Garden Photo of the Day

READER PHOTOS! Pam’s garden in California

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Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg

In the past, all we’ve seen of Pam Wittenberg’s garden in Santa Rosa, California, is the wildlife that visits–and those pics have been fabulous! (We watched some hummingbirds grow up from egg to young adult right before our eyes HERE and HERE! For more critters from Pam’s garden, click HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE) But today we get a glimpse of her garden.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg

Pam says, “Seven years ago we moved to a house with a creekside backyard that had been cleared to make way for a lawn. The lawn resembled a putting green and contrasted sharply with the natural surroundings. There were a few landscape plants to salvage: plenty of wild hemlock, and naturalized arum and vinca, which still provide greenery today. These are easily controlled, but I continue to battle the wandering Jew that colonized the creekbank long ago and has made its way into some of my garden beds.

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg

“Over the years, I removed the lawn, rerouted sprinklers, added lots of mulch, and populated my garden with cast-offs, orphans, cuttings, deep-discount-sick-and-dying nursery finds, and plants from Freecycle and Craigslist since I have little in the way of a gardening budget other than my time on my days off. Now the garden has a structure that complements the creek (which runs all year and becomes a raging torrent in the winter!), and is home to plants with lots of memories of friends and strangers who have made it a lush and relaxing place to spend my free time.” Beautiful, Pam!

Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg
This is an early spring pic, so not much in the way of landscape plants, but the trees are fully leafed out and my daughter is sporting her favorite gardening outfit…a satin dress with boots and gloves.
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Pam Wittenberg

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  1. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 08/14/2012

    Definitely a feel-good garden. much more inviting than a putting green!

  2. tractor1 08/14/2012

    A lovely assortment of flora, and I went back to view Pam's fauna, all fabulous. Now I'm hoping to see that crick, and I'm wondering what nectar is flowing in those two large barrels. Thank you, Pam.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 08/14/2012

    Pam, the picture of your daughter is beyond adorable...totally enchanting...I feel like I was transported back to an earlier time when the young ladies of "the manor" would cavort about their grounds in proper finery.
    Anyway, your garden is truly lovely and all the more so because of the way it has gradually evolved.

  4. Parb 08/14/2012

    Pam, thank you for sharing. You have created a beautiful garden, what I would dub a second-chance garden for all the plants you have rescued, and what a delightful daughter. I agree with Meander1, tractor1 and Vojt. I would love to see that "crick" and please tell us about the barrels. My curosity is running away with me.

  5. PamWittenberg 08/14/2012

    I sent in a few pics of the creek along with these pics, but perhaps I'll put together a group showing how it changes over the year and resubmit those. In the spring, when the creek is running high and churning up the mud, my daughter insists it is full of chocolate milk, while at its lowest in summer, it still gives us the sound of running water throughout the lowest part of the garden
    The barrels are cast-offs from a winery, and I placed them throughour the garden hoping that I might get some bees to settle in, but so far, only the wasps have found them :(
    Seeing my garden online makes me swoon...amazing how much prettier everything looks weeds, no bare spots, no insect damage, just the good stuff!

  6. Formandfoliage 08/14/2012

    Pam, nice to see a nearby garden! Looks gorgeous. Great example of lawn replacement! (For those of you not in Mediterranean climates - it is really hard for us to grow grass here, but a lot of people try nonetheless. Better to do what Pam did and replace it with climate-appropriate plants that are much prettier and provide habitat for wildlife, as her photos demonstrate.)

    And Michelle, you know you can count of some of us in the west and south to keep you stocked with winter interest!

  7. cwheat000 08/14/2012

    Your little girl is too cute. If she does wear that dress on a regular basis digging in the dirt , you should do laundry detergent commercials. For contrast, I should send in a picture of my little girl, dressed in rags covered in dirt. My husband titled the picture, "just a dollar a day will help feed this child." Knowing you are a working mom, I am impressed with all the work you have done. I am additionally impressed with how you filled the garden, on such a tight budget. I know it is much harder to combine plants when they arrive in drips and drabs of all colors and textures. Your garden appears to be a definite success. It appears to bring you, your kids and the wildlife great joy. Can't ask for more than that.

  8. sheila_schultz 08/15/2012

    For most of us, gardens are a journey. We dream, we find, we plant and then we just wait and hope for our visions to become reality... then we start all over again! Your garden is so lovely, no wonder your girl is wandering about with such abandon. Well done.

  9. PamWittenberg 08/15/2012

    No lawns for me...each of the 3 houses I've lived at have been an opportunity to destroy a poorly sited lawn and replace it with drought-tolerant plantings. I love the idea of a beautiful, cool lawn on a hot summer day, but the gophers, the irrigation, the wet winters, and the lack of flowers? No thanks!

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