Wednesday, March 31, 2010

San Francisco Garden Show - The Gardens

One of the most interesting gardens was Inka's hydroponic vegetable gardens. The first portion of their set up created a spiral pattern in a large dish with two gigantic rotating columns of veggies on either side. The effect was quite hypnotic and I began to hear slow, deep voices in my head saying "You WILL eat your veggies, You WILL eat your veggies. "


It must have been emanating from their sign which was disturbingly HAL like.


But I have to say I enjoyed the aesthetics of the display. It was beautifully crafted and served well to play up the Sci-Fi aspects of this type of vegetable growing.


I was quite curious to check out the other side of their display which included a fish tank that provided nutrients for the vegetables.


I recently heard of "Aquaponics" in a NY Times article. But after reading the article, I was quite confused by the whole setup and honestly, I found it really ugly. I like that Inka has tackled it in a simplified and clean way. The guy I spoke with at their display also revealed they had only 21 days to get their garden together. Bravo to a really cool company!

And of course The Cube. An Organic Mechanics' creation, I couldn't walk past it without taking a photo so bear with me:



The corner view was probably my favorite. The light-ringed moat was a beautiful touch, very good for creating a sacred space amid the chaos and also for keeping people from fondling the succulents too much.


The planting of the walls was done in a very painterly way. One could stand back and appreciate each wall as in individual painting in a gallery.



The Cube also made an excellent backdrop to some of the more loosely planted gardens like Keela's. The contrast between the rigid form and the natural shapes was quite nice. I'd love to have this as a shed and counterpoint in my own garden. I suppose Organic Mechanics are done with it now- feel free to just bring it on over guys! Course it'd take up most of my backyard.


The color in Keela Meadows' garden of course totally impressed me. Her garden gave the fast food neon sign a run for its money.


Loved her cast concrete planters, man-made yet of nature at the same time.


Her garden, although hard to see the full layout, was composed of a body with legs, arms, etc. Here are the mammary glands and lips for ya.



As I was walking around I came up with some of my own person awards.

For Most Stylin' Chicken Coop:
I can totally see that parked in front of Flora Grubb Nursery.

For Best Use of Stumps:

For Garden I Would Most Have to Struggle to Keep My 3 Year Old Off:
Confessional: My son climbed on (and broke) part of Shirley Watts garden at the Late Show for which I will be eternally embarrassed.

For Best Ginormous Metal Animals and Best Use of Leaf Litter:


All I can say is that when humans are gone I really, really hope the world is populated with giant golden armadillos. That would make me happy.

For Most Oddly Aggressive Native Garden:


All the different angles happening in this garden messed with my equilibrium and made me feel like I was in a carnival funhouse. And I felt like I might trip on a rock and poke my eye out on something sharp.

And For Boring the Sh*t Out of Me:

Sorry, I try to be nice most of the time.

And now to switch gears because I've saved my favorite for the last. Mary Te Selle's Tree House Garden was great. I so wanted this garden to exist in real life. I would have loved to photograph it in natural light and see it change over the seasons. It was very mysterious and wild and I sort of felt like I should be wearing my Where the Wild Things costume while looking at the garden.


And the details were so wonderful. The ancient oaks, the ceramics, the pond and the plantings were all so lovely. The metal bits I wanted to drag home with me.


I especially enjoyed the view from the back. It made me feel like I was lurking in the undergrowth, like I might be inclined to dash out and nip after someone's ankles as they walked near the treehouse. (In my defense, this thought did occur to me on my third day at the show and I was feeling pretty tired and delirious at this point.)


And over in the Kids' Garden Room, one young garden designer was on the same page as Mary! Cool! Looking forward to seeing him at the show in a few years.


Monday, March 29, 2010

San Francisco Garden Show Lectures-Part 1

I like John Greenlee. He cares about the snakes.

His lecture may have been my favorite of the SFGS lectures. The author of The American Meadow Garden by Timber Press, yet I could always picture him as the kind of guy that would enjoy being on his riding lawnmower most weekends. :) You know, one of the Guys. But his sensitivity and passion surprised me as he expressed his concern for the environment and how we are doing so much damage with our lawns. He contends that lawn is what most Americans do when they create a "garden". And that everyday in the LA area alone, 22 tons of air pollution are created from blowers, mowers and edgers to take care of that lawn. During his pulpit pounding sermon he explained that as a designer he is interested in "how God does it" and that grass is found in just about every type of ecological system. It just takes finding the appropriate type of grass for the locale, not amending the soil to temporarily suit an inappropriate grass or plant. "Work with the planet, partner with the planet. Find plants that want to be there."

While he creates healthy ecosystems he is also "painting with movement and light" using "brushstrokes" of grass to create beauty in this new way of gardening. The ecosystem is then enriched by layering additional plants, including many bulbs that work so well with grasses. He kept his audience rapt and many an "amen" and "hallelujah" escaped the crowd. I was especially struck by the group of industry "Guys" standing at the back of the room. Probably not the type to come to many lectures by snooty designers, yet John Greenlee was getting his message out to them. And that makes me happy to see.

As John humorously described in his talk, snakes don't deserve our ire. They deserve a habitat and John Greenlee is doing his part to return that back to them while creating a beautiful landscape for us to enjoy as well.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Foliage Follow Up March 2010

The first year I had a garden of my own I went berserk and planted anything and everything. It was quite spectacular the first summer with tons of color but come winter when everything was going dormant I was left with a very bare looking yard. I've since planted a base of evergreen foliage to look interesting year round. I'm constantly ripping bits out and planting anew but with my foliage base I don't have to worry about it looking empty.

Three prominent foliage players in my garden right now are Stipa arundinacea, Athanasia pinnata and Phlomis aurea. They seem like good pals now, arms throw over shoulders, jostling each other around.

Athanasia, Stipa, Phlomis

Athanasia pinnata

I tried Cabbage 'Filderkraut' this winter. So far no cabbage head but lovely foliage anyway!

Cabbage 'Filderkraut'

Here come my fig leaves. The woman across the street likes to collect the leaves for a wrap for her sore knees. I've yet to try it on achy joints. This one is big enough to keep a Ken doll modestly covered.

Fig leaf for a Ken doll

My Moon Carrot, or Seseli gummiferum, I've had for years. The stem is nearly 3' long and sprawling flat on the ground. I really want it to bloom so I can take a photograph of it. Every year my husband asks if we can take it out but I always plead for just one more year! I probably have it in too much shade.

Seseli gummiferum

And my Xeronema callistemon - someday it will bloom. But for it, I have infinite patience. For now, the foliage is good enough!

xeronema callistemon

Show off your foliage at Pam's lovely blog Digging.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Bloom Day March 2010

My second contribution to Bloggers' Bloom Day and a change has definitely arrived in the garden within the past month. Much more activity and blooms!

My favorite to show up are the poppies. They are so fun and interactive. I showed my son how to peel away the outside of the bud and gently unfurl the crepe-y blooms. He's got an eagle eye out now for any new buds to coax open -future gardener in training.

Papaver rhoeas red

Papaver rhoeas pink

The Trichodesma scottii are opening up. Interestingly, they are opening a full month later than the previous two years. Not sure if it was the rain or what?

Trichodesma scottii

I love my Pelargonium echinatum. Cute flowers spring from thick, succulent, spiny branches. And below the soil I can see a nice caudex forming.

Pelargonium echinatum

My Aloes are all going now. Aloe plicatilis:

Aloe plicatilis+Dicentra scandens

Aloe vanbalenii:

Aloe vanbalenii

Aloe marlothii, which used to be a little house plant, sitting on my windowsill, until we moved out of the apartment:

Aloe marlothii

I love the patterns in the center of Gazania krebsiana. As does this caterpillar, but only for a meal.

Gazania krebsiana

These Freesias came with the house and I really enjoy them. Some of the most fragrant I've ever smelled. I can smell them halfway across the garden.

Freesia species

I actually can't think of a time when this Oxalis herrerae isn't blooming. It is a shrubby one, very polite and hasn't spread a bit. If you love the cheery yellow flowers of Oxalis pes-caprae but obviously don't want the weediness, this is a great substitute.

Oxalis herrerae

My donut Peach 'Saturn' is going to town. It is one heck of a fruit tree. Huge, pink, fragrant flowers. It produced a crop of peaches for me the first year I planted it! And so delicious! I'll have to force myself to thin the fruits again this year. So hard to do! I hope I get some fruit off my other trees this year.

donut peach tree

The Hellebores are still hanging in there, looking nice. Helleborus x sternii:

Helleborus x sternii

And this is the Camellia that came with the house. It was a hedged, square shrub when we moved in years ago and we've slowly opened it up and exposed the nice white trunks. The flowers are your basic hot pink but, oh well, it's nice none the less.


I wonder what will be blooming next month?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Rock City Baby!

I've been wanting to head to Mount Diablo lately. With all this rain the green grass is making it look like the Emerald City off in the distance. Then we just happened to hear about "Rock City" on Mt. Diablo and thought we'd take a look.


And what a cool place it is! Hidden among the trees are beautifully rounded boulders, great for scrambling up, climbing into, and picnicking upon. And everything was covered in a lovely bright green moss. So pettable!

justin's rock

heart rock

And of course there were some great plants growing:

My favorite fern ever-Polypodium californicum. Course I can't grow it. Just have to enjoy it on hikes.

Polypodium californicum

Some nice bulb action: Dodecatheon jefferyi to the best of my knowledge.

Dodecatheon jefferyi

Dodecatheon jefferyi

And everywhere the Pedicularis densiflora. Supposedly a tea can be made from the leaves that relax tense muscles. Going to have to find some of this growing on private land, somewhere I can harvest.

Pedicularis densiflora

Definitely don't want to harvest any of this- Poison Oak: Toxicodendron diversilobum

evil cometh

And the amazing Arctostaphylos auriculata! Lovely gray foliage, smothered in pink flowers and bark to die for! I wonder if this is in cultivation anywhere?

Arctostaphylos auriculata

Arctostaphylos auriculata

arctostaphylos trunks

rctostaphylos satin

And cute little "Soap Plants" (Chlorogalum pomeridianum) popping up everywhere. This one looks variegated or just nutrient deficient? Chlorogalum pomeridianum (took me forever to learn to spell that name) is called Soap plant because the bulb of it can be lathered up and used as a soap. Also the fiberous casing around the bulb can be pulled off, tied at the top and used as a pot scrubber. How convenient!

variegated chlorogalum

And the ever-lovely Cynoglossum grande, "Hounds Tongue", a great plant for dry shade under oaks!

Cynoglossum grande

Cynoglossum grande

A lovely walk!