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November 12, 2013

Noe Valley Entry Garden

October is a great time to plant a garden. The soil is still warm; Our long Indian Summer allow plants to acclimate without the heat or growth stress of summer or spring. Next Spring this garden will bust out. Somewhat inspired by the great container entry planting at The Great Dixter garden.

Astelia, Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Golf Balls' & Miscanthus 'Morning Light' along with Thuja occidentalis "Emerald Green', Lavander and Rosemary.

Astelia, Thuja, Choisya ternata and Achillea 'Coronation Gold'

Before shots are always intriguing.

October 28, 2013

Potrero Hill Garden

This garden on the northern slope of Potrero Hill is dominated by a neighbor's large green japanese maple and an avocado tree. This is mostly a shade garden with a few patch of full sun.

Large balls of Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' with Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra) in the foreground.

October 22, 2013

Digging Dog Nursery Tour

I first came across Digging Dog Nursery on the web when I was searching for the many interesting and lovely plants I saw in England last year. Then I saw their booth at the SF flower and garden show where they had both Patty's Plum and Rosa glauca. I have been smitten for these plants ever since I saw them in England.

I wanted to make it up to Mendocino for their October plant sale but did not want to drive the 3.5 hour trip alone. I invited other gardeners in SF in hopes to have a companion. The plant sale and weekend along the coast had universal appeal as almost everyone I invited came. In all 7 of us went and had a great time.

October 07, 2013

Garden Structures - Gates

Next up is garden gates, those structures that limit access and make areas more enticing. The solid oak gate is traditional in England. Old oak weathers well.

Lichen covered Oak at the vegetable garden of RHS Rosemoor.

Numerous gates at the extensive gardens of East Ruston Old Vicarage.

September 20, 2013

Garden Structures - Pathways

Garden Pathways - My first in a series talking about garden elements. This post is about those features that guide us through the garden. This is what I saw in England. Next up will be garden: Furniture, Plant Supports, Walls, Doors.

Gravel circle stepping stones at Chelsea Garden Show 2012.

August 23, 2013

Color Scheme

Here a few of my color schemes for 2013. Most are inspirations from the many plantings I saw in England.

Rosa 'Burgundy Iceburb' with oregano.

July 08, 2013

William Robinson, The Father of Natural Gardens

William Robinson was an Irishman born into the Victorian garden age of colorful exotic bedding and mock Italianate gardens. In his early 20's, he was appointed head of the Natives Plants section at Regent's Park. Here his exposure to the native and 'wild' plants of the English countryside heavily influenced his opposition to the current Victorian garden aesthetics. He spent many years traveling around England and visiting the continent, inspiring him to advocate for a change in English garden style. He was a prolific writer, starting the magazine, The Garden, and writing the book, The Wild Garden. His writing promoted the ideas that natural gardening was less costly to maintain with less replanting of tender annuals. He also advocated more closely planted beds, less showy beauty, and the naturalization of exotic perennials and annuals planted in a manner in which they will thrive. He believed in the natural succession of plants to provide year round interest and beauty in the garden. He was more an advocate for the natural garden style than an actual garden designer. His work was not a restoration effort of native ecosystems, but rather the creation of something more than that, something picturesque which looked natural.

In 1884 Robinson purchased the Elizabethan manor of Gravetye. Here he was able to put his words into action. Gertrude Jekyll and he developed a lifelong friendship and provided each other with plants and ideas for the other's garden. She designed numerous English gardens, of which Robinson surely had some influence. At the Italianate garden, Shrubland, designed by Charles Barry, he made some modifications. Here it appears, he soothed the beds around the house in his naturalistic style with lush plantings. Throughout his life he continued to be a writer for this new 'style'.

How does Robinson fit into garden history? SInce his death, Robinson's influence is alive and evident in modern and contemporary gardens. Here are some examples from gardens that I have seen.

July 04, 2013

The Cedars

It's called The Cedars. A basic name but apt; It's labeled on the map that way. The Cedars is a special place in northern Sonoma county, California. It takes about 3 hours to get there from San Francisco. Most of this land is control by the BLM, the federal agency Bureau of Land Management. My friends, Roger Raiche and David McCrory convinced a few land trusts to purchase the old mining site to preserve this entire valley.

June 24, 2013

Dearborn Community Garden - An Urban Vegetable Plot

I have shared this 12' x 8' plot with my friend and colleague for a couple of seasons now. We sowed a few interesting new plants from our trip to England. We mostly grow edibles but have a few purely ornamental plants we are testing for our other gardens.

June 07, 2013

Vicksburg Terraced Dry Garden

Gertrude Jekyll and her garden at Hestercombe was my inspiration for this garden design. I picked mostly Mediterranean plants and laid them out in drifts. Silver plants, seed heads, yellow & purple, I wanted lots of hot colors along with the cool lavenders and blues. 

May 14, 2013

Noe Valley Garden Tour - 2013

I went on this 11 garden tour benefiting neighborhood beautification with the Noe Valley Public Library as this year's beneficiary. (View the new library planting below.) For 5 hours I walked and drove a bit with my friend and colleague Erza. Below are my highlights:

The On Lok 30th Street Senior Center has a large garden terrace into the hill by their 3 story building. Accessing from the back of the 3rd floor , a wide open green space with benchs to seat 30 or more. A Master Gardener Q& A event was also taking place on this classically beautiful sunny California day. A small plant sale grabbed my attention. If I had any cash, I would have taken two home. There are small raised bed for vegetables in allotment fashion.

On Harper Street above 30th Street this woodland garden is dominated by a large Coast Oak. This is the biggest Coast Oak I have ever seen. It may be over 200 years old. This garden has recently been updated with some design help from Patrick of Flora Grubb Gardens.

On the steep part of 27th Street near Diamond is the stunning garden partly created by Jeff of The Urban Farmer Store fame. He along with his partner Jim have worked on this garden for 21 years. Jim's the plant person and Jeff's the water specialist .

The hot house with epiphytes and pond plants has two valves with lots of beautiful copper pipe to mist the plants for seconds over a hundred times a day.

May 10, 2013

Buena Vista Garden

I have worked in this garden for one season. Most noticed difference is the lawn and the roses.

April 25, 2013

Bernal Heights Map of City Lots

This densely populated neighborhood of San Francisco is unique.  The lots are tiny.  It was a working class neighborhood up until the 80's.  It also is on a hill.  Most real estate in San Francisco increase in value directly to altitude or view.   My garden is just north of Holly Park, the circle lower left.

April 12, 2013

Vicksburg Woodland Garden

If I can pack anymore flowers in here, my client would love me even more.

Eureka Valley Terraced Garden

A steeply terrace garden with an grand view of San Francisco. I've been working this garden regularly for 7 years.

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