Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tuscon IV ~ La Paloma ~ GWA Symposium

 I'm a lawn lover. Maybe the last of my kind in Southern California. One of my goals this autumn is to return my rabbit-ravaged turf to emerald green, like this shot across the La Paloma Course.  

The  Garden Writer's Association Board of the directors met with first timers and mentors at the clubhouse for an introduction.  

Thank you to Espoma Company  for sponsoring this ice breaker where CL Fornari loosened us up with her rendition of garden-centric news 

Photo from Brent and Becky's Bulbs Catalog
The crowd broke into small groups to talk about their wish lists for our profession. My group included Becky (of Brent and Becky's Bulbs). She  dreams of magazines advancing anticipation of products when they are on the shelves, rather than waiting until the shelves are depleted- discouraging the consumer. 

Venelin Dimitrov spoke passionately about how seeds are "the last great bargain on earth"  and Burpee's  commitment to bringing beauty and hope to military families through their  Welcome Home Garden Program.   Note to self: find out if this program is in California, and if it isn't- how do we hook-up our military personnel and their loved ones. 

Very big on everyone's minds are children's gardens- particularly raised beds filled with basil and sweet-smelling herbs. 

Over at the  Vendor Exhibit, John Schoustra and his wife surround the ever-smiling Joan Bolton. John has two passions in life. To bring ever improved varieties of daylilies to market and to breed the best plants for our moderate California climate. Insider secret: If you see his name associated with a plant, you know it is good. His clientele includes the perfectionists who  send their landscapers to  his Greenwood Gardens match their flower palette to the colors in their patio Persian rugs. 

This is just so sweet a logo, I had to include it. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Tucson III ~ La Paloma ~GWA Symposium ~ People Watch

"It's all about people. It's about networking and being nice to people and not burning any bridges. Your book is going to impress, but in the end it is people that are going to hire you."

 ~Mike Davidson 

Widely adaptable, the Red Bird of Paradise Caesalpinia pulcherrima immigrated from the  West Indies . In bloom, it it sparkles up the Sonoran Desert, particularly in hotel landscapes.

 These gals are morning people. (L-R) Dee Nash of Red Dirt Ramblings, Debra Prinzing, authoress and GWA President, Paula Panich Linsman- simply the best writing teacher I've ever had and Lorene Edwards Forkner, the new editor of the venerable Pacific Horticulture Magazine who is taking everything wonderful about the publication and then kicking it up a notch. 

President  of Terra Nova Nurseries Dan Heims  is a plantsman, speaker, collector, breeder and dreamer.  Having introduced 700 or so new plant introductions to the world, I'm hoping he gives the girl he danced with on a street corner in Eugene, Oregon (that would be me) the first interview when he surpasses the plant patent world record held by Luther Burbank.  Roughly 100  more "hits" and the world we be an even more beautiful world for his plant obsession. 

With Dan is  garden journalist/ landscape designer Joan Bolton of Santa Barbara Garden Design . Fluent in both English and Plant Latin- she was a dream roommate for the Symposium.  We are very encouraged to see her market segment up-ticking as her clients are once again willing to be more adventurous with their landscaping design dollar.

Foodie Alert: Joan's daughter ~ the beautiful Laura Bolton ~ is producing the fabulicious  food blog Fork Knife Swoon.  Get thee to her site before some publisher/ producer ties up all her time. 

Raised among the avocados not far from  Santa Barbara, Laura's food is like her. Stylish, fresh and approachable. Her  web images are frame-ably fine. 

 While she doesn't look old enough to have lived a previous life, in it she produced the most beautiful renderings for the exclusive San Francisco design firm BAMO, who recognized her talent straight out of the UCLA Extension/ CSU  Pomona Joint Masters Program in Interior Architecture. 

File this under its a small world. Before I met Paula Panich, I interviewed her daughter, 
Ilana Panich Linsman .  Then a college student, today her portfolio includes work for the New York Times. From the first blog post I ever wrote, in August 2007

"There are many people I will thank over time for this new adventure, but for right now, I would like to thank the Madrid based photographer, Ilana Panich-Linsman. I met her when I was Editor of my hometown newspaper, The Windmill. Immediately after she graduated from Scripps College in Claremont, she gave up her summer to raise funds to purchase medical supplies for those whose lives were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina through Bike Across America. I remain in awe ."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tucson II ~ La Paloma ~ GWA Symposium

“The object of education is to teach us to love what is beautiful.” 

Walking straight out from the Patio, this is the view

Symposiums  are the legitimate brain-children  of ancient Greece.  It was at the dawn of civilization near the Mediterranean sea that aristocratic men garbed in garland swathed over their robes reclined on sofas. Their left elbows propping their bodies up as they sipped on wine served by slave boys, the upper class males recited poetry and discussed  the weighty matter of politics.   

Every year the Garden Writer's Association transports it Symposium to another corner of this continent. We members benefit in that we may learn not just from each other, but from the landscape. This year, the local committee arranged for the The Sonoran Desert to teach us that the word desert is about the vastness of space. About the beauty of  breathing room. Neither of which is synonymous with emptiness.

As Lorene Edwards Forkner corresponded about the city  on the edge of one of the great deserts of the world "Tucson was so beautiful in such a raw and rugged way."

Like a raw and rugged man, the Sonoran Desert can be tamed. The emerald greenness of the grass is ever so much more valuable understanding it is couched within the soft brown and olive greens toasting under the intolerant climate of sun, more sun and most sun. 

Seeing the grass at the hotel made me feel better about my own lawn. I sometimes wonder if  mine wont be the last lawn that is neither cemetery nor golf course. 

Love is beautiful. It can be born amongst the cactus as easily as in roses. Midway between Phoenix and Tucson are the Casa Grande Ruins. Here, in the middle of a wailing storm, once stood the leaking tent on the Indian reservation where my mother-in-law  was born. 

She grew up nearby, marrying the man not much wider than a cornstalk who left the Oklahoma farm at  the tender age of 14.  Back in the heartland, Ken heard if a man worked hard, there was honest work to be had in Arizona.  For the first several years he tended beehives. From their God-fearing Christian union came the hardest working man I have ever known- my husband. 

Loving cactus was not a natural inclination. It was one of education. First I acknowledged, begrudgingly, their right to exist. With time and observation, I learned to appreciate the sculptural qualities of linear cactus species. Still, it was a revelation;  these stalks staked to get their posture "right" for the garden. 

Man and God in collaboration. That is the recipe for a very good life.

All writing and images are copyright  protected by Lydia Plunk

Friday, October 12, 2012

Tucson ~ La Paloma ~ Garden Writers Association

"The primary joy of life is acceptance, approval, the sense of appreciation and companionship of our human comrades. Many men do not understand that the need for fellowship is really as deep as the need for food, and so they go through life accepting many substitutes for genuine, warm, simple.”
 ~Joshua Loth Liebman

To understand Tucson, you have to grasp a culture which flourishes like the cactus which grow plump along the roadways. Against the odds. Under the unforgiving summer sun. In the shadow of a black volcanic mountain. Historically, the ruling influences represented by flags have come and gone. The United States and Arizona flags follow the  Spanish, Mexican and Confederate banners.

  At times, the politics of this region is more brutal  than the Sonoran Desert geographic conditions. The lesson of the desert landscape is that what first appear to be insurmountable obstacles should be observed for their potential for uncommon beauty.

La Paloma. The Spanish translation is inexact to if it is dove or pigeon. Something odd to this native English speaker. In the American experience, the birds are distinctly different, particularly when you are not in tourist mode. Yet that is how translations often are. Inexact. 

In any case, it is the name of the beautiful Westin resort chosen by the Garden Writers Association for the annual migration of garden communicators known simply as The Symposium.  
Nightfall does not diminish the beauty of  the desert landscape
 In civics, in family, faith and in our professions, every individual in every community has a need for fellowship.  It is simply how God made us. And one of the great pleasures of being a human being.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sharon Lovejoy at the AK Smiley Library in Redlands

Every person has a story. Every story is better when you know the people.

In August 1990, Country Living Magazine featured Sharon Lovejoy as the proprietress of Heart's Ease Herb Shop and Gardens in Cambria. My admiration for her obvious affection for feminine bonding with the natural world was instant and lasting. Meeting her for the first time at a Garden Writers Association event two years back confirmed my initial impression. This is a woman who might sprout wings at any moment. If she did: I would want to be there to write about it ):-

Now, I in this new role as a grandmother in-waiting, when the children's author, illustrator and speaker's book tour   brought her to Redlands, of course I would be there.

When it comes to creativity- Sharon knows no bounds in getting children to smile.  Don't you just love    her very  neutral clothing- and then these vividly wild sandals and pedicure?

 Four of her books came home to inspire a love of garden and nature in our family's impending population explosion .  Somewhere in a file it doesn't belong, is the card with the name of the woman pictured with Sharon. She is evidently  a master gardener and cook. The "recipes" they bantered from their dinner- I'm still salivating.

You can order personalized book's of Sharon's here.

We said our goodbyes. It was time to explore the magnificent A.K Smiley Library.  Just a few images to whet your appetite. We will revisit this palace to literacy on a stand-alone  visit.

For now- admire the building's likeness in an oil painting.

Let the center rosette stained glass window fill your spirit with awe.

The hand-carved oak banisters - this building wasn't just built with money . It was built with love.

Illustrated Redlands has a lovely story  on the history of the identical twins,  Alfred H and Albert K Smiley.  East coast educators, the Quakers are probably better known as  real estate developers. Their 
Monhonk Mountain House  resort in upstate New York remains in the family. 

 Taking up residence on the west coast, they brought their shared spirit of philanthropy with them. Alfred wanted a park. Albert, a library. Neither demanded their names be attached to the projects. On behalf of their residents, a grateful City Council surprised them.

I hope you've enjoyed reading this snippet about men who did a great thing not for honor or glory- but simply because they could.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Homeward Bound


I haven't even packed for my next trip but I am already longing to be back  home in my garden.

Sipping lemonade. Clipping roses.

Dreaming of dragonflies. Wondering what adventurous lives they might live.

Breathing in deeply the heady scent of English roses.

Remembering where I bought each one. Who was with me and the dreams we shared.

Revelling in the diversity as plants ebb and flow in their seasonal glory.

Smiling at the surprise combinations.  I never thought of combining the blue blooming plumbago with the yellow shrimp accent. The plumbago is a monster. It cannot be allowed to take over this spot. It's like a summer love between a good girl and the handsome bad boy. It should last long enough to take a picture and then it must end.

Sometimes the garden gets ahead of me. I have learned to say a prayer in thanks,

For nature will reward me with new guests. Like yellow butterflies. They make up for the other surprises like overgrown scorpions and rollicking rodents.

 There are few formal areas in my garden. The wildness of it suits me.

The surprise of a tossed cutting making itself comfortable as curls over the edge... a little aster popping up through it...3 cheers for the underdog. Its an American tradition to thrive whatever the circumstance.

My husband's do is the one really in charge here.

My little Reno happy to spend her life looking like a used Swiffer duster.

After a day in the garden, I am tired. But I will never tire of this place where the skies light up like in Gone with the Wind.

Before you go, take a moment to hear Simon and Garfunkel sing Homeward Bound.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Denver's Molly Brown and Vance Kirkland Museums~ St John of the Wilderness

"To become truly immortal, a work of art must escape all human limits: logic and commonsense will only interfere. But once these barriers are broken, it will enter the realms of childhood visions and dreams."
-Giorgio DeChirico


Markets crash. Sometimes with the help of the government. This home by architect William Lang was originally built in the 1880's for  a couple who got caught up in the 1893 financial crisis. 3 years prior our government had designed a financial program meant to help farmers. It was known as the Sherman Silver  Purchase Act. Unfortunately, 3 years later the government was facing The Law of Unintended Consequences. Banker JP Morgan put together a consortium that did not rescue the architect, who met a bad end, or original owners of the home. It did, however, staved off bankruptcy of the United States government.   

The new owner, JJ Brown is best known for being married to Margaret "The Unsinkable Molly" Brown. Tall with flaming red hair and a killer wardrobe with some dresses reputed to cost as much as her 7,500 square foot home- $30,000.
This postcard is sold here

 "The House of Lions", the home was lavishly decorated as well as featuring the latest accoutrements of the day: electricity, steam heating, indoor plumbing (the only bathroom with hot and cold running water is on the third floor) and telephones.

All this brick and stone. A spot of verbena and agastache are the smiling counterpoint cheering up  stern architecture.

At the Sam Maloof Home and Gardens near where I live, there was a brochure recommending the historic homes of notable artists. One mentioned is the Vance Kirkland Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts. It turned out to be really handy as it is directly behind the Molly Brown House and Museum.

Get ready to be wowed!  This museum is FUN.

 In the center courtyard of the late Colorado artist Vance Kirkland's home and studio, found objects, welded and braised metal and rubber were turned into the skeletal sculptures of The Saxophonist, String  Instrumentalist and Flute Player with Corn Row Hair by Bob Ragland, the non-starving artist. 

William Long created these fabulous vases  where aquatic life grows and swims through waves expressed in matte glazes.

A small corner of  "The Illusion of Floating Mysteries in Blue Space" ...Vance Kirkland worked in many styles over the course of his career. One of popular techniques is known as dot. How exactly do you get dots evenly over a large canvas?

You suspend yourself over a table with straps.

This is just a small sampling of the salon style galleries where useful art- such as Frank Lloyd Wright chairs- are set in vignettes abundant with sculpture, painting and all manner of decorative arts. We leave the Kirkland museum with random shots from my visit. Reminders that art is everywhere.

It was time to head to the airport. But not without stopping at a church. St John's In the Wilderness was not the building I was seeking, but I am not going to say it is the wrong church. Just the one I found when I was lost.

It had a garden with roses

A vegetable plot with the most ingeniously painted compost container.

The wonderment of flying buttresses 

 The long hall lined with 2 stories of stained glass windows.

An organ in the front. An organ in the rear. A piano. Accompaniment,  I am certain, for every angel in heaven. I read recently that people have styles where worship is most natural. Amidst this man-made grandeur with promises of orchestral chorus, such a setting is where my heart is at home.

I suppose there was time to fit in one more attraction. But when one has sat in the presence of the Almighty God- that is when it is time to stop.

Top image courtesy of Wikipedia