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!