Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"American Style" Leslie Codina ~ The Great Orchid Divide

"America, for me, has been the pursuit and catching of happiness."
~ Aurora Raigne

American Style Magazine self-describes as a "lifestyle magazine featuring contemporary art and artists, galleries and collectors." Each issue is rich with up-to-date opportunities for arts tourism in the United States. The current issue has an advertorial I collaborated with photographer Gene Sasse for ceramics artist Leslie Codina. 

Among her avid collectors is the legendary rose hybridizer Tom Carruth, named earlier this year as curator Curator of the Rose Collection at The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.  Tom declares "I am a fan."   He particularly likes the versatility of how the totem structures can reassembled to fit in  a garden full of growing plants. 

However, her biggest fan may be her husband, Steve Brown. He likes to tell people when he met Leslie "It was love at first sight. Just like in the movies- everything else went dark and all I could see was Leslie."  He has competition for best fan now that 3 year old Corbin is on the art show circuit with mom and dad. Leslie adores that their son likes to show the other children how to gently touch the ceramic pieces. 

Meet Pat Welsh. The Grand Dame of Garden Writers. A personal hero. She recently taught a packed house at Roger's Gardens about orchid care. As dividing cymbidium orchids should be finished by the 1st of July, let me focus on that part of the demonstration.

With cymbidiums, forget everything you ever thought about orchids being dainty little things. If you can't pull the overcrowded plants apart

Take out the hatchet. Put their roots to the saw. Do what you must. Throw out anything soft or squishy.

Inland gardeners- Ms Welsh advises mixing in 1 part soil mix to 2 parts bark.

Remember- orchids are social animals. They don't want to be alone. Try to re-establish in too large a pot and they will sulk for a very long time. However, if you have quite a bit of one variety- fill a barrel and get ready for oohs and awes for a decade.

With my green notebook filled with advice, my car trunk filled with fresh bark and amendments - and my autographed copy of Pat Welsh's Southern California Organic Gardening on the front seat

I came home to pull the orchids out of their pots- though this was not their desire.

A bucket filled with bark, worm castings and water soaked until I got some cooperation. (Don't tell Gerry- there is one less finely pointed steak knife in the cutlery drawer).

Shriveled roots were sent away to the dump. The old disintegrated bark was hauled off to the compost heap.

And so the process repeated. Next year will be the reward for this work.

Right now, it is time to enjoy the roses.

I hope you enjoyed the quote at the top of the page. It took awhile to find something not cynical.  It embodies my American experience.

For whatever reason God blessed this girl who was born within eyesight of  LA City Hall with an abundant life. One filled with family, friends, interesting work and flowers. Lots of flowers. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Beverly Hills Cow ~ Greystone ~ Hirshhorn- Levitated Mass (aka The Rock)

"I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. "
~George Washington Carver
LOVE the cow. 
The first two streets on the Internet directions from the Jose` Eber salon in Beverly Hills to The Greystone Mansion and Park - never saw them. But with lots of daylight, a full tank of gas, a little map with a couple street names and a general idea of where West Hollywood and Beverly Hills are in relation to each other -  I got a site seeing tour these people never got. 

Near Rodeo Dr.

Parking for the Greystone is above the Mansion. Wear clothes suitable for a civilized hike- this park is the Hills part of Beverly Hills. Also:be advised- only the grounds are open to the public.  

From the Friends of Greystone's Internet site, where the provenance of the home and garden is listed "Greystone’s exterior is 19th century English revival architecture with a combination of two story turrets faced with Indiana limestone, Welsh slate and leaded glass windows. The interior is 18th century in style and includes fifty-five livable rooms in 46,054 square feet, including the entertainment wing consisting of a theater, bowling alley and billiard room."

The Park Ranger kindly took my picture. Not even the hiking about the terraced grounds in high-healed boots melted the artistry of  Lisanne (colorist) and Shannon (stylist) from the Eber Salon. 

If you have a moment, Naomi Caryl posted lovely shots of the Mansion and grounds when her father "Daddy Joe" Hirshhorn considered the grounds  to house his massive art collection. The three part series links up starting here.

So close to the 4th of July, I feel it is important to quote what Naomi reports of  her father's decision to be the founding patron of the Hirshhorn Museum

"He felt the collection should all stay together and that it belonged in The United States because it was the only country in the world where he could have achieved what he did----having come to this country as a 'poor little immigrant boy', who had truly lived out "The American Dream".....These important men of Beverly Hills were attempting to get him to bring his entire collection to Beverly Hills and they felt they had the perfect spot all picked out where all of the sculpture and the paintings could be housed."
Alas, her father put the collection on the East Coast. When he passed away, he bequeathed the nation with another 6,000 pieces of art.

Maybe someday, someone will have a collection to fit in the dowager estate. As beautiful as the Beverly Hills park is- without art it is like a stone waiting the perfect setting to show off its sublime beauty to best effect.
As my heart is in the garden, let me share a few shots from my afternoon there. 


While there are significant formal areas, much of the park is given to informality. Doesn't this balance match real life? 

The trinity of easy success on baked hillsides are rosemary, bougainvillea and lavender.  

Look closely at the risers. When rain rushed down the hillside- imagine how it will magnify the little bits of blue glass on the risers.

The sprays of red yucca add visual punch to the all-over greenness.  

The Pampas and other grasses along the drainage create a sense of place no where near the city. 

Turtles and koi swim about this pond. Wherever people lean over to look at them, the creatures swim over to look up. Probably looking for a bit of food. The white structures on the hillside mark the walk.

Close up, you can see the succulents taking root on the curved rooftops.

However, it is this secret little spot where a little overhead was built for water run off to trickle over that just may be my favorite spot. We have something similar on our back hill where we exposed part of the drainage system to allow the wildlife a bit of water before sending it back underground. 

There was just enough daylight to make a run to see Michael Hiezer's Levitated Mass before its official unveiling at LACMA. According to press releases the rock displayed in a 456" long cradle "Taken whole, Levitated Mass speaks to the expanse of art history, from ancient traditions of creating artworks from megalithic stone, to modern forms of abstract geometries and cutting-edge feats of engineering."

Now, the engineering and coordination of government entities  involved in getting the boulder from Riverside County to LA is impressive. Yet, I thought maybe there was something special to the graining or more interactive than being able to walk under a very heavy object in earthquake country. When I see it now, I keep hearing Peggy Lee singing the title line to the 1960's classic, "Is that all there is?"

The best thing about the exhibit is that since I live along the route that was endangered by its travel through suburbia- since I went before July 1st- my disappointment was free.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dog Days of Summer~ Roasted Asparagus~ Garden Visitors

“I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”
John Keats, Bright Star: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne

The Romans referred to the hottest days of the year in latin as diēs caniculārē- dog days. Our Reno demonstrates, that while she may look like a used Swiffer® duster, the the expression "work like a dog" is lost on me.  

Asparagus is love on a plate. The season begins in spring, and thanks to modern transportation it is now lingers as a summer love we need never get over.

Once I learned to roast asparagus, I never boiled them again. Simply roll fresh trimmed spears in just enough extra virgin olive oil to give them a sheen,  let the juice of a fresh orange lightly shower their summery freshness perfumed with just a bit of finely grated rind. For just the two of us, a pie pan was just the right size to let the spears cook without drying out to twigs. Bedeck with bright ribbons of  red bell pepper and sprinkle coarse sea salt before offering to the toasty 425° F oven. Set the timer for 15 minutes- then check with a fork for the beginning of a wilt. 

The abundance of bunnies is such  now that they not only greet us in the mornings on the patio- one nibbled right next to Gerry's slippers - while he was in them- during his morning coffee break. 

The Coopers Hawk settles in the tree, trying to decide on its lunchtime menu. Should it be rabbit- a rodent- or a bird from the feeder. As the latter is my least favorite of what I wish to serve it- for a few days I will let the birdies not make the pickings so easy. Which resulted in a large hawk landing feet from the patio table. Caused quite the commotion, so majestic a bird, so unafraid of humans.   

Birdhouse decorated by Marjolein Bastin 
 The bluebird feeder played host to a family of goldfinch. Like children, it is bittersweet when they leave. I so adore working in the garden to the sound of freshly hatched babies ordering their parents about. But with hawks and screech owls now foraging from the sky, and Lord knows what from the ground- the new silence now that they have moved headquarters to less open a setting is truly a relief.

 Some leftover moss is put to use as temporary mulch. Hopefully it isn't tasty- and the critters shall leave the succulent cuttings long enough for them to set roots along a dreadfully hot alley. 

Pale Swallowtail
Butterflies. What would summer be without butterflies?  It seems the right thing to do, to learn the proper names of that which we love, doesn't it? 

Thanks to butterfly man  Jim Brock' s little waterproof identifier in stock at Vroman's Bookstore,   I am pleased to be learning the names of these seasonal  guests floating  about. 

It is such a pleasure, this first summer with my new camera. On days I am not called out on assignment, it sits on the patio, away from the dirt of daily chores. The lens du jour at the ready, waiting for a fleeting moment of ephemeral beauty. When a butterfly leaves floating through the air to dock but momentarily for the refreshment offered by a summer flower, everything must be convenient. Else there could be a lonely gap where an image to remember this summer love by belongs. 

My apologies for the change in background behind some text. I have no idea why this annoying quirk is happening- but promise to research with the intent to do away with the glitch.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Father's Day at Sunset Beach, CA

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.
 ~Johann Schiller
(l-r) Craig Morris and Gerry Plunk. 
These two men are role models. They married and stayed married to the  mothers of their children. They love their respective child's spouse as though their own.

Kenny with his Dad, Gerry 

Our son Kenny, one of the founders of Bass Knuckles clothing is just back from fishing at Cedros Island. I'll try to let you all know when the trip is televised. The island off Ensenada was part of the story-line mentioned in the movie Act of Valor, but its real claim to fame is wide-open bass fishing.

Kenny's wife Shannon with her dad, Craig
Shannon is as beautiful on her days off without makeup as she is working as a stylist in Beverly Hills at  José Eber . Success hasn't spoiled our Shannon because her real beauty radiates from the inside out.

One advantage to living in the age of cell phones is we can coordinate when to meet at the beach. Scanning for where on Sunset Beach the families might be- they were right behind us. When the phone rang, they loaded up the Bass Knuckles cart from where they live across the way in Huntington Harbor and sent Craig to pick up the fabulous sandwiches from a local eatery. 

Only 5' above sea level,  the beachfront community was established in 1905- with sandy home sites developed as a result of the 1920 discovery of oil. In 2011, the 971 resident town was was annexed by the neighboring city of Huntington Beach.  If the giant agave and sparse  ice plant on the dune seam sparse- there isn't much that can grow in blowing sand.  Still there is much to enjoy on my day off horticulture

Birds flying

 Kites sailing

 Boats cruising

Windsurfers conquering wind and waves

An oil derrick in the background, a man-made reef that took my thoughts to our older son who works in oil and gas exploration in the great Rocky Mountains.  

As the mother of an oil worker I have something to say to the celebrities who think they do "the planet" a favor with sit ins on platforms- go home. Don't put these men in danger with your good intentions. Maybe someday it will be different, but for now our lives are powered by oil and gas. Interfering with very serious safety precautions taken is foolish.

In much of the country, trees are windbreaks. But at the sea, it is a double row of houses planted in the sand that is all that is required. Cross Pacific Coast Highway- the wind and water of Huntington Harbor is calm.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - June 2012 The Landscape as Art

A garden is a complex of aesthetic and plastic intentions; and the plant is, to a landscape artist, not only a plant - rare, unusual, ordinary or doomed to disappearance - but it is also a color, a shape, a volume or an arabesque in itself.

Bougainvillea, Daylilies and Society  Garlic - A casual bouquet of bloom
Color washes through my garden; like waves through tidal pools. That is to say, it isn't all at once or all in one place.  In June, this shaded corner just off  the back is one of my favorite spots to rest.

The baby birds mostly grown, the garden crew just came through, clearing weeds and shaping trees.

The Matilija Poppy Romneya coulteri's season of white blossoms glowing in the back canyon is beginning to give way to summer. To understand why this native in bloom causes garden hearts to flutter ~ 

this close up image by Gene Sasse  says is silently. When this bush poppy is in full bloom- it is like the constellations  landed and lit up the landscape.

The lavender is pushing through an other round of bee and butterfly enticing blooms. Tomorrow I will sheer some blooms off to flavor sugar for cookies. The orange nasturtiums will brighten luncheon salads with their peppery taste.

The yellow of 'Graham Thomas' rose keeps this spot from being a snoozer
The steep hillside out front acts like a canvas on easel to paint with flowers. Brightened in spring by the collection of English roses and iris playing in a panapoly of plants, in summer, the quiet moment brought to us by the analogous colorway of blue + yellow  = green is soft on the eyes as June gloom is on the skin. 

The stained glass globe is lit by solar at night and cuddled by a ruffle of sea lavender by day.

Achoo! Most of what you see blooming was never officially planted.  Some of it came home as seed stowaways in sneaker treads.  Others may never be known how they came to live here. 

The daylily are popping up where the borage fell down. Tomorrow I'll pull out the fallen hollow stems  of the herb now past its prime.

This bougainvillea is a welcome trespasser over the garden fence.

It links its arms through the kumquat tree, still brimming with plump tart little oblong orange fruits . I took a bag to my personal trainer this week. Why I hadn't thought of it before- I'm going to slice some to flavor-up iced tea and water.

Look closely- there are 3 bunny rabbits in this picture. 
The garden is ever-changing. Except that once you have rabbits- you will have more rabbits. Unless the rest of the food chain moves in- that is the subject for another day. 

Linking up to May Dreams Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 

Landscape quote from Brainy Quote