Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Time to start cooking, still some shopping to do, airport pickups start at noon and go into the late evening. We are getting ready for our favorite time of year with lots to be thankful for! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Unexpected Places

Fall colors don't always come from trees. I was happy to see the pretty hues on this Snowball Viburnum (viburnum macrocephalem) as I was walking through the Moonlight Garden. As if the wonderful green blossoms that turn to white, and the pretty foliage in the spring aren't enough of an advantage, we also get a spot of red foliage in the fall! Lovely!

Monday, November 21, 2011

My New Agave

I had to share a little something I picked up a few weeks ago at the nursery. Although I was not looking for succulents at that time I just couldn't resist this pretty variegated agave. Where did it end up? The green and white Moonlight Garden, of course!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cutting Gardens in the Fall

I started my first gardens so I would have cut flowers for the house. In Laguna I cleared a section of wilderness about 15' by 15' many many years ago and sowed a bucket of wildflower seeds. Everything just took off from there. About three weeks ago someone, not sure who, picked a bouquet of flowers from the gardens and put them in a vase of water outside near the front door in SJC. I was touched by this simple act of beauty because I have been so busy lately I haven't had much time to do enjoy the gardens myself. Everyday as I dart out to the car I smile at the bright colors reflecting the season. Now it has been almost three weeks and those flowers are just as pretty as the day they were picked! When we think of cut flowers for the garden we usually think of spring and summer flowers, but chrysanthemums must take the prize for longevity as a cut flower!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Procrastination Pays Off

Because I am a gardener and not a landscape designer I do things like purchasing plants that are not the easiest and most reliable. I bring them home based on emotion only with no regard to what really works. This was the case with this Queen's Wreath (petrea volubilis) vine that I ran across a few years ago. It had been trained as a standard, something that probably qualifies as a crime against nature (I know Billy, I know!), but I was so excited to see this old fashioned plant at a nursery that I just had to have it. You see there is a lovely, very old one at the Hortense Miller Garden where I am a docent and I am so happy when it is blooming because I love the purple, hanging blooms like charming little presents in the spring. So anyway, I found it, bought it, and brought it home and planted it in my SJC garden. In full disclosure I had bought one many years ago and planted it in my Laguna garden and haven't noticed it in years. Not sure if it is even there anymore. So for years I watched it flounder and look terrible and more than once made a mental note to get rid of it after years of one or two blooms and black tipped leaves. Then suddenly last week I was walking by and lo and behold, there it was blooming profusely in the middle of November! I know it may not look like much, but I am easily impressed! Maybe I'll add a trellis and give it a second chance - if I get around to it!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Holidays are Coming

Yesterday I was sitting next to someone at a luncheon that stated that she couldn't believe that Thanksgiving was next week. I corrected her and said that it was two weeks away and she just gave me a look of pity when I realized she was right! Thanksgiving is a big deal around here with all the kids plus significant others, grandchildren and a few other family members coming home for a few days of activities. I really need to get busy, but thankfully the fall decorations in the garden that I did about a month ago are still looking good and will not need much care. Unfortunately they will all have to be replaced with Christmas decor in two weeks, but I'll deal with that when the time comes!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Home Grown Delight

I ate my first home grown grapefruit from our SJC garden the other day and it was wonderful! Juicy, sweet and tart, just like a pink grapefruit should be! Looking forward to many more!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I've Been Busy

In addition to my role around here as Head Gardener, I am also Chief Facilities Director, a title I would be happy to relinquish, but I doubt that will happen any time soon. The past couple months I have been busy checking off projects on a long list of things that need to be done around the houses, many of them waiting years while I focused on the new gardens in SJC.

Most of the projects were rather mundane and have no significant outcome as far as a visual difference, with the exceptions being painting most of the inside of the house a different color entirely, and redoing the swimming pool.

Although it may not look so bad in the top "before" photo, the plaster was really old and the grout and tile were in desperate need of refurbishing.

Although it was messy, the job was executed expertly and timely by the amazing team from Alan Smith Pools. We are very happy with the results. Now if only it would warm up enough for us to try it out!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Summer Leftovers

Still blooming and adding its wispy charm to the fall gardens is one of my favorite summer perennials, gaura. It is a wonderful filler plant that has no idea that its season should be over, but I'm thinking that these cold nights will give it a gentle nudge into dormancy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Strawberry Tree

A couple years ago I was on a walk in the neighborhood when I saw one of the most charming little trees. It had lovely berries and beautiful peeling bark. I had to have one and after some research found it to be an arbutus or commonly called a strawberry tree and I planted one.

It was quite small when I planted it and now that it is growing I am worried about its placement. Although the experts say they can get to be up to 30 feet tall, they are mostly 10 to 15 feet in height around here. They seem to thrive on neglect, are drought tolerant and look at those charming little flowers! Mine isn't large enough to show the peeling bark, but I am looking forward to that day. I need to make a decision about moving it soon, but I am just enjoying it where it is for now.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Adding Dazzle

Before things get too hectic with preparations for the whole family coming for the holidays, I am busy looking for bare spots to add a bit of "dazzle" to the gardens. There are some family members that only come once a year and it is not exactly the prime time for the gardens, so I try to make sure that they are as lovely as possible for late fall, early winter. In the Moonlight Garden there are a few spots that I add details in the way of annuals every season. The rabbits are always grazing in this area and they eventually eliminate any delicate, low growing flowers, so adding snapdragons, verbena and violas along with some white mums is almost mandatory to fill in the empty spots. The white flowers can be seen across the yard which, depending on the weather, is how they will most likely be viewed by most guests. They add a bit of sparkle even on rainy or foggy days and I like my family to know that I've been busy making our home as special as possible for their arrival!