Post Tag: Perennials

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]
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]
I'm over-the-moon with excitement to announce that my new book, Refresh Your Garden Design with Color, Texture and Form is officially finished and will be available in bookstores next month - Oct. 20th, to be exact! After seeing a review copy for the first time last week, I can honestly say that I'm immensely proud of this book for many reasons.  Not only did Christy, the book designer, do an incredible job making it stunningly beautiful, and not only were [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]
Using white flowers in the garden
My garden has been on a few different garden tours this past month which, despite the work involved in getting everything cleaned up, is always a fantastic opportunity to see my garden through others' eyes.  Its always interesting to see which plants are a hit, and which ones seem to go unnoticed, and I'm often surprised with the results. While I tend to think of my garden as colorful (sometimes a bit too much?) it was surprising to hear from [read more]
The other day I sat down with my father and we were laughing about the time when I decapitated my parents' very first little garden.  I was only two years old, and my dad was anxiously waiting for the day when the new 'seed mat' they had carefully tended over the past few weeks would transform into the promised lush and bountiful garden.  Apparently it was nothing more than a rolled up strip of coir and soil with common flower [read more]
Lawn Gone!  Book Party, Review and Giveaways
To celebrate the release of Pam Penick's new book, Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard, you’re all invited to attend her Lawn Gone Book Party – with some very cool party prizes! Six garden blogging friends and I are hosting 7 great giveaways this week, all related to the theme of – drumroll please – lawn alternatives. Lawn Gone! is, of course, about alternatives to the traditional lawn: all kinds of ground-covering plants, functional and appropriately scaled hardscape, [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]
The Layered Garden – Book Giveaway
You know when you see a book and you just know it's gonna be good?  Well, that's how I felt about The Layered Garden, by David L. Culp, and photographed by the talented Rob Cardillo.  And I knew I held a gem in my hands when I read the glowing forward, written by Lauren Springer Ogden - one of my very favorite garden designers and co-author of Plant Driven Design. I love the concept of creating a layered garden as [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]
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]
Kniphopfias (aka: Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily) are one of my very favorite flowers to add vertical interest to the garden.  Seeing their snake-like stalks rise from a clump of lush leaf blades is always a joy to behold as they stretch their long necks what seems like several inches a day. I don't know why, but they're really not planted enough around here (IMHO!) While visiting a client's garden a few days ago, I was amazed at the [read more]
Last week I spent a few days with Jeanette Sinclair (of Woodside Images) in Southern California's charming little town of Santa Paula, visiting Ball Horticulture's Spring Trials to see what new treasures they had to offer the plant world. For those of you who aren't familiar with Spring Trials, Jeanette compares it to New York's Fashion Week.  And if that doesn't clarify things, then maybe their website's description will help: During the course of a week, the world's prominent plant [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]
Flowers in February? Absolutely!
While visiting the garden of one of my favorite clients yesterday I was really pleased with how it looked in the middle of February.  When designing, one of my priorities is to create a garden that looks good throughout the year.  Luckily, living in Northern California's zone 9, this is a very attainable goal.  However, so many clients think I'm exaggerating and doubt that it'll really look good in January and February. Even though we get temperatures that dip into [read more]
Sure, it's tempting to title this post Deer-Proof Plants or something of that nature but truth be told, deer will eat just about anything when they're hungry.  And not only that, they're some of the craftiest animals around when it comes to sneaking into your garden.  The second you leave your gate open, they let themselves in and prune your roses to the ground. Instead of fighting this constant, never-ending battle with deer I've found it much easier to accept [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]
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]
50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants – Book Review
50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants  The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs, and Shrubs that Deer Don't Eat Written by Ruth Rogers Clausen Photography by Alan L. Detrick (Timberpress) I usually don't review many books, but when a title comes up that I deal with on a daily basis I'll make an exception!  Deer are one of the 'challenges' (and I use this term loosely) I face most often when designing gardens here in Northern California.  Most of my clients live in the [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]
. 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]
No, this isn't a scene from Teletubbies.   Last night I attended an APLD meeting in San Francisco to listen to Alan Good, the Academy's Landscape Exhibit Supervisor, give a fascinating presentation about the building's green-roof infrastructure and its plant life.   While I found the specific construction of the roof interesting, it was the little stories and odd facts he told us that really caught my attention. (more…) [read more]
Today I'm participating in a massive, worldwide blogging event called Blog Action Day, where the topic we'll all write about is Water. As any California gardener knows, water is our most precious resource.  In this post, I'm going to share a few tips to help you create a lawn-and-chemical-free meadow garden teeming with life, color, scent and natural beauty.   And the best part about meadows?  If the correct plants are chosen, they're very drought tolerant, requiring very little water outside [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]
I can never seem to manage a truly 'wordless' Wednesday post, so I'll try again to be brief. I took these photos last week while vacationing in Lake Tahoe.  This naturally occurring meadow was just a few miles from Tahoe City, and the Lupines and yellow Monkeyflowers were at their peak. I was counting my lucky stars I had my Nikkon with me as I overheard someone mention there hasn't been a bloom like this in years. . . . [read more]
  I have a new favorite plant that I've been using in my designs now for the past few years - it's Francoa Ramosa and I just adore it! It's categorized as a perennial, but in our Zone 9 climate, it's evergreen. The snails pretty much leave it alone, it grows like mad making it easy to divide and give away to friends, and as if it needed anything else in it's favor, it seems to be fairly un-thirsty (even [read more]
. Happy 4th of July! Here's my favorite red, white and blue combination perfect for this time of year - 'Blue Moon' agapanthus, 'Fourth of July' roses and feverfew. I must admit, this grouping wasn't intentional on my part.  The feverfew re-seeded itself snugly between the two and Voila!  Serendipity at its finest! [read more]
One of the perks that goes along with being a garden writer is the chance to meet the most amazing gardeners. Visiting these gardens are always such a treat, as I feel like I'm getting a sneak peek into the gardener's soul.  You can almost feel the blood, sweat and tears that went into the garden's creation.   I'd like to share some of these people and their gardens with you as part of a series I've created, called Gardeners and [read more]
. It's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day again - an event created by May Dreams Gardens where fellow bloggers around the world share what's blooming in their own gardens on the 15th of each month. . Woo Hoo!  The lusty month of May - when all the garden is flush with bright green leaves, flowers, birds and bees. Life is LIVING this month and not a day goes by when you can't step outside without seeing something 'x-rated' happening in the [read more]
By now, many of you know what an amazing nursery Annie's Annuals is.  The sheer amount of unusual and super-cool plants for sale is staggering, and the stuffed-to-the-brim planting beds provide enough eye candy to let you feast there for hours. I was fortunate enough to attend a little soiree there last spring, in celebration of wrapping up a long, rainy day of filming an episode for the critically acclaimed PBS series, Growing a Greener World.  As I looked around,  [read more]
It's been a cold and frosty December, and this is the time when I begin to receive daily emails from people asking how and when to prune their perennials. Here in the Bay Area (USDA zone 9b) most of our gardens are still looking pretty good.  While some of the more tender annuals are long gone (see you next year coleus), a few of our perennials are fast asleep (anyone seen your phlox lately?), and for the most part our [read more]