DIY: succulents in homemade faux bois and concrete pots

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Spotted at the Gamble Garden Spring Tour in Palo Alto.

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How to make modern cement planters via Apartment Therapy

The faux bois pot looks more challenging: How to make a faux bois planter via Martha Stewart

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Hikes with Dogs: Crane Creek, Sonoma

Crane Creek, Sonoma

Crane Creek Regional Park could be my favorite hike in California. It’s a beautiful little jewel of a park with 128 acres and about 3 1/2 miles of trails. It’s not especially challenging, just gentle rolling hills. This is the California landscape I love – Oaks, California Bays, Buckeyes, and acres of golden grass. The park allows dogs on leash, and horses.

Plants you can’t kill: Cape Plumbago

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I thought you’d rather see a Cape Plumbago (plumbago auriculata) growing in Italy – much more inspiring than my garden. This is growing like crazy for me in heavy clay soil with very little water. I’m growing mine as a shrub and it’s about 6 feet tall and wide, but you can grow it as a vine or let it elegantly cascade over the edge of your terrace in the Italian Riviera. This is a vigorous, healthy plant with sky blue flowers for months on end, sprawling all over the place in the most gorgeous way, that can take a little shade. It doesn’t drop leaves, get diseases or pests, need fertilizer… Cut it back a bit in late winter or, if you are lazy like me, just clean out some dead stuff now and then when it really starts to show.

Italian Kitchen Gardens

Kitchen Garden in Cinque Terre, Italy

This is just one of the Italian kitchen gardens I saw in Cinque Terre. Gardens ranged in size from big to tiny, but they all used every square foot for growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables. None were anyplace close to the size of an American yard but they supply their households with all of their produce year round.

Even the smallest plots were gorgeous: they were all beautifully tended and used only natural materials – stacked stone, gravel, terra cotta, and supports and edging of lashed-together wood.

All the gardens I saw were very simply arranged, in rows or grids. Trees and taller plants were planted along a wall, fence, or on the north side of an open garden, so they wouldn’t shade the shorter plants. Plants were grouped by water requirements: rosemary and thyme don’t need much water, tomatoes and basil need a lot.

Here’s what was growing: basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, fennel, tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, and squash. Citrus, fig and bay trees were either in the ground or in pots placed right in the garden.

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Twig towers, supports and fences: build, build, or buy. And one more good one article with trellis, supports, and tomato hoops here.

I just go to my local nursery or hardware store for plain terra cotta pots, but there are some stunning ones here.