2.19.2014

the garden this morning








For the last 2 weeks I've been going a little crazy in the garden.  Photographic proof of that follows.  One of my new year resolutions was to grow a vegetable garden but I've somewhat abandoned that idea and instead decided to whip the garden I do have into shape.  My first thoughts when walking the property and making lists was to hire someone to come in and do a big general clean up.  That way I could start fresh and keep things maintained.  But then I abandoned that idea and put my boots and gloves on and just went at it.  Just like paying down my mortgage, I had another elephant to eat. As most of you know this garden is over 120 years old and has many invasive plants in it.  The photos really don't show just how much work is involved.  I "think" I'm about 1/2 way done.  Who am I kidding? Things are growing out of control right now as I type.




I thinned the ferns in the front bed.  This is quite a job that I've been putting off.  Hopefully come spring, it'll look better than this.




Hard pruned those rose trees along the fences.  I've never done those before so who knows when the last time that was done.  My guess would be 20+ years ago.  While trimming the roses along that front fence I fell off the ladder into a lovely combination of roses and holly.  Could old Henry and Gertrude have planted more sharp plants?  I had 5 thorns stuck in my arm pit for 2 days.





While digging the ferns up I found this Camelia that my friend M gave me when we moved in.  It's been buried in those ferns for at least 5 years.




The geraniums all got a general clean up which was super easy.





Ok this is what I call my yoga garden.  As you can see there is no lawn here.  When we first moved in and attacked this area we planted grass but it was the wrong kind.  So no lawn, no yoga.  After about 4 days in here getting rid of bamboo, trimming ivy, segos and removing all kinds of natural debris, I'm ready to put some drought tolerant grass seeds down.





Bamboo bamboo bamboo bambooschmoo.



Pretty geranium just because.



Believe it or not this is the after snap of the laundry garden.  It was bad.  A giant rando yucca plant had gone crazy and I tore it out.  The grass here needs some help too.  In case you are wondering...that is a 150 year old pepper tree.




I gave up filling the trash cans and resorted to this. Week 1 photo.





Week 2 photo.




Pretty orchids hanging out doing their thang.







Rose garden.  All involved are pruned, fresh wells dug and fed.

So today dear friends I'm resting my back.  My bread is in the oven baking and later I'm taking a soak in a hot tub with epsom salts and lavender.  I may sit in the garden and admire but I am not picking up a single garden tool.  I'm not, I'm not, I'm not.




70 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! You deserve a break.

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  2. Gardening is such good exercise! Your plants will be so happy now that you have given them some more room to breathe.
    Having just moved to San Diego, I am loving the ability to garden/putter outside all the time. We have a rental right now with not much but a few trees and dirt in the backyard, so raised bed boxes for our garden are the way we will go and then they can come with us when we move again in the next year or two.It will be interesting to see how much produce we can grow here.
    You'll have to take some of our inevitable excess :)

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  3. Oh it all looks so fertile and you have colour in your garden, mine looks shocking just now.

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  4. So jealous. My garden is buried under snow... I've forgotten what green looks like. I too plan on giving my roses a hard prune come early spring. I'm never quite sure what to do with the ramblers and climbers though??? Lx

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  5. Your garden is just wonderful, the yoga bit makes me go weak at the knees! We tackled our ferns between showers on Sunday, they are such vicious beasts! xxx

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  6. Yes, You've done enough! All us Northerners thank you for a glimpse of green.

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    1. I'm with Lane. We've had three feet of snow in the last week. I will not see grass till at least sometime in April? Lane - why do we live where we live? Remind me!

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  7. Wow, Janet...just looking at all the work you have done made me tired! You have an amazing garden, that camellia is a real beauty and I love that old pepper tree! You definitely deserve a break, and I'm so glad you got the thorns out! Ouch!!!

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  8. I'm thinking about gardening...but not doing...yet. Perhaps I'll do some raking this afternoon...you've inspired me.

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  9. I always love seeing your garden. That is a lot of work...it's going to pay off as the season goes. Things are just starting to bud out here.

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  10. Congratulations on a huge job well done! I know that once I get going in my yard (too big to be called a garden) I can't seem to stop. Everything in your garden looks clean and ready for spring. Debby

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  11. I am so envious of the green in your garden. In my world, all is still brown, although the shades of brown vary somewhat. It sounds like a lot of work, but how wonderful that the old garden around your house lives on. There are remnants of old planting here but they were placed randomly in the ground with no rhyme or reason.Enjoy the rest-- you have earned it!

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  12. At least you have nice weather to work in your garden. Your garden is very pretty. Bambo is a NIGHTMARE: our neighbor had it and it jumped to our yard: Thankfully, she allowed us to clean-up her side and ours.

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    1. A couple of houses back, it bordered both sides of the backyard; I think it was called Golden Bamboo but I'm not sure. It was impossible. I thought my husband would have a heart attack trying to get at it and at least thin it. He used a machete/cutlass; all kinds of saws. Maybe that's why it's planted in the first place by some people because it's such an inpenetrable screen; unfriendly (intruders, keep out!!). I had a friend who just gave up when he took on a fixer-upper house where the whole backyard was a sea of bamboo. He rented one of those mini-cats/dozers and he and his dad spent days plowing it all down so that they could recapture some semblance of a yardspace. They were exhausted and it was very expensive to rent the equipment and then get all that bamboo hauled out of there. I hope I never encounter bamboo again. I think it's a menace! In Asia, didn't they use the bamboo to run water, like tubing? The big 'stalks' or whatever you call them are like steel. I can't speak for the gardener's cottage, but I've seen where bamboo was planted quite a bit in that 1960s craze of tropics/patio/lanai/pool/thatched changing hut/tiki torches. If you buy a house from that era in Southern California, watch out...

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    2. Vicki-----the first year we cut it all the way down and put weed killer on it. We then paid someone to come in with a CAT to help dig it up and haul it away. We continued weed killer and put salt down which killed the majority of it. We still saw new shoots come up but hubby dug those out. By the second year, we were ready to pour concrete over the area for our driveway. One big headache!!! I feel for Janet as it's ongoing issue to deal with:)

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    3. Yes, because even a little bit can be a problem. It's invasive. The only thing I liked about it, when I'd pretend it wasn't bamboo, was that it would sort of shimmer in the afternoon light/breeze; it was pretty.

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  13. I am so jealous. Your gardens look wonderful!! Mine look like, well, snow, dead leaves, snow, fallen branches, snow, and snow. Despite what the calender says, Spring is still 2 good months away here on Cape Cod. really.big.sigh.....
    Do sit in the garden later so you can admire all your hard work. Pick up a glass of wine instead of any tools. :-)
    ~ Martha

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  14. Dear Janet, I am happy to say my husband is in charge of housekeeping outdoors, and I am in charge of housekeeping (to a certain extent) indoors. Except, he lets me pick up our dog's poop - isn't he generous? Ha! Somehow, he seems to keep all greenery living, and I tend to kill all greenery.

    Today is our 20th wedding anniversary and I picked up some irises for $3.99 for him. They are just a small bunch, but I go by the motto 'quality over quantity.'

    Your first photo is so peaceful looking with the bit of fog in the background. You put in a lot of work in the garden but I bet you are happy you did it, it looks great.

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  15. happy anniversary! normally larry would be out there helping me but he's got a huge project he is working on and has been unable to pitch in. so it's been a solo effort. but extremely good exercise and rewarding too.

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    1. Oh dear, I would offer to come over and help....but you are doing just fine on your own. LOL. I would probably give you too many wild ideas...more work. I did my Mom's yard for years. The worst part was when I got this hare brain idea to plant wildflowers on her grassy slope...darn near killed myself mowing it. That hare brain idea took me two years to complete...a few years later I remarried, moved to San Diego, just to have my brother dig it all up and pour concrete. Their answer to Jill not doing the yard work any longer. So, I will walk out onto my sad patio garden...I use the word garden loosely, and think of small ways to improve it.
      blessings, jill

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  16. Very well done indeed! With all that hard work (and great results!) you certainly deserve your long soak in Epsom salts and lavender! Eating a square of dark chocolate while soaking in the bath is divine too! (and don't forget to add Epsom salts around the garden too!) Hope you take a picture of that bread! :)

    Cheers! Jan at Rosemary Cottage

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  17. Well done. I always find that when I get the urge to spend money, spending time on improving my surroundings helps me appreciate what I have. I want to buy new carpet, so first I am cleaning out the closet and master bedroom and freshening the walls with a new coat of paint. That will give me plenty of time to save and contemplate before spending the money!

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  18. oh my god, I'm so jealous. It's hard to believe that there is not one bit of color here and you have things blooming! A day in the garden is a good day...hope you're taking a glass of wine in the tub with you. :)

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  19. You've done a lot of work here! Two things: I love drapey pepper trees. When you hang clothes on the line under the trees, do you get debris on the clean laundry?

    You bagged a great house. It might be small but the living is large with that gorgeous greenspace.

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  20. Awesome. In the actual sense of the word.

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  21. Warm places problems (said in jest from Long Island where those colors do not exist right now.) Really beautiful!


    Corinne

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  22. Your home reflects you well -- beauty and simplicity inside and out.

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  23. I spent probably 60 hours pulling an invasive vine from the front planting bed the first year we lived in my current house. So much work! But, now it is nice and clean and has some lovely boxwood and a large urn... But, it is all under 18" of snow right now - I can't even get motivated to plan for the garden yet it has been so long since I've seen the lawn! -Sarah

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  24. I am impressed. My first instinct is always to hire someone for cleanup- then I remember my current finances. Since I'm usually good for one full day or two half days of cleanup, and that's all, I know you deserve and need a break after three days of it. But it's going to look lovely, come spring. Great work!

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    1. It is very expensive to hire these jobs out. I had to prep my last house for sale and it was mostly half-acre yardspace with just a wee spot of a house, with century-old (one was 150 years old) oak trees which make a constant mess of leaves under which I think lawn just chokes. I love oak trees...oaks and sycamores are indigenous here in SoCal...but they need to be in an uninhabited canyon back in the mountains and not in my backyard; rather, the builder of our little cottage should have thought twice about how they'd grow over time when he built the house too close to the trees (which were there first). Anyway, I would venture to say in the six months prior to putting our place up for sale, it was $3000 to clear and trim; of course, it had gotten the best of my husband and he was at his away-job too much. Here, oak trees are protected by local ordinance and can only be trimmed by a licensed trimmer who has proof an arborist has been consulted first or it's a stiff fine (maybe even worse, I'm not sure). The first year we were in the house and were required by the homeowners' insurance company to cut back the trees/foliage, it cost $7,000 to clear the property, which included about $1000 per tree trim. Of course, when we moved in, we had no idea we'd run into that kind of expense; we were novices.

      Janet, I was going to mention something...how you're struggling with grass to grow. If it's under a lot of shade, particularly trees...or if it's north-facing lawn...good luck. Our former cottage faced north and was encased in trees. You never saw a man work so hard to get a green lawn going than my husband. It was non-existent before we moved in; my relatives, who were the previous owners, hadn't had any luck either. We spent a small fortune on improving the soil, water, etc. All we attracted were gophers. At first we just thought our dogs were tromping on it too much, but they were never in the front, and it wasn't much different than the back. The grass at the entrance/front of the home wasn't even walked on(!), so it wasn't like it suffered hard duty. My husband eventually threw his hands up in defeat. I'm sure you must have a good local, nursery person on whose advice you can depend, since you're a gardener; apparently we started out with the wrong kind of grass in the first place. Again, novices.

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    2. Oops, but I just remembered you said you did the same thing with your yoga space; sorry, not implying you're a novice, too! Who knew there were so many different kinds of grasses...sigh...

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  25. Janet I LOVE LOVE your garden!! It feels so good to sort it out doesn't it? Love the pepper tree and hope you are relaxed now. I remember you saying your garden saved you. Me too x

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  26. What beauty ! And to see flowers and greenery right now.....I am buried under many, many inches of snow. We are all going a little crazy here with cabin fever. I forgot that there are beautiful places in the United States that still see the sun and are green. How beautiful your garden is, with all your tender, loving care....You deserve a lot of credit for back breaking work - but the results are lovely !

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  27. I LOVE your pepper tree. I have 2 on my property but my guess is they only about 30 to 40 years old. Beautiful tree!

    At our previous house the neighbors bamboo had invaded our space, so we worked on digging it out. I had nightmares about it coming up through our carpet!!! Your garden will reward you for your hard work. Gardens love attention. :-)

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  28. I thought I stepped into a fairy tale when I saw the first picture! (really!) I love all the colors in your garden, especially all I can see outside in my yard is white and brown. The soft pink of the Camelia is just stunning. Enjoy your epsom salts and lavender bath! xx

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  29. Have you thought of a camomile lawn?

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    1. May I suggest a woolly thyme lawn as another option. Woolly thyme is very flat, with grayish, tiny leaves. It does flower a bit sometimes, but my experience has been that there isn't a lot of flowering. It also takes tromping on pretty well.

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    2. ooo ladies i had not thought of these. what a great idea. i will have to see if they will grow in my zone. Thanks!

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  30. Wow! What a lot of work! But you made me smile showing your beautiful flowers while I dream of spring. Thanks.

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  31. What a lot of work - good for you! Living in Wisconsin under a blanket of snow I can't even feel inspired to go out and do the same as it's not possible. Love, love, love that camelia - just beautiful. Thanks for sharing your pictures.

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  32. That pepper tree is awesome!! And, it's so nice to see some color! We've been looking at either brown, or white for months now. You've done a ton of hard work. But it will all pay off soon in lovely blossoms, and your tranquil yoga space. Think of the money you saved to put toward paying your mortgage!! Enjoy your soak. Thank you for sharing this today. :)

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  33. Oh Janet you could have been seriously injured falling off that ladder...lucky that you only sustained a few thorns.
    I second the wooly thyme option for your Yoga garden. As a passionate gardener myself I know just how much muscle and energy it takes to do what you have accomplished in a short time..not for the faint of heart.
    Enjoy the vista when you sit and peruse your hard work...the dreaming and planning phase is just as important.

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  34. I'm so envious! Last Fall I cleared out the ravine in my backyard and terraced it and then dug up all the wildflowers in my front yard and transplanted them to the sideyard area and laid landscaping bricks and grass-seeded the front yard and I was so exhausted and so DONE with gardening....and yet just today I drove through snow and slush and went and bought flower seeds and seed starter!
    It's an obsession and thankfully good exercise.
    Sometimes I think of moving where it doesn't snow but I think I need the seasons because it makes me so grateful when Spring finally does arrive!
    Thanks for showing me some green! I needed it. ;)

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  35. Bread baking in the oven and soaking in a relaxing bath after a hard day's work in the garden - sounds like heaven! (I wish we HAD a bath - hindsight...)

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  36. So nice to see your front yard looking all green. We're a good two and half months from that.

    I hope your arm pit is okay.

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  37. Janet, even at this point, you're garden is beautiful! I love ivy geraniums and sympathize about the bamboo. I use a lot of ivy geraniums in pots during the summer, ivies with bacopa or creeping fig and variegated sage. In your laundry garden, is that one large geranium?

    You've got me inspired now. I'm off to look through the types of nasturtiums and choose what to plant next month. After years of trying, I finally found that I can grow nasturtiums in pots if I plant them in March so the seeds have some chilly weather to help them grow.

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  38. I really need to get my butt out in the yard...yours looks great after all of your back breaking work! I think a hot soak in the tub was well deserved! BTW, how much yard do you have? It looks like a decent sized lot. (we have almost an acre and sometimes I wonder what we got ourselves into) :/

    I was looking at my Geraniums in my pots and they really need cleaning up. A lot of dead stuff hiding underneath all those leaves. Your orchid is gorgeous!

    Linda
    xo

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    1. I'm struck by how we're all so taken by the beautiful flowers...reading about Janet's, thinking of our own, dreaming of what we'd like to still grow. What would we do without them...color, scent, beauty. I planted zinnias as a tot with my mum. A bright spot of color in a forgotten corner of the backyard. Very confidence-building for a kid.

      Geraniums are so forgiving and drought-resistant; I was just gazing this afternoon at some in the yard here at my parents' which were put in when they bought the house in the 50s. Additionally, I have a geranium doing very well in a pot, so easy-care, brought from my own last home; it was started off some of my aunt's fire-engine-red geraniums which she'd been growing since the 40s.

      I killed potted geraniums once by over-watering them. A l-o-n-g time ago, I stayed a couple of days at an older, quaint hotel in Astoria, Oregon while on a coastal vacation. The entire veranda had hanging pot, after hanging pot, of colorful geraniums. It would put a smile on your face. Apparently the sea fog and mist there were enough to keep them happy (the right amount of moisture) despite a lack of bright sunshine.

      I've had neighbors who tear out rosebushes...viciously...saying they hate them. Why, I wonder. Yes, they have thorns (poor Janet; ouch!) but aren't their blooms worth it? I see them planted at chain-link fences which border ranches here and they flower prolifically with little to no care. In fact, a lovely Victorian ranch home in our area was restored over the years, and buried under so much overgrowth were gorgeous old rose bushes which local historians/garden clubs had to research quite a lot to figure out their 'names' from decades past.

      Here at Mother's, roses grow which my grandpa started for her as slips/grafts (I don't know the word) from bushes he'd planted in 1918 for his new bride, some years before my mom was born and in another city. They give me a lot of comfort. It's sort of an amazing continuity. Even though the gardener cut them back in December, they are lush right now with magenta, pink, coral and yellow. And the lilies have forced...callas, always in time for Easter but earlier this year, I suppose because we had no winter. They don't let anything stop them. Curiously, we still have big red poinsettias waving in the breeze, bigger than my hand, although their time is past for the season.

      I'd often thought of what my last little cottage might have looked like in its garden heyday, c. 1928 or so. Janet, perhaps you've wondered similarly. After we went in to the old property and cleaned it up so many decades later, amazing things popped out in Spring and after gentle rain. They could breathe again. A towering hollyhock like Jack-In-The-Beanstock; a carpet of blue-purple iris. It was the MOST fun, watching our garden grow.

      (Don't mean to make East Coast/Midwest folks feel bad, as they sit trapped in snowy dominance; remember, we in the West have sun but we are also in dangerous drought. Everyone I know is starting to cut back a little; getting prepared...we know water rationing is not far off. And it's a pain.).

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    2. "Jack and the Beanstalk."

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  39. I so love your blog! Thank you :)

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  40. Oh my word! That is the lovelyest garden I have ever seen. I adore ferns! I LOVE the yoga garden, never mind the no grass. And that pepper tree... Fantastic.
    Anne Elisabeth

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  41. I would love to see a layout-plan of the garden. Garden? These are mutliple gardens! A rose garden, a yoga garden, a front garden, ... Your gardens remind me of a flat/house/condo, where you clean only one room at a time. Because otherwise it is too much!

    Also sursprising: the palm tree(s) in the backl. With the palm trees, this looks almost like a (sub)tropical environment.

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    1. I was thinking that, too, how you round a corner and here is another garden, each its own little oasis;a new discovery. You see that in the big estates as you wander over large grounds...an herb garden, a kitchen garde, a rose garden, a palm garden; can't imagine the upkeep but also can't imagine the peace and beauty of having that right at hand. Janet has her own mini-version of this concept! I think the yoga garden is a special spot; perfect. And good suggestions from Janet's readers on what to plant for ground cover. I've never heard of such things as a chamomile or thyme lawn; I assume it might have beneficial scent, all the more to make the yoga experience even better. Brilliant. I learn so much here; gonna delve into that deeper and do some fact-finding.

      Janet, have you ever been to Lotusland up near Santa Barbara? It's an old, old estate opened to the public and it has a dizzying amount of specialty gardens. Makes a nice getaway-for-the-day.....

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    2. I just wanted to add, about Lotusland, that I've attended workshops there in a previous life and they really try hard to be good stewards...well, they have to; it's their job...and the drought right now is a big problem for them but, gosh, I think there could be nearly 20 individual gardens on that estate; literally thousands of plants. The exotic European lady who owned the estate would actually sell off her jewelry just to plant another garden. I know you have Descanso and other stuff nearer to you. We're lucky to have so many great gardens in Southern California; I love the Huntington Library and Gardens, too. And of course the Getty Villa in Malibu (more for the greenscape and ocean views than the art treasures!); I could live there.

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    3. Okay, one more thing and then I really will stay quiet but, Janet, a little known fact...if you have a home gardening question, you can email Descanso Gardens in L.A. and they will actually have one of their gardening/horticultural staff respond, although it could take a couple of weeks for them to get back to you. Maybe you could pose your yoga garden ground-cover issue to them, especially because we're all in the same locale and they'd know what could grow best here. I'd suggest detailing to them how much shade you get there vs. sun, etc. You could email the photo. (I've loved all your photos here; the first one of the morning light is so awesome.)

      Sorry I'm doing the Vicki-Vicki-Vicki thing again. I'm going to have to limit how many times I visit your blog so I don't keep hogging it. And really do what I say. But it's just so interesting!

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    4. good idea re descanso. i'll check my local nursery and see what they say. i'm intrigued by these grasses too.

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    5. You know that Descanso is in tony La Canada/Flintridge, right? I tend to lump everything south of me into "L.A." sometimes. I think the Huntington is actually in Pasadena.

      My mom was native-born to Los Angeles and she couldn't stand it when people would refer to it as "L.A." She always said the 'Angeles' part with a hard 'g.' But that wasn't right either. Apparently nobody here has gotten the name right in over 100 years. I read an article a couple of years ago in the LA TIMES about it. They actually had a big deal going in the 1950s, spearheaded by the then-mayor, to 'officially' settle on one pronunciation which then changed how broadcasters, teachers, etc. said it/taught it (basically, to Anglicize it instead of using the true soft-syllable Spanish words). Oh well, trivia...but if I ever write it as L.A. or verbalize "L.A." I feel a little guilty.

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    6. What am I saying...the Huntington isn't IN Pasadena, it's NEXT to Pasadena in another swanky place, San Marino. But I'm sure you knew that.

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  42. That Pepper Tree??? - **swoon** Love it. Love working to exhaustion and then enjoying well-deserved relaxation (never sure why we feel we need a reason), but SO rewarding! Love the pics, so thank you. IL/Wisc with our 2-3 feet of standing snow is officially jealous.

    May I ask - Do you still work, and if so, do you work from home or at a brick and mortar near your home? Just curious!

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  43. I am so envious of you right now! I live in the Northeast and my garden is buried under 3 feet of snow. Cannot wait until Spring although with all the snow I think I will be getting a late start in the garden this year. Love your garden and can see that all the hard work is worth it.

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  44. Like minds Janet! We are finally getting the warm late winter weather Houston is known for and I have spent evenings after work cutting, cleaning, raking, etc. I had a really nasty old shub from the last homeowner that I had not dug up yet and was dreading the back breaking removal of shrub/stump/root ball...but luckily, my foster puppies saw me working at getting that darn shrub up and kindly dug up the entire root ball for me...all I had to do was take a shovel and severed the roots...doggie labor? Who knew? Just take two 3 month old rescue pups and point them in the direction of whatever plant you want destroyed (recommendation: careful monitoring that they stay fixated on plants you want removed).

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  45. What a beautiful tree you have growing in your front garden, such an elegant spread. And so many of your plants look very exotic to my eyes. Gardening is great exercise, but it can give you a stiff back. Hope the bath eased any aches!

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  46. such a good decision to do it yourself...a bit at a time. put the money to the mortgage.

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  47. Hope your armpit is better. Gardening works the body but soothes the soul I think. Today in the UK for the first time in ages there is a blue sky and sun. So I set to - weeding, putting up a bird box, cleaning and filling the bird seeder and spreading manure where it's needed and the garden looks better, I feel better and all of those thoughts chasing around my head have slowed down and left me feeling a lot more mellow. I have a big patch to dig over, I was teetering on hiring someone too but I have taken inspiration from you and will now dig a bit each day,

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  48. In the laundry garden, the plant to the left--is that a massive geranium?!

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  49. Wow, Janet! This is incredible. You must feel so good about getting so much done in your beautiful garden. That is a LOT of work! And it's looking fantastic! Hope you took that well deserved soak!

    Hope you're having a relaxing weekend :) xo

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  50. You've done a wonderful job. Now all the greenery will get lots of sunlight. Plenty of room for new growth and your creative puttering
    and planting. Perhaps in other posts you've given the history of your garden and I've missed reading them...please direct to them.
    BarbaraG

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kindness is never out of style.