Friday, September 28, 2012

Denver Botanic Gardens IV - Celebrating Life

"The only way to live is to accept each minute as an unrepeatable miracle." 

 ~ Storm Jameson

Gardens are like life- a series of momentary miracles. Our quality of life dependent upon our appreciation of this.

The Denver Botanic Gardens- A collection of 42 gardens, 42 celebrations. Enough images from one day to write for the entire year on this wonderful place where every vision of paradise has a spot dedicated to it.

Don't you love the transition from wildflowers to shade?  The challenge of a hillside transformed into a canvas. A problem turned into an opportunity.

Flowers aren't just to look at. They fill the air with scent, singing out to hummingbirds to come sip. 

A large flat space made romantic by treating it as a large living room divided in two areas. The abundance of plantings rich with texture and pops of color. A living floral arrangement.

The rectangular space made interesting by the ebb and flow of structure, paving and plantings. The repeated columns stained in different colors: classic structure made playful.

The ceramic water basin offering water to wildlife. Small, it is easily lifted to clean and freshen.

What makes life interesting isn't what we match-up, it's in what we mix-up. Tucked in the corner- traditional Southwestern succulents surround the English inspired folly. This area is a mixed marriage with conifers and tropicals is so American in spirit.

The diverse heritage blended with conifers and spiced with tropicals is so American in spirit. It so reminds me of HGTV decorator Candice Olson's  mantra to know the rules so you'll know when to break them.

Cultural richness is so much livelier and truthful representation of real life. Even though it is more work to keep things working smoothly, the easy road isn't what we were taught to value as children was it?

Tucked into a tiny corner is a peaceful pocket- the scripture garden- where scriptural plants are contemplated with text and ornamentation.

The designer of the West Herb garden is memorialized on a sundial.

This red squirrel takes its sacrificial portion of a grape from the pregnant vine.  

Reader and garden goddess Nikkipolani  asked how the manipulation of perspective through height would look from the opposite end of the path. This image is from the destination back to the front where the plantings are taller. The visual impact is the same- the space extends.
My daughter-in-law's Facebook announcement photo

Speaking of miracles and the ongoing celebration of life... I am pleased to announce that Gerry and I are expecting our first official grandchild around March.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Denver Botanic Gardens III- Garden, Art and Happiness

"Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace."

One of the question Pastor Rick Warren challenges readers of the Purpose Driven Life is "What is the your metaphor for life?"  Mine is the garden. I don't feel out of place in Denver even though the ripe hips on the rose bush shout that I'm not in my native Southern California. Here, we are clipping away to get our autumn repeat blooms. My hunch is Denver is not going to want to encourage tender growth when the frost hits them. Neither technique is wrong as long as it is in response to the local environment.The important lesson is to thrive, our lives must adjust to where we live. 

Kizuna (Bonds Between People)- West meets East is on display through November 4th.   This view of       an art installation created just for this season is seen across a planting inspired by the artwork of the late American abstract impressionist Clyford Still. The longer I live, the less I see a line between art and the garden. To be truly be happy, one must be able to taste both. 

This  whirlwind of wooden shaving began as green bamboo. In his installation pieces, the artist Tetsunori Kawana enlarges on  the same sensitivity to the sculptural rhythm and and organic response  of natural materials as he learned in mastering ikebana- Japanese flower arranging. Of his art and soul, the artist says "Always I am listening to the Earth."

Looking up through his THE SHAPE OF FUNDAMENTAL ENERGY II,  his motionless tower  imbues the sense of circulating winds with tornadic power.  

The ubiquitous garden border, a concoction of Victorian England, breaking free of earlier rules regarding strict formality... I believe encouraged by a Monarch who truly loved her husband. Love is like that,  opening the heart to previously unknown paths to beauty.

The landscape architects used a bit of visual tom-foolery to add length to the perspective even tho'  the real estate ran out. By shortening the height of the hedge as it recedes, the perspective runs longer.

I thought this scene a nice spot to stop. To rest on a bench. To appreciated scenery beyond framed  by the opening in the latticework. This is the landscape equivalent of finely crafted lingerie peaking out from under a silk blouse. Utterly seductive.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Denver Botanic Gardens II- Water

 "Water, the Hub of Life. Water is its mater and matrix, mother and medium. Water is the most extraordinary substance! Practically all its properties are anomalous, which enabled life to use it as building material for its machinery. Life is water dancing to the tune of solids. 

- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

A garden cannot exist without water. These selected examples from my files are for your enjoyment.
Don't you love the mist rising from the lake?

Every angle of the  El Pomar Waterway is enchanting. Here, the rhythmic repetition of  lit fountains rise between potted islands. The clumping plant lining the reflective pool is Muhlenbergia dumosa. Its native habitat are stream beds of Arizona and northern Mexico. But this is Colorado- and do believe I've seen it in Florida. Like people, some plants are tough and adaptable.

El Pomar is Spanish for "The Apple."  As part of the western United States, Colorado has a strong Spanish heritage. Indeed the state's name refers to the red sandstone which called people to rush to the state when it yielded gold.

The bold terra cotta wall color is a simply striking and bold contrast to better appreciate the planting's deceptively delicate silhouettes against.

Another bold use of color calls visitors to see The Baracuda, a welded steel sculpture by Wolfgang Pogzeba. The cascading water over the purple wall reminded me of the dioramas all ages of children admire, usually behind glass. Click on the link and read how the man really got around.

Barracuda. We used to catch lots of barracuda when we were fishing for something else.  Scavengers, not that many people I I've known like to eat them. However, cut up and buried real deal, they make pretty terrific fish fertilizer beneath a newly un-potted rose bush.

One of the kids in the neighborhood once asked me "Why do you plant fish?"

Because God has a use for everything. Even dead fish. Because they feed the soil, they make a garden lovelier.

Thank you dearest readers for staying with me on this adventure. I promise to be back writing about my California garden by the weekend.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Requiem for the Space Shuttle ~

"Wherever you go, go with all your heart."

~ Confucius 


Tthe last flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavor  deserved all the pomp and circumstance of a State Funeral.

My respects come not with my presence at its landing, but in reprinting words that were brought to life in one of my first assignments as a professional writer. It was the summer of 1995. 

Our young sons once discovered the disc slots were a nifty place to park match box cars.
A few years prior, writing a program to track vital signs for a doctor at the City of Hope, my husband purchased one of the first 100 Apple II e's off the line, promising me "It is all I'll ever need."

It was until his wife learned to type...Excerpted from an article Real Tool of  Politics is Vision.

"When President Kennedy set the goal of reaching the moon in less tan a decade, he unleashed the power of the entire nation. It was a call to action. It created sciences and jobs that did not exist before. It caused scientific  advances because of the inherent need to conserve space, save energy and support human life.

Without the primary goal of putting an American on the moon, the quality of our lives would be very different. There would be no freeze dried foods, solar cell calculators or microprocessors."

The first person article became personal with outlining how we owed our oldest son's life, which officially started 2 months before he was expected, not just to God and fine medical care, but to the life-monitoring and support technology the space scientists developed.

When you wonder what an engineer does- engineers solve problems. Sometimes it is the technology that is new. Sometimes it is the use which is new.

Full disclosure: my husband worked on the Space Shuttle atmospheric analysis system. In our home, the demise of the miracle of the United States Space Program is felt like the loss of a monumental figure. 
"Real Tool of Politics is Vision" first published by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 1995
Space Shuttle photo taken in Torrance. Forwarded by John Forbing.
Apple IIe photo from Wikipedia courtesy of

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Change of Perspective ~ Loveland to Denver

"Distance not only gives nostalgia, but perspective,
 and maybe objectivity."
~ Robert Morgan
American Poet

In my life as a writer, it is not enough to stare at the typeface on the screen.  The words must be printed out. Taken to another room to edit and proof.  The change of screen to paper, paper to the light coming in from a different perspective, brings a new perspective, changes the words, what I think of them and what deeper feelings can be rendered from ink on paper.

The road-trip, a solitary female driving through Denver to Estes Park to Loveland back through to Denver had a similar effect on me.  The change of light from the west coast winding up the Rocky Mountain Roads and back through the farmland exposed me to fresh perspective of all that is wonderful about this great nation.

Such as our diversity. The scenic is obvious. The intellectual spark. Rediscovering this without any pressure to commit was a new kind of fun. Switching back and forth between the progressive and conservative stations which seemed to fill the air like stars on a clear country night. The same facts rendered through different perspectives. To totally believe both would be like reckoning Mars and Saturn are the same planets. Glad my computer was back in Diamond Bar or I might have been tempted to pull over for one of my infamous fact-check missions. There was only one fact on which all agreed. Paul Ryan has climbed lots of Colorado mountains. Another factoid to file away. 

Denver was no problem finding. But I was getting concerned about finding the Botanic Gardens when I happened upon this lovely city park golf course.  My heart stopped at the words inscribed on the entrance to an inner city sanctuary where children learn what the game offers the world- people who spend the day in

Honesty Integrity Sportsmanship
Respect Confidence Responsibility
Perseverance Courtesy Judgment

 I said a silent prayer of gratitude that everyone who crosses this threshold are strengthened by the power of these words. I bought a visor to support their influence, relieved (in all sense of the word when on travel) that just blocks further was my Mecca. The Denver Botanic Gardens.

A sprinkling of  images to help you feel the wetness on my cheeks which was not just because Southern California girls don't generally don't have a clue why people need  umbrellas.   

We don't always take copious notes to recall the exact varieties of dahlias and - is it gomphrena poking their floral buttons up through the star of the show?

What we do always travel with is our hearts. As much as it would have liked to stay, it is back with me in Southern California. The rest of this series would not be possible without it.

Or the generous support of my husband, Gerry. Thank you, honey.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Art in the Garden and in a Magazine

"Art works because it appeals to certain faculties of the mind. Music depends on details of the auditory system, painting and sculpture on the visual system. Poetry and literature depend on language."
~ Steven Pinker

Image by Gene Sasse. 
Leslie Codina's sculpture works because people like being happy. It is simply impossible to be in the presence of a Leslie Codina sculpture and be grumpy.

There is simply nothing more cheerful than opening an e-mail from Carter Walker over at Western Art and Architecture asking if I would like to write about how Leslie's studio informs her art. YES!

This joy of being asked to have my work in any way associated with the glossy journal is only surpassed by seeing the results. The art director, Karen Schmidt and the rest of the WA&A team at the leading journal of western art, cowboy through contemporary, lights up the universe with how they work together my words with photographer and frequent collaborator, Gene Sasse.  

The article is up here. Please drop by and put a thumbs up.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Rosh Hashanah ~ Goodbye to Loveland~ The Benson Scutpture Gardens

L'Shana Tovah to my Jewish friends. We have 2,000 years of shared history and traditions. For those who would like learn more about the Rosh Hashanah tradition of apples and honey, the Huffington Post has a nice little article  which supports how religious tenants carries through no modern nutritional guidelines. May all our lives return to hope and sweetness.  

"BETWEEN BRONCS" by Garland Weeks

Western Art and Architecture had a lovely article in its last issue on care of bronze sculpture. To protect the patina - hand wax and buff like a fine car.  

"OUT OF THE MYSTIC PAST", Bronze by Fritz White 

Cowboys and Indians are not just children games in our family. Both are part of my husband's family history. These ancestors were more into love than war):- . 

Speaking of love- if a card addressed from "Loveland" will tickle your loved one's romantic sensibility, click here.  Every year, the Loveland Chamber of Commerce becomes a sub-station for the US Post Office. 

Not all sculpture has to be bronze. Wind driven art has its own charm. 

Wind driven art, with chimes and lights- wouldn't you love to try it in your own garden instead of the same old scarecrow? 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

09/11 Thoughts ~Loveland, Colorado~The Benson Sculpture Garden~ Part III

Patriotic American mini flag by Toland
September 11, 2001 was like so many other days. Yet like no other. Not in my lifetime. Such a beautiful day. A clear sky day turned somber. In the weeks which followed, in my hometown we met at the corner of Diamond Bar and Grand.

We marched clockwise around the intersection, waving flags. Many lit candles.  The crowd grew.  Probably in the hundreds. The patrol cars pulled up, the officers wanting to know who was the organizer.

No one. We were just citizens united in our grief. Offering comfort to each other.

We promised never to forget. We fly flags to promise this.

Today, on the 11th Anniversary, came a sobering reminder of what we have lost between now and then. Commitment and Clarity. Why else the American Embassy wall breached, an American killed at the US Consulate in Libya. Our President too busy for our steadfast ally in that dangerous neighborhood, Israel.

God bless Jordan for harboring the refugees from Syria. May the missing relatives of people I know turn up safely there. 

I cannot make the world safer. All I hope, is to spread a bit of beauty to those I am honored to visit this site.  

I have been remiss in not sharing more of the setting of the Benson Sculpture garden, which rims the lake. Cattails. Pine. Aspen. Beautiful apart, gathered together, they elevate each other's beauty.

Where there is water, there shall be geese.  What is evocative about this park is how God and man have worked together.

SWAMP DONKEY, Bronze by TD Kelsey
  Sited at the edge of the bog, the majesty of  large game,  realistic and rightly romantic.
Our oldest son confirmed, swamp donkey is Canadian for moose. It is also slang for many other things which I am going to forget I found on the blogosphere.
If today was emotional for you- click on Baby Moose in Sprinkler  to get back in touch with the emotion of  innocent joy.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Loveland, Colorado~The Benson Sculpture Garden ~ Part II

"All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance 

and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence."
~Martin Luther King, Jr. 

THE POTATO MAN, Bronze by Susan Geissler

Never overestimate a disability to be a handicap. Why else would each sculpture in the park be clearly labeled in English and in Braille, if not to honor beauty exists not just or the gifted and fortunate. One does not need to see, to feel. 

FIESTA, Bronze by Carol Gold 

The spare lines of Carol Gold's 'Fiesta' have added power because of  the impression that the bronze dancers are gliding through the Russian sage - Perovskia atriplicifolia. When I first saw a hedgerow lined up against the brick wall at the San Dimas Library near where my dentist practices, I didn't get the excitement. I tried. For years I studied the sub-hedge, trying to get excited  as the magazines were: but the harder I tried, the more it was a big ho-hum. 

That is until I saw the spires dance stiffly by winds pushed up against the Colorado mountains. In this terrain, where the habitat is closer to its native central Asian countries of origin (which includes the mountainous terrain of  Afghanistan, Iran and Tibet) how the distinctive lavender color of flower works in concert with the scent of leaves under altitude driven skies, did all the hoopla make sense. 

Context matters. In writing. In sculpting. In Gardening. Those fortunate enough to travel should not expect much context translates universally into a neatly understood categories. Except for excellence. 

Wherever you travel and with whomever you choose, seeking perfection is a trap, however exercising excellence can lead to perfection.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Loveland, Colorado~The Benson Sculpture Garden ~ Part1

"I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us."
~ Anne Lamott

What does Loveland have besides such a memorable name?  An active art community and foundries.

A combination which leads the local DQ (Dairy Queen) on the main drive through town to feature over-sized mementos  in a parking lot, including fisherman and snowboarder, their muscles memorialized in bronze.

For me, art is synonymous with grace. It signifies beauty we can never forget.  Like this sculpture garden we happened upon only because we were early to the Denver are for a flight home from Cheyenne, Wyoming.

 THE ESCAPE, bronze by Curtis Zabel

THE ACTOR, Bronze by Dee Clements

With a 136 sculptures currently on public display, I have hungered to return. To feel the uplifting improbability of what is possible in this life when we forget what we want isn't possible. 

In a lifetime, mistakes will be made. But if we learn and humbly accept help, the Almighty allows us to recast mere metal into marvels.