Naturally a Better Way to Gardenâ„¢

We’re back from vacation and the nursery is open for the first time this year. We are charged up and ready to make this our best year ever. We have been open now 2 ½ years! We have had some very rainy springs that have cut into profits and slowed down our growth. We can’t use the weather as an excuse this year! We are going to have to grow the business if we are going to reach our goals. Sure the weather can hamper things, but we are a business and must do what is necessary to soften the blows the weather causes and find the areas that will help with the growth.

To that end we have decided to focus are energies on creating a new path for the nursery. The Golden Gecko Garden Center, . Our new focus will be "Naturally a Better Way to Garden"™ showing people how to garden in a more natural way. We feel that gardening is looked upon as a chore by many people. They have gotten “stuck” maintaining the garden rather than enjoying it. We hope to plant the seed of an idea that to really enjoy the garden we have to reduce the amount of time maintaining it. In our region of dry summers and wet winters it is time consuming to maintain plants that are from regions that require larger amounts of water and effort to keep looking good. This was driven home to us when we left our house to live at the nursery for a year. The water line was disconnected and some of our landscaping died. Upon our return we decided that we want to create a garden that is beautiful, wildlife friendly, able to withstand the drought of summer better, and requires less time to maintain. After all I garden for a living and would like some time off when I am at home.

I think there are a lot of people like us and we want to reach them. Do they know about all the great new plant introductions coming from Australia? We are finding out that Grevillea is a lot more cold tolerant than first expected and that’s great news for us in the foothills. It’s also deer resistant! What about the idea that using organic fertilizers will help make stronger and better adapted plants than if you use synthetics? What about the idea that here in northern California you have better success planting in the fall than spring? What with the winter rains coming and the cooler temperatures after a hot summer plants establish better planted in fall. How about focusing you energies on the aspect of gardening you enjoy most. By landscaping with "like climate plants" in a more natural way we free ourselves up to concentrate on our hobby of vegetable gardening, fruit tree growing, container gardening, boating, traveling, or whatever.

Here in California we have taken gardening more appropriate to other climates and made it work. The cost though has be in increased watering, fertilizing, and time spent supporting these plantings. The ideas we are talking about are not new but are often looked upon separately by people, where instead they need to be grouped together to create a more natural and effortless garden. We are not saying that you must garden organically. In our area of large parcels Round-up is often used for fence lines and other areas where hand weeding is not appropriate. Gardening in a more natural way means planting and using what works best for your situation. It happens that organics tend to improve soil structure, benefiting plants where synthetic don’t. This is exciting since it takes the argument from organic versus non- organic. Use what works best and in most cases it’s the organics.

We will also be increasing our selection of Mediterranean climate plants. We feel that native plants deserve a much greater representation in our landscape along with other like climate plants. Growing a strictly native garden might be a fun horticultural pursuit but by incorporating other plants from like climate regions we can create a beautiful garden that is unique to our region. Why try for the Cape Cod look or the Tuscan look when we should develop our own unique look. By gardening in a more natural way we will be creating a garden that expresses our region and personalities better.

Here is what we will be doing. Increasing the selection of natives and Mediterranean style plants that we carry, while decreasing the selection of plants that don’t fit in with our goals of creating a more natural garden. Promoting organic fertilizers and pesticides used properly. Encouraging wildlife friendly gardening, and yes this includes the deer! We will work to increase the awareness of fall as a more natural time to plant here. Most of all we will be increasing our efforts to get the word out by making available the information people need to embrace this style of gardening.

I also want to take the time to answer a couple of questions I received about my last post. The chapel pictured is small. It’s might hold 20 people comfortably. The pruned Monterey Cypress has a flat statue of a lady sitting underneath it and if you look very closely a “bird house” has been pruned into the very top of the tree. It stands up above the flat top of the tree.

Mendocino is a lot like Coloma near us. During the season it is packed with tourists and quite as can be in the winter. We wanted to enjoy the quiet and we did. It rained part of one day which we found enjoyable as rain on the coast is different than in the mountains, more mild and breezy. We stayed at a bed and breakfast, the Packard House and had the place all to ourselves for a day. We enjoyed the quiet. Thats our room "The Pacific View" in the piture above. Other than driving to Ft. Bragg we stayed in town exploring the hidden alleys, unique shops, and beaches. If you want to enjoy one of the most beautiful drives in the world take Hwy. 1 from Mendocino to San Francisco.