Garden reading: Gardenalia

On the want list: Sally Coulthard’s Gardenalia books.  How to create beautiful, informal spaces and throw in a flea market find or three? I’m all over it!

gardenalia stylish garden cover

Gardenalia: Creating the Stylish Garden


Gardenalia: Furnishing Your Garden with Flea Market Finds, Country Collectables and Architectural Salvage

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

Easy garden design idea: underplanting trees

tree underplanted with grasses

This is the easiest garden design idea ever: underplant your trees with lots of one thing. You see a lot of trees underplanted with grasses in contemporary gardens, but as you can see by the above photo, this looks just as great in traditional gardens.

tree underplanted with helichrysum

Helichrysum petiolare always looks good, can take some shade and a whole lot of neglect, and only needs water once a week at the most.

sidewalk garden

Blue oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens), another easy keeper.

lemon tree underplanted with pineapple salvia

Some trees don’t like other plants growing in their root zones, so it’s worth doing a little research on your trees first. For example, I don’t plant anything under my native oak. However, everything I’ve read tells me not to plant under citrus. And here is my lemon tree with a pineapple salvia happily growing underneath. They’ve been together for at least ten years, which seems like a bizarrely long life for a salvia.




<a href=””>Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Garden Reading: A Garden Makes a House a Home

Garden Reading

A Garden Makes a House a Home by veteran shelter magazine garden editor Elvin McDonald

25 beautiful gardens covering every region of the US – there is something here for everybody. Lots of ideas and inspiration of course, but there’s plenty of the practical how-to stuff as well. This will be one you’ll keep out and read again and again. 

garden reading: a garden makes a house a home

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.

Garden ideas: tropical plants in traditional gardens

tropicals in a traditional garden

Tropical plants aren’t just for mediterranean or modern houses. Tropicals can work in any garden setting. The Victorians were passionate about tropical plants and used them in their traditional style gardens to great effect. So much more interesting than a purely tropical garden (which can look a little ‘hotel’ if you’re not careful) or an English style border.

These are all easy to grow in the bay area:

Zantedeschia (calla lily)
Strelitzia (birds of paradise)

Campsis (trumpet vine)


Above is the Larnach Castle garden in Dunedin, New Zealand. Below are two of the cottages at the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne, Australia.

tropical cottage garden

tropical cottage garden

tropical cottage garden

A mediterranean garden

mediterranean garden

Low maintenance, drought tolerant, stunning plants: what’s not to love about a Mediterranean garden?


  1. What’s growing: Honey Bush (Melianthus major), Pheasant’s Tail Grass (Stipa arundinacea), Giant Burmese Honeysuckle (Lonicera hildebrandiana), Goldfinger Grass (Libertia peregrinans), Lambs Ears (Stachys byzantina), Olives (Olea), Euphorbia, Roses, a Banana tree…
  2. Place plants a little closer together so the garden looks lush and flowing.
  3. Let plants grow in their natural forms. No heavy pruning here.
  4. Limit your plant list and repeat plants.
  5. Limit your color palette. Here they’ve used green, gold, silver, and burgundy foliage and pale blue, peach, and burgundy flowers.
  6. Hardscaping materials are all in soft, pale, warm tones.
  7. Paved courtyards and decomposed granite pathways vs lawn

mediterranean garden

mediterranean garden path

mediterranean garden bed