Early Springtime in the garden 2012

by Posted On

These pictures were taken two weeks ago, around the middle of March!

Many people think we don’t have seasons in Santa Barbara;  but I am going to show you that we do!

You can see the wisteria; which not only looks beautiful, but smells sublime!

It creeps across the front of the garage, and around the side through the “sweet olive”!

This is pretty much its prime;  no leaves yet!

The finial fell off the duck house;  I am not replacing it until the end of the summer!  The wood duck loves posing as the finial!

wood duck!

The juvenile black-crowned heron takes turns!  And there is a mallard sitting on eggs in one of the nest boxes!

This heron won’t hurt the baby  ducklings;  but we chase the Great Blue Heron out of here when there are baby ducklings!

Our Boston ivy comes in red in the beginning;  red leaves are not appealing to birds.  The rooster is happy to have his tail feathers coming back!!

From the other side!

The real roosters didn’t lose their tail feathers!

This shows a glimpse of our mesquite front gate.

This shows the mesquite railing that goes across a small stream from the pond ! It is interwoven with willow; so it is a living railing! The willow loses its leaves in the winter.

Hardenbergia  vine blooms in the winter (the purple one) and the white potato vine (a type of jasmine) blooms 12 months a year!

Chickens busy at bug finding and eating!

The crabapple fence just starting to leaf out in the herb garden!

These steps are petrified wood!

I love the rock edging on the herb garden; and the lavender planted in gravel.

This is our “Certified Backyard Habitat ” sign!  My granddaughter was in the first grade when we went online; filled out the application,  and sent it in with photographs.

It says  “This property provides the four basic habitat elements needed for wildlife to thrive:  food, water, cover, and places to raise young.

It has been certified by the National Wildlife Federation as an official Backyard Wildlife Habitat Site.”

We are very proud of that!!

Our gardener planted these native iris two years ago as a surprise;  he didn’t think they “took”;  but look at them now!!!!

When the gardeners on our lane “blow” (mercifully only once a week) , they leave the pile of oak leaves for us!!  My favorite path material!

more iris!

More hardengerbia and potato vine and chickens!

In a week or so; I will post what it looks like further along in Spring!

31 thoughts on “Early Springtime in the garden 2012

  1. French Kissed

    Your gardens look stunning in springtime…I had forgotten you had Wisteria…as if your house could get any more magical. I have been especially enjoying Wisteria this year as I wander about in SB and you lucky lady have your very own. Love that native Iris, too and of course your chickens are as enchanting as ever. Looking forward to seeing how the garden progress through the coming weeks…can’t wait to see what blooms next!


  2. Vitamin D

    Greeting from over the world. excellent post I shall return for more.

  3. Southern Sassie Girls

    Stunning! What caught my eye the most was the Crabapple fence, and I have never thought about having the Lavendar surrounded by gravel, it gives a nice contrast.
    In a couple of weeks I plan on posting about various types of living fences and arches, and would like to reference yours, if this is alright. Not sure how to use other people pictures, but would rather ask first.

    Cindy Sue

  4. Sandra Jonas

    Just stunning! Looking forward to more photos as the season progresses.

    Miss my chickens!

  5. Victoria Athens

    Your garden looks fabulous. Unfortunately, I cannot grow wisteria here in Florida so I hope the people who bought my NY home are enjoying the ones I left behind. You should be proud of your natural habitat. It is wonderful to see the flora and the fauna thrive. The cycle of life is beautiful, isn’t it?

  6. Lynn @thevintagenest

    You said the birds don’t like red leaves. I wonder if that is why my girls (our chickens) don’t like strawberries or plums or anything red I throw for them. I mean, they do eat it, but they don’t make a dive for it like they do when i throw out a grape or cheeto. 🙂 Everything in your garden looks beautiful. We have the wild wisteria here in Va. growing everywhere and blooming all through the woods. It’s soooo pretty! Hope you are having a wonderful weekend. ~ Lynn

  7. Kathy Avakian

    Penny, the wildness of your property is my very most favorite thing about the whole place! Its no wonder all the animals come there to retreat and make homes!

    xoxo Kathy

    The wisteria reminds me of the Samarkand area where I was born and raised. THere was a time when people could walk the paths of the Samarkand Hotel and see these great ponds that stretched out over acres of land and surrounding the ponds were these trellised walkways with grecian pillars with the LARGEST wisteria plants I have ever seen in my entire life,, the girth of these wisteria trunks were at least 2 feet in diameter and bigger. Like the sad story of so many of Santa Barbara’s historical old hotels and houses, it was all completely torn up to become assisted living condos. At the time it felt like losing someone I loved, it really had become a part of me and my past and to see it bull dozed down, wow…. break my heart.

    1. penelopebi

      Hi Kathy!

      I had no idea of that! I hope there are pictures of that! How totally devastating that must have been. It is also surprising that it happened! In general, Santa Barbara is pretty good about preservation. Ponds….????? I am dying to find out more! Are any ponds left?

      How sad!

  8. Tracey Jackson

    Looks gorgeous. Your house was meant for Springtime!

  9. penelopebi

    via email:

    Dear Penny,
    Your photos are stunning, as is your beautiful garden.
    xx, Robin

    Thanks Robin!!!

  10. Karen

    I first saw images of your incredible home and grounds when Brooke of Velvet and Linen posted them. I have been following your posts since your first started blogging. I admire your love of animals and your kindness towards the environment, not to mention your design talents. I always look forward to reading your updates. Happy Spring.

    1. penelopebi

      Hi Karen, and thank you!

      My goodness, Brooke seriously put me on the map! Not only her blog, and Steve’s pictures! In addition, so many of her followers have followed me!

      She convinced me to do a blog; and have a “website”! (I had only an unlisted phone number and had spent 40 years very busy with “referrals only”! That world is over. Brooke helped me (and I do mean “helped” me gently and graciously, in to the twenty first century. ”
      My website has been critically important for me to continue my working as a decorator; and my blog has brought me friends from all over the world.

      Thank you , again Brooke!! And Steve!

      She calls me; her “mentor” (and I am truly appreciative of that); and she is my “mentor” in a different way!

      Bringing me into the “unknown” area of the internet! (for me it was like the “wilds of Africa”!

      Brooke and Steve will be lifelong treasured friends…….we have met completely through the internet. There are others. It is life-altering!!!

      Thank you for commenting. I cannot tell you how much it means to me! Happy Spring to you , too!

  11. penelopebi

    via email:

    This is all beyond beautiful!! It’s a dream environment! And again, congratulations on the Habitat
    certification!! If any property deserved it, yours certainly did! The love you show to every living thing is evident and obvious in every shot!!
    And how wisely you picked the time of day to photograph everything; when there is bright sun, there’s too much contrast. The wisteria is absolutely glowing in this twilight!! And the oak leaf path!!!! Absolutely amazing as well as being so healthy for the soil. I could go on and on but it would just be redundant!! To me, it’s the ideal garden environment!!
    I’m going to forward this to some friends for whom it would be an inspiration!!
    The detail and care is as perfect as perfection could be!!
    & Adam
    PS: I’m going to buy a potato vine! It blooms 12 months?

    Bob Schulenberg

    thank you Bob! Yes! In California……that “potato vine” never stops blooming……in the dead of winter (ok; I guess we don”t have it here); but this vine never stops blooming!

    ps thank you for your comments on “the time of day” I photographed things.
    I cannot pretend to be any kind of a photographer as you ARE!!

    I just take my iPhone with me…..and shoot! I don’t know one single thing about light or time of day…..or even have a camera……a real camera……..I have an iPhone….and I point and shoot! Some of them are so blurry I am embarrassed to show them…..but they get the feeling across!

    You are such a pro. Thank you! I am happy people enjoy them!

  12. Greet

    Oh dear Penelope,
    Your garden is to die for!!! Gorgeous!!! Love this post! Thank you so much for sharing these pictures!
    Have a wonderful Sunday!

  13. penelopebi

    via email:

    Great post, Penny….my favorite part is the wood duck acting as the finial on the duck house….too divine…

    Wendy Bianchi

    (my sister in law)!

  14. Sarah

    Hello Penny,

    Before I was introduced to you and your work through Brooke’s Blog, I had saved the issue of your beautiful home in House Beautiful Magazine. So many things I love, but those gates of yours made with vines/branches really “spoke” to me! My husband and I are in the process of renovating our home in Pebble Beach and those gates have been inspiration for a small gate and hand railing that my husband will be making with downed “cypress tree branches”. Cypress has the most beautiful gray patina, and once the bark is stripped off is so smooth to the touch.

    For nearly 30 years my husband and I have been buying homes to renovate, live in and eventually re-sell, and I must say our current project has been the most fun since I am now tuned in to so many wonderful blogs providing such inspiration! We’re a very creative couple doing all the work ourselves, and while I have an abundance of creative energy, my husband has real talent and skill and can do most anything I can come up, so it’s no surprise that I’m drawn to other creative couples working together like yourselves, and the Giannetti’s!

    It’s been very inspiring to me, so much so I’m creating my own blog chronicling our efforts in our current project. We still have so many things to complete and I look forward to sharing it with you soon. I’m absolutely smitten with painters canvas thanks to you, and the window coverings I made with them look absolutely beautiful against the limestone plaster walls my husband recently completed!

    All the best,
    Sarah Malone

    1. penelopebi

      Thank you! I can’t wait to see your blog!!

  15. sc

    So so beautiful! Thanks for sharing, I would love to have a garden like this but have a tiny “yard” and no gardener. I would love to try something like the crab apple fence though for privacy (very nosy neighbours on one side and no privacy despite a fence). I’m guessing your gardener did this but do you have any tips for someone who might like to try on their own?
    If I ever win the lottery Penelope, you are my decorator!

    1. penelopebi

      Thank you Sherry!

      I think you can find the directions online! If not; write me back and I will find them. Small crabapple trees are planted next to each other; and then tied criss-crossing and then trimmed each year!

      The best best best person to read about tiny properties becoming magical gardens with amazing views and privacy; You simply must go to http://taradillard.blogspot.com/! She had the tiniest garden in a crowded subdivision. I thin the most recent…..you will not believe what she did and she says how she did it! “Mrs. Howard”! She has written a lot about her own garden. It is nothing short of a miracle!

      You don’t need to win the lottery! I am now doing some online decorating. (refer to my blog before and after my brother’s kitchen in Connecticut! My sister-in-law and I did it with our iPhones!!

  16. Nella

    Penelope, this post is just amazing…I couldn’t move past the crabapple fence..whoever is responsible…just ingenious, I can only imagine how exquisite it must be in full bloom!! Your gardens in Springtime are so lovely, I hope you will give us a peek as the seasons progress….I have a white wisteria, I planned several years ago, still waiting for blooms…yours is beautiful! N.xo

    1. penelopebi

      Well; thanks for asking! I will post at least every two weeks……we do have seasons and they change.

      the mother duck was sitting on eggs this morning…..darn..didn’t have my iPhone……her bill was resting on the lip. I will get it tomorrow!

      thank you!

  17. Taylor Greenwalt

    Penelope, We posted your work on our blog. Sorry it took so long. We love your work and I hope our blog shows that. Julie

    1. penelopebi

      Dear Julie; I absolutely love and am terribly complimented by your coverage of my work! I appreciate it beyond description!
      One of the wonderful things about blogging; is that the communication is so life-enhancing! Even when one is published in a magazine, it all goes out to the ether! Every now and then there is a “letter to the editor”; but blogs are so wonderful!!
      Thank you so, so much!!

  18. penelopebi

    via email:

    “From the looks, it would suit the birds if you didn’t put the finial back. Teddee”

    Hi Tedee!
    You are totally correct! I am saving the finial…….maybe in the winter (I will be posting pictures of “winter in Santa Barbara” to prove we do have seasons) however, you are absolutely correct! who wants a wood finial when one could have a wood-duck; or a black-crowned heron (especially a “young’un”???

    I am expecting ducklings any day……..I will post pictures immediately! I appreciate the suggestion!

  19. Dovecote Decor

    Hi Penny: We are in super high def Spring in N.C. Did you see my Lady Banks rose on FB? I’m going to have to post in on my blog. Its wild and wooly, you would love it.

  20. PP@pimpmybricks

    Your garden is truly beautiful – it looks as though it grew that way by its own invention, with just the right amount of whimsical human touches here and there. And those roof tiles are my idea of heaven.

    I think most places other than the properly tropical have seasons. I’m used to the ‘light switched on, light switched off’ seasons of the UK and miss them here in Sydney, but even here, amongst all the voluptuous verdance there are the little mini-deaths of winter and the re-births of spring if you look. Thank goodness for those. As you slide into spring, we are sliding into autumn. I like all this sliding!


  21. Bettina

    Your garden is wonderful. So full of life and poetry…

  22. Tara Dillard

    Wish I lived close and could take pics of your garden for you, all year, as a surprise.

    Your talent is inborn.

    All you do, simple, but not.

    Everything so LIVABLE, inside/outside.

    Your designs are a narrative.

    And you know I love the story.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    1. penelopebi

      Wow. Coming from you. Talk about inborn talent. You have it in gobs!!!!!

      Thank you!!! Livable. My goal!!!! Thank you!!!

  23. Reggie Darling

    Hello Penelope:
    Your wisteria is absolutely gorgeous, and I can almost smell its lovely scent from looking at your beautiful photographs! What a wonderful property you have, and I must admit I am a wee bet envious that you have a bevy of such handsome chickens, too! Tell me, how are you doing keeping up with their egg output? There was an amusing piece in the NYTimes recently about the dilemma of what one is to do with all the eggs, likening it to the iconic, hysterically funny chocolate factory scene from I Love Lucy…Best, RD

    1. penelopebi

      thank you for asking, Reggie Darling! We eat the eggs…..(they are tiny….about 1/3rd the size of market eggs……these are French bantams, after all! (bantam means miniature in chicken talk)

      Right now we have 5 hens. One is in a crate because she has a broken hip. She must have been frightened by something…flew up really high on the roof or in a tree…….and when she came down; boom. Broken hip. She is not laying.

      One hen has hatched 5 chicks….and has them on the second story…(I have to take pictures) of the “maternity ward” coop!

      Three are hanging out with two roosters……(We had 4 and they started fighting….so our gardener has a friend who has a lot…and always wants new roosters (I have not inspected the place…..I am just praying they don’t eat them. Bantams would be hopeless in any kind of “rooster fighting games”; so I have been assured that his friend sells their eggs at the farmer’s market……

      I cry when we have to give them away. They all hatched here!!!

      I give eggs to my neighbor…..(Oprah!!) she at first said: “these are too cute to eat!!” Now she eats them!!

      Can I watch that chocolate factory program on Netflix? I missed that one!

      Did you see the slipcover one? (I love Lucy)? She is hiding in a closet????

      Honestly……I can almost start howling with laughter just remembering that one!
      I need to get some cd’s and lock myself in a closet and watch them. No one has ever been; or will ever be, as funny!!!

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