Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Autumn sun sets in the Wine Country.

I took a drive today to see the fall colors in Napa and Sonoma Valleys.

The rows of grapes are turning brilliant red , orange and yellow on the vines.

I drove past one of my projects that we installed 2 years ago, - a driveway entry that was planted with imported 70 year old olive trees from the central valley along with a major mass planting of ornamental grasses and mexican sage.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Slide show : A Variety of Path Styles

This brief slide show depicts several different path styles.
All of the paths reflect either the personality of the homeowner or the personality of the architecture. ( ha, bet you didn't know your house had personality ! )

Monday, October 22, 2007

Portfolio Picture Show -part deux

Let's see if I can increase the size of the images for those of us with aging eye sight.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day - A bio wall environmental project

Joining in with my fellow bloggers across the world I thought it would be appropriate for me to share the environmental project that I am currently working on ; a bio wall.

First let me say that as a horticulturist, environmental sculptor and landscape designer I am usually working on some kind of environmental project every day but the current project that I am working on is providing me with much inspiration and professional satisfaction.

The living green plants that will form the bio wall are currently being propagated in my small 8x10 foot back yard green house.

So far I only have about 23 flats planted up which means that I have 12 more to go before I have the frame of the bio wall completely covered.

Below is bio wall plan. It was my original concept and since then it has been revised so that
it is 8 feet long, 17 inches wide and four feet tall..

Below are some of the flats that have been planted up and will go into the wall

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Samples of some stone wall building techniques

In the photos below are three different projects showing two types of stone wall building.
1. - building a stone wall with a cmu ( concrete masonry unit ) sub straight
2. - building a solid stone wall - .. note the reinforcement bar extends up into the stone wall , thus lending tensile strength.

solid stone wall - no cmu


Upper wall is mortared stacked stone - no cmu substrate to bond to ( c . m. u . = concrete masonry unit )


Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A word by any other name

A word by any other name.

Garden Coaching or is it Horticultural Consultation ?

A client calls you and asks for you to come to their property to advise them in how to manage the horticultural needs of their garden.

You walk the property with the homeowner and if they have one, their maintenance gardener .
You take photographs, you write notes, you identify their pruning , fertilizing and disease control needs.
You show them how to properly cut back their rose bushes , tip prune their thinning jasmine vine and divide their orchid collection.
On occasion you pull a core sample of soil and bag it for testing, trouble shoot and reprogram the automatic irrigation timer, and if a specific disease baffles you on site you take a cutting sample and take it back to your office for further microscopic inspection and indepth research.
You follow up with a written report . Make two copies if you are working with a homeowner who has a maintenance gardener . Provide the client with a binder with the first report so that all the subsequent reports can be saved in the main ‘bible binder’.

You develop a relationship.

Below is one photograph of a section of a large estate garden that I have been doing the horticultural consultation for , on and off , for the past 10 years

A sample of a report :

Monday, October 8, 2007

And Now for something Completely Different !

And now for something Completely Different

I do not often recieve the opportunity to work on historical renovation projects but 3 years ago I had such an opportunity in San Francisco.

The house is registered in with the S.F. Historical Society as one of the city’s original Italianate Victorians.

The current owners purchased the house 25 years ago and underwent a year long renovation project in 2004-5 to seismic retrofit the home and refurbish some of the exterior and interior woodworking , plumbing , electrical and heating systems.

My own personal taste and style runs toward contemporary pan pacific . In other words, I like sparse pared down clean line design.
I appreciate old world craftsmanship and antiques but it is not a style that I am influenced by or try in any way to replicate.

So it was a challenge for me ( and I love a challenge ) when I was asked to collaborate with the owners in creating an old world Italianate styled garden complete with water spewing cast concrete sculptures , pedestal urns and ornately carved wood work .

..... all ‘so not me’.

Last week I visited my clients home and garden and took these pictures.
I am going to be working with them again on another historical victorian renovation at another location in the city.

Let the silly ornateness begin !

The fair maiden wishfully awaits for those to enter into the garden from the gates beyond.

The pathway is bordered by English boxwood. The fence is hedged with Eleocarpus and a low border of white agapanthus.
The huge old draceana tree was a remnant from the original back yard planting. It was the only plant that was kept from the past old garden.

The fair maiden.
During the installation the crew sensed my lack of excitement over ‘the fair maiden’ and I would often find baseball caps sitting on her head, my sweater draped around her shoulders and other silly little dress up pranks to lighten up the mood.

I’m not a fan of plaster cast statues but my clients love then and chose this for their center piece.
They also had a really fabulous contemporary art piece by Richard Wareham that I was dying to place in the garden , but they really wanted a little slice of Italy in their back yard and so it being their garden we were happy to place ‘the fair maiden’.

Upon walking into the garden , past the fair maiden, you enter upon the dining terrace surrounded by turned balustrades and surfaced with Italian travertine stone tiles.

The set of gates that ‘the fair maiden’ watches.