About Me

I have more than 20 years experience as a professional landscape designer.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Friends In The Garden

When people talk about friends in the garden they rarely include the plants themselves. I consider that a huge omission because our human friends can come and go but our very lives depend on plants. Without them we would starve to death. In the previous blog there are pictures of the life sustaining garden produce. We are in an important way, the same as plants because we are both planetary life forms. Therefore we have a strong family connection. That said, in this entry we will meet some of this garden's star performers. First up we have three planetary life forms in a close communication.

                 Their names are Rhoda, Martha and Elvira.

To the right, we see a picture of Cerise. She is a performance artist. In the spring time she is covered with white flowers. All summer she goes green. In the fall she wears fall colors. In the winter she looks like a wonderful pen and ink sketch. Her performance turns the whole stairway into an Erte' drawing.  

 This is Happy Chappy. He is a tree rose that lives up to his name. This picture was taken in November so he isn't in full bloom like he is starting in April.   

Martha basking in a purple mist with Cineraria and Aquilegia.

This is BeBe Gazzara. I didn't make this up. When she moved in she said,"I'm BeBe Gazzara. If we're going to be friends there are some conditions that I want to make clear right now. Number 1, you are to bring me delicious food and clean water every ten days or sooner if I ask for it. Number 2, You are to make sure I'm always comfortable and not disturbed by trivial events. And number 3, stay off my case. I'll bloom when I damn well feel like it. Did you get all that?" I answered," OK, OK BeBe, I got it. Sheesh."

This is Penelope. She's a dependable friend. Every year she puts on a great show of color in the fall combined with delicious fruit. 

This is Electra. No need to explain how she got that name. 

This is Regi and Gina playing in the garden of lillies.

They wondered down a path on their own and got lost in a forest of giant Hydrangeas and Garlic. They couldn't find their way out.
They were finally rescued by their daddy, Roberto.

 This is Peaches LaTour and Plumella. They do a sister act. In the spring they're covered in blossoms. Then they put on green leaves and fruit. In mid-summer they have ripe red peaches and yellow plums. In the fall they wear yellow leaves. And they end their performance with a striptease. They start dropping their leaves one by one then faster and faster they let them all go. When these girls take it off they take it all off. BARRAM BUM.

And of course I have to talk about the wonderful friend the Genius Loci. She puts together arrangements I would never think of on my own like this planting of Acanthus with Japanese Anemonies that were placed by my door. She plants with me every year and I always look forward to learning from her. 

                                     HAPPY HOLIDAYS 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

And A Time For Transition

 The Dahlias shut down last week. They've been slowing down production for the last month, easing into closing time. When the time came, they shut down completely, all at once. It's like being in a mall at closing time when all the lights go out in the shops. I almost expect to see a little sign that says back in six months. 
I think of them as resting and also rehearsing their act for the next year. They always present something new, like the yellow dahlia on the left sporting a touch of rose color on the petals.
Like every other farmer I'm looking over which plants performed best this year and making a decision about where to plant them next year. Since this garden is about edible landscaping the decisions are about which flowers look best with onions, garlic or lettuce. I once saw a very large planting of roses with red cabbage. They looked great together.

Here are some of this year's highlights. 

This dahlia starts out a darker color and fades to yellow. The two colors together are very eye-catching.

This planting includes calla lilies, dahlias and lathyrus

I kept the seeds from this collarette dahlia. Dahlias hybridize on their own so I'm very interested to see what the result will be with the seeds of this dahlia

The twin dahlias at the left facing each other isn't an every day event because flowers usually face the sun instead of each other.

Throwing sprays of lavender  against the Autumn Sky the tree dahlias are the last to bloom.

Passion Flower?                                   
 The very idea of a passion flower sent my imagination full speed ahead.

Sybil Showed us the flower.

p. caerulea
It looked just like the one in the picture to the right. She told us the purple crown represented the crown of thorns that Jesus wore. The five stamens are are the wounds Jesus suffered. The three stigmas are the three nails used in the crucifixion. And the ten petals represent the ten faithful apostles. 
You can just imagine how I felt, as  my conjured image of a big lurid   flower, on a long fat stem, bobbing back and forth over  a swamp of  desire, was dissolved by...........
    the Sunday School Lesson.                 

 It's been said that gardeners are the most positive people on earth      because they are always planting for the future. I am looking            forward to what volunteers will appear in the year  coming up.          Volunteers are plants that grow on their own without being planted   by the gardener. Every year this garden has volunteers that appear in complementary colors to the plants they are near. It appears that       there is an intelligence making the choices. For example a poppy     grew close to the peony in the picture.                                              

This is the peony.

This is the poppy.

If the poppy and the peony were human, people would probably    say, there's definitely a family                       resemblance.                                     
The intelligence also planted the pink      lineria and darker pink foxgloves in the  background, thus rounding out the          picture.           

 I once told a visitor that  the elegant, beautiful and artistic spirit that lives in this garden and plants with me, planted the Japanese anemones next to the brugmansia creating an effect I wouldn't have thought of on my own. He said, "You have a very vivid imagination." So I said,"We live in a very imaginative time. Not so long ago Ben Bernake had   over a trillion dollars printed up on the Fed's magic money printing  machine that creates money out of thin air." 
group planting by the spirit
"To me over a trillion dollars is a lot of money. The money allows a certain group to play monoply using genuine paper money.  So I ask you. Could a genie do any better?"
the spirit makes a fanciful arrangement using  anemone seed pods

So as we move along trading with our faith based economy I have just one thing to say.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

To Everything There Is A Season

                      I will be adding to this blog every two weeks.
On the west side of the garden just off the deck, the land is on a slope. As an experiment, and using cosmetic ads as imagery, I planted it like a meadow with daisies, foxgloves, lupin, perennial lineria and other meadow like flowers. Looking out from the deck the effect was wonderful. The problem that came up was deadheading. With the plants so close together it was impossible to deadhead without stepping on the flowers close by. To get by this problem, I constructed three terraces with a path behind each one. That made the plants accessible.

With the terraces in place deadheading is no problem. 

The terraces are pulled out with a grape-hoe and supported with oak and bay logs. They last 8 to 10 years.                                           
Fall makes me think of  Ecclesiastes 3 that states;
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven. A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.  

I have also heard this sacred truth stated this way;
Gardening is like working burlesque. Timing is everything.

But no matter how you say it, it's time to plant bulbs for spring and to harvest what was planted last spring.

Various types of tomatos.
Squash And Pumpkin                                                                    
                                             Red Peppers

And there is a time for taking pictures.
This picture was taken around 6 AM. The early morning light made a blue haze that intensified the color of the flowers.
 This picture was taken around 2 PM when the light was behind the dahlia.

I'm not sure of the time this picture took place. I just walked in on it.

As  heavenly shades of night were falling, I caught this picture.

When the deep purple falls, over sleepy garden walls, you can get a picture of a collarette dahlia with purple shadows.

                                                                                                                      It's time to start putting the roses to sleep for the winter. The Marin Rose Society recommends having the roses cut back no later than the end of December. The purpose is to give the roses a dormant period that strengthens them for the next years growth. 

In the past, when the last rose of the year bloomed, it was regarded with great sentiment. Thomas Moore wrote a poem about it called,
The Last Rose Of Summer.

The poem was set to music and became a popular song. It was sung in concerts and by Irish tenors and by families standing around the piano. It became an aria in Friedrich Von Flotow's opera, Martha.

And my mother often used the line as a descriptive phrase. She would say, in an unflattering tone of voice, 
"Well if she doesn't look like the last rose of summer."



Back in two weeks.