Friday, July 31, 2009

Red hot for the summer

Leucadendron Sarfari Sunset and Anigozanthus Big Red and Tequila Sunrise are two red blooming plants that I like

From R E D

The blue flower bordering the lawn is Agapanthus. A commonly seen plant here in California.
Behind the Agapanthus is more red foliaged Leucadendrons

From R E D

Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' as described by San Marcos Growers in Santa Barbara:

Leucadendron 'Safari Sunset' (Safari Conebush) - This is a vigorous, tall and erect grower to over 8 feet tall. The flowers on L. 'Safari Sunset' differ from those on L. 'Red Gem' in that the bracts surrounding the central female cone start out coloring red in summer and by winter are a deep wine color. In late winter 'Safari Sunset' takes on a yellow coloring in the center of the bracts while still retaining the red on the outer surfaces. As with L. 'Red Gem', L. 'Safari Sunset' is a tough cultivar that can handle frost, alkalinity and clay soils. This is an excellent candidate for cut foliage harvesting. This plant originated in New Zealand in the 1960's and was the result of crossing Leucadendron laureolum with L. salignum. 


Anigozanthos described by Monterey Bay Nursery

Anigozanthos hybrids  KANGAROO PAWS  clumping evergreen plants with grass-like foliage that bear tall stalks of fuzzy, unusual, tubular flowers, often in striking colors. They can be used as focal point specimens or massed in banks. All make excellent cut flowers or container plants. Sun to part shade, average drainage (at least), little summer watering when established. They do well in pots and are pretty forgiving. I can't figure out what their flower initiation signal is, they seem to be continuously in bloom. They may initiate at cool (not cold) temperatures and so be everblooming along the coast. They will survive 20°F by resprouting from below. The hybrid varieties we offer are more disease resistant and vigorous than the species. Famous local landscape designer Dave Leroy opines that the dwarf forms are best used in situations where snail/slug loads are minimal else they will eat through the base of the emerging stems until they fall over. The tall forms grow fast enough and harden quickly enough that this is usually not a problem, but the dwarf forms he prefers require siting in either drier or more inland situations or conscientious baiting. Most of the following varieties are hardy to Sunset zone 8, USDA zone 9. Haemodoraceae. Australia

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A few days left.

If you are interested in attending The Late Show Gardens held at Cornerstone Festival of Gardens in Sonoma California ,**** you have only a couple days left to get discount tickets.
The cost of the ticket will be $ 20.oo after August 1, 2009.
If you purchase your ticket before Aug. 1, you’ll save $ 5.00.
From garden tours.

I have high hopes for the show.
The line up of designers and speakers sounds sensational !

I’m particularly hot under the collar to hear Jeffrey Bale speak. ****
I’ve heard him speak before at the Strybing Arboretum and he is awe inspiring, not to mention that he is a Hottie !
I wish he was one of the designers doing an installation garden. His work is AMAZING
From garden tours.

I’m also looking forward to hearing what photographer Marion Brenner has to say as well as garden designers Glenn Whitey and Charles Price ( I was fortunate to travel with these three fun people to Bali a couple of years ago )

As far as designers go, well, they all are intriguing and exceptionally talented.
I saw the preliminary design concept that Suzanne Biaggi has come up with and its very thought provoking and aesthetically WOW. ******
From garden tours.

I’m terribly disappointed that Cevan Forristt will not be at the show. His name is published on the brochure but I hear that he has other commitment's and will not be showing.
Boooo Hoooo. - he’s one of my favorite Bay Area Designers ******
From garden tours.

Hope that you can join in with the fun !

September 18 - 20 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009


When clients ask me to bring them to my wholesale nursery resources I respectfully decline and instead offer to meet them at a well stocked nursery.

It’s not because I am protecting some sort of trade secret or trying to hide the wholesale price from my clients.

No, the reason why I decline is because I am looking out for the best interest for my client.
More times than not, the client becomes overwhelmed by the shear volume of a wholesale nursery.

A well stocked garden nursery might cover the square foot area of one or maybe two suburban or city blocks.
It’s easy to walk the entire nursery in less than a half hour , and if you know what you are looking for , it probably only takes a few minutes.

A wholesale nursery is a completely different beast.
The few wholesalers that I do business with cover acres and acres of land.
You don’t walk through the aisles. You drive your truck down them or a motorized cart that the nursery provides.
A single ‘block’ of grasses can take you 10 minutes to walk from one end to another.

If you wanted to cover the entire nursery by foot it could possibly take several hours.

If I was a shrewd business owner who charged my client by the hour I might offer to take my client to a wholesale nursery. It might take us an hour to locate and view the plants on their planting plan list rather than 10 to 15 minutes to view the same plants at a retail nursery.

Grasses at Landscapes Unlimited Wholesale Nursery in Petaluma CA.
From garden tours.

One of many shade houses at Landscapes Unlimited
From garden tours.

Aisles wide enough to drive your truck down for loading plants directly from the blocks.
From garden tours.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Beach side gardens

A couple of beach side garden shots taken today while at the Pacific Ocean.
The fog was hanging off the coast but it was nice along the sandy shore.

Beach grass, planted for erosion control
From garden tours.

Senecio in the foreground with a red tinged Aeonium to the left. Aloe arborescen and Phormium in the background - At the entrance to the Seadrift homeowners office.
From garden tours.

From garden tours.

Phormium and Dodonea in the background
Aeonium ( several varieties ) , Aloes, Senecio in the foreground
From garden tours.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Artistry in Bamboo

While walking the streets in L.A. we came across this fantastic fence sculpted from bamboo.

From garden tours.

It wasn’t until a year later did I discover who the artist was.
His name is Stephen Glassman and he will be one of the guest designers at the upcoming Late Show Gardens in Sonoma , Sept. 18-20, 2009.

In the back yard of this same garden was a wonderful water sculpture made of chunky blue glass.
I regret that I never found out who the artist was. I love this piece and was inspired by its beauty when I sculpted the mosaic glass water wall that was shown at the S.F. Garden Show in ‘08.
From garden tours.

During this same trip I came across a bamboo whose coloration was so spectacular that I just had to have it growing in my own garden.
Bambusa vulgaris ‘Vittata’.
I have to give it added extra care during our chilly winter nights, as it is only hardy down to the mid 20’s. It is sooooo worth the added effort !

From garden tours.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Re-visiting L.A.

While re-organizing my photography stock this past weekend I came across a CD of photos that I took while in L.A. a couple years ago.

I took a trip with the Hortisexuals, a group of passionate gardeners who love cutting edge and unconventional gardens, to spend a few days garden gawking.

We visited a condo complex.
Yes, you read correctly. A condo complex. But this is no ordinary building and the owner, Boyd Willat , is not your ordinary developer. This complex has a name : Seven Fountains.

To get a full range taste of this remarkably well designed living community , you can visit the website for the condo complex :

Below is just one of many fountains found on the property that tickled me.
From Water fountains in the landscape

Look in the lower right hand corner of the building and you can see the niche where this lively fountain entertains people as they come and go within the inner courtyard.
From Water fountains in the landscape

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Green Gulch Farms Zen Center

On Saturday I drove out to Stinson Beach for a new garden design project.
The early morning was shrouded in a light lingering coastal fog and the air was warm.
After leaving Stinson Beach I drove south down hiway 1 towards Muir Beach, at the top of the ridge I took a hard right hand turn and slowly maneuvered down an old familiar narrow winding road to Green Gulch Farm Zen Center.

I started attending the Zen Center for practice in the late 80’s.
It has always been a place of deep contemplation, refuge and solitude for me.

Today I wandered through the inner gardens to see what was fruiting and blooming.

The photo below shows one of the entry arbors into the circular shaped sitting garden.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

A comfortable bench overlooks the circular shaped flower garden.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

Upon leaving the large circular flower garden lies the cutting garden and espalier fruit tree garden.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

Down the main wide dirt path is the entry to the garden nursery and head house*
- * ‘head house’ is a common term used by horticulturists to denote their work shed.
This work shed / head house is constructed out of adobe. The roof is planted with native grasses.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

The entry doorway
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

A work table can be found inside as well as some cubby niches for the gardeners personal belongings and nursery necessities.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

There is also a special niche located directly under a skylight.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

Outside in the nursery are lots of tables with plants for sale.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

Just beyond the nusery is a dense green hedge of timber bamboo. If you find the opening in this bamboo thicket you’ll find yourself in a completely different feeling garden room. It is intimately small , just the right size for a few people to share a moment of meditation with.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

On the way out I stopped by the tea house for a look into the garden.
From New Album 7/18/09 6:21 PM

It was a lovely quiet day in the Green Gulch Farm Zen Center garden.

If you would like to visit this garden yourself you can find information about visiting hours at the zen center’s website :

Friday, July 17, 2009

A new garden settles in.

Stopped by a garden that we just finished up a month ago.

I was a little apprehensive about the condition of the new planting.
As soon as the new planting was installed we had a two week long scorching heat wave.
A few plants got toasted but pretty much all has faired well.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Railings were the final touch required before the permit could be signed off.
From Water fountains in the landscape

The switch for the water fountain is located inside the house.
There is an over ride switch outside, but if the inside switch is not turned on , the outside switch doesn’t work.
So I couldn’t turn on the water feature.
Maybe next time when I stop by.

From Water fountains in the landscape

Scintillating Silvery Foliage

I’m simply crazy for this luscious icy blue palm, Brahea armata.
In this garden designed by Berkeley Cal. landscape architect David Feix, it is surrounded by some outrageously beautiful deep dark purple bromeliads and a nesting of dinner plate size aeoniums.

From david's garden photos

The surrounding tapestry of plants is rich in texture, color and tropical ambiance.

From david's garden photos

David has a unique way of turning the common back yard into a fantastic subtropical retreat sanctuary..

Fire up the hot tub, I’m ready.

Monday, July 13, 2009

How much is too much ?

I just got home from meeting a new potential client and I am contemplating my follow up letter.

The meeting went nicely and the clients appear to be greatly committed to creating a fun loving landscape for their growing family.

While in discussion, the clients generously informed me that they would be interviewing three other design candidates for their project.
This is nothing new to me, I occasionally find myself in competition for a project with other highly regarded designers, but in this current economy, with its lack of work for so many in so many different fields I was wondering if I should beef up my resume and list all my publications and other accolades ? ( which currently I do not do )

Normally after a meeting I write a follow up letter that is client specific. I address specific topics that we discussed in our initial meeting and provide several references that the potential client would be familiar with either from their social net working center or from their business associates. There is usually some 6 degrees of separation that I can link both the client and myself to .

But the rest of the stuff ?
The publications in books, magazines, and video media ? Awards ? Association Affiliations ? Philanthropic and or Pro Bono work within the community ?

How much is too much ?

Currently I don't list that stuff.
I like a nice clean stream lined looking and reading letter. Not too many words, just to the point usable information.
That is why in the past I haven't muddied it up with lots of ( un-needy ?? ) information.

If you're in the biz, do you include all your recent publications and accolades ?

Photo below : That's me and Rebecca Cole. Rebecca won the 2009 Best of Show Golden Gate Cup award from the San Francisco Garden Show.
I won the same award in 2008 . We were having some fun fighting over the trophy. .... "No , No, It's Mine ! ".

From San Francisco Garden Show 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

A fun filled day S.F. Botanical Garden

Yesterday I had a fun filled day in the beautiful city of San Francisco.
The S.F. Botanical garden was having a plant sale and I was eager to fill a few empty holes in my garden.
I was fortunate to find the exact two salvia plants that I was looking for, Salvia confertiflora and salvia madrensis. I also scooped up an unusual looking aeonium and a fushia paniculata.

After the sale I wandered through the botanical garden.
I was interested in seeing the site of a new garden area that the arboretum is soliciting design contributions for.

Below is a photo of the site:
From s.f. botanical garden

It is rather small in size compared to the rest of the surrounding garden areas.
It borders the Australian , Chilean and New Zealand garden area.

As I left this small circle of land I came across a beautiful large orange Passiflora.
It was growing in and across the canopy of an adjacent tree, almost devouring it.

From s.f. botanical garden

From s.f. botanical garden

I always like to visit this particular area of the garden. It was designed by Bernard Trainor and sculpted by LIMO artisans.
From s.f. botanical garden

From s.f. botanical garden

Leaving the Australian area I walked through the Cloud Forest, The Succulent Gardens
and the Callfornia Native garden areas.
From s.f. botanical garden

From s.f. botanical garden

From s.f. botanical garden

Eventually I looped around to the Helen Crocker Horticultural Library, one of my favorite places in the city.
They were having a great botanical illustration show in their gallery. I highly recommend viewing it if you are fortunate enough to be in the city.
Just outside the library is a lovely hand crafted stone courtyard design and installed by stone mason Edwin Hamilton.
I love Edwin’s work and have been fortunate to work with him on a project for one of my clients.
For this courtyard he used old stone remnants from a demolished building.
I do not recall the exact history , but this stone has a 6 degrees of separation history from William Randolf Hearst. Either he imported this stone from Europe for one of his buildings or has this stone carved for one of his buildings.
Guess I need to visit the library to read up on its history.

From s.f. botanical garden

From s.f. botanical garden

From s.f. botanical garden

After visiting the arboretum I swung over to visit Flora Grubbs Nursery.
I fell in love with several wonderful plants and bright orange glazed containers but they weren’t in my budget . Sigh.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rustic Elegance by Alida Blair landscape designer

When Alida Blair invited me up to view her newest landscape installation in Napa Valley I jumped at the chance.
I have long admired the design work of Alida and welcomed the opportunity to see one of her projects in person.
The project is located deep in the heart of California’s wine county, the Napa Valley.
Most people are familiar with the low land of Napa, with it’s sprawling majestic open acres of vineyards , wineries and quaint little towns offering wonderful restaurants and upscale boutiques.
But there is more to Napa Valley than just the low lying vineyards. There are the surrounding undulating hills studded with native oak trees, manzanita and fir trees.
This is where many of the wine makers and locals live.

Below is a glimpse into how one family lives their lives out of doors in rustic elegance in the Napa Valley.

A stone terrace and overhead shade structure adjacent to the back of the home.

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

Californian natives such as Centranthus rubra commingle with other low water use perennials and shrubs
From Alida Blair Landscape Design

Located directly off of the stone terrace is the outdoor kitchen, complete with pizza oven.
From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

Note the beautiful blending of rustic and finely crafted finishes such as the wood bar with it’s natural bark attached to the edging and the tree stump legs.
From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From the outdoor culinary area a dry lay Arizona flat stone path undulates down to the swimming pool, passing the hammock hung between two manzanita trees and the fire ring.
From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

I really liked the variety of herbs and low growing creepers growing in the dry laid patio beyond the fire ring

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

A photo of the designer, Alida Blair walking down the path towards the pool
From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

From Alida Blair Landscape Design

I will be posting more photos of this soulfull garden in the coming weeks.
Stay tune to see the infinity edge swimming pool as well as some other wonderful details.