Saturday, November 28, 2009

Getting into the Season of Celebration

Buddha overlooks the falling leaves as they are plucked off of the succulents and are piled around the bases of my more tender subtropicals such as the bananas and heliconias.
I find that this aids in adding a little bit of insulation to the tender subtropical plants especially when a deep long frost is predicted.

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

A wreath made of succulents welcomes guests at the front entry gate.
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

Tomorrow I plan to wrap the two spiral topiary juniper trees with twinkle lights.

Getting into the season of celebration.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Guzmania - Bromeliads

For a splash of color by the front door a trio of Guzmanias
( Bromeliads ) bring it on.
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Pina Colada Garden heading into winter.

Signs that the night time temperatures are dipping in Northern California are evident.
The Agave attenuattas are starting to get that white puckering polka dot look on their leaves and the Aeoniums are starting to put out lots of new lush grow due to our long awaited winter rains.
From Pina Colada

Most of the cannas have long gone dormant and the Alocasia and Colocasia are just starting to whither and shirk back into the ground.
From Pina Colada

The foxtail ferns , Asparagus spengerii are sending up tons of new lush green fronds and the Abutilons , Iochroma and Brugmansias are all still in big bloom.
The Cymbidium orchids are also spiking up nicely.
From Pina Colada

The succulents in pots are holding up well , though some of the spring and summer bloomers really need to be cleaned up.
From Pina Colada

The front yard winter color border is just starting to put on some color with purple Cineraria, blue Brachyscome ‘Toucan Tango’ and orange Osteospermum ‘Orange Symphony’.
From Pina Colada

Sunday, November 22, 2009

What makes a good garden magazine ?

The magazine industry is dropping like maple leaves on a cold autumn day.

So what can a good garden magazine do to keep its dedicated readers and attract a new following ?

Well first and foremost, ‘Content.’ New, exciting, inspiring, innovative, entertaining and educationally informative content produced aesthetically and profoundly presented.

It goes without saying that quality writing is extremely important but lets admit facts, it has everything to do with presentation.

When standing infront of a shelf of garden magazines at your favorite bookstore and you page through a half dozen magazines, it is going to be the magazine with exceptional graphic layout , eye candy photography and inspiring innovative content that piques your interest enough to reach for your wallet and step up to the cash register.

Another boring article on the unique qualities of boxwood is not going to do it, at least for the modestly experienced gardener.

I love Garden Design Magazine because of its diversity in content and excellent graphic presentation.
There is something for everyone at any stage in their gardening hobby or career.
It stays along with and at times ahead of the cutting edge end of garden design.
From Publications

Gardens Illustrated has by far the best garden writers. I look forward to their gardener biography stories that always comes complete with a beautifully rendered portrait photograph.
I am also in love with their horticultural biased crossword puzzle.
And their photography is sublime.
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Fine Gardening Magazine is another magazine that continues to deliver nicely presented and well researched inspiring content.
Sure , there ris some ‘’how to” content but it doesn’t overwhelm the issue and they balance the ‘how to’ content to beginners to the experienced gardener.
From Publications

Alfresco gardening magazine out of New Zealand is for the cutting edge , top of their game gardeners who are excited by new plants and plant design.
The editor is fearless. She take chances and she has a wicked sense of humor.
How many editors of garden magazines would show themselves in a bikini and talk about great gardens to overly enjoy a bottle of wine in ?
Alfresco is fearless and it is fantastic.

From Publications

And it goes without saying, that to keep up with the changing climate of content delivery that a magazine MUST have an online content presence. That presence MUST be just as good as the magazine itself , and by that I mean excellent editorial, excellent graphics, exceptional writing and innovative content. It has to be as good as or in many senses BETTER than the magazine itself. This is how it is going to attract new readership.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Zantedeschia aethiopica

From Blogger Pictures

Yesterday I visited a garden that we constructed and planted last winter.
My client/ friend asked me over to survey the recent damage that the deer and gophers had done.
I had designed the garden knowing that there were hordes of deer browsing the area but did not make any contingencies for an emerging gopher population.

The gophers were in full assault position. We could see tunnels and mounds everywhere and an entire border of campanula muralis was wiped out.

One bed had not been assaulted.
As I surveyed the unviolated plants I was reminded of my early gardening years up on the Mendocino coast where the gophers and deer population out numbered the local human being population.

It was in Mendocino that I began to hone my deer and gopher plant tolerant list.

At the top of my list were calla lilies : Zantedeschia aethiopica. These herbaceous tuberous plants grew in huge swaths along the coast right along side of the deer and the gophers.
They are my go to plant when there is a large population of deer and gophers.
Calla lilies grow to enormous sizes here in Northern California.
I’ve had regular old unnamed naturalised Zantedeschia plants that reached the height of 5 feet tall.
I adore the large tropicalesque looking foliage and the beautiful white chalice shaped flowers are simply stunning.
These plants also respond extremely well to bog conditions and heavy clay soil.
They can also take our dry Mediterranean summers, though they tend to go dormant but spring back to life with the first sign of the winter rains.
If you’re looking for a good deer and gopher proof plant, This is an excellent choice for a temperate climate garden.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

No is the answer.

Should I stay or should I go ?

Cue up the music.

The question refers to the upcoming San Francisco Garden Show, which by the way is not in San Francisco but in San Mateo.

The answer, after much rumination and research says , “no”.

No, I do not think that doing a small pocket garden vignette/ exhibition garden would be a smart investment in this current economy for my small design firm.

Of course this is a gamble, a calculated gamble, but a gamble no less.

The basic premise is that as a designer of a show garden, be it large or small, there is a significant outlaying of time and funds.

In my mind and pocketbook, this equates to a meaningful inve$tment .

The biggest market impact in deciding against doing the show is the timing. And as they say, timing is everything.

The economy is slightly gaining in pace, but from my extensive conversations with design professionals the residential landscape design and construction market is down, way down, and it is not going to bounce back to the days of yesteryear any time soon.

So when you take this info into consideration , along with the amount of time and money that is required to install a exhibition garden , the payback is highly likely to be small in comparison to the investment.

Other mitigating factors that come into play for my specific firm is that The Show is now held in San Mateo and not San Francisco. - (In my opinion a mistake by the producers )
My office is located north of the Golden Gate bridge and my client base is located in Marin, Sonoma, Napa Valley and The Sea Ranch . On occasion I have traveled to Carmel but those jobs were just shy of a million dollars plus or minus. I don’t see much new residential landscape design and installation work in the million dollar range in the next year, people are playing it very conservative and cautious.

Realistically, to do a high quality, exceptional calibre exhibition garden, even in a small space ( 10 x 10 ) the investment is going to be around $ 1000 to $ 3000.00 dollars or more.
The gambling question is , can you make that investment back plus a profit within a year or two , in this current economy ?

I don’t think so. In another economic climate I would say a resounding yes, but I’m not feeling confident about the next year.

Our business is down about 65 %. The budget for the jobs has dropped significantly.
Gone are the days of our average installation budget of $ 265 to $ 350 K and the occasional million dollar plus landscape install.
We’re seeing budgets in $ 10 K to $ 40 K.

So in closing, I don’t see the investment of doing the S.F./ San Mateo Garden Show a favorable investment for my small North Bay design firm.

Photo from the 2008 show, when it was still located in San Francisco at the Cow Palace.
From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

From San Francisco Garden Show 2008

San Francisco Garden Show 1990 at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco
From Water fountains in the landscape

Monday, November 16, 2009

Do your interiors relate to your exterior ?

I’m in the process of redoing my exterior entry containers.
Previously they were all blue in color. The new design layout uses a mixture of bright colors.

This got me thinking because my interior color scheme is a jumble of bright colors a la Fiesta Ware ceramics and Bauer pottery.
For those not familiar with Fiesta or Bauer pottery they were (and still are, but are under new ownership) ceramic companies that thrived during the depression era by producing dinner ware in vivid colors.

Even my wall colors are intensely colored. The living room is orange, or as the can of Home Depot paint said “ Colorado Sunset ”.
The kitchen color is really interesting. It is called “Lemon Grass” and it can look bright yellow in the early morning summer light or muted green in the autumn low light.

So now there is a relationship between the colorful mix of ceramic planting containers that I have at my front entry gate and the interior of my house.

In my everyday professional business I take into consideration the relationship of the interiors in juxtaposition to the exteriors when designing for other clients, but for myself, it has come a bit slower.
Perhaps it is the case of the shoemaker not having new shoes for himself ?

Do your interiors relate to your exteriors ?

Livingroom below- color is Colorado Sunset
From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

A picture of laziness : The TV set has been broken for over 9 years. The VCR part still works though so I can watch my one and only yoga tape. I like the lay down and close your eyes position the best .
From Pina Colada

Below : The new exterior pottery collection ( some of the pots have been replanted since I took this photo last week)
From Pina Colada

The Kitchen
From Pina Colada

Kitchen table
From Pina Colada

The Magic Box
It has some neat compartments. The lower shelf houses dog food ( though I don’t have a dog anymore but occasionally foster care for one ) and the upper shelves and cubbies have cleaning supplies and other stuff that you need but don’t necessarily want others to see.
From Pina Colada

I have limited cabinet space in my small cottage. This contraption holds my daily dishware.
From Pina Colada

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bloom day in Northern California

My garden, The Pina Colada Garden , is not one that relies heavily on blooming flower color.
It is the big bold textural foliage that plays off of one another that gives my garden its bones.
Regardless of this fact, the garden usually has something in bloom at all times of the year.

Today, November 15, 2009 for Bloom Day there are dozens of chartreuse parrot beak blooms dangling off an 8 foot tall Crotalaria shrub.
From Pina Colada

I have several varieties and colors of the tall and bushy Iochroma tree.
Below is an orange one, I.coccineum . This shrub is about 14 feet tall.
From Pina Colada

The Pina Colada garden has a pretty good collection of Abutilons, with colors ranging from yellow to pink to tri-color orange.
This is my favorite A. Victor Reiter. It is about 10 feet tall and 6 feet wide. It blooms all year round.
From Pina Colada

Anigozanthos blooms at this time of year and will shut down for the winter. It starts blooming again in early spring.
From Pina Colada

What would a California winter be without poppys ?
From Pina Colada

The big rain storm that dumped on us about a month ago has the Lantana shrubs blooming their heads off in gardens across Marin.
From Pina Colada

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Crayola colors

The change is coming slowly but surely.

The clustering of ‘the blue pots’ is being broken up and a variety of bright crayola colors are being introduced onto the ugly grey driveway entrance.

I found a nice ribbed green pot and an oval shaped yellow pot at AW Pottery in Oakland.
I couldn’t stand not having the pots planted up so I popped in some plants that I had hanging around the greenhouse.

This weekend I will work on finding something more ‘planterly appropriate’.

I need to dial this rag tag clustering of pots up for next month when a magazine writer is coming to scout my garden for an possible upcoming article on ‘garden designers who have their own gardens’.

December is not exactly the best time of year to be scouting for projects, but I wasn’t about to say no, especially in this economy. Now is not the time to be picky.
Any publicity has got to be good publicity right about now.

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

From Pina Colada

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Browsing at Flora’s

Many of you have been to Flora Grubbs Nursery in San Francisco, but for those who haven’t and have only seen the nursery in print, here are a few more photos.

On Sunday I visited the nursery to check out the glazed pottery selection.
There were fantastic finds of all kinds.

I didn’t purchase any pots today at Flora’s because I found exactly what I was looking for at AW Pottery Wholesale in Oakland the day before, but that didn’t stop me from browsing Flora’s beautiful nursery.

Inside the covered portion of the nursery hangs a Wooly Pocket Wall
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

A view down one of the corridors
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Another lovely section of the nursery
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

This Bocconia from San Marco’s Growers caught my eye
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Colorful and Comfortable
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

An artful vignette
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Love the ‘ballerina legs’ on these stools.
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

I saw these same pots in Indonesia a few years ago and liked them then too.
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

More colorful seating
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

A textural view down the nursery path
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Giant Potato Creeper Vine Solanum wendlandii - must have one !
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

Chairs and Tables hanging from the side of the building
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

After we left Flora’s Nursery we went to The Building Resource Center to check out some recycled items that we could work into our current and upcoming sculptural projects. I’m contemplating doing a vignette for the 2010 Garden Show.... just contemplating for now.
Barrels of tumbled colored glass, pottery shards and terracotta pots.
From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM

From New Album 11/8/09 6:41 PM