Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Bird and Butterfly Gardens

Spring is definitely here in San Diego and it has me thinking about birds and butterflies. A lot of my clients want to attract hummingbirds and butterflies to their garden and ask me to put in plants they love. So here are a few good options (starting at the top left): Penstemon parryi, Mimulus aurantiacus, Lantana 'Irene', Caesalpinia pulcherimma, Centranthus ruber, Buddleja 'Royal Red', and Asclepias carassauica. As a general, easy-to-follow but imperfect rule, flowers that are shaped more like trumpets are adapted to having hummingbirds and butterflies as their pollinators.

A few other things to know before you get started on your own bird and butterfly landscape design: you need to provide year-round options if possible (such as winter berries for the birds like Pyracantha or Heteromeles) and plants that the butterfly larvae can live on. Keep in mind, the larvae typically consume the leaves of the plant when they hatch. So if your Asclepias carassauica (aka butterfly weed) is suddenly looking like it is being eaten by caterpillars- don't spray it! Those caterpillars aren't pests, they are your baby butterflies! If you have a maintenance crew, point out the plants the larvae are growing on so they know not to hurt them.

For more information, the Sunset Western Garden Book has a great section on plants for birds and butterflies. Want to know which ones are easy to grow in San Diego? Go to our website and fill out the contact request form and ask!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Kate Wiseman design featured in Garden Ideas Magazine

I am very proud and excited to have one of the gardens I designed featured in the Spring 2010 issue of Better Homes and Gardens: Garden Ideas and Outdoor Living magazine.

The focus of the article is using color and texture in the built elements of the garden (as in, the bits that aren't plants) to give you year round interest. It also has a great how-to section where the homeowner steps you through making your own glass mosaic.

Just a few thank-you's: I want to thank master photographer Ed Gohlich for his amazing skill behind a camera. I'm pretty sure he could make me believe I wanted to live in every single garden he photographs! I'd also like to thank Andrea Caughey for keeping an eye on me and Andrea Hayday for her very conscientious process. Also thank you to Derby and Catherine Pattengill for being such fun, kind, and creative people.

Want your own colorful outdoor living space? Visit us at Sage Outdoor Designs!

Take the Monrovia style quiz- it's fun

Monrovia nursery has an amazing website full of useful plant information and great images. I also recently stumbled on this style quiz tool, which I thought was a lot of fun. I have seen many of these images before because clients have shown them to me, so maybe you've already stumbled upon the quiz. But if not, give it a try and see if it can interpret your style!
For some of the questions, I felt like I wanted to pick two choices, so I tried the quiz twice. It decided I like a "Contemporary Style" (see image above) and an "Eco-Friendly" style (see images below). I think they are right on both counts. Of course, as a designer, I find almost every garden style fascinating.... so perhaps I'm not the perfect quiz subject.

Feel like the style quiz didn't help you enough? Sage Outdoor Designs can help you find your garden style. Visit our website for more information.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A great plant for a modern landscape design

Because of their elegant form and wonderful color, variegated Agaves make a perfect addition to a modern landscape design with one notable drawback: most of them have long and strong spines making them a dangerous choice for near walkways or around children. The solution you often see is Agave attenuata, the gentle blue spineless agave. But what if you want the gorgeous variegation and something a little more unusual? Aren't we all getting a little tired of seeing modern landscapes covered in blue spineless agaves (or is that just me)?

The two plants shown here are both a great solution. The first is the bright lemon yellow variegated Agave 'Kara's Stripes'. It has the same form as Agave attenuata but in a startling bright color. "Kara's Stripes' was discovered by Gary Gragg of Golden Gate Palms & Exotics Nursery, who removed it as a sport emerging from a plant growing in his garden and named it for his wife. It is being marketed in the U.S. through PlantHaven but you can find it now at many of the good local retail nurseries around the county.

The second option is to look for a gentle look-alike. The image on the left is Furcrea 'Mediopicta'. It has the same rosette form and bold variegation, but with soft flexible leaves- making it both safe and beautiful. It is a striking specimen plant and works wonderfully for very modern landscapes, or for a tropical look that is water wise.

Want your own modern landscape design? Please take a minute to see how Sage Outdoor Designs can help you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Photo of the day: beautiful Craftsman garden gate

This is a gorgeous little gate that I walk by often in South Park. I love the Craftsman detailing and the hand-made look. Also, I like the stain they chose, and the small light fixtures, the tiny stained glass panels, and the rock-work on the columns. In fact, I like so many things about this gate that I just had to share it!