Friday, July 29, 2016

The Garden Gallery

 During my visit to the central coast of California in April, I spent a windy afternoon along the Embarcadero in Morro Bay. As is my custom when traveling , I had done an internet search for garden centers in the area; considering the great climate along this stretch of our coast I would have expected a bit more horticulture going on, but regrettably there were only a couple that seemed worth visiting.
 The Garden Gallery on the corner of Embarcadero and Pacific in Morro Bay was as it's name suggests a tasteful and beautifully maintained collection of vignettes, artfully combining pottery, plants and restrained garden art that made for very pleasant browsing. One could not expect to landscape a garden there; the plant inventory was heavily skewed towards succulents (all in on that) and tropicalesque container subjects.

  Small clay pots were used extensively to display cacti and succulents. This seems to be a clever merchandising tool in a store that by virtue of it's location likely has a fair amount of tourist visitors.

  Great big wind chimes, probably Music of the Spheres.

 They had a really nice selection, and I did make purchase -Haworthia limifolia . Always on the lookout for plants  I can't find locally.

 I wanted this one desperately, however it was only seen in large containers with large prices. And naturally, I failed to take a photo of the tag, so I have no idea what it was. Maybe a Crassula? Maybe a Kalanchoe ? If any readers out there know I would be grateful.

  Employees were bustling around mainlining the merchandising , keeping the clay pots full.

 There were a number of exotics , but I only got a photo of this one-I had become distracted by shopping.

Did I mention the wind ? Though Garden Gallery had a good deal of outdoor space, it was built cleverly to provide a windbreak, and only a few steps away the small craft was bobbing on the choppy bay.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Marin County Open Garden-Bolinas

 I'm not really sure  why I loved this garden. I'm not  usually a fan of  clipped and formed shrubs , I obsess about the topped Phormiums and the meatball Loropetalums seen in commercial landscapes around town. Why do people think that looks good ? A few years ago I posted on this topic here  and here. I will admit though , that I have often seen admirable uses of this device . It's helpful if the gardener actually knows what they are doing, and knows the name and habit of the plant they are working on.

   Bolinas is a beach town on Tomales Bay, and the climate is ideal for almost everything except tomatoes and peppers. It never gets hot and it never gets cold. The garden here is the creation of watercolor artist Sally Robertson. From the Garden Conservancy guide: "As a painter, I often choose plants as inspiration for a watercolor, but I give much thought to their placement, for the garden itself is a highly orchestrated color palette ." Yes indeed.

 The sculpted Cypress are seen from both the street and much of the garden. Not simply a tree,this is an art piece- obviously the maintenance is not a casual affair; there is skill involved.

  In some areas of the garden the shrubs were shaped, but never to the point where the plant skeletons were exposed , and the shapes themselves, along with the varied foliage colors lends direction for the eye, the way leading lines would.

 The garden was densely planted with shrubs flowering plants and small trees, the paths meandering to reveal hidden views.

On this path we approach the rose arbor, a feature that marks the transition from the front garden to the back.

The Nasturtiums are allowed to thread their way up this palm. Maybe Phoenix caneriensis , but I am embarrassed to say that even though I was born and raised in Los Angeles my palm ID skills are quite spotty.

 Bigger view of said palm.

 The back garden was arranged around a large pond, with paths on all sides.

 There were succulents too..

 In this mild climate , Bromiliads can live outdoors all year. This large tree stump makes a nice home.

 At the rear, a shady area was created from native trees with few distractions and views toward the pond.

 The gardener and artists home and studio. Researching Ms. Robertson, I found that there is a vacation rental on the site, and the idea of a night or two in this garden is compelling.Gardens are rarely open for the photographers 'golden hour', but as a guest in residence the light is at your disposal.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Garden Bloggers BloomDay July 2016

 Seems like everything is blooming in July , so I picked just a few to share. I appreciate the fortitude of our hostess Carol of May Dreams Gardens who continues to give us a platform to share the beauty of flowers.

 The Lilies have given me much pleasure this year and my list of new additions for 2017 continues to expand. This is 'Black Beauty' with the darker 'Aprilla' in the background-they have developed a symbiotic leaning relationship this summer.

  Yes, yes Lobelia tupa !


 I am feeling rather triumphant that Hydrangea 'Pee Gee' is not flopping this year, though it has more to do with a tree death in a neighbors yard than it does with my gardening skill.

  Eryngium 'Jos Eijking', just starting to blue up.

 Salvia 'Wendys Wish ', always reliable. Some years she winters over and some years not.

The outstanding Clematis 'Arabella', blooms all summer.

 Unnamed Eucomis. Who needs a name ?

  I thought this white Lantana was done for after last winter, but I left the skeleton intact and in May I saw signs of growth. It's still small but at least I can develop a better protection plan for next winter, and perhaps the plant will have gained stamina.

 Bouteloua gracillis 'Blonde Ambition' .

'Blonde Ambitions' next door neighbor Agastache 'Purple Haze'. Both hellstrip residents.

More hellstrip action, Salvia 'East Freisland' with a culinary Oregano.

 My faux meadow where many plants bloom cheek by jowl, including Gomphrena 'Fireworks', Echinacea 'Ferris Wheel' more A. 'Purple Haze' , Anigozanthos and  Eryngium .

 Happy Bloom Day to all, and may we someday live in a world where everyone is a gardener.

Monday, July 11, 2016

The Gasterias

 I decided last year - I think it was last year- to collect Gasterias. The decision was made in the most random manner when contemplating my back garden, possibly probably with a glass of wine. At the time, I had exactly one plant which was label-less and recovering from being left out in a below 20 degree night.Temperatures in the teens here are not unknown , but the duration is typically a brief one hour event at 4 or 5am in the dead of winter. Succulents that are especially tender get moved into the house or garage and the borderline cases are grouped up against a west wall with a primitive frost blanket structure for protection. Gasterias are small enough for the most part  to make the winter moves less demanding. 

 My procedure  would be to keep an eye out for  Gasterias I didn't currently own (which at this point was almost ANY Gasteria) and begin to acquire as many as the pocketbook and the available real estate would allow. My inventory has increased to 6. The challenge I faced from the start was locating plants that were actually labeled. The ubiquitous 'Asst Succulents' was common, along with 'Gasteria spp' . Even the venerable Ruth Bancroft Garden had a few no ID's . Web sites are helpful, though often rife with conflicting information or bad photos. So my disclaimer here is maybe I have the right ID and maybe I don't. I did find an online key, which I will consult when I am feeling more scholarly.

 Here is my original plant, which I have decided is Gasteria bicolor. It had a run-in with a 20 degree night a few years ago, but rebounded from the superficial damage very nicely.

 This is G. bicolor liliputana (labeled !) and is one of my favorites by virtue of it's cuteness.

 This mystery plant is still too small to try to ID, but I note it has a bun in the oven, and I'm hoping it's G. glomerata.

 This was found at the Ruth Bancroft Garden plant sale in spring, tagless . I have tentatively ID'd as G croucheri ,but feel very uncertain-online photos are wildly variable.

 This little guy was tagged, G.'Little Warty'. He is still quite small, and I expect his wartiness will become more pronounced with age .

I believe this to be G. 'Big Brother'

 I snatched this one up quickly at the Ruth Bancroft sale last fall. It is Gasteria 'platinum' , the lone specimen there.