Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

This is our compost pile in SJC. It is bulging from the end-of-summer clean up and will be ready for spreading in the beds in the spring.

This is the compost pile in our Laguna garden. It will also be ready to be spread throughout the garden in the spring. Nothing goes in our green waste bins for curbside pickup except for diseased cuttings from roses to keep from spreading fungus problems like black spot and rust. I don't worry much about the internal temperatures of the piles or the ratio of green to brown waste. We just let nature do its thing and soon or later we get black gold!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Pretty But Confused

These charming little columbine (aquilegia) are blooming away in a side garden in SJC. They must not realize it is fall and they are a couple seasons too late or too early! I am just happy to see them never-the-less!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mossy-Ferny Things

I love mossy-ferny things in the garden, but this time of year they are few and far between in our SJC garden due to the lack of rain. I have to create little vignettes in shady spots to satisfy my cravings for a woodland feel, like this faux-faux bois birdbath. Once the rainy weather returns (hopefully) in a couple months the mosses and ferns will return naturally to some of the shady spots for the season.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Growing at Different Rates

In this picture there are two California Pepper trees (schinus molle) that we planted two years ago in the Flying Rabbit Island in the SJC backyard. As you can see (click on the photo to enlarge) the one on the left is growing like gangbusters and the one on the right is slowly creeping along. There is a third three out of the photo to the far right that is somewhere in between the size of these two. What makes them grow at such different rates? They were all the same size when we planted them. Maybe water patterns (they are all on the same underground automatic watering system) that are altered by other plants or water pressure? Maybe sun exposure? I doubt it because they all get about the same amount of daylight. Fertilizer? That is also pretty consistent. Must just be their individual personalities.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gravel Garden Update

Progress is slow going on the gravel garden due to my crew being busy with other chores. We have removed all the grass and that is it piled on the left side with a mulch cover. It is going to break down into compost for a long border bed going in there. one of the issues we've run into is the dramatic slope of the area. I always knew it had somewhat of a slope, but once the grass was gone it seemed much more pronounced. I am afraid that my harvest table will sit at an uncomfortable slant, so the area needs to be leveled out. On the right side is the beginning of the DG (decomposed granite) that will be used under the gravel as a base. Slowly but surely!

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Sometimes it is easy for gardeners to forget that green is a color. It is one of my favorite colors and I especially love it with all kinds of variation and texture like this path in the Moonlight Garden.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Madagascar Jasmine

I am thrilled that my Madagascar Jasmine (stephanotis jasminoides) is blooming in SJC! I have grown it for years in Laguna and it never blooms, most likely because it is in too much shade. This is the traditional flower used in bridal bouquets because it is so fragrant, white and dainty. It is growing on an arbor in the Moonlight Garden. Just perfect!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Ponytail Blooms

Last year I wrote with amazement that our ponytail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) was blooming, something I had never witnessed before. Well this year it has a number of large, looming blooms! I am not familiar with the blooming habits of this plant, I hope it doesn't die back like yuccas or agaves!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Everything in Bloom

I know it isn't true, but it almost seems like every perennial in the gardens are in bloom at this time of year. The days are still warm, but getting shorter and the evenings are starting to cool off. Soon it is the best time of the year for planting new shrubs and perennials in our climate, other than tropicals, so I have been taking inventory, noting what is doing well, what isn't and where I need to fill in gaps. Some of those gaps will be filled with divisions or transplants, but there will certainly be a few trips to the nursery.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It's A Jungle Out There

It's amazing how different the garden looks after being away for a couple week, especially in the summer. Coming home, everything looked bigger and fuller, especially the tomatoes that are out of control! I usually grow tomatoes on slim, spiral supports in the flower beds and keep the excess foliage removed so all the plant's energy goes into the fruit. This year with the new vegetable garden beds I gave them their own space and large supports. As big and robust as they look, we haven't gotten many tomatoes off of them. The dogs think medium green tomatoes are tennis balls on a vine and neatly pick them off for play. Raccoons, possums, birds and who knows what else are making meals out of everything the dogs miss, so we are last in line. A garden always gives us lots of challenges and this is one I intend on overcoming next year! It's good to be home!