Still rambling in Palo Alto…

This year’s Gamble Garden Spring Tour is even more walkable than usual–it looks as though all but one of the gardens is an easy stroll from the Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden. Three are within a couple of blocks from each other. Taking the docent’s instruction I headed down the alley and around a corner to see my third garden of the day.

SIMPLICITY IS THE ULTIMATE SOPHISTICATION

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This 120 year old cedar shingled residence is home to a minimalist modern Japanese garden commissioned by a homeowner with an affinity for Japanese history, art and garden design. She also is a practitioner of ikebana and wished her garden to have materials to use in her flower arranging. Family friend and garden designer Jarrod Baumann gave her the garden of her dreams including her requested Moon Gate, an iconic Asian design throughout the world.

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The garden gate is flanked by a pair of weeping, corkscrew elms which were just leafing out. A zipper style path of Devonshire cream limestone and Ipe wood planks leads to the front door.

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Miniature gingkoes, Gingko biloba ‘Mariken’ take the role of foundation shrubbery on both sides of the front steps and supply glowing yellow fall color fall. The plantings on either side of the front path are not symmetrical but compliment each other with similar materials in free flowing swathes.

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The planting scheme is restrained without being overly manicured. Areas which would traditionally be moss in Japanese gardens are clothed in a perennial lawn substitute which is labeled Kurapia–botanically it is Lippia nodiflora. A bit of post tour research revealed this not particularly new plant is being trialed and marketed as a drought tolerant lawn replacement. It is a dense ground cover no more than about an inch tall. If allowed to flower it is very attractive to bees. The flowers are sterile and thus does not seed itself. HOWEVER, what is not really covered in the informative Kurapia brochures online is that it is very invasive, spreading rapidly by rooting runners. I planted a single 4″ pot under a tree in a smallish bed and spent 3 years fighting to get rid of it. It will overwhelm any other plant material and run under and over hardscape borders intended to contain it. I reckon this homeowner has it edged regularly. In this garden it was absolutely beautiful but I would caution buyer to beware! The Kurapia is bordered with a black mondo grass and sparkling Hokone grass, Hakonechloa macro ‘Aureola’. The low fencing encasing the front garden echoes the style of the zipper paths.

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The shade of mature redwoods give this front garden which is on a busy corner, a welcome sense of enclosure and beds in dappled shade. Notice the large white concrete boulders which punctuate both sides of the front garden. Their smooth surfaces and pale color mimics the cream of the wall and path stones.

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A magnificent cut-leafed Japanese maple, Acer P. dissectum ‘Sekimori’ stands as a sentinel to the side garden entrance in its stone planter.

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The side yard is anchored by a rectangle lawn surrounded by mostly green plantings. The vertical bronze sculptures of bamboo stalks on both ends of the lawn are meant to evoke Inari shrines.

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Just inside the gate and up against the house is this weeping cherry tree, one of a several used as a hedge, under which is tucked a small garden stool just in case you need a quiet spot to hide!

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The white flowering quince also planted up against the house is prized material for late winter flower arrangements.

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I can’t resist showing you the world’s best looking power meter, almost disappearing into the cedar siding.

Porches on two levels at the back of the house are draped in wisteria–white above and purple below.

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Also planted on the front edge of the arbor is a Robinia pseudoacacia ‘Twisty Baby’, a deciduous, multistemed shrub in the black locust family. It’s contorted form and relatively small size make it an eye-catching patio specimen.

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As we’ve reached the back of the side garden the bronze bamboo and plantings are repeated. They mask a wee potting bench and utility area.

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A narrow Ipe planked path carries us to the opposite of the home. The small cottage ahead is used mostly for flower arranging.

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Adjacent outdoor seating areas, one on a stone surface and the other stepped up on a wooden deck offer plenty of places to visit with friends and a glass of wine. The woven iron sofa and coffee table are massive yet airy–I’m not sure if cushions would usually be in play here.

Pots throughout are kept simple and spare. This large amber colored crystal was an unexpected piece of nature’s own art.

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This designer left no detail undone–you saw the power meter, and now, necessary garden equipment (and possibly AC units?) is hidden behind a beautiful Ipe screen based on a traditional Japanese fan design.

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The Moon Gate leads visitors back into the front garden via another zipper limestone path.

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This sculptural Japanese pine, at least forty years old, anchors the front garden on this side of the house.

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A dwarf red cut-leafed Japanese maple hovers only inches above the ground and seems to float in a sea of crushed limestone. The Kurapia ‘lawn’ and Hakone grass elements tie the front garden’s two side together.

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Leaving the garden I can’t help but take one more glance at the Moon Gate, this time as it’s seen from the front.  This garden is simple and serene without feeling fussed over or complicated–Glee, this one’s for you!

 

 

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden Spring Plant Sale…

The second day of this Bay Area road trip is devoted to a visit to the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley to take in their spring plant sale. The sea mist was still hanging in the air as I made my way up into the Berkeley Hills overlooking the San Francisco Bay. All I can say is thank goodness for navigation–a mere four miles from my hotel must have had 2 dozen lefts and rights to get to the 2 lane road into the hillside campus.

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The garden’s parking lots were full and signage led me uphill to the overflow parking some 3/4 of a mile away at Lawrence Hall. A free shuttle awaited to ferry us back down to the garden.

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It didn’t take long for me to realize I could not take photos, peruse plants and pull my wagon all at the same time so pictures are few because in this case, plants rule. The garden’s collections are all closed for the sale so only the main walkway seen here is accessible with all secondary paths being roped off.

The Botanical Garden was formally established on the UC Berkeley campus in 1890 with its current 34 acre location in Strawberry Canyon since the property was purchased in 1909. Ten thousand plant types are organized in 9 geographic regions of naturalistic plantings from Italy to South Africa, along with a major collection of California native plants. With the little bits I could see from the sale site I know I want to schedule another visit to see all there is off this beaten path.

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Here are a few vignettes visible from the walkway…

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The fabulous royal blue Ceanothus below was the backdrop for a display of varieties for sale.

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It was identified as Ceanothus thyrsiflorus var. griseus ‘Kurt Zadnik’ and it was no surprise to me that all of this particular one had sold in the few minutes since the sale opened. It is such a benefit to us to be able to see a plant we buy in a gallon can at its mature size and in excellent health. The common appellation Carmel creeper could lead you to believe it is a prostrate variety–not so!

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There were areas for trees and shrubs, California natives, succulents, shade lovers and sun cravers, houseplants and tropicals but the table with the biggest crowd was the collection of carnivorous plants. Amazing!

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I gathered up and paid for my precious cargo. All but one of the plants I purchased was propagated onsite from the garden’s collection. My booty includes 4 salvias, two of which have been on my acquisition list for a few years, a coveted Campanula incurva to add to a dappled shade area and a pelargonium with interested red patterned foliage. A day with new plants is a very good day for me!

Another Gamble ramble…

Enter the Garden is the theme for the 34th Annual Gamble Garden Spring Tour. Five homeowners graciously opened their gardens to give garden lovers a peek into Palo Alto’s historic neighborhood surrounding the Gamble Garden and just a short drive from Stanford University. I am an unashamed garden tour junkie and this event is right at the top of my favorites list. The Elizabeth F. Gamble Garden is a precious community resource and is supported solely by memberships and donations, receiving no funding from the city, state, or any other government entity. This annual tour provides valuable funding needed to keep the garden open to the public every day of the year. Please look back at my posts Gather in the garden… and You can Gamble on this spring tour… to learn more about the historic Gamble property and see gardens from the 2017 and 2016 tours.

A SHEEP IN PALO ALTO

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The clean and classic lines of this New England flavored family home are enhanced by the front garden’s simple elegance, featuring formally clipped boxwood hedges and white tree roses.

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Glossy black shutters and sparkling white woodwork play off the warm toned brick porch set in a herringbone pattern. The pair of Adirondack styled swings invite visitors to stay awhile.

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A sunny spot as you enter the side yard offers a place to grow a few veggies. Notice the herringbone brick ‘stepping stones’, carrying the porch floor theme into the back garden.

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The simple black metal gate echoes the home’s shutters and provides privacy for the family’s personal spaces. The coniferous Thuja trees (seen behind the planters above and on either side of the gate) are used as bright green backdrops throughout the garden.

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This black sheep welcomes you to the back garden and was an online find by the owner.

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This side yard provides visitors with their first full height view of the back garden’s small grove of mature redwoods.

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A beautifully appointed outdoor sitting room offers a spot from which to enjoy the garden–the use of herringbone patterned brick is repeated here.

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Artificial turf provides open play space for a busy family and the ability to host large gatherings. The garden’s green and white palette gets a pop of color from the orange mid-century modern chairs tucked in a spot perfect for viewing outdoor ping pong tournaments. Formal boxwood hedges and globes enclosing beds planted with white azaleas, ferns and New Guinea impatiens feel cool and chic with a Southern ambience.

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The redwoods’ trunks and roots dictate the bed elevations and the stair step plantings make the beds feel very full even though a good circle of air space protects each tree’s base. The redwoods have been limbed up to a height of 25 feet. This allows them to provide almost a forest like atmosphere without overwhelming the space. Lights have been woven among the trees and they need to be adjusted every few years to accommodate the trunk’s changing girth.

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Looking back from the grass to the home offers a view of the gorgeous second story deck which spans the width of the home and is outfitted with lounges and greenery in bright white cans.

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The outdoor dining room graces a small brick patio and is partially screened from the neighboring property by Thuja.

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This small guest house was added in a recent remodel and its patio offers space for the outdoor kitchen plus a powder room for guests.

As you exit the back garden by the side yard an out of the way, but easily accessed, nook has been created for the family’s bikes. Even the family dog has a stylish pad, including his own sun screen.

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The small space between the driveway and the property line fence is outfitted in keeping with the home’s formal front garden–including its own Adirondack loungers…

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…and a Little Free Library in case you need a good book while enjoying the garden!

PARADISE IN A MEADOW

I like to start a garden post with a street shot–sort of a curb appeal intro to what the garden is all about. The Palo Alto neighborhood surrounding the Gamble Garden has homes of all styles and sizes set on smallish to moderate sized lots by California semi-urban standards. Real estate here is purchased possibly by the square inch and even a tear down property is priced in the multi-millions. Homes may be very close to the street and shielded from view by walls or hedges. Mansions on huge lots with expansive gardens are rare but very large homes on small lots are not, especially if the current home is not the original one built on the parcel.

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This historic Victorian home (photographed from the neighbor’s front walk) rises above its totally enclosed modern meadow garden inspired by New York City’s High Line, a naturalistic garden established on an unused spur of the city’s elevated train. Check out http://www.thehighline.org if you are not familiar with this unique garden offering trails and a killer NYC view.

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As you enter the shallow but heavily planted area you are greeted by a fawn sized moss topiary grazing on its planted partners. Access to the open meadow is narrow and with a steady line of tour goers it is not possible to even step aside to identify or photograph individual plants.

Mixed plantings of shrubs, perennials, grasses, bulbs and ferns fill this small space, including many plants selected for their popularity in Victorian gardens–such as the Bear’s Breeches in the upper left and the Queen’s palm in the upper right.

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The meadow is reached through a tunnel arbor planted thickly with sweet peas and other flowering annuals. Artistic accents are welcome surprises around each curve.

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Entering the sunny meadow we walk along a single person wide path–a profusion of flowering trees and shrubs, bamboo, grasses, bulbs and perennials mingle in happy abandon.

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The path follows the outside curve of the sunny center allowing us to walk in shade looking back over the meadow to the home’s porch.

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The death of a massive oak last year offered the opportunity to plant two Chinese silk floss trees, one of which you see in front of the group of visitors. The tree’s trunk sports huge thorns and it will bear pink hibiscus like flowers in late summer through fall.

This eye-catching Albuca batteniana is tucked among the path’s green backdrop. This is a rarish South African perennial bulb related to Orthinogalum and will eventually have white starry flowers. The leaves were a yard long and the immature flower stalk rose over my head. I would think it a winner even if it never bloomed!

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This beautiful vine draped arbor along the back of the garden was the space’s standout for me, offering a shady space to relax, dine and enjoy the garden.

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The front half of the arbor has metal roofing in addition to the vines but the back half is open as you can see by the shade lines. Comfy outdoor furniture invites visitors to rest a bit while they admire one of several beautiful flower arrangement made from flowers, branches and foliage cut from the meadow.

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View of the garden from the outdoor seating area under the arbor.

The more shaded end of the arbor is shielded from the street and the home’s parking by a double gate made from the same materials. These gorgeous custom iron handles and latches grace the double gate and adjacent pedestrian gate.

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Looking back from the cobbled parking pad to the gates and arbor–who says functional can’t be also charming?

These first two gardens on the 2019 Gamble Garden Tour could not be more different from one another. The meadow garden, carefully planned and executed, results in a look of wild and natural abandon–anything goes! The classic, clean lines and limited palette of the first offer traditional garden beauty while not limiting the family’s use of the space for parties and play.

With such an inspiring start to this year’s tour I can’t wait to for you to see what’s next. This year I will spread the gardens over a few posts to give you as many photos and details as possible. Keep your eyes open for more gardens coming up soon–right now I am off to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden’s spring plant sale!!

 

Tuteur-ial…

I went on a small Etsy buying splurge in early 2018–taking advantage of its access to lots of very fine woodworkers offering all sorts of garden related items. It was then I purchased the Little Free Library you’ve seen in my front garden photos, an additional one made in the style of our mountain cabin (still unpainted!) and two six foot cedar tuteurs.

Tuteur is the French word for “trainer”, as in a place on which to grow ornamental vines, roses or veggies. Traditionally a four sided pyramid and fashioned from wood or metal, the structure may also be referred to as an obelisk, teepee trellis or pyramid trellis. There may be subtle distinctions in these names (you know the whole pergola vs arbor thing) but for my purposes tuteur describes its function and the gardener is free to choose its design and style.

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I was a little overwhelmed when I originally opened one of the long boxes in the spring of last year and, with a full garden to do list already and lots of travel planned, I slid the opened box and its partner against the back wall of my quilt studio to tackle at a later date.

Fast forward to my 2019, my spring resolution to get a whole slew of unfinished projects done and having tripped over the long boxes innumerable times over the past year, I dragged the opened one out to the garage to get started. It didn’t look any less daunting…

My tuteur’s craftsman, Richard deJong of Woodbrute Designs in British Columbia, promised “easy assembly” but dang, there are a lot of pieces. When in doubt, read the instructions! I quickly determined that the twelve thin pieces were the optional decorative vertical rails, installed after the basic structure was built, and set them aside.

Mr. deJong has cleverly coded the pieces to aid people just like me in getting all these sticks going in the correct direction.

The white painted dowels on the horizontal posts fit into the holes with the white sticker. The unpainted dowels go into the holes without the sticker–thank you God and Mr. deJong.

As the tuteurs will be painted to match my existing trellis work and my front door, I lined all the parts up for a quick coast of primer. I decided to prime before assembly so that the cut ends of the wood would also have the primer’s weather protection.

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When the primer was dry I laid the first two sides out on my work surface, making sure to line up the cross pieces white hole to white dowel. The remaining cross pieces sitting on the tool bench will ultimately connect these two panels together.

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Using a rubber mallet as specified in the instructions, I tapped each cross piece in to the first vertical rail.

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I then tapped in the remaining vertical rail. Both the dowels and the holes are angled exactly so a good fit is easy to achieve.

A first coat of paint is added on what is the inside of each panel and on the insides of each remaining cross piece to make the final painting after assembly a little easier. This is Dunn Edwards Purple Trinket. It a great foil for green foliage and the pinks blues and lavenders I favor in the garden.

After a good bit of time painting, drying and flipping over each panel I am ready for the first assembly that will eventually connect the two panels, making the pyramid shape.

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The graduated lengths of cross pieces are added to both sides of the interior of one assembled panel, using only gentle taps of the rubber mallet. Standing up in this position, the cross pieces are a snap to paint out.

The day is getting late and I’ve almost lost all the natural light in the garage. A good bit of drying time is needed for the partial framework in this state. I am heading up the road a piece tomorrow, leaving at daylight for 3 days of garden events in Palo Alto and Berkeley.

It will be next week before I will have time to return to this purple project–watch for my post to see how the two turn out and where they find a home in my garden.

 

 

‘Blueberry Bliss’ & friends put on an Easter show…

Always a spring standout in my garden, the bearded iris have never disappointed me. Some years, as with this one, they get a later start. Even though I have selections classified in all the expected bloom times–Early, Mid-season and Late, our short, warmer winters and early springs seem to compress all bloom times to March through mid-May. Mine are generally finished before the beardeds even get started in other parts of the country.

Since its addition to the front garden in late 2017 Iris ‘Blueberry Bliss’ has assumed the mantle of very first iris to flower, taking over from my long standing champion ‘Riverboat Blues’.

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‘Blueberry Bliss’ in the foreground and ‘Sweet Geisha’ in the left background

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This little swathe of bluey-purples blooms for just its second season–the original planting replaced a narrow arc of turf and was intended to be 3 rhizomes each of ‘Sweet Geisha’, ‘Blueberry Bliss’ and ‘Blue Hour’ (not yet in bloom). A label snafu resulted in an errant rhizome of ‘Visual Intrigue’ (seen in the foreground right) taking the spot meant for one of the ‘Blue Hour’–undiscovered until the ‘Blue Hour’ flowered in an unexpected place last year.

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Iris ‘Visual Intrigue’
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Iris ‘Sweet Geisha’

Below, ‘Absolute Treasure’ also planted for last season is looking great. Photographed  from its shady side, the characteristic pale sky blue self and standards are clearly visible. Photographed from the sunny side, it is almost white with only a blue undertone. An unfolding bloom on another stem shows the blue most clearly.

A few more iris on their Easter Parade…

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Iris ‘Identity Lost in the Great 2016 Iris Division’
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Iris ‘One More Night’
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Iris ‘Shadow Dancing’

With the front garden now without turf I will be adding more iris this fall to fill in open areas. Their towering and majestic blooms will always be on my favorite flowers list!

Wishing all my gardening friends far and wide a Happy Easter and hooray for Spring’s new and unfolding life.

Ongoing project updates…April 2019

No garden is ever FINISHED, but it is nice to see projects which have seemingly dragged on for years finally reach active ends and retreat to being just another part of your landscape that is developed and refined from year to year. We are now declaring our front lawn removal and bed rehabilitation project started in 2016 as complete. The lawn removal and replanting of three major areas of my corner lot has been chronicled in numerous posts including: Xerihysteria!Update on lawn removal projects…Now THIS is a Labor Day…A little cleanup and a few new friends…Slapped upside the head by winter on the first day of spring…Falling into the new season…Moraea and the 3 M’s…A ghostly princess…The “new” Grevilleas…Salvia ‘Dara’s Choice’…Bigger than a See’s candy but smaller than a coffee table…at least so far, and probably several others I missed in scanning the list.

By mid March the last and largest section–the true ‘front’ part of our yard–had been cleared, tilled, double dug, amended and at least preliminarily planted in all but the squarish wide open section about 18′ X 20′ adjacent to the driveway. As the original landscape has numerous groupings of very large granite boulders we planned to add several to this wide open and fairly flat area to help tie it to the rest of the garden. Rain and snow in the mountains limits the harvest of these boulders from private property owners who sell them by the ton to landscapers and rock yards. When ROCK DAY finally arrived the installation drew a small crowd of walkers and neighborhood kids.

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John and James from The Rock Yard arrive with the goods!
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The crane swings the boulder into place and a rough perimeter is marked. The crane then lifts the rock to allow removal of whatever soil necessary to let it sit naturally.

I was more absorbed with the placement of the rocks than with my photographic record. John was a really good sport about picking it up over and over again until it was to my liking.

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Dave did concede that this was easier than him dragging the rock around with a chain and the pick-up.

Our three boulders for this grouping plus one additional we added to the driveway circle bed weighed in at around 4 tons.

With the rocks anchoring the open area it is much easier to visualize how plant material can be built up around them. I planted the things in my holding area earmarked for the bed and transplanted a number of underperforming plants (needing more sun of which there is plenty in this spot) from other beds. Over the course of several days I mulched it down with 2 truck loads of lovely brown humus.

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Two of the Knockout roses moved from a shady area needed to be cut back dramatically–the third never even had a droopy leaf!
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As with the first pics of the previously redone areas there is not much to see–everything is very small.
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From this angle you can see a number of plants in the adjacent area, installed in early winter and already having grown significantly.

As the new plantings mature to the point they are recognizable I will post on a few individually–I am especially anxious to monitor the growth of the native Trichostema lanatum, or Wooly Blue Curls which should fill the space in the foreground of the center rock.

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Needing full sun and no summer water once established this small evergreen shrub is not often successful in residential gardens due to overwatering. Keeping my fingers crossed that I have sited it for minimal irrigation and maximum sun! I purchased this gallon can sized plant in late fall and it has only been watered once in the can since then and came into bloom about a month ago when the weather warmed a bit.

Also moving out of it’s temporary home in a pot to a spot between the first and second boulders on the left is Buddleia alternifolia var. argenta, a spring blooming butterfly bush with willow like branches that layer up to an ultimate height of 8-12 feet.

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See my post A minor miracle… to learn more about this plant which is not very common in my gardening circles. Granted it doesn’t look like much now but keep in mind I purchased it by mail order in a wee 2 inch container from High Country Gardens (thank you David Salman and the Garden Bloggers Fling 2018) last summer.

Now that this huge undertaking has drawn to a close, save for adding more plants as I happen upon something interesting, what am I to do now??

An additional project inspired by my visit to Austin last year is also in its final stretch.

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A Volvo station wagon full of organic container mix and several days of mixing it, bag by bag, 70%/30%, with some clean and weed free native garden soil has brought my stock tank project (see Dipping my toe into the stock tank gardening craze…) to plant ready status.

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I’m counting on my road trip to the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden plant sale next week to yield both inspiration and plants for this oversized container!

So that you are not worried that I am laying around eating chocolates and watching soap operas here’s a before pic of my next project.

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Washington state garden blogger Alison at Bonnie Lassie came up with the idea of a blog meme where you post the wretched parts of your garden rather than the fabulous ones–she calls it Tell the Truth Tuesday. Garden bloggers far and wide weigh in with their photos. We all have those spots that just cause us misery and this one is mine. Alternately under water and dry as a bone, this shady north facing wall is weed heaven–often times they are so high they obscure the sprinkler manifold on the right. In the last 10 years, more stuff has lived and died in this spot than I want to recall.  My goal is to transform this area–one of few that has a little afternoon shade in the back garden–with a 6 foot potting bench sited between the green tape lines and an accompanying raised seed starting/plant holding area. Being a big picture girl I haven’t quite pinned down the details yet. First up–dig the weeds again and devise a solution to current drainage issues! And we’re off…

 

 

 

 

 

Rethinking Fire…a Fresno Art Museum exhibit

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The Fresno Art Museum has been a well loved fixture in my community for many years, offering multiple exhibits annually and many opportunities for special events and education. The last couple of years, several friends and I have made a point to take in each changing exhibit whether it be sculpture, painting, photography, fiber arts or mixed media. A few hours in the museum followed by a fun lunch is a welcome respite to our normal daily activities.

One of the spring exhibits–Rethinking Fire–really struck a chord with me. It was not only beautiful to look at but also timely and thought-provoking in this era of increasing devastation to California by wildfires.

Multi-media artist Bryan David Griffith came to the pursuit of art full-time after an engineering education and a successful career with an international management consulting firm. He lives and works in the Arizona mountain town of Flagstaff, Arizona. In 2014, after the Slide Fire threatened his home and studio he was invited to study wildfire with scientists from the Southwest Fire Science Consortium and join a project entitled Fires of Change, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.

In his own words from his Artist Statement for the exhibit Bryan tells us “In Western culture we traditionally view dualities–light and darkness, life and death, forest and fire–as opposing forces in an epic struggle of good vs. evil. We see ourselves as fighting nobly to preserve life and subdue death by taming nature to prevent unpredictable disasters like wildfires.”

Bryan’s art takes the position that these forces are not opposed but rather part of a continuous cycle. He proposes that by keeping fire out of the forest we have disrupted this natural cycle of life and his work seeks to provoke questions; finding solutions we can all work together to achieve.

The works Broken Equilibrium and Reconstruction, both from 2015 form the centerpiece of the exhibit.

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Broken Equilibrium, 2015 and Reconstruction, 2015 both by Bryan David Griffith

Broken Equilibrium portrays both the dense overgrowth of today’s forest and the destruction wrought by today’s wildfires. The trees on the right, also seen below from another angle, came from the Observatory Mesa thinning project. The burned trees on the left of the spiral were salvaged from the Slide and Schultz fires.

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You are invited to enter the sculpture and reflect upon man’s relationship with fire, with the broken natural spiral of life surrounding you.

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A slightly different camera angle reveals Reconstruction in the spiral’s core. An old growth downed tree was sculpted by cutting and burning. It’s puzzle like form references in the artist’s words, “the works of scientists and land managers to piece together an understanding of history and restore climate resilience to forests before ecological disaster and human tragedy unfold.”

The smallest part of the exhibit can be seen in the background of the above pictures and was to me the most moving of the works displayed.

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Each charred leaf in Requiem for Paradise, 2019, represents a life lost in the 2018 Camp Fire–the deadliest wildfire incident in California history in which the town of Paradise was literally burned to the ground.

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The Impermanence of Forests, 2017 by Bryan David Griffith

The artist photographed smoky this scene in a forest near his home and printed the haunting image from film onto silk. The silk’s edge was burned and the small pile of charred remains placed below were collected from the scene where the photo was taken.

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Rebirth, 2017 by Bryan David Griffith

Rebirth was inspired by the regrowth of aspen trees in an area on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon which was severely burned in 2006. The natural life cycle of mixed conifer and aspen forests is that while dense conifers dominate the aspens, lacking sun, no longer thrive. When wildfire destroys the canopy and opens the ground to sun the aspens are quick to regrow from underground roots even though their parent trees have died. Conifers reestablish more slowly as so for a time the aspens dominate.

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The aspen leaves in the piece are coated in encaustic beeswax and the cinders at the base are from the site of the fire. I love the way these leaves produced dancing shadows in the still and somewhat dim room.

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Box & Burn, 2015 by Bryan David Griffith

The title of this work comes directly from a term firefighters use to fight wildfires by using fire. The piece alludes to the suppression of fire from 1910 until present. The forest life cycle is broken and unable to heal. The open space, created by cutting and burning this old growth timber, represents the loss of age old information carried by the hundreds of years old tree.

These art works were meant to make viewers stop and think about how modern culture views fire, attempts to manage forests outside their natural cycle and ultimately reaps the consequences. This is an exhibit you could stop in to see for a few minutes or spend several hours in thoughtful repose on the room’s bench, viewing from all angles and considering the artist’s intent. We hear about the most important issues of climate change and forest management almost every day from scientists and politicians–I was inspired by seeing these challenges through the eyes of an artist.

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