It was the day before the garden tour, and while Town Mouse was having adventures with a bee swarm, I was helping out at the Santa Cruz Chapter native plant sale. I showed up just before 8 and along with the rest of the early crew surveyed the empty space.
Before you knew it it was thronging with pleasant plant purchasers!
I couldn't believe how many plants fit into the Suncrest truck! (Suncrest nursery kindly gives CNPS potting materials and and space for the plants to grow in their lovely greenhouses, with automatic watering and so on).
This year I and the truck driver moved the plants to the truck doors where others grabbed them and arranged for the sale.
I am always amazed at the variety of plants for sale in the CNPS sales - many more than you typically see in the nursery. It gives me pause, when I realize how very little I know and how much there is to know. Ah yes, it's just the beginning of a grand adventure indeed.
There were two sales - the U.C. Santa Cruz Arboretum (staffed increasingly by volunteers, what with the state of the California economy and all the cutbacks) has a large sale in the area next to us, with lots of Mediterranean climate plants - from Australia and South Africa, and elsewhere - including California. So we have our sale signs to point the way to our sale.
I love the stampede of enthusiastic gardeners when 10 o'clock arrives and the rope drops - it's all in fun, but the competition is real enough.
I really enjoy selling plants. People have this glow of happy anticipation that I can so empathize with. And it's fun to see people's selections, marked with a flag so everyone knows those ones are "bagged."
I resolutely did not buy any plants. I want to be ready with a plan for fall planting in the pool garden and in the flat front garden. Oh but I was sorely tempted.
On tour day itself I wanted to look at some gardens to get some design ideas, before starting my stint as afternoon docent at Town Mouse's garden, but I set out a bit late and only saw one. It was a lovely garden and it it did remind me of one possibility I have entertained for laying out our one flat area, with lightly mounded beds bordered by Sonoma boulders (reddish brown head sized boulders from Sonoma - cheap and fairly local) and with simple gravel paths.
I liked all those succulents too - the owner said he has deer and bunnies and protects the plants while young. They seemed to be doing fine. The photo does not do justice to the garden. Too contrasty - bad time of day. I got a better shot of the front.
This owner uses Spanish lavender to add some warmth and color, and some iceplant I think, or something with that intense bluish pink color, mixed in with the native plants. I have seen Spanish lavender reseed around our place and I'm concerned that it might naturalize. On the other hand it's been in my dad's little front beds for 6 years now and I haven't seen much of it straying afield. But how much is enough to count as invasive? I'm not sure. I like the idea of spots of exotic form and color and fragrance up near the house, for a bit of variety and interest.
I like the casual look of gravel paths but my only hesitation is that they are not easy for elderly people to walk on, especially with walkers.
Maybe I could extend the stone path in the front through a meandering course to a shady sitting area at the other end of the garden, and do minor paths in gravel. I'd also quite like a small field stone patio in front of the greenhouse, and near the gate into the pool. So maybe one other branch off the main path that's also stone, leading to the stone patio. I wonder if I could do that. It would cost quite a lot of money just for materials. But one can dream - summer is a good time for dreaming about gardens in California. Summer is our time off, while the plants drowse through the hot dry season.