Lois Reynolds Mead

Art and a pink monkeyflower in a native plant garden…



For most of my life I could not have been described as a gardener. I had enough things to take care of without adding those growing on the outside of the house. However, once the kids had moved out on their own and we transitioned in the natural course of events from two very large dogs to one smallish one, the dirt and concrete patch in the back that the kids and dogs had ruled became toast. Actually, it really had been baked earth. We rebuilt the garage, opening up more space and accessing the creek, took care of drainage with large drains around the house and then began the developing of the actual garden. By this point in his life, Terry had long been a member of the group “Fans of I never want to mow grass again in my life” and was dedicated to using native plants of California because of water and drought considerations. It was fine with us not to use pesticides (because after all you have to remember to apply them as well as being affected by them) and I was allowed to keep three old roses and a couple of hydrangeas for old times sake. To memorialize my cottage garden attempts, I guess. Must admit the concept of a garden taking care of itself for the most part had great appeal. However, Terry knowing my impulsivity level as he does, did lay down a rule: natives go into the ground, other plants go into pots. Simple, straight forward, even I can comprehend and remember.

For example:

Coral bells, Heuchera canyon bells, and similar plants like fringe cups (Tellima grandiflora) go into the ground

Heuchera 'Canyon Bells'

but other Heucheras that I might become passionate about because of their texture, amazing color, great combinations, etc. —go into pots:

Key Lime and Chocolate HeucheraKey Lime Pie and Chocolate Veil or maybe Cathedral Windows Heuchera (I think…) I know I saved those plant tags, I know I did…

In this shot I was really excited about the pot at the back. It has a magnificent runny, drippy glaze in wonderful tones of gold and green appreciated by this former potter and the “Dolce” Creme Brulee and “Dolce” Peach Melba just wanted it to be their home.

Here is a coral bells that got into a pot, who knew, rules are meant to be broken.

A Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta) could be in the ground

iphone photo

iphone photo, Camera Bag app

This one has some wear from the winter’s rain (and maybe that slight snow we had, but is sprouting and is supposed to thrive on neglect! The spots are nice in a picture, anyway.

Any other succulents go into, you guessed it, pots.

In the course of all this, we found that there are a group of native succulents that are called Lewisia cotyledon which are good in pots and in the ground. Named after Lewis of Lewis and Clark fame, it is fun to think of him making drawings in his sketch book (as we all should be doing…) or maybe the iphone is the new sketchbook?? If you want to by-pass anything that isn’t instant I guess that works…


Which is also terrific as a cut flower, in the perfect Heath vase, tucked in a special place.

an affinity for each other

I was excited to find yesterday, (which is why I started this particular blog) mention of a new book in the SF Chronicle. When we started the garden, a book called Designing with Succulents by Debra Lee Baldwin was great inspiration for me. And now she has a new one called Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants. As I always say, “It is all in the visual, baby.” Amazon, work your magic, it has already been shipped!!

You will be hearing much more about the garden because May 2 it will be on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour for the third time. It has changed so much from when it was first planted. It always brings surprises and new gifts. I never anticipated how much delight each spring would bring over the concept of how many native wildflowers had reseeded themselves voluntarily . I thought California poppies only came in orange. I take a lot of pictures as things start to bloom, so here is one of the first:

Gordon Gooseberry, Ribes menziesii var. hystrix

Author: loisreynoldsmead


2 thoughts on “Garden

  1. OMG, you must have an awesome garden. We’ve been toying with the idea of ripping out the grass and planting natives – we also live in CA. So, when I saw your pics, I was inspired to think about it once again. Like you, I love my hydrangeas and roses, so I would want to keep a couple.

  2. In a couple of weeks now my Cecile Brunner is going to act like it is taking over the world! I can hardly wait.

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