Sunday, March 31, 2013

Visiting Arboretums

I squeezed in a visit to the LA Botanic Garden during a trip to Southern California this weekend.  The Australian and South African sections loved the mid 70's weather.  Plants were blooming their heads off.

Peacocks have the run of the mill of the place.  They fan themselves out on the lawn and stretch out on shady patios - quite a greeting for people just walking through the entrance.  Thankfully, they're very nice.


The massive waterfall at the edge of Japanese Garden was one of my favorite features.  The drop must have been over 25'.  Ferns, rhododendrons, and maples share space with massive boulders.  Great inspiration for gardening in Northern California.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Scenic Overlook

We reorganized part of the nursery this past winter.  As the taller maples started to leaf out, some of the lower maples at Wildwood Farm started to get restless.

They were used to views of the Valley of the Moon.  Being a scenic corridor and all, one could see [pun intended] how they had grown accustomed to great views.

They demanded that we build them a scenic overlook.  So, we scavenged around for some boulders, flagstone and sand.  After lots of lugging and rolling, it was ready for maples!

The Orangeola, Irish Lace, Omuryama, and Viridis are thrilled to have their views back.  And they're right at eye level for people to stroll by...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Hillside Retreat

This week Studio Wildwood completed a small shelter overlooking the Valley of the Moon for a local writer.

While it looks quite imposing standing below and looking up, the shelter only measures eight feet by feet.   The front of the deck cantilevers over a small rock outcropping covered with ferns and the tin roof shelters occupants.

Native sword ferns, maidenhair ferns, and fritillaria surround the deck, providing a sense of tranquility.  Branches from valley oaks twist around the shelter.

The vantage point is great for getting lost in the view or brainstorming a new plot.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Have you visited your garden lately?

When was it that you took a look at your garden?  You have been living in the same house for five years and leave home in the am and return in the pm.  Five days a week, off on weekends, staying home and doing chores or going out and doing errands.

Open the garage door, get in the car, back out.  Returning to the nest - drive up and use the remote to get into the garage.

Initially the home was exciting.  Everything was new - a new lawn - one token tree put in by the developer - something fast and cheap looking.  The front garden has the feeling of a token entry to Down in the Belley Restaurant, or a McUpchuck - bland and ultra boring.  The lawn keeps growing, week after week it grows.  The plants need the monthly haircut with the latest quickies ultra sonic 120 mph speed trimmer.

The backyard looks like a plan from a company that works fast, gives good deals, and cannot be reached anywhere on the planet.

Wouldn't it be better to have the only garden on the block that is completely different.  You don't have to go to a botanical garden to see plants from around the world.  You have it in your own space.
                                  No foundation planting
                                  No grasses
                                  No fast growing eucalyptus or redwoods as a center piece

A grouping of Japanese Maples - perhaps an Acer palmatum Ukigumo with an A.p. Ojishi and A.p. Garyu

Put in a Cornus nuttallii 'Gold Spot', a repeat bloomer, leaves that are green with splashes of gold thrown in.  Blooms March to April and again in September.  The fall color rivals that of the A.p.

A Sasanqua camelia Yuletide. 
A grouping of Damnacanthus indicus 'variegata'.  That certainly would make the front yard distinct.  The neighbors would complain but now when you drive up the street you can see your garden from miles away.  And now it is a pleasure to work outside - every plant is an individual.  It has a personal history, it has a personal philosophy and gives off an enchanting personality through the seasons.

It is not grass - which keeps its ratty color and then turns brown.

It is not the token cheap box plant that is imported from China.

This is your garden - visit it.  Sit in the peace and tranquility of the plants as they are growing - the first buds of spring - the enthusiasm of youth as the buds mature - the lazy days of summer - nap in the peace of your plants.  Settle into the arrival of colder times - the comfort of inside the home as you peer at the skeletons and inner figures of plants from around the world.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A Blank Canvas

Today, several plein air painters set up their easels at Wildwood Farm.  They pointed themselves towards various views of the Valley of the Moon.  One juxtaposed the distinct lines of vineyards with the rolling hills, another liked the twisting turning branches of old growth Oak trees.

The creative license to embellish, add colors, and move entire mountains seemed to be the fun part.  It's much like designing a garden.  Transformation can be the sum of many small changes or one large swoop of a shovel. 

Standing back and admiring the view is an integral part of painting and design.  Visualizing, contemplation, and rest always prove to key parts of design.  The canvas fills up quickly if we rush.  Enjoy the process, whether you have a brush in hand or a spade!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dogs like Dogwoods

On Saturday, Sara Monte gave a presentation to 20 people about Dogwoods.

Half the presentation was a PowerPoint slide show under Wildwood Farm's pavilion.  Sara touched on the different bloom times of Eastern U.S. trees, Western U.S. trees, and Asian dogwoods plus fall color.  The photos were all taken just last year in Wildwood's dogwood collection.

The group also toured the nursery and gardens to look at the growth patterns of large plants and different varieties.  Lola, the poodle, wagged the whole time.  Luckily, she knew not to bark at the dogwoods!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Class in Session


On Sunday, Wildwood Farm, had its first class of 2013.  Ten people signed up for the Introduction to Pruning course.  The one hour class covered the basics of pruning, from making proper cuts to assessing the structure of a tree.

Everyone took lots of notes and left with a tree they shaped during the class.  We will teach two more classes in March on pruning.  We also lead an Introduction to Gardening with Dogwood course on two upcoming Saturdays. 

All our classes are outdoors amongst the plants and are truly hands on learning experiences for plant lovers of all abilities. 
Dust off your trowels and swing by for the next class.