Monday, September 15, 2014

The Times, They Are A Changing

"The present now
Will later be past "

by Bob Dylan

"Changing Times, Changing Gardens" was the Pacific Horticulture weekend-long seminar.The journey up the central coast began at the train station in Fullerton.

A transportation center is a tough place to have a garden. But garden lovers are not tethered to "can't do". Planted between the succulent and cactus is a heart covered in a quilted mosaic pattern.  Phooey   on the drought- this garden will always have color in "its heart".

Instead of tensely watching for idiot-drivers along hundreds of miles of traffic, I could lazily lean against the window, allow my attention to nature's vignettes- places such as where boulders perched precariously on golden hillsides.

I could admire our long coastline without looking for off ramps with "restroom potential" . How magnificent to live in an age when people sail with seagulls over the waves.

Garden designer and  fellow garden writer Joan Bolton met me at the train platform for the rest of our journey. First stop: a wine tasting and book signing for  her long-time friend Andrea Weir's novel A Foolish Consistency.  So far, the heroine has hooked up 25 years later with the man she should have married, but didn't... Will they or won't they? To find out  buy the book 

My date: Einstein
Even Einstein would be impressed with the All-Star line up for Day 1

Lorene Edwards Forkner, Editor of Pacific Horticulture Magazine

Matt Ritter, Cal Poly Biology Professor and author of A Californian's Guide to the Trees Among Us

Jeffrey Gordon Smith  JGS Landscape Architecture

Susan Van Atta of Van Atta Associates

 Randy Baldwin, GM of San Marcos Growers 

Todd Davidson, Owner/ GM of Sage Ecological Landscapes and Nursery
Gabriel Frank - of Gardens by Gabriel and about-to-be- father

here is much to report from the weekend, which measured in time, is already past. But measured in influence- the road forward is only just begun. Beginning with editing through 444 images... 

 Until we meet again- Thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More South Pasadena is beautiful Gardens

Timeless architecture. A timeless garden. As appropriate in this century as in the last. 

Note the sweeping flattened arc of the front beam. Had the bulk been level - the psychology of the entrance would have been foreboding.. Instead, painted a deep ocean blue, the house bids you welcome to cross the front garden. 

Designed by BAM architecture of Claremont, California, the garden is a nod to the beauty of California native plantings which grown near the dry river beds found in the local San Gabriel Mountains. An avid bird watcher,  homeowner Deni Sinot insisted on plants  which were more than pretty: she wanted the horticultural palette to call in the birds. The plant list included Toyon, Sage, and Penstemon accompanied by an assortment of ornamental grasses.   

Don't you just love this little vignette? The diminutive scale is a touch of whimsy softening the muscular imprint of the big bungalow. 

Garden tours are so exciting. It is our chance for us to go behind the gates. 


From the garden tour brochure "In the backyard, slate that was hiding under the old Oak was repurposed define the space around the Deodar Cedar.  The grasses, shrubs, Buddha, and pure tone wind chimes give the back yard a feeling of peace and serenity. An added bonus is the new drip watering system, which in combination with drought tolerant plantings, uses 60% less water than before."

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ Walking The Huntington Gardens with Tom Carruth

"Gardening has always been an art, essentially." 
~Robert Irwin

What emotions I felt on the personal tour of the Huntington gardens by Tom Carruth was, I imagine, much like a practicing Catholic being given a tour of the vatican by the Pope would feel. Awe. Reverence.  Filled to the brim with a joyful spirit.  

Volunteers lost in a sea of roses
 For the first time since I learned to write in Kindergarten, I didn't take notes.  The very thought felt irreverent. Instead, I just breathed in Tom's narration of the former farm which grew up to be a grand estate, much as a congregant would if they were walking through a historic church garden with a holy man.

I don't have to ask: I know that when he dreams, he dreams in color. Swaths of long- held chords of color. 

Renowned in the rose world for his creation of some of the most beautiful roses, his business card proclaims he is now the E.L and Ruth B Shannon Curator of the Rose Collection at the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. 

If you haven't been to the Huntington in the last 2 years, you haven't been.  If you hurry, you can see the tail end of the most beautiful construction vignettes. Look for little bits of whimsy by craftsmen  -

Such as giving a horticultural name to the tree specimens of cement  arbor originally built in 1915. 

The brilliance of the remodel is that while extensive renovations were needed to transition the dowager garden to meet the safety needs  and sensual expectations of today's public, the spirit of the spaces at the Huntington remains true to the history of its development. 

Alterations to the ethereal beauty of the gardens is best described by one word: enhanced. 

Enough of my chatter. Please enjoy the images in peace and serenity.


Thank you Carol May for leaving open so many garden gates open through your GBBD

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

South Pasadena is Beautiful~ Part V ~ Timeless Craftsman

What makes Craftsman home and gardens perennial classics? The inherent dignity of  understated elegance.  

The water needs of a thirsty lawn is cinched by planting beds on drip water

The love shown Alan and Gail Malturn's gracious 3,020 foot craftsman home on a quarter acre lot is apparent in the fresh execution of details. Built in 1928 *, that year was filled with fun footnotes: 

Aliotos, on San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf, opens
Buddy, A German Shepherd, becomes the 1st guide dog for US citizen Morris Frank
The United Kingdom lowers the age of women's suffrage from 30-21
Kraft invents Velveeta Cheese
In Paris, "Bolero" by Maurice Ravel, is first performed publicly
The National League accepts the Designated Hitter Rule
Herbert Hoover is elected President of the United States 

A craftsman house is the child of architecture and nature. Instead of fighting for dominance, the elements respect each other. In tone. In simplicity. In careful curation of a multitude of materials.

The craftsman movement  rose as a rebellion favoring the restoration of manual labor following the Victorian era's massive industrialization. Broad porches, creative brickwork, abundant use of natural and honed materials: homes and gardens are not stark in any fashion.

The past 20 years was a time to reimagine the challenges of an older home into  opportunities to improved on the timelessness of design. A long strip of land next to the driveway was filled with roses and perennials. The simple brick edging, a levee preventing the bark from muddying up over the straight stretch of driveway surfaced in river pebbles. 

The porous surface driveway encourages water to percolate into the groundwater table rather than slide into the low-lying garage or scampering off to the ocean as wastewater.   

 Is there anything more glorious in the garden on a hot summer day than to rest beneath the forested canopy of a single, well placed tree? To listen to wind rustle leaves and birds calling to each other? 

Skiring this ancient camphor tree  with river rocks, elegantly solves the issue of the inability of either ground cover  or pavement to battle gnarled roots with grace. 

Art. A simply carved plinth of wood marks the entry to the rear garden, which was designed with large dogs romping about  in mind.

Is this Eve? The sculpture naturally calls the eyes to rest on a deliciously cool garden vignette.  

All gardens should have a bit of humor. Two talavera iguanas across the pool put smiles on visitors faces. 

Betwixt and between the pool and the garage, the homeowners carved a spot for edibles. Citrus, rosemary, sage huddle together, their aromas filling the air on hot days.

Okay- my knowledgeable readers- that  little bee-like creature happily munching at the basil- what is it? 

The true test of a garden's depth of beauty is not measured in how it looks from the curb. the test is when you are leaving: did the garden resonant with your being? 

The gentle crunching of gravel beneath my feet, my spirit felt a peace in understanding that it is possible to create places of timeless beauty.  Both architecture and gardens can remain vital companions to contemporaries of different generations. 

Thank you to Alan and Gail Malturn for opening your garden.  Those who entered, we were blessed to behold what you have created. 

Until we meet again, Thank you for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful!

* Events pulled randomly from for 1928

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

South Pasadena is Beautiful- Part IV - Artists as Garden Designers

"All gardening is landscape painting." 

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Flowers propped in a vase, plucked fresh from the garden- if there was any trend in 2014- this is it. 

Peter Dudar and Sally Marr painted Jo Lane's water wise  garden with artistic sensitivity for color and texture. Perky lavender blooms atop light green finely foliaged  succulents sings to pedestrians passing by "I feel pretty."  

Built in 1923,  the modest home is  bursting with happy details melding garden to home. Note a break from boring: window mullions are  framed in a bold teal. 

 It is difficult for low-chill Southern California to host tulips for consecutively annual glorious blooming seasons. However- the floral bearer of the message "perfect love"  can be replicated in art glass for a lifetime of  enjoyment. 

An expanse of mocha stucco  has potential to be be blah, blah, blah. By punctuating the space with a graceful bit of iron, the eye has something interesting to behold. 

Speaking of interesting, a passageway into the petite backyard Eden begins with a hard right turn from the driveway.  The galley of a patio, lush with a trumpet vine overhead, bisects the house from the open air orchid room. 

There is a palpable coolness to this space. Filled with orchids and hanging plants, the multitude of green leaves tames the afternoon heat.  

Outside, the space is lush with fruit trees. Succulents overflow the rock-edged soaking basins .  

The rarer water is, the more it should be celebrated.  It may be wiser to have gravel flow down pathways than a motor-powered stream: however the magic in this scene is the rippling surface of water in a fountain. 

This fascinated me, how this narrowest of side yards is dressed to impress. The visual foundation was the width of a coat of paint. The creative finish mimicking expensive mason skills,  so graphic a trompe l'oeil. Fabulously more cost effective than changing up actual masonry material. The rose at the sunny entrance acts as a brooch on a youthful bosom- a discrete signal pointing where to look without being obvious about wanting attention.

Rosemary trained flat to the fence is simply genius, this girdling up and in of a plant which easily matures to overtake a narrow space.  

 Arbors are ever so useful in designating focal points.  The white color bringing structure and "wow" to the vignette. 

Blocks for retaining walls require a bit of a initial investment; but they are sturdy investments. Dry laid, they are without the environmental issues posed by railroad timbers for building a raised edible garden.

Judging by the number of people checking out the kidney-shaped stack of stones filled with veggies; leaning over to their partner, chatting about what they would grow to eat in such a space at their home- the local home-centers must have done quite a bit of business in selling retaining blocks afterwards.  

Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Birdwatching in Huntington Harbor Memorial Day Weekend.

To share the wonders of nature with a child is a fine path to happiness. For both of you.

Egret landing
Fleeting beauty memorialized at the speed of a camera shutter.  Is there anything so beautiful or miraculous made by man which compares with the works of God?  

An egret guarding its nest- but what kind of egret- please share 
Measured in the number of driveways and across the lane from from where my granddaughter lived since she was born, her new home is a world away.  Where she lived before there were tweeties and dove. Now there are large birds she can watch from the family deck. Why?

 Just as your girlfriend might prefer a broad meadow with a shade tree and a swing to read under, while you prefer the lower maintenance of a balcony with geraniums, different creatures find happiness in different ecosystems. 

If you want big birds, plant big trees
Charley now lives closer to the mini-park where dogs play and do their 'business'.  Instead of  small patio gardens, there is a pocket park  hugged on two sides by a hedgerow of broadleaf paperbark trees (melaleuca quinquenervia). Australian immigrants, the tree's appearance is distinguished by  uneven layers of deciduous bark peeling back in layers of tan and white from branches reaching up to 30 foot tall and twice as tall. 

Listen closely: the sound of wind whispering through fine leaves is joined with the call of large birds nesting high above the reach of predatory mammals known to hop the neighborhood's fences in search of small pets and poultry for dinner.  

Okay, bird aficionados- send over your bird ID's.* Especially that bird on the right. It is shaped like a hummingbird, but the size of  a small turkey.   

Charley just started walking and wants to know "What is up there?"
Until we meet again, Thank YOU for all YOU do to make the world more beautiful. 

* Thank you to Tom and Joan Bolton- and to Catherine Pannell Roberts. The white bird is a snowy egret and the other is a black-crowned night heron.