Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

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Drought tolerant superstars for the spring garden
As I write the latest installment of my drought-tolerant series, yet another storm is heading our way.  Its been a soaking wet, record-breaking winter this year, with most counties having now lifted their mandated water restrictions. But there's still a few cities that realize this annual rainfall won't last, and continue to mandate strict water restrictions. Santa Barbara, for example, has recently banned watering residential lawns to help achieve their city-wide goal of 40% water reduction. (Click here to read an [read more]
Kubota Garden – lessons in form and shape
One of the many reasons why I love visiting public gardens is that each one tells a unique story:  why it was created, who was the driving force, the inspiration behind it, etc. Seattle’s Kubota Garden is no exception. Located in the middle of a quiet suburban neighborhood, it’s somewhat of a surprise to find this secret gem nestled among its residential neighbors. Immediately I was intrigued. In the garden is a memorial stone dedicated to the creator [read more]
My Top 10 Favorite Black Plants
One of my all-time favorite colors to use in the garden is black.  While it can be tricky to find plants that have true black foliage (most are closer to maroon or deep purple), here are some of my favorites that come pretty close. And just in time for Halloween, too! (more…) [read more]
Drought tolerant superstars for the fall garden
After a lifetime spent gardening in California, one thing I've learned is there's drought tolerant, and then there's drought tolerant.  Many plants that claim to be low-water might do okay for the first year or two, but soon 'cry uncle' when blasted with year after year of unrelenting drought. As a designer, it's a constant challenge to find beautiful and unusual plants that don't just eek along in these difficult conditions but to discover those that actually thrive.  And that's [read more]
Wave Hill
I’m bursting with excitement, as my daughter and I are returning to NYC tomorrow for a week of fun and garden-touring. For those of you who don't know, we lived there for two months in 2014 and had such an amazing life-enriching time that I couldn't wait to return, even if only for a few days. Earlier this week I was reading my previous articles about the gardens we visited when I realized I never wrote about my trip to [read more]
Designing a garden for Sunset magazine.  No pressure…
A few weeks ago, Johanna Silver (Sunset Magazine's Garden Editor) reached out and asked if I would be interested in designing a garden for a forthcoming article, with the emphasis on using plants from Sunset's new Western Garden Collection. Hmmmm....tough decision.  Let me get this straight, I thought, design a garden for Sunset?  Where I can use any plant I want from their collection?  As many as I want?  That's like asking a kid if they'd like to spend [read more]
My February Garden
Thanks to the El Nino weather pattern we’ve been experiencing here along the West Coast (lots of rain followed by unseasonably warm temperatures) my garden is exploding with blooms much earlier that it ever has before. I’m a bit worried that my poor plants are being tricked into thinking spring has arrived, only to be given a dose of harsh reality with a late freeze or two, but no use worrying about it, right?  Instead, I’m just [read more]
Bellevue Botanical Garden
As we ease into fall here in Northern California, I thought I'd share with you one of the most beautiful late-season perennial borders that I've seen in a long time, located at the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Tucked away on the east side of Washington's Puget Sound, this 36-acre horticultural gem is one that I will always regret not spending more time exploring. By the time I arrived, I was only able to spend about an hour wandering through the garden, [read more]
Scent in my late winter garden – my favorite top 5
Here we are in the early days of February, and my garden is filled with heavenly fragrance. In my temperate Zone 9 garden, there's still a few  leaves hanging on to their deciduous branches for dear life.  But with each gentle breeze these dying leaves quickly lose their grip and leave behind one skeletal shrub after another.  Thank heavens for the evergreen shrubs in my garden, as they can finally take their turn on stage.  And with them brings another [read more]
Winter berries in the garden
Even though it's the middle of January, my garden is humming with activity. As I write this, I can see dozens of birds of all types eating from my bird feeders, taking baths in their freshly filled birdbaths and gorging themselves on the various types of berries my garden provides. Clearly, my garden is a re-fueling station for many of these birds, and I'm happy to see them taking a break from their winter migration. Trees and shrubs that offer [read more]