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October 01, 2014

Arts & Crafts Front Entry Garden - One Year Maintenance Visit

One year after planting, today I detailed this garden: staking, weeding, shearing and deadheading. This is my first garden design to incorporate those plants and ideas from my trip to England in 2012. This small front bed was a blank slate. The building's Arts & Crafts style is the theme for this planting.

August 19, 2014

Dahlia Show, San Francisco

California's Dahlia Society 2014 Flower Show at the Hall of Flowers in San Francisco. With more than 8 distinct forms and many more in a full spectrum of form only nature could make. Below are those that look outstanding to me.

Waterlily Form

August 03, 2014

Brighton, UK

The last weekend of our trip culminated with Brighton's gay pride celebration.  A fun diverse tourist industry catered to vast hordes arriving from London and beyond.   Gay pride is the cities largest event bringing more people to the already large groups of English couples, Muslim couples and families, straight, gay, old and new.   It's a city that knows how to entertain. 

Brighton is historically the tourist get away spot for England.  An hour train ride from London means it can entertain large numbers of day tourist.   Extra trains back to London left late into the night via their special red queuing scheme.   Our train home was a party train. 

August 01, 2014

Great Dixter

We decided to end our tour with the garden we saw first in 2012, the Great Dixter.  This time the season is solidly summer with the dahlias in crescendo.  

July 24, 2014

Trentham Estate

The Trentham Estate in Staffordshire is a formal garden set along the River Stoke.   Recently renovated from the designs of Piet Oudolf and Tom Stuart-Smith, this is a comtempory formal garden. 

The Victoirian Garden in the middle with the Italian Garden and lake beyond. 

This formal garden is planted with the New Perennials in drifts among the stately columns of Irish Yews.   The center section was designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.   

July 09, 2014


Lytes Cary Manor

Kilver Court

Kilver Court in Shipton Mallet, attached not to a great country house but to a designer outlet mall.   A beautiful mall, not like something you see off the interstate in the US, but a cute collection of clothing stores, cafe, restaurant, nursery in a collection of stone buildings.   

The space is dominated by the large arched railroad bridge with a pond and rockery.  

June 17, 2014

Olio Lens on Dearborn Dahlias

I got a new four lens optical gadget for my iPhone. It lets me take 10x, 15x, wide angle and fish-eye photos. Here are some close ups of what's blooming here in June (Dahlias).

June 07, 2014

New Orleans & Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

On the outskirts of New Orleans, LA, there is the swamp.   An abused piece of "land" now protected by the National Park Service and now entering a healing phase.   All of the oyster shell mounds have been mined, all the old growth cedars have been harvested, the oil industry had its way, now nature is allow back in to reign. 

May 13, 2014

Noe Valley Entry Garden

An Arts & Crafts inspired front entry-way planted in October 2013, ravished by gopher for 3 months, replanted in March. Here's what it looks like eight months after planting.

Achillea millefolium 'Moonshine', Senecio mandraliscae, Pittosporum 'Golf Ball' spheres, Geranium 'Rozanne', Lavandula (English), Erigeron karvinskianus and Verbena bonariensis

May 10, 2014

Tour 1/5 - Inner Sunset Collector's Garden

Frank has put together another tour of San Francisco gardens. This one is exclusive to professional gardeners, horticulturists, arborists and the likes.

First up: Eric & Jason. A collectors garden focusing on the subtropical and water-wise plants from other Mediterranean climates. Below a creeping Oxalis.

Tour 2/5 - Dino's Personal Garden

Frank has put together another tour of San Francisco gardens. This one is exclusive to professional gardeners, horticulturists, arborists and the likes.

Pittosporum 'Tom Thumb'

Tour 3/5 - Dearborn Community Garden

Frank has put together another tour of San Francisco gardens. This one is exclusive to professional gardeners, horticulturists, arborists and the likes.

Dearborn Community Garden. Showcase the 45 gardeners micro allotments and Lotta's Rose border along Bird Street.

Tour 4/5 - Sloppy Arborist Garden

Frank has put together another tour of San Francisco gardens. This one is exclusive to professional gardeners, horticulturists, arborists and the likes.

Next up, Christopher's sloppy arborist garden. His words, not mine.

Tour 5/5 - Mike's Glen Park Showcase

Frank has put together another tour of San Francisco gardens. This one is exclusive to professional gardeners, horticulturists, arborists and the likes.

Finally cocktails, I mean the last garden, mine. This is my Glen Park garden on Chenery. I've been working this garden for almost 9 years now. All these photos were taken by Dino. Much appreciation to see my work through another's lense. Thank you Dino!

Orlaya grandiflora 'Minoan Lace'

Nemophila menziesii 'Penny Black' with Atriplex hortensis var rubra

April 25, 2014

Westbury Court

Started back in the late 1600's, Westbury Court is the oldest style garden we will visit in July. The Dutch influence was strong in this period of Royal and religious turmoil in England. After looking to France for all things cultural, the Protestant state of the Holland became the importer of cultural ideas. Long straight lines, canals, rows of trees, topiary and hedges are Dutch elements introduced to the English garden at the end of the seventeenth century.

"Westbury Court, Gloucestershire, has the last remaining Dutch-style water garden in Britain. Dating from the 18th century, it is very simple and serene. Evergreen hedges, topiary and perfectly straight canals of still water calm the soul. All the plants, even those in the vegetable garden, are 18th-century varieties to tie in the water garden. Small but perfectly formed." -- From Gardens Illustrated magazine

April 12, 2014

Annie's Nursery in Richmond, California

On April 12th, 2014, I travel across the bay to Annies' Nursery in Richmod. They we having their annual Spring fete. It was great too see everyone there and listen to the eatable garden lecture.

Rodmarton Manor Garden

The our second day of the tour we will be visiting Rodmarton Manor. Rodmarton was built in the true essence of the Arts & Crafts movement as it was happening in 1909. Centrally located in the Cotswold and ground zero for the movement, this garden will show you a good foundation for all Arts & Crafts gardens later in the tour. Those gardens: Hidcote, East Lambrook Manor, Hestercombe, The Courts, & Tintinhull; all are rooted in what we see at Rodmarton and possess different merits to attain our tour.

Author and British garden historian Tim Richardson wrote a good article for The Telegraph about Rodmarton.

"Rodmarton’s garden was the real thing at the time and remains so today. A visit to this garden can give you an authentic savour of what Arts and Crafts meant to those disciples of William Morris who practised their crafts so assiduously and passionately in the first decades of the 20th century." -- Tim Richardson via The Telegraph

Wave Garden in Point Richmond

On April 12th, 2014, I travel across the bay to Annie's' Nursery in Richmond. They we having their annual Spring fete. It was great to see everyone there and listen to the edible garden lecture.

On our way home, Dino stops by the wave garden. I've never heard of it but it is in Point Richmond on the San Pablo Bay. Or is it San Francisco Bay?

Anyway, they apparently shop at Annies. If you want to see Annies products in the garden this is a good place to visit. As I understand it is private property but is open to the public.

April 02, 2014

Hidcote Manor Garden

Okay here comes another entry for the beauty that awaits you on this summer's English garden tour 2014. Drumroll please… Hidcote.

Hidcote was the work of a man named Lawrence Waterbury Johnston. Johnston was already 36 when he arrived in Gloucestershire with his mother in 1907. She purchased the property at auction in the hopes that her only surviving son would become a farmer. Instead he became a plantsman extraordinaire. Johnston is responsible for many plant introductions, including Jasminum polyanthum also known as pink flowering jasmine. Any plant that is named either Hidcote or Johnston's this or that is attributed to Johnston. He left no diaries or plant records as to the creation of the gardens. He wasn't a member of the Royal Horticulture Society. Few photos survive to give us any insight into who Johnston was. What we do know is that he never married and his best friends were society ladies.

March 29, 2014

Dearborn Community Garden in the Heart of the Mission

Spring came quickly this year, in fact, we never really had our normal winter rains. We are under voluntary 10% water reduction. Aside from that ominous drought, our Spring has been a good mix of showers with plenty of sunshine. Two weeks ago everything started to burst forth. Here's some of the highlights from plot #12:

We doubled the size of our Rubus structure. Last year we had so many wonderful blackberries we decided to give it more room by growing it over our plot shading our lettuce.

March 25, 2014

The Home of the English Cottage Garden

In preparation for leading a small group around the great gardens of the Cotswold area I'm reading many books on our specific destinations. This week it's East Lambrook Manor House. Although I think it technically is not in the Cotswolds area, it is a must see for us, this is the Home of a the English Cottage Garden.

What is a Cottage Garden? Merely a small residence with some food and flowers planted around the yard? After reading 'The Cottage Garden - Margery Fish at East Lambrook Manor' by Susan Chivers & Suzanne Woloszynska, I would like to share some of my findings, thoughts and feelings about cottage gardening.

Cottagers started out very poor working the land and builder their homes. Naturally they started with useful plants that produced food, herbs and extending into flowering shrubs for their color and scent among other reasons. As their lives improved the cottagers began to collect those rare oddities they found in nature around them. "plants like double primroses and unusual violets. In this way, his garden became a sanctuary for mutants that would have otherwise disappeared. " For Mrs Fish, the preservation of the cottage varieties and selections was utmost important.

The cottagers in the 16th century became the main repository of plants as the monastic gardens began to fade. Well into the 18th century, the cottager were collecting and protecting selections of flowering plants. In the 18th century when the Landscape Gardening became all the rage, the cottagers took the lead in conserving many plants otherwise lost when the large formal estates were transformed into Landscapes. Finally I think the apogee of the Cottage Garden happen in the Edwardian era in the form of an Arts & Crafts Garden. This is when the Cottage Garden took center stage, allowed into the formal part of the garden. The great herbaceous borders created by Gertrude Jekyll and encouraged by William Robinson's writing, the Arts & Crafts Garden owed much to the conservation of the cottager.

Map of East Lambook

March 22, 2014

Angielskie Ogrody

With much excitement I found an English garden tour from Poland that utilized my photo of East Lambrook Garden, one of the 14 gardens we're going to visit in July, IN ENGLAND. We have 3 spots still available.

Check out another garden tour offer. This one is from a Polish perspective. We're offering a California professional gardener's perspective. I'm proud to say the author gave me credit for my photo of the garden at East Lambrook Manor House.

Kasia Bellingham is leading a 'Pride and Prejudice' themed tour in England.

Angielski Ogrody Tour & Blog

Our picks have some overlap. We presenting 300 years of English Gardens as our theme.

Both tours include East lambrook, Hampton Court, Tintinhull, Iford and Hestercombe.

We have two spots remaining on our tour July 11-18th 2014. Click here for the itinerary.

March 04, 2014

Streets of San Francisco - Late Winter 2014

Our beloved and healthy London Plane street trees on Market Street.* Some landscape architect consultate in the Bay Area thinks these do well here and keep planting them. Most recent additions along Valencia Street. *Sarcastic smart a**

February 14, 2014


This is the oldest garden that you will see with Mike and I on our summer tour. It is in the natural landscape style ala Capability Brown. This garden was designed by Henry Hoare in 1740. The house was in the Hoare family for 300 years. It has since been turned over to the national trust.

We will visit this garden on our tour of English gardens this summer. I will try to post regularly to FB about the places that we are planning on going as a way to seduce you to join us on this tour. Please write to me for details. The tour is July 11-18. We have designed the tour with a historical perspective. We will show you over 300 years of gardens. From Stourhead to the most current trends at the Hampton Court Flower Show.

Please think about joining us. It's going to be amazing. You deserve a vacation.


February 13, 2014

Mike & Frank's Quintessential English Garden Tour

Click here for our 2016 English Garden Tour

This is it. Frank and I have been planning this trip for 2 years. We're hosting a small group to a journey through the development of the renown English Garden. That fantastic place where nature and art collide.

We will visit 15 gardens including: Hampton Court Flower and Garden Show, Rodmarton Manor, Hidcote Manor, Kiftsgate, Rousham, East Lambrook Manor, Tintinhull, Stourhead, Hestercombe, Westbury Court, Iford Manor, The Courts, Broughton Grange and Great Fosters.

February 12, 2014

Hidcote Manor Garden

Here is another garden we will be visiting on our English garden tour this summer. It was a cloudy day with intermittent rain. We had the place to ourselves.

Hidcote is a remarkable garden designed my Laurence Johnston. He was and american born in Paris in the late 19th century. His mother purchased this property for him in the hopes that he would become a farmer. He instead traveled the world and created this amazing 19 acre series of garden rooms. He never married, which had me asking the docents about his sexuality. I never got a definitive answer. Johnston was responsible for numerous plant introductions including Penstemon 'Hidcote Pink' which I planted last week in Glen Park.

We will be visiting this garden on the same day as Kiftsgate on our tour this coming july. Mid-summer should be fantastic with all the dahlias, roses and summer annuals going off. Hidcote was the first garden acquired by the National Trust solely for it's garden.

We have two spots remaining on our tour July 11-18th 2014. Click here for the itinerary.

February 04, 2014

Drought in California and the State of my nursery.

January 2014 was spectacularly warm and sunny. But it's an official Drought and that has taken some of the pleasure of working in perfect 70 degree weather. The soil is not heavy or mucky from winter rain. I just read that parts of England had record high rainfall for January. Whereas we had a record low rainfall. January normally our wettest month was bone dry. I think England got all our water. I hear these tweets from England suggesting lots of mud and water. We're at the complete opposite end of dread here. Some rural communities in California have less than 100 days supply of water.

Sedum 'Angelina', Euphorbia characias wulfenii, Centaurea gymnocarpa 'Velvet Centaurea'

February 01, 2014

Bonsai Maple Pruning Technique

Last weekend saw the annual ritual of root pruning my bonsai. I've been growing this large maple for more than 10 years now. I found it in an indoor nursery on Polk street. Five years ago I started cultivating this tree on a slab of red Arizona sandstone.

This is the from the rock's prespective. I remove the entire section of last year's root growth, about half an inch layer from the bottom.

The pruning of the limbs is primarily nipping every branch back to only two healthy buds. Some major branches up to the diameter of a pencil were removed to stunt growth or to open to growth below.

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