Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Archive for March, 2012

Foliage Season

Dicentra formosa amidst Oxalis oregana

We don’t have a many deciduous plants in our garden, but for the last couple of years I’ve made a note of when each of them leafed out each spring. I didn’t really know how much variation there would be from year to year. So far, there hasn’t been much. Comparing last year, 2011, and the year before, 2010, I’d say everything has been remarkably consistent. And not just the wake up times for the plants, the garden itself has stayed consistent, with every plant on previous lists still growing in the garden except for the Indigofera which we took our during construction on our shed. A couple of Currant bushes are the only new deciduous plants of note.


Dicentra formosa has been leafed out for about 3 weeks, Dicentra ‘Bachanal’ is leafing out now
Ribes ‘White Icicle’ has one remaining bloom cluster
Calycanthus occidentalis is leafing out, leaves are out but not near full size
Ninebark leafed out at the start of February and has fit’s first flower bud opening, the same schedule as last year
Snowberry has been in leaf for about a month, it started leafing out soon after the ninebark
Mimulus cardinalis has been in leaf for a month, I moved its tub and replanted it and it has come roaring back, I also replanted the stream orchid, but it is just poking up through the soil
Clematis ligusticifolia is leafed out, about a week earlier than last year, the volunteer in a pot has been leafed out for over a month
native asters are leafed out
Phildelphus microphyllus is leafing out
Acer cirnatum, young and in a container is dormant
Amelanchier alnifolia in containers is still dormant
Allium unifolium has buds
native lilies are a foot tall and have been up for several weeks
not a deciduous plant, but I ate the first woodland strawberry this weekend


the fig is leafed out and has a bigger spring crop this year, about 10 figs
the Chaste tree has leaf buds opening
Acer palmatum from seed has been fully leafed out for several weeks, Acer palmatum ‘Japanese Sunrise’ is mostly leafed out
the neighbor’s Chinese Pistaches are budding, our more sheltered one is not
the Walnut Tree is budding
One of the young Eastern Redbuds has some flowers, the other 2 are dormant, mature ones in the neighborhood are blooming
the Fruiting Mulberry, in a container, has leaf buds opening
Astilbes are still dormant, leaves beginning to appear on the 3rd of April
both Black Currant bushes (transplanted in December) are budding

Our Fig Tree

For the plants that are still dormant, I’ll probably come back and add final leaf-out dates.


I mentioned that posting has been slow because this is a busy time of the year for me. Besides working and moving ahead on our garden shed/office project, I’m also taking a class in watercolor, which has kept me busy in the evenings, trying to get the hang of that rather beguiling and frustrating medium. This is the best of my efforts so far, a view of the entry drive to the house where I’m working right now. The sketch below is from last fall while I was walking around, getting a feel for the property; the watercolor is from this past week when I was assigned a ‘landscape featuring trees.’ In real life the oaks are even more impressive than I managed to show on paper.

2012 Flower and Garden Show

Dynamic Reflections

I managed a quick visit to the San Francisco Flower and Garden on Thursday. My personal highlight was not a garden, but rather Bee Chama Honey who comes out from New Mexico most years and has about a dozen different kinds of honey (my favorite was oak, followed by Sage/Willow and Meadowfoam). Anita was a judge at the show this year and was especially impressed at the quality of the gardens and the craftsmanship. I agree, though I thought they weren’t quite as memorable or dramatic as some other years. They were well designed and really nice and it takes a lot of effort to do such good work. I haven’t added links to all the garden creators, but you can find that info at the show’s garden creators webpage. Also there’s some cool stuff at the show’s Facebook page, including a timelapse of a nice, relaxing garden that I didn’t photograph.

Dynamic Reflections again

Dynamic Reflections had the most stone interest. Its by the same designer who did angled walls a few years ago. They’re pretty cool. There’s a heck of a lot going on in these walls, with a ceramic face, a container, various slabs and boulders, more than I would want in a real wall, but probably the right amount for a garden show. I found myself wishing more of the other gardens were more over the top this year.

Dynamic Reflections again


Savannah was the other garden that felt satisfyingly over-the-top. It was done almost entirely with grasses, a narrow path through a tunnel of grassy foliage. It was a distinct experience, with crickets and other sounds created by a guy does garden sound for a living. It was a hard thing to do it justice in a photo, but this blurred photo sort of gives a sense of it. I felt like it was far and away the most interesting garden and the main one that offered a distinctive experience you wouldn’t see in a real bay area garden. It was also the only garden that truly felt like it was about the plants.


Windows was more about the hardscape and the design and making a real outdoor space with good attention to materials and details. It swept the awards from the ASLA, CLCA, APLD, and Sunset, all the groups that are focused on making real residential gardens.

Serenity Lounge

I liked the Serenity Lounge also.

Serenity Lounge again

Urban Habitat on the Left, Sculpture Party on the Right

I also liked the big dragon and the juxtaposition of it next to the graffiti garden. I guess there was more over-the-top things than I remember.

La Vie en Vert

The pendulum and the little gabians in La Vien en Vert are the last of my photos. There were other nice gardens — almost all of the gardens were good this year — but I didn’t photograph them for some reason. I guess I spent a lot of my time tasting honey.

La Vie en Vert again

SF Gate has a slideshow here.

March Bloom Day — Hello Rain!

Welcome to a wet bloom day. I haven’t posted since last month. I don’t usually go bloom day to bloom day without a post, but it’s my busiest time of year. This week’s storms have given me a reprieve from work and have made our garden wet but happy. It’s still early for the garden to reach full bloom strength but a lot of plants have woken up. Most of the deciduous plants are in leaf or budding. The ninebark behind the Huechera was the first, coming into leaf around the beginning of the month and inow getting ready to open it’s first flowers. I thought that might be early, but it did this at the same time last year. I’ve tried to find things that might be early in our garden, but so far everything is close to its regular schedule.

The species tulip, Tulipa Saxatilis, is on the same schedule, but it has doubled in quantity since last year. They’ve taken a beating in this week’s storms, but they were probably the best thing in the garden last week.

The Doug Iris I photographed last month still has a bloom most days, but now we also have a couple of non-native irises blooming too.

The hellebore was blooming last month too. It’s in a container that sat next to the post our Clematis grows up, and last year a tendril of the clematis found its way into the pot and layered itself. We haven’t decided what we’re going to do with it: plant them both together somewhere, pull the clematis out and plant it, or discard the clematis. I like the clematis, but it’s just this kind of behavior — propagating itself in another plant’s container — that makes it hard to find a suitable home for it. In the meantime, the foliage looks pretty beside the hellebore.

Both of our hardenbergias are in full bloom.

Our Drimys winteri is blooming for the first time. I planted this a couple of years ago and more or less forgot about it. After taking the photo, I couldn’t remember what its name was. I saw these years ago in Chile, but had never seen the flowers before. Supposedly they’re mildly fragrant, but I couldn’t tell today with all the rain.

The poppies in our veggie garden these days seem to all be children of Mahogany Red. We used to have ‘White Linen’ and some pink ones from a mix. I’m pretty happy to have these red ones as the enduring variety. There are some other plants in the garden blooming, mostly looking wet and rather bedraggled from the storms. I’ll post a list later.

My thanks to garden blog impresario Carol at MayDreamsGardens for hosting bloom day. Click over for links to over a hundred other blogs posting about what’s blooming in their garden.

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