Three Garden Projects, All in a Row

Hurray for Nick Timmermann!  Nick completed all three garden projects for me over the past two days.

You may remember that I managed to get most of the dead hardenbergia vine pulled, but had to stop at the roots. The same went for my attempt at removing the grass in the sidewalk strip. My back and neck can no longer handle that kind of heavy digging.

The third project on the list was to remove the depleted lavender (thanks to an early frost) and replace it with Mexican Bush Sage. I went to four nurseries and garden centers over the past two weeks looking for the plants without success.  Central Wholesale Nursery said they were seeing a shortage of plants. At the start of the recession, growers reduced production.  Now that people are buying again, they’re having trouble keeping up with the demand. Nick went back this week and they just got them in!

I’ve been waiting to get the front garden rehabbed before our Little Free Library dedication. Now I can move ahead.

Here’s Nick’s handy work, starting with my attempt at digging up the grass, left, and the completed garden strip, upper right:

Curb garden

Colorful pebbles, stepping-stones and thyme replace the 18-year-old, water-guzzling lawn

I’m trying to reduce my water use and getting rid of the lawn in the sidewalk strip was a first step. We replaced it with tiny pebbles and drought tolerant thyme, capping off several sprinkler heads in the process.

sage replaces lavender

Out with the old, in with the new

wooly thyme

Wooly thyme planted between the rocks

Colored pebbles and slate stepping stones

Colored pebbles and slate stepping-stones

I loved the lavender and was sorry to see it go. That said, here was another opportunity to reduce water usage. The Mexican Bush Sage prefers dry conditions and needs almost no water once established. These plants will fill the space within a season. Meanwhile, I’ll put in some sunflower seeds and mulch and see if I can outsmart the squirrels.

As the daffodils slowly fade, the perennials are taking over.  I’m loving all that color.  Here are a few closeups:

red buckwheat

Red Buckwheat

snapdragons and daffodils

Snapdragons and daffodils


Scabiosa (it’s prettier than it sounds)

I ♥ flowers. Don’t you?

Curb Garden

curb garden

Curb Garden

Much is made of ‘curb appeal’ when you sell a house.  I often notice that a pretty garden appears, followed shortly by a realtor’s sign.  It seems a shame that the homeowners wont’ be staying long enough to appreciate it. Personally, I like the idea of a beautiful curb *all* the time, hence my new and improved curb garden.

The curb garden (take two) is almost ‘done’ or as done as a garden can be.  (You can read about my first attempt here). Jazzy’s day care kids are planting carrot ‘starts’ on Wednesday.  A few of the sweat peas are direct sow, but I’m planting some back-ups in my kitchen window ‘just in case.’  You can’t trust those birds and squirrels. If I have enough extras, I’ll plant them in the raised beds where the pumpkins are dying back.

The snapdragons were bowing their heads on Sunday, but after a long drink they’ve returned to their perky selves.



I replanted a few of the original herbs including mint and lemon thyme. They’re looking as tired as I feel, but hopefully they’ll perk up now that they have nice soil wrapped around their roots and room to grow.

The Curb Garden includes:

1 Achillea millefolium aka yarrow ‘Pink Island

3 Scabiosa ‘Vivid Violet

3 Eriogonum Grande Rubescens ‘Red Buckwheat

3 Penstemon ‘Midnight

4 Lysimachia ‘Goldii‘ trailing golden plant

4 Cilantro

18 Snapdragons in assorted colors

I bought all of these plants at our local Almaden Valley Nursery.  My friend Doug recommended the yarrow for repelling some insect pests while attracting beneficial ones. Yarrow attracts predatory wasps, which drink the nectar and then use insect pests as food for their larvae. It also attracts ladybugs and hoverflies.


The Mighty Yarrow

I learned further that yarrow:

is also planted for improving soil quality. Its leaves are thought to be good fertilizer, and a beneficial additive for compost.

It is also considered directly beneficial to other plants, improving the health of sick plants when grown near them. Source, Wikipedia.

What an amazing plant.

Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the novelty of several new varieties.  The snapdragons are the only ‘garden tried-and-true.’

Further good news: so far no one has asked if we’re moving.

carrot starts

Carrot Starts

Lysimachia 'Goldii'

Lysimachia ‘Goldii’

Scabiosa 'Vivid Violet'

Scabiosa ‘Vivid Violet’

Mellow Yellow, Garden Gold

Yellow is a happy color. It exudes warmth and cheer. In the garden, it weaves its way through most seasons: striking daffodils in the spring, followed by snapdragons and sunflowers in the summer and fall.  As the blooms fade, several trees take over, dropping golden-yellow leaves in.

What’s unusual this year is the number of summer plants still in bloom.  Our deciduous trees have lost most of their leaves in time for winter solstice. I thought the snaps were done until several days of heavy rain.  Now they’re back to in soft, buttery shades of yellow.

A tomato plant still towers in the side yard, sending out tiny yellow blooms. Several pumpkin plants self-seeded and flowered as well.  Even in California, it’s unusual to see pumpkins bloom so late in the year. I’m trying to squelch my fears about global warming.  Perhaps my garden’s micro-climate is simply in sync with the menopausal gardener.

Using yellow in the garden from Sensational Color:

  •  Yellow is considered a warm color in landscape design.
  • Yellow’s appearance in the garden has a stimulating effect.
  •  Yellow flowers come forward in the landscape, helping to make a large garden feel cozier.
  •  Yellow lilies make for a bright, long blooming addition to any garden.
  •  Yellow’s complimentary color in the garden is purple.

The Snapdragons returned after a heavy rain. I didn’t notice the tiny grey spider when I took the picture.

Yellow Wildflower

Yellow Wildflower Still Blooming

Pumpkin Flower

It’s mid-December. Do you know where your pumpkin flowers are?

Fruit-Loop Tree?

Fruit-Loop Tree? Nope! Just three stages of an orange

Side Yard Tomato

Side Yard Tomato

Fruit Cocktail Tree Leaves

Fruit Cocktail Tree Leaves

The Color Yellow:

Container Garden Update: Flowering Pots

Last call for votes

Thank you so much for casting your vote yesterday.  I have a few responses still trickling in so I’ll give it one more day before sharing the results.  If you would like to weigh in, I’m asking readers to help me select one of three photos; what you think best reflects Gardening Nirvana.  I’ll use the most popular photo on my site.  Please leave your vote in the comments section hereThank you!

Container Garden Update

I checked on all my container plants this morning.  We’re expecting temps in the high-nineties today, so the pots are more likely to dry out.  A few of the containers are on a drip system, but most I still water by hand.  It’s a nice way to stay connected.

We have a planter out front with our address etched into the ceramic, a gift from my friend, Marcia.  It’s been home to a pink geranium for several years, but the plant is looking tired and cramped.  I’ll need to find a bigger pot, and a plant to replace it. Oh darn…a trip to the nursery ;-).

See how pretty it looked in April? Not any more.

The plants on deck are looking healthy.  The coleus had a growth spurt, and the trailing flowers surrounding it should have enough weight to start cascading down the side of the pot.


Yellow Snapdragons grow one pot over, but they may not be getting enough sun.  Only one side of the plant is flowering.  They look healthy enough.  I’ll keep an eye on things.

Yellow Snapdragons Peak Over the Back of the Chair

The miniature yellow rose survived the transplant and is recovering from dusty mold.  The pot is finally full enough to keep the squirrels from digging.  Well, mostly.

12-Year-Old Miniature Roses

We have three, over-sized pots grouped together on our back steps.  The pink hydrangea has grown quite tall, no doubt grateful for the extra room in the planter.  I had a pair of fuchsias in there for a few years, but they developed some sort of blight and I couldn’t get them to come back.

Three Flowering Pots: Hydrangea, Sweet Onions, Lambs Ear

Today’s high temps will be good for the tomatoes, berries and pumpkins. Summer solstice is almost upon us!

What’s growing in your planting pots these days?

Blooming Thursday: Blue and Gold

Entry way pots: Snapdragons and ‘Lucia Dark Blue’ lobelia

The garden is awash in cool blues and warm yellows today.  I bought a few annuals to spruce up the entry way, then realized how much blue and gold we already have.

I found some cobalt blue beer bottles in the garage, left over from my husband’s home-brewing days.  If the stars align, the yellow lilies will still bloom.  The bottles will make beautiful bud vases and the yellows will look gorgeous in contrast to the rich blue.  To hedge my bets, I planted Impatiens in one of my recycled soy candle jars.  It’s pretty…but pink.

No worries. Blue and gold remain center stage.  Here’s what’s blooming:


Blue and Gold

‘Moonchimes’ Chinese Lantern

Wildflowers, Re-seeded from Last Summer

Hydrangea: It’s Blue *and* Gold!