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Bambi the Landscape Destroyer

The thought of deer grazing in a field can be a peaceful and calming mental image. Unfortunately, this image is quickly overshadowed when this fauna starts eating your flora…it’s Bambi

the costly destructive destroyer, the bain of homeowners and growers. So how do we keep Bambi the destroyer from dining on your bay area landscape? In Marin County, where I do much of my work, deer are a serious nuisance and their population is exploding. Planting a thoughtful deer resistant garden does not need to be a monochromatic mash up of prickly shrubs and unappealing plants. FYGN specializes in Deer Resistant landscaping and can help you achieve a thoughtful balance and stunning landscape that is appealing to everyone but Bambi. Here is a variety of bulbs that flourish in the bay area growing zone that can keep deer from pillaging your garden courtesy of Marie Iannotti from about.com…

ALLIUM Ornamental onions are among the most deer resistant flowering bulbs. The most commonly know alliums have pom pom like blossoms on top of single, straight stalks. There is, however, a fair amount of variation in the species. Allium schubertii looks like a fireworks sparkler. Others, like Allium unifolium and Allium bulgaricum are bell shaped. You can find alliums in almost every color and height and their bloom times vary throughout the season. Allium are also rodent resistant.

Height: Varies (4″ – 4′)
Bloom Time: Late Spring – Early Summer
Exposure: Full Sun
Zones: 4 – 9
CROCUS The bright colors of crocus are a welcome sign that the soil is starting to warm. Crocus will even bloom in the snow. This versatile little spreader can be used as a ground cover or as an accent. Plant a few by your mail box to make the walk down to collect your mail worth it.

Height: 4″
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones 3 – 9
DWARF IRIS ( Iris reticulata ) You get the familiar iris flower on a low growing, spreading plant that blooms early in the season. What’s not to like. You can find Iris reticulata in blues, purples and white. They all blend extremely well with other spring bloomers.

Height: 4 – 6″
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones: 5 – 9
EARLY STARDRIFT (Puschkinia libanotica) Another of Spring’s blue offerings, this ttime ina pastel powder blue. Puschkinia makes a nice addition to the borer, but it also works well when allowed to naturalize and spread.

Height: 4 – 6″
Bloom Time: Early Spring • Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Zones 3 – 7
Fritillaria – These plants add a touch of drama to your spring garden. From the dramatic, loud colors of ‘Crown Imperial’, to the speckles of ‘Guinea Hens’ (Fritillaria meleagris ), the deep purple of Fritillaria persica, the bi-colors and the creamy white ‘Ivory Bells”, Fritillaria will be noticed. They look exotic, but they are fuss-free, easy growers. Fritillaria are also rodent resistant.

Height: Varies (10 – 24″)
Bloom Time: Mid-Spring
Exposure: Full Sun to Shade
Zones: 4 – 9
GLORY OF THE SNOW (Chinodoxa forbesii ) Similar to Scilla siberica, Glory of the Snow works best as a ground cover or naturalized in the lawn. Each bulbs provides multiple blue, star-shaped blossoms with white centers, that start to bloom as the snow is melting.

Height: 4 – 8 ”
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones: 3 – 9
GRAPE HYACINTH (Muscari) Sweet fragrance and a brilliant blue color have made Grape Hyacinth long standing favorites. This is the perfect little bulb for massing under trees that haven’t yet leafed out. And it doesn’t take many bulbs to rapidly sspreadinto a mass planting.

Height: 4 – 7″
Bloom Time: Mid-Spring
Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones: 3 – 9
LILY OF THE VALLEY ( Convallaria majalis ) These aren’t really bulbs, they’re rhyzomes with buds on them, called pips. But Lily of the Valley are often grouped in with the spring bulbs because they bloom early and then disppear for the season and they like to spread and naturalize. More to our point, the deer don’t like them. And the fragrance of Lily of the Valley can fill the air. The common variety is dainty white bells, but there is also a pink Lily of the Valley.

Height: 6 – 12″
Bloom Time: Late Spring
Exposure: Partial Shade
Zones: 3 – 7
SCILLA, SQUILL or STAR OF HOLLAND (Scilla siberica) These little charmers work best when allowed to naturalize in the lawn. They surprise you every year with a carpet of dazzling blue. If you find yourself looking out the window, searching for signs of spring, scilla won’t disappoint.

Height: 4 – 6″
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Exposure: Sun to Partial Shade
Zones 1 – 9
SNOWDROPS (Galanthus nivalis) They look like snowdrops and they bloom while the snow is still dropping. If Galanthus has a drawback, it’s that it can’t take any heat. But just like crocus, Galanthus lets us know that ground is warming. Plant them near a door or walkway for the best view.

Height: 4 – 6″
Bloom Time: Very Early Spring
Exposure: Sun
Zones: 3 – 9
WINTER ACONITE (Eranthis cilicica) With its upturned petals and down turned foliage, Eranthis can form a thick clump fast. The yellow flowers generally bloom at the same time as Scilla and dwarf iris and make a nice complement.

Height: 2 – 4″
Bloom Time: Early Spring
Exposure: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Zones: 4 – 7

Great Marin Gardening Resource

As many of my clients know, I support local businesses and advocate community connections through my landscaping business. I found a great website I wanted to share that might be inspiring for anyone looking for gardening events and activities in Marin. One event that caught my eye was a recent veggie exchange. What a great way to share ideas and food, certainly beats crashing carts at Whole Foods! Check out http://opengardenproject.blogspot.com/

Cheers, Bret

Get in touch with Gleaning!

A popular and cool trend is emerging from people’s gardens – gleaning! As defined by Wikipedia, Gleaning is the act of collecting leftover crops from farmers’ fields after they have been commercially harvested or on fields where it is not economically profitable to harvest. Yep all that fruit that rots on your lawn or patio can be harvested and delivered locally with little effort. If you are interested in having your garden harvested and distributed let me know!

Thanks, Bret


January Gardening Tasks

Happy New Year everyone!

Here is a copy of an article I read recently in the San Francisco Chronicle that I though I’d share…

January and February can be cruel to the garden. They’re the rainiest and coldest months. Protective gardeners watch out for the cold clear nights that signal frost damage to tender plants such as bougainvillea, citrus, fuchsias and succulents. Cover plants that are open to the sky by setting stakes in the ground and draping burlap, plastic or sheets over the stakes. Cardboard boxes also make good covers. Remember to remove the covering the next morning when the temperature rises. Wrap the trunks of young, tender citrus trees in burlap or paper. Another frost-protecting technique is to spray plants with an anti-transpirant. Move frost-susceptible container-grown plants under the eaves of an overhanging roof or beneath a leafy tree until mid-March.

Shop catalogs. Despite the gardener’s best efforts, one of these nights a killer frost is likely to descend and, come spring, there will be great yawning gaps in the garden. So tend to those garden catalogs; opportunities will arise.

— Damage control. As for those frost-damaged plants, wait to prune blackened branches until March, when the true damage will be more apparent. Mother Nature often stages amazing comebacks.

— Buy bare roots. Now’s the time to take advantage of the bare-root season, that once-a-year chance to buy plants without soil clinging to their roots. Bare-root plants are cheaper and easier to plant. An entire orchard or rose garden will fit into the trunk of your car.

— Step lightly. Remember that soggy garden soil should not be walked on. This is particularly true of clay soils, which compact easily. Wait until the soil dries out some before walking on it.

— Plant living Christmas trees. Living Christmas trees should be brought outdoors and watered well. If you plant a living Christmas tree in the ground, remember that most of them grow very large and for that reason, calculate where their shade will fall in years to come.

— Transition holiday plants. Garden plants used indoors for the holidays such as azalea, cyclamen or hydrangea should be put outside in a sheltered spot until you are ready to give them a permanent home.

— Prune hybrid tea roses. Cut back canes, a third to a half, leaving canes at least 18 inches long. Cut above a swelling bud pointing out from the center. Remove all suckers and dead wood. They bloom only on new wood so don’t worry about doing a great job, just be sure to get out there and do it.

— Prune climbing roses. Remove twiggy growth and weak shoots. Prune canes that flowered last year to three or four buds. Do not prune old garden roses unless you know where to prune. Old garden roses are very individual.

— Spray roses and fruit trees. Use horticultural oil mixed with water to kill overwintering insect eggs, mites, soft-bodied insects and some scales.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/01/HO0L1B17PR.DTL&type=homeandgarden#ixzz0bf2Vj3Rp

Where’s the rain?

I don’t know about you but I was expecting a little more precipitation this week! Where’s the rain?

As many of my clients know, planting a drought resistent and bay friendly landscape is not only beautiful and requires little maintenance but it also will save you buckets of cash on water bills! It’s no secret we are in a drought and although the National Weather Service predicts some improvement on the horizon this winter, it’s safe to say that it is always smart to plan for rising water cost and inconsistent rainfall to satisfy a non-drought resistent gardens’ needs.

If you haven’t considered taking the neccessary steps to properly irrigate and reduce water consumption by installing drought resistent flora, you might want to. I am a certfied Bay Friendly Landscaper that has installed many impressive drought resistent landsacpes and saved my cutomers thousands of dollars on water bills and maintenance.

I am more than happy to visit with you and discuss money saving options and plan for the future. Feel free to call me an discuss your gardens’ needs.


Winter Pruning if You’re Wondering

I found this great write-up on gardenbetter.com regarding winter pruning that I wanted to share with everyone. There is certainly a right and wrong way to handle pruning your garden in the winter for optimal growth in the spring. Check it out and if you have questions regarding your garden’s pruning needs, you know where to find me.


Many trees and shrubs should be pruned in the winter. The plants are dormant and cut branches will not “bleed”. For others, a winter pruning ensures a great flush of growth and blooming during the growing season. Every tree or shrub may have its own specialized needs, but following these general guidelines will give a basic direction and avoid disastrous mistakes.

When in Doubt – Don’t!
First and foremost, why are you pruning? This may seem like a ridiculous question, but I have found many people prune out of some vague inner feeling that “I must prune”. The reality is that I have seen an amazing amount of wasted energy with such an attitude as well as, unfortunately, a lot of senseless destruction and garden mayhem. So the first rule is: If you are in doubt, just leave it alone and don’t prune at all. Now that’s what I call low maintenance!

A classic mistake is pruning spring flowering shrubs or fruit trees in winter and, innocently, cutting off all the flowering wood! I have seen this countless times and been asked, “Why don’t I get flowers or fruit?” The embarrassing answer is “because you cut off all the flower buds!” These buds form in late summer or fall and remain dormant through the winter. (Another possibility, by the way, is that the plant is cold hardy in your area, but a late frost can destroy the flowers or new fruits. This is a limiting factor for peaches or almonds.)

Three Basic Rules:
Spring flowering shrubs (read as “flowers on last summer’s wood”) should be pruned after flowering.

Summer flowering shrubs (read as “flowers on new growth of the current season”) can be pruned in the winter.

Plants of borderline hardiness should be pruned after all danger of frost has passed. That way any dieback due to cold damage will be pruned off. Pruning these too early can result in even further dieback.

For Your Gardens’ Winter Needs

For Your Gardens’ Winter Needs

It’s getting chilly and we smell the burning embers of last night’s fire when we show up early for work. Fall feels good and it’s time to get your garden ready for winter. Of course, I’m sure we will probably get a heat wave between now and ski season, but here are a couple things to think about with regard to your garden…


Plant Tulips after Thanksgiving.

Bulbs to plant now include anemone, crocus, daffodil, Dutch iris, freesia, homeria, hyacinth, ixia, leucojum, lycoris, oxalis, ranunculus, scilla, sparaxis, tritonia, and watsonia.

In the fog belt, plant cool-season vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage now. If you live in a warm inland valley, plant at the end of the month.

After midmonth, sow annuals such as African daisies (Dimorphotheca), California poppies, and clarkia; set out transplants of calendula, Iceland poppy, larkspur, nemesia (near the coast), pansy, snapdragon, stock, and viola.

As the weather cools, plant perennials such as campanula, candytuft, coreopsis, delphinium, dianthus, foxglove, gaillardia, geum, Mexican evening primrose, penstemon, phlox, salvia, and yarrow. Near the coast, set out cineraria and monkey flower.

Fertilizing, Maintenance

Apply high-nitrogen fertilizer to annuals, perennials, roses, and fall-planted vegetables.

Prevent citrus fruits from drying out as they mature by giving trees deep soakings during warm fall weather. Do not prune the trees now; pruning stimulates new growth that can be damaged by winter cold.

Dig, divide, and replant overcrowded perennials that have finished blooming. Use a spading fork to lift and loosen clumps of agapanthus, candytuft, coreopsis, daylily, Mexican evening primrose, and penstemon. With a spade or a sharp knife, cut clumps into sections through soil and roots. Before replanting divisions, weed and amend beds.

Rejuvenate cool-season lawns that you use; replace those that you don’t use with drought-tolerant ground covers, perennials, or shrubs.

If you have any questions, you know where to find me, in your garden or your neighbors garden, preparing For Your Gardens’ (winter) Needs.



Edible Oasis…

Having just ate the fruits of my labor, which happen to be more blueberries than I can handle, I wanted to share a good article I found at examiner.com.

Lately I get a lot of requests for edible gardens so I thought I would share this with everyone!

If you have questions about how I can provide you with an edible paradise, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll post some pictures of my edible oasis here soon!


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