Les deux tuteurs sont finis!

This gardening girl is happy to have this project finished–even happier to have the boxes of parts off the floor of my quilting studio.

If you missed my recent post Tuteur-ial…, check it out to see the first few steps of this DIY project. Back from my travels for a few days I get back to it.

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In the first project post I stopped short of adding the final side having run out of energy, daylight and time.

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My trusty rubber mallet tapped that final side on each tuteur.

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Did a little paint touch up here and there in preparation to tap on the ball finials.

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At 72″ tall I need a step stool for that final construction step.

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Every dowel held joint got a 3″ long screw for stability.

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Each tuteur required thirty-two screws–plus 4 in each finial base. The instructions caution against over-tightening these screws and I am proud to report the drill only got away from me twice out of 72 screws total. For now I have decided to forego adding the slender upright extra bar on each side. I think the look is a little more contemporary without them.

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Et Voila! In place flanking currently unplanted hayrack window boxes, the tuteurs help to carry the purple front door and trellis work theme to somewhat colorless area adjacent to the driveway. The awning over my studio windows is actually a small stripe containing beiges, browns and the purple, although the purple doesn’t leap out–they painted wood certainly draws the eye! The last step is the selection of a climber or tow that can co-exist. Full sun,  adequate water and hopefully evergreen. Any thoughts?

There are lots of examples and instructions to build various styles of tuteurs or obelisks on the web. Lacking the tools and skill to do a lot of accurate lumber cutting I went with a kit with all the hard tasks accomplished by someone who knows what they’re doing. Had it not been for my desire to paint the wood I could have assembled both in the matter of several hours. Thank you, Mr. deJong of Woodbrute Designs in British Columbia for your great directions and all parts included.

 

 

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden Spring Plant Sale…

The second day of this Bay Area road trip is devoted to a visit to the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley to take in their spring plant sale. The sea mist was still hanging in the air as I made my way up into the Berkeley Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. All I can say is thank goodness for navigation–a mere four miles from my hotel must have had 2 dozen lefts and rights to get to the 2 lane road into the hillside campus.

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The garden’s parking lots were full and signage led me uphill to the overflow parking some 3/4 of a mile away at Lawrence Hall. A free shuttle awaited to ferry us back down to the garden.

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It didn’t take long for me to realize I could not take photos, peruse plants and pull my wagon all at the same time so pictures are few because in this case, plants rule. The garden’s collections are all closed for the sale so only the main walkway seen here is accessible with all secondary paths being roped off.

The Botanical Garden was formally established on the UC Berkeley campus in 1890 with its current 34 acre location in Strawberry Canyon since the property was purchased in 1909. Ten thousand plant types are organized in 9 geographic regions of naturalistic plantings from Italy to South Africa, along with a major collection of California native plants. With the little bits I could see from the sale site I know I want to schedule another visit to see all there is off this beaten path.

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Here are a few vignettes visible from the walkway…

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The fabulous royal blue Ceanothus below was the backdrop for a display of varieties for sale.

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It was identified as Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus ‘Kurt Zadnik’ and it was no surprise to me that all of this particular one had sold in the few minutes since the sale opened. It is such a benefit to us to be able to see a plant we buy in a gallon can at its mature size and in excellent health. The common appellation Carmel creeper could lead you to believe it is a prostrate variety–not so!

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There were areas for trees and shrubs, California natives, succulents, shade lovers and sun cravers, houseplants and tropicals but the table with the biggest crowd was the collection of carnivorous plants. Amazing!

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I gathered up and paid for my precious cargo. All but one of the plants I purchased was propagated onsite from the garden’s collection. My booty includes 4 salvias, two of which have been on my acquisition list for a few years, a coveted Campanula incurva to add to a dappled shade area and a pelargonium with interested red patterned foliage. A day with new plants is a very good day for me!

Tuteur-ial…

I went on a small Etsy buying splurge in early 2018–taking advantage of its access to lots of very fine woodworkers offering all sorts of garden related items. It was then I purchased the Little Free Library you’ve seen in my front garden photos, an additional one made in the style of our mountain cabin (still unpainted!) and two six foot cedar tuteurs.

Tuteur is the French word for “trainer”, as in a place on which to grow ornamental vines, roses or veggies. Traditionally a four sided pyramid and fashioned from wood or metal, the structure may also be referred to as an obelisk, teepee trellis or pyramid trellis. There may be subtle distinctions in these names (you know the whole pergola vs arbor thing) but for my purposes tuteur describes its function and the gardener is free to choose its design and style.

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I was a little overwhelmed when I originally opened one of the long boxes in the spring of last year and, with a full garden to do list already and lots of travel planned, I slid the opened box and its partner against the back wall of my quilt studio to tackle at a later date.

Fast forward to my 2019, my spring resolution to get a whole slew of unfinished projects done and having tripped over the long boxes innumerable times over the past year, I dragged the opened one out to the garage to get started. It didn’t look any less daunting…

My tuteur’s craftsman, Richard deJong of Woodbrute Designs in British Columbia, promised “easy assembly” but dang, there are a lot of pieces. When in doubt, read the instructions! I quickly determined that the twelve thin pieces were the optional decorative vertical rails, installed after the basic structure was built, and set them aside.

Mr. deJong has cleverly coded the pieces to aid people just like me in getting all these sticks going in the correct direction.

The white painted dowels on the horizontal posts fit into the holes with the white sticker. The unpainted dowels go into the holes without the sticker–thank you God and Mr. deJong.

As the tuteurs will be painted to match my existing trellis work and my front door, I lined all the parts up for a quick coast of primer. I decided to prime before assembly so that the cut ends of the wood would also have the primer’s weather protection.

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When the primer was dry I laid the first two sides out on my work surface, making sure to line up the cross pieces white hole to white dowel. The remaining cross pieces sitting on the tool bench will ultimately connect these two panels together.

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Using a rubber mallet as specified in the instructions, I tapped each cross piece in to the first vertical rail.

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I then tapped in the remaining vertical rail. Both the dowels and the holes are angled exactly so a good fit is easy to achieve.

A first coat of paint is added on what is the inside of each panel and on the insides of each remaining cross piece to make the final painting after assembly a little easier. This is Dunn Edwards Purple Trinket. It a great foil for green foliage and the pinks blues and lavenders I favor in the garden.

After a good bit of time painting, drying and flipping over each panel I am ready for the first assembly that will eventually connect the two panels, making the pyramid shape.

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The graduated lengths of cross pieces are added to both sides of the interior of one assembled panel, using only gentle taps of the rubber mallet. Standing up in this position, the cross pieces are a snap to paint out.

The day is getting late and I’ve almost lost all the natural light in the garage. A good bit of drying time is needed for the partial framework in this state. I am heading up the road a piece tomorrow, leaving at daylight for 3 days of garden events in Palo Alto and Berkeley.

It will be next week before I will have time to return to this purple project–watch for my post to see how the two turn out and where they find a home in my garden.

 

 

A ghostly princess…

I have never had spectacular success at growing lavender. My current analysis is that I have included most as ‘one of’s in mixed beds of perennials and roses which require much more summer water than is preferred by lavender. I’ve got the Mediterranean climate part of the picture right, just not the companions and cultural practices they favor.

In the lawn removal/bed design we completed very early this year I included  a grouping of 5 Anouk lavender, Lavandula stoechas ‘Anouk’.

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Anouk lavender lower center of photo

Although they did not bloom spectacularly well in their first summer I’m taking the position that they were settling in, just getting the feel of their new digs and will wow me in 2019. I feel confident that this new bed which is filled with unthirsty selections and receives good summer sun with allow them to flourish in most conducive conditions. And so the lavender bug is buzzing around my head again for the current and much larger remaining lawn removal effort. I plan to include another grouping of Anouk lavenders for continuity but have been keeping my eye out for a few other cold hardy varieties to pop in here and there. Not an easy task as new garden center stock virtually disappears by November 1st when holiday plants and Christmas trees seem to descend from nowhere.

When I visited Morro Bay the last week in October I squeezed in a little nursery shopping time and picked up a lavender with startlingly white foliage with plans to add it to the new bed diagonally across my front walk to play off the similarly hued foliage of an existing plant, Salvia apiana ‘Compacta’.

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This is (as was marked) Lavandula stoechas ssp. pedunculata ‘Ghostly Princess’. In mid-November I dug it in what I planned to be a temporary spot as I was clearing out a few other elements which had been crowded into a small bed at the base of a crape myrtle–this bed will now be part of the larger bed opened up by the lawn removal. As I did with the first project last year I have spread plants in the original small beds further out into the newly opened areas to blur the old bed lines and allow them more breathing room.

In doing a little research on this plant it did not take long for me to fall down the botanical name rabbit hole. I have always identified L. dentata as the so-called French lavenders and L. stoechas as the Spanish lavenders.  ‘Ghostly Princess’ was bred by PGA (Plant Growers Australia) Innovabred around 2013 and their informational material identifies it as a Lavandula pedunculata bred as a companion for their “The Princess” which apparently was a blockbuster introduction around 2003. They also refer to it as one of the French lavenders. Other sites label the plant Lavandula pedunculata ssp. pedunculata. After reading multiple site’s distinctions between lavender species and their common names (French, Spanish, etc.) I decided it was a global turf war this non-botanist really didn’t need to be involved in. I did learn that it is the ‘peduncles’ or rabbit ears on the top of the flower identify it as one of the French, Spanish or butterfly lavenders as opposed to an English lavender. Holy moly!

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Bred for a prolonged flowering, a compact habit and cold hardiness the silvery foliage and pale pink petals are a stark contrast to the gray green/purple combo we see on many lavender varieties. Descriptions detail the pink bracts as having darker pink veins. Despite cold temps and a fair amount of rain my girl put on flowers the first week in December! Given a good start and time to develop a good root system through our moderate winter, I have high hopes for her royal highness.

I’ve fallen into the digital divide…

Well, gardening friends, I know you are expecting this to be Plantspotting in Pasadena #2 but alas, a laptop crash several days ago has cost me the balance of those photos. FYI for any of you who are Mac users: the black screen with the little file folder outline sporting a flashing question mark is NOT your computer just wondering if you are having a good day. Fortunately I had backed up to the cloud and my external hard drive on April 21st but that does nothing for photos or data added on April 22!

The Apple Geniuses are installing a new solid state drive as I write but I will be laptop-less for several more days. Adding additional consternation is that tomorrow I leave for the 2018 Garden Bloggers Spring Fling in Austin, Texas–equipped with additional flash cards for my camera as I am without the ability to clear its memory nightly by downloading the day’s shots onto my laptop. So I’ll be garden hopping and picture snapping but blog posts will have to wait until I return from my trip. My challenge will be to remember all the great things I see long enough to tell you all about them! Making a note to myself now to take good notes for you–returning home on the 8th and hope to be posting soon after.

Smitten by all accounts…

2018 has been an unbelievably busy year both in out of the garden! Our January and February weather was mild enough to accomplish all of the “heavy lifting” work needed in the newest of our lawn free landscape areas. March gave us enough precipitation to keep the ground from crusting over but not so much that I could not get out and dig in plants purchased for the bed in the fall and overwintered in my back yard holding area. I also divided and moved in some plants which had proven southern exposure successful in the driveway circle bed last year. Still having some very large open spaces and a need for some white to temper the purples, lavenders, blues and pinks I took a road trip last week to one of my favorite garden centers–The Greenery in Turlock, CA. Not exactly around the corner for me but worth a trip every few months. I got so caught up in browsing I forgot to take more photos!

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Annuals and an addictive gift shop
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Perennials galore–stock is always fresh!
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My go to nursery for lots of plants in 4″ pots
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Shady gems and tons of good quality pottery
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Lots of varieties of barberry, abelia and other shrubs
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One of many fairy gardens throughout!

I may have been a wee bit too early for all of the newest waterwise stock to be in place. There were many salvia selections–mostly from the Salvia greggii/microphylla complex–but none of what was on my list. So even though I did not bring home anything to add to my bed in progress I did snag a couple of other very precious dark red specimens for my shadier areas.

In recent years I have been dabbling in adding a smidge of red to my garden. In deference to my existing palette the red MUST be a blue/red NOT an orange/red and these cooler reds are not nearly as plentiful and one would think. Salvia ‘Killer Cranberry’ is my touchstone for a workable red–if it looks ok in the same visual plane as the Killer it will work anywhere. A deep rich red is a beautiful foil for the many deep purples and lavenders in my garden as well as the clear pinks.

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I have to say I almost ran toward this camellia in the shade section at The Greenery! A perfect marbling of red, pink and white distinguishes Camellia japonica ‘Tudor Baby Variegated’. Fortunately, I have room for yet another camellia in an area we actually shade cloth over during the summer months so I can grow camellias for cut flowers in the cooler months. Listed as a formal double and late spring bloomer, it was a must have for me.

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I never met a lenten rose I did not like and this one leaped into my cart with very little assistance. A little more purple than dark red or burgundy, it is a stunner called ‘Cherry Blossom’ from the Helleborus hybridus collection called Winter Jewels. The spent blooms, one of which you can see lower left, take on that typical lime green hue but still bear the dark edging. This was the only remaining flower in its prime throughout the half dozen or so gallon plants available to buy and it sold me!

So no white, nothing sun loving (or even tolerant) and certainly no new waterwise plants are calling my garden home after this trip but all together a fun day of seeing what’s as new and fresh as spring feels today.

This eagle has finally landed…

 

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I recently wrapped up the seemingly interminable lawn removal/replanting of the long side yard bed between our side fence and the street. Living on a corner lot comes with blessings and curses. The biggest advantage is a little more privacy as we have no neighbor on one side. The curse (challenge?) is having a lot of area to landscape and maintain which is pretty well disconnected from the rest of our front garden and is not visible from any where inside our home.

As I have chronicled in several other posts, in June 2016 we initially chemically killed the ragged Heinz 57 variety grass planted the length of this approximately 140 foot bed along with grass in 3 other areas, including the large driveway circle bed tucked between our two driveways.  We finished the replanting of the other areas very early in 2017 and they all had successful summers. Our stamina flagged and the heat came and so we did not get back to it until fall 2017. Check out posts Now THIS is a Labor Day… to see the great rock relocation project; Autumn musings… for the plantings closest the driveway and A little cleanup and a few new friends… to see the second wave of new plants added to the bed.

We left number of the original elements in the bed, including 3 Bradford pear trees, which are all planted smack up against the fence. The trees are critical to us for privacy  plus shade AND as 2 of the 3 are original (18 yrs old) to the landscape I deemed removal of  some of the shrubbery whose roots are amongst and surrounded by tree roots to be a risk without benefit. The Rhaphiolepis indica and nandinas of unknown cultivar were trimmed up, along with several mature podacarpus, variety also unknown.

The pear trees drop an unbelievable number of leaves over a couple of weeks in late winter, usually early to mid January depending on the weather. The last areas of new plants and final mulching down had to wait until leaf fall was completed and cleaned up. Their bare limb stage is very brief and they are all ready showing buds.

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It is almost impossible to photograph this bed without crossing the street and standing on my neighbor’s porch! Even though many of my plant selections look very small–I opted for 1 gallon on almost everything–quite a few will be large scale shrubbery at maturity. A number of my SLO Botanical Garden purchases went in this bed. My goal is moderate to low water usage. The trees need regular water so I had to find a balance of materials that would tolerate summer water. As each section was hand dug around major tree roots and planting points determined, every hole was filled with water to sit overnight to test drainage. Luckily I had to change only one intended planting spot–far fewer than I had anticipated!

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Looking from the furthest point back toward the driveway. This pitiful tree is a crape myrtle that we moved about 5 years ago. It also was right up against the fence and we moved it midway between the fence and street. Last summer the tree actually bloomed for the first time ever since we purchased the house in 2008. It is a gorgeous, clear purple–possibly a ‘Catawba’.  At the base of the tree is a 2 year old colony of Convolvulus mauritanica ‘Moroccan Blue’. There are also quite a few bearded iris in blues, whites, and purples that have been moved to this sunny end over the years as I have had divisions with no other place to go. Two lavender lantana will fill the area closest the curb–readily available and easy to get going. I am using them throughout these renovations as filler plants while more permanent shrubs mature.

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The area fully in the shade canopy of the pear trees needed an evergreen backdrop and I chose Pieris japonica ‘Tiki’ to fill the bill. The common name of this plant, lily of the valley shrub, is evocative of the pink to white pearl like clusters of drooping blossoms. ‘Tiki’ is on the smaller side of the pieris selections, topping at about 3-4′ tall. My group of 5 should make a nice show once all the buds open!

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Also in the shade canopy area but getting a good bit of the rising sun I added a hardy geranium with chocolate hued foliage. This unmarked find came from Branches & Barrels in Encinitas, a great little garden and event center in north San Diego county. It has lots of new foliage, a brighter green than the more mature leaves, and I anticipate that when I have blooms I may be able to identify it from my resource library. It is hard for me to leave a hardy geranium not already in my collection behind for someone else to snap up!

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No shady area in my garden is ever complete without a few hellebores. I added 2 groups of three plants each, hoping for a pretty full look in a reasonable period of time. The top photo is Helleborus orientalis ‘NW Cotton Candy’. Its ruffled double light pink flower has darker pink veins–the first one opened yesterday and you can see it up close at the beginning of the post. The single pink flower just above is Helleborus orientalis ‘Pink Frost’As this bed slopes nicely from the fence to the street it affords a better view of the flowers than if it were totally flat. I hope to have placed them forward enough to catch the morning sun but back enough not be trampled by people getting out of parked cars.

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Another Branches & Barrels find is Leptospermum scoparium ‘Star Carpet’, or prostrate white tea tree. The foreground of the center pear tree is ground zero in its need for a cast iron plant selection. It is sloped more sharply than the surrounding areas and to find planting crevices amongst the mature, close to the surface roots is challenging. The reference material for this lesser known variety of the upright New Zealand tea tree characterizes it as a good bank cover tolerating dry conditions. The leaves are tiny but plentiful on delicate weeping branches which should spread 6-8 feet. The wild card on this one will be sun–hopefully the morning sun will be adequate for production of its small star shaped white flowers. I think dry shade is perhaps the hardest condition for which to find plants. Three of these went in the ground about 2 weeks ago and I do have new growth. Everyone, keep your fingers crossed!

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The canopy opens up near the newest of the pear trees, requiring plants with more sun tolerance. Even though this bed faces east and gets only morning sun; that sun can be quite strong at the peak of summer. Complicating the issue is that, over time, the area will be ever more shaded. At some point there will be more shade than sun except in the very early hours of the day. Breath of Heaven is an evergreen shrub native to South Africa and much used in my valley as foundation plantings. Their delicate character is appealing and their leaves are aromatic when bruised. The Coleonema pulchellum ‘Sunset Gold’ is lower than the species and bears tiny pink flowers on yellow gold stems. It has actually been kind of fun trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that in this new bed!

The plants below were described in the previous posts about this bed renovation but here’s a look at them one more time.

Left: Teucrium betonicum Right: Leucophyllum langmaniae ‘Lynn’s Everblooming’

Left: Grevillea ‘Pink Pearl’ Right: Cotoneaster horizontalis variegatus

Left: Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba’ Right: Lonicera nitida ‘Lemon Beauty’

Left: Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Sungold’ Right: Dorycnium hirsutum

The larger part of the bed has filled in very well–most plants were added in October. We did have the treelike weeping juniper professionally trimmed in late summer and I think it looks better than it ever has.

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No doubt I will add a few more bits and pieces over time–a plant collector’s wheelbarrow is never truly full–but I feel as though the time is right to let this initial go around of plants settle in and see how they fare through the summer.