Archive for the ‘central coast gardens’ Category

Confessions of a Landscape Architect

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

I’m a terrible gardener. Only the toughest plants survive under my care. (I swear this usually serves as a selling point for my clients, because I can identify the most bulletproof of plants for their garden.)

Contrary to popular opinion, landscape architects are not trained in gardening. Apart from design and engineering classes, my plant-specific education was limited to botany, soil science, a few plant identification classes and one class that I do actually reference on a daily basis; California Native Plants with Dave Fross. So, after years of drafting, computer screens, reviewing industry-standard specifications, and basically just lines and words on paper, I’ve decided that its time to take a more active role in the garden.

While browsing the garden center at the Morro Bay Miner’s I noticed a dusty collection of “Central Coast Gardening Essentials” books by Joe Seals.  At first glance, the use of papyrus font on the cover and the lack of glossy plant photos in the body turned me off.  But then I flipped through the “Top Myths and Bad Practices of Gardening” section… I was sold at “DON’T put kitchen waste in the compost pile,” (put them in a worm box instead!)

Seals had me hooked immediately with his accessible, common-sense approach to gardening. Not only does he break down 10-weeks of soil science instruction into a few pages of clear, to-the-point, useful tips, but he continues to address all the factors affecting plant health, including water, wind, light, temperature and more, into simple, quick-to-grasp guides. When plants are failing in the landscape, it is important to address all factors. Matching the right Sunset zone or picking whatever is in your local nursery, does not equal success. The best part about Seals’ handbook is its focus on the Central Coast climate specifically. While key parts of the book can be applied  to gardens nationwide, there’s nothing more helpful than a comprehensive, on-the-ground knowledge of our specific region.

I had grand plans this weekend, to clear out my dilapidated garden and get started on some fresh plantings, but now I’m holding off until I finish this book! I’m half way through and want to make sure I read the chapter on “Weed Management”  first, because do you “ever wonder why people who pull weeds are always pulling weeds?”

Seals will also break down popular conceptions of soil amendments, landscape fabric (causes more weeds), and drip irrigation (does not help build drought-tolerant plants)! I’ve enjoyed finding validation for some of my personal opinions and greatly appreciate his straightforward and intuitive approach to successful gardening on the Central Coast.

If you disagree or have differing experiences from what Seals prescribes, I would love to hear your comments below.