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Connecting With Nature

Connecting with nature is something that most gardeners do naturally – at least while working in our gardens.

But how many of us take the time – on a daily basis- to have an interlude with nature in the world outside of our backyards?

I know that I can be as guilty as the next person of rushing through my day. Not stopping to notice the tree on the street ~ with its peeling bark or exposed root system tightly curling around the bottom of its trunk.

connecting with nature

Pacific Ocean – Carmel, California

What if you paused once a day to marvel at nature?

To breathe it into your soul?

To stand quietly and say ‘thank you’?

Do you think it would make a difference in how you feel?

You betcha. Continue Reading →

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Seasonal Bouquet

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I just saw my first Narcissus blooming !  So I put together a seasonal bouquet yesterday in my home office for a client meeting, in hopes that some flowers might distract from the piles of books, files, and clutter all over every surface.

I dashed out to cut a few of these first daffodils, which always seem to arrive before Halloween.  These are ‘Ziva’ paperwhite bulbs, always the first to bloom, needing only to know that it is October to start their growing cycle, and that the California rainy season is about to begin. Continue Reading →

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An appreciation of soil

“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation of goodness.” — The Dalai Lama

Freshly tilled soil

Freshly tilled soil

When Labor Day comes rolling in, regardless of the weather, I think about fall, harvest, and the land. There is a certain sweetness to feeling the rich, crumbly soil in my hands. Knowing that the days of digging in the earth before the cold weather settles in are numbered.

Continue Reading →

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How To Create Privacy In The Garden

How to create privacy in the garden?

There are several options if you have a large area.

But take a narrow garden, add in a small urban space, and you’ve got yourself a challenge.

So is the case with my rooftop garden in Tel Aviv. It has no privacy on 3 sides. The front of the rooftop is abutting the street and looking straight across to another building, all with terraces.

How to deal with it?

First, I had raised containers built the length of the front which is about 20 feet. The width is only 2 and a half feet. Because of this, it’s difficult to plant more than some grasses, or small bushes and trees.

I needed erect ornamental grasses for the back of the border. I was lucky enough to find Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’. Known as switch grass, it’s an erect, silver green grass, known for its showy flowers. They can grow up to 7 feet tall with feather like panicles up to 2 feet tall. The flowers are pinkish red and eventually turn to a silvery gray. In autumn, the plant turns to a golden yellow. When the sun filters through, it takes on an orange hue which is breathtaking.

An introduction from the oh- so- talented Roy Diblik of Northwind Perennial Farm, this native grass is a perennial that just keeps on giving. It’s drought tolerant, deer resistant, does well in sun, can handle clay soil, and is non-invasive.

Panicum virgatum 'Northwind'

Panicum virgatum ‘Northwind’

For the middle of the border, I chose Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’ – Dwarf Fountain Grass. It’s  clump forming, has green foliage, grows up to 40 inches tall when it flowers – July through September – and can handle full sun to light shade.

Although it’s overshadowed by ‘Northwind’, I thought it had some excellent characteristics and would offer a transition to the front of the border plants.

The front of the border – this is where I had a chance to play. My rule of thumb,  especially in a small garden, is to be bold, use several of one variety, and always -repetition, repetition.

I chose to use 4 plants based on their shapes, flower and leaf colors, and textures.

The 3 silver leaved plants, Pelargonium sidoides ‘Burgundy’, a gazanzia variety with pink flowers, and a lavander variety, give the front a cohesive look. Add in Carex ‘Prairie Fire’ with its outstanding brazen color and the sharp edges of the container are immediately softened – draped with a subtle tapestry of shapes and colors.

I have never created a garden where I’ve been totally pleased with the results. But with this one I am. Maybe I’ve become more accepting as I’ve gotten older, maybe it’s because I’m working with such a tight space, or maybe I just love this slice of a garden on a rooftop in the city.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN. How have you created privacy in your garden? If so, how?

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Succulent Plant-Pot Pairings

What comes first for you, the plant or the pot? For me it’s usually the pot. When a friend presents me with a special pot, it’s a given that I’ll plant it with succulents. But I don’t always know what will look good in it. So I ask the pot what it wants. I take it to the nursery, and walk the aisles with it, trying on plants. What I look for are  good scale and proportion; repetitions of shapes, colors or patterns; and (sometimes) an element of whimsy.

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Above: This was a gift from potter Don Hunt, whose work I collect, and who sells at San Diego’s Cactus & Succulent Society shows. Dots in the glaze, and the fact that the pot seemed to be asking for a trailing plant, inspired the selection of string of pearls (Senecio rowleyanus). I added beads for bling. Continue Reading →

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