Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shut up Stupid

Last week I took a road trip down to Watsonville with my friend David Feix. This area is a mecca of wholesale nurseries.
We had the best time plant whoring at Suncrest Growers, Monterey Bay Nursery and Rosendales nursery.

I was plant shopping for a specific project and David was plant shopping because he is an insatiable plantsman and fine horticultural designer.

One of the funniest moments during the day came when we were skipping gleefully through the tropical house at Monterey Bay. David was finding the most rare and obscure plant finds and adding them to our cart.
At one point I said to him , “ Where on earth are you going to put that ? “
He looked up momentarily and said in a dead pan and slightly perplexed voice, “ It doesn’t matter where I put it, it’s a fabulous plant “ .
At that point I think I got it.
In my most comic voice I raised my hand over my shoulder and twittered my left hand while saying in a self mocking voice , “ Practical designer = Where are you going to put it “.
Then in response to ‘Practical designer’ came a voice from the right hand side that blatantly shouted “ Shut up Stupid”.

I think I finally got it.

From david's garden photos

When you are a horticultural maestro you don’t NEED a specific project to purchase a plant.
You just ‘get it’ and know that you will have the perfect garden for it in the future.

So through out the day as David came across a fabulous palm tree, a rare Crinium or some other plant that I had never seen before I would mumble , “ Where are you going to put that ? to which I would say to myself “ SHUT UP STUPID ! “

Here are a couple of photographs of some of David’s horticultural craftsmanship :

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

From david's garden photos

Friday, May 29, 2009

May 29, 2009 Garden Shots

The evening is quite nice for outdoor photography.
The skies are slightly overcast and the warm evening sun is perfectly diffused as it sets in the west.

Hope you all have a great weekend.


From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What are these things anyways ?

What are these strange things ?

Well they started out as small sculptures inspired by the fallen acorns that blanket my property.
As they morphed in the ceramic studio I experimented with different clay bodies, various glazes at different cone temperatures and eventually started slicing them open so that they could be used as container planters for my ever growing succulent collection.

These are constructed out of Sonora White Clay . The glaze was applied with an airbrush and they were fired to cone 6.
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

Sonora White clay, high fired to cone 10
From Pina Colada

Porcelain bodies, hand dipped in glaze, cone 10 firing.
From Pina Colada

Sonora White clay, airbrushed glaze, cone 6 firing
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

In this vignette the small acorn in the lower left corner was hand glazed and fired in a raku kiln.
From Pina Colada

Here are two pots.
They will be part of a new series that I have just started working on.
They somewhat have the acorn feel but they are constructed differently and the openings in the containers are much larger to accommodate a denser planting scheme.
I also plan on using a new ( to me ) glazing technique called Terra Sigillatta which is basically a very watery clay ( slip ) mixed with a deflocculent of sodium silicate and then mixed with mason stains.
I don’t know much about this technique and will be self teaching myself so I expect lots of mistakes and hopefully some cool uncalculated effects.
From Pina Colada

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mini Living Wall

Mini Living Wall
For those who have been itching to have one of those 'living walls' in their garden, I offer up this quick and easy mini living wall.
It's actually just a wire basket planted with a staghorn fern and some succulents but it is living and growing against a wall.

Wire Basket - probably less than 5 bucks a nursery or home improvement store.
A small bag of moss - $ 3.50
Some succulent cuttings ( smooze a friend for cuttings ) and a one gallon size fern.

You could probably put the whole thing together for less than 20 bucks.

I've had this one growing for about 2 years.
The succulents need to be replaced about every 1.5 years , but the fern is always happy and just grows larger and heavier each year.

From Pina Colada

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lighting design dilemma

I have a design dilemma.

It’s a lighting problem .
Basically I don’t have a lot of space to work with nor a lot of money.

The current light is a flood light located above the door in this photo below.
On one side of the door is the garage and the other side is my outdoor sitting area.

I appreciate the flood light due to its security foot candle power but its wide shape makes it hard to find a fixture that would fit over it.

There is also a space problem. There is not a lot of space between the light fixture and the top of the door.

And of course I am working on a pretty tight budget, as many folks are these days.

So I thought I would put it out there and see if anyone had any great ideas.

Thanks !
Mucho gracias.


From Pina Colada

another view of the area, with the “minimalist” flood light cut off.
From Pina Colada

and a shot of the strolling garden path taken today -
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

Monday, May 18, 2009

Marin County Garden Conservancy Tour

On May 17, 2009 the Garden Conservancy had an open garden tour in Marin County CA.
Three gardens were open to the public.
I had already seen two of the gardens in the past so I visited only one garden on that glorious warm Sunday afternoon.

The garden that I viewed was located in Belvedere was a picture of horticultural restraint juxtaposed against beautiful stonework and splendid craftsman styled architecture.

Horticulturally speaking the plantings were classically conservative but done very well, albeit a tad bit boring, hence the lack of photographs of the gardens and the expanse of lawn.
All the predictable performers were there, boxwood and privet hedges, roses, a few standard perennials and thousands of square feet of green lush lawn.

Marin Municipal Water District must LOVE this piece of property. It probably pulls in a couple thousand dollars a month in watering fees.

The most notable element within this garden, besides the vast expanse of lawn in an arid Mediterranean climate was the exception stone craftsmanship and fine wood carpentry.

The stone entry columns located off of the motor court were perfectly proportionate to the width of the staircase and the simply elegant gridded gates.
From garden tours.

Upon arriving at the top of the staircase one is directed down a boxwood lined path constructed out of New England bluestone that was laid in an ashlar pattern.

At the end of the path lies the grand front entry to the gracious home and to opposite side is the grand expanse of water hogging lawn , proudly called the “GREAT LAWN” by the landscape designer .

I did not take any photos of the lawn. Why bother ?

Down the hill was a beautifully appointed outdoor sitting room
From garden tours.

The stone work was absolutely beautifully handcrafted on the floors, the walls and on the fireplace.

To my eye the fireplace could have used a bit more aesthetic line and form.
Fortunately the stone work was so strong that you didn’t really feel the blocky-ness of the fireplace and its lack of artistic form.
From garden tours.

Equal in its attention to outstandingly fine craftsmanship was the pergola that lead you past the GREAT LAWN , and to the swimming pool.
From garden tours.

The joinery was impecable.
From garden tours.

I liked this garden for its incredible attention to fine quality landscape construction and craftsmanship.
I just wish the horticultural craftsmanship was a bit more imaginative and environmentally conscience .

Monday, May 11, 2009

Container Gardening

Container gardening means more to me than placing a pot or a series of pots at your front door, though I do plenty of that !
I like to place containers in the garden to add height, focal point interest and textural diversity.

Below is a photo of my shade garden gallery in zone 9 Northern California.
The dimensions of the area is about 40 feet long and 20 feet wide.

At the center of the garden gallery is a zinc pot planted with a Cordyline, succulents and aeoniums. Below it sits a series of ceramic ‘nut’ pots ( air brushed glazed, cone 06 firing) planted with succulents.

From Container Plantings

Along with my landscape design work I also sculpt for a living, hence the desire to create a garden gallery to display my personal work as well as work from other artists.

A ceramic pot head :
From Container Plantings

and another
From Container Plantings

and a 3 foot tall sculpture from the Carmen Miranda series :
From Container Plantings

A 38 inch tall celadon strawberry pot planted with Phormium Guardsmans, aeoniums,
echiverias, and an ornamental grass:
( Photo by Marion Brenner)
From Container Plantings

And just to let you know that I do place a series of pots at the front entry, here is my composition in blue :
From Container Plantings

Gravel path part deux

Apologies ,
The photo that was posted was too big and the path not within the frame
Hopefully this photo will show the path.

From Paths

Gravel Path

In a recent conversation I was asked about installing a very inexpensive path.
Pictured below is a gravel path.
The gravel came from Stoney Point Quarry in Santa Rosa CA.
The size of the gravel is 7/16 and contains a high quantity of granite fines which makes it
extremely compactable.
This path has been in place for 10 years.
The cost of one yard of gravel cost about 25 dollars (2009 Price )

From Paths