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Urban Saratoga Gardening

Welcome to the Urban Saratoga Gardening web site. Ever since I've had my first home, I've been digging in the dirt. I started with just a small yard and few tried and true marigolds from the local home store. I got brave and bought some bare root roses one January and I've never looked back.

My family relocated to Riverside in Southern California where, fortunately, we only stayed for two years. I couldn't get anything to grow well. I was totally out of sync with a semi-desert region. Our garden consisted of 1 orange tree, 8 rat-infested palm trees and lots of ivy ground cover. All my favorite plants wanted cooler temperatures and a lot more water than Riverside water rates would allow. I still don't like Palm trees.

Moving to Saratoga

Upon returning to Silicon Valley, I had a new house with a large bare yard. Fortunately, I'd moved to an area where gardening and beautiful landscapes seemed to be a way of life. (You can read more about the rich agricultural history of Saratoga on my About page.) Like other new homeowners I was able to define a plan with the help of landscape architect and start to work on creating my own garden. Each season has its joys and challenges.

If you're thinking that gardening is something you do just once and then sit back and watch things grow, then I have some news for you. As all gardeners know, it is never finished. Plants get old, tired and diseased and need to be replaced because they've grown too large and just look scraggly. Sometimes, the weather forces that issue with hard freezes that can kill even large bushes or excessively dry summer winds that sap the life out of tender cool season plants. Even after living in this house for a while, I'm still setting out new plants, sometimes as replacements and sometimes just to add something new. But I consider it more fun than work.

Spring Blooming Azaleas

Azaleas Blooming in a Spring Garden

Every spring azaleas create quite a show. Many gardeners shy away from them fearing they are too temperamental and difficult to grow. I feed mine once a year with an acid fertilizer after their spring bloom. In the summer I need to make sure they have enough water during the hot dry Santa Ana winds. I practice continual trimming back. I like mine to stay low to the ground and spread out, but when they send out tall shoots or spread too wide, then I trim them back. I keep a pair of trimming clippers handy whenever I'm in the yard. That's about all I do and they reward me with colorful displays of azaleas each spring.

The plants in my yard aren't quite as massive as those in the stock photo above. Azaleas in Bloom Each year I prune the plants to encourage their sideways growth rather than getting taller. These are growing in a planter box beside my front door. They are protected with shade from the garage during the hot days of summer. Check out more spring flowering roses and azaleas at First Flowers of Spring.

I prefer these variegated ones, but intersperse them with traditional white and pink. When I was shopping in Costco this past weekend, I bought two azaleas that have reddish-orange flowers. I'd never seen that color before and the price was so attractive, I couldn't pass them up.