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

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

Today’s column continues the garden growth collection with a emphasis on plant choice.

Garden improvement can be a productive exercise during winter’s chilly and wet days, as gardeners wait patiently for vegetation to establish their roots and get ready for new development in the spring. A unique inspiration for this method could appear to head now as a single of your resolutions for the new yr.

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 indigenous plant that grows to an spectacular sizing, and can distribute above time. Picture from late December. (Tom Karwin)

A garden growth resolution may possibly be enthusiastic by relocating to a new garden, choosing to enhance an unsatisfying landscape, or launching a search for new ideas. A single motivator might be the want to create a calendar year-round backyard garden. With that in mind, today’s photos are selections of crops that have eye-catching displays during the wintertime months.

While gardens are ever-changing, yard enhancement is not ongoing maintenance but significant re-working of the landscape. In the earlier installments of this series, we reviewed the preparatory stages of yard enhancement and basic concepts of landscape layout and style. All those columns can be reviewed on the web in the Sentinel’s archive:

As we planned to check out plant choice suggestions, a reference to “the vernacular garden” in a new bulletin of the Back garden Conservancy ( inspired our evaluate of ideas about the uses of gardens.

Vernacular gardens are, basically, household gardens, which are unique 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 displays well throughout the wintertime. Photograph from late March. (Tom Karwin)

Elite gardens are celebrated functions of art, characterised by superior design and style and the classical kinds of yard-producing. They typically need a substantial crew of able gardeners.

Home gardens may perhaps be properly-designed and suave, and, importantly, are often memorable landscapes and pleasurable due to the fact of the skill of their development and the admiration of healthy plant advancement.

Scholarly studies have described a few groupings of vernacular gardens, which we summarize extremely briefly beneath.

• Naturalistic gardens take care of crops as organic entities, and determine a culturally controlled biological group or habitat.

• Purposeful gardens consider vegetation as cultural attributes that are found in a setting for residence actions.

• Ornamental gardens conceive plants as design and style aspects within just a landscape that frames the household or environment for formal 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 winter to March in heat wintertime climates like the Monterey Bay spot. Photo from early March. (Tom Karwin)

Although your overall back garden might relate completely to a person of these a few groupings, it is fairly doable that particular spots inside the backyard garden could be described as Naturalistic, Purposeful, or Decorative. Some overlapping also could happen.

This examination supports the arranging of plant variety.

Our earlier column on landscape layout encouraged indicating distinct sorts of plants to be put in (or retained) within every single area to be made. These classes included groundcovers, modest shrubs, much larger shrubs, vines, compact trees and massive trees. Insert to these classes herbaceous perennials, succulents, annuals, and any other kind of plant you could have in mind.

The garden development course of action proceeds to the collection of particular crops for every class and each individual locale in your plan.

As with other stages of yard improvement, plant variety interacts with landscape design and style. The mature sizing of just about every chosen plant should really perform very well when put in a unique area in the style. Also, every plant picked must relate to the foliage, shade, and shape of adjacent plants.

Some landscape models favor contrasting foliage, color and condition within just a backyard garden mattress, whilst other layouts may well emphasize some of these attributes, especially blossom coloration.

An additional intersection of landscape design and style and system collection happens with yard themes (also pointed out formerly). A Naturalistic yard, for illustration, may follow a concept of California native plants, which evidently would guideline plant range. As yet another illustration, a ornamental garden’s topic could possibly be dependent on blossom shade or shade combos a indigenous habitat, e.g., Mexico, Asia, South Africa or Australia or a most well-liked genus, e.g., a rose assortment. A purposeful backyard garden may possibly be devoted to fruit trees or greens, or may possibly be a children’s play place with no crops at all.

Some gardeners may possibly abandon these many design challenges in favor of spontaneous plant assortment, primarily based on earlier achievements with common plants, likelihood encounters at a backyard garden middle or catalog, a gift from a different gardener, or other motivations.

That’s all good for the reason that the final goal of your back garden is to generate enjoyment.

Plant range must be a inventive practical experience, regardless of whether structured or unstructured.

Take pleasure in your back garden!

Advance awareness

The Backyard Conservancy has introduced its Wintertime 2023 Digital Systems. The very first webinar in this sequence: “Small House Gardening,” is established for 11 a.m., Jan. 12. Yard designer Jason Williams encourages city inhabitants to increase their exceptional rising areas, like a patio, terrace, or balcony garden, in an available way, for both of those psychological overall health added benefits and optimistic impacts on city wildlife and biodiversity.

For added data about this series, check out

The Yard Conservancy has also announced a four-part digital plan, “Sissinghurst By means of the Seasons,” scheduled to start out in March 2023. Troy Scott Smith, the head gardener at the hugely regarded Sissinghurst Castle Back garden in England, will information viewers by a gardening calendar year at Sissinghurst, and explain pruning and propagation approaches in the artwork of the English yard. Smith states that you will appear absent from every system “with methods and assurance to put into observe in your possess backyard garden.” This column will have a lot more info about this collection as its agenda nears. Mark your calendar.

The Cactus and Succulent Modern society of America will existing the webinar, “Survival of the Fattest,” at 10 a.m. Jan. 7. The presenter, Buck Hemenway, will check out the techniques that succulent plants obtain, store and conserve water in South Africa. Hemenway is a extensive-time gardener and nursery operator of cacti and succulent crops in Southern California, who has in retirement moved to South Africa. For information and facts on this free of charge function, visit

Tom Karwin is a earlier president of Close friends of the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and the Monterey Bay Iris Culture, a earlier president and Life time Member of the Monterey Bay Region Cactus &amp Succulent Culture, and a Lifetime UC Learn 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 check out everyday images from his backyard,
566511763375123/. For garden coaching details and an archive of earlier On Gardening columns, visit

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 Rose (Helleborus orientalis x hybridus ‘White Lady’) blooms in mid-to-late winter season in an array of colors together with white, yellow, environmentally friendly, pink, and deep shades of purple bordering on black. Photo from late February. Photo from late February. (Tom Karwin)