Category Archives: Gardening

Is Gardening Nerdy?


This weekend I found a caterpillar in my garden. My first impulse was “Squish it!” — I don’t use pesticides, bugs are often bad news. Mid-swing I gasped, and dropped my arm. It was a Monarch. As many of you know, Monarch butterflies are endangered by the depletion of their natural foodstuff, the milkweed plant. […]

When A Garden Surprises At Easter Time


I spent a good bit of last week’s blog break standing in my yard, not always in the grip of awe and wonder. I waxed pragmatic – planted some things, pulled other things out of the ground, snipped errant branches, watered. And was surprised, as I am every year at this time, by a brief […]

The 2 Key Questions To Ask In Articulating Your Style: Clothing, House, Or Garden


Now that I’m writing about 3 areas of style – fashion, house, and garden – I notice a couple of commonalities. Seems to me in articulating style, of any sort, we need to ask ourselves 2 primary questions. What must our style do for our physical selves? What effect do we want to create, and […]

Faith In The Face Of Newly Planted Native Plants And Their Ratty Selves


Gardeners are a faithful lot. We have to be. Native plants, those most virtuous of garden citizens, test our faith entirely. I have finished this spring’s new plantings. California natives under the Live Coast Oak, olive and “strawberry” trees along the back fence, and a couple of heuchera and nandina to fill in gaps close […]

A Couple Of Dumb Lessons From My California Winter Garden


Gardens are such obvious teachers we might wave our hands in dismissal. “Oh,” with an additional shake of the head, “We knew that already!” But in these days of information and calculation, dumb lessons dog us. Imagine a California garden in winter, for example. Palm trees, surfers and tropical flowers may come to mind. Nope. […]

The Kind Of Garden Just About Anyone Can Grow


Of all my retirement projects, my container garden may provide the most small and bubbling happinesses. I started it back in July, from seed. I planted Grandpa Ott morning glories, sweet alyssum, purple basil, and delphiniums. If you are hypothesizing that this led to an all-purple extravaganza, you are quite right. But it took time. […]

Planting Under An Oak Tree, Or, California Natives In A Suburban Wasteland


I’ve shown you my California Mediterranean Cottage Garden, out front, and the Wish I Were A Woodland, out back. But, as we used to say, there’s moooooore. Behold The Blasted Wasteland. Sigh. Here’s a story. Although somewhat specific to Northern California, I suspect that the plot elements, i.e. a need for privacy, a particular climate, […]

In Praise Of Shy Hydrangeas


Traditional Landscape by Dc Metro Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Katia Goffin Gardens (via Houzz) Above you see what I think of as Classic Hydrangea. A community, massed in uniform volume, vegetable origin a distant memory. Transmuted from plant to decor. All well and good. But there’s another mode of hydrangea to consider – the […]

Flowers In The House, Lace Cap Hydrangea Edition


It’s Monday, these are flowers, so it must be time for Flowers In The House! In Northern California, we’ve moved to hydrangea season, accompanied by Thank You Very Much For A Second Bloom white roses. And a few stalks of lavender. Here, in a red carpet closeup. And here, on the table, where they waited […]

A “Mixed” Border With Only 3 Plants


A glorious mixed border is one of the most beautiful but daunting sights in gardening. The British make it look so easy, a shrub rose here, some tall foxgloves there, flowers and foliage in just the right mix of color and height. None of it dying, apparently. (The one above is in Scotland, to be […]