Monday, November 15, 2010

Foliage? I got Foliage.

I'm definitely enjoying the refreshed looking foliage in the garden right now. We got some rain, washed all the dust of the plants and the little extra water plumped things up again. Fall always feels like spring to me, everything coming out of its dry dormant summer phase. Of course, I don't mind the fall color either.

The Pistache and the Red-barked Maple are coloring up nicely this year. I've got 3 Pistache on one side of my house, plus 1 in my neighbor's parking strip I planted. I can't wait for them to all get big and really put on a show. I wish I could get all the people on my street to plant Pistache. I unfortunately live on one of those streets where the majority of people seem to be scared of street trees. Well, in a few summers when my house is nice and cool from the shade, they'll wish they had them too.

Pistacia chinensisacer 'sango kaku'

I won a weeping Deodar Cedar in a raffle at a recent Garden Conservancy seminar and it seems to have started me off on a conifer craze. I've always disliked conifers but have found myself coming around recently and wanting to use them here and there. Must have been all that time I spent photographing in the San Francisco Botanical Garden's conifer garden during Saxon Holt's class series. Anyway, thank you to Monrovia Nursery for donating the Cedrus deodara 'Feeling Blue' to the raffle!

Cedrus 'Feeling Blue'

I've also recently picked up this curly, chartreuse thing, whose name I'll have to dig out tomorrow, as well as some petite chartreuse Christmas trees.

IMG_7159my golden christmas trees

I was a bit stumped at first when trying to decide what to combine the conifers with but I decided that succulents would work. My first impression was that they wouldn't look right together but I think I'm OK with it.

foliage fest

sedum x adolphii and dianella cassa blue

My Graptopetalum 'Uncrested' has recrested. May have to pull that section out because I prefer them less mutilated looking.

graptopetalum that recrested

I dug out the original Manfreda (from Yucca Do) and every root end must have sprouted a new rosette. I kind of like them now because there are several sprinkled around one area and they look cute in a group.

manfreda sp.

I have a love/hate relationship with this Aloe greatheadii (snicker) spp. davyana. Right now I love it.

aloe greatheadii davyanaaloe greatheadii davyana

And I can't get enough of my Parthenocissus henryana. So lovely.

parthenocissus henryana

The spider-webby Eryngium venustum:

eryngium venustum

Delicate looking Dicentra scandens. Tried to rip it out at one point, couldn't, now I love it.

dicentra scandens

And my Beschorneria from Annie's is settling in nicely.


Here it is coming home with me:

beschy is my copilot

Thank you to Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow Up!

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day- November 2010

Well, it's pretty slim pickins' out in my garden right now. I've got a few stragglers still blooming from summer and some winter bloomers that just going into bud.

My Dicentra splendens vine is still pumping out the blooms. I let is scramble through an 'Alphonse Karr' bamboo and have hardly given it any all water all year but it is still doing great.

dicentra splendens

Another toughie is the Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' I have in my super sunny and dry parking strip. It stopped blooming during the height of the dry season but once we got a couple of rains it put out a bunch of lavender blooms.

erigeron wayne roderick

I let my Amaranth reseed every year. I love the tall red seedy plumes that return reliably and give a nice pop of color to the summer garden.

amaranth and grasshopper

My Deppea splendens is still going too. The tiny, impossibly long stems that the large clusters of flowers dangle from always astound me. This has been another tough shrub that has thrived on minimal water in dappled shade.

deppea splendens

I think my favorite bloomer has got to be my orange Esperanza, Tecoma 'Sunset'. It puts on quite a show, the bees love it and it will continue to bloom even as it is dropping all its leaves for winter.

tecoma sunset

My cheery Tanacetum parthenium 'Aureum' refuses to quit blooming.

tanacetum parthenium aureum

And I've got Aloe and Helleborus blooms on the way.

aloe vanbalenii bud

helleborus argutifolius

Thank you to May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers Bloom Day!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fourth Quarter Gardens - Garden Conservancy Lecture and Tour

The other day I went to the lecture "Fourth Quarter Gardens, An August to December Romance" hosted by the Garden Conservancy and the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

All the speakers were excellent with a wide range of topics under the theme of fall and winter gardening. I have to say that fall is probably my favorite time of the garden. It is full of tawny browns, oranges and reds. The garden feels sturdier, less tender than in spring. And as Debra Prinzing, a speaker, put it - the garden is quieter, and it is a time to enjoy the death and decay in the garden. I often find decay as attractive, and possibly more intriguing, than any spring bud or summer flower.

And here in Northern California it's not all about death and decay. The garden also feels revitalized, almost spring-like. We get a bit of warmth, we get some rain and all of a sudden the dormant sleepiness of summer is replaced with greening hills and crisp blue skies. The plants are washed clean and look perkier. And the soil is released from its bone-dry, undiggable, frozen-hardness. It's time to garden again.

As part of the lecture we got to tour Katherine Greenberg's Lafayette garden. The garden is planted with mostly California natives. I was completely taken with the silver, tan and olive palette. Touches of red spice it up. She certainly knows how to place plants to capture their personality and drama. Simple, restrained and dramatic. I loved it.

front drive bed

front pergolafront entrancepeekaboo gardenfront walk

front seating areaseating with slopelayerslovely details

back seating area

stairs and oakmuhlenbergia rigensseating area with vine maplearctostaphylos

back slope

bench and vine maples

Friday, November 5, 2010

How to Make a Toy Bow and Arrow Set

This easy-to-make bow and arrow work well enough to get some decent distance when shot but not enough to inflict any serious puncture wounds. Although, of course, keep away from the eyes!

bow, arrows, quiver

This past Halloween my son went as Robin Hood. We didn't like any of the plastic-y, bright bow and arrows at the toy store so we decided to make our own. I happened to be pruning some watersprouts out of my fruit trees and thought the branches would be perfect for the job, but any straight, somewhat flexible branches will do. I was surprised how fast and easy it was to make a bow, arrow, and quiver. All you need is several thin, straight twigs, some twine, a mailing tube, craft paper and your clippers!

First I selected several branches about 1/4-1/2" thick and about 2' long. Pull all the leaves off.


Make several angled cuts at the thick end to form a point.

making the point

Holding your clippers carefully, scrape the nodes off the branch so that it is smoother.

shave off the nodes

Carefully cut down the middle of the thin end about 3/4" long. Slip the blade of the clipper carefully into the cut and gently work it so that they opening is a bit wider.

split end in half

gently widen split

For the bow, take a branch that is about 3' long. About an inch from the end, carefully run your clipper blade around the circumference so that a slight groove is formed. Tie the twine so that it rests in the grooves and pulls the branch back into a bow shape.


Cover the mailing tube with craft paper and cut some fringe at the bottom if you want to get fancy. Drill two holes and tie the twine through so the quiver can be thrown over the back. Make sure the twine is the correct length so that the quiver rests high enough on the back that the arrows can be easily reached over the shoulder.

mailing tube

And you're done!

Load the arrow by putting the twine of the bow between the slit on the back of the arrow. Pinch the back of the arrow and let the front near the point rest on your hand holding the bow. Pull back, aim and release!

loading arrow

robin hood