Gardening with Goat Hill Fair…

Twice a year Goat Hill Fair comes to the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds in Watsonville, CA. I had read several articles about this self described vintage marketplace over the last few years and so I headed north to Watsonville to see it for myself. I have a few garden art projects ideas for which I have been accumulating vintage garden tools, flower frogs and hose ends–Goat Hill sounded like a fun day with promise for a few new acquisitions. As I do with any first road trip to a city I scoured the internet for other good garden destinations I could fold into my trip. As if by fate, I found that Watsonville is home to literally dozens of wholesale growers and a sprinkling of retail specialty growers, some only open by appointment.  Unfortunately my time frame and that of a couple of the specialty plants people just did not mesh for this trip and I had to be content with a visit to Sierra Azul, Jeff Rosendale’s nursery and 2 acre demonstration garden east of Watsonville and only two giant steps away from the Fairgrounds. Sierra Azul did not disappoint and is worthy of its own post.

The Fairgrounds were my first stop. Let me say that the ladies (and I think one gentleman) who produce and curate this vintage marketplace have got it all together. Parking is well organized and painless and the venue has a turn of the century feel to its buildings which works in concert with Goat Hill’s farmhouse chic ambiance.

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Goat shaped chalkboards point the way
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One of several pieces of beautifully restored vintage farm equipment on display
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Goats are everywhere
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These gals were playing bluegrass as I approached the fair’s three buildings
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Every booth was beautifully presented
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Wide aisles and open booths made it really easy to shop
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I regret talking myself out of the blue wooden sled
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Airstream chic
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Great vintage felt banner flags
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Every vendor was unique and the merchandise very appealing
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Run TOWARD this food truck if you ever have the chance

Although I did not find as many vintage garden goodies as I had hoped for I did purchase these three old watering cans. Old galvanized watering cans have become increasing hard to find on sites like eBay and Etsy–these three are well used but heavy and solid and were pretty good bargains.

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Goat Hill Fair will return to the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds in May 2018. Unless you are a hardcore shopper it is easily done in a half of a day. They have a hold area to which each vendor can have a runner deliver your purchases for you to gather up at day’s end and a car pick up hold area for oversized or heavy purchases, complete with enthusiastic young people to load it all up for you. Check out their site at http://www.goathillfair.com or follow them on Instagram and Pinterest.

NEXT UP: Sierra Azul Nursery and Sculpture IS in the Garden

 

A little cleanup and a few new friends…

Some very pleasant fall days and moderate improvement to the various spring and summer injuries which have largely kept me out of my own garden for the last six months have provided the opportunity to do some much needed cleanup and and dig in some plants that have rested in my holding area for far too long. I am still only able to work in blocks of a couple of hours at a time so I focus on small areas and tasks with the hopes of actually being able to get the job done and tidy up whatever mess I’ve made in the doing of it before I give out!

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In my October 2nd post Autumn musings… I showed you this curved bed near our back patio, ruefully pointing out that I had totally lost control of this climbing floribunda rose, ‘Morning Magic’. The confusion is rounded out with a huge clump of bearded iris needing division and a stand of Penstemon ‘Raven’ (lower right) which totally obscures the stepping stones and is laying on top of any number of other small perennials along the bed’s edge.

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The climber got a pretty drastic haircut for November. Warm days have encouraged lots of new growth in the couple of weeks since this photo was taken. Gardeners here often deadhead and  strip the leaves off roses in November to encourage them into dormancy, following up with the annual major prune in January. I resisted this practice the first few years we were here because I just hated to chop on roses that still looked fabulous but have come to accept that the practice does force them into a needed rest and offers a chance to dispose of diseased or damaged foliage before rains knock those leaves including whatever is attached to them to the soil below. Woo hoo! Check out those great stepping stones. The penstemon probably needs to be relocated to an area which would better accommodate its 4′ X 4′ late summer size. It is cut down to about 12″. The bearded iris have been divided with 5 nice fat rhizomes in place for next season. I potted up another half dozen for relocation to other beds.

Dave and I continue to work on the long side yard bed–site of the great Labor Day rock relocation. Digging and amending is VERY slow as minimizing tree damage is a high priority. In September, this entire stretch was treated (along with the rest of the yard) with John & Bob’s granular blend which is a combo of their products Optimize, Maximize and Nourish Biosoil. It also got a good drenching of their Penetrate Liquid Biotiller.  John & Bob’s Smart Soil Solutions was a Garden Bloggers Fling sponsor this year and John toured gardens with us as well as giving a great presentation of their product line. Check them out at http://www.johnandbobs.com for more information.

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This bed gets a lot of sun at various times throughout the day and so needs plant material that can take the heat and also survive the root competition for water. The huge Juniperus scopulorum ‘Tolleson’s Blue Weeping’ is clearly the focal point and we are just nibbling a little around the edges with some additional foliage interest and a bit of color. Transplanted from the backyard, a ‘Double Knock Out’ rose occupies a void amidst the graceful weeping branching of the juniper. A couple of dark purple Salvia greggii had shown up as ringers in the large grouping of Salvia ‘Mesa Azure’ we planted in the driveway circle bed last fall so I moved them across the driveway to snuggle up against the boulder. I have had 2 replacement 4″ ‘Mesa Azure’ waiting in the wings for a good long while, ready to pop in once the darker purple ones found a new home. A single carpet rose ‘Pink Splash’ will eventually fill the driveway/street corner area–another repeat from selections used in the driveway circle. For street side consistency the ‘Wheeler’s Dwarf’ pittosporum were also repeated but I expect they will end up being  only a green blur beneath the weeping blue branches overhead. A six pack of snapdragons, purple trailing lantana, and bearded iris from my copious supplies of potted up divisions will fill in quickly to give cover while the other plants fill out.

Turning the corner I have worked my way down this long narrow bed about 25 feet–so far concentrating on an open area that is in full sun until 2 pm or so in the summer months. The shorter days have certainly brought the dappled shade sooner. In years to come the youngest of the three Bradford pears may may totally shade this area out except for the eastern rising sun but now this area still requires plants that will withstand strong sun at least part of the day.

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I decided to use this stretch as sort of an experimental area to test out some plants I have not grown before. With the trend toward water conservation we are seeing many interesting and reputedly tough plants become much more available. The challenge for me has been to be able to integrate some of these in beds which all ready have mature shrubs or perennials that take average water. I am doing quite a few ‘one of’ large scale shrubs/ woody perennials–trying to determine what will fill my extensive real estate and prosper with minimal attention. Many drought tolerant shrubs will accept more water than they require as long as they have excellent drainage and to that end we are paying special attention to each planting spot selected.

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This trio of Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’ is a wild card. Sunset lists mature size as 4′-6′ feet and wide while the plant tag (well known grower but I can’t remember which one) lists 18″ X 18″. I think I have actually purchased this plant once before and gave it to a gardening friend when the Sunset Western Garden Book  scared me off.  The lemon and lime green edged leaves brighten up this small opening at the base of the tall juniper and I stand ready to dig them out if I wake up one day and they are 3 feet tall! Notice how my fresh humus top dressing is a porta-potty beacon to every cat within 5 miles…

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I introduced you to Grevillea ‘Pink Pearl’ (far left) in a previous post–since it was planted in September it is looking great and has put on buds at its stem ends.

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To its right are three good sized seedlings of Aristea ecklonii dug from near their mother plant by the pool. In this spot these prolific reseeders can just have their way with the open ground. The cheerful, blue flowers and spiky stems are almost indestructible. Below you see the blooms from their mother plant.

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Teucrium betonicum, still in its pot in the wide shot above, has now been planted. This is one of my San Luis Obispo Botanical Garden purchases. Its leaves are hairy and aromatic and should sport purple flowers in spring and summer. This plant matures at about 3 feet high and wide and withstands poor soil and dry conditions. Given irrigation it must have excellent drainage.

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I am trying out a Texas ranger in this bed called Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Lynn’s Everblooming’. Purported to be a dense grower which flowers profusely, it sure doesn’t look like much now.

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Below–another SLO Botanical Garden find is Dorycnium hirsutum, the hairy canary flower.

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This perennial shrub is low growing at about 2′ high but with a spread to 6′ and useful as a dry slope ground cover. I’ll be looking for its tiny, white flowers with pink touches next fall and the red winter fruit will contrast nicely with the silver grey leaves. Another selection which I hope will not suffer totally from the afternoon dappled shade.

Two more test subjects are Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Sungold’ and Cotoneaster horizontalis ‘Variegatus’.

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I have also add a white flowered plumbago and several groupings of bearded iris divisions. I have moved down to the far end now and will work toward the middle for as long as the weather holds. The very center of this long strip is the most compacted with tree roots AND has the sharpest slope to the curb AND is is full shade except for first thing in the morning. I’ll take any suggestions for this area!

A shout out to another 2017 Garden Bloggers Spring Fling sponsor–everything in this latest round of planting has gone into its hole sitting right on top of a FUHGEDDABOUTIT! Root Zone Feeder Packet from Organic Mechanics. These packets provide a measured dose of fertilizer, mycorrhizae, biochar and micronized oyster shell flour (4-2-2) and are intended to be used along with a regular fertilization program. All Fling participants got a bag of a dozen to try in their gardens–I am always open to try a new product to give my new friends a solid start!

I am working diligently to add more variety in foliage color and texture to the garden. This side strip is a good place to see how plants perform and evaluate whether I want to expand their use to other more visible parts of my garden. I specifically bought 1 gallon specimens to be able to try more selections and even though many of these will grow to fairly substantial sizes, they look like little specks in a broad sea of mulch right now!

I have been gradually cleaning up the front walkway bed to make a place for my new prize find Cercis canadensis ‘Ruby Falls’. Iris were dug and divided in October and several perennial salvia cultivars nipped back to encourage some fresh growth and reevaluate available space. I once read a blog post in which the gardener described her planting style as ‘layer cake planting’–layering up plants by growth season and height so that when one perennial declines, another is coming into its peak to take the place. Pretty impressive. While I aspire to that, I think my planting style is more accurately described as ‘dump cake planting’–year after year I add things in, not recalling what I put there last year. Everything just climbs and falls all over everything else. Closely planted would be an understatement!

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The bare ground is actually full of Santa Barbara daisy sprigs which will fill back in within weeks, if not days. A quarterly hard cut back of this perennial ground cover goes a long way toward keeping my snail population down.

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‘Ruby Falls’ is just starting to drop its large heart shaped leaves. I saw this newer redbud cultivar advertised in a gardening magazine and was really taken by its unusual weeping habit and small stature at maturity. Really so excited to see this little tree next spring!

This has been a wonderful autumn to work in the garden. The weather is inviting and my recent travels have allowed me to purchase interesting plants not as readily available in my community–the only improvement would be 15 hours of daylight and a second set of hands.

 

 

 

Garden goodie gazing in Cambria…

THE GARDEN SHED

On every road trip to the Central Coast I visit this Cambria East Village gem without fail. The Shops at the Garden Shed offer a whimsical small boutique shopping experience which includes several small shops clustered around the back courtyard of the aforementioned Garden Shed which itself has a lovely selection of garden art, home accessories, pots and plants. Even though I have never really been a rusty metal, upcycled, vintage kind of girl this place just makes me smile. It is perfectly in step with the woodsy, redwood and glass meets Victorian cottage vibe of this seaside village.

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When you walk through the inside retail space of The Garden Shed you emerge into this courtyard, a riot of colorful plants and pots, displayed in creative and unusual vintage vignettes.

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This charming rusted gate on the shady side of the courtyard is the shipping and delivery entrance–what a loss for gardeners that it remains propped open all day, literally disappearing into the fencing.

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There are lots of succulents and some seasonal color to be found. Many plants are sourced locally from wholesale growers.

The Junk Girls make all kinds of interesting and unique items from recycled materials and parts. This vintage truck/planter leaves no doubt as to their skill set and the rusty bicycles pedal across their roof, watched by another Scarecrow Festival entry. I am SO without  succulent knowledge and can’t identify this monster for you but it looked truly alive.

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The back of the courtyard is occupied by Grow, a specialty nursery focusing on rare succulents. They also have an inside area with pots and lots of garden themed treasures.

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This old tractor, acting as both art and landscape,  is at the very back of the courtyard behind Grow.

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This architectural specimen may be run of the mill amongst gardeners who are knowledgeable about the wide variety of succulents but it was pretty spectacular to me!

CAMBRIA NURSERY & FLORIST

This was my first opportunity to check out this full service nursery and florist perched  high on a hill above the village. Although their emphasis is on coast friendly, drought tolerant plants with proven track records in local climate conditions there is a little bit of everything to be found on the 4 acres nursery grounds–vegetables, perennials, succulents, shrubs and trees. A number of quaint outbuildings feature seasonal home decor. Cambria Nursery also does an extensive Christmas light festival which was in the preliminary set up stages on my visit.

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Who wouldn’t be charmed by entering through this classic red barn?

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This fun display rack houses a bevy of Tillandsia, the so-called airplants. Most species in this genus are either epiphytes (growing without soil while attached to other plants) or aerophytes (having no roots and typically native to areas with shifting desert soil).

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Decorated for fall, the grounds are easily wandered on paver patios and decomposed granite paths–the latter being a little challenging on which to maneuver your wagon loaded with garden additions.

Cambria Nursery 9Great succulent displays are ubiquitous in the mild winter parts of California but few are as well organized and labeled as this one.

I especially liked the Japanese Tea House and its small koi pond. The Tea House provides a focal point around which are grouped all those plants we typically think of as having an Asian garden aesthetic.

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Colorful signage helps shoppers negotiate the meandering paths to the many demonstration beds and the nursery stock represented in them.

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A wonderful and seemingly life-sized whale topiary is settled into the hillside next to the Kids Garden. The topiary material is Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjorie Channon’.

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The condition of the plants available varied widely. The six paks and 4″ pots were fresh as was some of the wide selection of woody shrubs. Many of the woodies looked a little long in their cans but frankly did not look much different than drought tolerants and natives in late fall even if they are in the ground. The staff was very attentive and knowledgeable. I did snap up a great looking Sollya heterophylla (Australian bluebell creeper) that is bound for my in progress side yard renovation. I am putting this nursery destination back on my list to visit in early spring–I’ll do some research on selections whose names I jotted down and be ready to fill up my wagon.

 

 

 

As the crow flies…

My quilting group is fortunate to be able to cut and stitch for a week twice a year at an oceanfront beach cottage in Cayucos, CA. It is a time to sew, relax, eat out and revisit a number of must drop into Central Coast sites and shops. We are equal opportunity road trippers and include quilt stores, the apple farm, garden centers, the farmer’s market and anything that looks like fun. Late October coastal weather is generally cool and moist with foggy mornings and pleasant afternoons. Wonderful weather to open the windows for a cool breeze and walk leisurely on the sand from the cottage to downtown Cayucos. This year we enjoyed (??) record high temperatures for three days with highs hovering at 100 degrees–even more incentive to wander up and down the coast in search of businesses with air conditioning!

The next village up the coast is Cambria–renown as the site of one of only 3 native Monterey pine forests on the US mainland.  A special pottery store, a wonderful needlepoint/yarn store and a very fun store called Home Arts are always on the go to list. The Garden Shed is also worthy of a visit and I will dedicate another post to introducing you to this cluster of quirky garden and gift storefronts.

This year we found ourselves right in the middle of the Cambria Scarecrow Festival. Here are a few of the MANY scarecrows sponsored and constructed by both business and organizations.

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This bevy of stick beauties clothed in knitted and crocheted outfits reminiscent of the 1960s were fabulous!

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A painterly offering in front of one of many art galleries

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The Queen of Hearts

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Guardian of the Garden

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Popeye, Olive Oil and Sweet Pea

Old Happy Herb at Ephraim Pottery

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The Love Courier

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Groot from the movie Guardians of the Galaxy–this one won a ribbon for innovative use of materials. It is made of cardboard and the split foam tube you use to cover pipes in cold areas.

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In front of a gift shop called Bumblebees

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The Photo Crow-Today Everything Exists to End in a Photograph

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How could you not love this fishing frog and his skeletal mermaid lady friend?

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Linn’s Restaurant and Pie Shop has their delivery girl working overtime.

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A little more traditional

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The Cambria New Wave Riders-the bicycle wheels were motorized and they looked as though they were really riding!

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Knit 1, Purl 2

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The Old Woman Who lived in a Shoe and some of her many children

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Dakota the dog

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Tree Bob-the Ent of the East Village handles all the needed tools of the realtor trade on his multiple arms and no, I don’t have a clue what ‘Ent’ means. Any help out there?

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Doing Our Part to Conserve Water

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Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman

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This one says it all!

More posts from the Central Coast in the next week.