Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jasmine Wins

Years ago I planted this star jasmine at the base of my finicky climbing rose, 'Polka' next to the front door in Laguna.  I had seen the rose on a garden tour and fell in love, but as many romances go, reality set in and I became disenchanted with the rarely blooming rose. Not one to give up easily, I babied it along hoping for a better performance as it matured, but no luck. Meanwhile the jasmine took hold and grew up the rose and across the wire intended for 'Polka". There is a lovely white climbing rose, 'Lace Cascade', on the other side of the door that puts on a show every year, but now the two are entwined and while the rose takes a break after the spring display, the jasmine takes over and fills the air with its lovely scent from these dainty flowers. What a lovely welcome home!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Keep It Simple

Sometimes is just makes sense to keep it easy and simple. Why fight insects and stress out over weeds and watering when there are simple ways to create a lovely space that doesn't require constant attention? I am a big fan of those pretty little wispy daisies in this picture known as 'Santa Barbara Daisies' or 'Fleabane' (erigeron karvinskianus). I use them as an easy filler all over the gardens. Here they are coupled with 'Mexican Evening Primroses' (oenothera berlandieri). This is a difficult area under a large palm tree that makes for inhospitable planting conditions, but this pair of perennials thrive together quite happily and have been blooming for months. Both require little water, seem to prefer rocky nutrient poor soil and in fact can be invasive if they get too happy. There are no damaging insects that seem to bother with them and they cover bare ground quickly, smothering out any weeds looking for a chance to get started. I pass this area every day on the way to the mailbox and although they don't make me swoon like roses and iris, they do make me smile and that works fine for me!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Shape, Texture and Color

This thrills me. I love seeing corners in the garden where there is no interest from flower blooms, but plenty of depth from foliage. Variegated helichrysum, bearded iris foliage and cedar 'Blue Ice' create a calming but interesting bed in the Moonlight Garden. The variety seen in the foliage shapes and textures can hold its own while waiting for the iris, roses and snapdragons nearby to bloom. Love it!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Roses in the Rain

Buff Beauty

Golden Celebration


Gertrude Jekyll
The weather has been typical for this time of year, a bit overcast and dreary, but warm. It actually was raining a bit when I was in Laguna this week, but the roses don't seem to mind. They thrive on neglect and are just happy to bloom, come rain or shine.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Color Creep

 Having an all white garden is easy, except for what I call "color creep".  No matter how diligent you are, every once in a while some color shows up when you least expect it. This pretty pink rose bud is supposed to be white. Flower color can vary based on the soil and climate and this one is definitely showing a new shade from years past. I will give it some time to see if it is just a few early blooms or if it has gone pink forever on me and will have to be moved.

 There are so many beautiful plants that either bloom in all white or have green and white variegated foliage that it is easy to fill a garden bed. Technically a Moonlight Garden, as they are often called, is really a white and green garden, because there will always be foliage colors involved. Choosing a variety of shades of green help add character and interest to the garden and sometimes that pretty foliage comes with colored blooms like this variegated geranium with the red flowers. I just go through and cut off the flowers weekly to enjoy the colorful foliage.

Then there are always volunteers from nearby garden beds that are eager to add some pizazz in their own way like this reseeded lobilia. So far I haven't removed it because it is so stunning with the green and white. I must be getting soft!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Pale vs. Bright

There are many differences between my gardens in Laguna and SJC, but one of the main distinctions is the ambiance created by the colors I have chosen. The Laguna garden is filled with romantic pastels and soft colored blooms. It feels right with the cedar shingled house and soft lighting of the hillside close to the ocean. There are some vivid colors of course, but the main emphasis is on muted tones. In SJC with the dramatic gold color of the house and the clear bright sky, I have chosen more brightly saturated colored flowers to stand up to the intense hues and lighting. That doesn't mean I don't have a place for lovely muted shades like this 'Beverly Sills' iris that I have throughout the back yard perennial garden in SJC. Regardless of my focus for a garden bed, there is always room for a favorite!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

One Happy Rose

This is the "Easter Basket' rose. It is a remarkable floribunda that was introduced by Meilland in 2007. I have no idea why I bought it other than I was on a trip to the nursery and I just liked it at the time. I had never heard of it, and at all times I have a list a mile long of roses I want in my garden, but for some reason I bought it anyway. I could not ask for a better all round rose. It has pale yellow petals, fading to pink edges, and blooms like crazy with a bit of organic fertilizer (not all roses love the organic life I've learned). While I am already stripping foliage and cutting back some of my roses due to black spot, mildew and rose slugs (ahem, 'Disneyland'), the shiny green foliage on this beauty is still perfect. It is even under the shade of the California Pepper trees for part of the day, but does not seem to mind. The shape and size is almost perfect, not sprawling or too tall. Truly the rose-garden-gods had a hand in pointing me in the right direction with this beautiful bush and I would recommend it to anyone who is tired of dealing with rose diseases and loves old fashioned blooms. It does have one drawback and that is there is only a very slight scent, but not a big problem for me considering all the upsides.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Things Change

This year one of my favorite roses, 'Moon Over Miami' is growing in the shade. When I planted it about four years ago it had the center stage in the Flying Rabbit Island when the three California pepper trees were just large shrubs. It put on a beautiful show all summer with those peachy-pink ruffles and I loved every bloom. This year the trees have finally reached official "tree" status and are casting a shadow over everything below. That was exactly as I had planned. The back yard was shadeless and hot in my opinion and I wanted the cool breeze that accompanies trees to fill the yard along with the bird song and everything else that goes with trees. I am going to have to move a number of plants that were put in to fill the space while the trees grew, which is fine. In all gardens, things change and a good gardener adapts and changes along with them. I doubt I will get many more blooms from Moon Over Miami this year until she is moved to the sunshine, so if I want my fix of those pretty flowers I had better get busy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Orange Rose

Orange is not exactly my favorite color in the garden, but I incorporate it for a few reasons. The house color in SJC is a "Tuscany Gold" and pastels and pinks do not look good near it so I have to go with roses and flowers that have more of a yellow undertone for aesthetic reasons (I do use pinks further out in the yard away from the house). Hybrid tea roses require more maintenance than I prefer to give, so most of my roses are of a less fussy nature. Then what is this orange (actually red and yellow) hybrid tea rose doing in my flower bed? Kind of a silly reason really. This one is called 'Sheila's Perfume' and so I had to find a spot for it somewhere in the gardens. But this is one of the prettiest flowers, and most fragrant, anywhere in the yard regardless of my tastes in colors or form. It does earn its keep today!

Monday, May 14, 2012

What's Blooming in the Moonlight Garden?


Ozothmnus (Rice Flower)

Shasta Daisies and Heliotrope

Lots of White Roses (this one is Bolero)

Snowball Viburnum

Margarette Daisies, Snapdragons, Pelargoniums and Iris

Carpenteria Californica
My Moonlight Garden in SJC is finally really coming into its own with lots of shrubs with white flowers getting to the size where they put on a nice show. It is not an easy area to photography because the beds are narrow and border a DG path that wraps around a large play lawn. It would probably be more impressive in large, wide beds where the abundance of white is compounded by sheer mass, but it is pretty never-the-less. I have been relying on a lot of annuals and variegated foliage to carry out the white theme while waiting for some of these pretty shrubs to get enough size to really show up in their glistening glory, but they are finally getting big enough to make a splash from across the yard. I think it may actually be at a point where my intent for an all-white flowered garden is obvious to the first time visitor and not something I have to explain. I am also finding out what works well in this micro climate so I can add more and forget about some of the plants that I have had to baby along, the rabbits preferred to dine on, or worse yet, that reverted back to another color of blooms as they matured. Just in time for this year's Bella Luna!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

No Pressure

This is the first time in a couple years that I have not entertained garden tours of my SJC garden. For the past few years I have had at least one, sometimes up to four garden tours here. I really don't mind hosting them. Like throwing a party, it forces you to get busy and take care of all those plans that are easy to put off for another time. A deadline is a powerful tool for getting your act together. I also find gardeners are the most generous and understanding guests and are happy to pass out compliments. I was a docent at a garden last week on the Laguna Beach Garden Tour. It is truly an amazing tour if you have never been on it. I like it because it is a number of gardens (eight this year) within walking distance of each other in such a lovely setting. I am kind of over driving and parking on those garden tours that are spread out all over the city or county. It was a nice way to spend an afternoon, meeting visitors and talking about another garden for a change. I certainly can relate to the amount of work that goes into opening your garden to 500 visitors and I appreciate those generous people that are willing to do it, and act as an inspiration for the rest of us. Meanwhile back at my house it is just me and mine that are enjoying the garden this year, with no pressure.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Elevation Changes

I have always gardened in places that have some kind of elevation changes. Southern California is a very hilly place and many homes either are built on a hill, have hills within the property or backup to hillsides. I wouldn't have it any other way. Although hauling supplies up and down hillsides like in my Laguna garden can be a daunting task, it did keep me healthy for years without going to a gym. Our home in SJC is also built on a slight slope and was terraced long before we arrived. Walking into a garden area should be an amazing experience, but a dramatic change in elevation only enhances that experience. This is the view from the Gravel Garden looking up into the Back Yard. If you look closely you can see lots of hints of what is to come while looking through the light pillars at the top of the stairs. I still get a sense of anticipation coming around this bend and looking up into the next garden, and I do it every day.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Welcome Back

I am so happy that my 'Lime Green' nicotiana (flowering tobacco) was reseeded and returned this year (although I thought it was a weed at first and almost pulled it out). I love my green flowers mixed in with my purples in the garden by the front door in SJC. I had coveted this reseeding annual for a while and now I am thrilled it has become a fixture in this garden bed - at least for this year.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Coming Into Their Own

I do love iris and I have been planting new ones in SJC every year up until last year. I'm not sure why I wasn't enticed to add new ones, but I took a break and just enjoyed what I have. Iris experts recommend dividing iris every three or four years to keep them vibrant and blooming. I have found that leaving them in the ground for longer results in better blooms in our area. I have some in Laguna that have not been disturbed in probably eight to ten years and they have formed an impressive stand that puts on quite a show for weeks at a time. I realize that they will eventually start to diminish in blooms and that will be the signal to divide them. I have also noticed that it takes a couple years for some of them to bloom after being divided. This is the first year I have seen blooms on many of my iris that I was expecting last year or the year before. I have the same iris as my neighbor down the street, but hers bloom at a different time than mine. Micro-climates and soil also have an effect on their blooms and must be taken into consideration. Today I'm not worried about all that, I'm just enjoying the show and thumbing through the new iris catalog that arrived last week!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Sparkles in the Rain

I am fortunate enough to have an entire garden dedicated to white flowers, but I always add white to the rest of the garden beds too. It adds a certain something that I like to call "sparkle" to every garden, especially on rainy days like yesterday. I have many, many iris, but none more lovely than this pure white one with the yellow beards, 'Frequent Flyer'. A repeat bloomer that comes back throughout the year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


No sunshine? No problem! Although the sun did not come out at all yesterday and most likely won't today either, the gardens were vibrant with color from all the Spring blooming roses and iris. These 'Disneyland' roses are just starting to bloom and they almost sing with enthusiastic energy, waking up the garden from the clouds and fog.