Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The New Garden Loves The Color Wheel. Let's Talk about Brown

It is hard to imagine a slogan which did more to harm  California agricultural interests and gardening enthusiasm than the slogan on this sign.

I am not a drought denier. I am the wife of an engineer. The kind of man who harnessed creativity to science to make real things which never existed outside a dream. Inventions hard to roll out on the tongue, like  automated video imagery database using photogammetry. Gerry has accomplished feats I shall never fully comprehend. But observing him solve problems for 40 years, he taught me that scientific opinion is not a firm monument in the way of the 10 Commandments. Observations change. Goals change. Knowledge changes. The more knowledge man obtains- the more profound the case for God's existence. 

He has given man great power- but not the power to change brown to green like Jesus turned water into wine. 
The sage green wall is the perfect foil for 'Love and Wishes' Salvia (from the Sunset Collection), milkweed and the monarch butterfly
California history may record 2015 as the year of the year of  California's drought-induced clinical garden depression.  On signs and billboards, paid for by the taxpayer, that "Brown is the new green. " Hogwash.  Who says? Science. The color spectrum. The color wheel.

Image result for isaac newton color wheel

In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton looked up from his study of falling apples to rationally arrange the structural relationship of colors to each other. Since then, the study of color is of encyclopedic range. However, not until the great water panic of 2015, has man panicked into hallucinating that brown and green are interchangable. Here's the truth:

Greens are composed of differing portions of blue and yellow.

According to Wikipedia "Brown is a composite color which can be produced by combining red, yellow and black,[1] or by a combination of orange and black."

Brown squirrel. Green lawn. 
Which is the ideal to predominate in a garden? Isn't it cheerier to see the brown squirrel leaping across a green lawn than it were a green rodent scampering across brown thatch?  

In Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood, Williams Wordsworth did not reflect on love in a scratchy hayfield. Rather he wrote: 

What thought the radiance which was once so bright
Be now forever taken from my sight, 
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower
We will grieve not, father find
Strength in what remains behind

Brown has its  honored place in gardens. Brown tree trunks, branches and composting leaves lead the eyes through the garden, leaving us in contemplative rest. But beware: brown in the garden should be like black in a home. Not so much as to be oppressive.

One of my favorite brown is compost tea for the garden
The quality manure tea bags Annie Haven makes on the family ranch tickle an amber liquid to quench the garden. Hint: make sure the family does not switch this brew with the family sweet tea: not unless you don't ever wish to be in charge of refreshments. Again. Ever.

The drought humbled us. The cost of water made us rethink our gardens. But it did not kill our desire for beautiful spaces. Instead, it makes us crave the sustaining beauty of gardens even more.

The Celebration Garden at the Huntington 
Stay tuned. My prediction for the Spring of 2016 is the start of the Great Gardening Revival. Intelligent by design, beautiful by desire.

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


Saturday, April 23, 2016

Get Your Ticket for California Dreamin' this Mother's Day Weekend

"Gardening is the art that uses flower and plants as paint, and the soil and sky as canvas."
~ Elizabeth Murray 

Iamge  from Previous Tour, courtesy of RSSM 
The Rose Society of Saddleback Mountain (RSSM), a non-profit American Rose Society (ARS) affiliate, is pleased to announce the 25th Elegant and Enchanting Garden Tour. 

Where: South Orange County 
When:  Saturday, May 7, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
What: Four unique and innovative private gardens 

Don't let the sponsoring organization's name restrict your imagination in what the tour features. The event is about more than roses. It is about the full-spectrum of the opportunities to create beauty. And happiness. In personal gardens.

The cliffside home of Rick and Julie Borgens included a spectacular view of the Pacific Ocean
The garden selection process is rigourous. RSSM master gardeners select sites for variety, special features, and floral elegance. The tour date promises gardens blooming in full spring splendor with magnificent floral and plant displays, garden architecture, and ideas for environmentally sound garden practices.

A very traditional garden vignette in the garden of Patricia and Steve Buice

The  RSSM Elegant and Enchanting Tour is a unique opportunity to go behind the gates of some very special private properties not normally open to the public. While the pictures are from past tours, let the descriptives of two whet your appetite for this year's gardens.

Isn't this the best  Mission Project display by Patricia and Steve Buice 
The 2016 tour theme is California Gardens/California Dreamin’. This year's selected gardens include a hillside San Clemente California ranch  with the diversity of plantings our region is known for. Besides the vegetable garden, the landscape is abundantly planted with specimen California trees, fruit trees, roses, Pride of Madeira, and aloes. It is a sanctuary for birds and pollinators.

Garden Designer Dawn Saunders arranged plants with a masterful eye towards color and ease of maintenance. The garden has been photographed by a MAJOR publication for release at a later date.
This year, plan on visiting a discrete upper San Clemente  stucco home. Ornamentation includes beautiful Spanish tiles. The owner, a landscape architect, has an incredible collection of succulents.  The piece de resistance: a rose climbing over the garden wall, the adjacent fountain luring visitors down the garden path.

The remarkable garden of Maria del Carmen Calvo led to cover article  for  Western Art and Architecture. 
Tickets from prior tours  have funded more than $50,000 in scholarships.RSSM funds Horticulture and Plant Science-related scholarships for college and university students at Cal State
University Fullerton, Saddleback College, Cal Poly Pomona, and other institutions.

Purchased in advance, tickets are only are $25.00. To order tickets, visit the RSSM website

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Romance in the Garden - Seal Beach Presentation

"What I do and what I drink
include thee
as the wine must taste of its own grapes."

~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Romance in the Garden. This was the promised topic to present the  Leisure World Garden Club of Seal Beach. 

Sunset from our backyard
Preparing for the talk, visions of romantic moments tumbled through my conscience.  So varied the experience of a romantic setting; there are as many possibilities as moments in life.  

                              Peter Paul Rubens and Jan Brueghel the Elder, The Garden of Eden(1615) 

Time to stop. Think. "What is the common thread?" I asked myself. How do I explain the sublime beauty of why love made real requires more than passion? More than scheming. More than hard work. 

Reno loves, and is loved.
My thesis is that the divine difference between man and beast is that while both are capable of love, only humans are capable of romance .

May 2011. My husband with our dogs
  Our dogs give us love. We give our dogs love. Only my husband and I are capable of romance with the other. 

My neighbor, Sandra, when she looks over the fence, this is her bird's- eye view of our garden in middle spring.

Just because the heat bares down hard here, calling this a "hell strip" isn't accurate. 
Truth is beauty. Beauty is truth. Romance is both.  When romance emanates from the garden, it fills the world with what the world needs more of. Doesn't it? 

Gardens begin with a bit of dirt. A vision of what could be, if only... 

Through desire, mystery. With anticipation. And excitement...

Pruning is an opportunity for fragrant bouquets

Romance elevates the ordinary to extraordinary.  By imagining beautiful gardens, and finding ways to incorporate inspiration, in a way which is authentic to our lives, this is the truest path to happiness in this life.  

The slide presentation was filled with examples from my own garden, as well as my scouting and writing career. From just a pot to over an acre- plots, gardens begin with a bit of dirt. A vision of what could be, if only... Through desire, mystery. With anticipation. And excitement...  a romantic garden is accessible to all. 

Some potted roses, live mint and a copy of Denise Schreiber's  delightful spiral bound Eat Your Roses were given out as prizes to the wonderful audience, who blessed me with their time and attention. 

(L-R) Judy Duvall, Me and Trisha Bowler. 

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


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Extraordinary Ordinary

"Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"
~Matthew 6:26

Look who is back. The Red- shouldered hawk.

 He let me walk fairly close to him before taking off across the valley, annoyed with my stalking him with the camera.

 In the potted- up ficus tree just outside the sliding door to the back, a hummingbird nest is awaiting new occupants. I've read these tiny wonders will re-use a nest. So we hope.

Open wide

We've had Robins visit us before. But not in flocks like over the past few weeks.

At times there have been dozens. Too many to count. Taking turns with the dove and finch  at the water features. Hopping about the lawn and keeping a look out from high places.

One year Weeks Roses mailed me a Dick Clark rose. It is tall and nearly ever-blooming. Even in the semi-shaded spot.

Gerry's sister Nancy
 Recently, we got together with Gerry's side of the family at Fish Camp Restaurant in Huntington Beach. His sister and her granddaughter popped in from Wyoming for a visit with Nancy's mom. Melva Plunk, while Billie and Eric went to see her side of the family in Kentucky.

Tyler and our niece, Abby are a longtime "item"

Our waiter wasn't around for a group shot, so Gerry did the honors.

Back at home, Easter ( or if you prefer, Spring) Cactus- hybrid Rhipsalidopsis gaetneri is a happy camper on the patio table.

I can't speak for anyone else's window on the world, but this was mine this morning. Finch at the feeder. Robins at the bird bath. Matilija Poppy, Romneya coulteri,  has naturalized in the  back canyon.  With 3 surgeries in 6 months, I've been banned from climbing uneven ground until the muscles have stabilized. I'll have to hire help to thin the stand which is choking one of our fig trees.

The dove on the gate reminds me how fortunate I am.  Time "off" turned into a time to get my life in order. To prioritize. To make peace and gather strength. To decide in the wisdom of  Matthew 6:26. The most useless way to occupy time is with worry. Like a rocking chair, it will keep you busy, but won't solve a thing.

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


Thursday, May 28, 2015

2015 Garden Conservancy Open Days ~ Pasadena ~ The Reardon Family Garden

“ I associate the word "wild" with wildflowers, wild roses, things in fields that haven't been hurt yet! So let's be things in fields that have healed and that have grown. Let's be wild.” 

Loads of dirt and recycled concrete were brought in 
You gotta love Google Earth.  In 2011, their cameras documented that moment in time when the outline of a new garden to surround to the 1926 South Pasadena home of George and Susan Reardon was fresh. "The bones" preserved for posterity.  

Espalier apples and sages hint at the abundance beyond 
Fast forward to 2015. The design by Marco Barrantes of La Loma Development Company filled out like Marilyn Monroe.  

Open Garden Day-   The infamous L.A. smog washed away by rain the day before.  Walking from where I had parked- I noted  the air was warm and scented with roses, sage and freshly mown grass. This must be one of the best smelling neighborhoods in America.  A bouquet of freshly picked flowers graced the check-in table.  Things have certainly changed since a sloping lawn was replaced with a wild garden. 

Pass through rustic redwood gate hung from pillars of river rock. Let your imagination run wild at the delight of countryside established on what was once a large- but ordinary- suburban lot.

Despite a dignified exterior- this a garden where the wild heart flourishes. 

With irrigation lines laid below grade level, the efficiency of water works unseen. 

Blueberries inter-planted with fennel- who'd have thunk? Lovers of nature. People who revel in perfume of place.  

 George says he "Lets the garden do its thing." With California poppies, fennel, lettuces and onions free to re-seed where they are happiest, this garden is optimistic- and lower maintenance than one would imagine from the visual abundance.  

Succulents form a tapestry along the transition from front to back gardens
Recycling goes chic. Urbanite- recycled concrete- generously forms walls and pathways.  

A yellow stripe hints at the provenance of this stepping stone.
George remembers the craftsman in charge of paving. He worked with pride. Picking pieces carefully; chiseling profiles and...   

Decomposed granite between steps 
Sometimes reversing top to bottom for artistic effect. 

A trip to Italy was the inspiration for a fully retractable patio sail. 

On the  patio table  were the official before and after garden photos. While before was perfectly civilized-  the wildness of the after is more compelling.  

The wildflower meadow is at its springtime height of beauty. Full of life. 

A dragonfly

A bee 

 But the piece de resistance- a standard pool was re-imagined as a dipping pond. The owners' son promising he likes this better.  "It cools the temps." This is a favorite spot to "Bring your book when it's a 110 degrees and just sit on the rocks." Or jump in. 

His father explained the pool is still under there somewhere. The new bottom is lined with a rubber gasket. The coping hidden beneath a berm through which water is filtered and recirculated 

 There is a magic in this place. It is very eco-correct. But that isn't what I thought of. What I thought of is the romance of walking out the door to pick  greens for salads, herbs for dressings and fresh flowers to fill vases. I thought of all the novels such a garden could inspire- everyone of them with romance at the heart of the story. 

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