Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gainer Garden Revisited: Six Years On. Drought resistance has never been so chic.


Eclectic low water garden design, custom wood-working and a well known luminary/artist (walkways) collaborate to create a slice of low water urban chic. This beautiful, thriving garden was first highlighted on our website in 2009 and continues to surprise us.

This garden includes evergreens, natives and drought resistant, low water native grasses demonstrating that "drought resistant" and "low-water" can be creative, modern and ultra-relaxed.

Owner-made benches sit opposite each other, one in full shade and one in part sun.  Neighbors have the option to rest, chat, enjoy the garden, or optimally all of the above.
A mix of native grasses surround one of two beautifully, ornamentally pruned Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' Manzanita. A Rosemary hedge to the right offers privacy and food for both the homeowner's and the bees.
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' Manzanita - 6 years old and recently pruned.

Native grasses surround the feature tree.
Festuca rubra and other native grasses grace the front yard and gives this garden a sense of causal country style.  The homeowner's appreciation for wildlife and water conservation were primary aspects of our garden planning.
A mix of native grasses give this garden a 'meadow look.'
Calamagrostis foliosa (Mendocino Reed Grass) is most happy in part shade.
California natives: evergreen groundcover Salvia sonomensis 'Bee's Bliss' in the foreground (bottom left) and Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' in the background (top right).
Salvia sonomensis 'Bee's Bliss' (bottom left), Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn (middle), and Lavandula intermedia 'Provence (at bottom of photo)
Plant list includes: Achillea 'Moonshine', Achillea millefolium 'Sonoma Coast', Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn', Calamagrostis foliosa (Mendocino Reed Grass), Epilobium/Zaushneria 'Lavandula intermedia 'Provence', Salvia sonomensis 'Bee's Bliss'

An orange flowering native plant, Epilobium/Zauschneria 'Everett's Choice' (California Fuchsia), makes an ideal, low-growing groundcover.  Flowers can be seen from early April through June, and again in the Fall.
A large Blue Agave was removed in May 2015 and in replacement were Agastache 'Orange Nectar' (Hummingbird Mint), Achillea millefolium 'Sonoma Coast' (Yarrow), and Calamagrostis foliosa (Mendocino Reed Grass).
The Agastache provides nectar for hummingbirds & bees from April through October, while the Arctostaphylos provides nectar for them from January through early May. Just wait until the hummingbirds find these! Party time!
UPDATE: Photo taken on February 9, 2016 - "This six year old Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' blooms from late January through February."
"This six year old Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' is highlighted by a sea of green underfoot. Native grasses are constantly changing with the seasons; brown panicles and seedheads in the summer and fall, are now replaced with a robust native grass lawn."
"I'm so pleased with the look and feel of our front garden. The plants suit the land, and will be a friendly habitat for bees, birds and us too. Thanks T & P for bringing California back to our garden."
M. Gainer, homeowner.
Citrus trees screen the once empty space between two driveways and provide fruit to both homes and neighbors alike.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Cool Mediterranean Garden - Mountain View, California

This gardens previous owners had lawn and invasive bamboo that took two years of concentrated effort for the current homeowner's to remove.  Like a sweet song or a good poem, Taproot Garden Design worked with Nancy & Shahzad's brilliant personal style and combined ideas to create a garden with unique, eclectic, and artistic elements.  Now, the homeowner's treasure their daily breakfasts and evening dinners in this garden of cool blues, greens, and greys that relax the mind and body.  Two espaliered apple trees, three espaliered peach trees, and a Pomegranate tree provide for the bees in the spring and sweet fruit for the homeowner's from summer through fall.

The Village Gardener, members of  the California Landscape Contractor's Association installed this garden just over a year ago, in the spring months of 2014 and it is looking fantastic!

Subtle blend of cool colors & textures are soothing to the eyes & hands.
Wicker chairs and a wood table match the natural grey tones of the unstained redwood deck.
An alluring view...
Simple tile embellishments in the concrete makes all the difference and adds substantial theme, interest & personal flair.
The soft plumes of Mendocino Reed Grass (Calamagrostis foliosa) soften the edges of the concrete planter.  The union of the redwood deck and the concrete planter are seamless and demonstrate that the right materials, used together effectively in design, create a sense of creativity and novelty.
A Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) and four Mendocino Reed Grasses (Calamagrostis foliosa) grace this tile-inlaid concrete planter.  Specific tiles from Fireclay Tile were personally chosen by the homeowners and integrated into the final installation.
French doors open onto a level redwood deck, allowing for ease of transition, even with a handful of food and drinks.
The low redwood deck provides the homeowner's an opportunity to observe and interact with the butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds that frequent their garden.
Seating on multiple levels allows for small parties to break into even smaller, intimate engagements.
A built in corner bench allows for more seating, or extra table space for food and drinks.
Corner bench seating calls attention to the end of the deck and the beginning of the planted areas.
Balance
View from the small patio
Gardenias and Lavenders are planted throughout the garden, providing alluring scents throughout the warmer months.
Mendocino Reed Grasses, Lavenders, and Gardenias surround the small concrete patio.
The same tile from Fireclay Tile that was inlaid into the concrete planter was also used in the concrete patio.
The small concrete patio sits in the corner of the garden, under an Olive tree.  After 3:00pm, it is in full shade, offering a respite to the happy wanderer.
Espaliered fruit trees grace the sides of walls and fences, without being attached to either.  Espaliered Peach trees and Apple trees are on post and heavy gauge wire trellis'.
A pomegranate tree, two apple trees, three peach trees, and a Meyer lemon are among the fruiting trees in this garden.
An espaliered Meyer lemon enjoys the heat of the chimney.  A Kangaroo Paw makes a stately partner with its yellow flowers matching the yellow lemons.
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Small & Simple Sanctuary - Santa Clara, California

This sleek Santa Clara, California garden was installed six years ago with the intention of creating an ideal drought tolerant, low water and low maintenance living space.  The design transformed a somewhat narrow, unimpressive yard into a wonderful backyard retreat.  Clean lines, low-contrast colors, modern Asian influences and useful spaces are perfectly fit for regular meals & small social events, completed by a short, meandering pathway of cut-stone pavers leading to perfectly proportioned vegetable beds. 

Back garden patio with
'Charcoal' Idaho Quartz Slate pavers
Pittosporum tenuifolium screens both fences and neighbors' back yards, gives the homeowner's privacy, and provides shade in the late afternoon.  Pittosporum tenuifolium is drought tolerant, low water (once established), non-invasive and, with some skillful regular pruning, can be maintained in a 'light & airy' form at 15 feet tall in a two foot wide bed, making it the ideal shrub for screening.
The stabilized grey decomposed granite pathway with inlaid 'Charcoal' Idaho Quartz Slate pavers allows for foot traffic and water drainage to plants nearby.

'Charcoal' Idaho Quartz Slate pavers
Pinus thundbergii 'Thunderhead' (Japanese Black Pine), Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty', Pittosporum tenuifolium 'Kohuhu', Pittosorum tobira 'Wheeler's Dwarf', and a Clementine Mandarin Orange tree share this space.
A Pinus thundbergii 'Thunderhead' (Japanese Black Pine) and other shrubs are kept small with regular once-a-year pruning.
Japanese Black Pine



Garden Lantern
Front garden patio entrance with same 'Charcoal' Idaho Quartz Slate

Front garden patio entrance

Front garden plants match back garden plants for continuity.











A small lantern statue sits in a shaded corner with Sonoma fieldstone boulders in the front garden.
The Design
BEFORE:  Uneven formed concrete patio surface and full sun exposure made this garden hot and visually unappealing. Fixed!
BEFORE:  Odd plantings, and no sense of space or privacy.