Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Shirley Watts - Composition in Blue

Landscape artist Shirley Watts had two gardens open to the public in conjunction with the AIA on Sunday September 27, 2009.

The first garden that we were visually treated to was a traditional sized city back yard, but there was nothing traditional about it.

By artfully organizing the spatial layout of the small back yard she created a series of rooms that enhanced the over all size and emotional response of the garden.

As one enters the back yard the depth of the garden and what awaits the visitor is not immediate apparent.

This keen slight of hand is extremely clever in setting up an element of delightful discovery.

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

The visitors eye is at once excited.

All at once you catch a glimpse of something that is brilliant blue in the back ground, then you notice the fountain to your immediate left.

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

As you walk towards the fountain you notice that the light crunch below your feet has a smooth feel to it. Upon closer inspection you see that the surface is composed of tumbled recycled pottery shards.

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

As you continue along your path of discovery , you can’t help being drawn into the blue cube that sits in the middle of the garden . It’s a wind and privacy shelter constructed out of aluminium, twin wall poly carbonate and blue plexiglas.

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

Working your way around the garden other innovative elements pique your senses such as the edges of the stacked recycled concrete retaining walls that were finely saw cut so that the cross section of the exposed aggregate gives the look of terrazzo.

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

In the following days I’ll post photos and commentary on the second garden we visited designed by Shirley Watts as well as the two gardens that were designed by Topher Delaney.

I should mention that there was a third designer who was on the AIA tour, Cevan Forristt. Unfortunately I did not take many photos of this garden ( the designer in the past has requested that photos not be taken of his work ) but if you are familiar with Cevans work you would have seen all the same elements that he has used for the last several years in his design work . The big cast concrete bamboo poles were present as well as many of his other trademark elements such as the big rectangle concrete fish pond and the asian doors and stone stepping stones. All done very nicely.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shirley Watts and Topher Delaney - The AIA tour.

September has been the month for celebrating

“ Architecture in The City” in San Francisco.

Wonderful tours, fabulous exhibitions and informative lectures have been offered across the city on how architecture impacts our every day lives.

This year a fantastic tour of stirring landscape architectural projects were added to the roster of events.

Two gardens by Topher Delaney and two gardens by Shirley Watts were generously opened to the public to view.

The first image below is a garden designed and constructed by Topher Delaney’s firm SEAM.

WEBSITE _ http://www.tdelaney.com/

I’ll post more photos of this garden in the following days as well as her other garden that was graciously opened for viewing.

For now, here is a teaser photo.

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

The photo below is a detail shot in one of Shirley Watts gardens.

Shirley Watts website address is - http://www.sawattsdesign.com/

This garden was full of rousing concepts and innovative recycled materials .

From New Album 9/26/09 8:37 PM

I'll have the rest of the photos uploaded by tomorrow and will follow up with a review of this extraordinary day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Red Lined

I thought a lot before writing this post because I don’t think it is very good form to criticize your clients but because so many of the folks who read my blog are in the business, or appreciate the gardening design business I thought that this might be a good learning experience.

I’ve been working on a very small planting plan for the last 3 months.
Yes, three months, you read correctly.
What would normally be a one week turn around job has stretched into 3 months due to a multitude of changes, revisions and indecision's.

The last straw came when my plans were sent back to me red lined.

My client has a daughter who is an architect and she red lined the plans.

Now I don’t mind changes, revisions and construction critique, but when the red lined plans come back and the ‘new design’ is obviously going to fail due to poor materials choice and inferior construction techniques that’s when I say, “No can do. I’m not redrafting up someone else’s plans on my legal construction documents that are bound to fail”.

Anyone who has ever build an exterior planter box can tell you that a 1x 12 board is going to curl and crack in a matter of weeks. You don’t have to be a landscape professional to know this
Hell, even a 2x12 will sometimes curl if not properly fastened to it’s substructure.

So I sent the newly revised ( and final ) plans back to my client with a blank section reserved for the planter box and told her to have her architect provide a set of plans for the box and that I would not be responsible for a design that will fail as soon as it is built.

As professionals you have to stand your ground. We have a responsibility to provide sound construction detailing that will stand the test of time and meets the aesthetic that was discussed during design review.
If someone else changes the design or construction techniques that were shown then ‘they’ need to assume the responsibility when it fails.

The red lines :

From Blogger Pictures

By the way, where is the specifications calling out the quality and the species of the wood ? How about that nailing or screwing detail ? Waterproofing details anyone ?
And do you really think a 1x12 is going to make it out doors as a planter box without curling and splitting ? I think not.

From Blogger Pictures

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A natural pergola, bosque style

I'm sold on the design idea of using a quadrant of trees spaced closely enough together so that their canopies form a natural overhead pergola.

I like this organic design feature because you have the flexibility in opening up ( via pruning ) the canopy of overhead branches to let in as much or as little light as you desire.

It is also quite appealing to watch the native fauna jumping and flying from branch to branch as a light wind rustles the branches back and forth above your head.

Below is a photo showing a bosque of Swan Hill Fruitless Olive trees in Marin County CA forming a natural pergola that overlooks a formal rose garden.

From Loropetalum chinese
Below is a photo taken in the winter 1999 of the same bosque.
This photo was taken about 9 to 12 months after we finished the installation.
From Loropetalum chinese

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Designs are In !

The Designs are in for the Gondwana Circle Design Competition for the San Francisco Botanical Garden.
The public exhibit is Monday Sept. 28 - Thursday October 1, 2009 from 10 am to 4 pm at the County Fair Building

click onto the link to see some spectacular design work for this very special place proposed for the Botanical Garden in San Francisco.

Yours truly has a design submitted but it is still a secret until the judges choose the winning design.

Cut and Paste the address below :

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Late Show Gardens - A review.

The first annual Late Show Gardens opened to the public on a very hot and sunny Friday September 18, 2009 in Sonoma CA.

This new garden show is site specific to the arid Northern California Mediterranean climate .
It address the dry summer climate, the dwindling water resources and makes the case for incorporating sustainable gardening practices in our home and community gardens.

As you enter into the Cornerstone complex the first exhibition garden by Gary Rattway and Mike Lucas emphasizes regeneration in the face of our past history of pollution.
Massive rusted old oil tanks are used as monolithic rocks hosting a textural tapestry of grasses which bio- remediates contaminated soils.
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Once inside the garden complex you are welcomed by some very tall and reedy plant sculptures.
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Suzanne Biaggi and Patrick Picards display garden called Flow and Accumulation was a delight to the eye and the conscience.
They used permaculture buliding techniques throughout the garden.
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From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Running down the length of the table was a runnel of water
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

One of the more exciting sculptures was The Grow Melt Project.
An ice sculpture by Peter Good, Liz Einwiller, Adam Greenspan , Sarah Kuelh and David Fong.
It was about 98 degrees F. today and I fear that this sculpture is not going to make it though the end of today, Friday.
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From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

It was stated that this sculpture was intended to be a moving metaphor for the processes that affect our world.
To me it said Global Warming.
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Shirley Watts never fails to inspire . She is one of those inward - outward designers . One who contemplates deeply inwardly and then can make a visual statement outwardly seamlessly and beautifully
Her design, A Garden of Mouthings captures your attention.
Here she is bringing the story of our hard working honey bees to the gardener though music , poetry and structure.
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Monica Viarengo “Black Soul” Garden was extremely dramatic.
As you wandered down into a deep cut in the earth you were flanked on either side by towering black soil volcanoes and moody dark plantings.
This garden represents her feelings toward climate change.
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At the bottom of the gulch there was a message , surrounded by white marble chips and a small dark square of water. “ Be the change you want to see”
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Something to think about , wouldn’t you say ?

I’m one who usually gets metaphors. After years and years of art school you start to get it. But I didn’t get Beth Mullins “Over Growth” metaphor.
I appreciated the juxtapositioning of all the disparate elements but over all it was lost on me.
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Well, It’s hitting the 100 degree mark here in my neck of the woods so I will leave you with a few more images before I take in a cool wet shower.

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Oh , and one last note.
The speakers were FANTASTIC !
Below is a shot of the fabulous Jeffrey Bale Mosaic Artist.
His slide show and talk was wonderful !

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Now for a refreshing cold shower.

If you plan on visiting the show on Saturday or Sunday please bring a hat, lots of water and some sensible shoes.

The organizes have placed water coolers around the grounds , but do keep hydrated.
We are in for some very hot sunny weather this weekend.

Enjoy !

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lush Land

A couple of months ago we finished a garden that was once a steep hillside.
A series of retaining walls were built and installed. A water feature against the wall was also installed along with some planting.
This is what the landscape looked a few weeks after we finished
From Water fountains in the landscape

Today I was in the neighborhood and stopped by for a peek.
The garden has 3 months worth of growth and it is looking very lush and full.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Unfortunately it was high noon when I stopped by. The absolute worst time to do outdoor garden photography.
I’m going to go back early in the morning and get some good shots.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Take a look at the size of that Cyperus papyrus plant ! It is about 9 feet tall !

From Water fountains in the landscape

I’m pretty happy with the growth on the hanging Glenchoma ( gotta check that spelling)
It was planted from a 4 inch size container and it is now about 3.5 to 4 feet long
From Water fountains in the landscape

Monday, September 14, 2009

I used to have a lawn , now I have balanced diversity

When I moved into my house 10 years ago the front yard was a mix of mud, weeds and a struggling lawn.

I restructured the spatial delineation of the front yard by dividing the area into a (1) small potager garden,(2) a mixed flower and succulent border and a (3) mixed lawn of clover, alyssum, fine fescue and crabgrass.
From Pina Colada

From a water wise standpoint , the potager requires more water than the mixed flower border and the lawn combined.
From Pina Colada

From Potager Gardens

From a maintenance standpoint the flower border and the potager require substantially more maintenance time per month than the lawn.
From Potager Gardens

The potager requires replanting about 3 times a year with seasonal vegetables, herbs and flowers. Thus it costs more to water and maintain.
It also requires the addition of regular compost amendments at each time of the annual replanting.
Occasionally I have skipped amending the potager with compost prior to a new seasonal vegetable planting and noticed a big difference in the lack of growth and production from the vegetable garden.

I have never fertilized the lawn with a chemical application.
In the past 10 years I have top dressed the lawn with a 1/2 inch of compost twice.
I mow the mixed clover lawn with an electric mower, which takes about 7 minutes every three weeks.
From Pina Colada

The mixed flower border regularly receives compost each year.
If it doesn’t, there are definite signs of lack of flower production.
I work in this garden about an hour a week , dead heading, editing, weeding, and cutting flowers.
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

So in closing, the vegetable garden requires more water, more organic resources and more maintenance to maintain than my mixed clover lawn and mixed flower border.

In return I gain fresh vegetables and herbs from the potager.
I receive cut flowers and the joy of gardening from my flower garden.
And I receive a place to lounge after gardening , a soft place to read a book and a place to play with my dog from the mixed clover lawn.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Late Show Gardens in Sonoma CA - Sneak Peek.

It was a pretty exciting day today at Cornerstone Festival of Gardens in Sonoma CA.
Most all of the garden designers were on site building their exhibition gardens for the upcoming Late Show Gardens which will open to the public next Thursday night and will be open for public viewing Sept. 18 - 20th 2009

Link : www.thelateshowgardens.org

From the looks of the pre-construction set up, it appears like this is going to be one very original and thought provoking show.

How about a little peek to pique your curiosity ?

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

A permanent meadow installation by John Greenlee
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

A sculpted stone sphere by Edwin Hamilton is beautifully placed at the end of a long walkway that overlooks the hills of Sonoma and adjacent Napa Valley.
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

Some very nice stone work being worked on.
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It is going to be very interesting to see how this garden develops.
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

I heard that there was going to be an ice sculpture installed.
I wonder if this is the place where it will be ???
I can’t wait to see what this design will turn out to be. Intriguing.
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Hard to tell from this pre-construction photo but there is a very deep cut into the grade.
What will lie behind that black square ?
Come to the show and find out !
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Honeycomb shaped plinths. Wonder what the buzzz will be about ?????
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And some very nice looking plants too.
How will they be placed ? Something to look forward to.
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A fun arbor . Willow s and tomatoes planted in metal garbage cans lead from one garden area to another.
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Out in the main courtyard , in front of Artefacts Salvage was a nice layout of plants and accoutrements.
Way in the background next to the wine tasting room was a Jazz band playing some great music.
I could have used a few glasses of wine today while lending a helping hand to one of my friends who is installing a garden.
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In the courtyard you will be able to see some of Edwin Hamilton’s newest stone sculpture work
From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

From New Album 9/12/09 6:38 PM

There is LOTS more to see.
I only had a brief moment or two to wander around the grounds .
So if you are in the San Francisco Bay Area next weekend, Sept.18 - 20th, I wholeheartedly suggest that you visit The Late Show Gardens for a visually exciting afternoon.