Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Butterfly Bush

There are butterflies everywhere and I have to give credit to the aptly named butterfly bush or buddleia. I have a few of them around the gardens but there is one that is always host to at least one butterfly whenever you look at it, this lovely purple one. Unfortunately it is situated in a bed that faces west and the plant shows its best side to the neighbors horse stalls and we get a look at the rangy back side of the plant, but I'll put up with that because the butterflies love it! It is fragrant and about five feet tall. I do cut the flowers and they are lovely, long lasting additions to bouquets. did I mention it is drought tolerant? I can't think of any reason not to grow this lovely bush that comes in so many different colors, although I have found that the purple ones do the best.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Adding Alstroemeria

 Every year I say I'm going to plant some more alstoemerias and I finally did! I always claim these are perennials that I grow mainly for their cut flowers that last for a couple weeks in a vase and fill in with other cut flowers beautifully, but I have to admit that they bloom for months and months and are never bothered by bugs or diseases. They are always a nice spot of color in the garden almost year round.

 Although I am guilty of taking them a bit for granted because they seem to thrive on neglect and any fertilizer that makes it to the garden is focused on the high demand plants like roses, but they don't seem to care much and bloom profusely year after year anyway.

Although it is considered a plant for full sun, I have one growing where the California pepper trees have shadowed it almost completely and it still blooms. Mine are all in flower beds that get regular, but not excessive water. The only unique thing that you need to remember about these pretty plants whose common name is Peruvian Lily is that to keep them blooming you need to yank the spent stems up from the ground to keep the blooming. If you just grab the flower stem and give it a sharp tug it will snap off at the ground which will stimulate the plant to send up more flower shoots.

Although these are all lovely, I still think there are some more colors I could use!

Sunday, April 26, 2015


 I have been crazy busy doing everything but getting ready for the big Master Gardener Tour I have coming up early next month in SJC. However things do go on without me and I was able to pull together some lovely bouquets from the gardens for a party we had for some friends visiting from Hawaii. Roses, alstroemeria, buddleia, clematis, heliotrope and scabiosa combined to make this shades of pink, rose and purple fragrant and pretty display.

We finally had some overcast skies that resulted in a little bit of rain, but not much. I had a sprinkler guy come and put on a new box in the Laguna garden a few weeks ago and he said he set it but I'm not sure for how often because when I went by there this week it was terribly dry. The roses were blooming like crazy, but the trees and everything else were showing signs of distress, so the clouds were a welcome relief. Watering on a hillside takes a certain finesse. A little water at a time and let it soak in, then a little more. I didn't have time to read the directions to re-adjust the settings, but I will get over there this week to figure it out. Drought or not, I can't just let everything die and turn into a fire hazard!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

An Old Friend Takes a Tumble

 Way down at the bottom of the Laguna garden is a grove of eucalyptus trees, two of which are silver dollar eucalyptus, one of my favorite trees. This is a picture taken eight years ago and you can see the one in the center of the photo has a definite "lean" to it. it has been this way since we moved in and it gives it a lot of character and makes for a good tree to climb and sit on. Hawks, peregrines, and many other birds frequent these branches. These trees have held up many hammocks over the years, still hold up odd little bird houses that were occupied again this spring, and ten years ago I had a stage build between them where a blues band played in the afternoon while the audience sat on the grassy knoll for my DH's birthday party.

It had been a few years since I had the tree trimmers over to do any maintenance on them and when I went down to check the trees out before I had them come to do the trimming, the large silver dollar eucalyptus had grown and reached way up, covering most of the hillside! I was shocked at how large it was. It rained that weekend and unfortunately by the time the tree trimmers came later that week the large tree had fallen over, pulling up some of the roots out of the ground. If only I had been a few weeks earlier getting my act together!

 It really broke my heart because I love this tree so much, so we decided to trim it back and just kind of leave it and see what happens. It really can't go anywhere and it isn't hurting anything, having landed on the open space on the hillside. So if it lives it will make an interesting tree sculpture and a good place for kids to climb next summer. If it doesn't make it, we'll have firewood for many winters to come, but I will really miss it.

And so will the birds I suspect.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Down in the Laguna Garden

 Most of the time I am overwhelmed and months behind (if not years) as far as projects go in my homes and gardens. I guess I have learned to live with the feeling that there is always more to do and to embrace the beauty of imperfection. The past few years I have focused on bringing the grounds of our house in SJC up to the vision I had for them when we moved in here eight years ago. With the drought getting worse and the water restrictions there is still more work to do.

 I admit that I do not spend any time in my Laguna garden these days after putting 20 years into it while we lived there full time. My garden helper is there on a weekly basis to keep it from turning into a wild jungle, but just barely. I am always so busy with trying to keep up with the house maintenance (old wood houses near the ocean are a lot to keep up!) there so that the garden takes a back seat and my expectations are very low whenever I wander through the garden. But a couple weeks ago we were over there and spent the afternoon down the hill in the garden enjoying an afternoon of sunshine, birdsong and beautiful spring blooms.

 I have to admit I was kind of blown away by the wild beauty that is still there, albeit, among the chaos of neglect. I do miss this garden and hope to get back there soon to spend time among the plants that I put in the ground years ago. I do appreciate her patience with me.