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Specializing in colorful, water-conserving gardens

Specializing in colorful, water-conserving gardens

Lawn Alternative + Eradicating Ivy


Joan, I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog. Any chance of getting an update on how Agrostis pallens performs as a lawn alternative? Also, do you have any suggestions for ways to eradicate invasive ivy? ≈ Joan says: Hi Caroline, Thanks for your note. Regarding Agrostis pallens — I first saw it last year at a landscape show put on by All Around Landscape Supply here in Santa Barbara. I’ve suggested it to a few clients. But generally my clients are removing lawns, not putting in new ones, and […]

Summer Standouts


This article first appeared in the August 2011 issue of Fine Gardening under the theme “Summer Standouts.” Fine Gardening used my photos of Big Magenta African daisy and San Miguel Island buckwheat in the article. However, other photographers provided the images of Limelight Mexican sage and Vancouver Centennial pelargonium. I’ve swapped in my own images of those two plants here, in order to avoid violating those photographers’ copyright. ≈ Copyright, Joan S. Bolton. All rights reserved. Reproduction of text or photos in any form is prohibited without written […]

National Public Gardens Day: Go Play!


Got spring fever? Itchy feet? How about playing hooky and getting out to visit a community garden? This Friday, May 11, is National Public Gardens Day. The fourth annual event, each year set for the Friday before Mother’s Day, is a “national day of celebration that invites communities to explore the beauty of their local green spaces while raising awareness of the important role public gardens play in promoting conservation, education and environmental preservation,” according to organizers. But cut to the chase. Locally, a host of public and […]

A New Lawn Alternative: California Native Sod


A new product — California native sod — may be the answer to a conflict that I often face: pleasing folks who want a water-conserving landscape yet aren’t willing to give up their lawns. No one disputes that turfgrass represents a hefty chunk of most residential water bills, or that water is a dwindling resource in the west. But those are not always compelling enough reasons to convince people to chuck their grass. After all, lawns provide a soft, safe space for kids to play, and a comfortable […]

Oak Leaf Worms Are Defoliating My Oaks


“Attack of the Oakworms!” may never make it as a science fiction movie. But the concept is playing out in real life throughout the Central Coast. Take a drive, and you’ll find that our early, spring-like temperatures are encouraging all sorts of deciduous trees to leaf out in fresh green. Yet the coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) are behaving like it’s opposite day, losing their leaves and looking like brown skeletons looming over the landscape. Get up close to any coast live oak that still has leaves, and […]

Fabulous Fall Foliage Trees


Fall has a way of sneaking up on our Central Coast gardens. It doesn’t arrive in one fell swoop like so many places. There’s not a single cold snap or deep freeze to announce that the seasons have changed. Instead, we get a mish-mash of conditions for a month or two, with temperatures bouncing around from the 40s and 50s at night to the low 60s to the low 80s during the day. But the trend is still toward shorter days and crisper nights. And then suddenly — […]

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