Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

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The art and soul of Freeland Tanner
What do you get when you combine a pile of twigs, sprinklers, and watering cans with the right side of the brain that just won't quit? It's not what you get, it's who you get - Freeland Tanner. I've written about this exceptional man and his equally impressive wife, Sabrina, many times before (here and here), as well featuring their garden in both of my books. Some of you might even think I'm a bit of a stalker (debatable). But [read more]
Spring in my garden
While walking around my garden the other day my friend excitedly commented 'I totally get what you're doing here - you write all about this in your book!'  Curious as to what she meant, I asked her to elaborate.  She then began to excitedly tell me how I combined this texture with that, placed this color to echo that color, put the upright form here, etc. It was definitely a pinch-me moment to have someone not only explain the  [read more]
Proven Winners Spring Trials
I love attending Proven Winners' 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 [read more]
Book roundup + giveaway!  The 20-30 Something Garden Guide, The Plant Recipe Book & Sunset’s Western Garden Book of Landscaping
Spring has arrived! And along with the sweet scent of jasmine, the bursting blooms of tulips and rosebuds just beginning to open comes a new crop of gardening books.  Luckily my mailman remembers that, around this time each year, his load gets a little heavier with all the books I'm sent to review.  I thought it might be fun to tell you about a few of my favorites, each distinctly different from the next, as well as offer a fantastic [read more]
Texture reigns supreme in the Testa-Vought garden
Welcome to Andrea Testa-Vought's garden, a textural paradise designed by the amazing Bernard Trainor. As you'll see, this garden is truly a feast for the eyes.  But more importantly, it's also a lesson in the subtle but powerful effects texture can have in the garden. I first visited this garden in December, on what was one of the coldest days of the year.  After experiencing a week of unrelenting, below-freezing temperatures, I thought Andrea's garden might look a little worse [read more]
Spring’s One-Hit Wonders:  Flowering Quince, Forsythia & Spirea
The other day I overheard two women talking about their spring gardens and one of them stated matter-of-factly that she'd never plant a flowering quince since it blooms for such a short period and then just sits there the rest of the year.  While its true that it blooms only once, in my opinion that's not reason enough to ban it from the garden. Or forsythia, for that matter, or bridal wreath spirea, or any other of spring's magnificent 'one [read more]
Festina Lente – Filoli’s winter garden
 Festina Lente.  Powerful words used since ancient times by the likes of emperors, military commanders, authors, artists and even Shakespeare himself. Translated, festina lente means 'hurry slowly'.  Personally, I think  my neighbor's bumper sticker says it best -  'Hurry up and slow down'. Out of the corner of my eye I discovered this plaque placed high up on one of Filoli's many garden archways.  I pondered its meaning as I slowly wandered through the garden on this cold and quiet [read more]
Replacing a lawn with a garden – Part 2
Phew - I've been busy!  As promised a few weeks ago, here's the next phase of my front lawn-removal project. After deciding on the materials and final shape of the pathways, the next step was to remove the lawn.  A physically grueling task to be sure. Enlisting help from those with strong backs, we removed the old lawn by hand.  Critical is making sure to dig deep to remove any stray lawn roots that might be left behind. The last [read more]
Pyracantha Pandemonium
Today started out just like any other January day. For the past week, I had been admiring one of my favorite shrubs growing in my side yard - the humble pyracantha. I had been wondering to myself why more people didn't love this shrub as I do. Don't they realize all the seasonal beauty it freely offers the gardener?   First, in early spring, I’m rewarded with a spectacular show of slender branches cloaked in cascades of dainty white [read more]
Replacing a lawn with a 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, 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 clients, I just haven't been able to [read more]