Thursday, May 30, 2013

This Garden Is For The Birds

It was only a matter of time

 (two days) before the finches found the special feeder filled with niger seed just for them.

I bought it at Lowe's and hung it on the edge of the patio cover, about six feet from the sofa. At first there were only two birds but now there are as many as four or five at a time on this feeder. True, it is  quite primitive without a catch basin and I do have to clean up after them; but mostly it is a pleasure to watch them and listen as they chatter and squawk at each other. 

And because they visit for the seed, now they are also hopping around on my Sally Holmes rose that climbs the post of the patio cover and I even saw them taking a bath at a wall fountain by my window near the family room.

I was only recently inspired to hang a feeder for finches after attending a workshop about gardening to attract birds and butterflies. It was sponsored by the San Diego Horticultural Society and taught by Marcia Van Loy, a master gardener, who lives in the Clairemont neighborhood.

She gardens mostly in her backyard on this terraced slope, which she and her husband have created over 25 years. And she gardens primarily with one thing in mind: to attract birds and butterflies into her backyard. 

This colorful hillside can make the heart of a gardener jump with joy just a little.

The variety of color, texture, and sounds of birds chirping and water falling are so inviting you can't resist hiking up through the paths.

It is a lovely place to explore.

She has water lilies, and a pond

with a waterfall.

She definitely has some feathery and furry visitors. In fact, her backyard is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a wildlife habitat because it provides water, food, cover and a great neighborhood to raise the youngins. 

Though Marcia does have bird feeders hanging about, she relies heavily on the kind of shrubs, trees and flowers that she plants to attract birds and butterflies for nectar or seeds.

Hummingbirds are attracted to tubular flowers, such as the trumpet vine here,

and foxglove (above). Hummingbirds in my garden love my red bottlebrush and jasmines. 

Butterflies are attracted to this protea 

and this passion flower vine; but there are numerous other flowers that will bring the winged creatures to your garden. And, it is important, she noted, not to use pesticides in the garden that could make the plants toxic to the birds, butterflies or anything else.

 Marcia also has lots of resident housing options for her feathered friends.
This tree stump on the hillside makes a perfect bird townhouse development location, but

these are just a small sample of her rustic houses; I couldn't even count how many she has in her yard. Marcia teaches other master gardeners how to build them (using all manner of  re-purposed items headed for the trash bin) and then sell them to raise money for their organizations.

At the moment the only birdhouse I have is a useless metal one (because birds do not want to nest in a metal box, thank you!) on a post that my husband re-purposed a long time ago to use as a stake to support a vine and trellis up against our house.

So I guess I had better get chopping on some wood birdhouses!

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Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at 
GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The 2013 Mission Hills Garden Walk In San Diego Rocks!

The Garden Walk in Mission Hills is one of my favorite annual walks, probably because it is my favorite of San Diego's old neighborhoods. It is centrally located to the city. There are boutique shops (like the Maison en Provence for my love of all things French) and a number of good restaurants. There is even Chicago-style pizza at Lefty's. And, one of my favorites,  the Mission Hills Nursery on Ft Stockton Drive was originally owned in 1910 by Kate Sessions, the horticulturalist and landscape architect known as 'the Mother of Balboa Park.'

 No two homes are alike here (no cookie cutters, which is otherwise so common in the San Diego area).  And there is a wide range of styles and square footage. There are hills, and views--of the airport, the bay and downtown San Diego. There is also a wide variety of garden styles here as the "Something For Everyone" 15th Annual Garden Walk on May 11, 2013, (sponsored by the Mission Hills Garden Club) highlighted.

From the minimalist and modern garden

to the formal, all of the 2013 gardens were just as beautiful as I anticipated. 

Personally, I loved this formal garden from the moment I stepped in. I was taken in by the architectural elements of the house, especially the white columns and balconies,

 clean lines, tall formal hedges 

and especially this checkerboard patio that I would love to have in my own garden.
(Psst..the grass here is faux but convincing. Brilliant!)

Jasmine vines and climbing roses
clamor up redbrick between windows and doors. The look is beautiful and the scent, even better.

An upscale tree house built by previous owners sits in an 80 to 90-year-old Deodar cedar tree in the front yard.

 This tree is considered to be worth about $66,640 in value and environmental benefits to the community, the Mission Hills Garden Club would like you to know.  Identifying trees and their worth in terms of energy savings, air quality and storm water reduction benefits to the neighborhood was a new feature of this year's walk.

A large patio with shade cover is located just off the kitchen and faces the front yard,

which is simple, just green and so elegant. The yard is enclosed by tall hedges, with a large swath of grass and a row of young trees near the path to the patio.  

Guests are greeted at the entrance steps by a set of lovely sculptures of a graceful young man posing with a horse standing up on its hind legs.

There are several pieces of statuary in this garden and,

 like this knight in armor,

some of them are just not your usual suspects--but a touch of the unexpected!

And this guy, a classic man-faced fountain spout, now converted into a head planter, somewhat irreverently has plant roots growing out of his mouth!

 Speaking of head planters, I do have a few other favorite sights to share from other gardens on this tour, such as this silver lady-face planter. Actually, I may becoming obsessed with head planters since I fell head over heels for the lady head with tillandsia hair from a garden (click here) in a previous post.

Meanwhile, I also seem to be falling for any orange blooms these days; they are so bright and cheery--I always seem to feel a little better when I see orange flowers.

Finally, after a couple hours on a 2.6 mile walk with nine gardens on tour, this little nook with terracotta brick, white-paned windows and a climbing yellow rose is an inviting spot for a comfy chair, a good book and a tall glass of icy lemonade.

 But the truth is I'm already looking forward to the 2014 garden walk.

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Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at 
GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

O!-livenhain: Beautiful Gardens, Both Large And Small

                     Although this might appear to be the entrance to an Italian villa,

 with a centered pond surrounded on each side with a wall of Cypress trees,
and the home covered in Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila), it is not.

This is Olivenhain, a neighborhood on the eastern edge of coastal Encinitas, California, just north of San Diego. It is another community here I've heard of but never had a reason to visit until the Encinitas Garden Walk on April 20, 2013,

which featured this neighborhood. The name, Olivenhain, is German and means 'olive grove;' Germans settled in this area in the 1890s, according to Wikipedia. Homes in this rural community apparently have a minimal size lot and usually range from one half to five acres. There were more than a dozen gardens on this tour, and the estates were both large and small. But when it comes to beautiful gardens at least, size doesn't matter.

I love gardens of all sizes and on this tour, I found one large garden and one small that I absolutely adored and wanted to blog about. This first garden is sprawling and had several features to discover while strolling through, including this pool with a waterfall from an over-sized pot, a terraced garden, a small secret garden off one room of the house, a koi pond

and even a grotto--yes, a grotto--with waterfall.

Don't get me wrong, I loved all that; but sometimes the simplest design elements are the most pleasing to me.

There are beautiful views of the canyon and even some horses from the vantage point of this rustic chair. A nice spot for my morning cuppa Joe.

And just when I thought I saw all there is to see in this garden,
I stumbled into a most stunning rose collection.

'Honey Perfume'

'Living Easy'

It seemed as though every rose was a perfect specimen.

Another favorite garden of mine on this tour wasn't a large estate at all,
 but a much smaller property with a lovely pool and manicured borders on a lower level,

and the most charming side yard with outdoor fireplace and cushioned chairs under the shade of a pepper tree. There is an outside dining area here as well. The only thing missing in this picture is my favorite evening cocktail, a margarita on the rocks.

Because at the end of the day, I knew I fell in love at first sight with this cozy side yard and perhaps even with Fred, the resident dog, too. Cheers to Olivenhain!

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Copyright 2013 by Jeannine. All Rights Reserved.