Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Planting a Bird Garden

For those of you have might have missed it, here is a link to the 4/22/11 feature story I did on planting a bird garden. It appeared in the Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times & San Jose Mercury News. It covers all aspects of creating a welcoming environment for local birds. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring photos

Here are the first of the spring 2011 photos from my garden. I'm at that transition from late winter to spring so there's some of each represented in these photos.
Top line -- Aquilegia Leprechaun Gold; Leucospermum 'Veldfire'
2nd line -- Linaria 'Flamenco'; Asphodelus lutea
3rd line -- Azalea Exbury hybrid; Clematis niobe
4th line -- Five finger fern; Viburnum plicatum;
5th line -- Geranium maderense; Verticordia plumosa
6th line -- Arisaema ringens; Iris pseudacorus
Bottom line -- Borage with bumblebee

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Three Tips to a Rewarding Garden

It's no great secret that gardening can be both a frustrating and very rewarding experience. We're never going to be free of garden pests and diseases entirely, nor is every plant going to maximize its potential, but there are things we can do to create a more satisfying gardening experience. So, here is one gardener's tips for a more joyous garden.
1. To paraphrase the real estate business, the three most important elements of a successful garden are: soil, soil, soil. I know, not exactly rocket science, this observation, but the truth is that nothing improves the quality and results of your flowers (or veggies) than fertile, nutritious soil. For those of us planting flower gardens, it is especially important to start with liberally amended soil as, with the exception of beds that only contain annuals, you will not be able to turn over that soil next year, as you would with veggies. True, you can top dress, but starting with nutritious soil when planting a new bed is vitally important. And of course don't forget to fertilize your plants on a regular basis. That was my new year's resolution in 2009 and it made a huge difference in my flower garden.
2. Plant flowers that you love. This may seem like an obvious statement but sometimes we are slaves to what we see in gardening magazines, be that a "look" or a formula for planting. You do of course want to take into account common sense gardening principles but I'm of the school that believes you should buy flowers that bring you happiness and not be so concerned that it fits into some preordained gardening scheme. It's funny because as a nurseryman I see gardeners struggling with this conflict -- what I should plant vs what I want to plant. Listen to your heart.
3. Bring "yourself" into your garden. The more you bring of yourself into your garden, the more you personalize it, give it character, make it unique and noteworthy. This encompasses a variety of personal touches, including bringing art into the garden, whimsical items, unusual plants, creating nooks in your garden that have their own character, anything that makes your garden uniquely yours. I have done all of these at one point or another in my garden, in some ways blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors. Not only does this create a unique garden but it makes the garden more inviting -- to you and your fiends. And don't be afraid to keep trying new things or changing out a look after a time. Gardens are always in flux.
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