Maintenance Information

If you are searching for particular maintenance information, please see the blogs for the months that correspond to the time frame that you are searching. Also check the labels of the blogs (at the base of the blog page) for blog subjects that might be helpful.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Real Geranium

 It can be quite confusing learning about plants. The same plant can have multiple common names plus a botanical name which can change as plants are reclassified.
Case in point is the Geranium. Most often when folks hear the name Geranium they think of Grandma's old raggedy plants with bright colored flowers on a leggy plant. Actually those plants are Pelargoniums also called Martha Washington pelargoniums.
The real, honest to god Geraniums are low growing border perennials with lovely pastel flowers, finely divided leaves and delicate texture.


 Known as Hardy Geraniums these tough perennials are great as low care, moderate water edging plants.  They bloom heavily in the spring and early summer.  Trim back flowers and some of the foliage after the bloom cycle to encourage new growth and flowers. In late winter prune back close to the base of the plant to allow spring growth. Fertilize twice per year with slow release fertilizer or organic fertilizer in February and July.
Divide every 3-5 years as the plants get thin, don't bloom as much and get dead sections.
Pretty hybrid of Geranium incanum. Check local nurseries for hybrids in spring.
There are some good mail order sources for Geraniums as well as specialty nurseries.
Check the web for options. 


Hardy geraniums have the common name- Cranesbill. The seed pods have the look of a birds beak.
The native species of geranium can be weedy.
Hybrids, large flowered forms are hardy to heat and cold. They can tolerate sun and light shade.
Good drainage is a plus but not a must.



Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Water Conservation in the Garden

A Dry Winter on the San Francisco Peninsula


I went out to a job the other day to consult. The job was installed last year.  It was obvious that the irrigation was turned off and that the plants were stressed and some were even on the verge of dying.
Kind of an unusual problem to have in the middle of winter!

Well folks turn back on the irrigation because it hasn't rained in 2 months.  Especially at risk are plants under overhangs and on the south and west sides of the home.

Looks like we are going into a drought cycle so here are a few tips for saving water in the landscape.

- Use a thick mulch layer around plants to retain moisture. Be sure and pull mulch away from the plant crowns.

- Established shrubs don't need much water. Soak deeply twice a week in the warm weather.

- Lawns are shallowly rooted. Water 3 times a week for 10-12 minutes.
Longer times aren't usually needed.

- Water in the early mornings to avoid evaporation and for the water to soak in.

- Pots need to be watered very often. Consider skipping using potted plants in the drought or planting existing potted plants in the garden. (without the pot)

- Replace lawns with mulch and low water requiring plants like those
shown here. Even replacing a percentage of the lawn will help with water conservation and
will be healthier for the environment. Lawn uses tons of water,
needs a lot of care and is not very interactive with the environment.

- Avoid annuals and moisture loving, shallowly rooted plants during the
drought. Use scarce water resources to maintain the trees and shrubs in your garden.
Be sure and aid trees by giving deep watering twice per month in
the warm seasons. Percolate the water out through a slow running hose in 5-6 locations
below the drip line (edge of the foliage) of the trees.
Even the native trees are looking stressed the last few years. 
This type of stress can lead to disease and pest problems and the decline
of the trees.

- Check irrigation for leaks, over spray and excessive run times.
Change spray heads to low gallonage type. Be aware of weather patterns and use irrigation for the most needed periods.

I will continue to post tips and suggestions on water saving, low water requiring plants and drought issues as things progress.

Pictures here  show the succulent version of senecio, penstemon and a nice mix of low water plants- lavender, zauchneria, sedums, euphorbia and chocolate cosmos.




Saturday, January 4, 2014

New Year Wishes 2014

 Happy New Year to you all!

I hope 2014 will be a wonderful, healthy and prosperous year for you and your family.
I am glad to say that 2013 was a much better business year for me and that we had lots of memorable family moments......................
 I got to zoom around with Izzy, my grand-daughter, who is almost 3 years old now
 Help Carolyn, my youngest daughter, prepare for her wedding- lots of silk flowers!

She is a zookeeper and I was able to go out and visit her at the Little Rock Zoo and see the many animals she cared for there. She is back in the bay area working at the SF Zoo- yay! Now I can see her more often!
 She picked some lovely wedding colors!
  I attended the wedding of a family friend in a gorgeous Rose Garden in Walnut Creek- the day after my daughters wedding! Wow.
Spent time camping and flew kites in Big Sur and Carmel with Christine, my older daughter and her family. Most especially Izzy!

 And of course I spent many, many, many hours designing beautiful gardens, helping homeowners and contractors plus driving 20,000 miles total for work.
It will take many years to repair the ravages of the recession but I am still at the drafting board creating lovely environments to draw people outdoors and enhance their lives.

 Beautiful, logical, useful and designed to fit the family my gardens have blossomed over the last 29 years making my life and the lives of my clients interactive with the outdoor world. Its a wonderful legacy and lovely to see the gardens mature and carry on over many decades.
 It is a joy to see the world becoming more thoughtful to the environmental impact of our dwellings, habits and actions. This is a picture of a living roof at the LA zoo- pretty isn't it?
The girls got me an Ipad air for Christmas so now I am being launched into warp drive. I am creating fabulous new albums of pictures to show clients materials and plants. I am so excited and my old body appreciates the lightweight version of my previous rolling library of 20 pound books (4 of them) in a giant suitcase.

So we rocket into 2014- maybe on this giant grasshopper! Make merry and stay well and don't forget to smell the flowers, herbs and aromas of the garden.