Getting your garden ready for winter

In praise of really unique, personal, and unusual gardens:  I had the great pleasure of visiting the Garden of the Monsters while visiting Italy: what a delight!  Known in Italian as il Sacro Bosco (Sacred Wood), or Parco di Mostri (Park of the Monsters), this totally unusual garden is located just outside the hill town of Bomarzo, about an hour north of Rome.  According to the romantic story, in 1550s Prince Orsini, heartbroken by the death of his wife, commissioned the noted architect  Pirro Ligorio to create this fantasy landscape. The park has more than 24  huge and fanciful sculptures, many carved directly out of the hillside’s tufa stone: there are gods and goddesses, ogres, turtles, elephants, and many more.  They are laid out in a green and shady strolling garden which provides the visitor with a new surprise around every corner.

Garden of Monsters in Bomarzo, Italy

If you want inspiration to really go wild with your own unique garden ideas, the Garden of the Monsters is a place you should definitely visit!  I encourage all of you to personalize your garden: use the plants, and pots, sculpture, accessories that appeal to you, so that you create a special place that makes you happy to be in it every day!  Too often we can constrained by what our neighbors might think, what our gardener friends say is “right”, or our own timidity: be brave and create your own special place for relaxing and enjoying!  If you need advice on how to create your special sanctuary, give me a call at 829-2455 to arrange a consultation. My goal as a designer is to help each of my clients achieve the unique garden of their dreams!

 Things to do: Time to begin dormant spraying of your fruit trees.  Tony Bassignani always used to recommend spraying at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day: an easy to remember regime which can prevent peach leaf curl, reduce aphid and scale populations, and prevent many bacterial diseases.  Remember to pick a calm day with no immediate rain in the forecast for your spraying.  Check with your favorite local nursery for the exact spray which is best  for your type of tree and disease problem.

Japanese native, the Sasanqua Camellia

Looking for winter color in the garden?  Don’t forget that old favorite: camellias.  Many people are tired of the old-fashioned, large-flowered Japonica varieties, but the Sasanqua varieties are less well known, and better suited for our warm, dry climate.  A Japanese native, the Sasanqua Camellia  is a relatively late introduction to the west, imported to Europe by the Dutch in 1869, then later spreading to the US.  Its flowers are simpler, with fewer petals, but very appealing and bright in pinks and whites, often with a large showy yellow stamen center.  I have planted the variety ‘Yuletide’ just outside my kitchen window, and it is putting on a brilliant show right now: a lovely winter-time treat.  Sasanquas are relatively drought tolerant once established and will take more sun than the Japonicas.  Most grow about 5 ft. tall and wide, but as always, be sure to check the attributes of your specific variety before buying. For a good photo library of varieties, check out  You will find many in the nurseries now, and this is an excellent time to plant them. Plant in good, compost-enriched soil (with gopher wire if you live in West County!), mulch well, and water regularly for the first couple years.

Questions about your garden?  E-mail me at, and I will try to help!



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