Showing posts from January, 2011


Shrub-ish or tree-ish, Banksias are beautiful and striking, and regrettably a Sunset zone or 2 removed from my  growing conditions. A member of the Proteaceae family , Banksias are evergreen , native to Australia and way way cool.

 This is Banksia marginata, and according to my faithful Botanica is highly variable in it's growth habits, depending on the site.

Banksia integrifolia. I love the grey reverse on these leaves...

These photos were taken at Berkeley Botanical Garden .

Silk Earrings

There wasn't much going on in the California zone at Berkley Botanic Gardens this past weekend. Except for this, Garrya elliptica , the Silk Tassell Bush. Quite large for a bush, but some nice dimensions for a small tree, in the 15' range according to the California Native Plant Society. How about these oustanding blooms ? And just when one needs it most, this is a winter/spring bloomer. Native to California and Oregon, the population in the wild seems concentrated around more coastal environments, though it is not unknown  inland. It surely stuck out the hook as I passed by , a detour from my route through the garden.

Sunday Morning in Berkley

A spirited argument with myself was won by the Garden Visitor , lost by the Garden Worker. But it's ok, the Garden Visitor was home by noon , and the Garden Worker had the opportunity to prune more roses, cut back lavenders and grasses , and watch the bees on the Rosemary.
  The destination  was UC Berkley Botanical Garden , an easy commute at 8am on a Sunday . Distracted..snapping photos, looking at the tags, "I'll remember that name"..right? Wrong.

 So.. Hedgehog Agave ?

Agave vilmoriniana -' Octopus Agave'..took a photo of the label.

Aloes in bloom. The camera was smokin...

I love the Restios, and have been plotting away to introduce them into my small garden.


Pruning the roses is a mindless activity , satisfying with a hint of danger --puncture wounds , torn clothing , hats snatched off and dangling above. I don't mind doing it , after all these years it has become a rite of January , an excuse to go outside . It's a multi -weekend task-there are over 60 here, and the behemoth Reine de Violettes alone takes half a day.
 Roses were the first plant I collected , 9 of them in a 3x3 square in my first garden in San Diego. I hovered over them , deadheading , squishing aphids, feeding them with the sort of fertilizers I wouldn't even consider using now. For years my garden strategy revolved around finding ways to squeeze  in more of them. I own most of the major rose reference books published in the last 20 years, I've  lurked and occasionally  posted on countless internet rose forums, listservs and newsgroups (remember listservs and newsgroups?) and briefly joined the American Rose Society.
 So , I have these 60 roses. I comp…

January Bloom Day

I have actually gotten the act together sufficiently to participate in Bloom Day-naturally it's January -not a month of plenty in this garden though it probably seems like the tropics to those buried under a snow bank.

 Camellias are blooming here in NorCal, I like this one with is sunny yellow stamens -kind of Romneya-ish ..

Pieris japonica Variegata with its heath-like bells unfurling. Note the appearance of sun.

 Snail holes deface the Hellebores.

The ubiquitous Viburnum tinus

Winter Vines

The sun came out for a day. Not a workday this time-why does the sun always come out when one is engaged in suitable employment in an office with no windows  ? Driving around in the vineyards with the heater directed toward the feet, parking the car in the sun where the ground is still stable and un-puddled and walking , camera in hand-it was pretty nice.   In winter our valley discards its burnished gold summer wardrobe and we see green at last. Frosty, cold, and muddy but green.

 This is the Carneros appellation ; varietals grown here prefer  the lower summer temperatures moderated by the San Francisco and San Pablo Bays. This region, though only a 15 minute drive from my garden, is usually frost -free while I endure nighttime temps in the 20's and 30's. The remarkable diversity of the micro-climates in the Napa Valley facilitates both viticultural excellence and some pretty cool home garden opportunities.

In the Rear View Mirror, Part Four

I will begin with an an objectivity disclaimer ; I leave it in the parking lot when I visit  here. This is my dream garden, the garden I would have if I was transported from the postage stamp to a huge manila envelope, the garden that fulfills 90% of my botanical  fantasies. This is Digging Dog Nursery, a few miles inland from the Mendocino coastline. It is remote, surrounded on all sides by Redwood, transitional and mixed conifer forest . The primary business is mail order - and in my experience the customer will receive healthy well-rooted plants. In summer and fall the nursery is open to the public on specific dates and times; see their website for details. I made 3 visits in 2010; most of these photographs are from my fall visit .

  No surprise, the judicious use of grasses keeps the fall  interest dynamic . Seed heads are left to punctuate .

 These planted steps are a clever design element used by proprietor Gary Ratway again for his wonderful gardens at Belvedere Winery, now D…

In the Rear View Mirror, Part Three

The Stanford Inn is built on a hillside above Big River Estuary on the coast of Northern California. It features cozy rooms with distant ocean views, outstanding service, and gardens. Inns with gardens always have an advantage, trumping even a crummy mattress, surly front desk employees, and bad in-room coffee, (Ok, ok, so there's no such thing as good in-room coffee) none of which are the case here.At check in you are personally escorted to your room by one of the charming staff. The fire will have been built, chocolate truffles will be on your table, and your room rate will include full  from-the-menu breakfast from the Inn's wonderful vegetarian restaurant. And your dog is welcome too. The gardens here are visible from every guest room, walkable, organic and nicely designed with plants suited to the  coastal environment. A 15 minute drive north will put you at the entrance to Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, and to the south the splendid Digging Dog Nursery. I visited se…