Urban Small Space Gardening

008

I love small cottages, with their cozy charm, the kind you find in small towns or historic communities within a city.  They are so charming, but often are on a small lot with limited gardening space. Also, popular and sought after beach front housing around small coastal communities, marinas, and bays often have compromised yard space due to the compression of building as many homes into small, cozy, or prestigious areas as possible.  In our urban communities more and more yard space is limited with the construction of duplexes, condos, and townhouses with shared park-like green space leaving very little plant-able “personal” space.

Fear not!  There are lovely solutions for gardeners who want their own garden of creativity.  You can introduce container gardens to  your porch or patio, or use window boxes for veggies, herbs, or succulent planters, painting them in colors you love to give

Small Space Gardening Photos

them a more personal touch or going for the earthy natural style of metal or wood.  If you choose wood for planting, be sure to line your planter with plastic.  Rolls of plastic are easily found in the paint department of most hardware stores, as well as nylon screen for the bottom of planters and pots, so you don’t wash out planter mix or soil.  If you have space for a small trellis or overhead patio cover, you can have vines or hanging pots for color.  A baker’s shelf, often found in antique stores or vintage shops, can provide shelving in a delightful venue for setting pots and planters, or…a simple old wooden ladder propped against a wall or a free standing ladder can become a charming potted plant holder taking up very little space.  Just give it an inexpensive coat of paint and select a place in your unique growing space.
Small Space Gardening Images 2

Fences can be an opportunity for attaching a plant pocket, or partial rain gutter for herbs, succulents, or seasonal color depending on personal preference and exposure considerations.  Also, finding a 3-tiered fountain makes a great planter and can add some height for a unique and creative planting.  If you are lucky, you can find one on line that someone wants to get rid of…”what a find”.

Old wooden pallets can become incredible planters for succulents and take up very little space, by attaching ground cloth to the back, adding  some potting soil and planting in the cracks, while cuddling in the succulents with damp moss.  A simple old wooden ladder propped against a wall or a free standing ladder can become a charming potted plant holder taking up very little space.  Just give it an inexpensive coat of paint and select a place in your unique growing space.  Here are a few images that might give you some inspiration.

076

Small Space Gardening Images 4Small Space Gardening Photos

 

Small Space Gardening Images 3

Even a small balcony or porch can become your “Garden of Possibilities”… your “Peaceful Citadel” with a little imagination.  I hope as always that I have touched that earthy part of your soul that loves gardening… that transports you to the happy place in your corner of the world you call home.  May your creativity keep growing, as your hands keep diggin’ in the dirt.

Till our next visit,

Jackie 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Under the Spell of Cactus

 

I admittedly am a flower fan…perennials, roses, vines and anything “Wildflower-ish”, but…this fall on a trip to Ojai, I saw a large Opuntia with red round fruits on large oval pads near an adobe style home as we were taking a walk.  The combination was breathtaking.  I always take my camera to capture a delightful or unique moment.  I felt drawn into another dimension entirely as this adobe courtyard compelled me to enter… and tiny ground-hugging wildflowers garnished the setting.  The ambiance was enticing…almost hypnotic in the warmth of the afternoon sunshine.

Sometimes I go out for a walk through the nursery just as the sun is beginning to set and the light catches the spines on the vertical cactus giving it a soft glow.    Before long I’m on the ground, sitting, lying down in the dirt (whatever it takes) with my camera to catch the spell the setting sun casts on the cactus spines.  I watch as it lowers on the horizon…and I catch a shot of the Cacti as they softly radiate a silver or golden glow of gentle radiant light.  It gives them a romantic glow as evening approaches.

I’m also finding the beauty of patterns, shapes and markings… contrasting color of black or brown edging & thorns transform cacti into living art.  As I explore my new found interest in these unique specimens, it feels like a trip through a gallery….paintings, sculpture, creations of beauty.  It strikes me that landscaping with cacti is like painting with plants, gravel, and rock… you just create your masterpiece with a different media.

Agaves are extremely varied in leaf shape and size, and color.  They can be rigid or sprawling, wavy or straight but all bring their own dimension to the landscape.   When combined with verticals and orbs the drama of your “painting” unfolds like the curtain opening for a performance.

Some verticals are silver and slender, others blue with a top-knot of fuzz, and some others deep green with ripples and ribs, but they all have a part to play …adding height, casting shadows or catching the spell of the setting sun, while orbs, like Echinocactus grunsonii, the Barrel Cactus…with spines glowing like you’ve captured the sun itself look absolutely celestial in your landscape, while the green dotted pattern of the Echinopsis hybrid adds the intrigue of its subtle, quiet charm.

I now view a Southwest garden with splendor.  Mixing these astounding architectural cacti with drought tolerant perennials and soft succulents is an art that creates a “masterpiece” in the landscape.

As much as I delight in flowers, love how they dance in the breeze and make bouquets, I think I have found a new secret love.  I’ve become one of those girls who are attracted to the dangerous, good looking, mysterious type…the “Bad Boys” of the cactus world.  I know they are “armed and dangerous”, but I can’t help myself…I’m hopelessly under the “Spell of Cactus”!

Dirty Garden Gloves

When I see dirty garden gloves, it only means one thing!  Somebody’s happy!  Somebody’s been diggin’ in the dirt…planting, weeding, cultivating soil, and pruning.  For me, those days help me dig down to my core as well…my cares disappear and get buried in the dust as I prune out old dead branches, and redesign my garden with a fresh new look.  It may only need some replacements with just a few plants, or I may embark on a complete transformation, but it feels good and freshens up my garden giving it new energy.  When this process begins, I find that I get energized as well, becoming absorbed in the renewal.  It gives me such a feeling of satisfaction and delight.

I find that dirty garden gloves initiate dirty jeans.  I often use an old chair pad to knell or sit on, but I can’t help getting into the dirt as I reach for a stem or weed to toss.  As I sometimes crawl into spaces only meant for bugs and snails, I search out dead leaves and branches.  Resembling my dog when she’s found a good stick or buried bone, I toss and scratch in the dirt with tremendous satisfaction.  Sometimes the only right tools are hands and knees.

I have some faded, flowered slip-on canvas shoes that have seen their better days, but I’ve spent many of my happiest hours in those shoes.  They are part of my “gear” for chopping, snapping and raking.  As I get a little older, I enjoy taking on a section at a time, so I can go back the next day or so to enjoy another section of my renovation.  Each time I finish and look back at what I’ve done, I feel so alive, and likewise given new life to my garden.  In the wake of this transformation I catch sight of my overflowing trash can waiting for the mulch pile.  My vision magically transforms it into a glowing trophy of my efforts as I gaze with excitement to the next patch of garden waiting for some therapy.

So, I dust off the gloves, and stamp my feet…give those jeans a shake and smile.  I know they will be there waiting, just as I will for another happy day…another pair of “Dirty Gloves”.  Then I treat myself to a glass of iced tea as ideas dance in my head for the next round of renovation.

It’s always fun to visit with you like this…sharing my stories and thoughts on life in my garden…  I’m just thinking the best gift I could give you would be to wish you many “Dirty Glove Days” in your garden too.

Jackie Jesch

 

More than Driftwood

 When I see a piece of driftwood, I think of the sea…but there is more to it than that. Driftwood is a survivor of the storms. It gets tossed, carved, polished and punished by harsh forces before it gets to shore. Even then it survives sun, wind, and more storms. I’ve often overlooked the journey of a piece of driftwood…only admiring the smooth, beautiful twists and turns…colors and shapes of the end result.

Some of them still look rough and worn…even battered, but others fair better and the beauty is brought about by their trials. The qualities of the wood from which they derive play a part in their journey, as well. Softer wood will show the ravages of a storm in a different way than hard wood and the intrinsic values of each wood…color, growth patterns, and density will be a part of the end result.  In any case, every piece of driftwood has a story.

I love to see driftwood used in the landscape, or used as a container for planting. It can be a wonderful patio or home décor accent, adding a touch of nature to your environment. I’ve seen it used as a base for tables or displayed on walls, even hung by rope or chain from beams…both inside and out. We can only guess the story of each piece as we place it, or plant it or hang it, but to be sure it will bring a story to your home, and no doubt be a conversation piece.

We are not that different from the driftwood, are we? We have trials, and storms to weather…we have certain characteristics handed down through generations…we have strengths, and weaknesses that can tear us down…or give us a hurdle to jump. We have stories too. Sometimes I see dozens of beautifully different faces, laughing, talking, playing or working…however, once in a while I catch a glimpse of someone I’d love to draw, or write about. Their face has character…lines and wrinkles that hold a smile…eyes that shine despite the creases around them, weathered hands that are gentle, or a raspy voice that carries soft encouraging words.

The next time I plant a piece of driftwood, or choose one to display…I will wonder where it has been, what is has experienced, and admire the intrinsic qualities of the wood…and I hope I can give more grace to the difficult people I encounter…or encouragement when I have a chance. There just might be a hurdle in their path, after all…we are all on our way to becoming “beautiful”.

Come by and take a look at our wonderful display of driftwood from Larry Bourget’s “Sea Foam Driftwood” here at Waterwise Botanicals. There might be a piece you identify with…a soulmate from the sea…an intriguing accent for your home or garden waiting for you!

Perennials that dance in the wind have a “wild” quality that is so appealing. They express grace and softness in the landscape becoming the “music of the garden” as they sway. I love to see a variety of color playing host to one another, creating a whimsical, inviting appearance. Let’s take a look at a few favorites that attract Butterflies and some that attract Hummingbirds, as well… adding an extra dose of joy!

            Salvia Amistad is in the mint family with deep green foliage on long graceful stems. Its blossoms of purple line the top of the stems in the summer and fall. I like to keep mine at about 3’ tall by simply snapping the stems down to maintain the overall grace and width of this gorgeous perennial. Its water needs fall into the medium range, and likes cool sun to light shade.                               * Attracts Butterflies and Hummingbirds

            Gaura lindheimeri has long stems lined with little flowers that resemble Butterflies and blooms spring through fall, taking a break in the winter. It comes in both white and pink & will need pruning to the ground a couple of times a year to refresh the foliage and flowers. It grows to about 3 ½ feet tall and wide. My personal preference is the white…it seems wispier and a bit taller than the pink. Gaura is deer and rabbit resistant and attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies.

            Lavendula heterophylla, or Sweet Lavender produces soft, wispy, blue-purple flowers that rise up above the foliage almost year-round. It exudes a sweet lavender scent that adds a nice touch of aroma therapy to your garden, and doesn’t like a lot of water. To keep them thriving by giving them a diet of low water and sunshine. They grow to a nice size of about 3’ x 3’ tall & wide, love cool climates, attract Butterflies, but do struggle in the hot summer.

           Tagetes lemmonii is a soft shrub forming a loose rounded form with fern-like green leaves and golden yellow daisy-like flowers. Its herbal foliage gives it a scent of Marigold…something one loves or strongly dislikes, but its overall bloom appeal is like sunshine in your garden, attracting Butterflies, as well! It needs little water, and loves the sun, blooming mostly in the fall/winter and sometimes into spring depending on the weather. It will need a good pruning after blooming to insure new growth and flowers.

            Centranthus ruber is another eye-catcher with its pink, reddish or white flowers on 2-3 foot slender stems. It spreads by re-seeding aggressively, but can be controlled by weeding out new growth & pruning. I often just chop and pull randomly to keep a nice, wild impression. Centranthus makes an absolute beautiful haze of color spring through fall. It is deer and rabbit resistant, attracts Butterflies and is easy to grow!

           Heuchera sanguinea blooms winter through spring on slender stems about 18” tall lined with bell shaped coral flowers deriving from a cluster of low green rounded leaves at the base. These “Coral Bells” add graces and color as they dance in the breeze. They like filtered sun or partial shade to full sun along the coast, like regular garden watering, and attract Butterflies and Hummingbirds!

Lobelia laxiflora has slender stems with small tubular orange/red flowers at the tips spring through fall, and grows to about 2 ½ feet tall, but spreading to about 4+feet wide. It’s very graceful habit is beautiful in a “Wild Perennial” garden as well as water-wise. It loves the sun to partial shade and takes a little pruning to keep its flowers freshened. It attracts Hummingbirds and Butterflies!

Salvia clevlandii is a bit more of a shrub, but one with some great aroma therapy going on! Between it’s whorls of sweet smelling lavender flowers and the herb scented foliage it carries an amazing scent and wonderful impact when planted in your garden. Its long stems still sway in the breeze and it blooms from spring to mid-summer. It loves good drainage, is water-wise, a California sun-loving native, and attracts Butterflies!

*As an added note, I’d like to suggest scattering California Poppy seeds in with your graceful perennials. They add a wonderful “wild” grace like a spring bloom in the desert, as well as attracting Butterflies with a punch of orange color.

“The Power of a First Impression”

When friends and family come to visit, does your landscape or garden offer a welcoming smile…an embracing hug on your behalf…or a “keep out” sign? 

I know that might sound a little odd, but the first thing people notice is thefirst-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-5 warmth or appeal of your home garden. It conveys an invitation, or a cold shoulder depending on the appearance, often called “curb appeal” by realtors.

The first impression of your landscape can truly set the mood first-impression-pics-for-articleof your home, whether it’s free-form and flowery, jewel-toned succulents, easy breezy perennials and grasses or cool, comfortable foliage. During our lives we often meet people that are engaging and positive. They leave us with a pleasant feeling. Our gardens can be that kind of ambassador to the outside world.

first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-3Have you ever taken a walk and were suddenly stopped in your tracks by a beautifully simple landscape that seemed to speak to you. Maybe it was the colors…or the textures…or the soothing grace or symmetry that first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-2impressed you. Perhaps it was a couple of chairs or some bird feeders…a stone path instead of concrete…a swing on the porch and lattice arbor.

 

bird-feeder-for-first-impression-article-jpg3      front-porches-for-first-impression-article-jpg5          front-porches-for-first-impression-article-jpg-2     bird-feeder-for-first-impression-article

If your landscape has lost its appeal…gotten dull, and unimpressive, you can give it new life…a smile to welcome you home, or to others who pass by. Take a fresh look at what your garden says to the world around you. Sometimes even our aging gardens need a little “face lift”…after all, our environment affects our mood, and it can lift or deflate.

front-porches-for-first-impression-article         first-impression-pics-for-article-jpg-4front-porches-for-first-impression-article-jpg4

 

Landscaping is one of the least costly ways of softening and enhancing your home.  It can also add to its value not just in terms of resale, but the “Home Sweet Home” feeling you can’t put a price on!

 

The Bountiful Garden

bountiful-garden-picsAutumn is the time of year when I tend to peruse book stores and magazine racks. The alluring titles and pictures of Harvest time is a magnet. Photos of baking bread, berry pies, recipes with squash and apples, and gardens full of Pumpkins and Sunflowers make my pulse rate rise with enthusiasm.

        It makes me want to have one of those glorious gardens that are an eclectic mix of veggies and flowers, entwined with roses and colorful vines. Where theredownload are blue and white china bowls filled with herbs, or old whisky barrels painted in vivid colors with the herbs of the season ready to enhance the tasty recipes I’ve clipped throughout the years.

I picture table grapes in rows along the fence and tee-pees full of beans or peas in a corner with fragrant lavender or roses in waves, accenting the bounty from my garden.

Along with my favorite Liquid Amber trees for fall color, and cypress or fir for Christmas scent, a few fruit trees for different seasons would be scattered here and there with wildflower-like perennials at their feet. There would be strawberries in season & rosemary for a fresh herb, as well as aroma therapy in vases around the house.

       834b96cef750549713a80be25478dcc6 I’d plant chard, zucchini and artichokes with my flowering shrubs, and at this time of year, I’d be getting ready to cut my pumpkins for the porch and hearth. I love the thought of living the country life and sharing its glorious bounty with neighbors and friends…of making pies with my berry crop or apple trees, but alas I have to admit that instead, I make trips to the farmers markets and floral stands by the side of the road. My stack of recipes keeps mounting and I haven’t even found the magic of growing the rudimentary tomato.

       images I can still adore the feeling that overwhelms me with warmth and joy as I see visions of fall and plan my garden of amazing harvests…and look forward to my time curled up on the sofa with my magazines of inspiration. Who knows…maybe one day my vision of the perfect garden will exist. Maybe one day, inch by inch, I will bring that magic to fruition. I will grow beans and sweet peas, and watch my Sunflowers reach for the sky, and then you will come over for my famous apple crumb pie or peach cobbler!

        As I wrote this article, I envisioned the landscape I was creating on paper, so I enlisted the internet to see any images I could find where veggies, fruit, sunflowers or pumpkins were used to get some real visuals. I came across a website by Rosalind Creasy of Los Altos, California with some great examples of doing just what I had envisioned. She has also written several books, but the one that covers our topic here is “Edible Landscaping”.   I have used some of the photos from her pages available online.  She also has a blog, but I couldn’t find any recent posts. It was however quite interesting & colorful in a harvest of creativity. If you get a chance, or this article provokes more interest, I’d recommend visiting her website.

Happy Harvest Time,

          Jackie Jesch