Anatomy of a Plant Purchase

April 2010 Gardens Illustrated arrives in the mailbox.

Two-page spread depicts in photographic splendor Carol Klein’s sumptuous spring-blooming choices to grow underneath Cornus controversa ‘Variegata.’

What’s this Prunella-like, spiky, dusky pink-flowered wunderkind with the lush foliage? A calamint maybe? Lamium orvala, you say? Never heard of it.

(Photo courtesy of UK Hardy Plant Society)


To A Good Home

The wind has battered the alstroemeria. The support I provided, a bottomless wrought iron chair, serves more as a guillotine, bending the stalks around knee level. A gigantic tomato cage, 6 feet high and as much across, might contain this irrationally exuberant plant.

Yes, I’m feeling defensive, to explain the need to cut down a […]

More GC Open Days/Pasadena

More on the Pasadena gardens on the Garden Conservancy Open Days, April 25, 2010.

This was my first tour of Pasadena gardens. I knew the gardens would be large, stately, formal. What I wasn’t prepared for was their scale. The six we saw were truly estate gardens in every sense of the word. Seeing the […]

The Garden Conservacy Open Days – Pasadena

A small taste of the tour held Sunday, April 25, 2010. This is from Rancho La Loma.

I haven’t seen terracing like this since the Cinque Terre in Italy, the difference being the use of our “local stone,” repurposed broken concrete stacked for the retaining walls. The designer, Marco Barrantes, told me he uses gravel […]

At the Garden Show/Mall

The show was held in an Orange County mall, the South Coast Plaza. If retail therapy is your thing, this mall is the Dr. Freud’s couch of retail therapy. Yves St. Laurent, Tiffany’s, Dolce Gabana, etc. The garden show seemed a hobbyist affair, with a focus on stands filled solely with Japanese maples, or table […]

For the Vase

We had ferocious, 30-knot winds Wednesday. All night the old wooden house was buffeted and storm-tossed, creaking and groaning like she was about to slip her foundation moorings. The wind chimes clanged like alarm bells.

I couldn’t sleep past 4 a.m. because I just had to check for damage. No trees or big branches were […]

Lysimachia atropurpurea

Some plants never live up to their catalogue descriptions.

Never mind their growth habits or cultural needs, they simply fail to live up to the gushing prose that purports to describe what they actually, physically look like.

This is my first year growing Lysimachia atropurpurea, and knowing nothing about its length of […]

Agave ‘Kissho Kan’

Dwarf Variegated Butterfly Agave. Slow-growing to only a foot. Translation “Happy crown” or “Lucky crown” On the West Coast, these formerly pricy, collectible agaves are really dropping in price. If I see one in a 4-inch pot, I swoop.

I might have taken a moment to brush it off after potting it but seemed […]

Into White

A simple garden with acres of sky. Fearing I had carelessly brought in more white flowers than is sensible, it turns out it wasn’t much of a white-out after all, except maybe with the camera. For me, it’d be impossible to photograph this diascia without the euphorbia leaning in. Probably the white diascia ‘Ice Cracker’. […]

Tending the Front Garden

Couple weekends ago I worked in the front garden. Removed a few bricks for Sempervivum ‘Spring Beauty.’

Then weeded the Spanish poppies from the bricks and cleaned out this agave of pups and old leaves.

Why’s it such a big deal to work in the front garden? Possibly because, for me, a […]