Sunday, June 30, 2019

Public sidewalk obstructers beware!

Last week we found this dreaded door hanger on our front door:

Has somebody complained to the powers that be? Are there people in our neighborhood who harbor ill will against us? And if so, why? I guess we'll never know.

Here are some snapshots of the crime scene:

Oh what thugs we are for letting our unruly vegetation intrude into the sacrosanct space of the city sidewalk!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Kirk Walden's garden: It's all about the view (#gbfling2018)

More from the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, which took place in Austin, Texas from May 4-6, 2018. 

Kirk Walden's garden in Austin, Texas is all about the view.

The end.

Just kidding. 

A little at least. Because even if that was the entirety of this post, it would do a pretty decent job of capturing the essence of this garden. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words definitely applies here.

View of Lake Austin from Kirk Walden's garden

The view does take center stage, as it should in a setting like this. But there's more to Kirk Walden's garden. There's limestone, a building material as local as it gets in the Texas Hill Country. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Bromeliad haul from Sacramento Bromeliad Society sale

A couple of weekends ago I went to the 2019 Show and Sale of the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society. I hinted at the haul that came home with me, and here it is:

Haul from the 2019 Show and Sale of the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society

That's a lot more than I had hoped (let only intended) to buy, but the selection was good and the prices were even better. “Resistance is futile,” as the Borg so memorably stated, so I didn't even try.

Below are portrait shots of all the plants from that sale as well as some other recent bromeliad additions and even one bloomer. 

Friday, June 21, 2019

Ruthie Burrus garden: Texas Hill Country hideaway with spectacular views (#gbfling2018)

More from the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, which took place in Austin, Texas from May 4-6, 2018. 

Last week I wrote about the garden of Austin, Texas designer B. Jane. It combines a low-water and low-maintenance front yard with a contemporary resort-style backyard in a compact package. To quote Loree “danger garden” Bohl, it's small but lives large.

Ruthie Burrus's garden is in some ways the opposite. As you'll see, it lives large because it is large: The hilltop property is two acres and overlooks downtown Austin. As you can imagine—and will see in a bit—the views are insane.

The residence is at the top of the hill, connected to the street by a long and steep driveway. A golf cart comes in handy in a place like this!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

A bounty of bonny bromeliads in Sacramento show

This past weekend I went to the 2019 Show and Sale of the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society. Unlike last year, when I'd been a bromeliad newbie, I approached this year's event with more knowledge and a better sense of what to expect and what to look for. The sale plants were once again priced very reasonably so I ended up buying more than I would have in a retail nursery. That makes not just me happy but also the club.

While the sale was at the top of my agenda—business is business—I did take the time to look at every plant on display inside the Shepard Garden and Arts Center (also the home of the Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society and most other plant clubs in town).

Since the Sacramento Bromeliad and Carnivorous Plant Society Show is not judged, there was no winner's table. Instead, the club had put together a spectacular display of bromeliads and carnivorous plants:

Monday, June 17, 2019

Railroad spikes to corral wayward garden hose

For years I've been struggling with the garden hose as I hand-water plants in the front yard. Even though I have rocks placed in strategic corners that are supposed to keep the hose from strangling and mangling plants, it doesn't always work, especially if the rock surface is a bit slick.

Last week I happened to be on Etsy and through sheer chance I came across a listing for old railroad spikes. BINGO! This could be the solution for my hose troubles.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

B. Jane Garden: small but sophisticated backyard resort (#gbfling2018)

More from the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, which took place in Austin, Texas from May 4-6, 2018. 

Garden bloggers from North America and Europe are gathering in Denver, CO right now for the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling. Because of my daughter's high school graduation, I'm not able to join them, but I'm there in spirit. To celebrate the 2019 Fling, I'm making a concerted effort to write about the gardens we saw last year in Austin. There are still some incredible places to come!

Today: B. Jane Garden, located in the Brentwood neighborhood in Central Austin. This area was a cotton farm until the 1940s when it was annexed by the City of Austin. This area is dominated by two- and three-bedroom bungalows, many of which were originally bought by GIs starting families after WWII.


What do they say about mullets? Business in the front, party in the back? That comparison popped into my head as I was going through my photos of this garden. You'll see why in a moment.

B. Jane is an Austin landscape designer whose company, B. Jane Gardens, offers full-service design and build services. The garden we visited is B. Jane's own Brentwood oasis.

The house looks like it started out as one of those modest 1950s bungalows I mentioned earlier. I have no doubt that originally there was a front lawn as well as unassuming foundation shrubs in front of the house. The lawn is long gone, replaced by a climate-appropriate planting scheme that's as attractive as it's water-wise and low-maintenance (“I love plants but I’m not a constant gardener,” B. Jane admits).

Muhly grass and opuntias in front of B. Jane's home

Monday, June 10, 2019

Visiting the garden of Austin, TX writer and blogger Pam Penick (#gbfling2018)

More from the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling, which took place in Austin, Texas from May 4-6, 2018. 

Garden bloggers from North America and Europe are getting ready for the 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling in Denver, CO next week. Because of my daughter's high school graduation I won't be able to join them, but I'll be there in spirit.

Thinking of the 2019 Fling made me realize that there are still several gardens from the 2018 Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin, TX that I haven't covered yet. No better time to start catching up than now—and no better garden to showcase than the private sanctuary of Pam Penick, one of the original founders of the Garden Bloggers Fling and co-organizer of the 10th anniversary event in Austin.

Pam Penick's award-winning blog is called Digging: cool gardens in a hot climate. She not only chronicles the evolution of her own garden in Austin, TX but also writes about other gardens—public and private— in Austin, Texas, and beyond: The Regional Garden Tours drop-down menu on Digging has listings for 24 U.S. states and eight foreign countries!

In addition, Pam has written numerous articles for magazines such as Country Gardens, Garden Design, and Wildflower as well as two bestselling books published by Ten Speed Press: Lawn Gone! Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard and The Water-Saving Garden: How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water.

North Carolina blogger Daricia McKnight in front of a perfect specimen of Agave ovatifolia

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Air Plant Alchemy: behind the scenes at a tillandsia nursery

More from the 2019 Bromeliad Summit in Santa Barbara, which took place from April 4-7, 2019. 

The final destination we visited at the 2019 Bromeliad Summit was Air Plant Alchemy. They're a major grower and wholesaler of tillandsias and orchids and now have a showroom/retail outlet at their location outside of Carpinteria. We had a chance to shop (the first and only opportunity at the Summit) and got to take a look inside a production greenhouse. I should have stuck with the group as I might have learned a few things about growing tillandsias, but as usually I drifted off to take photos. When will I learn?

The showroom/retail outlet occupies half a greenhouse and features some impressive specimens of tillandsias and other bromeliads:

Quite a few tillandsias were flowering:

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wacky Wednesday featuring nine red cactus flowers

Our Echinopsis ‘Johnson Hybrid’ just had a nonuplet of flowers. I was hoping they'd open two or three at a time so the entire show would last a little longer, but no, all nine opened on the same day. By the afternoon on the second day, the flowers were all done. So much concentrated beauty in such a short span of time!

Monday, June 3, 2019

10-acre Montecito estate garden near Lotusland

More from the 2019 Bromeliad Summit in Santa Barbara, which took place from April 4-7, 2019. 

On the final day of the Bromeliad Summit, we visited an estate garden in Montecito not far from Lotusland. I'm sure everybody has a slightly different idea of what an “estate” is, but in my book, 10 acres in one of the priciest zip codes in the country certainly qualifies.

10 acres is 435,600 square feet. That's 53 times the size of our lot (8,145 sq.ft.). In fact, the house on this estate is larger than our entire lot. According to public records, the house (actually, “home” would probably be a more appropriate word) is 11,160 sq.ft., compared to 8,145 sq.ft. for our lot.

What I'm trying to say: I was in a completely different world. I knew it when about halfway down the seemingly endless driveway we passed a structure which at first glance appeared to be a house. Looking closer, I realized it was a massive garage—with eight garage doors, so room for at least that many cars. And when we got to the actual residence, I saw that it had its own three-car garage. This is one car-loving family!

We were met in the entrance courtyard by landscape architect Derrik Eichelberger of Arcadia Studio, the principal designer of the garden. He wasn't at liberty to say who the owners are, but he did indicate that they live here only part-time, a few months out of the year. (Whatever reaction you just had, I had the same.)

Derrik took us on a walking tour of the sprawling grounds (ten acres is ten acres) and talked about the distinctly different gardens. I could have learned a lot from Derrik if I had listened carefully, but there were so many things to distract me that both my mind and my body began to drift.

As a result, I can't tell you much about the gardens or the estate in general. Instead, I'll invite you to look at the 70+ photos in this post and simply enjoy the visuals.

Courtyard (through archway)