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Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Garden for the nose and the eyes

Some gardens delight both the eyes and the nose

This article, from the Christian Science Monitor, points up the fact that gardens should smell nice, as well as look nice.

As I mentioned earlier this week, lavender is going to become much more prominant in our front garden over the coming year. In the back garden, I have 2 gardenia bushes, one old and one new. I am entranced with the smell whenever they are in bloom. I don't remember this smell from when I was growing up, but somewhere in my life it made an impression on my senses. I always get a sense of well-being when the flood of gardenia scent envelopes me.

If your garden looks good, but smells of nothing more than mown grass, maybe you should look into a few scent-ual items to add a new dimension.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Landscape Lights

I am sooooooo tired of dealing with my landscape lights in the front garden. On a regular basis the fixtures stop conducting. This leads me to fiddle and poke and prod until I finally get them all working again.

These lights were a CostCo special, so I can't compain too much about price, but my aggravation level rises every time I have to repair them. Since the problem appears to be with the fixtures, not the main wiring or the transformer, I am wondering if I can just replace the fixtures with some new ones. A quick trip to the home store should sort that out, as soon as I find a few minutes to get there.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

For the stylish garden...

For those who require a bit more "style" in their garden lighting, designer Alain Monnens has created the "Flower"

This would fit in nicely with the more modern garden styles while still being very organic in thier design.

Discovered on MoCoLoco

Rose coming back/Lavender moving in

After we got some of our irrigation issues resolved, at least temporarily, the Bewitched roses in the front garden are showing signs of life again. I hadn't realized how little water they were getting. I am now seeing new leaf growth and several of them have burst into bloom. It is good to see things come back after they struggled so much.

I think I am seeing a de facto migration of the front garden from azaleas to lavendar. Rosanne has been in the mood for lavender since we visited the Lavender Fields last year. There are currently 4 plants in the ground and we see lots of opportunities to add even more.

The juniper bushes that were interplanted with the azaleas have died out over the years, leaving holes in the once geometric design. In the hardest hit beds, we are slowly removing/tranplanting the azaleas elsewhere and converting them to geometric lavender beds.

I like lavender, too, so I am in total agreement on the change. It offers a plan that I had not been able to develop on my own. Funny how you sort of fall into things in your garden sometimes.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Email any entry to a friend

You may have noticed the little Envelope graphics near the bottom-right of each new post.

Clicking here allows you to email that post to yoru friends in 2 simple steps.

Try it out!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Fine Gardening Latin Pronunciation Guide

Fine Gardening Pronunciation Guide

I can usually get close on Latin pronunciations, but sometimes I am waaaaaay off. This handy web page looks like a great place to brush up, though. While it certainly isn't an exhaustive list, it should provide enough info to keep you busy for a while. It even includes audio files, so you can hear how the names sound.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Aggressive Gardening

We visited the Getty Center on Sunday as we regularly do. One of the things that strikes me is the agressive nature of their gardening. While the beautiful gardens have naturalized somewhat, they are scrupulously maintained in the style of their design. This can sometime lead to odd effects for regular visitors.

I am searching my photo archive for some past pictures, but words will have to suffice for now. In one area, to the right of the main plaza, there is a fountain that bubbles into a channel and this channel flows into an open hole that is the top of another fountains 10-20 feet below in the garden. When first opened, this channel was shaded by a series of pepper trees. Over the years, these trees had become fairly large. Imagine my surprise when I found all of these trees gone and replaced with small, willow-like trees. The replacment had been done in such a fashion that it appeared that those trees had been there all along. There was no sign of turned earth or other disruptions, just new trees.

I have seen this same effect in the main garden itself. Entire beds are replanted. thinned or moved, returning the garden to almost its original state. While I can see a variety of reasons for the maintenance of the gardens, it does strike an odd tone for those of us who live nearby and visit frequently.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Sunset: Plant Trading Party

Today's email from Sunset Magazine recommends an interesting idea. Get your gardening friends together and have a plant trading party.

You could pot up your extra plants, give bare bulbs or rhizomes or even just have cutting which could be started by your friends. Whatever the method, it can help all your gardens grow using the bounty of your friend's gardens.

Add a potluck lunch to the festivities and you have the makings of a true "Garden Party".

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Starbucks for compost

I finally took the time to pick up a bag of Starbucks Coffee grounds the other day, as I was leaving our local store. A bit of reading said that the grounds are considered “green stuff” when it comes to composting. Since I am sorely lacking in “green stuff” and have a abundance of “brown”, like leaves and such, I am going to start adding a bag of Starbucks on a regular basis. We already dump all our coffee grounds (which is significant) into the compost, but I figure this might help to give it a little kick.

Our compost bin is a wooden packing crate that enclosed a clawfoot tub we purchased years ago. It is just now becoming really useful as a compost bin. The bottom slats finally rotted away from the sides, so now I can raise the side slats above the ground and allow the finished compost to simply ooze out of the sides. I used to have to pull back the top layer and dig out the compost whenever I wanted some, in the past, but this change makes it much easier to use.

More irrigation issues

I took some time to further inspect my watering system, after the breakdowns of the last several weeks. It seems that that soaker hoses definitely have a length limit. I found that 2 areas of the garden weren’t getting nearly enough water, as the water pressure wasn’t high enough to push the water all the way to the end of the soaker hose run. Bummer. I wondered why those roses looked a little peaked.

I have temporarily remedied the problem, but need to come up with a permanent solution. It will probably mean adding a new spigot somewhere closer to these areas, so that they have their own water supply and a certain level of water pressure.

As if that wasn’t enough, one of the old sprinkler heads in the front yard decided to fail this week. This old system, originally designed for a lawn has 1-2 foot riser pipes on each sprinkler to reach above the azalea planting that was placed by the previous owners. It has been relatively trouble-free over the last 8 years, but time it taking its toll. One of the “T” joints beneath a sprinkler decided to crack and drop a big chunk out of one side. Of course, this caused a big leak and makes ½ of the sprinklers unusable until we get it repaired.

If the system was PVC pipe, I would have no problem fixing it myself, but it is all old, galvanized piping. This means I will need to find someone who can cut the old pipe, remove the “T”, rethread the existing pipe and re-attach the system. I had to have this down several years ago, when I put my shovel through a hidden sprinkler line in the backyard. It will probably end up costing over $100 in the end.


Saturday, August 14, 2004

Gathering Seed

As we start to wind down the summer months, the Telegraph in the UK has a nice article on gathering seed for next year's garden. Propagating cuttings and gathering seed is one of the cheapest ways to build up your garden and requires mainly just your own time and energy. Frugal gardeners would be well-advised to cut and gather as much as possible before Fall arrives.

The sound of snap, crackle and pop - from gardening.telegraph.co.uk

In a previous AGN entry, I talked about propagating and pointed to some of my previous AGN columns for further information.

Additionally, here is a great book to teach you everything you ever wanted to know about plant propagation.

Making More Plants: The Science, Art and Joy of Propagation by Ken Druse

Friday, August 13, 2004

Old Farmer's Almanac has RSS Feeds

For those of you who want to get your old-fashioned, country-syle information in a new-fangled, high-tech format, Vapid.com points out that the Old Farmer's Almanac now has daily RSS feeds for its pithy information.

Check out the links below for more information.

The Old Farmers Syndication Page
The Old Farmer's Almanac - RSS Feeds I love these feeds. They're in my "must reads" folder in my news reader. The gardening feed isn't up my alley but the rest of them are fun while sipping your coffee getting... [Feedster gardening]

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Tree trimming

We had the arborists in today to make some, somewhat overdue, alterations to several trees in the front yard.

Are huge elm tree was looking quite shaggy, with its drooping branches reaching down into the driveway and up and over the fireplace chimney. Of course, I only got to see the end result, as I was off solving people's computer problems today, and arrived home long after all the work was done. That was a bit odd, for me, as I usually like to be around for this type of work. My computer consulting business has been quite busy the last few months as I have worked diligently to smooth out the typical ups and downs of business. This means I am spending much more time out of the garden instead of in.

Work in the garden never fails to yield more work, though. Although the owner of the tree company was very careful to remove sprinkler heads and landscape lights that might be in danger of damage, one sprinkler head decided to cracks its base fitting somehow. This will mean digging up the section of pipe and praying that the galvanized fittings have not become hopelessly fused into one corroded mass. Previous experience has shown this to often be the case. As soon as the area dries out a bit, I will dig it up and figure out the state of affairs. Then, yet another trip to Home Depot.

The landscape lights fared better, but several of them didn’t work at sundown tonight. This is actually fairly typical with these cheap lights I bought at CostCo. Maybe tomorrow evening I will try and get all them working as well.

The biggest benefit of the tree trimming is much more light in the living room. While it is still high-summer here, the extra light is appreciated, even if the extra heat, is not.

Life rolls on this summer, though and both my son and wife are heading back to school in a few short weeks. Why did summers seem so long when we were young and so short now. Yet one more thing to cause you to regret getting older.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Tree: Juniperus scopulorum "Skyrocket"

I came across a mention and photo of this tree in the August 2004 issue of Country Living.

I really like the look and habit of this tree. It seems much more attuned to the smaller yards here in Los Angeles than the larger Italian Cypress which we usually see. A collection of 3 in a screen along a property line would look very nice, I think.

Juniperus scopulorum 'Skyrocket' Info - from the University of Connecticut

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Book: Zen and the Art of Gardening

I came across this book at the library and hae been working my way alowly through it. There are many good hints wrapped inside a developing understanding of Zen concepts. While there are many books about Zen Gardens, this is one of the few about the Zen OF Gardening.


Mexican Bird-of-Paradise - Red Variety

On our recent visit to Phoenix, Sedona and Jerome, Arizona, I took very few pictures, but these are certainly the most striking. Theses lovely examples of Mexican Bird-of-Paradise (Caesalpinia pulcherrima) are located in the back yard of our friend, the Webb's.

I was quite taken with these plants, even though I have seen them before in the simliar climate of Palm Springs, California, where my sister lives. The combination of the bright colors, green leaves and palm tree background kept me out in the sun much longer than was wise. It took several glasses of ice water to cool down again, after my excurision into the 105-107 degree heat.

(Click the photo for a small gallery of 3 pictures)

Back here in Los Angeles, we were also facing some higher temperatures, but still managed to get soem small garden taks done. I am approaching the garden one, small section at a time these days. With my busy work schedule, I feel lucky to simply pull the weeds between "rose #1 and rose #2 along the driveway." I usually do more than I originally plan, but my step-by-step method means that wach part of the garden gets, at least, a few minutes of attention every so often.

There are some larger projects on the drawing board, but I am unsure when I will be able to get to them. Having them in my gardening journal, though, keeps them in a place where I can refer when time allows.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Wild pigs in the garden!

Our friends, Diane and Walter, live in Jerome, Arizona, an old mining town located on a rural mountainside near Sedona.

During dinner last night, they mentioned an on-going problems with bands of the local wild pigs, Javelinas, digging up their gardena and generally eating everything in sight. This pigs are omnivorous and will eat nearly anything, so physical barriers seem to be the only complete solution.

I did find this document (PDF Format), from the University of Arizona, that lists some plants the Javelinas seem to like less than others.

Do you live in an area frequented by similar wild pigs? Got any answers I can pass onto my friends? Click the "Comments" link below and share your experience!