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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Simple Pleasures in the Garden

Sometimes I look around at my garden and I see messes and work to be done! But today I look around and see simple pleasures...

Quercus cocinnea
What? Have you not heard of a coppiced Scarlet Oak? Me either! I told Tree-man in latin, to take out the Tupelo. He didn't speak latin, and my tall beautiful scarlet oak got the chain saw treatment! Ouch. Now I have a scarlet oak shrub in its first year of shrubhood. Since this tree grows to 60 - 80 feet, if I let it grow like this it will cover my entire front lawn and the street as well. I know I should do something, but I don't want to.  I like its shrubyness ...

 and its shiny leaves!

sequoia giganteum
Next we have the remains of a sickly giant sequoia that had to be cut down. I had Tree-man de-branch it and leave this up, thinking husband would want to carve a totem. Hasn't happened yet, except in my mind.

Garrya eliptica James Roof
Here's one of those gardening rewards you get once in a while ... finding out that the plant you thought you killed is still alive! This is the California native Silk Tassle 'James Roof'. I saw it in major splendor in the WPA Rock Garden a few years ago. Haven't figured out where to plant it yet and thought the problem had been solved for me. Dead. But, it's alive! I get another chance. (I have learned that the plant you actually get in the ground has at least a 2x chance of survival over the one that remains in its nursery pot... I'd been courting its demise by not heeding that lesson.)

Phlomis fruticosa
Here's my stately Jerusalem Sage (another - not in the ground yet - plant). I've enjoyed this plant in other gardens, but there's a special pleasure to being able to say, "this one's mine!"

Swiss Chard
This swiss chard seems to be a perennial. It grew thru the winter and is still kickin it! The semi-translucent stalks really light up the garden! For those into edible gardens - and that's everyone these days! - this goes on the list!

Asclepias speciosa
Another happy discovery ... last year I planted my first Milkweed (a Showy Milkweed), the food of choice for the Monarch butterfly. The Monarch has several generations in the space of a year. Starting from their wintering ground (Mexico or Pacific Grove), they take off and land somewhere - I like to think that's Sacramento where they lay their eggs. (and then die? I don't know what they do after this ...) The eggs hatch, hopefully near an Milkweed and the pupa/catterpillars start eating their way to adulthood. When they make this transition, they fly north to their summer grounds, where the next generation takes over, and flies all the way back down to their winter grounds. It's a fascinating story... But, back to MY garden story ... this plant goes dead-looking in the fall. But LO! here it is poking its face up, just like it's suppose to!

Cecile Bruner climbing rose
My Cecile Bruner climbing rose is bursting out. It's a grower, that Cecile! Gorgeous when in bloom and then a race to keep it a manageable size ...
the climbing Cecile Bruner rose can grow to 20 feet
It's spilling out every which way, but after it's done with its once-yearly bloom, I'll be cutting it back, because this is only it's first growth spurt and I have to tunnel thru it as it is.

OK ... on to the Hanson Birdie Boys, outside for a bit of a sun bath. This is Bruno, he is a handsome guy who likes to build things. If I bring him some twigs or attach a bit of loose-woven fabric to his cage bars, he's like, "oh, my, what is this!?!" Quirks his head left and right and hops to a nearby branch for a closer look. Next thing I know, the twigs or fabric is gone into his little bird hut!

Sir Elliot
This is Sir Elliot. He's not a builder. He likes to watch. And, Bruno likes discussing things with him. Sometimes I think they're talking about me ... especially if  I've done something really heinous, like those ten days when I had to give Elliot twice daily eye drops!

a junky area in my backyard
This really is a messy area! The remains of the old fence, the mexican fan palm (ugh!) fronds blown down by the winter wind, and some tree limbs that were in the way. This one has two simple pleasures - our beautiful new fence that my husband built (very straight - he used complicated ancient methods to accomplish that), and tomorrow I have someone coming over to haul it all away! Hallelujah!

Coreopsis puts out new spring growth
Another candidate for "All is Not Lost! It's Spring". I bought 3 charming coreopsis last year ... delicate things with rosy red flowers. I didn't think they had any underground ability to regenerate any growth this spring. But, look closely ... there's some new green growth!

Nyssa silvatica
I know, I know, I'm almost done. Just a couple more places to look... This is a tupelo (This is not the one that was supposed to be removed, and wasn't. This is the other one ... the good one!). Perhaps you can see the sweet airiness of the spring green leaves.

These are "pinks" that I removed from the Elderberry Farms native plant demonstration gardens. Very sweet, but not a native! This is one of the pleasures of plants ... the seed you save in a napkin when you're on a walk, the cutting that roots in water as easy as can be, the seed packages you spread out on the table to admire like Halloween candy, the plants that were given by a friend from their garden - and brings a bit of that friendship along with it.

Oxalis pes-caprae
My last picture (finally!) probably sums it up better than any other ... the pink oxalis was in our yard when we bought our house. That's another story, but, the yellow oxalis I took from behind the children's museum in San Francisco and brought some home. And planted it! Well - jokes on me. This one is An Invader Plant. I don't recommend you plant it in your garden, but, there is joy in that yellow flower. And, that is simply a pleasure!

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

1 comment:

  1. What a great blog!

    Very cool pics, got me all excited to clear the lot next door for a new community garden for my apartment complex (worked out a land use agreement with the property owner). Lots of work to get to the planting part though...