Calandrinia spectabilis

On the Agave Walk this cerise Chilean showoff opens its first flower of spring. Zone 8-10.

The calandrinia sprawls onto the Agave Walk and is cut back by half to allow foot traffic. Even with this heavy-handed treatment it flowers prolifically all summer long. Greeny-blue succulent leaves, a tough plant for full sun, best […]

Western Hills

The story of Western Hills can’t be fully told by an outsider, of course, so this will in no way be an attempt at a complete history. The former nursery and now endangered 3-acre garden have woven through Northern Californian garden history and the careers and fortunes of San Francisco Bay Area designers for […]


Among the minor reasons I took up blogging was to simply make an effort to retain plant names again. I’ve got shelves of old garden notebooks, in which I kept copious notes of plants desired, plants purchased, when they were planted in the garden, lists of seeds, when they were sown, nurseries, gardens to visit, […]

Garden Show Road Trip

Can there exist a more potent rite of spring than the garden show road trip?

Can’t think of any offhand. This week’s road trip was up to the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, continuing through this weekend.

Driving up from Los Angeles, about seven hours, Highway 5 through the Central Valley. On the CD […]

Poppies of Spring

Visual kief, intoxicating to the eye, O’Keefian, the ephemeral poppies of spring.

These are not the flamboyant Oriental poppies immortalized by the painter Georgia O’Keefe. The Orientals won’t grow in Southern California, requiring more winter chill hours than we have to give, but there are lots of annual poppies with which to console one’s […]

All In A Day’s Work

The desultory, unfocused morning stretched into the same kind of afternoon, and I gave up the pretense of attempting to accomplish anything and headed for a bath.

With an unread December Gardens Illustrated issue propped on the reading stand (often I just read the Frank Ronan pieces in the back and skip the main magazine […]

From Ants to Squills

This fantastic architecture must have an equally fantastic pollinator, yes? The Giant Fork-Tongued Moth maybe?

Well, let’s leave out mythical insects. What’s left would be the usual garden-variety pollinators, and possibly just ants. Just ants? Don’t let E. O. Wilson catch you making that offhand remark. Someone left his book The Naturalist on the dining […]

Who’s Zoomin’ Who?

With salvias planted just a few feet away from windows and doors, humans and hummers are in constant close proximity here. This is by necessity, the constraints of a small garden, rather than by design. The fact is, hummers and I both happen to be crazy for salvias. It makes for some interesting encounters, spilt […]


Seems impossible that just two days ago I was having that tender moment about spring.

Yesterday and today heat records were broken, and now everyone is grousing that it’s hotter than Jakarta (really only mid 80’s but we’re a delicate bunch, donchaknow).

So instead of spring ephemerals, we’re grinding gears a bit to shift […]

And So It Begins Again

Yes, phrases do bubble up from the depths unbidden until I find myself saying them aloud on a day such as this, about 75 degrees, neither cold nor warm, more like an amniotic bath, birds and insects attending to their business while I can’t attend to mine, hopelessly distracted by such a fine spring day. […]