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    Members and their Gardens


Glenda planted her Spring meadow garden in Palo Alto on heavy adobe soil .

Photographs by Glenda Jones

A VISUAL TREAT FROM THE STREET; a California spring meadow

   The meadow area in front of the house
     The garden in full bloom

In her own words;


The California native section of my garden began in 1990, after we moved into the McKay (Eichler-style) house, complete with lawn, diseased pyracanthas, Algerian ivy, brick-bordered beds, and two concrete patios.

We kept the Magnolia soulangeana, the Callistemon citrinus, repruned to transform it from a rectangular hedge into a small tree.

We kept the Meyer lemon and the Pittosporum tobira.

It is a small garden; the lot is 10,500 sq. ft.

Located in Midtown, Palo Alto, we have the heavy adobe soil that prevails in these parts.

I knew I wanted a low water usage garden and California natives, although not exclusively.

Eighteen years ago I knew less about Mediterranian climate and plants, and our natives were harder to come by.

 The meadow in early spring    

I started out by killing, then removing the lawn, knocking down most of the brick barriers, although some were saved as a memory of the original garden. Someone put a lot of heart and soul into those brick borders. We removed some concrete, widening the beds and altering the shape of the patios. Pieces of that concrete serve as stepping stones today.

I had truckloads of planting soil brought in to be integrated into the hard packed old lawn area. This did loosen things up a bit, and I began to plant willy-nilly plants that I liked and wanted to experiment with.

One of the earliest was a Fremontadendron californica, which dominates our cul-de-sac in the spring. Ribes sanguineum, Ribes malvaceum, Aesculus california (Calif. Buckeye) and two Ceanothus 'Concha' were the earliest big plants to be established.


Over the years the leaf drop and additional mulching has enhanced the soil. It is still our basic adobe clay, but has naturalized to resemble soil you would find in the chapparal hills around us.

At first there was absolutely no irrigation installed. Whatever didn't survive, didn't belong there.

But over the years I have added a little drip to the Zaushnerias, who do like some moisture in the summer.

  Front area early spring.    

Two years ago the two Ceanothus 'Concha' came to the end of their natural lives.

When I removed them, their now open space offered an opportunity for many other plants already struggling in their shade, but also a new opportunity for a wildflower meadow.

  Front area later in the spring. Fremontadendron on the right


This area is outside the fence and is not a large space, so it is a small "meadow" but it is full of naturalizing plants like
Eschscholzia california
E.c. maritima
E.c. 'Mahogany Red
and one Calif. poppy that is pale yellow.

Other annuals: Layia platyglossa (Tidy Tips)
Phacelia tanacetifolia (Tansy Phacelia)
Lupinus aboreus
L. albifrons
L. polyphyllus
Gilia capitata (Dune Gilia)
Gilia tricolor
Nemophilia menenzii (Baby Blue Eyes)
Clarkia unguiculata
and other species of Clarkias are firmly entrenched and self-sow and spread each year.

There are also native perennials, small shrubs, grasses and trees.

  A mixture of blooms    

     A burst of color



 Nemophilia menenzii (Baby Blue Eyes)

  I haven't planted "willy-nilly" for a long time, having learned much about garden design and plant compatibility.


  As I write this in July, the space that was so colorful in the spring now has a typical "at rest" look of a California garden in summer.
   Glenda -July, 2008






Western Horticulture Society
PO Box 166, Mountain View, CA 94042
(650) 948-4614 or (650) 941-6136