May 2, 2012

Backyard Solutions

I'm pretty excited to have my work featured on the current cover of Backyard Solutions!

Several more of my gardens are featured inside this issue as well. It's nice recognition, and nice confirmation that some other folks think my "babies" are beautiful, too.

May 1, 2012

The Garden in May

Spring in the Palo Alto garden
It's been an interesting Spring, filled with April showers and mini-heat waves. We should be past the coldest nights here in Palo Alto, though, so I finally felt safe pruning my grapes and hydrangeas. (Although I was a bit late cutting down the grasses, so I won't be expecting great things from them this year.)

Those late rains gave us a nice extension on getting woody perennials, shrubs and trees into the ground; the soil moisture is still good but not so mucky that it's difficult to dig. But don't get complacent! Check now to be sure your irrigation system is functioning optimally — the soil dries out quickly and you don't want it to go hydrophobic while your new plants are establishing.

I failed to keep pace with the weeds this Spring. I'll be hoeing out as much as I can over the next couple of weeks, but I think my negligence has earned me seven years of weedlings. It's incredible how long those seeds can stay dormant in the ground, then pop! as soon as they get a bit of sunlight.

This is a great time to get all sorts of color planted: annuals such as impatiens and marigolds, long-blooming perennials such as Achillea, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Gaillardia, Limonium, Rudbeckia and Scabiosa, and even fall bulbs like Crocus speciosus and Colchicum autumnale. For the former, you simply can't go wrong with seeds from Renee's Garden, or young plants from Annie's Annuals; and for the latter, I have never had anything less than extraordinary results from Brent and Becky's Bulbs (who seem to be offering an early order discount at the moment!). 

It's also the season when the landscape designer's phone begins to ring again, with optimistic voices on the other end hoping for a deck by spring, a pool by summer. And somehow, with the sun shining on our faces again and last year's perennials resurging at our feet, somehow it all seems possible.