Sunday, June 27, 2010

Illustrated History of Landscape Design

One evening last week I went to see Chip Sullivan and his partner Elizabeth Boults speak about their new book Illustrated History of Landscape Design, presented by The Garden Conservancy. The lecture was titled "Creating Mystery in the Garden". I hadn't had a chance to check out the book before the lecture, but having enjoyed Chip's two earlier books, I was eager to have a look. Plus when he signs a book he always draws a really cool illustration to go with it!

3 bookssigned by the author

Chip was a professor of mine (my favorite I dare say) at the Landscape Architecture program at UC Berkeley. His lectures and projects were always fun and he was one of those professors who would go for a beer with a group of students after class, encouraging impromptu coaster illustrations amid discussions of landscape theory. His life-long fondness for comics and illustrative arts were strong themes in his teachings. We felt very free to experiment with design and materials in his studio. I did some of my favorite projects in that class, ones that still influence me today.

Liz Boults teaches Landscape History at UCDavis and was responsible for the text of the book. Based on the idea of a graphic novel, the text is still an important aspect and she is succinct yet thorough with the descriptions. With Liz's text and Chip's illustrations they have put together a unique presentation of landscape history.

Chip began the evening's lecture stating that one can often get a clearer idea of a space from a drawing than a photograph. At first I disagreed with his statement, but after seeing a few slides of the book's illustrations, I began to see his point. And that is one of the best features of this (mostly) graphic novel. In Chip's capable hands one is able to understand the space and flow of many well-known gardens throughout landscape history. I've seen photos of many of these gardens before but the combination of the illustrations and the accompanying text made clear ideas that I had previously not been able to see - forced perspectives, axle relationships, and how one moves through and views the gardens at different points. The drawings eliminate distractions and simplify the spaces into the main themes. (I of course prefer to think this simplification and clarity is the result of good illustration and descriptive text, rather than my mind's inability to concentrate on long verbose garden descriptions that I've read before and not gotten much from.)

villa giulianature's splendor

Many of the gardens in the book are able to create a sense of mystery or surprise by directing the path of the viewer, creating interest and opening to views for dramatic effect. The mystery of the garden is when one realizes that it not as it seemed when first viewed - the destination is not as near as one thought, the path is more circuitous than it seemed. I don't know if the topic of garden mystery was completely covered by the lecture, but I was OK with that. I attended mostly to hear about the book and was not disappointed in that respect. The book and lecture, in fact, de-mystified these gardens with clear drawings and descriptions so that one could understand the designers' intent and execution, and possibly learn from them. Of course, many of these landscapes are on a grand scale and may be hard to translate into the average residential design. But even then, Chip's illustrations make the book valuable enough to me. They are excellent examples of graphics one may strive to emulate.

the alhambra

Chip also passed around a multi-layered landscape diorama that I would love to try as a presentation tool for clients. Of course they would take forever to make, but the layered drawings really created a sense of depth to the scene and could allow for easy interchanging of elements.

diorama sidediorama front

On a side note the location of the lecture couldn't have been better. At the new Disney Family Museum in the Presido, there were vintage Disney landscapes and storyboards all around. Chip didn't fail to notice and seemed quite happy to make the connection between the location and the lecture. Here are a couple of posters I snapped photos of. (Innerspace-sponsored by Monsanto! Yikes!) and a very trippy floor.

presented by monsantotomorrowland
disney floor

But Liz and Chip make a great team and they have combined to create a truly unique landscape history book and have done a terrific job with the presentation. I look forward to their next joint venture.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cherry U-Pick Time!

Out in the countryside are some farms that let you go in and pick your own fruits and veggies. My favorite thing to pick are cherries. It seems so decadent, filling buckets with ripe, juicy fruit (and of course, eating a few as you go). We hadn't been since Parker was born and now that he's 4 we decided it was high time to head out and pick some cherries.

thick on the branchladderlow branchesin the bucket

Even on a hot day the shade is cool in the groves of cherry trees. The farm we went to lets the branches grow low so even Parker could help fill the bucket. I'm always astounded at how many cherries grow on the trees. When I first arive, I always want to race in from the parking lot, beating the other people milling around, so that they don't get the cherries before me. But you get in there and realize there are so many cherries, hordes of people couldn't pick them all.

gotta try somecherry lipswith daddybucket o cherries

We also picked apricots, which is a finer art than pulling handfuls of cherries of the trees. One has to select the perfectly ripe ones. Although, of all the ones we got, over-ripe, perfect, a bit green and hard, they all tasted amazing in the end.

heading out with a bucketapricots galoregettin a boost12lbs apricots

We ended up with 10lbs of cherries and 12 lbs of apricots. I lose sense of scale when I'm in the orchards. I feel like we've barely picked any at all and then I get the fruit into the kitchen and wonder what have I done?! Every surface is covered with fruit. So far we've made a cherry apricot pie, vanilla apricot preserves, eaten copious amounts of fruit out of hand, and I plan to make a cherry clafoutis and maybe some cherry icecream if I have enough left. Ah, summer!

We're planning on going back in nectarine season. Yum! And I'm a bit tempted by the U-pick tomato fields - although I may feel differently when my 15 tomato plants at home kick into gear soon. But there is also something appealing to harvesting tomatoes (and cherries and apricots) in a vast field, reveling in the excess agriculturalness of it all.

a lot of tomatoes

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fruit and Veggie Finale - June 2010

can you say anthocyanins

Can you say anthocyanins? My blackberry vines went crazy this year. I've gotten about 7lbs off them so far. I can see the end coming but I've enjoyed these two glorious weeks of juicy berries. Now I'm starting to get some purple 'Royalty' beans. They are so beautiful!

marionberry flowerbig ol' marionberry

I planted a 'Heritage' raspberry plant late last year and got a few berries off of it recently. Looking forward to having a nice crop in the next year or two. My Fragaria vesca is pumping out the strawberries right now. They're tiny but oh so sweet! Those are my son's favorite though, so I don't get very many.

itty bitty raspberryfragaria vesca

My crop of blackberries became so noticeable to the birds that I had to net them. It was actually pretty easy since the area is only 2 1/2 feet wide and between two garages. We just strung the netting over and down the sides. Any berries that were within a couple of inches of the net definitely got pecked clean though. Now I'm just waiting for my blueberries to ripen!

blackberry nettingunblueberries

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Foliage Follow Up - June 2010

Yesterday on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day I mentioned how I'm loving my Encelia farinosa. It has silvery foliage that looks great with Stipa arundinacea. My Aeonium glandulosum continues to shoot up new foliage. Last year's foliage is looking a bit neglected. One can tell all the nutrients are going to the new growth.

encellia farinosa foliageaeonium glandulosum new growth

My Athanasia pinnata is starting to do its octopus impression. And the broccoli leaves look great next to the Golden Feverfew. My silver/gold combos are everywhere! I love the contrast but I wonder if it sets other peoples' teeth on edge. What do you think? OK or garish?

athanasia pinnata doing the snake dancebroccoli and feverfew

I'm trying to back off a bit from all my close-ups, so here's a shot of my foliage-dominant front yard. Getting to the front door usually involves navigating around miscellaneous waiting-to-be-planted items, not to mention hurdling bags of compost. I'm sure the postman curses me often. The three yuccas under the persimmon tree are now gone. When I planted them they were a pretty purple color but have since reverted to green. And they have a nasty temperament. They were great for protecting our persimmons but they were becoming impossible to garden around without protective eye wear. I did keep the large Aloe plant, or as my son calls it "the owie plant", out front.

home base

I heart Jovibarba! I brought a plant home years ago and it has multiplied quite nicely along the edge of my front porch. Super cute and super tough. I'm putting in a request that we bring this one back into production. Next to it is my Aloe KG14. Nice name huh? I picked up this cutie at a California Horticultural Society meeting. It was donated by the UC Davis greenhouse. Lovely edges to it, love to know what it is!

jovibarba hueffeliialoe kg 14

And here's that pink-red flowered mystery succulent from yesterday's Bloom Day post. It spreads very nicely under my beloved Sophora secundiflora. I got it a couple of years ago from the succulent shelf at the local drug store nursery. It was just tagged "Assorted Succulent". Thanks, that's helpful. I'm thinking it is a Graptopetalum. Any other guesses? Another mystery succulent I got from that same shelf is this Echeveria. It's been fantastic and has spread enthusiastically to form a very pretty border for one of my herb/veggie beds.

mystery graptopetalum under sophoramystery echeveria

Dino kale. Yum, yum, yum, yum. And Squash is pretty even without the harvest!Beans are coming along. I've had a lot of leaf munching in the garden this year. And not just from snails (which are just about eradicated). I'm thinking the earwigs are getting to my blackberries. Gonna have to learn how to catch those suckers. Tried the rolled up newspaper trick last year but that didn't work.

dino kalesquash and coleonemaup we goearwig damage? catapillars?

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow Up! Tomorrow I'm going to post what I'll call the Fruit and Veggie Finale. After each Bloom Day and Foliage Follow Up, I'll be letting you know what fruits and veggies are coming out of my garden. Send me a link and let me know what you're harvesting in your garden!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - June 2010

Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day! I'm loving my Encelia farinosa. The foliage (which I'll have up on Foliage Follow Up tomorrow) is a lovely silver. The flowers are on long stems and are very cheerful. Love the buds too.

encelia farinosaencelia farinosa bud

And a couple of my favorite flowers of all, because of what they will become:

fuzzy tomato flowertomato flower

I'm letting my Cilantro 'Confetti' bolt. It's almost impossible not to. I'm hoping it will just reseed around my garden and I'll always have some going. The beneficial insects are liking the sweet white flowers. I'm kind of liking them too.

cilantro 'confetti'bee on cilantro flower

Centaurea 'Black Gem' I'm growing because I like to put the petals into my salads. I planted a ton of Ugni mollinae last year. They make a nice hedge and produce a berry that reminds me of a cross between acai and blueberries.

centaurea, bug and bokehugni mollinae flowers

My Phormium 'Sea Jade' is blooming this year. I never realized before how much bees like Phormium flowers. The flower spikes are constantly swarming with bees climbing down into the tubes to get the nectar. This Lewisia that I stuck into a rock wall years ago, is finally blooming. Nice color, can't remember which variety it is though.

phormium flowerslewisia ?? finally blooming

I also planted a random unnamed succulent years ago in a pot and it has filled out nicely. This is the bloom. I'll include the leaves in Foliage Follow Up tomorrow. And I love this red Nasturtium. It smells lovely, but it is seriously taking over the back of my garden. It is generation 2 from a red flowered, dark foliaged variety we trialed last year. The one last year certainly was more compact. Oh well this nasturtium can go to town, more flowers for my salads! I wasn't really doing much with that space back there anyway.

a real nice succulent i don't know the name ofgen. 2 red nasturtium

I eradicated the Wahlenbergia from my parking strip a couple of years ago because it seemed a bit thugish. Now I'm wondering why. A couple of plants germinated (resprouted?) this year and it is just gorgeous. No irrigation, no problem. It is on the shaded side of my house. I think my full sun parking strip it wouldn't be as lush. Guess I'll keep it around a bit longer, until it outstays its welcome. The Dianella 'Cassa Blue' have been blooming for awhile now. I'm not sure if I like the bloom or not. It has a kind of messy, needs-to-be-deadheaded feel to it. The flowers are so airy, almost a bit too airy, like you'd be better off without them. Kinda cool close up though. Got some reblooming broccoli coming along. I need to harvest the first small heads and get the side shoots going.

wahlenbergia in parking stripdianella cassa blue flowersdianella cassa blue clbroccles

And I love the color of this bean flower, such a delicate salmon. And lastly not exactly a flower, but rather the result of - my donut peaches are almost ready.

cobra bean flowerdonut peach

Thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting! See you at Pam's tomorrow!