortality' in this bed too. I am delighted!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Growing Grapes

I grow grapes in both of my gardens. Maybe I should correct that statement and say I grow grape vines in both my gardens as I can't remember ever eating a grape I have grown. There are just too many birds to compete with and I have never cared enough to go to the trouble of draping the vines with bird netting. In fact it would be almost impossible because the vines scramble up everything they can find. I cut them back in Laguna every year to try to contain their exuberance and the ones in SJC are still young. Why do I grow them if not for the fruit? The foliage is just so lovely I can't get enough of it. There is a beautiful mission in SJC (remember the swallows?) and I love to visit it just to walk under the arbor of grape leaves in the summer. They are so classic and romantic, who needs grapes?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Adding Interest

Most of our entertaining of friends and family from the east coast takes place during the fall and winter months, not the prime time for garden blooms. I took it upon myself to add some much needed interest to the white garden by adding some white violas, stock and kale. They sparkle in the early morning light that is so beautiful this time of year.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Late Season Roses

'Royal Sunset'

'Betty White'

I will admit I am starting to get a bit overwhelmed with the holiday season. We have a large family and a large extended family and this is the time of year when we all get together at our home. I have been busy planning and making arrangements and helping with travel plans for everyone and I rarely get out into the garden these days. When I do, the flowers that are in bloom bring me such pleasure that all the work that goes into the gardens the rest of the year is worth it, even if I am the only one soothed by their abundant beauty these busy days.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Agapanthus Seeds

There are a few agapanthus flower heads that have been overlooked in the Laguna garden and they have gone to seed. I have never heard of anyone growing them from seed since they are so easily divided for propagation, but I'm sure it can be done.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Big Fat Problem

This is the sight of what was a big problem for us in a plant in SJC. The trunk of this ponytail palm had grown over the sprinkler valves and finally broke the pipe, creating a constant leak into this raised planter. Because the planter was filled with vegetation we did not notice the leak until it had eroded the bottom of the planter and was seeping out into the ground below it and the whole area became sopping wet. It took a while to figure out where the leak was coming from because there are sprinklers and other pipes that run through this planter. What a headache it was, but as you can see by the new sprinkler valves in the photo above, it is all under control now. Thank goodness!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The First Camellias

The first camellias of the season are opening. So lovely!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Even when periwinkle (vinca minor) is out of bloom I love it on this slope in the Laguna garden. It is under a tree and I have a hard time growing anything there except this prolific groundcover that is really a vine. The Rose of Sharon and Japanese Maple have already gone dormant on this cool north facing hill, but the vinca fills in the area quite nicely up to the yellow clivia which will bloom in the late spring. One time a helper of mine mistook my instructions and removed all of the vinca from this area and it looked dreadful for a couple years as I tried other plants to fill in. Finally I went back to my old favorite and it has not disappointed me. I know some people find it aggressive and I probably would too if it weren't in a setting where I needed something to cover a large area in the shade under a tree. Here, it works for me.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Trumpets in Bloom

I have a number of brugmansias on both of my properties, but this is my favorite one. It is a pink one in a corner of the Laguna garden. It is about ten feet tall (this photo is looking down on it from the upper deck) and as you can see is in bloom right now somewhat. When it blooms in the spring there are literally hundreds of blooms on it and the fragrance drifts up to the house and is quite intoxicating. It is showing some signs of iron deficiency of the edges of the leaves which means ready for some fertilizer after a season of vigorous growth and blooming.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Different Kind of Fall Color

In warm climates "fall color" take on a different meaning, especially when it comes to bougainvillea. This tropical vine is in full color in our area this time of year and the bright brackets (the actual flowers are tiny white blooms in the center of the three colorful brackets) are vivid against the clear blue skies that make this such a lovely time of year, even in warmer climates.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nature's Filters

In Laguna we have two ponds. One is in the front of the house, above ground with four or five waterfalls spilling out of the rocks that surround it. I used to have koi in it but it became too big of a battle to keep the varmints that wanted to eat them for dinner at bay so now it is just for looks. There is a huge pump, two filters and UV light that work the whole system and a guy that comes every couple weeks to make sure everything is operating as it should. Then there is this little pond that is basically a hole we dug in the ground and covered with a liner and filled with water about 12 years ago. It has no mechanics and uses the plants for a filter system and the goldfish keep it clean. It is hard to see in this picture, but the water is sparkling clear. We dredge it out every four or five years and that's it. Varmints are welcome!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Simple Steps

Although my two gardens were created by the same person (me) they are as different as day and night. The Laguna garden is on a steep slope and was created out of a natural field with only a few eucalyptus and avocado trees as a foundation. All the hardscape was put in by me and has a very natural feel to it, as does the entire garden. San Juan Capistrano hardscape was all completed when we moved in and has a very formal, Mediterranean feel to it. I have to admit that because most of our time is spent at the SJC home, that is where most of the work in the gardens gets done. Few people see my Laguna garden anymore other than us and it is starting to show some neglect that comes from not having its "owner" there doing the fine details even though there are my workers there on a regular basis keeping things in check. Next week I have tree trimmers coming to Laguna to do some much needed clean up and I will take note of projects to complete over the next six months to spruce the place up a bit. Nevertheless, it waits patiently for me.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A Lovely Surprise

Look what I found in a quiet corner of the Laguna garden. An out-of-season clematis, don't remember the name, just blooming away for no apparent reason. It looks a little chewed, but that is okay with me. I was delight to have found it!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Look Closely

I nearly missed this bloom on a new calla lily that I planted from a bulb I purchased at a garden show last spring. I love the green variegation on what is typically a white bloom. It blends in with the foliage on the plant that has a similar shape. Very unique!