Divide and Conquer

“Gardening is the art that uses flowers and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas.” ~ Elizabeth Murray

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The garden looks especially beautiful and welcoming in the fall light.

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Though the blooms are fewer, their rich colors pop against a canvas of turning leaves and warm brown grasses.

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Ina’s asters have finally arrived, draped over the fence like a bee’s blanket of purple.

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Maria, has of course, dressed the garden for fall.

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Her holiday displays may not bespeak a memorial garden, but they certainly make a beautiful backdrop for our posing dogs. This is Ella.

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Princess and Duke – all new arrivals.

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With Maria and Ina both on hand, it was a perfect time to tackle the iris bed.

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Peggy and Steve had a good start, but work has called them away. With three of us on scene, we decided to finish the lifting and dividing. From the size of the bulb clumps, it was pretty clear they had been left for years – a first, forgotten effort in the garden.

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While Ina and Maria divided, I dug trenches and raised berms in a semi-circle.

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We have decided to plant the sunflowers in the center next summer as the Willow Tree has taken their sun. During the other months we will fill with annuals to keep color in the garden year round.

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It’s pretty amazing what the three of us can get done in a day when we put our minds (and backs) to it. We went home dirty, tired, but satisfied.

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“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.” ~ Emile Zola

From Whence They Came

Ina shared with me that the beautiful Asters spilling over the Cottage Garden section of the Homeward Bound Memorial Garden are actually second generation from the Sacramento Historic City Cemetery. I have lived a stone’s throw from the cemetery for years, but it took a plant scouting trip to finally inspire me to visit. I can’t believe what I have missed.

The Sacramento City Cemetery was established in 1849 with a donation of 10 acres by Captain John Sutter. It follows the Victorian Garden style, and is the final resting place of more than 25,000 pioneers, immigrants, their families and descendants. Among the first interments were over 600 victims of the 1850 Cholera Epidemic.

Today, the cemetery covers 44 acres. The grounds are maintained by more than 100 volunteer gardeners, and a small army of the Sheriff’s friends doing a little community service. An Adopt a Plot program was instituted to help restore and preserve the grounds. This is the structure that finally got our Memorial Garden moving forward. Pride of ownership inspires commitment.

There is a lengthy list of approved and forbidden plants – which allows for variety while ensuring consistency across the acres. The Historic Rose Garden section is also home to some of California’s most noteworthy roses. Unfortunately, most of these were no longer in bloom during my visit – but the perennials more than made up for it.

The Perennial Garden in Hamilton Square was my first destination, and it did not disappoint. The Asters were quickly spotted. They dotted the landscape, overflowing their confines –

including this striking White Aster.

Sages surrounded touching groupings of family stones –

Butterfly bushes grew as large as trees –

and beautiful combinations of foliage and color.

There are many varieties of Sage,

Grasses,

and even Cactus – unusual for these parts.

The deep yellow Rudbekia reaches skyward,

and compliments the blue Plumbago.

But the perennials and plantings are not limited to certain sections. They are carried throughout – turning a short trip into a long stay. I imagine this stone beautifully enveloped in Geraniums must belong to a one-time gardener.

In every corner there is a different find. Ajania Pacifica…

fragrant Lavender…

still blooming Coneflower…

blazing orange Lantana…

and this well-behaved Morning Glory.

Not sure what these mystery plants are…perhaps you can help:

On my way out I stopped to talk with and compliment four of the volunteer gardeners. “You should see it in spring,” they said. I will definitely be back.