Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Creating a demonstration garden for the Sacramento C&SS

The Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society (SCSS) meets every 4th Monday of the month at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center (SGA&C) on McKinley Boulevard. The two are almost the same age: The SCSS was founded in 1960, and the SGA&C was built in 1958 by the City of Sacramento. If you want to see what it looks like, check out this photo gallery.

According to its website, the SGA&C is "an outstanding example of mid-twentieth century architecture:"
Most notable of its exterior features is the dramatic roof line that combines an A-line form with that of a "butterfly" style appendage that extends over the patio. This in dramatic contrast to its surrounding neighbors which are noted for the popular styles of architecture from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. The Center, as was common in the late 1950s, utilizes stone and wood with flair and exuberance. One of its more notable features on the interior is the massive two-sided fireplace made of flagstone and terrazzo, with a glass mosaic on one side and a huge copper vent on the other. The broad hearth serves as seating, making this feature the heart of the building. 
The "broad hearth," incidentally, is usually the place where I sit during presentations.

As one of the plant clubs meeting at the SGA&C, the Sacramento Cactus & Succulent Society was recently asked to participate in a re-beautification project: Each club is given an area outside the Center to create a demonstration garden that reflects the club's interests. Here is our area:


Last Saturday, SCSS volunteers met to get started on our demonstration garden. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Succulents and More expanding north—and bamboo-in-law update

A trunk full of plants always makes my heart beat faster. Especially if it's our car filled with plants!


These plants, however, weren't for our own garden. Instead, they went on a 3½ hour car ride into the mountains, bound for what I jokingly call our northern garden expansion, a.k.a. my mother-in-law's 2+ acre property in Mount Shasta.

Of the 2+ acres, no more than ½ acre is landscaped. The rest are native trees, mostly Western redcedar (Thuja plicata). In other words, there's lots of room to broaden the plant palette!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Barrie Coates' tranquil Green Valley garden, complete with bonsai

The third garden I visited a few Sundays ago with the California Horticultural Society (CalHort) is located in Green Valley outside of Fairfield, about 35 minutes west of here. Climatically speaking, Green Valley is in between San Francisco Bay with its mild winters and summers and the Sacramento Valley with its somewhat colder winters and blazing-hot summers. It's not quite Goldilocks country, but almost (and certainly closer than we are)

The garden we toured belongs to Carol and Barrie Coate. Now retired, Barrie has been a leading figure in California horticultural circles for decades: as a consulting arborist, director of the Saratoga Horticultural Research Foundation (now part of UC Davis), arboricultural consultant to the Getty Center, and author of numerous articles and books.

Barrie and his wife Carol moved to Green Valley in 2014. They inherited a number of mature trees and shrubs but have added everything else you see in the photos below. The soil in their area can only be described as a gardener's dream: 20 ft. deep class-1 soil with consistent water at 6 inches. Barrie said he's now able to grow finnicky plants that he was never able to grow before.

50-year old mayten tree (Maytenus boaria)

Friday, November 2, 2018

East Bay Wilds native plant nursery: nothing ordinary about it

I'd heard whispers of East Bay Wilds for a while:
► “I think it's in Berkeley. Maybe Oakland. Somewhere over there.”
►“Never been there myself, but I've heard it's great.”
► “It's hardly ever open, but it has stuff you can't find anywhere else.”
► “You have to go. They have all kinds of stuff, not just plants.”

I love nothing more than a challenge so to the Interwebs I went. It turns out that East Bay Wilds is a small nursery in Oakland that specializes in California natives. It's the brainchild of Pete Veilleux, a plantsman and garden designer who maximizes the use of natives in his residential and commercial work. You can read more about the history of East Bay Wilds on their website.