Thursday, September 28, 2017

I visited the Danger Garden (again) and didn't get poked

Loree Bohl is one special woman. Her blog, Danger Garden, was one of the first gardening blogs I started to follow, and it has had a lasting impact on my own garden and my personal plant preferences. But Loree is not just a talented writer and photographer, she's also a truly gifted gardener. If there was a Gardening Hall of Fame, I'd start a campaign to get her inducted.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out in Portland with Loree, Mark and Gaz of Alternative Eden, Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery, and a bunch of other plant nerds. Needless to say it was a blast, and I came home with a nice assortment of plants.

Since I was staying with Loree, her husband Andrew, and their adorable chug Lila, I had ample opportunity to poke around in the Danger Garden. In this post I'll show you the front garden. In a future post, I'll take you around into the back garden. The two areas are quite different, but they're united by Loree's sharp eye for design. She appears to know instinctively which plants look good next to each other and how to combine seemingly disparate plants in ways that continue to surprise and delight me. Fortunately for all of us, she's a prolific blogger and shares tales from the Danger Garden five times a week.

Loree grows a huge variety of plants from all over the world. Many have sculptural leaves, others produce gorgeous flowers, and yet others have unusual bark or some other characteristic that makes them special. Growing among them all are the spiky rebels that gave the Danger Garden its name. It's no coincidence that the blog's byline is "Careful, you could poke an eye out." While I'm fairly certain that that has never happened, I do know that more than one unsuspecting visitor has lost some blood.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Baby steps in the garden

Our garden will never be "finished." It took me a while to realize this. I used to think, "as soon as we're done with this project, the garden will finally be done." But nothing is ever static in a garden. Plants continue to grow and need to be managed.

Sometimes "managing" involves the most drastic of measures: complete removal. That's what I did in the front yard, in the bed inside the fence. It used to be home to things like salvias, globe mallows and similar perennials (2010 2011 2013 2016). They look great in late spring. But by the end of summer they're rangy and ratty. And in the winter many of them go dormant. I finally had enough and took virtually all of them out in the spring. I only left the Meyer lemon, the 'Golden Tulip' leucadendron to the right of it, and the 'Jester' leucadendron and white sage to the left.

This is what the area looked like on Saturday,September 23, 2017:

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Revisiting John Kuzma's fusion garden in Portland, OR: agaves, bananas, and much more

I spent a fantastic weekend in Portland, OR hanging out with friends and doing all kinds of plant-related things. Fellow blogger Loree "Danger Garden" Bohl had arranged a visit to the garden of John Kuzma. His garden, created in collaboration with Sean Hogan of Cistus Nursery, was one of my favorite destinations on the 2014 Garden Bloggers Fling, and I was excited to see it again three years later.

The Yucca rostrata in the front garden have definitely grown!

Check out my post from 2014 to see the difference.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Succulents and more at the Ruth Bancroft Garden

Last Saturday, after I had safely stowed my haul from the Ruth Bancroft Garden plant sale in my car, my camera and I took a leisurely stroll through the garden.

I didn't have to go far for my first photo stop. These beauties caught my eye right at the garden entrance:

Backlit cactus always make for great photos

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Big plant sale at Ruth Bancroft Garden before the nursery moves

The Ruth Bancroft Garden in Walnut Creek, CA is about to undergo what might be the biggest change since Ruth Brancroft first started it in 1972. In just a few days, construction will begin on the $4.6 million Visitor and Education Center. This will give the Garden much-needed indoor space for events, classes, and offices. And there will finally be indoor restrooms--no more porta potties!

To make room for the construction, the existing nursery will move to the north side of the garden. It will occupy one half of Ruth's Folly and one of the greenhouses next to it. Before the move, the nursery is holding its biggest sale ever. On Friday, plants were 20% off, yesterday 35%, and today (Sunday, September 10) 50%. If you're in Northern California, you still have time to head on over; the sale runs until 4pm today. Click here for more details.

Agave montana at the entrance to the garden. It's pushing a massive flower stalk and will die after flowering.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

ASU Mesa, AZ: university campus that embraces the desert

After reading my recent posts about the Scottsdale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden and Cavalliere Park, both in Scottsdale, Arizona, you might be reaching Corten and gabion overload. But the place I will show you in this post is so well-designed that I hope you'll stick with me. It's Arizona State University's Polytechnic Campus in Mesa.

The main campus of Arizona State University (ASU) is in Tempe. It's a sprawling site the size of a small town (642 acres). According to Wikipedia, "76,844 students [were] enrolled in at least one class on campus in fall 2016." That's a staggering number!

In addition to the main campus, there are four other campuses in the Phoenix metro area. One of them is the Polytechnic Campus in Mesa. It opened in the fall of 1996 on the grounds of the former William Air Force Base. In 2009, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects helped turn 21 acres in the heart of the campus from a concrete wasteland into what it is today: a lush desert oasis.

Mass plantings of palo verde (Parkinsonia sp.). To see them in flower, read this post by Pam Penick

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Blazing scorching sweltering torrid HOT

It's hot. Somewhere near 103°F here in Davis. Temperature records tumbled all over Northern California in the last few days. San Francisco smashed the all-time record on Friday with 106°F (41°C). That's the city about which Mark Twain once said: "The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco."

Hot summer weather is par for the course for us, but this summer has been particularly brutal. And it's not over yet.  Cool fall weather won't start in earnest until sometime in the second half of October. If then.

Blazing [Death Star]

I continue to hide in the house most of the time. I did a bit of yard work this morning but it was simply too hot in the sun. So back inside I went.

But I did brave the heat again a little while ago to take these pictures. Many plants continue to thrive, while others have decided to go dormant permanently. So it goes.