I have often walked down this street before

Around the corner from where I live, two small trees are  in full bloom. They are Photinia serrulata, the Chinese Photinia, with a rounded canopy and dense clusters of white flowers. Planted up against a pinkish brick wall at the end of the former state capital building, they are magnificent. I wonder if other people notice them. I hope so.

Photinia serrulata
Photinia serrulata (close-up)

There is a great diversity in the street trees and gardens of Benicia. Some gardens are highly cultivated while others… well there’s no point writing about the others.

Someone’s been having a good time growing cactus and succulents
A lovely big Aloe hybrid


A collector’s garden

The range of trees here is quite broad. Lots of Callery Pears unfortunately, but beyond that, there are many Aleppo Pines(Pinus halapensis), Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis), Chinese Pistache (Pistacia chinensis) and  New Zealand Christmas Tree (Metrosideros exelcus) to name a few. And Palms, lots of palms.

Palms, beautiful palms

It has been spring in Benicia for about six weeks. We are now in the second of our three springs. We have had good rain and the air from the bay is fresh.

My own tiny garden plot is bursting after the rain.



Ceanothus ‘Can’t Remember’ and Fuchsia ‘Never Knew’
Abutilon ‘Nipples’

The third spring will see the herbaceous plants and grasses really begin to flower. With such a wet winter, the flowering will be abundant.Soon, after that, the first  of three summers will be here. Fine warm days and cool nights. Living in California is not bad, not bad at all.


Author: urbanehorticulture

A native of England a U.S. citizen for the past 30 years, I have worked in the garden world as a director and designer for over 35 years. I am best-known for my groundbreaking designs at Chanticleer, an estate and “pleasure garden” in Wayne, PA, where I worked for 20 years. Career Highlights I started my gardening life at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, England, where I was trained as a gardener. I worked in three other gardens in the UK, notably Portmeirion in Wales, Bateman’s in Sussex, and Cliveden in Buckinghamshire. At Bateman’s, I was responsible for the restoration of the 17th-century garden. I came to the U.S. in 1981 and was director and chief designer of Chanticleer in Pennsylvania for the next 20 years. I transformed a moribund private estate into one of America’s most exuberant, romantic and flamboyant gardens. Its glorious 47 acres have been celebrated by gardeners and horticulturists from around the world and, based on my designs, it continues to draw international visitors every season. After twenty years creating Chanticleer, I became vice president for horticulture for the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden and, in 2006, was appointed director of the VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, Canada. While pleased to be in Canada, my heart yearned for California and in 2008 he was appointed executive director of the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden. After a successful period in northern California, he returned to his home near Santa Barbara, CA where I operated my own design-consulting business. In 2012, I was lured back east by The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (founded in 1827) and appointed director of its private estate and garden, Meadowbrook Farm. I was commissioned by PHS to design the central feature for the 2013 Philadelphia Flower Show, the third major exhibit I have designed for PHS over the years. Among numerous other responsibilities, I have been a member of the board of the Fairmount Park Conservancy in Philadelphia and a founding member of the business advisory board for the Flora of North America Project. I have designed gardens in Chicago, northern and southern California, and throughout the Northeastern United States. I have also been a consultant to the Garden Conservancy and to Botanic Gardens Conservation International, as well as serving on the horticulture advisory committee of Lotusland in Santa Barbara, California. I have been the Advancement Advisor for the Flora of North America Association and am now traveling the world researching, interviewing, and photographing for a book on gardens around the world. Books & Awards My n first book, The Encyclopedia of Perennials, was published in 1992 by Facts on File. I also contributed to 1001 Gardens to See Before You Die (Barron's Educational Series, 2012) and The Gardener’s Garden (Phaidon Press, 2014). In 2003, I was awarded the Professional Citation for significant achievements in public horticulture by the American Public Garden Association. In 2007, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded me its prestigious medal for Distinguished Achievement. I currently live in the Bay Area, California.

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The New Perennialist

Musings on plants, gardens, travel, food and sex. Mostly plants and gardens.


for people who want more than gardening from gardens


Uprooting the Gardening World

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