Thursday, April 27, 2017

Do-Over at the Nichols Garden

  My first visit to this garden was on the occasion of Garden Bloggers Fling, San Francisco in 2013. This was the year my camera went belly-up on the evening of day one and thus I had few photos of any of the gardens we visited . Thankfully our friend Alison over at Bonney Lassie had cleverly brought along her point and shoot and kindly let me borrow it , though the unseasonable heat wave and horrible photo conditions were not in my favor . At that point I also had an early generation iphone that took such abysmal photos  I didn't even bother to use it. The Nichols garden in Piedmont (the high rent adjunct to Oakland) was a favorite among my fellow Flingers and I have been regretful that I was not able to document it to my satisfaction. This year I was thrilled to see that this garden was included on the Garden Conservancy Open Day on April 22nd . I took many many photos , and I am only sharing a portion of them here; Gerhard from Succulents and More joined me there and I expect he will post about this fantastic garden as well and hopefully cover some of the areas I have excluded.

 So, if you are walking down the street, just strolling along, you come upon this.

 The San Francisco Bay Area, and particularly the East Bay which includes Berkeley, Albany and Oakland, cities which are nestled up to hills that separate the cool fog belt from the inland dry/hot regions are areas in which I'm pretty convinced  you can grow just about anything . No frost, modest heat, decent winter rains and just the right amount of sun.These photos should convince you.

 The largest and most pristine Aloe polyphylla I've encountered. Going to say it was 2 to 3 feet in diameter.

And the front garden includes this Tillandsia tree. I'm trying not to over do the photos I took of this feature. Bear with me, I'm showing restraint.

 And speaking of Tillandsias, the lot is steep , and  the path up to the back garden is bordered by a rustic fence that displays more of the Nichols collection of epiphytics. It is all beautifully curated and artfully arranged . I spent considerable time on this path.

At the top of the path is this beautiful water feature .

 We haven't visited the back garden yet. Here's about a tenth of the photos I took there. The color combinations are very well done, and as a contrast to the front there are Roses, some herbaceous perennials and evergreen shrubs clearly selected for color and form.

 I particularly liked the color echos provided by the Irises juxtaposed against Berberis and Coprosma.Well done !

Lots of beautiful stuff in the back.

 I'll close out with a few random images from various areas of the garden. Thanks to Ann Nichols for generously sharing this outstanding garden.

Follow this link to see photos from Fling 2013

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bloomday April 2017

  On the back end of Bloomday this month-I love it when Bloomday falls on the weekend so I can have a leisurely walk about with the camera whatever time of day suits me. Today I was in a frenzy to get my mulch pile reduced and a few new plants installed before it rains (again) tomorrow.Photos taken in haste and I probably missed a few. Spring clean up and weeding has proceeded at a frustratingly slow pace due to the continuing precipitation we are experiencing here. At this point It's likely I will make it well into May before I have to water anything in the ground.

 Last April I featured my roses, but this year there are only a few that have opened

 Two flowers have appeared on the floribunda 'Our Lady of Guadalupe' .

' Honey Perfume'-which ironically has no detected scent to me-is the only rose that is in full bloom at the present. It's position on the hell-strip with plentiful all day sun is probably a factor.

My beloved Madame Isaac Perrier  has more buds than I can recall in many years, and will be a blackspot mess in a another couple of weeks. But the fragrance !

 Gruss an Auchen

This Geum 'Totally Tangerine' has been blooming since February as I recall. I planted it last summer and will be interested to see how long the bloom continues. Really outstanding so far !

 A full view

Clematis are shifting into high gear-they are loving this rainy spring.



 Mystery plant from the late-great Chalk Hill.

 Weigela variegata with Lavender 'Platinum Blonde'

The tag is long lost on this Geranium from Robin Parer. It only blooms once but has great bronze-y foliage as you can see.

The fabulous and unpronounceable Erygium 'Jos Eijking' .

Always excellent Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'

And E. 'Silver Swan'

 My only bearded Iris, noid .

Make sure you pay a visit to Carol at May Dreams Gardens , our hostess for this monthly bloom action.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Morning at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

  Photography workshops at the Ruth Bancroft Garden are popular, typically filled and thus continue to be scheduled. I'm pretty sure I've been to all of them. As usual, the attendees are admitted to the garden at 8am a full two hours before the garden opens to the public. The difference in light between 8 and 10 is significant, and because Walnut Creek is inland from the bay and less prone to marine influence even 9am can be bright and contrasty.I posted about the January workshop here, and you can see how gentle the light was compared with this spring visit. The workshops are conducted by John Ricca, are free to members of the garden and a bargain for those who are not.

The covers have been taken of the tender plants, though I saw many of the more portable covers stashed here and there in the event of a late frost. The area depicted here was under protection all winter.

 The Aloe blooms were mostly done but a few still lingered.

 We were encouraged to get up close, and think about pattern and form but the lens I  had on my camera was unable to zoom in very far. I loved this Mangave , but I blew the focus point. Since one of my goals for the class was to concentrate on focus I feel ok with the fact the I recognized the mistake I made here.

Here you can see the light brightening .

Once the light got stronger I chose to take wider views , trying to use exposure compensation to dial down the harshness.

  So bittersweet to see the Agaves spew forth their asparagian spikes knowing they are doomed.

 I always learn something at these workshops and because I have hundreds of photos taken here I am challenged to look at things in a new way, from a new viewpoint .