Soil here is varied. I've
got areas of beautiful sandy loam, areas with gooey, gummy clay,
and areas that are stupidly rocky (only stupid if you try to
dig!).There are several springs in the hills behind the house.
The house is in a big
clearing in a mixed forest of Canyon Oaks, Douglas Firs, Madrone,
Tan Oaks, California Bay, Big Leaf Maples, and Redwoods.
With sudden oak death
there are very few Tan Oaks remaining, and although the mortality
of he oaks has slowed, I've got three or four near the house
that are recently showing decline.
| The garden path looking
towards the house; iris, heuchera, clematis
Gardening here is very
different from my last home in Los Altos. As the property is
in a canyon, the heat builds in the summer, but we're colder
(and wetter) in the winter than I ever was on the San Francisco
Peninsula. Fungal diseases are much more prevalent. I have blackspot
on roses I considered bombproof before. Chronic leafspot on Pittosporums,
Luma, and Bearded Iris have made fungicides my friend.
After a few years of being
a Roundup junkie, I made friends with a ocal tree guy, who brings
me loads of chips several times a year. I find the chips pretty
effective in greatly reducing the weeds. Of course the moles
seem to really like it. They may not eat plants, but they will
circle a young perennial so it's sitting in an air pocket that
carries water down the tunnel. Speaking of mammals, I finally
got a solid deer fence up a few years ago. They may be lovely
to look at, but they will take that 15 gal. Mutabilis rose right
down to nubs in one night.
So, I battle diseases,
critters, and an occasional tractor incident (ahem), but I look
around and realize I've been busy planting the last ten years.
I've added as many
trees to the orchard as have died (apricots and cherries all
die). There are mostly apples and pears, but also my favorite
pluots, a couple of large kiwis, a blueberry hedge, table grapes,
a lovely prune, and some roses-much to the horror of one mountain
guy who thought roses didn't belong in an orchard (get over it
There's a vegetable patch
next to the orchard, but I'm getting lazy these days. I've got
a bed of asparagus, I plant tomatoes and bean, there's swiss
chard that's naturalized, and I'm a sucker for sunflowers. I
get a kick watching the birds harvest the seeds.
| Daffodils, "Ice
Follies" by the orchard fence
The ornamental gardens
would reveal that I'm primarily a woody plant person.
The main reason I wanted
property was to be able to grow all the trees I wanted. I've
not reached my goal yet, but I'd say I'm most fond of my Magnolia
denudata and Cupressus cashmeriana. Crabapples do well, maples
I like plants with fragrance
(Chimonanthus, Osmanthus, Jasmines, Philadelphus, Roses); plants
with variegated and colored foliage (a collection of Pittosporum),
and plants with unusual forms
(fastigiate, contorted, weeping).
Early fall. Gingko, Canna 'Tropicana',
Dahlia, Heuchera, Carex, Spirea, Canyon Oak in the background
And yes, there are perennials,
lots of bearded Iris, Daylliies, Asters.. anything that catches
my fancy and fits the space.
But I think the plants
I cherish most, are those I got from friends.... the climbing
Iceberg rose from Alicin Rauzin; the Salvias from Betsy Clebsch;
a double Wisteria from Ed Carmen, and of course the many starts
I got from the generous donations to the Western Hort raffle
tables through the years.