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Garden Photo of the Day

A Sonoma Garden

By Alexandra Dittrich

Scott keeps busy by developing his garden in Sonoma, CA.

"Hi, I am Scott Geiger, a retired computer Programmer in Sonoma County Ca.  We live on a south facing hillside acre overlooking Santa Rosa.The home was built in 1948 and purchased by us in 1999 when much of the present garden was part of a driveway that looped around the house. I have maintained a yearly photo journal of the changes using a variety of digital cameras, most recently a Nikon d700. Over that period I’ve become fascinated by the development of our garden's character; a synergy between our best (ad hoc) efforts at design punctuated by the relentless emergence of the native landscape. Photo logs are an invaluable guide.  The attached photos are a sampling of this year's May log."

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 07/27/2016

    G'day Scott, from Aussie land - What a corker of a garden (translation = real beaut)! Plenty of character indeed, and the photography is not bad either. You have obviously put in a lot of hard yakka (i.e. code for work) over the last 17 years (e.g. the rock work). It would be great to see a sample of your photo. logs over time to fully appreciate your efforts etc. Where does the drive go now? Thanks for sharing.

    1. user-7008194 07/27/2016

      Hi Frank,

      Have some very dear friends (fab gardeners) who left Sonoma County years ago for the Queensland coast, hoping to make that trip in the next year or two.
      The larger boulders were placed with a mini skip loader by a pro (credited above). We have lots of rock on the property and I am sometimes accused of being obsessive about building and re-working rock walls :-).
      The driveway now forks in "front" of the house and terminates on both the east/west sides of the house. Attached a picture from Feb 2011 looking up the driveway from the road.


      1. frankgreenhalgh 07/27/2016

        Thanks Scott - I've got the layout now. If you are coming to Oz make sure you come down to the State of Victoria after seeing your friends in the northern State of Queensland (sub-tropical climate) - OK you had better see the Great Barrier Reef whilst in Queensland, but Victoria is the garden State (temperate climate).

  2. user-7007498 07/27/2016

    Yo Scott. Writing from Harrisburg, PA, and thought I would throw in some eastern PA slang (although Frank has all the good stuff). Your garden is lit (code for pretty awesome).

    Agree with Frank. It would be cool to see some photos over time. The landscape feels like I am in a park. There is a raw beauty to it. Fantastic job. Also love the extensive collection of pots on the paving. Thanks for sharing.

  3. User avater
    meander1 (Michaele ) 07/27/2016

    Good morning, Scott, your property looks like a delightful place to garden since there appears to be a plentitude of dappled shade provided by tall trees and your wooden structures. Are you the craftsman who built the pergolas? The vantage point of some of your pictures make me feel like a visiting critter who's taking a rest on a branch and surveying the scene. Things definitely have a nice balance of "au natural" and human effort...it's all very serene and welcoming.

    1. user-7008194 07/27/2016

      Hi meander1,
      In a former life I was a woodworker but these pergolas are not my work (see post above for details). Regarding the balance, it is something I have come to appreciate. The native plants are relentless for a reason, after all, I am the intruder

  4. user-4691082 07/27/2016

    How I envy that shade, Scott! You have done an impressive job on that property. Did you build the water feature yourself? What critters does your yard attract? When I think of the recent photos of California gardens, I only see xeriscaping...you are far enough north that you can use other plant materials. Well done. More of the transformation please!

    1. user-7008194 07/27/2016

      Hi Rhonda,
      Santa Rosa is north of SF so nothing like what might be found in more southern regions of the state. I have added links to more images (before and after) above.

  5. wittyone 07/27/2016

    How forward looking of you to start your photo logs right at the beginning. It's encouraging to be able to actually see how much you have changed things over the years. Also being able to really see individual planted areas at varying points of time during the year helps the gardener know what needs to be moved, added or rearranged. A much better approach than mine of cryptic little notes about this bed or that which often don't tell me much about what I intended to do there when the situation was staring me in the face.

    You've come up with a very lush, shady, comfortable garden. Some gardens look so controlled that the onlooker feels like they need to step carefully so as not to disturb the order that's been implemented.

    1. user-7008194 07/27/2016

      Hi vwitte,

      Regarding the photo cataloging ... I had a hand in developing software targeting photographers back in the early days of digital cameras. As part of that effort I ended up taking many photos in my backyard(s) through multiple seasons and years before recognizing the value of organizing the images as a record. So all quite serendipitous. I am constantly amazed at the not so subtle changes in the garden that I would completely miss without the photo record.


  6. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 07/27/2016

    Just stunning, Scott. You've got to enjoy walking around admiring your handiwork and the serendipitous mixture of nature and nurture. Love the rock work and water feature, and like Kevin, I was really drawn in to the container collection. Such a beautiful property.

  7. NCYarden 07/27/2016

    Quite a distinctive garden, Scott. I'm not so sure I would have guessed California had you not said so. It has a lush appeal I would not have expected, certainly a testament to your efforts for sure. Great structure throughout, and the stones are magnificent...always an admirable feature to the garden. Though I am a bit averse to strong sun, and thus find myself particularly intrigued with your shaded paths, your patio does looks inviting, especially if enjoyed with a refreshing drink. Keep the documentation going - it provides great memories. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Annek 07/27/2016

    I sure enjoyed the walk about your garden. As all the prior comments imply, it is perfection. Looking forward to (perhaps?) seeing more photos of what this beautiful landscape looked like 'in the beginning'.

  9. EWSTX 07/27/2016

    Beautiful! Tons of work, but beautiful!

  10. User avater
    Linda on Whidbey 07/27/2016

    Scott, documenting your garden progress is such a smart way to go and like others here I would love to see the beginning of this lush current garden. The way you've tucked pots here and there in the rocks really caught my eye and that shaded walkway is very appealing. Is that a little garden shed with the purple door? Do you have any watering issues where you are or do you concentrate on drought tolerant plants?

    1. user-7008194 07/27/2016

      Hi Linda,

      Yes watering is an issue -:) although this year we had a welcome respite from the drought in NorCal. The bulk of our watering is via drip controlled by 15 stations located in the purple shed which is the well/pump house. While drip can be a maintenance headache (deserves its own post) the precision and the efficiency of the delivery system can't be matched.
      My approach to gardening has been changing ... I am more apt to accommodate native plant volunteers like Toyon, manzanita (which is fabulous) etc. In the pots I am transitioning to plants that require less water.


  11. Sheila_Schultz 07/27/2016

    All of your hard work has certainly paid off, Scott. Your gardens and stonework are beautiful and I can almost feel the soothing coolness looking through the dappled shade in some of your photos. Like everyone else, I'd love to see some of the before shots!

  12. Schatzi 07/27/2016

    Your garden looks so cool and inviting, and I know it gets hot in central CA. It's a beautiful area and your garden adorns it much better than concrete. Great job. Thanks for the pix. More please.

    1. user-7008194 07/27/2016

      Hi Shirley,
      Santa Rosa is situated 50 miles north of the Golden Gate and 25 miles from the Pacific. While it can get hot generally the weather is tempered by regular westerly breezes and fog in the summer. I've added a post showing the original asphalt cutting through the backyard ...

  13. user-7008194 07/27/2016

    Thanks to everyone for the kind comments.

    The attached image is a "before" shot looking through what is now the garden gate / pergola. The original hardscape changes were designed by Richard Plaxco and implemented by "Geared for Growing".

    A pictorial evolution of the garden from 1999 through 2012:

    The 2016 garden images can be found at:


    1. User avater
      meander1 (Michaele ) 07/27/2016

      Really enjoyed going through all the additional pictures, Scott. It had to be a herculean challenge to pick out the photos you wanted to share on GPOD.

    2. frankgreenhalgh 07/27/2016

      Great series of photos Scott. Provides a good picture of how your lovely garden evolved. Nice family shots and dogs as well!

  14. PerenniallyCrazy 07/28/2016

    Phenomenal! I love everything about your garden Scott especially the transformation and evolution photos. Is this your first time to send photos to GPOD? If not, I can't believe I missed the previous contributions. Hope you send in photos regularly - every season would be such a treat,

  15. Cenepk10 07/28/2016

    Wow Scott. Really loved your addendum of photos. Such an amazing photojournal - your garden is an extension of you- your painting of your world - and it's exquisite.... Just amazed. Thank you so much for sharing!

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