Saturday, November 8, 2014

Thoughts on our 39th Anniversary~ The Garden as Teacher ~ Social Media and the New Ghetto

It is a blessing that when the sun goes down, it is easy to see past undone garden chores
It is  a powerful thing, to decide how to see life. You can see the time change this time of year as darkness descending too early or as a chance to enjoy the sunset sooner. 

When we got married, the bets were it wouldn't last.

We were too young to know ourselves. Didn't know each other long enough to know the other. He was an engineer and I was in fashion merchandising.  Our brains operated on different hemispheres.The cynics thought we had nothing in common.

Our own pastor predicted in premarital counseling " You two are going to have problems."  

Dear Pastor, I wish I had asked - Who doesn't? 

No life is without challenges. 

For I am a gardener, I have been a better wife. 

My garden raised me up to rejoice in challenges. It taught me to live like a runner on the track. There are going to be hurdles. Some are simply not going to be liked. Yet each offers not just the chance to plant your forehead where feet should be-  with each leap and land there is the potential to build skill, improve attitude and reap reward.

But only if we are willing to work through. Play through. Pray through every problem.   

A motto for workaholic recovery
Anniversaries  and birthdays. They should be viewed with gratitude. Every one a treasured blessing that may not repeat.   

My reward for foot surgery was yellow Clivia minata from dearest friends

I cannot pass a yellow Clivia  minata without wanting to talk to my mother. English was her adopted language, and she treasured  both flowers and language  like others treasure diamonds. 

My mother was a quiet woman, known to select her words carefully.  She epitomized the wisdom from Colossians 4:6

 "Let your speech always be gracious" 

This age of social media has created new hurdles. At the same time we complain about government intrusion into our private lives, we are cavalier with not just our own lives, but those of family and friends.  

Concurrently, it is fashionable to casually zing those whose different philosophies and beliefs with throw- away insults.  The consequence is that we are self-segregating into thought-ghettos with barbed-word wires. 

Unless this trend reverses, it is my strong belief that the loss of common civility and courtesy is the greatest danger to our future. 

I am of the belief that globally, the weather is largely in God's hands. But our words are our personal responsibility. Like it or not, we are judged by them. 

I wrote friends on this subject last night...

Words have consequences. If I am to eat my words, let their taste be sweet rather than bitter. Unless absolutely necessary. There is a place for bitter, burning hot and even charred flavors from both the kitchen and in words. 

God grant us all wisdom in how we choose our words. 

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

Friday, September 19, 2014

Walking San Luis Obispo Campus ~The Leaning Pine Arboretum ~ Tapenade

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's there are few." 

~ Shunryu  Suzuki

The beginners mind. There is wisdom in off turning off the mind. Using my heart to see, the connection to the event changed perceptively. I caught the hummingbird diving into the flowering canopy of the floss silk tree. The hummer may have flown thousands of miles, and if I had my nose in my notebook and a pen in my hand, I would have missed the moment.

(L-R) Randy Baldwin, GM of San Marcos Growers chats with Professor Matt Ritter

Our official host for the walk was Matt Ritter, author of A Californian's Guide to the Trees Among Us

Cal Fire and San Luis Obispo keep the Registry of  California Big Trees.  The 154' tall Eucalyptus Karri  Gum the group is oohing and awing, is listed. 

The Pacific Horticulture event provided quite an entourage to follow the young professor. Don't we look like duckies following their mama? One of the truly wonderful mix of people was the mix of minds. I am not alone: not everyone hates lawns.

Some do hate pink. They tend to be male. The detractors don't believe the color  blends with the native California landscape, which admittedly leans to the warm side of the color wheel.  Yes: pink does stand out. But, doesn't this image show that standing out can be a good thing?

Roughly the size of a mature artichoke, this magnificent magenta bloom arose from a dusty earthen patch on the Cal Poly campus. It is good to know so many experts who can supply me the name. This was a portion of the itinerary desired to experience details as a child does: as they come.

 Walking the Leaning Pine Arboretum, whose name could be more accurately 'The Pine- Which- Leaned- Too-Far- and Fell-Over' Arboretum, proved views don't have to be owned. It is perfectly fine to borrow them.

Deck view
Come walk with me. Enjoy the charm of place. 

Formal garden with tiered fountain

Sunken color garden

Entrance to Australian Garden

In  California, lawns are quite controversial. If you are going to have one: be intentional in your care of it. The difference between raggedy and rich is not much in water or care. 

See those spots of coral red behind where Joan Bolton and Carol Bornstein thought they were having a private chat in the garden...

Oh, my. Just when I thought my plant lust might stay undercover  for just one weekend....

I have never seen bauhinia galpinii- the red orchid tree. Such a moment is why I took the train rather than drive. Stopping at every nursery back to LA would have added a day and a couple hundred dollars to the journey.  Better to sleep on it for a few days. Wait until the temps to dip out of the triple digits here. 

The sun was softening, Our feet were tiring. The temperature back into bragging territory. These last two parting shots from the arboretum of just how ephemerally beautiful a low-water low maintenance landscape can be. 

It was getting to be time to run by the motel to clean up and head over to Sage Ecological Landscapes and Nursery for wine tasting and tables groaning under the weight of hors d' oeuvres. 

Press release photo found on Internet
Snack-Alert. The Mediterranean  Olive Tapenade by Chef OH, served at the host nursery, was spectacular. Simply served on crackers or bread spread with brie, there was no obnoxious vinegary taste clashing with the beverages. Instead, the creators relied on the infused oil of the olive to carry the flavors. I'm renewing my membership card just to be able to put this on our table.  

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

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