Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Delighting in Detailing

I'm so glad that many of the garden design changes I've pondered over the past year are finally getting done. I HATE moving plants or planting anything larger than my head, so nothing happens until I'm so sure of what I'm doing that I almost see it that way already. Then in short bursts, before I can change my mind, I quickly dive in and accomplish something.

One such miraculous feat was finally getting this Coprosma 'Evening Glow' out of a pot and into a prime spot near the fountain. Its shiny leaves echo the colors of the pot and the bamboo, and I love its neat form. The fat Carex divulsa it replaces will NOT be missed; the long flower stems had to be trimmed back from the fountain constantly (anything that touches the sides will quickly wick water away and your fountain will empty!) I prefer plants that can be themselves.

Meet my new sweetheart, Aeonium 'Sunburst.' We met at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, introduced by our mutual friend, Robin Stockwell of Succulent Gardens. 'Sunny' would hang around the press room every day. When the show was over, well, he came home with me. He was a little scrawny, and an unfortunate encounter with a snail didn't help his disposition. But his new digs in the courtyard suit him just fine; I think he'll be around for awhile.

First blossoms of Begonia richmondiensis, which was killed to the ground this winter, and is therefore a little behind schedule. These are one of my favorite flowers to photograph; I love the crystalline quality of the petals.

An angel-wing begonia followed me home recently; probably heard what a nice spot my courtyard is since I finished the irrigation..

A former courtyard resident is now happily growing on a trellis in dappled shade; Abutilons really need at least a little sun to bloom well. This variety has always been a bit floppy, so the trellis comes in handy.

The Manihot trees in the sunny side yard are towering; when grown in the shade they stay fairly small. A few of them are now lending their beautiful foliage to the bamboo grove.

It's official! The Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) has finally covered the fence that hides the shed. Only took 3 years (3 plants planted at the base.) This could get pretty massive; I've started training some of the vines along the eaves. The garden is smelling pretty good!

The rose is 'Pure Perfume' and it smells like grapefruit (in a good way!) Three plants given to me by one of my contractors guard my bedroom window.

More succulents; I love this dwarf Crassula (Jade Plant) which won't get more than a foot high; talk about a low-maintenance plant!

The other Carex near the fountain was also removed, and replaced with this handsome devil, Abutilon 'Savitzii.' Grown mainly for its striking variegated foliage and compact form, it also has pretty apricot blooms. I think it will add a lot of sparkle to the shady side of the garden.

Pink Carpet Roses going nuts. It is one of many Monrovia plants given to me over the years; I love a few bright color splashes in my serene back garden.

The way I've pruned the Dodonea (Purple Hopseed Bush) has made the flower clusters look particularly lush; this is a shrub that responds very well to artful shaping. I do keep it firmly roped to the fence though, ever since one of them keeled over in a wet windstorm last fall.

I'm also being stricter with the Pomegranate in the corner of the kitchen garden; last year it got mixed up with the tomatoes by mid-season, and the fruit was rather hidden in a wild thicket. This year I've told it to mind its manners; and with luck will have a shapely little tree come fall.

Last stand of poppies around the windmill; growing in gravel (rather than rich garden soil) keeps them a more modest size; these are another favorite to photograph.

Finally, a rustic portrait of a dainty 'Moonlight' nasturtium which is working to establish itself (with my blessings!) Yep, somehow things are getting done around here; can't wait to see how everything grows together this summer...thanks for visiting!


  1. Fantastic photos! I LOVE the size of that bamboo! The Abutilon is something I've never seen before...are the leaves variegated?

  2. I've been using variegated Abutilon for a few years now, it really is a lovely plant for dappled shade. Thanks for visiting!

  3. Always love the pix of your garden. I've been eyeing the variegated Abutilon for the past few months at my local nursery. I think I will definitely need to pick one up once we get the re-do of our backyard plotted out.

  4. Hi Juliet, Yeah, I've had my eye on it for awhile; have been agonizing over what to put in that choice spot. I was actually going to put it in a pot in the courtyard, but it had bigger aspirations I guess! It's near a Nicotiana 'Lime Green' which should be an interesting combo!

  5. Laura, you're inspiring me... I have a Sunburst Aeomium and am in love with it - and I've been eyeing a Star Jasmine for around my chicken coop... That vanilla scent - heavenly! What lovely photos.

  6. Oh, I love to plant and move plants. But you are obviously a gardener who finds the right spot the first time. I adore that Aeonium 'Sunburst' and would buy it in a minute if I could find it here in Austin. The begonia is gorgeous too.

  7. Thanks Genevieve! I've always had Star Jasmine somewhere around my house (I don't like pruning it though, icky white sap!)

    Ha, Pam, I wish I always found the right spot the first time! The fountain was added later, and I thought it would look so pretty tucked in the grasses. And it did, but that whole wicking thing cut that fantasy short pretty quick. A small garden can be an awkward place to work, and it always seems that what I want to remove is well entrenched; but what a relief when it is finally gone and what I've imagined in its place is at last there. My Aeonium Sunburst has quite a few side shoots developing; I'd be happy to send you one!

  8. Wonderful plants, Laura. And what a great eye for detail, matching the sheen of the coprosma leaf with the glazing of the pot. My manihot really wants to be freed from his pot and grow tall like yours.