Noted: 15 Great Ideas for a Lawn-Free Yard via Houzz

15 Great Ideas for a Lawn-Free Yard via Houzz

Mediterranean Landscape by Walnut Creek Landscape Architects & Landscape Designers Huettl Landscape Architecture
 
The lawn has enjoyed decades of popularity, and while there are still plenty of things to love about a great lawn, that expanse of green can sometimes be more trouble than it’s worth. Check out these 15 inspiring examples of yards using gravel, stone, native plantings and more, for fire-safe, drought-conscious and easy alternatives to the traditional green.
 
Read More

“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts. 

Find more Noted/Shared Gardening items

Noted: Create Garden Mystery With a Zigzag Path via Houzz

Create Garden Mystery With a Zigzag Path via Houzz

Tropical Landscape by San Rafael Architects & Building Designers VITA Planning and Landscape Architecture

Bed and pathway lines are important to how we view and navigate our gardens. A good garden designer will employ these shapes to influence moods and to dictate how and how quickly we move through a garden. Straight paths are utilitarian, moving people quickly from point A to point B. Curved and serpentine paths create a sense of peacefulness, causing people to stroll at a leisurely pace, stopping to enjoy vignettes and treasured plants. Then there are the zigzag paths. Enter yatsuhashi.

Read More


“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts. 

Find more Noted/Shared Gardening items

Garden Alphabet: Olive (near Morgantina, Sicily)

Olive (near Morganitina, Sicily)

Three years ago we visited the ancient Greek (later Roman) city of Morgantina. We ate our pranza (lunch) under this olive tree that shaded the parking lot. Olives seem to epitomize Italy and Sicily to me. Olives (and their flavorful oil) are an essential part of everyday life in Sicily — and also here in our California home.

Garden Alphabet: Olive (near Morganitina, Sicily)

Follow DouglasWelch in Instagram

 The olive (Listeni/ˈɒlɪv/ or Listeni/ˈɑːləv/Olea europaea, meaning “olive from/of Europe”) is a species of small tree in the family Oleaceae, found in much of Africa, the Mediterranean Basin from Portugal to the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, and southern Asia as far east as China, as well as the Canary IslandsMauritius and Réunion. The species is cultivated in many places and considered naturalized in FranceCorsicaCrimeaEgyptIranIraqSyriaJavaNorfolk IslandCalifornia and Bermuda.[1][2]

Its fruit, also called the olive, is of major agricultural importance in the Mediterranean region as the source of olive oil. The tree and its fruit give its name to the plant family, which also includes species such as lilacsjasmineForsythia and the true ash trees (Fraxinus). The word derives from Latin ŏlīva (“olive fruit”, “olive tree”; “olive oil” isŏlĕum)[3] which is cognate with the Greek ἐλαία (elaía, “olive fruit”, “olive tree”) and ἔλαιον (élaion, “olive oil”).[4][5] The oldest attested forms of the latter two words in Greek are respectively the Mycenaean.

The word “oil” in multiple languages ultimately derives from the name of this tree and its fruit.

The olive tree, Olea europaea, is an evergreen tree or shrub native to the MediterraneanAsia and Africa. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 m (26–49 ft) in height. However, the Pisciottana, a unique variety comprising 40,000 trees found only in the area around Pisciotta in the Campania region of southern Italy often exceeds this, with correspondingly large trunk diameters. The silvery green leaves are oblong, measuring 4–10 cm (1.6–3.9 in) long and 1–3 cm (0.39–1.18 in) wide. The trunk is typically gnarled and twisted.

The small white, feathery flowers, with ten-cleft calyx and corolla, two stamens and bifid stigma, are borne generally on the previous year’s wood, in racemes springing from the axils of the leaves.

The fruit is a small drupe 1–2.5 cm (0.39–0.98 in) long, thinner-fleshed and smaller in wild plants than in orchard cultivars. Olives are harvested in the green to purple stage. Canned black olives may contain chemicals (usually ferrous sulfate) that artificially turn them black. Olea europaea contains a seed commonly referred to in American English as a pit or a rock, and in British English as a stone. — Wikipedia

More information on Olive:

More books on olives at Amazon.com
* A portion of each sales directly supports A Gardener’s Notebook
** These books and others may be available in your local library. Check it out!
Previously in Garden Alphabet:

Book: The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting by Jessie Jeffery

The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting by Jessie Jeffery

Sometimes the best format for a book is digital. The Mix & Match Guide has good information, but I think it is presented in the wrong format.

I wanted to like book, as is has much information that is useful and the design of the physical book us top notch. The photos and writing are well done, but I think the entire concept of the book is flawed in today’s digital age. The majority of the book is divided into an interesting, but difficult to use, mix and match guide to help you match companion plants to your wants and needs.

Perhaps due to my technology background, I kept thinking to myself that this book would have been better as a smartphone/tablet app or web site. Manually matching up the various traits of the plants was difficult, confusing and, in the end, a tedious process that could be much more useful in a database with the logic of the book programmed in. Much thought was obviously put into creating the guide, but teasing out the information and putting it to use is simply too difficult and manual a process.

Not Recommended

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. My opinions are my own.

In the garden…August 13, 2014: Colors, textures and movements of the garden

Agn artwork

Today’s In the Garden… video js an an exploration of the colors, textures and movements of the garden over a lovely soundtrack by composer Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com)

Kevin has recently been hired by YouTube to create more music for the recently added YouTube Audio Library. All the music is free to use (and monetize) on your YouTube videos.

In the garden…August 13, 2014: Colors, textures and movements of the garden

Check out my collection of gardening essays, “From A Gardener’s Notebook” now available as a Kindle eBook. (You don’t need a Kindle to read it, though. Read it on your PC, Link: http://j.mp/fagnbook

Watch all past episodes of “In the garden…” in this YouTube Playlist


Music: “Side Path” by Kevin MacLeod (http://incompetech.com)

Please Like this video and/or subscribe to my channel on YouTube.

Your likes and subscriptions directly reflect how many other viewers are suggested this video.

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel

“In the garden…” is a series for A Gardener’s Notebook highlighting what is happening in my garden, my friend’s gardens and California gardens throughout the seasons. 

Noted: Ferns: A Shade Gardener’s Best Friend via Houzz

Ferns: A Shade Gardener’s Best Friend via Houzz

Farmhouse Landscape by Millbrook Architects & Building Designers Crisp Architects
 
Shade gardeners seem to have more garden envy than any group of gardeners I know. They drool over dahlias, linger over lantana and swoon over salvias, knowing deep down that these plants would soon meet their demise beneath the shadowy canopy of their woodland spaces. The good news is that a shade garden can be the most deeply satisfying garden of all.
 
Read More

“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts. 

Find more Noted/Shared Gardening items

Garden Decor: Stone walkway with river rock

Stone walkway with river rock

Japanese gardens and design have always fascinated me and this amazing pathway I discovered on Pinterest is a great example of the best of that craft. The stone, the moss and the other plantings seamlessly connect into a lovely whole that holds more impact than any of the elements would separately. 

Garden Decor: Stone walkway with river rock

Discovered via Pinterest User Patricia Goins

More books on Japanese Gardens and Design from Amazon.com

 * a portion of each Amazon sales goes directly to support A Gardener’s Notebook
** some of these books may be available at your local library. Check it out!
 
Previously in Garden Decor:

Noted: 13 Vintage Photos of Combines via Modern Farmer

13 Vintage Photos of Combines via Modern Farmer

13 Vintage Photos of Combines via Modern Farmer

Combines have been saving the day for farmers since the mid- 1800’s. Even before the advent of those modern-day automated versions of this machine, combines pulled by a fleet of horses were sent to the fields to help make the harvest quite a bit more efficient.

Named for combining the three-step harvesting process (reaping, threshing and winnowing) into a single speedy technique, combines have completely transformed the face of commercial agriculture and have helped farmers to maximize the potential of their land. We turned to the Library of Congress archives to for old photographs of this classic farm machinery.

Read More


“Noted” items are particularly good finds from my daily reading which I share via all my social media accounts. 

Find more Noted/Shared Gardening items

Interesting Plant: Chestnut (Castenea)

Chestnut (Castenea)

I am going to guess that these photos shows a Castenea saliva or Sweet Chestnut as they are older trees in rural Sicily, on the flanks of Mount Etna. We were visiting and old farmhouse that once was surrounded by orchards midway up the flanks of the volcano. These chestnut trees were quite large and producing a bountiful crop.

Chestnuts have often been staple food of the poor throughout Europe. People would eat both the whole nuts, roasted, but they could also be ground into a nearly gluten-less flour which could be backed into flatbreads, fritters and cakes.

Interesting Plant: Chestnut (Castenea)

Chestnuts growing in mid-summer, Mount Etna, Sicily

Interesting Plant: Chestnut (Castenea)

You can see one of the chestnut trees in the background of this photo

 The name “Chestnut” is derived from an earlier English term “Chesten nut”, which descends from the Old French word “chastain” (Modern French, châtaigne).[11]

The trees’ names are virtually identical in all the most ancient languages of Central Europe: in Breton kistinen for the tree, and kistin for its fruit, in Welsh castan-wydden and sataen, in Dutch kastanje for both the tree and its fruit, in Albanian gështenjë, and many others close to the French châtaigne and to the Latin name chosen for the genus, Castanea.[12]

The name Castanea is probably derived from the old name for the sweet chestnut, either in Latin[13] or in Ancient Greek. Another possible source of the name is the town of Kastania in Thessaly, Greece;[5] more probable, though, is that the town took its name from the most common tree growing around it.[12] In the Mediterranean climate zone, chestnut trees are rarer in Greece because the chalky soil is not conducive to the tree’s growth. Kastania is located on one of the relatively few sedimentary or siliceous outcrops. They grow so abundantly there, their presence would have determined the place’s name.[14] Still others take the name as coming from the Greek name of Sardis glans (Sardis acorn) – Sardis being the capital of Lydia, Asia Minor, from where the fruit had spread.[15]

The name is cited twice in the King James Version of the Bible. In one instance, Jacob puts peeled twigs in the water troughs to promote healthy offspring of his livestock.[16] Although it may indicate another tree, it indicates the fruit was a local staple food at that time.[12]

These synonyms are or have been in use: Fagus castanea (used by Linnaeus in first edition of Species Plantarum, 1753),[17] Sardian nut, Jupiter’s nut, husked nut, and Spanish chestnut (U.S.).[18]

The sweet chestnut was introduced into Europe from Sardis, in Asia Minor; the fruit was then called the ‘Sardian nut’.[18] It has been a staple food in southern Europe, Turkey and southwestern and eastern Asia[8][29] for millennia, largely replacing cereals where these would not grow well, if at all, in mountainous Mediterranean areas.[30] Evidence of its cultivation by man is found since around 2000 B.C.[31] Alexander the Great and the Romans planted chestnut trees across Europe while on their various campaigns. A Greek army is said to have survived their retreat from Asia Minor in 401–399 BC thanks to their stores of chestnuts.[32] Ancient Greeks like Dioscorides and Galen, wrote of chestnuts to comment on their medicinal properties—and of the flatulence induced by eating too much of it.[33]To the early Christians, chestnuts symbolized chastity.[16] Until the introduction of the potato, whole forest-dwelling communities which had scarce access to wheat flour relied on chestnuts as their main source of carbohydrates.[8] In some parts of Italy, a cake made of chestnuts is used as a substitute for potatoes.[5] In 1583, Charles Estienne and Jean Liébault wrote that “an infinity of people live on nothing else but (the chestnut)”.[34] In 1802, an Italian agronomist said of Tuscany that “the fruit of the chestnut tree is practically the sole subsistence of our highlanders”,[35] while in 1879 it was said that it almost exclusively fed whole populations for half the year, as “a temporary but complete substitution for cereals”.[36] — Wikipedia.org

More information on Camellia japonica:
 
Plants and Seeds:
 
* A portion of all sales directly support A Gardener’s Notebook
** Some of the books may be available at your local library. Check it out!

Previously in the Interesting Plant series: 

Interesting Plant is a series from A Gardener’s Notebook blog and podcast that highlights the most interesting plants I find in my Internet and real-world travels — Douglas

There’s is a new movement afoot here to convert lawns into gardens, grass into vegetables… — From A Gardener’s Notebook

There's is a new movement afoot here to convert lawns into gardens, grass into vegetables and -- From A Gardener's Notebook

There’s is a new movement afoot here to convert lawns into gardens, grass into vegetables and thirsty gardens into sippers more appropriate to our natural climate. Front yard vegetable gardens were unheard of when I first moved to LA in 1986. In many places, they were banned by homeowner associations and restrictive covenants. That’s why it was such a pleasure to see a nearby streetside gardens. Over time I watched as their plants burst forth with broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, herbs, tomatoes and more — all in a garden more beautiful and productive than any expanse of manicured lawn.

From A Gardener’s Notebook by Douglas E. Welch DouglasEWelch.com 

Buy or Download a sample of From A Gardener’s Notebook via Amazon.com 

Just 99¢ until August 24, 2014 

 

Find more gardening books and items in the WelchWrite Bookstore from Amazon.com

* A portion of each sale from Amazon.com directly supports our blogs

Previously from A Gardener’s Notebook: