Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Friday, May 28, 2010

Theme Gardens

I love the inspiration of a garden theme. In the past I've blogged about different ideas that caught my fancy ... the Modern Mediterranean Garden, the Half-Barrel Garden, community gardens. The best thing is the list is endless ... wouldn't it be fun to create a Beach Garden, or the Indian Garden above? (Hint: the answer is yes!)
Note: the Indian Summer Lodge is actually in Houston and created by garden designer, Jeff Law, who specializes in xeric, tropical gardens.

the Mexican Edible Garden
I’m fascinated with Rosalind Creasy’s series of books on Edible Gardens(essentially, front yard gardens with an artful mix of ornamental and edible plants). She’s made a career out of writing about her own edible gardens in their various incarnations (The Italian Edible Garden, the Edible Flower Garden), and she’s provided us with cookbooks to go with these gardens, too!

Chilean Bell Flower
At last night's meeting of the Sacramento Perennial Plant Club, a slide show was presented by the director of the UC Botanical Garden, Dr. Paul Licht. I loved his enthusiastic talk and realized that botanical gardens like the UC garden (and our own UC Davis Arboretum) are great shopping places for plant lovers! Not only do these scientifically minded folk delight in rediscovering ancient plants thought to be extinct and bring them back to life, they also sell them to us! Click here for more info about the Chilean Bell Flowers above and sales info. The 34-acre garden has 9 geographical areas, as well as many indoor and outdoor specialty collections. You could be in a Japanese garden, overlooking a pond and see into Africa! Now there’s some thematic gardening!

In gardens, one needs similarities … of color, of style, region. This creates a feeling for the whole space. And, one also needs differences … provided by leaf shape, contrasting color or form. This sharpens the focus so the individual items can be appreciated. And, one needs focal points! Yep, they do. Something to catch the eye, a reason to linger.

National or regional themes can provide that unifying effect (or similarity) in a garden. On the larger scale (Earth) they provide the contrast. Perhaps someday we’ll graduate to an even bigger arena, where we’ll be showcasing our planet’s garden features in an interplanetary botanical setting. Easy to image a moon garden (dimpled planet, gardeners wearing anti-gravity suits), but just how far does your imagination take you?

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Thursday, May 20, 2010


It's Time to Plant Your Vegetable Garden

Rainbow Melons from Renee's Garden
Song lyrics come to mind, "It's Now or Never", "This is it...make no mistake of it, the waiting is over..." Yes, in this odd-ball weather year, our veggie garden moment is here. Of course, there are many who've been at it for months, but the moment I'm talking about is that moment that says: Listen up! We finally have some warm weather and it's time to get your vegetable garden planted! Now! Come June it will heat up fast and those transplants can't get established when it's too hot! (Fact: cell division necessary for the roots to grow doesn't happen when it's too hot.)

What to grow? Any of the warm season crops, corn, tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, cucumbers, beans, melons, pumpkins, eggplant, okra (as if).  Check out your nursery for transplants, and don't forget to look at the seed rack ... many of the warm season veg seeds germinate quickly. Put a bean in the ground, 5 days later it's sprouting. Same for melons, squash and corn.

This year I'm trialing an EarthBox with duplicate veggies in the ground and the box. We'll see how it goes. I'll also have some container appropriate veggies in pots. I have a nice amount of space for my own little mini-farm, but want to see what can be grown in smaller urban spaces, like apartment balconies and courtyard gardens. I'm looking forward to growing this chard, the seed pack says, "thrives in any climate, grows spring thru fall." Pretty good odds on this one.
There's a free e-book, Abundant Harvest, Your Guide to the Home Vegetable Garden, you can download from the website, Growing a Greener World. Easy to read and covers all the basics!

Happy Gardening!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Saturday, May 08, 2010

A Mother's Day Garden

Life Lessons From my Mom

flickr photo by OiMax

Our mom was like a cat … she always could find a sunny spot in the garden. In the morning on the back porch she would read the newspaper, with her characteristic, “half a cup of coffee.” (“Honey, would you like a half a cup of coffee? a half of a sandwich? a half of a glass of beer?”) In the afternoon she’d sit on the other side of the house, her chair positioned to best enjoy the warmth of the sun while she did some other characteristic activity, like let out a hem or darn towels (it’s true, I lol while I write this!). The point is, however, not my mom’s unique charm, but her instinctive creating of a place to enjoy the day.

When I design landscapes for clients I like to create a special place in their garden for them to just “be”. It doesn’t have to be a sunny spot. Shady ones are also great, especially in the middle of a hot summer day. Recently I created a garden that had a “nap house”, with a shaded pergola and a daybed for a little afternoon reading or a nap, but, your spot doesn’t have to be that fancy. My mom, the make-do queen, simply had an old comfy chair. The important thing is that it works, gives pleasure and beckons you to go outside and enjoy the moment.

On this Mother’s Day, perhaps you know someone who would love this kind of pampering. (Perhaps you, yourself, are the mother that needs the pampering?). Here are some ideas, once you’ve found the perfect spot:

A place to sit…wouldn't this Pier 1 chair be sweet (with a plump cushion)?

Or, maybe you'd like a place to take a nap...

You’ll need a bit of a surface (like this painted Ikea table from ReadyMade magazine)

and something to read...

Debra Lee Baldwin, Container Succulent Gardens – an amazing book filled with great pictures and useful, well-written information!I met Debra at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show (and the pre-show "Tweet-up" which was great fun!). She's a lovely woman and I can't praise her book highly enough!

John Greenlee, The New American Meadow (photos by Saxon Holt) – the newest trend in garden landscaping, and one that’s here to stay. Just looking at a picture of a prairie meadow makes you feel peaceful.

And, of course, something to eat...
A cup of tea or coffee? A glass of wine? A bag of potato chips? (I mean, a half of a bag!)

Cats come to it naturally. In our busy lives, we have to decide to make the time and place for quality time with ourselves. My mom would be the first one to say, "keep it simple" (a variation on, "don't go spending all your money!") So, in honor of my mom, and taking my own advice ... here's a little spot of my own. Not a finished piece ... I can go way fancier ... but a little spot in the sun for my morning read.

Happy Mother's Day Everyone!

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help! Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email