Garden Photo of the Day

Keep Digging and Learning!

We installed a pergola our first year and the jasmine climbing up one post is getting ready to fill the yard with its lovely blooms and fragrance!

Kate Russell has figured out the secret to gardening – keep digging and keep learning!

"I’ve loved gardening my whole life, but it wasn’t until we bought a house in San Jose that I’ve had both the place and the time to really dig in! I became certified as a Master Gardener in 2015 and have discovered that there is always more to learn."

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The yellow caution sign in front of my baby almond tree was a gift from a dear friend and the Passional tulips went in last fall. The dark-trunked tree to the right is a 50 year-old apricot from San Jose’s agricultural past and she still gives us apricots each year! The Valencia orange tree, behind the apricot, gives us tons of fruit. The white picket fence is a wild area where I have planted milkweed, butterfly bush, among established ornamentals, that attract beneficials and provide food for Monarch butterflies. On the left, clumps of geranium add bright red blooms to the summer landscape.

Yes, that is a giant rubber band ball on the patio! Someone abandoned it in the parking lot of a nearby park, and I simply had to adopt it! The blue chairs used to be an ugly, stained white, but 20 minutes with a can of spray paint and they were transformed! Our fire pit was created by a dear friend out of an old washing machine tub and it works beautifully. The navel orange tree is a heavy producer and I am always on the lookout for new recipes. You can also see onions (bottom right) and one of my two blueberry bushes (behind the fire pit).

This corner of the garden is dedicated to flowers. A leaky stone pond was transformed into a growing space for chocolate mint (yummy!), surrounded by Berry Daring tulips. Bergenia crassifolia (Winter Blooming Bergenia), Fairy Snapdragons, plus more rosemary, some ornamentals, a few clusters of asters and a lilac.

There were several varieties of roses, succulents and a Desert Spoon in place when we bought the house, but I have added lemon balm, lavender, and several types of lettuce to these two beds.

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  1. grannieannie1 03/11/2016

    Such an interesting garden and what a pleasure seeing your heavily laden, colorful fruit trees, Kate. You've combined so many edibles beautifully with your ornamentals it made my mouth water. Even your lettuce looks tasty and bursting with health. And applause for all your recycling ideas including that huge ornamental rubber band ball which got me chuckling!

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      You should have seen me rolling it home with two dogs in tow!

  2. NCYarden 03/11/2016

    Cool garden you have. I realize the edible benefit of having fruit, but those oranges are visually stunning from an ornamental perspective alone. I don't blame you for snatching the rubber band ball either...I would have done the same. Keep digging! It looks great.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, NC Yarden! Now I just have to figure out how to use all those oranges! I've already made tons of marmalade and the trees are still covered!

  3. VikkiVA 03/11/2016

    What a great garden Kate. What kind of Jasmine is on your pergola? I don't think I have ever seen one bloom pink. I love the variety of plants you have and the orange tree is a stunner! Vikki in VA

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, VikkiB! I'm not sure of the jasmine variety, but the blooms are white, just as you said. It is only the sepals that are pink. I think it is prettier before the flowers open but they smell so nice when they do!

  4. Quiltingmamma 03/11/2016

    What a lovely garden. It clearly reflects fun and function. Adding the edibles in with the ornamentals is a great plan and I love the rubber band ball. I lived in Monterey for a few years and those tree grown and ripened apricots were out of this world. Almost the size of peaches and so juicy. I hope you enjoy that gift.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, quiltingmama! Yes, I am very grateful to have the opportunity to harvest the actual fruits of my labor. It amazes me everyday, just how much food a person can grow!

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 03/11/2016

    I love that you are being such a good caretaker for the 50 year old apricot tree. It has such a sculptural quality with the somewhat sparse branching and graceful bend to its handsome trunk. That fruit laden orange tree has me salivating over its good looks and bountiful must be very happy where it is. Does getting a plentiful crop like that take extra effort on your part? Spraying? Watering? Stuff like that?

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Meander1, I really love our Grandmother apricot! As for the oranges, they thrive here in San Jose. I don't spray anything on them and only feed them blood meal occasionally. You can read more about citrus here:

  6. user-7007960 03/11/2016

    How wonderful that you have nurtured the historical apricot tree! A Tribute to the past and to your tender care . I love the relaxed feel and diversity of your gardens. Lovely. Thank you. Carol B.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Carol. We call the apricot Grandmother. When we first moved in, she had several fungal problems but I took care of that by redirecting the sprinklers away from her trunk and some judicious pruning. There's one major branch (on the right) that has died and I should probably remove it, but I love the shape of the tree so much, I keep putting it off.

  7. eddireid 03/11/2016

    I can't believe the size of those oranges. Each one is a whole meal! One day I would love to boast such a beauty. You are clearly a person of vision and work hard to improve your own environment. Lovely, thank you.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Eddi. The first time I saw this yard, when we were house hunting, it actually brought tears to my eyes!

  8. User avater
    HelloFromMD 03/11/2016

    Hi Kate, I hope you love being a master gardener. I too got so much from the training! I love the oranges too which look great with the fence. Please comment on your edging. I guess you don't have to worry about depth and frost heaving in San Jose. I would like to install more edging this spring and would like your feedback.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      I love the Master Gardener program! It actually inspired me to start a garden word of the day blog ( as a way to expand my knowledge base. We do, occasionally, get some frost in San Jose. The edging, for the most part, is floating. I only dig down a couple of inches, to hold the scalloped sections in place. For bricks, I only flatten the ground and let them sit on top. Over time, they settle in and become pretty stable.

  9. GrannyMay 03/11/2016

    Thanks for sharing your garden, Kate. I love to see fruit, vegetables and herbs mingled with ornamentals. The oranges look delicious and I can only image how wonderful the apricots must be.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, GrannyMay. Yes, the apricots are amazing. Like tomatoes, there's just no comparing them to store bought.

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 03/11/2016

    There's always more to learn in a garden and new plants to try, aren't there? I am awestruck by those jasmine buds, and wow!: hard to imagine having fresh oranges and apricots in your very own back yard!

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Yes, indeed, Tim! I love learning about the plants in my yard and I keep adding edibles to the landscape. It's amazing how much food a person can grow with just a little effort and information!

  11. annek 03/11/2016

    Your 'foodscaping' garden is a delight. I love that you've incorporated veggies with the rest of your garden, and like other commenters, the apricot tree has me captivated. Lovely garden, indeed!

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Annek! I love being able to harvest a significant portion of my dinner from my own yard, without chemicals. I had never heard the term foodscaping before. You just gave me a new garden word of the day for my garden blog ( - thank you!

      1. annek 03/12/2016

        Visited your blog page and it's delightful. Made me want to grow some chickens!

        1. gypsypitcrew 03/12/2016

          Thank you - I'm really enjoying the process. Chickens are so easy to care for that I wonder why more people don't do it. Let me know if you have any questions

  12. GrannyCC 03/11/2016

    Love the combination of food and flowers. Everything looks so healthy you must take good care of your soil. Enjoy all your fruit.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Catherine. I raise chickens, so there's always plenty of nutrient rich compost to counteract our heavy clay soil. I like to think that my garden takes care of me in return for my daily putterings. ;)

  13. schatzi 03/11/2016

    Beautiful! and productive. re: the oranges - do you ship? Juice oranges are hard to find. I too love being a master gardener, for the last 22 years. It's a great organization, and if I may brag, it started right here in Puyallup, WA almost 40 years ago, and the idea has spread all over the country. Keep doing what you are doing and enjoy.

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Shirley! Unfortunately, I live in an area with Asian Citrus Psyllid, which causes Huanlongbing disease, so we can't share unprocessed fruit. I wish I could! You can learn more about this new pest at Like you, I love being a Master Gardener. There are just so many opportunities to learn and teach! (Puyallup? I used to live in Seattle! Growing blueberries there was a real joy.)

      1. schatzi 03/12/2016

        I was being facecious (sp?) - sort of, about the oranges. Sorry about the Psyllid. I have read about it. It's really bad news. I actually live near Lake Tapps, not far from Puyallup. My worst pests are deer, rabbits, and slugs. So I try to plant things they don't like. Or cage the things they do. Your garden is beautiful, especially that Jasmine.

        1. gypsypitcrew 03/12/2016

          Shirley, I have found Bobbex-R to be very effective against mammalian pests. I buy it online. It stinks pretty badly for about 30 minutes but it keeps squirrels out of my garden for several weeks.

  14. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 03/11/2016

    Love your garden, Kate. Putting edibles in with the flowers is such a good idea since they're just as attractive. I wish we could get away with that but they would be harvested by all of the 4 legged critters that share our property. That Jasmine is just as beautiful before it flowers, isn't it? I see them in the nurseries at this time of year and have to stop myself from buying one as they really only thrive in greenhouses here. Wow, fresh apricots would be amazing. Do you ever dry them if your harvest is too much for you?

    1. gypsypitcrew 03/11/2016

      Thank you, Linda. We've never had any leftover apricots - they're just too delicious! The oranges are another story altogether... If you love jasmine, you could try growing it indoors. I'll bet it would smell heavenly.

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