There’s nothing like a couple of to remind you that all things are possible with a bit of imagination. Recently I visited several inspiring gardens on the tour hosted by the Monterey Bay Master Gardeners here in our area and also saw some spectacular landscapes on the peninsula with APLD ( Association of Professional Landscape Designers ). So many ideas-so little time. Here is just a sampling to get you started.
At one of the awesome gardens I visited, I was tickled to see a clump of autumn crocus blooming beneath some trees. This look alike of the true crocus provides a burst of brilliance in the fall just when you need it. Spring crocus are actually members of the iris family while autumn crocus or colchicum autumnale are members of the lily family. Native to the Mediterranean area and parts of Asia, they make dazzling patches of amethyst, mauve or white flowers in partial shade or full sun. The blooms last for a couple of weeks in late summer and early fall and the bulbs naturalize easily. These bulbs are also called meadow saffron but it is from one of their close relatives that expensive saffron spice is harvested.
Several months from now strap-like leaves will appear, growing to about a foot high, then die back- similar to naked lady bulbs.
Autumn crocus can be enjoyed outdoors or brought inside to grow in pots while they are flowering. You can even set bare corms in a saucer of pebbles like narcissus bulbs to enjoy the splendid flowers that quickly emerge.
Corms of these beauties are only available now during their brief dormant period. They make a fine addition to any garden.
At another garden, I saw a design trick that turned a mulched hillside into a path with just a couple of steps added. Paths not only get you from point A to point B, they can be part of the journey itself. In the upper part of this particular garden, the soil was mulched around the raised veggie boxes and the hillside below. A formal path with edging wasn’t needed here so a few flat stones installed as steps in just a couple of places directed you to a lower patio. The stone steps weren’t really needed but they gave the illusion of a path. Cost: maybe nothing if you can find some flat stones around the yard.
Everybody’s growing vegetables and herbs these days but not everyone wants to water and take care of a large vegetable garden. Enter the container gardening solution. In most of the gardens I visited, there were either raised beds or containers happily growing every herb and vegetable imaginable. Even the McMansion had a raised bed for growing edibles and flowers to attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds, Think small, pick only your favorites to grow and enjoy the fruits of your labor with out all that much work.
There were so many wonderful ideas that I got from each of the gardens. Where I met the owners, they were happy to share their ideas, techniques and even some cuttings.