Monday, November 11, 2019

Gardening Teamwork

What do you get when a lawyer, world traveler, plantsman, and surf photographer walk into a garden?  A fountain.  No joke.  Here's how it unfolds.

During our 4th Annual Garden Party, a husband [lawyer] and wife [world traveler] stated their goal of planning a garden next to their new barn. They liked using plants from Wildwood within the limitations of zero shade and heavy deer traffic.  Before they started planting, they wanted to build a  fountain.  Did we have any ideas?

I suggested two local statuary stores. In my mind, the word fountain conjures up images of tall, formal, tiered, classic water features found in European gardens.  They frowned, mumbled and the wife asked about something a little more in tune with a California aesthetic.  I asked for an example and the husband pointed out a small water feature we have at Wildwood.  Defining words are an important part of establishing a concept.

The small water feature gets its name from the 300lb centerpiece.  I harvested this rock from the fields around the nursery and drilled a 5/8" hole in the center.  Jon [the surf photographer] stretched out a pond liner and we lowered the rock onto blocks.  Jon used more blocks to create a triangular wall, filled it with water, and plugged in a pump that spills water over the sides of the centerpiece.  The level of the rock is such that half the rock is wet and half is dry.  The Yin Yang Fountain.  Trust a surf photographer to know water.

This story motivated the lawyer to get on his tractor and harvest rocks from his hillside.  I visited the property for a rock consultation.  Of course, they wanted a bigger fountain than the Ying Yang Fountain.  They wanted to drill vertically through 36" rocks to create a taller spillover effect.  That would be easy for Rio Tinto to do at one of their mines but not in a backyard.  The lawyer suggested sandwiching a pipe between two matching rocks to create an illusion.

However, rocks don't match. If you find two twin rocks, buy a lottery ticket.  The final centerpiece is the result of lots of cutting and underwater blocking to create something that approximates a natural look.  There are actually five rocks that make up a six foot wide and four foot tall centerpiece.  Water plants complete the disguise.

The wife decided an irregular shaped exterior wall would look better than a formal square or oval.  Containing water is tricky because it looks for weak spots.  Framing and fortifying an organic edge requires the flexibility of cinder blocks and bender board to hold concrete.  The surf photographer created a half oval, concave teardrop shaped wall that is pure genius.

The world traveler found a reddish brown thin flagstone that matches the rock from their property.   The flagstone cap is the only flat linear surface on the entire fountain.  It simultaneously frames the centerpiece and the dry stack rock wall while paralleling the water level.

The fountain could stand on its own with no embellishment.  Plants are really the feather in the cap for the whole project.  A tall thin papyrus, wide leafed Tropicanna Canna, and low grasses break up some of the 'weight' of all the stone.  They play nicely with the plants that are outside the fountain.

Teamwork is like gardening.  It's not what plants one decides to grow.  It is the combination of plants that creates a garden. A lawyer, world traveler, surf photographer, and plantsman make a pretty cool combination.


Monday, October 21, 2019

When Power's Out, Get Out[side]

What do you do on a beautiful fall day in Sonoma when there's a light breeze and temps are in the high 70s?

If you're PG&E, you turn off the power.

If you're a gardener, you go outside.

Plants love this time of year.  The soil's still warm and the sun is less intense so a little irrigation does wonders.  Puttering around and tending to your plants is very relaxing.  Maybe you'll make a plan for some changes in 2020!

Monday, September 16, 2019

4th Annual Garden Party

Thank you to everyone who came to our party on Saturday!

The mercury was a bit higher than expected but we had plenty of ice cold drinks and shade for people to cool off in.  Lots of great hits from the 70's and 80's on the turntables too.

Many plants went to new homes!

30% off plants is ongoing...

Monday, September 9, 2019

Planning A Party

Getting the party started requires a little bit of hype.  Daya Ceglia whipped up a snazzy poster to send to friends of Wildwood.  For the past two weeks they've appeared on windows, light posts, and in newsprint.

Building the playlist is another preparty must.  Expect vinyl from the 70's and 80's with some serious wattage moving the airwaves.  We're democratizing the dj responsibilities by letting partygoers select records.

We're adding seating areas and benches to enjoy refreshments on day forecast to hit the low 90s.  The spaces are a mix of old growth log benches and more ergonomic chairs.

Oh, be on the look out for butterflies!

Monday, August 12, 2019

Nursery Entrance

Last year, we built a ranch style fence at the entrance to the nursery on highway 12.  It's actually a dark purple ranch style fence.  The color works well with the Mystic Spires Sage and red Guara lindheimeri planted nearby.

Now there are two new additions:  oversized monarch butterflies.  They are Benjamin Moore's Citrus Orange so they are quite bright as well.

Soon there will be dark purple Crape Myrtles along the fence line.  With pink flowers.  Gardening is all about experimenting, right?

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Behind The Birth Of Butterflies

Primed butterflies before patterns
The larger than life butterflies at Wildwood are the product of many attempts to shape the liveliest look-a-like.

Cutting out a foam board wing template took several attempts.  Tracing the outline onto wood is fairly quick.  Using a jigsaw to cut away the shape takes some patience.

The most difficult part is hand sketching the colorful wing patterns.  We use monarchs as inspiration.

Perhaps the easiest way to add butterflies is to plant flowers.  Wildwood now has a selection of butterfly friendly plants.  These plants have been known to attract humans too.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Observation Post

Paying attention is the most important part of gardening.

Sometimes it helps to take a fresh look at a space.  That can mean taking [a short] time off or viewing from a different angle.  This photo is from high up in the century old oak in the middle of the nursery.  The patchwork of greens, yellows, reds and whites comes to life in the dappled sunlight.

You can see there's plenty to prune, repot, and stake.  Happy gardening this spring!