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October 12, 2012

Potrero Hill Entry Garden

The goal of this garden is to have an ever constant flora display, twelve months a year. It is a challenge at times but the lady of the house loves it.  October is our most flexible month. So much works at this time of year.

September 20, 2012

Filoli Gardens

Frank, Jeannine and I drove to Filoli House and Garden down in Edgewood on the Peninsula. We arrived on a perfectly warm sunny day in California. The strong sun light washes out many of the subtle colors.

September 19, 2012

Hayes Valley Roof Garden

Newly sow greens and vegetables on the roof of the Zen Center with views of City Hall, Nob Hill and Russian Hill.

September 13, 2012

Momiji Maple Nursery

The entrance to Momiji Nursery is marked by this large Hollywood Juniper.

September 03, 2012

Octavia Boulevard

In Hayes Valley along the old Caltrans right of way, the city allows urban farming until the parcel of land is sold to developers. This little community garden makes the otherwise bleak walk from the Mission to Hayes Street a lot more interesting.

Look at those really short sunflowers!

September 02, 2012

Heron's Head Park

Recently restored wetlands where the PG&E power plant used to be. It's gone. That's Hunter's point on the horizon.

August 13, 2012

Master Deck Green Roof Tile

In February when I installed the ceramic containers, I had the idea of creating a simple, lightweight container or tray really for a green roof treatment. I started with a wood pallet I found on the sidewalk, stapled chicken wire and hardware clothe along with a cut up tomato cage, and wrapped the entire thing with landscape fabric. Placed anywhere from 2-5" of potting soil with mounds to mimic the hills in the view's landscape. Planted bunches of sedums and other succulents.

July 21, 2012

Glen Park Entry Garden

I ran across this perfect succulent garden on my way to a birthday party in Glen Park. The colors are amazing and the textures are flawless. Not to mention each plant was a true specimen. Kudos to the owner, design and installer, whomever they may be.

July 14, 2012


Before this trip to England in 2012, I didn't have much to say about hedges other than banality. There are a few things I retained from this experience and to have fun with hedges is one of those ideas. The gardens at Hidcote pushed my edge. In the top photo we see two different plants hedge into a single plane. I think those are Yews with a Boxwood silhouette.

Astonishing. (If you haven't noticed, this trip has also made me learn more superlatives.)

June 09, 2012

East Ruston Old Vicarage

East Ruston Old Vicarage was the last garden we saw before heading back to London for our flight home. It took 7 hours and two tea room visits to get through this massive garden. Although it is smaller than Wisley or Stourhead, it was entirely planted with hedge alleys of intersecting views and more rooms than any garden we saw. One of our favorite gardens and a great way to wrap up the tour.

June 08, 2012

Beth Chatto's Garden

Beth's garden is known for it's dry and wet section. She describes it as "poor gravel soil and boggy hollows." The English have funny words. She took the two difficult soil situations and ran with it. I am partial to the dry garden. It had more Mediterranean plants than any other garden we saw in England. The only place I recall seeing an Eucalyptus. Since a major reason for this tour was to find plants to work with back here in San Francisco, I was able to identify with this garden. This is where I found Parahebe perfoliata or Derwentia perfoliata. Now I notice it at the San Francisco Botanical Gardens at Strybling and will start to use Parahebe in my gardens.

We have only a couple days left on our English Garden Tour. We finally made it to the east coast and its a stormy day. We arrived early and chatted with some Dutch ladies in the parking lot. They came over this morning on a ferry from the continent. The Dutch are world renown plant propagators and collectors but they lack the land to make the extensive gardens that you find in England. They are partners in a lucrative trade.

Woottens Nursery

June 07, 2012

Slideshow as presented to the Hortisexuals.

Click here to start the Slideshow of MUG & NAG's English Garden Tour. It may take a few moments to load all the slides into memory. Unfortunately it doesn't have our commentary. Enjoy, this is the best of the best.


Blenheim Palace

Located in a small town of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, the grounds of the palace dwarf the town it is so intimately attached. This is one of Capability Brown's design. He was a 18th Century designer that help create the Landspace Movement in England by replacing formal gardens with landscape design. As opposed to Naturist or Formal, this is to look like a painted landscape. Brown transported and plant 300 year old Oaks here. The one below may be one of those he planted in the 1780's. This tree may be over 600 years old.


We arrived on a rainy morning. In fact it has rained for the last few gardens but today was more steady rain than just grey cloud cover. This too is a big garden with lots of long beds and a knot garden room. We were wet and did a quick lap and end up back for cake and coffee with all the other blue hairs.

June 06, 2012

Hidcote Manor House

It's connected history and period wise with Sissinghurst. She knew him. He was an American ex-parriot, we suspect he was queer. His only garden design was Hidcote, his mother's place.


Just as we arrive, the rain starts. Fortunately it only lasted for 30 minutes or so. Then we headed out to a freshly washed garden. This garden is directly next door to Hidcote and is well worth the visit. I had seen this rectangular pool in Gardens Illustrated magazine this past year. The lily leaves above would rain into the fountain. We arrived in this room during a shower and didn't notice the leaves were a fountain until it stopped raining.

June 05, 2012

The Special Plants Nursery & Garden

This was one of the side trips that turned out well for us. The other being the discovery of East Lambrook Manor House. I'll show you that in a few days. Frank & I decided to stop by The Special Plants Nursery on our way to Prince Charles Highgrove House. We stumbled upon a garden tour and talk about hardy geraniums, starting in 5 minutes. Wow. A room full of old ladies and us two. Inspired to find some of the geranium hybrids as they'll look great in San Francisco gardens.

The weather was gray; great for photos but it was also raining. So we spend an hour drinking coffee, eating cake, talking plants and US & UK topics. Too wet for Highgrove House plus we didn't have tickets. We were advised it is usually sold out. We must order tickets next visit.

June 04, 2012


This garden was built in three separate gardening eras. The first is Georgian, then Victorian and the third is Edwardian. The last one is a Gertrude Jekyll design.

Lutyens was the architect for the building pictured below and all the rock work around the sunken garden. Gertrude soften all the hard lines and sharp rocks with an amazing simple palette that works so well. It rivals Sissinghurst in grandeur and historical significance.

June 03, 2012

Lost Gardens of Heligan

We arrived late in the day; just an hour to see a big garden. We focused on the kitchen garden, cold frames and greenhouses. This is some beautiful farmland. Lots of sheep.

June 02, 2012

Rosemoor RHS Garden

There is much to see here and we've come to a routine when we visit the larger English Gardens. We start with a stroll out into the wooded area to see the Georgian landscapes. Then through the many sub gardens as we head our way back to the more formal gardens as we close in on the house. Starting in "Nature" and progressing toward civilization in completely respectful way.

The Royal Horticulture Society's garden at Rosemoor was our first RHS experience. I took home the impression that 'it's all about the plants' garden. None of the buildings were highlighted but played a supporting role framing the garden into it's rural/sub-urban setting. Plants were labeled well. After 10 days in the English countryside, we were still on the edge of London's sphere of influence. Rural is different over there and doesn't match my California term for rural.

Eden Project

We spent the night in a youth hostel in the Dartmoor National Park in Cornwall. Eden Project is a reuse of a spent quarry. I'm not sure what they mined here but it was a big terraced hole that's been reclaimed over that last decade.

June 01, 2012

East Lambrook Manor Garden

We stumbled upon this garden on our way to visit Avon Bulb Nursery. We found out about Avon at The Chelsea Garden Show and decided to make a stop even though we knew we couldn't take anything back to California. At a little past closing time, we stopped at East Lambrook and met the owner. He was excited to give us a personal tour of the garden created by Margery Fish and billed as the "Home of English Cottage Garden". That's a grand title.

It is a gem of a garden and our most exciting discovery. Unlike every English garden I've seen on this trip(10), this garden is about the plant groups and color combinations. There are no vista, horizon or borrowed landscape here. That requires too many resources and this garden was created in a much humbler time. There were no men to work nor did anyone have excess money. You are now your own gardener.


This garden is arguably the best examples of the 18th century garden style known as English Landscape Garden. This is made of a hugh man-made lake, temples, picturesque views all created from scratch.

The dead oak is makes this view so amazing. That's a centuries old English oak decomposing in a dignified manner. So beautiful.

May 31, 2012

RHS Wisley Garden

The Royal Horticulture Society flagship garden is expansive, meticulous and popular. Below is a lovely gravel mulched perennial bed.

Wotton House

We found out about Wotton House by the friendly local couple we chatted with in the pub. On our way to Wisley, we stopped by for an hour to see the Wotton House. I liked the composite architecture from many different eras. This is mainly a hotel and conference retreat. Was there a golf course? I can't remember; Golf doesn't impress me.

May 30, 2012

Munstead Wood

Munstead Wood is a name I've seen on many plant cultivars. We spent a few hours looking for Gertrude Jekyll's house and garden. This would be her personal garden that she cultivated while professionally producing garden designs like Hestercombe. We're pretty sure her house was in or apart of the buildings in either photo. It's hard to say, the land had been subdivided during the wars. We asked those few people we say, one being a gardener, and they didn't even recognize the name. I found that odd. The English are crazy about gardening. Don't they know their garden history?

May 29, 2012

Borde Hill House and Garden

We arrive at Borde Hill still tingling from Sissinghurst. In strict comparison, Borde Hill is more relaxed and not overly impeccable. There is realness to the hills, land and garden.

We are guests of our host in London who has family ties to the current owners and occupants of the house. We were invited to have tea inside the house. Then a personal tour of the gardens with the Lady. We enjoyed lunch at the fancy restaurant which was wonderful. But since I was the driver for the day, I couldn't help them with the Champagne, wine and digestif....

May 28, 2012

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

The second garden on our tour was the impeccable Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent. This garden is one of the best, if not the best garden in England. Known for the room division where each room is distinctive in color, texture or theme. Once inside the room, all you see is that room, The Tower and the tree tops from the borrowed landscape of the English countryside.

May 27, 2012

Derek Jarmin's Garden

Late in the day, we find Derek Jarmen's house and garden.  Dungeness, a headland on the coast of Kent, England, is a stark place after visiting The Great Dixter Garden. Made up of a shingle beach, there are no trees and little to see although there are many unique flora and fauna here. One we noticed and loved was the sea kale.  Beautiful sea green color and eatable too.

Odd structures here. Lots of shacks, abandoned boats and isolated chimneys along with shipping containers and a couple nuclear power stations.

Great Dixter Garden, Sussex

This charming garden was the first proper garden on our tour.   After seeing Chelsea Garden Show, Kew and Hyde Park in London, we hired a car and spent the afternoon in Sussex.   This garden turns out to be in the top 5 most amazing garden we saw in England.  Utterly Charming!  After Great Dixter, we raced the sun to see Derek Jarmin's garden on a stark jetty called Dungeness Headland along the Kent coast.

May 25, 2012

Kew Botanical Garden - London

Hyde Park, London

Golden Gate Park of London,  Hyde Park is just as beautiful and beloved.  I love the way they mow the paths through the open grasslands.  We enjoyed a pitcher of Pimm's cooler on the most perfect sunny day.   It had been raining for months.  We experienced Londoners soaking up the Sun.  We did too.

May 24, 2012

Chelsea Garden Show, London 2012

This one may be my favorite if I can say that.  This show was amazing and it blew my mind.  This is the work of Arne Maynard, a self taught German around my age.  There's hope.

This one by Andy Sturgeon.  He got a two page spread in Gardens Illustrated.  I love the metal circles and the drill black holes in the limestone.

May 10, 2012

Laural Heights Garden

A Laural Heights garden I have been working on for the last 5 years.

February 29, 2012

Potrero Hill Entry Garden

Spring came early with many sunny days and little rain.

February 01, 2012

Pacific Heights Roof Deck

Here's a roof patio in Pacific Heights a year after I planted it. It is a southern facing patio that can really bake on those sunny days. In the top photo from the upper left: Phormium, Chamaerops h. cerifera, Lotus berthelotti and Philodendron xanadu.

In the next photo from the left: Cordyline soledad with Lotus berthelotti, Podocarpus gracilior, Cussonia transvaalensis again with Lotus. And the last photo is a Cycad with an amazing fern I got at Flora Grubb Gardens but can't remember the name.

Eureka Valley Deck Planting

Playing with differing colors & textures.

Blending this planting into the San Francisco skyline.

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