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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pin of the Day: Outbuildings

Wouldn't it be fun to have a rig like this? A traveling outbuilding ... enjoy it at home and then hook it up to your SUV or truck or whatever and take it somewhere? Doesn't seem like it would be so hard to make, does it?
This photo is from my "Outbuildings" Pinterest page.If you haven't discovered Pinterest, check it out! I love it. All those pictures I find on the web or have on my blog that I want to gather together so I can show them to a client, or just look at for ideas. If you want an invite to join (at this stage, that's what you need), let me know and I'll shoot you one.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Sister's Rose

My sister has a rose garden ... I'm going to have one, too! She says this beauty is either "Fame" or "First Prize, whichever, it grows tall, has sturdy stems and has blooms as big as your hand.  What's your favorite rose?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekend Fun

Two things on my weekend planner: a trip to the Antique Trove for their "yard sale" and a visit at the Mad Imports warehouse to see what treasures I might find! I'll start with ...

  Mad Imports

Mad Hatter - a popular shopping spot
This business is like a traveling french flea market. I first encountered MAD at Sacramento's Home and Garden show in January. Fun, fun stuff! They do lots of shows and then they have warehouse sales as well.

red bird
At the January show, I bought myself a charming (made in China) tray with this cute red birdie detail and grabbed their shop info. Turns out they're only at their warehouse every other weekend. I've been there once and bought an iron trowel door knocker (better get myself a good old garden door to attach it to). Here's their location and schedule info thru June. After that, I don't know. Maybe they go to Paris for the summer?

April 28 and 29
May 12 and 13
May 26 and 27
June 9 and 10
June 23 and 24
Sat hours 8 am to 4pm
Sun hours 10 am to 2 pm
1115 Fee Drive (close to Arden Fair Shopping Center, off of Hwy 160)
Sacramento, CA 95815

Mad Imports End-of-the-Day Update

Here's what really caught my eye...

Nice potting bench, made by a retired gentleman in the East Bay out of recycled materials (notice the pvc tubing in the lower right corner of the picture. It connects up to a garden hose and the spigot works. A potting bench that has water = Good Thing! $110

 How's this for a girly vignette? I love the dress frame. I think'll be returning tomorrow to pick up a red one. Only $7 and I can train some creeping fig on it. Nifty, heh?

I'm also tempted by this garden swing. It's a nice 2-person size and it's comfortable. I think for the right person, this would be a most favorite thing. $280.

Antique Village Grand Opening and Yard Sale

My other adventure will be to the Antique Trove in Roseville.   This is my favorite antique store ... lots of garden worthy items both inside and out! They've added a lot of shops to their Garden Terrace, and I want to see what they've got!

Tunisian Window Grate
I bought this for my niece for Christmas... it's really, really heavy (made of iron)!

hand-made rustic divider
Something I liked, but didn't buy ... darn ...this hand-made divider would make a great trellis (or 3 great trellises).

California Days, Moroccan Nights Garden Display
Antique Trove loaned me this antique spanish day bed and the polish gates in the right corner for my California Days, Moroccan Nights garden display in 2010. I love the elements in this picture ... the antiques, the parasoleil copper panels, the birdcage from High Hand Nursery, the handcrafted hanging metal lights. 

Need a Shopping Buddy? Give Me a Call!

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

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

Monday, April 16, 2012

Tips for Successful Spring Gardening

Sometimes I get to be on T.V. Here's a recent show I did with Melissa Paul of Channel 10's Sac and Co ...

Jeannie Hanson and Melissa Paul on Sac and Co

... and here's the video!

 Here are 6 tips for successful nursery shopping: 

  1. Plan ahead - know the area you are going to plant. How much sun does it get? Morning or evening? Any partial shade? Know the orientation of the garden ... if it faces west with no trees to shade it a bit, it will be hot. I mean, hot! What's the drainage like ... what's the soil like. If you know these details you'll be able to match up plants that like or at least tolerate those conditions. If you don't know these factors, good luck!
  2. Honor the seasons - fall and spring are the best times to plant most anything. The soil is warm enough for new plants to get settled in and get their roots established. When it's too hot or cold, that root growth doesn't happen. Also, there are warm season and cool season plants ... especially vegetables and annuals ... that love one season, hate the other. Don't go putting that tomato or it's summer veg pals (squash, peppers, eggplant, corn)into the ground until the nighttime temps are 60 degrees or above.
  3. Shop at the Independent Nurseries - I am not a snob about shopping at the "Big Box Stores". I love them, to tell the truth. But, the independent nurseries are so much about variety and unique treasures ... if we don't support them we'll lose them, and that would be a shame! 
  4. Ask for help - the people who work in nurseries usually love plants and love sharing their knowledge. If you've done #1 above you'll put them in a position where they can help.If you're at a #2 nursery, the quality of their advice will be sooo much better!!!! 
  5. Don't Overbuy - resist impulse shopping ... your plants will do much better if they get in the ground quickly. Sure, some plants can survive in their nursery pots for a long time, but, they'll be so much happier in the actual ground.
  6. Be Easy on Yourself - gardeners grow those green thumbs, they weren't born with them! And the road to being a successful gardener is to have many a failure! An example of my own. I've been really keen on CA native plants the last couple of years. One that early grabbed my interest was the Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia). It was so prominent in the hills around Hollywood, they named the area, well, Hollywood! Because it has red winter berries (that the birds love) it's also called Christmas Berry. Well, I killed 2 before I learned that just because it's drought tolerant, doesn't mean it can survive without water in it's nursery can. I think the phrase is "drought tolerant once established", and now I know what that means!
Whether you need garden design, coaching, seasonal maintenance or planting, Geno's Garden can help!

Call me at (916) 764-5243, or email

Friday, April 13, 2012

Wildflower Wonders - April 14th, 10 - 4

Elderberry Farms - a project of the California Native Plant Society, Sacramento Chapter. Come celebrate the season - spend a day in the "country" on the banks of the American River in Rancho Cordova - far from the freeway noises, where chickens and dogs wander freely, the sky is blue and birds entertain from above!

Mimulus aurantiacus
Sticky Monkeyflower grows in the demo gardens 

 Come to Wildflower Wonders

Saturday, April 14 - 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
2140 Chase Dr, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
On the American River Parkway at Soil Born Farms
Free Admission / Open to the public / Refreshments available

Wildflower Wonders is the annual Earth Day event presented by the Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Kick off California Native Plant Week with Wildflower Wonders! What will you see and do this year? 

pollinators are important
Explore Soil Born Farms

  • 10:30 Bird Walk for Families - Join Sacramento Audubon’s Maureen Geiger for a brief walk and talk about common Sacramento birds. Binoculars provided. Limited to the first 10 families each day.
  • 11:30 Farm Tour - Join Soil Born Farms staff in a guided tour of the American River Ranch and learn about how their non-profit farm and education center is improving health through innovative food production, food access and education programs.
  • 12:30 Native Plants and Climate – Tim Nosal, an Environmental Scientist with the California Department of Fish and Game has been exploring the trails of the American River for more than 25 years. Join Tim on a 1 hour walk as he finds a way to weave botany and water conservation into an insightful view of our locally native plants. Free advice will be provided on plant identification, gardening challenges, baking, and drip irrigation.
  • 1:30 Bees Are Not Optional! Join us for a talk about the importance of native bee pollinators in our urban landscapes, followed by a walk to check out bees on Soil Born Farms hedgerow. Julie Serences, Environmental Educator
  • 2:30 Ecology and Ethnobotany - Take a walk with David Self, Co-founder of The Place Program, People Linking Art, Culture & Ecology. Learn how to recognize and honor Native traditions that sustained and celebrated a myriad of foods, crafts and rich biodiversity through centuries.

Penstemon heterophyllus
Foothill Penstemon also grows in our demo gardens!

 Plant Sale

During the Wildflower Wonders Event, Elderberry Farms and Cornflower Farms will have plants for sale. Gardening experts will be there to help you find the best plants for your garden. A wide variety of gardening books, field guides, and other native plant literature will be for sale. Please bring boxes to carry home your treasures and an umbrella if it rains.


To find out more about native plants in our area, visit the California Native Plant Society, Sacramento Valley Chapter  FREE PLANT: Join or renew your CNPS membership at the sale and choose a 1-gallon plant from Elderberry Farms!

Fremontodendron californicum
I've been seeing this native Flannel Bush in freeway plantings lately ... very drought tolerant!

Note: I've been volunteering at Elderberry Farms since last fall. My specific job is designing (weeding) the demonstration gardens. It's been a chance for me to get to know plants that are native not only to California, but native to our local area as well. Wednesday morning's are work days at the farm, and all are invited. Free pbj sandwich for all volunteers. Contact for more info.

Call me ... let's explore native gardening together!

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Looking for Curb Appeal in East Sac's a Tuesday and I'm in the mood for a little drive and snap. This house has a nice mix of hardscape and plant material.

Is this fence simply dog-earred boards turned sideways? Whatever, I like it. Has a sort of modern feeling that would look nice with mid-century or urban architecture. Would give a bit of zip to ranch style houses, too.

wooden fence

This bamboo border catches my eye. It adds a airy privacy screen to the side yard..

This isn't a great photo, but perhaps you can see what made me go whoa!

Here's a closer view, and a better shot. Lots of native plants in this mixed border.

Even though it's unlikely anyone will be sitting outside on this cold day, it tells me that the homeowners here like to enjoy their neighborhood. I think we should all bring chairs out to our front yards! Yeah!

Here's another family adding life to their neighborhood with their bar-b-que, patio chairs and table, and themselves (although, not today!). I think our old-style neighborhoods are too sedate. If the front yards are just lawn, a shade tree and some foundation plants and all the activitity is in the back yard, it's just too boring out front. Edible front yard gardening, dining or wildlife viewing patios, fun plantings, a place to toss a ball ... all add to the shared pleasure of one's community.

Leaving East Sac via the H Street underpass. Great stand of Euryops - unsung reliable shrub that blooms and blooms and blooms.

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

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Easter at High Hand Nursery

A beautiful day to celebrate Easter, a day when the earth delights in its own resurrection! My husband and I have breakfast at the High Hand Cafe in Loomis, CA. In the beautiful conservatory, opening to the outside patio, we wait ...

High Hand Nursery Cafe

... for this! Pretty, huh? At High Hand they do everything right!

a mocha, a latte, a glass of orange juice

The nursery grounds are arranged in a parklike fashion, almost like a botanical garden, with so much to inspire, from charming topiary,

an evergreen topiary at High Hand Nursery

to gorgeous japanese maples,

Koto No Ito - Japanese Maple

to architecturally trained trees. High Hand is first class all the way.

an evergreen shrub becomes an exquisite focal point

This cute young girl and her dad were feeding the koi. She asked me if I wanted to try and gave me some fish food which I held out in my fingers towards this huge fish coming at me with his mouth agape! He got his food, I kept my fingers, all were satisfied!

koi pond at High Hand Nursery

One of the pleasures of being a garden designer, I get to consider other garden spaces than just my own. While something might not be appropriate to my gardens, perhaps it would be perfect for a client, for instance, my clients who live in Curtis Park. We're getting ready to fill out their front yard planting. It's already lovely, why not go for more lovely!?! This False Spirea has beautiful tropical and lush ferny foliage with white flower clusters in the summer. Grows to be 5 - 8' tall so would be pretty as a background shrub. Just what we need.

False Spirea - Sobaria sorbifolia

Sitting right next to it, this sunshiny yellow-orange-pink rhody. This one's a compact 4 x 4 ...  t'would go nice in the front of that border ... especially if we can get the wild onion cleared!!!

Honey Butter Rhododendron

These newly introduced osteospermum don't close up on cloudy days or in the evenings. '3D Purple' blooms - says the label - prolifically from spring thru fall. I first read about them in Horticulture magazine's new (free) on-line pub, "Gardeners on the Go". They say it blooms best in the cooler temperatures of spring and fall. Sunset Western Garden Book says they're more winter/spring blooming (November - March). I say, my experience is they can get kind of ratty looking in the heat of Sacramento's summer. Course, lots of plants do, which is why I also say, everything does better with a bit of partial shade!

Osteospermum - 3D Purple

There's more to be seen at High Hand ... art gallery, wine bar, florist, several fun shops ... but for us, we're inspired to go home and make our own home lovelier (or at least, clean!)... and,so, it's time to leave.

a walk thru High Hand Nursery

Happy Springtime!

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