Friday, May 27, 2016

A Look at the Moonlight Garden

 It takes a long time to establish a garden. I have been working on mine in SJC for about nine years and although they have looked lovely on and off, they are finally starting to mature enough to come into their own I think. Shrubs are filling out and plants that work and thrive in different spots are settled in nicely. Every year I add to the bare spots, trying to find something that works in difficult spaces. Some things die and some things I just yank out after admitting defeat. This is especially true in the Moonlight Garden. Although the white blooms are the highlight, it is the variety and depth of the shades of green and foliage textures that I think make this a lovely place to spend time.

 Although they aren't what you would think of as drought tolerant, and they certainly had bad days during the past year, this giant ligularia are quite content in this cool damp spot where the yard drains.

 It didn't take too much rain to encourage the Australian daisy groundcover to perk up and spread. Pelargonium geraniums are rather pedestrian around here, but I especially love the white ones along with the Marguerite daisies. They add a bit of sparkle to the garden.

 I don't think a garden is complete without some vines for vertical interest and these bower vines do the trick with their easy disposition and charming trumpet flowers.

 Oak leaf hydrangea is another plant that surprises me with its ability to adapt to our dry conditions. It grows large and healthy with little to no care other than deadheading after a few months of beautiful blooms.

 It is hard to keep the all-white theme when it means removing blooms that have changed color a little due to micro climates. Some all white flowers revert to a soft shade of pink and others like this daylily turn a soft yellow. If I was a perfectionist I would remove them, but I find perfection a bit boring.

 I really need to mulch some of this little areas with gravel I try to encourage the use of groundcovers to fill in but they don't always take to every spot and wood mulch breaks down so fast. You can see by the dainty little weeds that something is definitely needed here other than monthly manual labor!
 Variegated foliage is an easy what to add white shades to the garden.

 I add a lot of silver leafed plants to add another color to the foliage palette.

 True white daylilies are a little like unicorns. They exist only with a bit of imagination!
 There is a lot of additional vertical interest in this garden with the existing queen palm trees, the Italian cypress we added and some sculptural plants.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Some Vegetables, Ollas, and Flowers

 It has been a crazy busy spring around out house, so I haven't done much blogging. I have been busy in the gardens. 

 Once again the fresh food from the garden bug has got me and although my dream is to try once again to create a big beautiful kitchen garden, it is just going to have to wait. Summer is just around the corner and I try to wind down my projects and focus on relaxing and enjoying the fruits of my labors in the summer. I always have some vegetables growing here and there and the fruit trees just carry on all summer without too much attention so I can't complain too much. I got some onions in the ground finally, better late then never!

 Thanks to my sister I have quite a few tomato plants this year. I planted some in pots outside the kitchen, but about a dozen went into an empty raised bed. I added ollas to see how they worked. Ollas (pronounced “oy-yahs”) are unglazed clay/terra-cotta pots with a bottle or tapered shape that are buried in the ground with the top/neck exposed above ground that are filled with water for underground irrigation.

We couldn't find any large ones so we went with a bunch of smaller ones. Usually tomato plants require a lot of water, although with our gloomy weather I guess I should be more worried about mildew than wilting! The tomatoes are bred to handle the May Gray and June Gloom we typically get this type of year so we'll see how they do. So far so good.

 I also put in some squash mainly because the rabbits leave them alone. I think the trick to enjoying squash is to plant a number of plants and harvest them when they are small and tender. Anyone who has ever grown zucchini knows they can grow to scary proportions overnight! A bowl of tiny squash with grated cheese is a meal for me. I haven't tried frying the flowers, but who knows?

 The rest of the garden is looking especially nice this year (mostly) due to the rain that we have had. It's not enough to say the drought is over, but my garden is certainly basking in the bit of extra percipitation.