At their home on San Francisco Bay, Kay and Jack Keohane’s passion for gardening blooms.
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Over the years, Jack and Kay Keohane have learned that success―in gardening as in marriage―requires cooperation. “We enjoy collaborating on projects because we both like to add artistic touches and found objects to the garden,” Kay says.
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Because they’re resistant to wind and salt air, the spires of bell-shaped foxgloves work well in coastal areas.
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Jack designed this shady arbor to accent the path to Kay’s work studio. With the help of raised beds, well-drained soil, and Jack’s drip irrigation system, the couple has had great luck with native Mediterranean plants, such as rosemary, lavender, and salvia.
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In Living Color
Perfect for cool, shady gardens, Cineraria blooms annually in a variety of colors―from pinks and blues to whites and purples―often with contrasting centers.
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Kay planted the potager, or kitchen garden, in raised beds so the soil will drain well and warm up early in the season. “The beds also allow for a quick and easy harvest,” she says. The small greenhouse shelters seedlings in spring and less hardy plants in winter.
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These classic beauties bloom in winter and early spring in the Keohanes’ California garden. “I like calla lilies because they’re easy yet elegant,” Kay says.
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Divide to Conquer
The couple divides gardening tasks according to taste: Kay tends to the vegetable patch, fruit trees, and herb garden, while Jack handles the hardscape, fences, arbors, and ornamental plants.
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The glamorous Lily-of-the-Nile’s stems can reach 4 to 5 feet tall and produce as many as 100 small blue flowers. Once established, it requires little regular watering and can withstand some flooding if the soil allows for quick drainage.
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“The panoramic views of Mount Tam and San Francisco Bay are well worth the challenges of gardening so close to the water,” Jack says. In addition to the Bay Area’s deer, clay soil, and lack of summer heat, Kay and Jack can expect that every two years or so, high tides and heavy winter rains will fill their garden with floodwaters up to a foot deep.
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Blowing in the Wind
Sprouting between the flagstones on the patio overlooking San Francisco Bay, these wild beach grasses link the gardens with the plants that grow naturally along the shore.
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Dividing clumps regularly will keep daylilies (which happily grow in less sun than their name indicates) healthy and prolific. Available in vibrant yellows and oranges and soft whites and melons, there’s a variety of this flowering plant for every garden scheme.
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Strawberry geraniums expand from runners to act as groundcover in areas that don’t get a hard freeze. “Their airy flowers lend lightness and contrast to the perennial beds,” Kay says.