Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - September 2009

Fall is starting to whisper in Northern California; we had our first real rainstorm of the season last night, and the garden today was damp and fragrant. I let a few of the last artichoke buds flower (but must be sure to cut them before they do their "HaHa! I'm really a thistle!" thing.) ~Click any photo to enlarge~

Things are more subtle in September. This is Grevillea 'Coastal Gem' a South-African groundcover shrub that is a good alternative to prostrate rosemary in the landscape; drought tolerant, deer resistant, wonderful texture and a lovely coral flower.

A little out-of-season Cerinthe major next to the Coleonema 'Sunset Gold' (one of my favorite plants, in case you haven't noticed!) That Cerinthe is blooming now is evidence of the milder-than-usual summer we had; normally this is an early spring combination!

This Diascia has been one of the hardest working perennials in my garden this year; planted as instant color in April they have been blooming non-stop ever since. Every time I go out to shear them, they look at up me like this and howl 'Nooo!' Maybe next month...

I am in love with this grass: Calamagrostis brachytricha (Korean Feather Reed Grass). I bought it from none other than John Greenlee himself. Unfortunately, my cats love it too, hence MY name for it:
Cat Toy Grass!

A spriglet of Loropetalum chinense 'Plum Delight,' another of my favorite winter-blooming shrubs, giving a little sneak preview.

I have mistreated this purple-leafed Plectranthus for years, but last spring I repotted him AND gave him his very own drip emitter; I think I've been forgiven!

The Lantana by the front porch is still going strong; no doubt it'll be around next month too. Thanks again to Carol from May Dreams Gardens for inspiring "Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Used To Have a Lawn, Now I Have a Sanctuary

I am honored to write the first post for Lawn Reform's 'I used to have
a lawn' blog contest. I'm glad to share my blissfully lawn-free garden existence, and hope you will too!
When I was designing my back yard, someone suggested I put a lawn here. Insisted, in fact. Since he was my landlord and paying for it, I didn't have much choice. So I simply stalled the project until the house was mine, then did exactly as I pleased.

No doubt you are getting thoroughly tired of the Red Umbrella, but we'll start there to orient you for the rest of the tour.

The view from under the Red Umbrella. I have spent a lot of time contemplating my fountain this summer. It uses MUCH less water
than the equivalent in sprinkler gazing.

At the center of things is a simple paver patio. There used to be lawn here too, before my time. I would much rather go sit out in the middle of the yard on a starry, starry night without getting my socks wet, wouldn't you?

Around the patio are sturdy evergreen shrubs accented by grasses.
My cats find this kind of garden MUCH more entertaining than turf (which gets their feet wet too!)

In the sunny corner of the garden I have vegetable boxes where I grow herbs, apples, tomatoes, pomegranates, peppers and wildflowers in a rather casual way. I guess I could make some nice compost from a lawn...but I simply want more.

There are lots of dry little corners, perfect for succulents. This is the kind of edging I like.

Just because it's a paved, doesn't mean it isn't a garden. Buddha
sits on the step next to my office door. The succulents do get watered...occasionally.

Shade-loving plants in glazed pots cluster in a sheltered corner of the patio. They enjoy regular water, but almost never need mowing.

Outdoor space can be used in so many ways, it seems a shame to dedicate so much of it to lawn out of...habit. Especially in a dry summer climate like California. But things are changing, and my clients are losing their lawns by the yard...and gaining so much more.

I toast this trend with satisfaction (and dry feet) from my sanctuary under the Red Umbrella.

Congratulations on your launch, Lawn Reform, long may you wave!

To participate in the Lawn Reform Blog Contest, simply write a post on your blog that completes the statement: “I used to have a lawn, but now I have…”
  • You can answer in words, pictures or both.
  • Links to previous posts are welcome.
  • If you but dream of a future with less lawn, feel free to complete “I still have a lawn, but one day I’ll have a…”
  • Once you have posted, go visit Susan Morrison at Blue Planet Gardening and sign it up using the Mr. Linky widget.
  • On September 30, Susan will post the randomly drawn winners and share highlights.
  • Don’t forget to visit the Lawn Reform website and download a badge for your blog!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

On With The Show

This week, to my great delight, I was invited to join the staff of the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show. I will be helping the new owners of this world-class event make it bigger and better than ever, and can think of no better way to put my experience to good use!

You see, I am no stranger to the Garden Show. The first time I ever attended was to help build an educational booth I designed for Foothill College, when I was a student in their Ornamental Horticulture & Design program. The booth won an award, and we had a great time.

I remember visiting the display gardens and marveling at how such huge, living, breathing creations could have come to life in the bowels of the Cow Palace; it was quite magical! I thought maybe one day I would like to build one of THOSE gardens...

My opportunity came just three years later, when fellow designer Daniel Owens of Enviromagic, with whom I had collaborated on an episode of Curb Appeal on HGTV the previous year, asked if I would co-design a display garden for the 2005 show. And of course I said yes!

Daniel designed the front part of the garden, with sleek modern lines and a cute little Crosley car parked on a travertine driveway.
(Ha! The pic on the Wikipedia link! Look familiar? How auspicious!)
My contribution to the garden was through the gate and up up up the stone stairs...

...where a tranquil woodland garden was built around a glass mosaic meditation platform overlooking the show floor. The process of producing a garden like this can be rather grueling, both physically and mentally, but the show itself was such fun; it seemed that everyone I knew stopped by to visit! Still, I have great respect for garden creators who do this again and again; once might just be enough for me! We did win a Gold Medal by the way (Daniel has it!)

This year I was once again working on an educational booth, this time for the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. We had an excellent team, and my contribution was a massive slide show highlighting the wonderful work of our members (here I have been caught pondering the finer points of screen resolution.)

This is part of the beautiful booth we built, which was masterminded and designed by friend and fellow designer Allison Olson. Her design and our hard work was awarded 'Best In Show' for educational booths. It was a great way for me to reconnect with the show again, especially since it was the first year at its new home, the San Mateo Event Center.

It was a chance conversation with the show producer's husband at this very booth six months ago that led to the opportunity I have with them today; I said if they ever needed help with the show to think of me. And they did. I'm really excited to see what happens next.

So what are you doing March 24-28 2010? This will be the show's 25th Anniversary, and it is going to be a great party! And if you know of any terrific gardening, green tech or green living companies that would be interested in being part of the action, send them here!