Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: UC Santa Cruz Arboretum

What a gorgeous place to visit in December! The UCSC Arboretum features Mediterranean-climate plants from all over the world, many of which are at their gorgeous best in winter. Enjoy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

EnSeven Heaven: My New Garden Takes Shape

It is done. Two weeks, one jeans size, and countless loads of STUFF sent in all directions, and my move from a 3-bedroom house (with several thousand square feet of gardens) to a 2-bedroom apartment (with sixty square foot balcony) is complete. This would not have been possible without the help of my family and friends, to whom I am unbelievably grateful. And I will go on record here and now to say that I will NEVER have that much CRAP again! Dissembling the garage about did me in...

As I wrote before, creating my new balcony garden was high on my list of priorities. It was a huge relief when the Maple and Fatsia pots made it up the stairs (I simply couldn't look) and were settled in their respective corners with no casualties. I ended up using about a dozen good-sized plants and another dozen small ones (succulents mostly) and they have filled the space quite nicely. Their previous home (a north-facing courtyard) got no sun in winter, so their airy new south-facing digs are suiting them VERY well.

I particularly love these beautiful dwarf Nandinas, which along with a foxtail asparagus fern on a stand surround the bubbling water pot. Additional sun has brightened their colors considerably; even on overcast days they glow.

One piece of advice I give to small-space gardeners is to lift things up and make use of their "middle ground." Using taller plants, and raising shorter ones (like this lush Dianella which sits on an up-ended pot) gives you natural nooks in which to tuck smaller plants, as well as more privacy. An old tile-top table built by my father for my grandparents years ago has become my new potting bench/Buddha shelter. The jute carpet remains one of my favorite parts of the garden; absolutely everything here I already had; the old becomes new again.

The decision to use just one seating piece (my old garden loveseat) and to angle it toward the house turned out to be a really good one. I can curl up like a cat in the sun, surrounded by plants, in complete privacy. From my perch it's fun to listen to my neighbor's comments ("Wow, look at that, and she only JUST moved in!")

Fun details like the birdhouse (hanging from a sturdy beam) and a string of lights add warmth and charm. I was delighted to find that the ivy in the Fatsia and Maple pots had grown many streamers, some several feet long, which I've started twining along the top of the railing. It's like they have been preparing all along to be here. It already feels like home.

Thanks for all the good wishes as I've been making this transition; I look forward to sharing my new little space from time to time. Oh, and "EnSeven" comes from my apartment number (N7).

Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Moving On...

Or, as Katherine S. White would say, "Onward and Upward!"
photo credit: Kelsey Cross
My house has been sold, close of escrow is December 15, and I have found a new place to dwell. As of the first of the month I will be living in an apartment for the first time since college, trading my lush gardens for a 6x10 balcony. Needless to say, this is a bit of an adjustment.

The good news is I have a wonderful collection of potted plants that are well-suited for this spot; I can indeed bring part of my garden with me. You have no idea how comforting that is.

Here is my promising garden-to-be...south facing with a nice Liquidambar tree between me and the next building. It is completely sheltered by the Spanish tile roof; in winter it is flooded with light, in summer it will be cool and shady.

My bubbling blue water pot, which has been running almost continuously for the last eight years, is coming along, and the potted Nandina will come right along with it.

Ivy from small pots behind the Buddha encircle the tree stump he sits on. This will relocate beautifully.

The Fatsia I bought the day I launched my design business is an anchor plant, and I have interesting plans for my carved Mexican posts from Santa Fe. (Hint, they don't have to be vertical, do they?)

I have the perfect spot for this red maple, and the mature Asplenium below it. My one plant-one pot philosophy of container gardening will make it fun to arrange and re-arrange.

My biggest challenge for this garden? No water out there...I have been utterly spoiled by an automatic drip system and will have to retrain myself. Where possible I will move things up a pot size so they have good resources; the sheltered location will also help. And it's not like it's a lot to take care of, is it?

So stay tuned...the garden will probably go in first, (priorities!) so it won't be long now...

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: November Garden

Soon this garden will no longer be mine...at least, not officially. For now I am enjoying the sunset...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saying Goodbye, and Hello

Well, hello there. Yes, it has been a long time. I've missed you.

As it often does, my annual visit to Santa Fe took my life and shook it up, but good. Changes that I had to make became clear. I realized that it was time to simplify my life, again. Now.

Four years ago my daughter, son and I moved here together. It's a cozy house for three (especially when one plays the electric guitar) but my son soon moved to his own apartment closer to work, and my daughter finished high school and went away to college. Nest = very empty.

So it's time to let it go; I can no longer keep it. The wonderful gardens I built, I can no longer care for. I have suspected all along that I've been preparing this home for someone else, who needs it as much as I did four years ago. Now I'm ready for something smaller & simpler.

I can make a home and a garden anywhere I go. This I know for sure. I'll share what I can of the journey, but as you might have noticed, I'm not as free with my sorrows as I am with my joys.

And don't worry, there are joys too. Every day. Sometimes you just have to look a little harder.

Wish me luck...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Santa Fe Chronicles - More Flora (sans Hollyhocks)

Aspens are one of the true delights of high-altitude climates. The interesting bark, beautiful leaves and intensely gold fall color make it one of my favorite trees.

Aromatic juniper is a wonderful evergreen mainstay; it thrives in high desert conditions.

Crabapples also give a long season of beauty, from lush spring bloom to soft green leaves to shiny fruits in late summer, in a conveniently compact size tree!

I love this beautiful, large grass; can't figure out what it is...

Maples by the river...

A large Campsis vine happily strangling a Blue Atlas Cedar.

View from where I'm staying...

And another! Santa Fe has gotten a lot of rainfall this summer; everything is quite lush.

Focus fail makes for an interesting picture anyway; think I'll keep it!

That's better; not sure what these red berries are; maybe Viburnum?

An adopted median with lush plantings of Russian Sage (Perovskia) and Hummingbird Mint (Agastache).

This apricot Agastache is just gorgeous...

A perky, pink penstemon!

Ha, figured this one out: Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa) love the silky seed heads

More Crabapples...

And we wrap up with a really sexy line of agaves in a raised bed between the sidewalk and an adobe wall.