Friday, December 31, 2010

In the Rear View Mirror, Part Two

The Garden Conservancy obligingly opened the gates for me to enter the spectacular garden of Raul Zumba. Cradled along a western facing slope in the hills above Oakland, this gardens paths meander from one 'hotcha' moment to another. Were you to ask me what the house looked like, I couldn't say. The property is wholly garden-centric , the house though likely lovely, struck me as a place to mix cocktails , make lunch and get out of the rain. On this Open Garden Day, the sounds of some low-key bossa-nova tunes wafted out over the terraces.Well- I just wanted to plop myself down at one of the strategically placed tables and wait for someone to bring me a cold beer and a few grilled shrimp.

 Unfortunately, I couldn't have picked a worse time of day to visit relative to taking photos.No marine layer, not a cloud in the sky and high noon. I await my next opportunity .













Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the Rear View Mirror, Part One

 The sun has put in only fleeting appearances in the last week, and was never robust enough to address the dreadful swampzones that persist in the garden. The back is now designated 'The Lagoon'.  The front features a consistent deluge facilitated by overflowing rain gutters-'The Falls'-one needs a stout layer of waterproof garb to negotiate the path from the sidewalk to the front door without enduring a drenching.  May as well stay in a warm dry house and take a tour through the photo files from 2010 garden visits.

 This private garden on a hillside above  Oakland  is certainly enduring the same relentless precipitation that I am at the moment, but last summer it was a tropi/xeric haven.













Sunday, December 19, 2010

Issues and Issues

 When house guests are expected the cleaning tends to be more thorough , especially when one has diligently avoided the indoors as much as possible all spring, summer and fall. There are a number of unsavory zones of debris , dark corners from which eyes have been averted , and built up clutter on surfaces. And then, there is The Magazine Thing. Piles and piles of gardening magazines , none of them ever disposed of unless they are unfortunate enough to fall prey to a pet or wine accident . Actual china in the china cabinet ? Not a chance , but if you need an issue of Horticulture from the late 90's I could probably dig it up. English Garden ? Expensive and full of content, must be saved. Never-mind that the aforementioned content is almost completely irrelevant to my climate zone. Remember the now defunct Country Living Gardener ? It lives on in two drawers in the guest room.Pacific Horticulture ? It's a journal; one must always keep journals.  A few years ago I actually bought three of those nice slipcases for my back issues of Fine Gardening-made me feel pretty organized too. They are however, full and have been almost since the day I got them. The overflow is piled on the floor under the bookcase.

  It is a winter tradition here to pull out a few every evening , sometimes to read, sometimes just to look at the photos. Well, usually just to look at the photos. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

All Down

The Japanese maple made an abrupt disrobing this week, the costume landing prettily and obligingly over one of the 'problem' areas. The best this corner of the garden has looked all year, however fleeting.



Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ghost Garden

In 2001 Copia-The American Center for Wine Food and The Arts opened it's doors , the anchor for the newly conceived Oxbow district on the Napa River, and brainchild of iconic Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi. Hopes were high that it's success would pump some lifeblood into the struggling downtown to it's west. Ironically, the Oxbow thrives and Copia is bankrupt ; it sits empty in the midst of the once beautiful gardens, now neglected and overgrown except for a few beds that were rescued by a group of local chefs.  The doors closed abruptly and without warning in November of 2008, a victim of underfunding , the economy and the failure to sell it's vision to the community.




A peek through the padlocked fence at the once spectacular organic gardens. Here were culinary herbs, sensory and aromatic plants to echo the complexity of flavors in wine, and vegetable gardens .






This was once a living fence, espaliered apples all along it's length with Artichokes as clever punctuation.


This lone speciman is all that remains.



One of many venues here for cooking demonstrations and classes


A once splendid water feature , though it still looked beautiful this morning .




The Lavender beds are unpruned



The parking lot is empty..


Friday, December 3, 2010

Mega-Potted

  Walking about on a frosty morning in the old neighborhoods- alas I reside in tract-topia and have always yearned for what I don't have. How endearing a street like this with the fallen leaves and every single house different.The gardens are varied and unique as well , something interesting around every corner.



  How about this bungalow ? Get a really big pot, paint it gray and pop in an Agave. Outstanding.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December at the Garden Center

The winter revenue stream is propped up by the green smudge in the background, trucked in from Oregon looking for a home , preening among the Phormiums and frost burnt Dodoneas.


The Silver Tips are stuck in everywhere..you can hang some serious ornaments on these heavy duty branches.



 And the various evergreen topiarys are popular in this season-I wonder how many of them will survive beyond January ?




Camelia 'Yuletide' has become ubiquitous, but still damned attractive if you ask me.



Petticoats are long gone, but I know them when I see 'em. These pink numbers may have tag that says 'kale' but really , just ask Scarlett what she thinks. If I had the funding I'd pop about 50 of them in the front garden. They are ridiculous, and I don't care. Sometimes you just need ridiculous, don't you think ?



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Color Punch

The camera and I went for a stroll this morning .

 Do you suppose these combos were planned ? 



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kendall Jackson

Nice wine, attractive tasting room, friendly staff.. but I gravitate out to the garden. This was my 3rd visit this year, and I loved the bittersweet beauty of the decay - the annual flowers and vegetables were being allowed to go out gracefully in-situ, waving their hankies as they decline; the horticultural manifestation of  Blanche Du Bois.  The grasses, salvias  and sub-tropicals were robust- at peak performance, a full month before the first killing frost.




I liked the banana -grapevine combo. Not something I would have thought of, but very medit-centric I think.



Coolness- fall Salvias , a bit of the foliage action, and the grasses steal the scene.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Confusion

The cycle this fall: warmth, frost , rain , (again) warmth, frost, rain ..and so on. Today is rain, and on it goes til mid-week. The Dahlias look horrid , but soldier-on, the frosts have been light and  spared all but the wimpiest specimens. I move plants inside, and then back out.

 Daylily scapes at Thanksgiving ? 3 are blooming, one of the deciduous models is pumping up  spring growth in the midst of the  dying foliage of 2010.



 The Fuchsias bloom away. I wish it would stop raining so I could go out and look at them. They never look this good in August.




Nicotiana undaunted, with a blur of Lavender in the background.



 All Oreganos (and there are many) think it's summer.




Aha ! Now here finally is a typical Norcal late fall-winter scene.Please disregard the dandelion. They too are confused.