Post Tag: Foliage

Proven Winners Spring Trials
I love attending the annual Spring Trials, as it's a chance to see firsthand the latest and greatest from well-respected growers around the country. And even though the plants won't be available for purchase until 2015, it's exciting to know what we can look forward to.  The temptation to grab a few and run is sometimes overwhelming, as I can't stand to wait an entire year to try them in my own garden.  It's sort of like peeking under your [read more]
Goodbye lawn, hello garden!    Part 1
It's a new year and with it comes the oh-so-familiar new year's resolutions.  And while I rarely keep the ones I make (lose weight, exercise more, blah blah blah) this is a resolution that's long overdue and one that I'm thrilled to undertake: getting rid of my unused front lawn. With California's lowest recorded rainfall in its history (that's over 160 years!), the timing is perfect to practice what I preach.  Even though I remove lawns for many of my [read more]
Five ways to warm winter garden
A few days ago I spoke to my friend who lives in Boston, and when I complained that my garden was taking a beating during a recent week of unrelenting 28-degree temperatures, he was shocked - in California?   Yes, even in the land of sunshine it often dips below freezing on a cold winter night, surprising out of town visitors as much as it surprises our succulents, bougainvillea and citrus. One of my favorite vignettes in my garden is [read more]
Looking at your garden with fresh eyes
As a designer and a consultant, I'm often asked how I go about deciding how and where to begin when it comes to transforming a garden bed.   I understand where this question comes from.  While visualizing where to begin is relatively easy for me, I realize that's not necessarily the case for others.  In fact, I experienced this feeling myself during my kitchen remodel.  I was amazed at how helpless and overwhelmed I felt when I walked into the tile [read more]
Create longer-lasting fall color in the garden
There's something magical about fall colors in the garden, isn't there?  My favorite time of year is the moment I open my front door and see my Japanese maples and Crepe Myrtle trees have turned their fiery shades of yellow, red and orange - signaling the calm before the storm (the storms from both winter as well as the holiday crush!) While it's easy enough to get fall color from the occasional maple, burning bush or viburnum in your garden, [read more]
Shades of Gray in a No-Lawn Front Garden
I'm thrilled to announce that one of the gardens I designed for a client is featured in this month's Sunset magazine (if you don't subscribe, you can read about it here in their online version). While the folks at Sunset did a fantastic job capturing the drought-tolerant aspects of this garden (the homeowners reduced their water bill by 40%!) I thought I'd go into a little more detail about using the very-gray colored Dymondia margaretae as a lawn substitute, and the [read more]
I’m a caladium convert
I'll admit it - I've never given much thought to caladiums, perhaps subconsciously dismissing them as an uninspired, old-fashioned stalwart. But having trialled several dozen this year (thanks to the good folks at Classic Caladiums) I can proudly say I was dead wrong - there's nothing uninspired with these plants.  I'm officially hooked! Similar to coleus in that they come in a psychedelic array of color combinations, caladiums somehow have more of an air of elegance about them. And when [read more]
Transforming a side yard from Blah to Beautiful
In honor of my new book, Refresh Your Garden Design, I'll be spending the next few months writing about the many different aspects of color, texture and form.  Whether its gardeners I've met who have embraced these design principles to the fullest, simple solutions you can use to transform your own garden, or perhaps  specific plants that serve double (or even triple!) duty in the landscape - my goal will be to inspire while showing how the smallest changes can [read more]
Captivating Coprosmas
Time and time again I've had astonished clients ask me 'What IS that plant?' when spotting the smooth and shiny foliage of a colorful coprosma.  Commonly known as a 'Mirror Plant', coprosma's foliage looks as if tiny little elves snuck in and meticulously shellaced each perfectly shaped oval leaf. Yes, they're that shiny. Finding foliage with smooth and reflective surfaces isn't always easy, which is just one of the reasons why I'm such a fan of these evergreen shrubs.   [read more]
Euphorbia euphoria
This weekend my garden will be one of several featured during the 5th annual Garden Bloggers Fling Garden Tour.  Am I nervous having my personal garden shown to 75+ of our country's most amazing, talented and influential garden bloggers?  Uh...YES!  So every day this week I've been working in my garden, trying to keep up with what Mother Nature has been dishing out (crazy winds, rain and 100 degree temps - all within a single week)!  While my roses are [read more]
I just returned from a quick trip to Boca Grande, a tiny little island off of Florida, where I spoke about vertical gardening to the island’s local garden club.  Without a doubt, one of the perks of my job is the chance to see new things and meet new people – something I wouldn’t trade for the world.  Whether it’s a local group or one as remote as this, I always leave feeling more enriched than I did [read more]
Hooray for Heucheras! An interview with Terra Nova Nurseries
Heucheras (aka: Coral Bells or Allum Root) are one of my favorite perennials in the garden, whether adding spots of color in the front of the border, massed together in drifts or nestled into a container.   I'd be lost if I couldn't use these little treasures in my designs, as their foliage comes in just about every color imaginable, they reliably return year after year and they're even somewhat deer resistant. The folks at Terra Nova Nursery (located in [read more]
Why Grow That When You Can Grow This?
I'm thrilled to introduce one of the best books to hit the stands this year - Why Grow That, When You Can Grow This, by  my good friend Andrew Keys (Timberpress, 2012). Now you may be thinking "Oh - she's clearly biased, no doubt, since she just said they're good friends."  Fair enough.  But if that were the case, I would just say something polite, like "enter now for a chance to win!" and not gush on and on like [read more]
Top 10 Favorite Orange Plants
It's that time of year again when our homes and gardens are decked out in orange and black, and mine is no exception.  And what better occasion than Halloween to talk about one of my favorite colors in the garden - orange!  Last year I wrote about my favorite black plants, so it's only fitting that this year's post is all about orange. In all the years I've been designing gardens, it goes without saying that orange is, hands-down, the [read more]
Cornerstone Garden Grasses
Sonoma's Cornerstone Gardens is one of my very favorite public gardens to visit any time of year.  In my opinion, though, the fall is the best time of all. Not only are the summer crowds long gone but the colors of fall are just beginning to explode.  No longer filled with grapes, the surrounding vineyards shimmer with shades of gold and red, and fall's soft and slanted sunlight peeks through the olive trees. And to top things off, the grasses [read more]
I've been traveling a lot this summer and am so glad to finally be home!  But after nearly five weeks away you can imagine the state of my garden. Fortunately (for my garden, not for me!), my husband was home for most of the time so he was able to keep it watered and somewhat under control - but you know how it is.  While most everything survived, there is an overwhelming amount of staking, pruning and dead-heading to be [read more]
Welcome to the Garden Designers Roundtable, where designers from around the world participate in monthly discussions about all things gardening. The topic for this month is Texture. As many gardeners already know, gardening appeals to all the senses.  Not only do our eyes visually benefit from our creative efforts, but equally important are a garden's tastes, delicious scents and gentle sounds.  The sense of touch, while equally important, is often ignored.  Why?  Many gardeners aren't exactly sure how to use [read more]
I love Oxalis in my garden. No, not the horribly invasive oxalis that has taken over my lawn, but the colorful and well-behaved hybrids available in nurseries everywhere. Come and take a look.... (more…) [read more]
I was having a conversation with a new client the other day, and she was asking me how I go about designing a garden.  As we walked through her existing garden, she was afraid it was too early in the year for me to really get an idea of what it looked like, since so many of her plants were still dormant.  She was surprised when I told her that the timing was actually perfect, for it was now that [read more]
  Hellebores are typically pretty easy to grow here in Northern California, requiring partial shade, well-draining soil and moderate irrigation.  They come in a staggering range of colors, from the deepest maroon to the palest ivory.  They're usually categorized as either having upright blooms on tall stems  (aka: caulescent) or no stems, typically with downward facing blooms (aka: acaulescent). The tricky part, in my opinion, is placing those with downward-facing blooms where they can be best appreciated.  One solution is [read more]
It’s that time of year again, when our gardens are aflutter with leaves falling (and falling and falling), blanketing our beds with brilliant shades of yellow, orange and red. Ever wonder why leaves fall? (more…) [read more]
Top 10 Favorite Black Plants for Halloween
It's no secret that one of my favorite colors in the garden is black.  It's pretty hard to find plants that have  true black foliage (most are more like maroon or deep purple), but here are some that come pretty close. And just in time for Halloween!     (more…) [read more]
I'm so excited to be participating again in another fabulous Garden Bloggers Bloom Day! For those of you not familiar with what ‘Bloom Day’ is, it’s a blogging tradition started by May Dreams Gardens where, on the 15th of each month, garden bloggers everywhere have the opportunity to show you what’s going on in their own gardens.  My  garden is located in Los Altos, California (USDA Zone 9B) This summer, my garden has been largely ignored due to [read more]
Do you know how easy it is to get several plants for the price of one?  Some of my favorite 2-for-1 plants (actually it's more like 10-for-1) are coleus.  Just snap off a stem, stick it in a glass of water for about 10 days, and when you have lots of little roots you just plant it in the ground!  I do this every summer, buying a single plant and propagating many more for our long growing season.  You can [read more]
I guess I just can't stop thinking about gardening up (can you blame me?) When writing our book, Garden Up, Susan Morrison and I had to draw the line somewhere, and unfortunately a few topics didn't quite made the cut. Window boxes were one of them, and it's too bad because I really feel that people don't use them enough in their gardens.     (more…) [read more]
If you're familiar with my blog, then you know I love grasses.  And luckily they're becoming more and more common in most every nursery, with many selections to choose from.   Yes, grasses are all the rage and for good reason. Why?  Generally speaking, grasses will grow in just about any type of soil, most are drought tolerant and diseases and pests aren't usually an issue.   (more…) [read more]
While visiting my friends in Connecticut last week I couldn't help but fall in love with the massive Dutchman's Pipevine that seductively draped over their arbor. It's giant heart-shaped leaves seemed to glow from within when backlit by the setting sun. The tendrils gently coiled downwards, adding an almost ethereal appearance to this cozy space. (more…) [read more]
This year my 'Sea Jade' phormium surprised me by sending up a few tall stalks of flowers for me to enjoy.  Phormiums (aka: Flax) don't always bloom around here, but I think due to our very wet spring they've  decided to reward our patience by showing us what they're really capable of! Phormiums are one of my favorite go-to plants when designing as they provide  tons of structure, year-round beauty and an abundance of foliage colors from which to choose. [read more]
As a garden designer, I've noticed a growing trend over the past few years: more and more people are wanting to replace their unused, water chugging, labor intensive front lawn with a beautiful low-water, low-maintenance garden. These days it seems no-lawn gardens make up about 75% of my business.  The remaining 25% are people who'd like to remove their front lawn but aren't quite sure what to do once it's gone. I hear variations of the same concerns:  it'll look [read more]
I love all gardens. I don't think there's a single style that I don't appreciate.   And that's part of the charm of gardeners - we're all so different yet we all appreciate one another's passion.  Sometimes the differences are subtle, sometimes they're as opposite as night and day. But either way, part of the fun of discovering a garden is learning about the gardener who created it. This is the case with two gardens I had the pleasure of [read more]
  Remember when having a vegetable garden meant a collection of raised beds, or a few tomato plants in a pot?  Instead of banishing them to out-of-the-way areas, these days, edibles are everywhere in the garden – mixed with ornamentals, scrambling out of recycled containers, and clambering up apartment walls. This topic of this month's Garden Designers Roundtable is Edibles, and I'm thrilled!Especially since Ivette Soler, fellow GDRT blogger, has just written the most amazing, inspiring and detailed book on [read more]
I've just returned from Lake Tahoe, where anything green (besides the pine trees) was buried beneath six to eight feet of snow.  Even the poor trees were hunched over, already tired from bearing the heavy load of snow draped across their shoulders.  While the snowy landscape is truly stunning, I must admit that now that I'm back in my mild Bay Area climate, I'm truly enjoying my rainy but GREEN garden. As I look around my garden I can't help [read more]
. There's so many things I love about Fall - the holidays, the food, the smell of the heater turning on for the first time, putting the extra blanket on the bed and the way the garden begins to quiet down. , I think one of my favorite things, however, is the way the sun's slanted rays hits certain plants, causing them to glow with a magical brilliance. (more…) [read more]
. This topic for this month's Garden Designers Round Table discussion is 'Underutilized Plants', and is one that's very important to me as a Garden Designer.   As a designer, I definitely have my list of 'Faves' that I like to plant whenever possible.  Why are they my favorites?  It's usually a combination of reasons - they thrive in our area, have long bloom times, are deer resistant, they're low maintenance or have gorgeous foliage.  In a nutshell, they're tried [read more]
Color is the topic for this month's Garden Designers Roundtable discussion - and once again it's a MASSIVE topic full of endless possibilities!   How on EARTH can I narrow down such an all-encompassing topic such as this? I've decided to write about the most important color in my designs - Maroon. Or burgundy. Or dark purple.  Whichever term you prefer. (more…) [read more]
What is the 'Garden Designers Roundtable'?  First started in December 2009, a small group of us thought it would be fun, as professional landscape designers, to each write an article on the same topic (Do Designers Practice what they Preach), but each written from our own point of experience from different parts of the country. It was an idea that was very well-received, so we wrote about another topic (Celebrating Regional Diversity), expanding our group with a few more designers. [read more]