Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Garden Show , Please Fix your Flat Tire.

 I've had a few days to ruminate over my visit to the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show last Saturday. There is no way to flip the ratio of pro to con. Sadly, the cons win. Last year I posted of my hopefulness in the direction the show was taking , and the spiffy redesign of the website in conjunction with the speaker line-up for 2015  pointed the way to good things.
 On the positive side, the seminars were first rate. I attended three: Dan Hinkley, Rebecca Sweet and Billy Goodnick; I have heard both Dan and Rebecca speak before and had high expectations (which were met ) and how could a guy with a Crimes Against Horticulture Facebook page be bad ? These three talks were the highlight of my day , and without them I probably could have done the show in about 3 hours. Rebecca was informative, accessible and charming (and for those of you aware of her current health issues, she looked great-what a class act that lady is) but she and Dan both had show management perpetrated technical problems which I will discuss shortly. Billy Goodnick was humorous , with a really unique presentation concerning  garden design. I've redesigned my garden umpteen times over the years and have always felt somewhat competent but the system Mr Goodnick laid out was intuitive and logical, and I will use his process when I do my shrub border next year.   Dan Hinkley  --what can I say ? He never disappoints. He's the Steven Sondheim of west coast horticulture.
   Though the website pronounced 'Its All About the Plants' the plant market has in fact continued to shrink since the good-old-days at the Cow Palace. I can name about a dozen plant vendors who no longer attend , and there are probably others that I don't recall. This year the building that houses the plant marketplace had a few empty spots , disguised with garden benches and potted plants , and a disturbing roster of county fair type vendors --bamboo pillows, hand lotion, vegetable juicers, dipping oil, popcorn etc. I can see this crapola at the hokey home show we have in Napa .

  Fake grass sellers--4 of them that I counted..

 I'm at a loss to understand why both Hinkley and Rebecca Sweet (and more of the presenters as well) were forced to display slides on screens  in fully lit venues , which washed out the color of all images shown, forcing both of them to  make frequent apologies for the poor quality of the display. This is pure ineptitude on the part of the show planners in my opinion .C'mon, this is Dan Hinkley-we should be able to see his damn slides.  Billy Goodnick was on the only stage that provided a dark movie theater type space, though his stage set  also featured a too low positioned screen which placed an elegantly coiffed head from the row in front of me in the dead center of his photos.

 How about the display gardens ?  They were ok. Still glad to see that the trend away from vast swathes of English Primrose and Azaleas surrounding a dramatic outdoor kitchen continues , and that the plant palette for the most part is climate appropriate. I noticed that this year all Bromiliads had vanished both from the display gardens and the plant vendors . There were no chickens.

My photos of the garden are uniformly bad. Here are a couple that are kind of in focus..

Got kind of a Bayou vibe from this one....

 And the Saturday afternoon crowd ? Not encouraging. Lots of floor space= less and smaller gardens.

 I did get a kick out of some of the bizzare flower arragements - there is a tradition of over the top here , and it was continued this year . Check out the moldy orange in the bottom 3rd of the vase.

 I really can't come up with an appropriate comment on this one.

  An interesting note, neither Sunset Magazine nor the Pacific Horticulture Society had a presence at the show . The Garden Conservancy did not have a booth. The speakers were sponsored by a start-up web based garden class site.
   I'll go back next year , with lowered expectations. Maybe I'll take better photos too...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bloomday March 2015

 Spring is progressing here in Northern California , with both the usual flora and bloomers that are early birds- a result of a mild winter with far fewer frosty nights than typical.

  Rosa banksia lutea is always one of the first flowers to show up here-a bittersweet show this year as it may be her last hurrah - the structure she lives on is in a very advanced state of deterioration and will have to go , along with Lady Banks. 

 I really need to get more Freesia bulbs next fall-they are dirt cheap , small enough to tuck in anywhere , and are first rate cut flowers too.

 This scented Pelargonium is typically sulking in March, but this year it never died back.

This 'Lavender Lady' Lilac popped into full bloom this week.

 A lot of collateral Dutch Iris damage when I was crazily digging up my front garden last fall, but this clump was spared.

Allium schubertii

Euhorbia myrsintes

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'

Hellebores still hold a place of honor this month.

 Early for these Ranunculas..

 Apparently I missed one when digging out the Erigeron , they are cute though  !

The Eccremocarpus featured last month is still blooming prolifically..though the base of the vine is looking a little ratty-I have a feeling the heat will do it in.

This rose  'Gruss an Auchen' has inexplicably thrown out 2 flowers , about a month early .

 And finally, a container full of Stock perfumes the from entry , a reliable winter annual here.

 Be sure to visit our hostess at May Dreams Gardens for more blooms from around the globe...

 Happy Bloom Day everyone !

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Back Corner

 Although I failed to take a 'before' photo of this northwest corner of my garden be assured it is not verbal embellishment to say it was wall to wall weeds a month ago, with a few ill placed and either under or overgrown plants that were ready to be discarded.This entire area was also a victim of the collapsed fence incident last year, and the subsequent working guy trampling that resulted.  I dug out an artichoke , a Phygelius 'Devils Tears' and a noid Agastache that flopped miserably until it was finally engulfed by it's neighbor Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' . 'Black and Blue' was spared , the green patch behind the shovel. This Salvia has thick tuberous roots and will spread vigorously if not dealt with firmly in spring, and kept an eye on all summer. I put up with this because I love the plant in spite of it's wanderlust. It seems quite indifferent to heat, drought and is popular with the hummers and beneficials. . The Corsican Hellebore at the base of the trellis was a volunteer , which I left for winter and will be gone once I accumulate all the plants I plan to install here. Lobelia Tupa will anchor the corner. Sanguisorba offincinalis 'Red Thunder' will will live to the right of the shovel. Penstemon 'Raven', Rudbeckia 'Green Wizard' and the existing  Achellia 'Moonshine' will all be residents here. I expect I will make additional impulse purchases, and then I will plant everything too close together and significant editing will be required. This weekend I will finish schlepping compost from the pile I had delivered last week - the depicted white bucket has been instrumental in this task. The camera and I will check in again here when planting begins --soon I hope !

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Bloom Day February-Pitchers and Catchers Report

 This week in the world of sports, major league pitchers and catchers will report to spring training facilities to begin early workouts. Baseball fans look forward to this as the overture to the show to come, when all things are still possible and the upcoming season glows at the end of the tunnel. And so it is in my garden. In February, the pitchers and catchers of the plant world show up before the rest of the squad to set the table for spring. To be honest, this winter was almost disturbingly mild, with no frost til January  and few casualties. It's tempting to think of the things I would have planted if I'd had a crystal ball.

 I had left this sweet little vine ,Eccremocarpus scaver 'Tresco Gold' for dead last fall  . Purchased at Annies in the spring , it sulked and shriveled into a brown blob, and only to rise again with the first rains. At this point it appears to be another in the 'Tresco ' series, for the red stems are nowhere to found and the flowers are paler than seen in 'gold'   Needing rain does not bode well for its survival in my garden , but I'll enjoy it til summer drought arrives . It's damn cute !

Another from Annies, Geranium pyrenaicum 'Bill Wallis' , has proven to be a robust reproducer. Easy enough to dig or pull the extras .

 And of course the Hellebores..I remember when they were hard to find at the local garden center and travel was required to purchase one.

 For a time I collected Pulmonarias however the mildew that often ruined the foliage in summer put me off of them. There are still a few stragglers around.

Camellias , the no-maintenance plant. No water, no fertilizer , no pests . Just cut some branches off every few years to control size.

This Gallardia put out a flower here and there all winter.

This noid echeveria is my only blooming succulent at the present.

 Be sure to visit May Dreams on this and every Garden Bloggers Bloomday to see the flowers of gardeners around the world...

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Picture This

After agonizing for weeks over my entry into the revived Picture This Photo Contest on Gardening Gone Wild, I threw the dice and selected this image From Annies display garden taken last spring. I filled the frame, right ?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Whirlwind Visit-The Ruth Bancroft Garden.

I arrived at the Ruth Bancroft Garden within a few minutes of the members only 9am opening time for the annual fall plant sale on an October Saturday. The parking lot was already full, so I parked on the residential street around the corner and walked in from there.  This sale has exploded in popularity , having once consisted of  a leisurely stroll around a couple of tables of plants at the entrance folly, to this years  modestly frenzied atmosphere with traffic attendants and cash only express check-outs, no doubt fueled by the continued rise in demand for succulents and xeric plants. Strategic planing is now required for both attendees and organizers. My strategy always involves taking advantage of the early opening time to take photos in the garden under  the superior pre-10am lighting conditions . October with its warm slanty light  is particularly fine for this, and the majority of the early shoppers head for the sale leaving the garden relatively empty. I wish I'd had more time-I took significantly fewer images here than I usually do . Here are just a few.

Morning light view

 The low sun backlit the Optunia thorns into halos.

Looking towards the path to the sale tables.

 And did I buy anything ? Well of course , though things were a little picked over by the time I put my camera away and hit the plant sales area. 4 plants only (easy quantity to carry to the car ) and here they are after being installed in their new pots.

Graptoveria 'Opalina' 

I love Haworthias, and have several. The tag on this just says Haworthia sp. This out of focus photo does not show it to it's best advantage.

Cutest Aloe ever, with a tag that says 'Aloe Hybrid' Shall I name it Aloe cuteii ? I beleive I shall.

Aloe cuteii bloom .

 This is  Gasteria 'Platinum' , the only one they had left by the time I got there. I'm sure I'd have bought this if I'd ever seen it anywhere before-the Gasterias are another favorite of mine.

 I hope to have a better plan and more time for the April 2015 sale !

Monday, September 15, 2014

September Bloomday

Taken in haste between wind gusts , my Bloomday offering this month highlights the bright spots in the untidy, floppy and mid-renovation garden. My shovel has been active in September as I continue upending plants which no longer please me, or play the roll they were cast in.

I typically don't plant sunflowers , not enough room for the big-uns . This year an extreme mid-summer cut back to Cecile Bruner to allow for an infrastructure repair opened a sunny spot in one of my Hateful Areas  where this volunteer popped up.

The Fuchsias are all blooming nicely, and our relatively cool summer  has kept them looking fresh. Winston Churchill here.

 Though not winter hardy for me , Salvia 'Wendys Wish' is purchased every spring as soon as she makes her appearance at the garden center.

 All of the many Oreganos I own are blooming, but I can only offer a photo of Oreganum dictamnus 'Dittany of Crete'.

 Gomphrena 'Fireworks' survived the winter here and has bloomed all summer.

Here is it's next door neighbor Caryopteris incanum, faded somewhat from it's deep blue-violet peak.

  Be sure to wander over to May Dreams , where Carol hosts our monthly bloom fest.