Saturday, August 18, 2018

How to be an open minded garden visitor...and not

I have been gardening most of my life in one way or another and have gardened this particular space for 38 years. It has had many iterations but the current one is a result of a number of things, most importantly my retirement 3 years ago. At that time, space set aside for children's play in my family child care home reverted to mine, all mine. With a few specific goals in mind I forged ahead. I wanted a wildlife friendly (at least birds and insects, not so much rats and squirrels although I have those too), water sensible, manageable play space for myself. A place to relax, putter, enjoy. A place with room for a few veggies and plants that I think are pretty or at least interesting. And that is what I now have. It is not done evolving because there is always something new to try, some new obsession to indulge.
I have visited many gardens over the years in many parts of the country and a few out of the country and I have always found something interesting, evocative of that place, sometimes a new idea, sometimes a wonderfully done old idea. I hope I have never gone to visit a garden and immediately criticized everything because it was not the same as my garden, like a recent visitor did in mine.
A friend of a friend asked to come see my garden as we were finishing a Pilates class. I suggested she come over right then after class and that is what we did. As we walked through she started to tell me what I should let grow taller (the fruit trees purposefully kept short according to back yard orchard culture ideas ), what I should get rid of (the "pointy plants" like iris that apparently are bad feng shui and the wisteria which loses its leaves in the winter and therefore "looks terrible"), and what I should add (a bridge. Really, a bridge. In my flat garden). There was more but by then I was kind of in shock. She did say she could tell I worked hard...damned by faint praise.

You may have realized by now that this visitor had a very narrow view of what gardens should be like...she has a well thought of Asian garden. Very meticulously and tightly designed according to feng shui principles and kind of the antithesis of my garden.  Which is fine. I visited her garden when it was part of a tour many years ago and while it was not to my taste and felt claustrophobic to me I could appreciate the work and style and goals for which it aimed. But it never occurred to me to tell her to loosen up or tone down all the red accents. Even though I am not a fan of much red in the garden. Because it was her garden and I could tell she was happy with it, even proud of it.
So, to get to the point of the title above, here are a few of my thoughts. Don't isolate yourself from the huge range of gardens that exist. Go into a garden that is new to you with the idea of seeing what someone else gets pleasure from creating. If it is so far outside your frame of reference that you really don't get it, ask questions! If the gardener is standing right there try to find at least something about which you can make a positive comment. Don't critique if you have not been invited to do so. OK, critique as much as you want in your head but don't say it out loud! I almost feel that this is a ridiculous thing to post about since it seems simply common curtesy and good manners. So maybe this is just a way of working through my feelings. As I sit here writing in my, to me at least, peaceful and inviting garden I will think about the many people who have appreciated my results and try to remember always to look for things to appreciate in other gardens.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Garden Blogger Bloom Day April 2018

It is a cooler and damper than usual month here but the plants don't seem to mind. A little extra precipitation is appreciated by all. In particular the scented geraniums are blooming extra profusely... are the common pelargoniums.

In the maple tree bed Orthrosanthus multiflorus "Morning Flag" has come into its own after settling in for a little over a year. Last year's 3 bloom stalks between 2 plants have multiplied greatly and the blue is a nice addition to the yellow columbine.

This abutilon had much smaller flowers than most and has bloomed much of the winter. Too bad I can't find the tag...but the hummingbirds have found the plant and that is all that matters.

Cerinthe major is a plant I wanted after seeing it on Carol Klein's Life in a Cottage Garden. It has never been quite as spectacular as I hoped but it does reliably self sow and return every year here and there. Guess the central valley of California is a bit different than North Devon...

I do however had some pretty gasterias in bloom, here, gasteria liliputana. That probably isn't happening in North Devon.

Geums are just starting up, here a passalong from a friend.

The yellow columbine, originally a passalong, that has now spread gently everywhere has also just begun to bloom. 

This year the heucheras are especially happy, probably because the rain has been good.

I love this dutch favorite combination of blue and yellow and although I have planted many I seem to have only this one this year. Lots of plain blue but...I want more of these!

For more spring blooms visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and follow the links! 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Garden Blogger Bloom Day March 2018

Spring is coming. Even with colder than usual temperatures hanging on (or should I say returning? We had a great February!) the plants will not be stopped from their usual routines. 
Antirrhinum majus 'Chantilly Peach' has begun to bloom after hanging on through the winter. Although it is technically an annual it seems to have not minded this past winter and is ready to go again, although the one original plant gave up the ghost this winter. That one did so well I got several more and those are all doing nicely. 

Loropetalum chinense 'Sizzling Pink' has been blooming for a couple months and is really covered in blooms now.  I might need more, especially if I plant them where I can see them better from the house.

'Sugar Magnolia' purple snap pea is beautiful! And while the first few pods were disappointingly green and purple streaked the most recent are pure purple. I can't wait until those get a bit bigger and I can start picking them!

Camellia "Jordan's Pride' also has bloomed for a while...perhaps the cool weather has helped things persist longer than usual. 

Leucojum aestivum is a wonderful passalong plant that has been transplanted around the garden and is now doing well in its new places. It is loving today's rain.

The pear tree is finally looking more like a true espalier and is blooming well.  I am hoping for another dozen or so fruits this year. And I am hoping to be able to better figure out when to actually pick them...a tricky business.

The evergreen clematis 'Armandii' is still blooming this month and brightening the front arbor.

Gasteria lilliputana has the sweetest blooms. These are all in containers here. It multiplies well, if slowly, and has been added to several containers.

Verbena 'De La Mina' has settled in and is pretty happy this year. Its first year blooms were underwhelming but it is a good addition to the spring garden now.

Hiding under other things is this one grape hyacinth. Will there be more or have they all disappeared like I was thinking? 

Yet another month with iris 'Eleanor Roosevelt' blooming. I am starting to think I need to thin these out before they take over the whole garden.

Anisodontea 'Strybing Beauty' is another plant that is doing really well in its second year here. The early pollinators have been loving it.

The first dutch iris of the year. I do love their form and ability to withstand spring winds.

And lastly, the first borage bloom. 

Lots of signs of spring here and while this week and next are rainy I will not complain. All this rain here in the valley means snowpack in the mountains and that makes this Central California gardener happy.  For more blooms visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and follow the links there. Spring is coming! 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Garden Blogger Bloom Day February 2018

While it is far from spring and we need more winter (as in lots more rain) no one told the plants. So the garden is celebrating and one of the biggest shows is the narcissus of various design. 

Narcissus Erlicheer 

Narcissus "Ice Follies"

There are also quite a few hellebores of various shades of pink for the most part. I have one white variety but it just doesn't show up as well as the pinks.

Helleborus Berry Swirl

The loropetalum is in full bloom earlier than normal as well.

loropetalum Razzleberry 
Leucojum, which I grow in place of snowdrops, are everywhere.

leucojum aestivum 

This sweet abutilon, whose name escapes me, has gotten scraggly and will need a bit of pruning but I am waiting until it really is spring. In the meanwhile it has quite a few hummingbird attracting blooms at the ends of long branches.

Sugar Magnolia snap pea has the prettiest blooms and makes me a bit less sad that I think all my sweet peas got eaten. 

The camellias are covered in buds and were it not for Bloom Day I might have missed the fact that some have opened!

Camellia Jordan's Pride

Up on top of the arbor I noticed the evergreen clematis blooms (above) from inside the house. This plant got cut way back in building the new arbor so it is not as floriferous as some years but it still brightens up the side path. Meanwhile, the verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' (below) brightens up the back path.

Fern Leaf lavender  is a workhorse here. I used to baby it but, maybe thanks to climate change, it seems to bloom a huge part of the year and never more vibrantly than in winter.  I have taken cuttings and it is now in several places so I think it is pretty safe here. Although, if we ever get back to a good freeze like the olden days I will definitely cover at least one of them!

Elsewhere more abutilons, narcissus, hellebores, pelargoniums, pansies, and the stray mutant iris (that have bloomed all winter) add to the color party.  For more blooms in other gardens visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens and follow the links there. Thanks to Carol for hosting Bloom Day year after year so that we remember to check our gardens well and not miss those blooms!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Garden Blogger Bloom Day January 2018

Welcome to Bloom Day in my Central California, Zone 9b, garden. While there are not swathes of flowers there is still quite a bit blooming. We had some dips just below freezing in December but for now the frost cloth is wadded up in the garage. I am not going to tempt the weather gods by folding them and putting them back in their box.
On the patio this aloe has attracted the resident hummingbird to within a foot of the back door which is fun to watch.

The sugar snap peas are blooming and there are a couple tiny pods forming...good eating ahead!

Passalong Japanese anemones are starting to bloom on one side of the fountain...

...and hellebores on the other.

Loropetalum chinense 'Razzleberri' adds color to the back fence.

Salvia 'Big Swing' is a brilliant blue that blooms off and on much of the year. A favorite of pollinators it wants to be too big for this spot so I am pondering a move. Not sure where to though...

Anisodontea 'Strybing Beauty' is covered with blooms and is a bright spot in the back corner.

A variegated abutilon that has reverted for the most part to green is a big hit with that resident hummingbird. It really needs a good pruning but I hate to deprive the hummer. Maybe one section at a time.

This abutilon is growing up through a viburnum that also serves as a support for a white solanum jasminoides. It provides a pop of color visible from the back door on the dreary foggy days we have been having since the holidays.

Salvia 'Wendy's Wish' is one of the plants that get covered with frost cloth when our temperatures dip. Right now it is thanking me for doing so by blooming happily.

This silly zinnia, planted in a container, has hung on and, while scraggly, just keeps blooming. Her friends have all given up but she just can't stop.

And then there is this crazy bearded iris who is totally confused. While I have another iris, Eleanor Roosevelt, that does bloom almost all year this one is not supposed to. However, it is such a treat to see in the front garden and the cold has made it hang on beautifully. Hopefully the other buds will also open and be harbingers of spring to come.

Just in case winter was more severe there are the inside bloomers, amaryllis planted by the grandchildren and just beginning to open and Christmas cactus that were brought in from the patio just as their blooms opened.

Pansies, lavenders, and cyclamen are also blooming in the garden and are especially welcome on these dreary foggy winter days.  

For more blooms visit Carol, our Bloom Day host, at May Dreams Gardens.