San Jose Municipal Rose Garden

Naglee & Dana Ave. CA

I realize the US Constitution does not promise her citizens a rose garden but it is lovely when citizens and elected officials figure out a way to provide one anyway.  The early 20th century was a grand time for advocating for public green space for all people.  In 1927 the Santa Clara County Rose Society advocated for establishing a community rose garden.  The rose society promised  to provide the roses, the city set aside 5 1/2 acres of land just outside the city and the idea began to grow....   Continue Reading

Sierra Azul Garden, Watsonville, CA

A friend said, “since you are in the area you might want to check out Sierra Azul Nursery on your way up.”  So we thought we could squeeze it in for about 30 minutes.  After all, I’m traveling so I can’t buy any plants, and it is only two acres of gardens.  But our thinking was way off base because this is a wonderful nursery with a great variety of plants, helpful advice, and information.  It is also a demonstration gardens of plants matured and interwoven through a natural setting not unlike one could do in their own garden.  It is also an art gallery every year from May 31 thru Oct. showcasing art for the garden....   Continue Reading

Lotusland, Santa Barbara, CA

Gardening with a passion from the early 40s to the 1980’s Madam Ganna Walska found something she liked, a shrub, a tree, a type of glass and then she used alot of it.  When you have 37 acres to garden this style works.  So an agave can be 500 agaves massed along the entrance to the garden.  A ponytail palm can become a stand of trees, green glass slag from an old bottle plant can line the garden beds.  This garden was built with passion, money and serendipity as Madam discovered more about plants and pretty things....   Continue Reading

Merton Fig Tree, Santa Barbara, CA

I have always loved trees.  Seriously felt a special affinity toward them.  There was a huge black walnut tree in the field east of my childhood home.  There were sugar maples surrounding our home, there was the tulip tree in the back of the house. All of them beautifully shaped and deciduous marking the change of seasons.  Through the years I have noticed trees, stopped in mid-step, touched the arm of  my walking companion and said “Wow, look at that tree!”...   Continue Reading

San Diego Botanic Gardens

230 Quail Gardens Dr, Encinitas, CA

Truly I find it hard to say I have a favorite garden.  When I travel and visit gardens I enjoy the very moment in that garden.  However the San Diego Botanic garden holds a special place in my gardening heart.  What doesn’t grow wonderfully here?  This trip was a misty day with lots of moisture in the garden.  Droplets on leaves and blooms sparkled everywhere you looked.  But this day I happened to meet Margaret Jones, who describes herself as the “fashion maven of the well dressed topiaries of the succulent garden”  A garden volunteer she applies her pallet of plants to the garden resident plant people modeled on human form.   Each of the plant people has two garden volunteers working to keep them well dressed.  There are a team of 10 working on the topiaries.  Pat Hammer is director of Operations for SDBG and is responsible for bringing the topiaries to SDBG.  Originally they were all covered with ivy.  Now the clothing fashion is changing to succulents....   Continue Reading

Garden of Fragrance


“Stumbling on new smells is one of the delights of traveling.” – Diane Ackerman

In a small conservatory built of red brick with huge copper framed windows and an interior graced with a pair of white doves in an ornate wire cage, pots of fragrant white lilies perfumed the air.  A woman walked in followed reluctantly by a tween age girl.  “Ewww!” the child cried out, “what’s that smell?”  Her mother, perhaps by now frustrated at her daughter’s lack of enthusiasm for this day in the garden, replied, “It’s fresh air.”  The daughter’s reply, “Well, I don’t like it!”...   Continue Reading

Mom’s Iris

My Mother has always gardened and she has gardened in the same spot in Indiana soil for over 60 years.  The garden surrounds the home she made with my Father when they moved in as newlyweds down the road from my Grandparents.  Growing flowers was always secondary to farming efforts.  That continues today as my brothers farm the land that has been in our family for over 100 years.  So the garden, flowers, vegetables and such required an extra effort for my Mom....   Continue Reading

Barbara’s Garden

Public gardens are a wonderful place to visit but now and then you have the opportunity to see a beautiful private garden.

Barbara invited me out to see her hollyhocks in full glory.  Beautiful shades of pink and white were indeed glorious and scattered around her acre of Eden in the East Valley.  A transplanted “Alabama Rose” Barbara has transplanted herself and her favorite plants from her childhood home....   Continue Reading

Counting Plants


Not everything that can be counted counts, Not everything that counts can be counted. – Albert Einstein

Winding uphill through the streets of Berkeley, we arrive at the University of CA Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon.  There we are faced with a decision of paying the parking meter for the number of hours we need to explore the garden.  The garden holds over 12,000 plants including many rare and endangered plant specimens.  Director Paul Licht does the math for visitors.  “If you allow only 2 hours, a 120 min. visit would require that you see 100 different kinds of plants per minute to experience our entire collection.”  Obviously we will need a full day, even then we won’t truly see all of the plants.  Those we do see will be only a glimpse of life of the plants.  A plant today may be dormant, budding, blooming or declining....   Continue Reading