The Belmont outpost of Portola Valley’s truly excellent Ladera Garden and Gifts opened its doors last spring. While nothing can replace Half Moon Bay Nursery in my heart, LG&G is within walking distance from my house, and it is just fantastic. There is a huge selection of climate appropriate plants – Mediterranean climate, natives, and succulents – and everything is very well priced. There are also gorgeous, on-the-expensive-side containers and the indoor shop also carries decor, kitchen and gifts.
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.
In California, fall means rain, and rain means the best time to plant. Fall planting means bigger plants with more blooms in the spring and summer, and established plants that won’t die over the dry season. Last fall, I didn’t plant a thing. With El Nino coming, and hopefully rain this week, I am feeling a little more confident. Plus I have to get some things in the ground to fill in where everything died or all my dirt is going to wash away when the heavy rains hit.
Once again, I headed to my favorite nursery with a plant list and good intentions and once again I was completely derailed. In my defense, I did get the rosemary and they were out of Galvezia which has done well for me but has not bloomed yet. Here’s what else came home with me:
Cuphea ‘Strybing Sunset’ will be a 3’x3′ dense, shrubby perennial that can take a bit of shade. It’s supposed to be very easy to grow so we’ll see. Plus, the tiny adorable flowers have tiny, adorable, burgundy EARS. How could I not take this one home?
Leonotis menthifolia has the same flowers as leonotis leonuris, grows to a dense 3’x3′, and does not get woody at the base? Sign me up! These were kind of on the list – I needed something to fill in around a variegated agave.
Salvia splendens ‘Sao Borja’ This one is from Annie’s Annuals and I have no idea where it’s going but it’s amazing. It will grow quickly to 6′ tall, likes shade, and attracts hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. SOLD.
Streptosolen jamesonii ‘Marmalade Bush’ According to Annie’s Annuals, this will be an easy to grow, year round flower covered hummingbird magnet. Right now it looks like this (above) but I’m hoping it’s going to look like this:
Here is a beautiful example of layering plants and decorative objects in garden design firm Living Green’s booth at Sunset Celebration Weekend. Styling an outdoor room the way you would style an indoor room creates an inviting and interesting space that you don’t want to leave.
- Group similar objects for more impact. In this case, Asian inspired statues, natural stones, and potted orchids on the table.
- Simplify your color scheme. Here, natural tones and textures with mix with tables, ceramic stool, glass rock, and textiles all in shades of blue-green.
- Play with scale. Huge containers and big objects on the ground, tables of varying heights, small potted plants and objects on the tables (and tucked in the big pots).
Hayrack window boxes are an English country staple. The addition of succulents here gives a modern rustic look and makes the whole business even more low maintenance. The coir liner holds water pretty well and can be easily replaced. Best of all, they won’t go out of style and they’re not hideously expensive. You can find some nice ones along with replacement liners here.
In this mix are Aloes for spiky forms, multiple echeveria varieties for fullness, aeoniums for height and some dwarf jade (also called elephant food or Portulacaria afra) spilling over the sides. Aeoniums are so versatile in size, color and form: some will grow long curving stems and branch, some will grow tall and lush, or you can break them off and replant them if you want to keep them short.
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.
Here is more info on how to grow morning glory vines and here is my dream kitchen garden in Cinque Terre.
Here is the inspiration for the project: the entry garden of our a house our friends rented in Sri Lanka during their trip around the world. The bowl of flowers in water near the front entry attracts positive energy and luck.
A bowl of flowers in water near my front entry will only attract raccoons and my thirsty labrador retriever, so I tried for a similar effect with succulents. I selected a couple of varieties of Dudleya with rosettes similar to the white flowers with their pointed petals and planted them in concrete bowls from Vietnam which I bought at Filoli’s annual plant sale. Here are similar planters at Terrain.
Dudleyas are the easiest succulents, you just plant them. To start a new plant, just snap a rosette off at the stem and stick it in the dirt. They’ll even root and form a new rosette from a single leaf. They are much more fragile than Echevaria so handle them carefully.
Here is the finished result on my porch.
These beauties are used to display plants and containers for sale in the shop at Filoli. They’d be a great way to add height and lushness to a small patio or to screen an ugly fence. I’d fill them with succulents in stone or faded terra cotta pots.
Emily Joubert in Woodside sells these beautiful pieces, but they also make a fun DIY and anyone would love them as a gift. Here’s how to plant succulents in a driftwood or old log planter:
- You can use driftwood, or any piece of wood that has some age and weathering to it. Soft woods will make a faster, easier project.
- Start with a crack or depression that is somewhat towards the middle of the wood. Use a gouge tool to dig it out and make more space for your plants. You don’t have to dig out very much: succulents don’t need a lot of root space.
- If the crack goes all the way through the wood, tuck in a piece of screen and secure it with a couple of small nails, tacks, or staples.
- Fill with dirt. I have been gardening with succulents forever and I’ve rarely used a cactus potting mix. I just use whatever potting soil I have on hand, which is usually the cheapest one, and my succulents have always been fine.
- Arrange your succulents. Go for either uniformity or as dramatic a mix of colors and shapes as you can find. If you’re doing a mix, do a spike, a rosette, a silver, a green, and a purple or black. Put in your bigger forms and then tuck the little ones around the edges.
- You don’t need to leave them room to grow. Pack them in there like you are arranging flowers. If they make babies, pop them out and repot when things get crowded. If they get leggy, snap off the stems and stick the rosettes back in the dirt. That’s it. They don’t have strong roots so they are as easy to rearrange as cut flowers.
Is some animal statuary. Maybe this charming horse at Emily Joubert.
Or maybe a tortoise garden bench like the one in my friend’s front yard, from American Soil and Stone.
Or a spectacular lion footed planter like this one at the Parque Tres de Febrero in Buenos Aires.