Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas is coming to town

Actually, I get quite sick of the whole hubbub - with store decorating for Christmas the day after Halloween and having 50% off sales immediately.      

At home I am not putting up a tree this year, but bought a cute little rosemary plant trimmed into a Christmas tree form.     I do this every few years, and then plant them in the garden.      But, inside I did just a little decorating.   i keep most of my christmas things in a trunk, so I just open it up and arrange things inside - then afterwards put things back inside and close it up.  Aren't I the lazy one?     

In the kitchen area I have the little owls and hang a few decorations from the herb sign.    That's enough Christmas cheer for me this year.  Last year I hung ornaments from the vintage chandelliers in the solarium, but since we have had storm after storm, I'm not out there at all to enjoy it.  Any days we do have sun, I have to spend the day raking and picking up storm debris.

I'm expecting to spend a lot of good art time out there on sunny days once the weather improves.      No one in California should complain about the rain, as  it is needed so badly.    We hardly noticed there was a winter last year....  sunny most of the time.   

Have a happy holiday season.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October in the garden

We had a most unusual summer, not many days of triple digit temperatures.   Lots of days of 95-95 degree weather.    California is in a drought period.   We have cut back watering, and no one wastes water now.     Rules about watering with shut off nozzles are in effect.   No water running down the gutter or across the sidewalks.  We can still wash cars, but not let the hose run while we scrub.     

I took out lots of plants from my overgrown back garden.    Some of the things I love, but require too much care had to be removed.    I like it this way.  Then my pal Nancy was landscaping her house in the country, the Taj Mahal of suburbia.    She had tons of rocks and paths and sod put in, and was looking for foundation plants.     I had lots to donate to the cause and her gardener was there to plant them.     the little white lilies, Japanese ones, I think - needed dividing, and some needed removing because they just overgrew the spaces I'd put them in years ago.   When I figured out I could grow them from seed, I started using them all over the place.  And they loved it here.  They require so little work or water, I thought she'd like them - and she did.  We filled up her SUV with bags and containers bursting full of them.   I can't wait til spring when I go visit to see how they fared the winter.    Nothing affects them here and their weather is almost identical to mine, so they should do famously.

It's the season for the Mexican Sage to bloom and here it is, right on schedule.    it towers over my head and spills across the pathway regardless of how many things I put in front to try to keep it back.   it wants to lean towards the afternoon sun.    

I've been making other changes in the garden.    It's getting a slightly Parisian touch once I started using stencils and paints to old windows donated by a friend.    She came and got the one with the mirror backing - it's in her living room now.   Mine are in the garden.   I'll post more pics soon.

the succulent photos are from the Lodi Grape Festival, an annual occurrence each year with loads of entries and good cash prizes.    These were among my favs.   

 One of the things I love about succulents is their versatility.  You can plant them in any old thing and they seem to thrive on neglect.  And occasionally they put forth mysteriously alienesque blooms.      

I found these really inspiring, and when I was at Home Depot last week, I found a couple tiny ones I didn't already have for my miniature gardens.

More about that later.     

enjoy the day and smell the roses.   Or the Mexican sage.   

Friday, June 13, 2014

Gardens for retirees

Last weekend I toured a number of gardens in a Del Webb development just outside of Manteca with my friend Rosemary.   She and her husband sold the big house on the hill with the multi level gardens and multi level living spaces, in favor of downsizing to this development.    One of the first orders of business is getting the landscaping done, as it was a brand new home on bare ground.  The developers put in the front yards, but the back yards are left to the owners and a host of landscapers and nurseries.     They right away hired a designer whose work they had admired, and she set out to design pathways, a lanai, seating areas, patio, and a plan for plantings.      Down to the pouring of textured concretes, and ground covers, mulches, etc.    They did not opt for a water feature.     They are fortunate to have a view across their back fence, of Mt Diablo in the distance, so there will not be any back to back gardens on her side of the street.  It is greenbelt behind them.       Wide plantings and wider paths for dog walking.  It's all so nicely done.     

Her garden is not large.   I expected all the properties there to have similar size gardens, but we were both surprised to see some very large gardens on our tour.   Here are some pics and comments.

 First let me tell you what I expected to see.     Perfectly manicured lawns, lots of concrete patios, minimal upkeep.      I was in for some surprises.

Most of the gardens on the tours had very elaborate water features, running streams, cascades, waterfalls, rockery and alpine plantings.     The sounds were delightful and perfect on this very hot day.   Most of the gardens are freshly done.  Many have been there less than a year, so the plantings are still small.     When the trees mature it will block part of the fencing and make them feel more private.  The fencing is actually very beautiful, compared to my beat up old faded wood.     I loved it.    And I loved the choices of plantson this first garden in particular.  

 I was very surprised to find many of the yards had raised beds for vegetable gardens.     I really love this because it raises the level, looks so tidy and would be easy to maintain.       Look how wonderfully healthy and strong these veggies are looking.     
My little garden has gravel p aths, and they are very narrow as my garden is small and like to cram in all the plants I can.       Here in Woodbridge  most owners have chosen wider paths, great for entertaining outdoors or for wheel chairs is and when they are needed.    Also cuts back on maintenance.  

There were many different textures of paths.   And the use of stencils carving into the paths was evident in many of the gardens.      Here and there as an accent.  

 This one used a lot of alternate ground coverings to break up the space.   I liked this little seating area. And how open and spacious an area without clutter.  This was the side area, where we entered through a gate.   We had yet to turn the corner to see how really huge this space is.
Here it is.   You can see this is one of the larger yards, with several seating areas.    Lots of the people had chosen tree roses in their landscapes.  Seems like such a sensible choice as they are easier to take care of - no bending and stooping, and the roses are so happy there.     Most every garden had them in full bloom.  I don't know how they orchestrated that.    

 Here is another type of raised planting bed.      Isn't this the neatest thing?   I'd love to have these with the seat around it for kneeling or sitting.      Everything is within arms reach.   A bug or weed wouldn't stand a chance here.      I'd love to have a big planter of mint and every bearing strawberries.     Hmmmm......    
 This is another large garden with a huge water feature.   They don't have many trees started yet, or they are so small they dont' show up.   But the plantings are nice and again the water cascading down makes a delightful sound.      This garden had several water features, fountains positioned near the patio and against the house.     
 Here is something else that took me by surprise.     This garden boast a vineyard of their own.     Wow.   How cool is that?    This is in another very large yard along the side of the hosue, not right out back in patio living area.      I think this is amazing.   I wonder whether the  owner or the landscaper thought it up.    

We were given a little booklet with the owners names and  pictures, a description of their gardens, and the names of landscapers.      I left mine behind, but now wish I had it for reference.    
 Here is a quirky garden.       For quirky people.     This whole yard if sectioned off with all kind of quirky twists.      In a corner of this portion of their garden is an new/old outhose with a lit up picture ot elvis in the toilet seat.   And an old sears catalog alonside on the seat.     I told you it was quirky.    

 Some of the gardens used water features that were not the giant streams and cascades.    And I'm sure saved probably 15+ thousand dollars.     I didn't see solar fountains.    Surprised me a bit, as I love my own solar fountains.  Of course they are less permanent and power untis need to be replaced more often - but for ten dollars, I'd rather replace every year then have to have a crew of people out to repair or replace larger pumps.

This particular garen used a lot of stone and dry landscaping.     I'm from the high deset in Nevada, so I felt at home in it.     I didn't see any sage brush though.       
 Here is a conversation piece.  Edward Scissorhands must have roamed through here and did his magic.    The homeowner maintains it himself.    
 This is another vegetable garden with vines spilling over the edges.   It's melon season, and squash.     This is another side gaarden.      I expected to find narrow side yards, but the houses that are on the outside of a curve, benefit by much larger lots and wider side gardens.    It's almost like a separate space.  Charming.
 This is in another slightly quirky garden.      Succulents and shells.     I thought perhaps I had gone too far West and landed at the beach.       This is another side garden, against the house.
 Oh my.    This one has been her longer than the others, so the trees are more mature.    Some of the landscapers are planting redwoods.      In the hot valley.       Yes, they do grow here. The university has a redwood grove next to the student center/ dining room.   We often are in the redwood room or on the deck to smell the trees.  

But massing them into these gardens, I can't help but wonder what they think will happen in 25 years.    This seating area is on a raised area.     The garden is huge and making an intimate seating area in the corner, raised up like this is something I would not have thought to do, but I loved it.     I'd want to take my friends out there for a snack and cold drink.    Or sit and pet the dogs there.    

Here is another rose.   And a little staute.     I was expecting a lot more statuary in these gardens.  Some ohad quite a few decorative things like rusty plant stakes, and other ornamental things, but not as much as I expected.

We caught up with a crowd of touring guests in one of the smaller gardens.     Everyone was out getting ideas and names of plants, which some owners had labeled just for that purpose.     

 This garden has those wonderful planting beds and lots of rock ground cover.    This is a smaller garden but they have managed to break it up with plantings for minimum maintenance and yet, it is interesting and has a lot of variety.
 Here is on of the stencils carvings in the concrete.   Rosemary has a large compass on her patio, painted or stained so it stands out better.     I like the sun also, but would have done some colorizing.     
 The woman that owns this property has just barey moved in.   She does not even have her window covering installed yet.   She had the garden designed for absolute minimum maintenance.     Her house is huge so I guess she'll spend a lot of time cleaning.   LOL   Does not leave much time for yard work.        These planters are great with the seating..
 Here is her back garden which is wide but not deep.     Paths and rockery keep the maintenance down, and here is the only garden on the tour that used faux lawn.    Yes, it is not real grass.   No  mowing, no water, and it looks very real to me.      
Here is her brand spaking new water feature.  Cascading down a long narrow stream.      Miminum planting so far.    I'd want to plantt more along the fencline to make it seem more natural, but she seems very happy with it and was sitting on patio with a friend enjoying their lunch listening to the sound of the stream.

        This is a trick shot.  It's actually in my own garden.      Thought I'd just throw it in.   
 These last two are pics of Rosemary's place.     First is the now pic.      So charming and with interesting curves and plants, breaks up the boxiness of the space.      Compare it to the way it looked in December before they moved in.
 Yes, this is the clean slate the started with.    They are fortunate to have the large trees on the greenbelt behind their yard.     It makes it so much nicer with the iron on top of fencing to let in the light and still affords them plenty of privacy.  We walked the walkway around back. It is very vide and the path is probably 15-20 feet away from fence with lots of plantings in between.      
Here is the front of Rosemary's house.  I think that's my car in driveway.     LOL  

That's all for the tour folks.      Did anything surprise you?       It sure did me.     

Sunday, April 20, 2014


April is one of my busiest months.    It's also one of my favorites when the weather is beginning to warm up and the garden explodes in color.      
This is what we wait for all winter.  This burst of color and warm sunshine.    it's a good thing.     

Monday, March 10, 2014

Spring is here

What a really odd winter we have had in all parts of the country this year.       It is the beginning of March and Spring is right on schedule, regardless of the weather.   The purple lilac behind the studio is in bloom, the while ones along the ffence have jsut started.    Oxalys in pinks, whites, yellows are abloom.      I bought a new purple leafed one as mine suffered from lack of water during the winter and have not revived yet.     Here are some new garden pics.   Please enjoy a little stroll around the garden.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Grousing about Downton Abbey

After waiting and waiting impatiently for the new season of Downton Abbey to start, along with most of my friends who watch religiously, we had such an awful shock with the attack on Anna during the last show.   Yes, I know it is a soap opera, but it was also a "safe place".     So, they killed off Lady Sybil one season, and Matthew last season, at least Anna and Bates were in a comfortable place again, and we had no reason to expect that to change.   Enter the villian.   Why?    We are so disappointed in the writer, the plot and now the season is ruined for some of us.    A few friends refuse to watch it again.        I'm going to watch and report back to them.      This was so senseless.      It seems to me that there are enough characters to create dramas - without resorting to violence.  And in the middle of an opera singer's performance!      Now what will happen.   I'm giving it another chance, but anything else like this will turn me off too.  If Maggie Smith were not so wonderful in the program, I'd probably give it up.    All the beautiful costumes and sets will not erase this horrible memory.    I will not purchase the set of DVDs, or support it through contributing to PBS.       I'll be happy to watch reruns of Doc Martin.       Again and again and again.      I already have that set.     

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Another challenge

My art friend in Texas, Diane answered the challenge put out by another blogger, and it seems doable and fun, so I'm going to join in too.      Here is the scoop.           Those of us who have  joined in will be posting photos this month of red things.   Anything red.       It's one of my favorite colors so it should be really fun, and red in January is so warm and alive, it's a pleasure looking at it, or snuggling under it.      I'll post pics soon.