R.I.P. big manzanita

Our Dr. Hurd manzanita has been in decline for three years, after growing vigorously from a small five gallon plant to a four foot tall shrub.  Leaves in some stems began to look thin and dry. I started a bit of water in summer, just hand watering on cooler days. This seemed to help, for […]






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Using irises in the garden

Our last post was about enjoying your irises; this article is about how to use them to best effect in your landscape design. Pacific Coast irises can be a bit fussy if they’re not in their preferred coastal climate, depending on which species were used to breed them. Some species come from the foothills, and […]






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Elements of design in nature | elements of nature in design

Line, form, color, texture, contrast, pattern, repetition, movement. All elements of design to consider when creating a built landscape. Finding and studying them in nature helps us recreate them in gardens and understand natural relationships of elements of a harmonious concept. These scenes juxtapose chaos (willow branches), pattern (grasses, water plants), direction (some willow branches, […]






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Design for time

Landscapes, unlike buildings, aren’t really complete until many years have passed. They go in the ground only as potential, the design something that will complete itself with time. The plants will grow, surfaces will acquire patinas, unexpected things might happen. These photos were shot around January of 1999. It’s now January 2016, seventeen years later. […]






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Autumn in the Central Valley

Did autumn come late this year, just as everything else arrived in advance? It’s been a warm year, and cooler temperatures were late to arrive, waiting until mid-November to put on the chill. With low temperatures finally hitting the high 30’s (high fives in celsius, more fun to say) the leaves flipped their color switches […]






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Lawn gone? These plants will spice up your new landscape!

We’ve been visiting Mountain States Nursery’s booths at conferences around the Southwest, everywhere but Sacramento, dreaming about exotic plant shapes, colorful flowers of all shapes and sizes to try back home…  After concluding that getting their plants in Sacramento was basically Mission Impossible, we walked into our local landscape trade show to see a Mountain States booth. […]






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