Gossip in the Garden

Harmony in the Garden's Chattier Side

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Transforming awkward spaces in the garden
  I’ve spent the past two years working in my new garden.  And by working, I mean killing myself trying to fix one awkward space after another. I’ve finally got the upper hand on things (sort of) and just as soon as I can, I’ll share some pics with you. Above is a teaser of the first bed in my garden that I transformed.  I barely had my things out of the moving truck before I jumped [read more]
Have a sloping garden?  Tiers can stop the tears (sorry – couldn’t help myself)
Steep slopes in the garden are problematic at best.  Ever try and plant, prune, or deadhead on a steep hill?  NOT fun. I should know.  I've spent the past 2 years working in my new garden , trying to tame a pretty slope that has caused me to shed a tear or two in frustration. And you can imagine what it looks like after a pouring rain, right?  A big, muddy mess at the bottom of the hill. That’s where [read more]
Multi-Purpose Mediterranean Makeover
  While most of us are still recovering from a punishing few weeks of winter weather, longing for the first days of spring,  I thought I'd share with you another 'Before-and-After.' As you may remember, in my last post I showed a transformation that involved removing my client's pool and replacing it with a beautiful and functional garden. Today I'll show you an entirely different scenario.  In this Mediterranean garden, the pool is a actually cherished part of the [read more]
Good-bye Pool, Hello Garden – another makeover
  Everyone loves a good makeover, right? Especially us gardeners.  Whether we're talking about ripping out a giant lawn, or ripping out a giant pool - the results can be pretty astonishing. Over the next several months I have lots of gardens to talk about.  Some belong to my clients, others are near my new home in Granite Bay, some from around the country, and a few surprises I'll share with you later. So as we enter into another cold [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]
A Jewel Box Courtyard that’s Wheelchair-Friendly
Three years ago our local newspaper ran a story on our (then) new book, Garden Up! Smart Vertical Gardening for Small and Large Spaces. Within 24 hours, I received a phone call from Judy, who was in desperate need of transforming her tiny, overgrown courtyard into one that appeared spacious, bright, lush, and tranquil. Judy had always loved gardening but didn't quite know how to tackle one that was this small (27'x 21') with so many challenges. And, as if [read more]
Replacing a lawn with a garden –  Part 3
  Here we are at the end of May and I'm happy to share with you the final phase of my front garden re-do! As you may recall, in January I finally decided to remove my little-used front lawn and replace it with a low-water garden (you can read about it here and here). After moving around my new little plants at least a half a dozen times each, most of them have finally found their permanent homes. Going back [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]
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]
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. In today's post, I thought I'd talk about another aspect of this garden - using the very-gray colored dymondia margaretae as a lawn substitute. And not just the ground cover itself, but the tricks I use to keep the color looking lush. But first, a little background and a few before & afters... (more…) [read more]