Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Landscape design: Plant selection – Santa Cruz Sentinel

Susan Howell

Today’s column continues the yard development collection with a target on plant choice.

Backyard garden enhancement can be a productive action all through winter’s chilly and rainy times, as gardeners wait around patiently for plants to create their roots and get ready for new advancement in the spring. A specific inspiration for this course of action might occur to thoughts now as 1 of your resolutions for the new calendar year.

The Tree Aloe (Aloe arborescens) is a South African native plant that grows to an impressive size, and can spread over time. Photo from late December. (Tom Karwin)
The Tree Aloe (Aloe arborescens) is a South African native plant that grows to an amazing dimension, and can unfold more than time. Photograph from late December. (Tom Karwin)

A garden advancement resolution might be enthusiastic by transferring to a new yard, choosing to strengthen an unsatisfying landscape, or launching a look for for new tips. One motivator could be the need to build a year-spherical garden. With that in brain, today’s images are options of vegetation that have appealing displays through the winter months.

Even though gardens are at any time-changing, garden growth is not ongoing upkeep but significant re-doing work of the landscape. In the earlier installments of this collection, we reviewed the preparatory stages of yard enhancement and essential concepts of landscape structure and design. Those columns can be reviewed on line in the Sentinel’s archive:

As we prepared to take a look at plant range ideas, a reference to “the vernacular garden” in a the latest bulletin of the Backyard Conservancy ( inspired our overview of thoughts about the reasons of gardens.

Vernacular gardens are, essentially, household gardens, which are distinctive from elite gardens.

The Black Rose Aeonium (Aeonium arborescens "Zwartkop") blossoms in the spring, goes dormant in the summer, and displays well during the winter. Photo from late March. (Tom Karwin)
The Black Rose Aeonium (Aeonium arborescens “Zwartkop”) blossoms in the spring, goes dormant in the summer, and shows properly through the winter season. Picture from late March. (Tom Karwin)

Elite gardens are celebrated will work of art, characterised by superior design and the classical forms of backyard garden-building. They normally call for a considerable crew of able gardeners.

Property gardens may possibly be effectively-designed and suave, and, importantly, are typically memorable landscapes and pleasurable simply because of the talent of their development and the admiration of wholesome plant expansion.

Scholarly experiments have explained three groupings of vernacular gardens, which we summarize really briefly beneath.

• Naturalistic gardens deal with vegetation as biological entities, and outline a culturally managed biological group or habitat.

• Useful gardens think about vegetation as cultural characteristics that are positioned in a setting for household pursuits.

• Attractive gardens conceive plants as layout aspects within a landscape that frames the home or environment for official human performances.

The Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) blooms from mid-to-late winter to March in warm winter climates like the Monterey Bay area. Photo from early March. (Tom Karwin)
The Japanese Camellia (Camellia japonica) blooms from mid-to-late wintertime to March in warm wintertime climates like the Monterey Bay region. Picture from early March. (Tom Karwin)

Even though your in general back garden may relate fully to just one of these 3 groupings, it is rather achievable that distinct parts within just the backyard garden could be described as Naturalistic, Purposeful, or Attractive. Some overlapping also could come about.

This analysis supports the organizing of plant variety.

Our past column on landscape layout advised indicating unique types of vegetation to be mounted (or retained) inside of each location to be developed. These categories provided groundcovers, compact shrubs, bigger shrubs, vines, tiny trees and substantial trees. Include to these classes herbaceous perennials, succulents, annuals, and any other sort of plant you may have in mind.

The backyard progress procedure proceeds to the choice of precise vegetation for each group and every place in your prepare.

As with other levels of backyard progress, plant range interacts with landscape style. The mature measurement of every picked plant should really get the job done effectively when placed in a unique area within the layout. Also, each and every plant chosen should relate to the foliage, shade, and form of adjacent vegetation.

Some landscape types favor contrasting foliage, shade and condition in just a garden bed, while other types may well emphasize some of these qualities, especially blossom coloration.

A further intersection of landscape style and design and plan choice occurs with yard themes (also pointed out previously). A Naturalistic garden, for illustration, may well stick to a concept of California native crops, which obviously would information plant collection. As another illustration, a decorative garden’s topic might be dependent on blossom colour or shade combinations a indigenous habitat, e.g., Mexico, Asia, South Africa or Australia or a desired genus, e.g., a rose selection. A functional backyard garden could be devoted to fruit trees or veggies, or may well be a children’s play location with no vegetation at all.

Some gardeners could possibly abandon these many style challenges in favor of spontaneous plant selection, based mostly on previous accomplishment with acquainted plants, probability encounters at a garden centre or catalog, a gift from another gardener, or other motivations.

Which is all superior because the top purpose of your backyard garden is to crank out satisfaction.

Plant choice should be a imaginative experience, irrespective of whether structured or unstructured.

Love your back garden!

Advance information

The Garden Conservancy has introduced its Winter season 2023 Digital Applications. The 1st webinar in this collection: “Small House Gardening,” is established for 11 a.m., Jan. 12. Yard designer Jason Williams encourages city citizens to optimize their exclusive growing spaces, like a patio, terrace, or balcony backyard, in an available way, for the two mental health and fitness benefits and good impacts on city wildlife and biodiversity.

For more facts about this series, take a look at

The Yard Conservancy has also introduced a four-section digital method, “Sissinghurst By means of the Seasons,” scheduled to get started in March 2023. Troy Scott Smith, the head gardener at the really regarded Sissinghurst Castle Backyard in England, will manual viewers as a result of a gardening yr at Sissinghurst, and describe pruning and propagation solutions in the art of the English backyard. Smith states that you will appear away from every single application “with procedures and confidence to place into apply in your very own yard.” This column will have far more facts about this sequence as its timetable nears. Mark your calendar.

The Cactus and Succulent Society of The united states will current the webinar, “Survival of the Fattest,” at 10 a.m. Jan. 7. The presenter, Buck Hemenway, will discover the techniques that succulent plants acquire, shop and preserve drinking water in South Africa. Hemenway is a lengthy-time gardener and nursery operator of cacti and succulent plants in Southern California, who has in retirement moved to South Africa. For information on this absolutely free party, stop by

Tom Karwin is a past president of Friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Culture, a past president and Lifetime Member of the Monterey Bay Place Cactus &amp Succulent Modern society, and a Life time UC Grasp Gardener (Licensed 1999–2009). He is now a board member of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society, and active with the Pacific Horticultural Modern society. To watch each day pics from his backyard,
566511763375123/. For backyard garden coaching information and an archive of prior On Gardening columns, check out

The Winter Rose (Helleborus orientalis x hybridus 'White Lady') blooms in mid-to-late winter in an array of colors including white, yellow, green, pink, and deep shades of purple bordering on black. Photo from late February. Photo from late February. (Tom Karwin)
The Winter season Rose (Helleborus orientalis x hybridus ‘White Lady’) blooms in mid-to-late winter in an array of shades which include white, yellow, inexperienced, pink, and deep shades of purple bordering on black. Picture from late February. Photo from late February. (Tom Karwin)
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