Monday, June 21, 2010

You can, too, do an English Garden here....!

I think there is no style that makes it into the magazines more often than the English Garden, especially the national magazines. A lot of people love the style but assume it can't be done in Southern California. I disagree! I think you can get the look with plants that grow well here.

Here are just a few that would be perfect for a formal garden to accompany a Tudor style house: box hedge (Buxus microphylla), Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide', white Birch, and holly (Ilex wilsonii is often grown as a small tree, very round and compact). I also like adding rose trees, especially the Flower Carpet Scarlet, for a kind of a queen-of-hearts aesthetic.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Flower Carpet roses are the easiest rose to grow

So I can imagine getting some disagreement when I say that Flower Carpet roses are hands-down the easiest roses to grow. By all means, leave me a comment if you have a rose you'd like to nominate instead! But, I'll take some convincing....

Flower Carpet roses have been around for almost 15 years now and are unique from the other major rose categories (ie. floribunda or hybrid tea) because they produce new growth from their roots. A rose that doesn't have to stand as ugly bare canes in the winter- whoever thought of it is a genius! You can literally runs these things down with your lawnmower and they will grow back even more beautifully. They are covered in blossoms throughout the spring and summer, especially the red, pink (apple blossom) and white. The orange (amber) and yellow are a little less vigorous and have a taller, less compact shape where the flowers are mostly born on stalks that stand out a bit above the foliage.

I always find myself wishing for more plants in the 18"-24" height range and these fit that niche perfectly. As you can see from the photos, they look great in mass plantings.

There are a lot of knock-offs now, like "Floral Carpet", and I have less experience with those, although I expect that they are fine and may even be grown from the same stock. I tend to stick with the Monrovia trademarked Flower Carpet, since then I know they will be top quality.

Friday, June 11, 2010

My ode to tile (cont.)

If you know me, you probably already know about my obsessive love of tile. Every once in a while, my love for it gets strong enough to be worth sharing. These are two tile companies that definitely meet that criteria.

Before I wax poetic about them too much, I do want to put forth the warning that both of these companies are expensive. The best tile usually is. The key to using it is to keep two things in mind: 1) search for small spaces where tile will have a big impact since it is a high cost per square foot. For instance, think backsplash instead of the whole kitchen, or waterline instead of the whole pool. 2) Buy tile that will stand the test of time. Classic eras of tile like Malibu and Batchelder are still considered beautiful almost a century later. When you think in those terms, the expense for really good tile starts to sound worth it.

The first photo is Heath tile (distributed by Ann Sacks, or here is a direct link to the Heath website). This tile line was started on the north coast of California in the late 1940's and is hand made with a focus on sustainable manufacturing. I especially love their dimensional tile for its wonderful tactile quality. I can imagine spending my life running my hand along the ridges in the tile as I walked through that doorway, and being pretty darned happy about it.

The second photo is a local company out of Encinitas, Laird Plumleigh. They specialize in Craftsman and Batchelder tile, so if you are working on a restoration project, you might want to start here. I love the fiddleleaf fern design in the outdoor shower, but they also have a lot more than just tile on their website. Spend some time there- the lanterns alone are worth the visit.

Considering tile in your outdoor space? We'd love to help with the design! There are a lot of ways to get in touch with us through our website,

Friday, June 4, 2010

My favorite source for boulders just got closer to home

My long-standing favorite source for rock and boulders, Southwest Boulder and Stone, has just opened a brand new stone yard right here in the center of the city. Here is their new address, just across the Five from Pacific Beach:

4770 Santa Fe St. San Diego CA 92109 (619) 331-3120‎

Here are a few reasons that I love these guys:

1) They have the best selection of boulders in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Most other stoneyards in town have one or two color options. These guys have twenty.
2) They have a wider selection of flagstone, too. Lots of interesting colors and textures; not just the usual stuff you see everywhere (I'm sick of Arizona Buff flagstone, aren't you?)
3) They have better river cobble and pebble, at least twenty different colors to chose from.
4) They are a family owned business with great customer service and a good attitude. Working with them, you will be supporting a local business and you'll get a much more personal experience.
5) With them, I can pull that thing that designers do.... I can call them up and say something like, "I need a ledgestone with some mint green, grey, and olive colors to it... can you get me something like that?" and they can. It's lovely.

So if you haven't been to their yard because it used to take a 40 minute drive to get there, now is your chance! Stop in and take a look. You'll be glad you did.

The photo attached shows their beautiful 'Desert Marble' boulders. Up close, they have wonderful swirls and striations!