In the Garden:
Northern California Coastal & Inland Valleys
April, 2012
Regional Report

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4091

Fanciful, colorful, and delightful -- and all planted in pure compost!

Earthly Delights

I was driving in Pacifica recently and saw a whimsical wooden fence that captured my fancy. It was on a hill side, very weathered, and the top was sculpted to resemble waves. The garden behind the fence was colorful, and I wanted a photo to share with you. Keeping the image of the fence in mind, I drove back a week later with my camera. I was able to find the place again, parked, and got out of the car to get a better angle for the photo. While I was shooting, I noticed a beautiful succulent border directly across the street. Never one to waste an opportunity, I took a few photos of that too. The angle seemed wrong so I wandered down the road to get a better view.

Come In!
The gardener who had created the border was working in his yard and invited me in for a closer look. The little hillside garden was delightful! It was a riot of color composed of mostly succulents, but a few gazania poked up here and there. Lush mats of Lampranthus filicaulis, the smaller version of ice plant that blooms in the spring with brilliant fuchsia colored flowers, provided large mats of color that led the eye up the hill.

The gardener was delighted to show me around and share his success tips with a fellow gardener. His name was Doug (which I always feel is a very appropriate name for a gardener), and he claims his success lay with compost. He doesn't use dry material at all but instead creates mounds of green stuff that he turns frequently. All of the trimmings and clippings that he pulls from his garden go into rough looking piles. The mounds that created so much interest in his landscape were nothing more than piles made up from his previous years' gardens. After the piles have broken down, he plants directly into them. Doug was obviously a man with a plan.

Something For Nothing
Most of the plants came from cuttings from his neighbors' yards. Doug says that he rarely purchases a plant unless it really takes his fancy. There were several varieties of aeonium, gazania, echeveria, and lantana, but I could see that other plants would come into bloom and provide color later in the season.

A Man With a Plan
The garden had a winding path that led to several strategically placed sitting areas. Benches and small tables graced several level spots around the garden, but were none were visible from the entrance. I love the idea of "rooms" in a garden, especially when they are private. It didn't appear as if the landscape had been planned but rather evolved over time. Retaining walls made from a variety of recycled materials held the "soil" in place and allowed the plants to spill over the rough-hewn surfaces.

The lot was pie-shaped with the pointed end at the top of the hill, allowing the garden to flow down toward the house. Citrus trees were happily situated on the south facing side of the garden. A small greenhouse attached to the side of the garage is where Doug starts his seedlings and nurtures the more delicate cuttings until they are ready to put out.

It was a pleasure and an honor for me to have a private viewing of this beautiful little piece of paradise. Doug told me that he is delighted that I can share his garden with you. I hope you enjoy it!

I'll try to share the photo of the wooden fence next time....


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