The Smiling Faces of Spring

Rosa 'The Mermaid' twinkling and smiling at passersby from my garden fence
Rosa ‘The Mermaid’ twinkling and smiling at passersby from my garden fence


I am traveling to Brooklyn to do some garden business, and to see what spring looks like after a long, long winter. I am amazed at the pep in everyone’s step! Living for so long in Southern California, one takes the endless summer/spring for granted – but NOBODY seems to be taking the impending growing season for granted right here, right now! Happy New Yorkers, enjoying the blue skies and bursting buds.

On my end we have had practically no winter at all, just a few showers in what should be a monsoon season. Where I live, we get most of our rain in a 3-4 month period of time, with sprinkles of showers here and there if we are very lucky. We haven’t seen that normal pattern in years, so I’ve noticed people doing the sensible thing – they are removing their front lawns (YES!!!!!), and planting more water-wise gardens.

BUT – for me, gardens are part responsibility to our earth, neighbors, and future generations, and part fantasy. As I see these spare, unthirsty gardens going in with DG and my beloved pea gravel taking the fore, I am thrilled – but I find myself missing something. Succulents are so lovely and dependable, but the current demand for them has seen prices skyrocket, making specimens unusable for most. So we have scrubby natives and grasses being put in without any rhyme or reason, just kind of plopped and sad. The normal home gardener seemed to do better with lawn and Ligustrum. And I miss THE FLOWERS!!!

What about the flowers? People seem to be afraid of the roses, the birds of paradise, the calla lilies – the flowers that scream “HOLLYWOOD” to me. I have never been the biggest fan of these, but now I want them – my eye seems to need them. Is it just me being an iconoclast, a brat? You tell me. Maybe I want the thing I know is bad for me, but right now, with all of the dry dry dry I see at home, the beauty of an unnecessary, exuberant rose makes my heart sing like a bird.

I want more!

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Ivette Soler


Fasten your seatbelts, Ranters, I hope you like riding rollercoasters! I’m Ivette Soler, a garden designer and writer who lives and works in Los Angeles, California. I have been designing since 1997, working primarily with the subtropical and succulent palette that thrives in my corner of the world. I started my blog, The Germinatrix, in 2004, and I have been enjoying a vibrant dialog with the online garden community ever sine. In 2011, Timber Press published my book “The Edible Front Yard“, in which I make the case for ridding ourselves of thirsty, dull front lawns in favor of beautiful, bountiful gardens that mix food with ornamentals. I am thrilled to be a part of this illustrious and opinionated group, and am looking forward to RANTING with all of you!

Let’s do a little speed-dating so you can get to know me better:

I am a Believer – I know that gardens and gardening can and will make this world a better place.

I am a Maximalist – I believe that more is more and more is better than less!

I am against Horticultural Xenophobia – If you believe that we must eliminate well-chosen exotics from our landscapes in favor of a natives-only palette, we might have words.

I am a Talker – I love to get into it! If you have anything you want to challenge me about, or if you want to dialog about anything I post, please comment away! My love of blogging is rooted in dialoging with a large number of passionate gardeners with diverse opinions. I will rant, and I expect you to RANT BACK

I cast a wide net – This is a big world, and I believe our gardens are more interesting when we open ourselves up to ideas other than those that come to us from the established gardening world. I am inspired by fine art, literature, product design, theatre, fashion … you get the picture. I will often bring in ideas from other areas of culture to our conversations about gardens and the way we garden.

I like exclamation points and sometimes … yes … ALL CAPS – I really talk like this!!!! I can’t help it!!!

I am eager to move the conversation about gardening and the place it has in our lives forward, so hop on, make sure you are strapped in tightly, and LET’S GO!


  1. You are probably not old enough to remember the fifties and sixties when Southern Californians were replacing their lawns with green-tinted cement and white granite and red lava rock checkerboards. The decomposed granite is better, although in my neighborhood the current practice for house flippers is to put down landscape fabric, about a half inch of dg, which then washes or blows off and exposes the black, and a strategically placed succulent, agave or
    feather grass every five feet.

    I miss the lush spring back east too, but not the barren winter.


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