Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lifestyle Garden in Garden Restricted Neighborhood


This home has an attractive courtyard enclosed on three sides. The fourth side was open to the street, and the neighborhood has very restrictive rules on what is allowed in the way of landscaping. Working closely with the sensibilities of the neighborhood I added a few tall, narrow, and upright white cedars, rearranged and added some tall grasses, and added a few highlights like spring daffodils and summer Liatris (see the Liatris in bloom in one of the images above). The neighborhood approved the modest little landscape addition and the courtyard became a much more attractive place for making a garden part of the owner's lifestyle.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Pass Along Plant (Cardiocrinum cordatum)

A great pleasure of gardening is acquiring plants that have a special history. In 2005 Tom Yates of Lantern Court at Holden Arboretum gave me a little pot of an undetermined Cardiocrinum. He said it had beautiful leaves in the spring which you can see from the top photograph. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was hardy for me, and, of course, I was thrilled with the beautiful leaves. Cardiocrinums are monocarpic, so they take a few years to bloom and then they die. This year, three years after receiving the plant I got the special pleasure of seeing it bloom (see picture above). Now I know it is a Cardiocrinum cordatum. As the plant dies I will be looking for offsets around the original bulb in hope of finding a cluster of new bulbs to distribute in various locations around my garden.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Edible Landscape

I haven't addressed the edible landscape in my lifestyle garden blog so far, I guess because it is so obvious. I try not to be a slave to my edible landscape. I mostly grow trees, shrubs and perennials and grow only a few things that have to be started anew each year. So far this year I loved my asparagus and now it is blueberry season (as pictured). The grapes are far from ripe but show a good fruit set; apples and pears are coming along; and I may get a few peaches this year. My son is impatient for the raspberries which aren't quite ready. For me having these plants is like having candy plants. I just go out and pick them when I want a snack, and sometimes I get up the energy and maybe get some help (as pictured) and prepare something a bit more substantial than a snack. I recommend this approach to reluctant gardeners. Grow a few easy woody plants and just enjoy whatever bounty they provide - no pressure. I would like to make more efficient utilization of all the food I grow, but I believe it is a skill and a commitment that I haven't quite developed yet. My food plants, however, do bring great pleasure and connect me with my garden in a manner that does not compare with ornamentals.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Exemplary Lifestyle Gardening in California

I usually use images of my own garden on this blog, but a recent trip to California allowed me to be enthralled with Rancho Los Alamitos, an historic garden in Long Beach. The place epitomizes my ideas of how a garden can play a critical role in creating a satisfying lifestyle.

Click on images for a closer view.

These first two pictures are of the inner courtyard. Imagine walking through these areas as you go from one part of the house to another.

The last two pictures are just a sampling of the comfortable environment of the garden around the house. They struck me as wonderful places to relax and enjoy the fabulous climate of the area, and one of the best of these was a tiny little courtyard (that I couldn't capture with my lens) used by the former owner and current Director as a private refuge for careful contemplation.