Sunday, May 2, 2010

May Vignettes (Yes, There Will Be Poppies)

A showery April has given way to a gloriously lush May in San Jose. The surrounding hillsides are still green, and my garden is busting out all over! We might have a storm or two over the next few months, but it's pretty much going to be warm and sunny with lots of cool foggy evenings until October. So enjoy it now, my pretties, because once the irrigation goes on you'll get only so much, and no more!

And the nice thing is, most of them won't even notice! In fact, drier weather will mean fewer snails; a bigger pest than drought around here.

What I like most about my garden is its changeability: around the firm structure of wall, fence and path, many of the plants will shift around, forming lovely associations, like this Pheasant's Tail Grass (Stipa arundinacea) and California Poppy (Escholtzia californica). I like change in a garden, and that the inhabitants that are most suited to my particular site have the opportunity to assert themselves (within reason!) Soon the poppies will dry up and be pulled, and their emerging offspring curated to form the beginnings of next year's offering. Then the more permanent residents can stretch out a bit.

Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima) and California Poppies alone could make a meadow; their colors and textures are enchanting together. Add the way they capture the light and move in the wind and you have a hypnotic combination in the late afternoon sun.

Woolly Thyme (Thymus lanuginosus) makes a spectacular low-water groundcover. Here it was planted between steps in a path that is not walked on often, and its takeover is nearly complete.

It has a smattering of flowers most of the year, but spring is the big show...

The Silver Sage (Salvia argentea) is finally taking the big leap from its woolly rosette; behind it you can see the taller flower spikes of White Sage (Salvia apiana).

This Yucca is getting ready to burst out as well, a strong punctuation mark in the midst of all this fluffiness.

Perhaps it looks a bit chaotic; but not bad for a one-year-old garden. Remember how it looked last April?

This is the year that the main structural elements will learn to work together, and the supporting cast will find their marks.

Oh, and for Earth Day this year my garden became a Certified Wildlife Habitat.

One more gratuitous Poppy shot, this time hanging out in the herb bed with the Culinary Sage (Salvia officinalis) that handsome devil...

Critter Shot 1: These buzzy bees are zooming all around in the spring; to catch one in a picture requires a lucky hover and a lot of tries!

Before I send you back out there, let's rest your eyes a bit with a shot of my potting bench, where random succulents hang out. The geranium cutting was, um, acquired during my recent Carmel visit (shhh!) This is also Critter Shot 2, can you find him?

Now take three deep breaths...

Thanks for visiting!


  1. Beautiful pictures, Laura. And congratulations on getting your garden Wildlife Certified (I bet all they needed was one of your killer hummer pictures as proof)!

  2. "not bad for a one-year-old garden"??? That is an understatement! It's gorgeous!

  3. After your great plant choices and "firm structure," the plants seem to be handling their part well. Glorious. And nice that the winter rains cooperated too. Amazing that's one-year old woolly thyme!

  4. Thanks! I needed that! I think I will take three more deep breaths and take another walk through your my mind..from way down south..the heart of South America....

  5. Love how you captured the sunlight in some of these shots. Beautiful, as always Laura!

  6. Very inspired by your before & after shots. "Chaotic" in the most beautiful way. I love the various textures, colors, and perfect mix of rocks, pavers, bricks and gravel too.