The garden at the Williams-Sonoma original store


I was in Sonoma last weekend and happened upon the original Williams-Sonoma store, which was just reopened a couple of years ago. Which is cool and everything but YOU GUYS there is a garden in the back and it is gorgeous.

It’s simple and green and immaculate and perfect. The few pictures I took with my phone don’t do it justice, unfortunately.


Icee Blue Podocarpus (I must have this NOW) underplanted with bronze heuchera


More of the vegetable garden and patio which is bordered by dwarf olives and two potted citrus trees at the entrance to the dining space.


Morning glory fence for a vegetable garden


Here’s an idea I would love to try: a morning glory covered fence around a vegetable garden. I have a hard enough time keeping up with a vegetable garden, let alone keeping it looking good. This would hide the mess, and keep out my eternally hungry labrador retriever who steals tomatoes and eats ALL THE FIGS from the fig trees.

These fences surround the (very large) edible and cutting gardens at Filoli for a beautiful walk down a path surrounded by masses of clear blue flowers.

morning glory fence

Here is more info on how to grow morning glory vines and here is my dream kitchen garden in Cinque Terre.

How to grow a pomegranate tree

how to grow a pomegranate tree

Pomegranates are one of the easiest, and prettiest, fruit trees to grow and work well in the ground or in containers. And it’s so cool to have a fruit tree that has been in cultivation since ancient times. This gorgeous specimen pictured above is one of several that were growing in perennial borders around the house at Filoli. I’ve got one in my yard and if I can’t kill it, neither can you.

If you are growing your pomegranate in a container, a dwarf variety will work better. In the ground, just figure out how much space you have and go from there. A pomegranate will tolerate a wide variety of soils, including clay. Plant in full sun.

It grows more like a bushy shrub than a tree. You can get it looking more tree like by pruning lower branches and suckers. You can also you can thin out areas that are crowded or cut out crossed branches. Any overall pruning should be done very lightly: flowers and fruit grow from the ends of the branches.

Pomegranates are drought tolerant but regular water will give you more flowers and fruit. In a container, let the soil dry out a bit before watering. Feed it in the spring and fall.

Finally, be patient. Mine was in the ground for several years before I got any pomegranates.

how to grow a pomegranate tree

how to grow a pomegranate tree

Indoor herbs

indoor herbs

I can grow fresh herbs year round in my garden. But there is something about herbs growing in the kitchen. They’re right there, ready to use, they look pretty, and they smell amazing. Most herbs will grow quite happily next to a window. They will need more water than your houseplants – probably twice a week. Small leaved herbs (lavender, rosemary, thyme) won’t need any special care. Basil and mint will want their leaves washed occasionally or they will get spider mites. That’s about it.

The other thing you can do is think of them as cut flowers and just replace them with new plants when they start to look ratty. It’s still less expensive than buying cut fresh herbs for cooking. You can get potted herbs most of the year at Trader Joe’s.

Two handled vase from Wisteria. Small bowl made my my mother.

Hands down, the best tomato ever

mortgage lifter heirloom tomatoes

Mortgage Lifter Heirloom Tomatoes. So named because they were developed in the 1930s by a gardener who sold so many tomato plants he paid off his mortgage in six years. Tomato Geek has the whole story here.

Anyway, we’ve been getting a steady supply of these all summer from my in-laws (these vines are quite prolific). Huge, pink red tomatoes. Meaty, juicy, very few seeds, and the flavor is unbelievable: sweet and rich. We’ve eaten them sliced with fresh mozzarella and basil, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, in salads, on burgers, and in a relish with mangoes and onions. They make a spectacular fresh tomato sauce and they’re so good plain – just cut them up and put a little salt on them.

They are definitely going in my garden next year.

A pretty, edible garden

pretty edible garden

This is so pretty. Grow your leeks in a wooden box, run some scarlet runner beans up a wooden a-frame trellis, and edge your bed with calendulas. Calendula is one of those old fashioned plants that is becoming popular again. Exceedingly useful, they’re ornamental, edible, cosmetic, medicinal, and easy to grow.

pretty edible garden

Anything grown on a twig trellis looks 100 times prettier.

pretty edible garden

Here are some views of the garden rows: kale, peppers, dill, rhubarb, beans, peas, basil, parsely, oregano, nasturtiums, and rhubarb (the bright red stems). Rhubarb is another one of those old school plants that’s starting to show up all over the place. I grew up eating rhubarb pie, which is absolutely delicious. You can also make rhubarb pickles, rhubarb jam, a rhubarb galette, or a quick rhubarb compote that you can serve with shortcake or pound cake for dessert. Far more interesting and unexpected than strawberry.

pretty edible garden

Here are some more edible gardens:

A kitchen garden in Italy

A DIY edible garden that supplies its owners with all of their fruits, vegetables (and eggs)

An edible garden planted as a formal garden

Stunning combination: Giant Kale and Pincushion Flower

pincushion flower and giant kale

Here are a couple of views of Giant Kale planted with Burgundy Pincushion Flower (Knautia macedonica, formerly called scabiosa) growing in the idea garden at Cantigny Park. I love the masses of small, intense flowers around the solid sculptural forms of the kale, and the contrast of the burgundy and silver. I think you could also get this effect with Agave and Geum – I’m going to try that combination in my own garden.

pincushion flower and giant kale


Container garden ideas: mixed herbs and succulents

mixed herbs in hypertufa pot

Visiting my family this week – so I thought I’d show you some of my mother’s garden. Here is lime thyme and lavender thyme in a hypertufa container.

Herbs and succulents are the easiest things you can grow in containers. Just pot them up and put them in the sun. Green succulents can take a little shade, silver ones need full sun. Use whatever bag of potting soil is the cheapest. You don’t have to anything different with the soil for the succulents. Herbs get watered twice a week, and succulents get watered once a week. More on growing herbs here and growing succulents here.

lavender and thymes

Lavender and lavender thymes in a ceramic strawberry pot.

Mixed sedums and hens and chicks

Mixed hens and chicks and sedums in a ceramic strawberry pot. The varieties in the pockets were found in a nursery section for miniature gardens.

Edible garden ideas: espaliered fruit trees

espaliered fruit tree

Espaliered fruit tree underplanted with herbs: a beautiful way to save space and make your fruit easy to reach. Note the dark green painted fence. Here are two very good how-to guides:

Homestead Revival: Espalier Fruit Trees for Potager

Vintage Garden Gal: The Art of Espalier Fruit Trees

A DIY edible garden

Front yard orchard

This is the garden that sparked a million escape fantasies where I go live off the grid on a small farm. Another one from the Gamble Garden Tour, the garden is 100% DIY (one of the homeowners is an architect) and supplies the couple with all of their produce.


Front yard orchard:

  1. Growing: Pluots, cherries, apples, pears, plums, figs, and a grapevine grown along the fence
  2. Each “tree” was actually three semi-dwarf varieties planted in a triangle, not more than a couple of feet apart
  3. The trees are underplanted with daffodils
  4. A bougainvillea is planted along the house wall
  5. Mulch is alfalfa pellets and the neighbors’ leaf and grass clippings

Back yard garden:

  1. All of the trellises are bent rebar, custom made by the homeowners. Pipes were sunk into the ground, and the rebar was set into the pipes. The rebar was then wired and welded together.
  2. Vegetable beds have a north-south orientation so they get maximum sunlight and the plants don’t shade each other.
  3. Growing: asparagus, tomatoes, berries, beans, peas, lettuce, chard, radishes, eggplant, squash, garlic, leeks, cauliflower, herbs,
  4. Chickens clean up the garden and control insects, and their manure supplies all of the fertilizer
  5. Living fences are Camellia and Irish yew
  6. All of the vegetables are started from seed in the greenhouse
  7. A Zareba Red Snap’ R solar powered electric fence, motion-activated sprinklers, and netting keep out raccoons, squirrels, rats, skunks, deer…

DIY edible garden

DIY edible garden

DIY edible garden tomato supports

Side view of the tomato trellis

DIY edible garden tomato supports

DIY edible garden berry trellises

The chicken coop

DIY edible garden chicken coop

The side yard was crammed with abutilon – genius

DIY edible garden side yard