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    Members and their Gardens


Sherry has a large piece of land in the Santa Cruz mountains above Soquel. She started the garden in 1997. She has both clay and sandy loam. Her garden lies in Sunset zone 15 and is in a cold air basin.

Photographs by Sherry Austin


   Gate by Sherry's friend Kirk McNeil of Freedom Forge.
Free floating rock columns by Michael Eckerman.
       Detail of dragonfly on gate

In her own words;


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 (Phythoptheraramorum),
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 buddy!).

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 don't (verticillium).

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.



   In addition to her gardening Sherry is also an accomplished musician .
   Listen to Sherry Austin and her group on her site at My



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