Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

Orchard Inspiration

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Next up on my agenda is to start planning the orchard we want to put in where there once was a chain link fenced horse turnout.  It is surrounded on two sides by hedges and borders the road off to the left of the house.  We began by having the chain link removed.   There was a time when the weed infested area appeared to perhaps belong to a neighbor.  With the fence down and a clear view of it from the driveway there is no denying that it is indeed OUR weed infested area.  Here is some inspiration from my folder of saved images.

I envision pathways of gravel or decomposed granite edged in sandstone to match the driveway.

Maybe with boxwood edging like the rose garden and a nice big arbor at the end for future photo opportunities.  Grass pathways would require too much water and maintenance although they are pretty.

Maybe if I am up to the challenge, a clipped parterre.

 I definitely want a water feature.  Kirk tends to like something much bigger and splashier, but I love this one.

Maybe with some built-in seating.  The boys want a sand volleyball court.  I would love a bocce court.  Maybe enough room for tables to be set for feast in the one day verdant orchard.

We inherited a melange of fruit trees spread throughout the garden at the Shack.  A fig tree produced enough fruit for me to pick and eat while gardening.  There were about a dozen walnuts, two apples, a handful of peaches and plums, enough avocados for the dog, the occasional lemon and a few small bitter Valencia oranges.  A small tangerine tree is laden with ripening fruit this year.  I am not quite sure if the trees are past their prime or in need of care.

We all miss the orchard we left behind in Ojai.  So many oranges that Spencer’s weekly job was composting fallen fruit.  Bumper crops of juicy apricots, I still have jam from the spoils.  Plums in excess.  The lemon tree just outside of our front door produced gallons of lemonade.  The fig I planted that just began producing a nice crop.  The Improved Meyer Lemon that yielded fruit to add just the right finishing touch to countless dishes.  I swoon when recalling the orange blossoms in spring.

I better get to work laying out the orchard so that I can take advantage of the bare root trees about to appear in nurseries.  The sooner they get planted, the sooner we can begin making jam and enjoying fresh fruit.


I have saved the above pictures to my compute so long ago that I no longer know who to credit.  Uh oh.

Roses, Roses, Roses

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

So this is the story of the varieties that are beginning to fill the rose garden ! I have a particular affinity for English Garden Roses. They were created by cross-breeding Old Garden Roses with modern hybrid teas and floribundas by David Austin in the 1960′s. They have a loose old-fashioned look with a fragrance that is unbelievable. Because I am really a lazy gardener, they also thrive despite my neglect by not spraying or rarely fertilizing. Those that don’t respond to my meager care are root pruned (I get rid of them). In the garden, their bushy shape is pleasing even without blooms. My gardens have always been predominately filled with these roses. I once had a strict, no pink policy, but since these are in a designated rose garden, I am including some of those beautiful pinks I had previously passed up.

I began by buying one lonely English Garden Rose, Golden Celebration, last spring and left it to languish in the pot until very recently. It is by far my favorite rose, ever. It has giant, cupped blooms of a deep yellow with a very strong scent. The shrub is a nice big rounded bush that looks good even without flowers. It never was bothered by pests in Ojai. Let’s hope it does as well here.

I then went to Green Thumb nursery in Ventura and was lucky enough to find five sad-looking English roses on clearance: Pat Austin is an orange blend; Jubilee Celebration is a large salmon, pink; Heritage is a clear, soft pink; Janet is a pink flushed with soft yellow; and Claire Austin is a pale yellow fading to cream. Some have already flowered after being happily put into the earth.

Since I didn’t have much luck finding more English roses at the nurseries in town, I decided to head out to Otto and Sons Nursery in Fillmore. Their website says that they “are known throughout this region for our immense selection of roses with over 120,000 plants and just north of 800 varieties each year.” They carry other plants, but I usually don’t have extra room for much else after I make the hour drive to get there, I just want ROSES. They have 67 English Garden Roses pictured on their website. In October their roses are 40% off so not everything was still in stock, but they still had plenty.


After walking around in circles for some time I ended up with six to add to my collection: Munstead Wood is a deep crimson; Teasing Georgia is a large yellow; Grace is a pure apricot; and Sophy’s Rose is a light crimson. I also picked up two 36 inch Gourmet Popcorn tree roses for the back of the garden. Although they aren’t English they are very free-flowering and will add continual color at eye level.

Of course there were some that I wish I had gotten, like Tea Clipper, and some that I hope will be in stock next year. I have room to add more in the future, but for now I…


p.s. Otto and Sons Nursery has Rose Days in the spring. Seeing all of those roses in bloom would make anyone love any rose. Mark your calendar.

Rose Garden

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

I have always planted roses at our houses.  In the past I have had them running throughout our borders, nearly a hundred at our Ojai home.  Many years ago I developed a love of the David Austin English roses.  They have the most gloriously fragrant blooms on big bushy plants.  I am essentially a lazy gardener and thus don’t spray or fertilize much.  I have found that these roses respond well to my neglect.  I enjoy creating arrangements from the garden and nothing beats the addition of garden roses.

When we bought our new home, Kirk thought a tropical garden would be more appropriate than the wildly crowded cottage style plantings we had before.  I have made an effort to include palms and phormiums around the house, but decided to plant a dedicated rose garden in a semi-circular bed in full sun at the front of our property.

First on the agenda was having the too narrow driveway widened into the area that would become the rose garden.  The addition of just four feet made it possible for two cars to squeeze through the drive and prevented the perpetual traffic jams we had been experiencing.  There were deteriorating railroad-tie borders along the gravel drive which we planned to replace with rock.   In Ojai we had rock-work done using the numberous boulders found right on our property.  Unfortunately, we had no such windfall in Santa Barbara and had to purchase a truckload of boulders to create the rock curbing.  PVC piping was used to lay out the gentle curve that would become the curb.

From enormous boulders, rock curbing was created to hold the gravel drive in place.  The rose garden was cleared and leveled to prepare for the layout.


 Gravel was brought in to top-dress the existing gravel.  PVC piping was again used to begin laying out the pathways and rose beds following the line of the curbing with a central walkway bisecting the semi-circle.

Pathways within the garden were created by installing a heavy, man-made bender board, then leveling with road base and finally top-dressed  with decomposed granite.

I planted over one hundred, one gallon boxwood as edging around all of the pathways.  Irrigation was added to make life simpler.  You can see that the dog has already run over a few of the young plants.  Hopefully, as they grow into a solid hedge he will politely go around them as he chases those passing by.

For my birthday last summer I got this beautiful water fountain.  It was placed at the intersection of the pathways.  Once it is up and running the buried water basin will be covered and hidden with smooth pebbles.  The area surrounding the fountain was made slightly larger by rounding out the pathway corners.

A rose arbor and bench were added to the end of the bisecting walkway.   I chose a wide arbor to be covered by a rose I brought from Ojai.  Sadly, it suffered a bit waiting to be planted.  Hopefully, it will recover in the spring.  The mosaic bench was an auction purchase created by the students at Monica Ros School where I taught for many years.  It serves as a gentle reminder of the wonderful place that provided my children with an incredible education and me with colleagues that have become dear friends.

After many months, here is the rose garden nearly finished.   Now the fun part can begin…planting roses.  I think another post is in order to chronicle the rose selections.  We see the garden as we drive in and out every day as well as from the living room, dining room and kitchen in the house.  I am so pleased with how it has turned out that I keep walking the short paths.  Silly, I know, but I can’t help myself.