Monday, April 30, 2012

Bluesy Weather

Although it is still April we are getting the weather patterns that typically appear in late May and all of June and even some of July, rather early this year. Morning overcast until middle to late afternoon when the sun finally breaks through, or as we call it "May Gray" and "June Gloom". It seems like this weather phenomenon  starts earlier and earlier every year because the May Gray is a fairly new term. The beautiful Spring weather was a bit scarce this year, with what seems like colder than usual temperatures and now we are into the gloom. Maybe this means that we will have an early summer which would be nice, because we didn't have much of one last year, at least to my memory. The garden isn't much concerned and goes on blooming as usual, with the bearded iris making a nice showing in all their shades of blue to go along with the misty weather. Mildew can be a problem on plants like roses that may be prone to the disease, but it is nice weather to work outdoors!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

First Evelyn Rose

The first 'Evelyn' rose of the season. Lovely with a heady scent, it is almost as beautiful as my granddaughter with the same name!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Artichokes Have Arrived

A sure sign that we are in the middle of Spring (although you wouldn't know it by the weather today) is the beautiful artichokes are in full bud. I grow them for their amazing foliage and blooms, because these ones are just not that tasty.  If I am looking for a little drama in a garden bed, they are hard to beat, although they do take up some room. Stuffed artichokes will be on the menu next week, but I will have to pick up some good ones at the market and these lovelies will get to go all the way through their bloom cycle so we can enjoy their purple thistle flowers!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

So Lovely

The simplicity of climbing rose 'Sally Holmes' makes it one of my favorites. This rose is especially beautiful in cut arrangements and her easy nature and disease resistance (at least in our area) is always appreciated.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I must confess that I have not been in the gardening mood this Spring.  I have been suffering from a frozen shoulder for almost a year now and it is taking its toll on my passion for just about anything. It is very painful and chronic and although I am seeing doctors, physical therapists, acupuncturists and massage therapists, the consensus is that it is just going to take time to heal. It is not a serious ailment, just annoying and draining. I have plenty of help with the maintenance of my gardens so they continue to thrive without much guidance from me, but I know that there are many things I want to do that will just have to wait until I heal. I am so grateful that nature goes on without me and there are beautiful blooms waiting for me every time I venture out into the gardens. Many plants have reseeded and multiplied, the iris are really coming into their own after a few years and there are unplanned surprises every day. The citrus trees are heavy with fruit and I have strawberries waiting for me every morning. Maybe my shoulder ailment is just what I needed to make me slow down and smell the roses instead of worrying about planting them.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

It's The Angle

This is one area that was one my "must do something with" list this year. It is one of the first things I see when I drive up the driveway in SJC and it was the first flower bed I worked on when we moved in five years ago. The rose on the column (Climbing Joseph's Coat") looks okay now, but has never been very robust and looks bad with few blooms by summer.  The Spanish lavender is overgrown and woody at the base and the rabbits dine regularly on the lobelia groundcover. I must say that the iris "Mary Francis" is looking good with lots of blooms and the white geraniums are among my favorites. Although it gets morning sun, I suspect as the season progresses it does not get enough sun all day to make all these plants happy. Okay, from this angle, at this time of year it looks pretty good, but we'll see in a couple months.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Returning Columbine

For many years I tried to get columbine to return after winters in my Laguna garden, but it never did and I always had to replant it every year. I remember reading about how some gardeners even consider it a problem because it reseeded so readily. Those were problems I wanted! Here in my SJC garden I have finally accomplished my goal and this is the fourth year it has returned in abundance. What is the difference? It may be the type of columbine I planted. This one is a simple, more native type that I found at a small nursery while the other ones I used were the fancy hybrids that are two toned (although I do have some of those that return every year here too). But most likely it is a subtle change in climate. Being on a north facing hillside, the Laguna garden stays pretty shady and cool until summer. Although only a few miles away, there is definitely more spring warmth and sunshine in SJC's gardens. It may simply be a matter of finding the exact spot preferred by this dainty flower.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Strawberries Where I Least Expect Them

I have no recollection of planting this little patch of strawberries in the Moonlight Garden, but they seem very happy and prolific. I'm sure I thought there was some logic to this (I do have other strawberries in the back where the veggies and fruit trees are), but it escapes me at this time. I have wild strawberries growing in Palm Alley that were most likely planted by the birds, but these are definitely not wild. Oh well, I'll just take credit for them and enjoy!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Sweet Discovery

I can get easily distracted by all the big things in the gardens. What needs to be done seasonally, what needs to be changed visually, what is not doing well culturally. Sometimes it is easy to overlook the small things, like this sweet little succulent that has been quietly growing in a container by the pool for a number of years. I have never really noticed it before, most likely because the pot is jammed full of stuff and I am usually walking by at a quick pace on my way elsewhere. Maybe I need to take some cuttings and spread it around a bit. It is too charming to go unnoticed!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What's Starting To Bloom?

Nasturtium and Strawberries

Bearded Iris and California Fuchsia

Spanish Lavender

'Royal Sunset' Climbing Rose
Bearded Iris
Although today is more like a winter day with cool temperatures and rain, Spring has definitely arrived with lots of blooms opening everywhere. Here are a few that are brilliant today despite the gloomy weather!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Putting The Garden To Good Use





I often wish I did more entertaining in the garden during the year.  We have many opportunities to entertain but they often are during the cooler months or require an indoor setting for some reason, but there is one time of year that the gardens are always put to good use and that is the annual Easter egg hunt! We have been doing this for as many years as I've had gardens and we have seen many kids toddle through the gardens hunting for eggs until they "age out" at twelve years old. This year there were five "hunters", three of our grandchildren and a grand niece and nephew. It was a perfect day for finding hundreds of eggs with the weather being extra ordinarily lovely. What is a garden for if not creating special memories?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pretty Ajuga Borders

The flagstone path outside my front door in SJC has finally come alive with Spring color. The ajuga that is planted along the edges is blooming with abandonment and I love those spiky purple blooms filling in among the Pacific Crest iris. I find that in the right spot ajuga is a great plant in our area for a low grower that spreads nicely without being too aggressive. It does take some sun to do so, although I know it is ofter touted as a shade ground cover. Love it, love it, love it!

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Nemesis

If you enlarge this picture (double click on it) and look right in the middle of the grassy path you will see my nemesis, Bunny. He is a tricky little devil, disguising himself as a sweet little fluffy fur ball with big brown eyes and a cute cotton tail, but he is a chomping machine. He alone (well with many siblings and cousins I suspect) can make me give up on dreams and abandon weeks of hard work in one night of decadent foraging through my vegetable beds. He is cavalierly hopping around in the early morning even though he can clearly see me and the dogs on the other side of the yard. A bold creature, this Bunny. Well I've outsmarted him. Where the lettuce and carrots once grew there are now rose bushes and he is forced to nibble on the grassy paths. Not quite sure who won this battle but we are now at peace.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


After a few weeks away it was nice to return to the signs of spring in the gardens! All my favorites are starting to bloom. Lavender, wisteria and even some roses are all showing color. There are blooms on the irises that will be opening soon. It is good to be home.