Tuesday, June 30, 2009

That's a wrap.

Last week we wrapped up a project in Northern California.
Previous to the renovation the outdoor area was a series of ramps, masonry walls and wooden platforms all at various disjointed heights and widths.
To get from the side yard to the back yard you had to climb up a set of steps, cross over a tilted ramp and then step down a few more steps.
The new layout is an open flow plan allowing for easy level access from side to back yard.
In order to achieve this we had to dig back the hillside by several feet and install a 10 foot tall retaining wall.
To break the over all height of the wall we terraced it back to accommodate two walls , a 7 foot and a 3 foot retaining wall.
A glass and slate mosaic water feature was embedded into the 7 foot tall wall along with a stone planter.
A New England bluestone patio was also installed as well as an outdoor cooking area.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Planting is still very young. It is mostly subtropical in nature.
Plants include agave attenuatta, aeoniums, banana, papyrus, colocasias and creeping fig vines that will eventually cloth the tall stucco wall.
From Water fountains in the landscape

Detail of the water feature. A copper hood was installed so that low voltage lighting could be installed at the top of the water fall line.
Flamed edged blue stone borders the slate and glass tile.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ruth Bancroft Gardens & Sculpture Show

Last weekend I visited the opening of “Art in the Garden” at the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

The Bancroft Garden is located in Walnut Creek CA, a arid inland suburb about 40 minutes from San Francisco.


This distinctive garden works in harmony with its dry desert like climate.
It is planted with lots of cactus, succulents, palms and other drought tolerant plants from around the world.

The art that was exhibited in the garden was nicely curated and well placed amongst the desert foliage, which are sculptural in their own right.
From garden tours.

My favorite piece was a glass sculpture blown by Kim Webster - www.kwebsterglass.com
From garden tours.

I met Kim in the garden and she described how she designed the sculpture with LED lights to illuminate at night time.
Brilliant !

My apologies go out to the artist who sculpted the 3 foot diameter head pictured below. I have misplaced the name .
This piece, sculpted in clay, piqued my interest.
From garden tours.

The sculpture show runs thru mid July 2009.
I highly recommend making the trip to anyone who love fine sculpture and sculptural plants.

From garden tours.

From garden tours.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Cornerstone Festival of Gardens - Sonoma CA

The water lilies are blooming at Cornerstone Festival of Gardens located in Sonoma CA.

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

and the whirly gig sun flowers where twirling in the wind

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

Topher Delaney’s exhibit garden is holding up quite nicely - I think the name of this garden is ‘bar code’.

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

While cruising the outdoor shopping grounds at Artefacts Salvage I came across this wonderful passenger bicycle.
I really would love to have this !
From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

And finally, an interior photo shot taken in the shop known as Artefacts Salvage.
The shop owner and staff does a wonderful job with staging their merchandise.
The lighting is always superb.

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

Saturday, June 20, 2009

California Yin and Yang

I found this counter balance intriguing in a yin and yang sort of way.

Sturdy and strong, the silvery green Agave americana is deeply anchored in amongst the blousy golden grasses and swaying lollipop alliums.

This display garden is located in Sonoma at the Cornerstone Festival of Gardens. It was designed by the Washington D.C. based landscape architectural firm of Oehme and van Sweden.

I visit Cornerstone often. It is just a few miles from my house.
Out of the 2 dozen display gardens on the property, this is the one garden that I usually see people sitting in .
There is almost always a couple sitting on the small bench under the canopy of olives holding hands and gazing out at the ever changing meadow garden.

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

From New Album 6/20/09 5:20 PM

Friday, June 19, 2009

Still chugging along.

All of the planting was completed today.
We finished up with a charming little kitchen garden. Didn't get a chance to click off a photo but will do so soon.

The tall retaining walls were planted:
From Before and After Projects

Soil prep and planting above the food prep area.
Austin Roses, santolina, lavender.
From Before and After Projects

The outdoor food prep area.
Back splash is set with glass and slate tile mosaic and bluestone counter
and top shelf.
Stainless steel bbq yet to be fitted in.
From Before and After Projects

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Almost done

It's been about 6 months of construction on this project.
New retaining walls which gave way to new flat usable space for outdoor recreation.
New patio surfacing of New England bluestone set in an ashlar pattern,
New outdoor cook area , steps to second level, hot tub, lawn , ornamental planting and a water feature.

The planting layout began the other day.
We have about 2 more days of planting and then will work on the irrigation , mulch and directing the lighting.

In the photo below the retaining wall planting is laid out.
Plants are : Agave attenuatta, red banana, aeoniums, cyperus, ornamental grasses, colocasias and climbing wall sucking ficus pumila.

Personally I don’t find the wall objectional, but the owner wants to see it clothed in green, so ficus pumila was chosen.

From Before and After Projects

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lawnless poster child by Disney.

This front lawnless yard is located in Marin County CA.
It looks like the owner might have worked for Disneyland or perhaps the Disney Garden Center.

Snow white and her gnomes proudly reside here. A retired lawnmower, Bambee and Fireman Bill also proudly proclaim their lawn-less-ness.
This front yard should be the Poster Child of the no lawn movement. It's got everything a gnome center would want .
What d'ya say ?

From Blogger Pictures

Friday, June 12, 2009

Drought and Deer Tolerant Plantscape

Today I drove by a garden that I designed about 9 months ago located on Belvedere Island, Marin County , Northern California.

The homeowners wanted a drought tolerant garden that could stand up to the heavy deer population.

The steep front yard hillside overlooking the San Francisco bay was already terraced when I arrived on the site.

All we had to do was weed abatement, minimal soil preparation, the planting and the homeowner re-connected the existing automatic drip irrigation system with some minor modifications.

From California Gardening

The dark burgundy tree in the background is Agonis flexuosa Jervis Bay After Dark
Infront of it is Yucca filamentosa , Leucadendron jester, Kniphophia shining spector and Pennistem sect. rubrum.

From California Gardening

The dark rich red spear leaf plant in the foreground is Phormium Dusty Chief.
It is surrounded by Aeoniums sunburst.
Above it on the middle terrace is a bunch of succulents , some banksia groundcover and a nice brilliant stand of Anigozanthus .

From California Gardening

Made for the Shade.

This interesting structure is an umbrella stand - or more aptly , a shade structure stand
It’s not your typical residential umbrella made of fabric and a wood pole.
From Interplay Project

This shade structure will be situated near an ocean. The base, shown in the photos, will be mounted in a children's play area surrounded by a sand pit.
From Interplay Project

If you look closely, the motif is inspired by the sea.
Sea kelp floats across the structure and fossils are embedded.
Glass mosaic tiles emulate the waves in the ocean.

This sculpture was crafted in the studio of Interplay Design located in Northern California.

One of the nautilaus that I sculpted out of clay for the shade structure . It was made into a mold and casts were made using concrete
From Interplay Project

roughing in the sculpture.
From Interplay Project

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A recent project

I’ve been working on a nice project for the past few months.
It hasn’t been a ‘traditional project’ for me in the way that it came about or how it has developed but I have enjoyed the process and have especially enjoyed the people.

Usually my projects are full master plans or a new landscape development for a renovated home or a new piece of property. I start at the very beginning and see the project through to the end.

In the case of this project the homeowner had hired a very talented landscape architect , Tom Galli of Kentfield , to design the basic yet very complex layout.
Tom is a genius when it comes to figuring out complex sites. It comes naturally to him.
This site had major elevation problems that cut off natural flow of pedestrian traffic.
Tom came up with a great solution that utilizes a series of walls to create flat usable space for the family.

The building contractor , Richard McCartell, has been absolutely fantastic .
He took a set of structural plans that had little to no aesthetic detailing and turned out a fantastic looking job.

All of the fine details were researched and thought up by the homeowners and Richard.
I occasionally was consulted on a few problem solving items, but for the most part it was the homeowner and the contractor who finely crafted this unique looking landscape job.
I stand in awe of their efforts .

Below are two photos of one part of the job.
photo one shows the water feature detail- it is constructed out of slate and glass tiles and is set into one of the main retaining walls.

From New Album 6/2/09 4:27 PM

The second photo shows the stucco coats going onto the retaining wall with the plants in the foreground waiting to get planted.
From New Album 6/2/09 4:27 PM

I post some photos later of the planting and the water feature in action.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Luscious Lavender

It's lavender blooming time in Northern California.

From California Gardening

Monday, June 8, 2009

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Do - Not - Resist

I did not resist the urge to plunk down a few dollars yesterday while at my local Home Depot.

I bought 3 new plants and a new terra cotta container.

The Home Depot in my 'hood is like no other.
The nursery manager, Charlie Rossi is an experienced horticulturist with a very keen eye for plants.
It's like a specialty nursery rather than a hum drum big box store.
Yes, he does bring in some 'regular staples' for the nursery , but he is more inclined to bring in the hot new
introductions when they can be found at a reasonable price.

Two years ago when Agonis Jervis Bay After Dark hit the retail nurseries for 50 dollars in a five gallon container he found some healthy beauties for half that amount.

Yesterday when I visited 'his' nursery I was knocked over by the rows and rows of fabulous succulents in one gallon and 2 gallon size containers.
Echiverias, Crassulas, Graptosdums, Agaves, Sedums, Senecios and so much more !!
All of them in exquisite health and shape...... and very very reasonably priced.

In the pot ( $ 19.90) below I planted three new plants : Crassula falcata, Crassula capitella and a Graptosedum
The C. falcata was in a 2 gal. container for $ 15. and the C.capitella and Grap. were in 1 gallon pots for 5$ each.

I just could not resist. I spent $ 45.
But when you consider that I will be taking cuttings from these plants in less than a month to spread around the rest of my succulent garden, it is really a pretty good deal.... ( humor me ! )

From New Album 6/2/09 4:27 PM

Friday, June 5, 2009

Terra cotta

I love the various colors and textures of terra cotta.

The clay that comes out of Mexico tends to have a lot more iron oxide which makes the pots a dark to tawny orange.
The clay is usually not fired to full mature temperature so the pots tend to chip or break a lot easier.

The clay from Italy and France is simply superb. I love the pink tones from France and the deeper orange tones from Imperata.
Usually the clay is fired to a full mature temperature so the pots are extremely durable, even in freezing temperature.

Terra cotta from America is as diverse as this country. Most of our commercial terra cotta comes from Kentucky and Tennessee and the factories fire the clay to full maturity making it durable.
One also sees a glaze applied over American made terra cotta. I don't know the reason for this but it strikes me as interesting.

Below is a photo of various terra cotta from around the world.

From New Album 6/2/09 4:27 PM

Monday, June 1, 2009

Roses - not for me.

They are not for me.
Wayyyyyyyyyyyy too much work for the return.

This past winter, during what I am calling my economic cone of doom I took on a maintenance job.
The garden that I now maintain was one that I designed 10 years ago.
It is a Mediterranean styled rose garden.
Great fun to design, not so much to maintain.

The garden is made up of Olive trees, lavender hedges, rosemary borders, citrus trees and roses. Lots of demanding little rosy debutants who mock me with their ever present black spot, rust and occasional aphid infestation.

Yes, like all winter time rose garden slaves I raked up all the fallen rose litter, tore my favorite pair of work pants while performing the ritual winter prunefest , endured punctured fingers and scraped arms despite heavy duty leather gloves and donned a full face mask three different times to spray a concoction of bordeaux spray to fend ( ha hah ha hah ! ) off the summer time rust and blackspot. NOT.

I have one rose at my own house , I planted it as a memorial for my mom whose name was Evelyn .
I don't lather on the attention to this particular rose and when it totally defoliates itself from black spot , I am happy that there are low to no maintenance succulents and ornamental grasses surrounding it so no one can see its ugliness.

I'll happily design rose gardens for other people, but I never want to maintain another one.
I already take care of one rose garden that has only about 40 roses and that is way too much already.

As far as I'm concerned, If you want a high maintenance garden , then plant a rose garden. You won't be disappointed.

From Loropetalum chinese

White Iceburg - or it should be called Blackspot burg
From Loropetalum chinese

From portfolioMay08.jpg

From portfolioMay08.jpg

From California Gardening

From California Gardening