Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

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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]
Goodbye Lawn, Hello 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 one with a much stronger back than I, we (the British 'we', that is) removed it by hand, making sure to dig deep to remove any stray lawn roots that might [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. Didn'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 flowers. [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, 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]
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]
The Great Christmas Tree Chop
 Note:  This post is rated 'R' for violence Sometimes it seems my family lives to torment me - especially when it comes to choosing Christmas trees. It wasn't always be this way.  But one year, when the kids were young, I decided to surprise everyone by bringing home a beautiful living Christmas tree, in hopes that a new family tradition would be born.  I imagined the year-round delight the kids would experience as they nourished our little tree throughout the [read more]
Looking at your garden with fresh eyes
As a designer, I'm often asked how I go about deciding how and where to begin when it comes to transforming a garden bed. While visualizing where to begin is relatively easy for me (it's what I do for a living, after all!) 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 shop [read more]