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Lemon Arbor

Arbors of roses, wisteria, grapes, long trusses of laburnum…timeless horticultural cliches under which one glides lost in the quandary of which Jane Austen heroine one resembles most. (Fanny Price of Mansfield Park.)

Never had I walked under an arbor of espaliered lemons, sun warming every pristine fruit and leaf, dappled light preventing scalding and burning of the fruit. An energizing saunter in which one plans feasts for dozens on long tables outdoors, plates piled with lemon risotto, fresh asparagus and artichokes drizzled in lemon. Lemons for homemade limoncello. The future is golden, sun-dappled, and limitless under a lemony tunnel.

The ‘Eureka’ lemon arbor at Lotusland, planted in 1988.

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Photographer James Wojcik

Possibly one of the most visually inventive editorial product photographers working today. Some garden themes.

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James Wojcik

Bloom Day April 2011

Southern California, a mile from the ocean, zone 10, spring a couple months ahead of most of the country.

With the grasses joining the frothy euphorbias in bloom, there’s now a supercharged atmosphere that animates the garden.
I love it when plants start to inhabit planes other than just ground level and do so with very little bulk. The see-through plants. Aerial fizz.

Pennisetum spathiolatum shooting skyward amongst anigozanthos.

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Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea,’ the golden woodrush. The bluer leaves are the Tradescantia ‘Concord Grape,’ now blooming, this photo taken a couple weeks earlier.

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Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

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Continue reading Bloom Day April 2011

Free-Range Succulents

At Lotusland (USDA zone 10), it was thrilling to see succulents set free from ceramic pots to creep and spill over rocks. Increasingly, even in frost-free gardens, succulents have become the darlings of container designs, but where they can overwinter outdoors it’s great to be reminded of the incredible synergy of succulents and stone.

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Occasional Daily Photos/Lotusland

The clamshell beach at Lotusland

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Backed by a low retaining wall dripping with dudleyas and other succulents

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(Thank you, Kathy!)

Changing Tastes

I visited a couple nurseries today and was a bit horrified by the seemingly overnight invasion of flat after flat of “spring color,” a reaction which made me wonder if I’m growing snobbish. So am I a snob? I don’t think so, just possibly confusing strong personal opinions with snobbery. I am amassing stronger opinions the older I get, exclusionary opinions that make distinctions and draw battle lines, if only for my own sense of clarity on issues. But I don’t think that strictly counts as snobbery.

Roses would be an example. No floribundas. I would never plant a rose for scentless masses of color.
(I can’t think of any plant from which I’d ask for masses of color, preferring the intriguing, shimmering inflorescences of Stipa gigantea to, for example, landscape roses, though that’s not strictly an apples-to-apples comparison.)

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We can agree to disagree. Many people will prefer strong color over all else and find what I’ve come to love weedy and insubstantial. Others will find any rose unbearably old-fashioned, just as bearded irises go in and out of fashion. A mature stand of bearded irises in bloom nowadays is a rare sight in my neighborhood. These sorts of plants, bearded irises and roses, have in the past inspired extreme loyalty that overlooked any faults as garden plants. I recognize well that loyalty, since years ago I once gamely tried to make a garden out of a collection of old roses, over 30 in number of mostly noisettes and tea-noisettes, in this very same small garden. And though I loved them all, I have never felt more constrained and miserable as a gardener. Tastes change.

Reuben’s friends, Hal and Bill, invited us to visit their lovely garden, classically bricked and box-hedged, and this is but one stand of their many irises in bloom interspersed among trees of Euphorbia lambii and sprawling matilija poppies. (Who can look at bearded irises in bloom without thinking of Henry Mitchell, who took his yearly vacation the few weeks his hundreds of irises flowered, to stay home with them in their fleeting glory?)

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And yet Hal and Bill were most excited by their new “meadow” of toadflax, Linaria maroccana. Tastes change.

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As far as roses, I ask for intense scent, voluptuousness of bloom and iridescence of petal, preferably in a climber. Many can deliver all this.
But I’m finding I feel tyrannized when I grow more than one at a time. And the water bill doesn’t like it much either.

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Right now, that one rose is the tea-noisette climber ‘Bouquet d’Or,’ and she amply represents all rosedom for me.

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She makes do in a narrow gravel border with some exotic bedfellows like this beschorneria at the far end.

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Tastes change.

Riches of Rancho Reubidoux

Faithful readers of Reuben Munoz’s blog, Rancho Reubidoux, will have followed Reuben’s decision to join the Riverside Flower Show and Garden Tour, cheering him on as he underwent the harrowing process of qualifying to be on the tour and then the months of grueling preparation leading up to the fateful weekend. Fortunately, I live within 50 miles of RR and wouldn’t miss the chance to tour Reuben’s garden for the world. Garden designer Dustin Gimbel, who blogs at non-secateur, drove out with me to catch the tour of RR yesterday, a gorgeous, balmy Sunday. Tickets for the tour were bought at the Elks Lodge, where the “Flower Show” part of the festivities takes place, with tables holding row upon row of lovingly tended blooms in vases, orchids, succulents, all neatly identified. Very country fair. I could have happily passed a couple hours in the flower show hall, but the prospect of seeing Reuben’s legendary Rancho lured us quickly out of the hall, back in the car, with the “treasure map” in hand that would lead us to the fabulous riches of Rancho Rubideaux, home to Reuben, Paul, Inky and Frito, the latter two safely tucked away with friends for the tour.

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Continue reading Riches of Rancho Reubidoux

Sage Vice

Who can say at what number an enthusiasm or “keen interest” ends and a collection of plants begins? 20 hostas? 6 agaves? 114 daylilies?

When the genus is as diverse in leaf and flower as salvia, a collection interspersed throughout a garden may not even be noticed.

Salvia calcaliifolia
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leaves of Salvia calcaliifolia
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Australian hybrid ‘Wendy’s Wish’
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Salvia ‘Christine Yeo’
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Salvia wagneriana
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leaves of Salvia wagneriana
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leaves of Salvia karwinskii
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Salvia ‘Waverly’
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leaves of Salvia broussonetii
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Salvia chiapensis
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Beautiful plants for Southern California and other mediterranean climate zones.

Orange Is A Color You Either Love or Hate

The front gravel garden is aglow in orange. Dyckias, Spanish poppies.
Personally, I’m on very good terms with orange. Some good plants refuse to come in any other color.

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Le Prince Jardinier

Véritable chaise des jardins parisiens restaurée.

Google translation: “Chair of the true Parisian gardens restored.”

The Parisian shop Le Prince Jardinier is mentioned by Natalia Hill in her piece “Get Stuffed — The Animal Wonderland of Deyrolle,” found on the Huffington Post. I never pass on an opportunity to read about this fabled Parisian taxidermy/natural history shop dating back to 1831, which was nearly lost in a devastating fire in 2008.

Photo of interior from Deyrolle found here.
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In her article, Ms. Hill mentions that a garden shop, Le Prince Jardinier, is on the ground floor of Deyrolle and gives a brief history of the chairs:

“These garden chairs adorned the grounds of the famous Luxembourg, Tuileries and Palais Royal gardens for over 80 years (1923-2005).
Parisians over generations would have enjoyed their use. In 2005, the chairs were mostly in disrepair and about to be thrown away.”

It was Prince Louis-Albert de Broglie, who bought Deyrolle in 2001, who also stepped in to restore the Parisian park chairs.

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“CUSTOM Available only in the color of your choice: black, dark green, green amazonite, chrome, blue, yellow, red, pink … Transport costs on request.
(Disponible SUR COMMANDE uniquement dans la couleur de votre choix: noir, vert foncé, vert amazonite, chrome,bleu, jaune, rouge, rose… Frais de transports sur devis.)”

Simone de Beauvoir (“I wanted to talk about these things. I wanted to talk about all sorts of things with people who, unlike Jacques, wouldn’t let their sentences trail away at the ends.” Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter) probably talked up a storm in one of these chairs. Supply the name of your favorite writer, painter, poet, philosopher, and they’ve probably passed away an afternoon in a chair very similar to this.

And then there’s what photographer Andre Kertesz did with the chairs at the Luxembourg Gardens. Like a gardener, a photographer never actually sits in a garden chair. Not for long. Which is probably why I don’t hanker after pricy chaises and oversized lounge furniture for the garden, which only steal precious space from plants, but hard, expressive little chairs like these.

Photos from Chasing Light
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