Winter in Petaluma, California
The story and photographs of one reader's winter garden in Petaluma, California.
We're thrilled to be sharing some photographs of Sara and Ron Malone's winter garden in Petaluma, California. This story was featured in our January/February 2012 issue and our online slide show has additional photos of this beautiful garden.
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In winter, my garden glows. My husband, Ron, and I live on a 33-acre ranch called Circle Oak in east Petaluma, California. Ironically, it was upon retirement—when I had far more time to garden—that I became impatient with the amount of work involved in maintaining a mostly perennial garden.
Deciduous trees and shrubs, conifers, broadleaved evergreens and grasses are all part of the foliage garden.
I disliked the lack of structure that perennials engendered and hated that the garden virtually shut down in winter. I decided to select at least half of my plants for fall and winter appeal. I hadn’t previously delved into woody plants and conifers, having been distracted for so long by the pretty faces of the flowering perennials. Now, I felt, I am ready for more mature relationships.
Cupressus macrocarpa 'Citriodora' and Thuja plicata 'Sunshine.'
These days, the garden is a collection of rare and unusual plants, showcased against some workhorses such as Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’ and Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno.'
Some of the plants that look best in winter’s light include Cupressus macrocarpa ‘Citriodora’ and Thuja plicata ‘Sunshine.’ Luma apiculata and Rhamnus ‘Fine Line’ produce gorgeous winter fruit.
Left: Rhamnus californica 'Eve Case'
There are even plants whose most dramatic statements are made by their brilliant red trunks and stems, like Acer palmatum ‘Sango Kaku’ and Drimys lanceolata.
To me, winter interest is about structure, foliage, bracts, stems, and flowers, not just a selection of evergreen plants.
My longtime friend and professional photographer Jan LeCocq and I are in the process of starting a blog called Form and Foliage (formandfoliage.net). There is a sorry dearth of attention paid to gardens in winter, and we aim to change that.
Succulents provide year-round structure and a wide range of colors.
Color on a foggy winter morning.
Juniperus conferta 'All Gold' is a dazzling groundcover.
Malone says on her blog that: "J. conferta ‘All Gold’ glows across the garden with a chartreuse-gold intensity that is hard to beat. Can take full sun and extreme heat (supposedly over 100°F with no problems) and makes a great skirt for deep green foliage."
Acer palmatum 'Pung kil,' Hebes pimeloides 'Quicksilver,' and Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca pendula.'
Acer campestre 'compacta' with Helictotrichon sempervirens; Berberis thunbergii and Nyssa sylvatica turning colors in the background.
"This should give you a new idea about junipers!" says Malone. Juniperus horizontalis 'Blue Chip', although it looks more like starfish.