Monday, April 12, 2010

A Rainy Garden Birthday From The Porch...

My front garden is a year old this spring, and a mild, wet first winter has been a nice bonus. There are years when San Jose doesn't get a drop of rain between March and October. Last year we had some rain in every month, for the first time I can remember in the 45 years I've lived here.

The April rains are keeping things wonderfully lush (especially for those of us who try to keep landscape watering to a minimum). All of my favorite self-seeders are having a field day. The Mexican Hair Grass (Nassella tenuissima) is sending up little tufts in open spots, and nothing could be easier then a little selective weeding, and I'll have a lovely silky bank here by summer. I started with three small plants a year ago and let them seed. This year I'll be combing out as much seed as I can (yes, I use a large plastic comb, and it works quite nicely, thanks very much!)

These shots are from my porch, as the rain pelted. Luckily there was a lot to see, like those beefy California Poppies. They have stems like pencils, and are the offspring of one sixpack planted a year ago. They chose the best places to appear (where they aren't wanted they are easy to weed). Poppies are great for unirrigated parking strips; last summer I piled pulled plants under the street trees for a day or two; this year there is a lush carpet of winter green and orange, and will be forevermore.

Spring Cerinthe are more richly colored that those that bloomed all winter, and there are several wonderful clumps near the Stachys 'Primrose Heron.' All are from one plant started two years ago. Like the Poppies, they do best when self-seeded (they like a bit more water, and considerably less heat, though).

My poor purple poppy did not appreciate the steady downpour, but is lovely in her bedragglement. Next year you'll be hearing where THIS diva has decided to colonize!

My whole foundation planting of Tulbaghia simmleri came from one plant my friend Cheryl Renshaw gave me years ago (this cultivar is actually named for her, isn't that cool?) Easy to divide, likes shade, blooms in late winter, know you want her.

The Coral bark maple (Acer Sango kaku) is still deciding whether he wants to thrive in this spot or not; the wet weather is settling things in his favor, it appears. This is a perfect 'perching tree' near the fountain, and is frequently laden with finches.

The rainchain does its thing, and the bank of artichokes outside the fence is living up to expectations, including small but delicious harvests. What I like best about this picture is the glimpse of the house across the street; that's exactly what my garden looked like, a big sweeping multi-species lawn all the way to the sidewalk. I find this much more interesting; it uses less water, and only requires occasional hand-tool maintenance.

The placement of every new tree was quite strategic. Can you see exactly what this Fuyu persimmon is meant to do?

Yeah, I see you, little creep. I don't kill snails or other creatures in my garden if I can avoid it, so I try to plant enough for everyone. So far our relationship is fairly symbiotic.

Yes, this is what you're smelling when you stand at my front door. Yes, it's a Meyer Lemon. Yes you can have a couple, take a bunch!

Priscilla is looking lovely. One of the considerations when choosing the fence stain was that it look well with her leaves...I think it's in her contract.

Carex testacea is another must-have in my garden. He can also toss offspring all over the garden, given a chance, but he hasn't done so yet. He is probably planning a diversion...

More Cerinthe; they germinated really well in the protected perimeter of the carex, and make a great combination with it.

This Arbutus 'Marina' was the first thing I planted, just after I moved in, before I even owned the house. It was a small bush in a 5-gallon can, and has survived several brutal prunings to become a graceful evergreen screen for the porch. It is a hybrid of our native Madrone, and one of my favorite small trees.

And one shot from the back courtyard, of my Harry Lauder's Walking Stick continuing his little spring song and dance. Thanks for the visit to my damp garden, see you on Bloom Day!


  1. You have a Harry Lauder's Walking Stick?!?! Nice.

  2. Laura, it's beautiful! Now I'm having yard envy this morning, thank you. Nasella tenuissima is one of my favorite grasses, too--it's like the perfect height for smaller gardens or great accents in front of a larger border.


  3. Laura it looks really beautiful and has really grown. The last picture I remember seeing of it had so much more space left in it. Now everything looks so full and dense. It really is so much more interesting than a lawn.

  4. Laura, such a gorgeous front garden... You're inspiring me to get out in my own garden today!! Such a difference a year makes... Love your plant selections and the combinations you chose.

  5. The toddler is filling out nicely Laura. All this wonderful rain is really making (most of) the plants quite happy around here and yours seem to be exceptionally pleased. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. You don't kill snails in your garden? You're a kinder woman than I, that's for sure! What a lovely, lovely tour...I haven't been there in so long it's nice to see it growing in at the speed of light! It'll be mature before you know it!!

  7. @Megan, Yes I have two 'Harrys,' one in a pot, one in the ground. They are so cool...

    @Jenny, Our summers are breezy, and Nassella is particularly lovely in the wind!

    @Kat, Thanks, you've been watching from the beginning!

    @Genevieve, Thanks (and I KNOW how you feel about Nassella!)

    @Matt, Amazing what regular water can do; I'll take it as long as it's free, but come summer they'll be back on the straight and narrow...

    @Rebecca, It's a Buddhist thing. I'm not above relocating, though! You're definitely overdue for a visit, missy...

    @Katie, Can I just say how glad I am to see your face in my comments? Can't wait until you can join me under the Red Umbrella again...

  8. Happy birthday, Garden. You look very mature for your one-year birthday. I'm in love with that madrone hybrid.

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