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October 08, 2018

Two Years On - Roof Top deck in Richmond


It's hard to see, but these two photos are of the same containers, two years apart.  French Lavender is growing through and completely obscuring the white picker railing.  The Hollywood Junipers are growing taller and filling out.  The windows of their back neighbor almost completely gone.


Check out the original 2016 Post.

A rainy day is a great time to write a new post.  Over the last three months I have been working on three new projects.  The first is a revival of a container deck planting I installed over 10 years ago. Here I replaced the aging containers and tired plants surrounding this kitchen garden.   The small 24" fiberclay containers were crumbling.  I designed a 30" box made of galvanized steel and locally fabricated by NuStar on Otis.



Planted to provide a green curtain on three side of the deck.  Sixteen Hollywood Junipers along the back accented with four Pittosporum "Golf Ball" and Orlaya.  The south side has four Taxus b. columns inter planted with Choisya ternata.  

October 07, 2018

Garden Wildlife

 Arriving late in the afternoon, I find Salsa already out in the garden.  This LoverBoy, Salsa, is not doing well.  His Cancer is taking its toll.   I love seeing him out in the garden "stalking" butterflies.  He doesn't kill.  Just watches.  I love his spirit.

October 04, 2018

Last of the Dahlias

I think this is the last week for Dahlias.   But it was a good week.   I really into the golden upper petal/burgundy under petal variety called Dahlia 'Gets Crazy' from Swan Island.   It's a big dahlia and I didn't adequately stake it this year but works well with Aster 'Little Carlow'.  


Other notable Dahlias this year: Dahlia 'Ripples' and Dahlia 'Nicholas'.

August 24, 2018

A week in Berlin


Oh the trees of Berlin.  Wow, I would love to live in a forested city.

August 15, 2018

English Double Border in Small San Francisco Back Yard

This garden was planted in March of 2016.  It is barely 2 years 5 months old.   Second photo was taken on February 9, 2016.   The growth has been phenomenal.   Some of the new blossoms this month include Agapanthus, Aster x 2, Gladiolus and ...



Symphyotrichum novae-angliae 'Skyscraper' (Aster) just starting its fall blush with Drumstick Alliums and Centaurea gymnocarpa 'Velvet Centaurea'.

August 13, 2018

Planting a Small Garden Tightly

This garden has three different faces or attitudes and all packed into a small 10 x 20 foot space.   The five round Pittosporum 'Golf Ball' really hold the mess together and help differentiate the three views.


August 12, 2018

August 07, 2018

Yuba River Day

Oh how I've been longing to get out of San Francisco and feel some real summer heat.   Yuba River.  Emerald water, white granite and some trees.   Not too hot, 86.   Smokey drive up to Grass Valley.  The Central Valley was dense smog.  It's what LA was in the 1970's.




August 01, 2018

FOG! The beginning of our second winter....

July is the start of our second winter when this massive blanket of fog engulfs The City.   From now through August and sometimes mid-way through September, we surrender to depression and extra coffee.  Soup is good too.  I use some of this time to travel.  The photo below is from my roof deck looking toward Castro showing just the top of Sutro Tower on Twins Peaks.  In foreground is the spire for The Mission Delores.   


July 30, 2018

Sidewalk "Hell-Strip" Planting

I love all plants but succulents in general don't make it into my gardens.  Succulents have a many great fans and I do appreciate their easy, low maintenance qualities.   Design wise, most plantings look like someone up-chucked a kaleidoscope.   Most people fail by choosing too many varieties of color, texture and stature.   I came accross this street side planting and instantly appreciated the simple, refined palette choice.   Like most planting schemes, limited number of plant but repeated is the way to go.  


What makes this planting successful is just three plants repeated.   Aeonium, Cotyledon orbiculata and Senecio.

July 19, 2018

July 16, 2018

Plant Profile: Plectranthus neochilus

This lovely aromatic Plectranthus is an easy, non-stop flowering perennial here in San Francisco.   It is not at all cold tolerate and will turn to black mush anywhere near 32 degrees F.  Most places it must be considered an annual. What makes this plant so spectacular here is it's ability to root anywhere, any time of the year.   I toss my clippings where ever I want it to root and establish and it does!   I got mine at Plectranthus neochilus at Annie's Annuals.


Here it is with Verbena and Nigella.

July 03, 2018

Streets of San Francisco - E line

On my way home, I pull up behind the Melbourne Car #496 going home from a day of work on the new E-line.   The E-line connects Fisherman's Wharf with Caltrain running the entire way along the Embarcardo.  Next to gardens, trains are a dear passion of mine.


July 01, 2018

Streets of San Francisco - Bernal Heights

An unseasonably blue sky today in San Francisco.  This neighborhood has uniquely small lots, small cottages, small gardens and some steep streets.  Click on MUG Bernal Gardens to see my work.   I currently have one garden in Bernal Heights but have worked over 9 sites on all sides of the hill.


June 22, 2018

Plant Profile: Datura wrightii

Up next in my plant profile is Datura wrightii.   I got mine at Annie's Annuals.   My friend Frank calls it a ditch plant and I'm sure he is right.   It thrives in disturb, impoverished soil.  I let a few of the seed heads ripen and toss them about my garden   They will come up where others won't, usually dry, crappy areas.   The leaves are beautiful and is the main attraction for me.  The blooms only last a day or two but are beautiful too.


June 14, 2018

Sowing Seeds for This Fall

Here's the seed packets I'm sowing for the fall 2018.   These Ageratum I found at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds look gorgeous.   I know they never look exactly like the photo on the seed packet or catalog but I have hopes for this one.   I like the electric blue.  Or how about a pink dandelion-like annual?



June 11, 2018

Mendocino Garden Update

It's been three years since I helped update the planting schemes in this Mendocino Coast house.   It is right on the coast, no less than 50 feet from the Pacific Ocean.   The wind can be fierce.   This part of the garden is the hot border.  Yellows, Oranges and Reds with a bit of cool purples.



May 31, 2018

Plant Profile: Pericallis-x-hybrida-giovannas-select, Senecio stellata 'Giovanni' or Cinerarias???

I'm enjoying putting together the elements that make a beautiful garden in San Francisco.  This is the first in a series of plant profiles of those plants that do so well for us in San Francisco.  This is a good plant to start with as it may be endemic to San Francisco and maybe the greater SF Bay Area.

I'm talking about the delicate aster-like blooms of white-pink-blue.  I've only seen them in San Francisco gardens but never for sale in the local nurseries.  According to Pam Pierce, this Pericallis (Cineraria) has naturalized in the garden from the cultivars of several parent species from the Canary Islands.  Check out Pam's informative article on Cineraria.


Anyway it is beautiful.  Oh and it likes shade, either dry or wet, deep or partial.

May 24, 2018

Digging Dog Nursery Tour

While on a long weekend vacation in Mendocino, we stopped by Digging Dog Nursery in Albion.  Here's what I saw blooming.



I think this is Astrantia major ‘Buckland’.  That's based on their catalog description and photos.

May 20, 2018

Roses on Bernal Heights

My cottage garden on Bocana Street in Bernal Heights neighborhood of San Francisco is producing the roses.



May 19, 2018

Plant Palette - My Roses

I love my roses.  They produce so many outstanding flowers and fragrance.  I've only been planting David Austin roses the last couple of years.   Here's the roses blooming in my gardens this spring.

We'll start off with my favorite at the moment.  Queen of Sweden what do I like about you?  I love the upright tight cups of pink.  Delicate pink above a glaucous leaf.   Stunning.


A good performing rose in yellow hues for San Francisco is Julia Childs.


May 17, 2018

Gold, Silver and Bronze Border

Today was great.  I'm finishing up a short but packed work week in order to get out of town for a 4-day holiday in Mendocino.   My friend Frank is turning 50.  Ha!  We're gonna have a party.   Last garden of the day before my holiday starts and it was looking stunning.   This garden is a theater stage floorplan with the main bed being a gold,silver and bronze English border.  The Irises we're the character today.



I made a good choice with Schneiner's Iris 'Tiger Honey'.




It's a small bed, maybe 10'x20', but it produces.  I think silver won this year.  Congrats to  Cardoon 'Pleno Inerme' for both stature and height.   Supporting actor is Carex tumulicola.  It is blooming is in perfect powder-puff arches.  Others blooming or just looking great are: Daucus carota 'Black Knight', Allium schubertii, Calla Lily, and Taxus x media 'Hicksii'.

May 12, 2018

4/4 Garden Tour - San Francisco Gardener's

Finally to my terrace garden in Glen Park.  This is my masterpiece.  Double wide lot on a south face slope.  The brunt of the Pacific is buffered by the cliffs of Glen Canyon.  An exceptional microclimate; it is the soil that is a challenge.   It has been at least two, maybe three years since I last showed this garden to a group and the changes are dramatic.  The changes include huge addition of white flowers, new roses, irise, alliums, poppies, ranunculus, scabiosa, Sidalcea hendersonii (Henderson's Checkermallow).   Pinks and purples are good too but no hot colors. This spring I began a project to extend the formal white garden 5 fold up into what was the mediterranean terrace and will become the white cottage garden.




Funny thing when I host a garden, I am too busy talking about the plants I forget to take photos.   I got four this year.  But of course, I have more photos of this garden then of my cats.   Resident cat 'Diesel' loves to photo bomb. 

Here's this years group of gardeners.  Left to right, Sam, Orchid, Frank, Jeannine, Mike, Emil, Dean and Lane (Oh, I hope I got that right) Sam gave me a great compliment.  He says, "Looks so natural".  I says "There's nothing natural about it.".  Sam looks me in the eye and says, "I know".


May 11, 2018

3/4 Garden Tour - San Francisco Gardener's

Jeannine's Potrero Hill Garden is a spacious double lot with lots of large interesting tree in the neighboring garden looking up the hill.   An exquisite Dymondia margaretae lawn with blue flagstone path.  The building of the raised beds is the owner's project.  It will be a diamond space parterre with five wood raised beds instead of boxwood hedge.  I love the red clover.



May 10, 2018

2/4 Garden Tour - San Francisco Gardener's

Next up in our local gardener's garden tour is Dean Ouellette's California Cottage Garden.   There's two parts to Dean's garden.  The strip of garden on the sidewalk next to where the cars park.  It's notoriously difficult spot to garden and that's why I call it the hell strip.   Behind the main building, a courtyard is created between the main residence and Dean's cottage.   In this courtyard is his California Cottage Garden test ground and nursery.


This year Dino added the flagstone curb around the street tree basin.   I love what he did.  He sunk the flagstone vertical 5-6 inches into the soil at the edge of the sidewalk concrete.   This does a wonderful job of keeping dogs out and trash and litter from accumulating.


May 09, 2018

1/4 Garden Tour - San Francisco Gardener's

After a decent rainy season, our Spring has been delightful.   Somewhat regularly spaced winter storms gave us a small but decent amount of water.   I'm not so sure about the snow pack.   It's been a couple of years since our last garden tour in San Francisco.  There's new things to see but more important it's a forum for ideas.   These are professionally maintained gardens by us.  We're the gardeners.  It our tour.

Up first in Pacific Heights is Frank Eddy's garden.   This is the 2nd season for the garden under his care and guidance.   Blooming among the roses are linaria, pansies & digitalis, Lychnis coronaria and Aquilegia vulgaris hybrid.


The front entry garden is mostly white.  With Iceburg roses stealing the show.  Wow!  In abundance.  Underneath you'll see the poplar Omphalodes linifolia 'Venus's Navelwort' lighting up the base of the roses.  It has such a delicate glauca rosette of leaves.  And is reseeds nicely.


May 07, 2018

SPRING Flowers of San Francisco

Twenty-five plants in blossom in my 12' x 7' raised bed.

So our seasons or climate are not like everyone else's. Forget your New England Lilac. English Tulips.  No.  We have distinctive growing seasons. Mainly growth, slumber, muted growth and finally rest. Those translate to spring summer, fall and winter of most of the rest of North American and Europe.

In San Francisco, you may see Dahlias blooming in the ground in February. Or Asters in May. Most perennials shrubs I work with will bloom twice every year. We have SPRING, dry, spring, water.



"Blue" Breadseed poppy, Red Poppies (Shirley poppies?), Allium 'Purple Rain', Ranunuculus asiaticus 'White', Rubus, Borage, Aster novae-angliae 'Skyscraper' (Symphyotrichum), Lathyrus 'Lisa Marie', Digitalis, Aster 'Chieftan', Red Streak Mustard, Omphalodes linifolia 'Venus's Navelwort'.



May 04, 2018

Returning to Saint Francis Woods Garden

Second year of a garden restoration in a lovely neighborhood of San Francisco, Saint Francis Woods.   Can't get any more nature lovers than in Saint Francis Woods in San Francisco.  

The olive hedge has filled in nicely.  The two Iceberg standard rose are only ok.  Both already have black spot.  Neither look like a rose should in May!  I fed them compost and Maxsea.  


The lawn look great.  A low water mix of festue, yarrow and english daisies.    It's easy because you let it grow long, don't fertilize and reduce the irrigation.  All good for California.


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