Two Years!

WordPress just sent me a little note that my blog has just had its two-year anniversary!  Kind of crazy how fast time goes by. Here is a little retrospective.

I had just moved out of my apartment in Santa Monica where I had gardened on a small balcony with a view of the Pacific ocean.

Santa Monica had some really nice gardens but I got bored there and foolishly moved to West Hollywood.

I ended up hating West Hollywood and my balcony there sucked for gardening so I blogged quite a bit about my mesemb seedlings.

I also reminisced about my Clematis collection in my old garden…

And various trips to England…

Where I saw the queen…

and visited Clivedon and many other historic gardens.

I started designing gardens for my friends at Gardens by Gabriel.

And took road trips to Annie’s Annuals where I had to get creative to fit as many plants as I could into my VW Golf!

I went on a trip to Hawaii…

and fell in love with Leucospermum reflexum.

I moved to the Central Coast of California…

and was inspired by the South African Garden at Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria.

I thought about the things I enjoyed about southern California like the California Poppy Preserve…

and Coreopsis gigantea growing in Malibu.

But I was happy to be living in the Central Coast where I designed some new gardens…

Including my own!

Which has come a long way in a year!

Despite some recent drama!

And in case you were wondering Geranium maderense did just fine during the wind storm last night.

So thanks for coming along on my horticultural journey the past two years. Hopefully the next two years will be full of even more beautiful gardens.

Other things I liked about SoCal

The hummingbird garden on my balcony.The street art across from my old apartment in Santa Monica.Los Angeles Arboretum.Peacock at Los Angeles Arboretum.Mountain view from my old apartment in Santa Monica.Blooming nectarine at South Coast Botanical Garden.
Orange Leucospermum hedge blooming in Sunset Park, Santa Monica.Antelop Valley Poppy Reserve in April.Antelop Valley Poppy Reserve in April.Bounty from the Santa Monica Farmers Market.The Drosanthemum floribundum carpeting this sloped front yard near my old apartment in Santa Monica.The Santa Monica Community Garden on Main Street.
My favorite was the sweet pea guy.Kite Surfers in Malibu!View of the ocean from my old apartment in Santa Monica.Dioscorea elephantipes at California Cactus Center in Pasadena.Charmlee County Regional Park in MalibuView of Malibu and the Pacific from Charmlee County Regional Park.
Amazing arrest I saw.The gardens at the Getty in Brentwood.The view of Los Angeles from the top of Runyon Canyon Park.Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills.Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Garden in Claremont.Coreopsis gigantea blooming on the cliffs of north Malibu.

Things I liked about SoCal, a set on Flickr.

Here are a few more pictures that didn’t make the cut but were still pretty cool. Click the thumbnails to see a description.

Will you ever move back to Southern California?

I’ve been asked that a few times during the moving process and the answer is NO!  Not any time in the foreseeable future.  I didn’t really mean to move there in the first place.  And certainly not for four years.  When I first moved there I was going through a period of debilitating depression, social anxiety, and at times paralyzing agoraphobia.  I didn’t want to move back east and we have family and family friends in the Los Angeles area so it seemed like a good place to recover.  I just didn’t expect the recovery to take as long as it did and it did but with the help of a great therapist and a lot of online support I got better.  The only problem was I was living in a place I don’t particularly care for.

But there were some things I did love about my time there so I thought I would share them before I put that part of my life to rest and start making better memories. So here are a few of them.

For a while I didn't want to have anything to do with plants but the Los Angeles Arboretum was one of the place I went for some cognitive therapy to find my love for them again. Hopefully the cool Nuxia floribunda in the center of this photo survived the recent wind storm that destroyed or damaged many of the trees there.

The California Poppy Preserve at Antelope Valley is inane. Totally insane. Even if you are some sort of orange hating weirdo there are plenty of other wild flowers blooming there. But the orange sheets of flowers as far as the eyes can see were unreal.

Charmlee County Regional Park in Malibu is like a big secret native plant garden. I went with a friend and I think we saw one or two other people the entire time. Anyone who has lived in Los Angeles knows that makes it a pretty special place.

Runyon Canyon Park is the other extreme. You will see hundreds of people (including a few celebrities). But the views of Los Angeles on a clear winter day are breathtaking.

Every year I would drive up to Malibu in March to see the Coreopsis gigantea in bloom. Definitely one of the more unusual California natives but for some reason I never expected that there would be hills covered with hundreds of them. A drive up Route One in March from Santa Monica to Oxnard is well worth the trip.

It wasn't just wildflowers and gardens that I loved. Strangely enough I really enjoyed the building sized billboards along Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood. I lived right off the Sunset Strip so I even had a view of one of them from my kitchen window. Most of them are for the entertainment industry so while I normally hate billboards these seem somehow appropriate even if the scale is a bit silly. My favorite was when there would be two giant billboards for the same exact movie almost side by side.

So no I do not want to live in the Los Angeles area ever again. But rather than think of it as the place that I went when I was sick I would like to remember it as the place I got better.

Garden Conservancy Open Days: Los Angeles

So am I going to be one of those people who tells the truth about the gardens I visit or am I going to just say how lovely everything was?  Probably a little of both.  I appreciate that the Garden Conservancy is for a good cause and tries to showcase different styles of gardens at a convenient distance from each other.  The six gardens I visited today were all in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles or in nearby Santa Monica (the ritzy bit, not the bit I lived in for two years).  Unfortunately I only really enjoyed one of them.  Luckily I was able to do the entire tour in three hours since they were so close to each other and traffic isn’t that bad midday Sunday.

One of my issues with garden tours is I that I actually expect to see a garden. I’m spoiled with the Garden Conservancy of New York and Connecticut where no matter how wealthy the homeowners are they actually care about horticulture and are involved in their gardens even if they have a designer to help them.  This is not surprisingly not the case in Los Angeles.

The first garden I visited was in Brentwood and wasn’t so much a garden as a landscape in miniature.  Six plants in repetition in a space smaller than my apartment does not a garden make.  Not that it was unattractive there just wasn’t much to it.  On top of that I can only share one photo.  There was an interesting metal fire place and fountain in another courtyard but I was asked not to take pictures of it because it wasn’t “published” yet.  Whatever.  I had a good eye roll at this request and left.

click photos to enlarge

The yellow square is a recirculating fountain. Actually maybe I wasn't supposed to take pictures of this either but since no one said anything specifically I'm posting it anyway.

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Are You Kidding Me?!?!

That is what you can hear me exclaim this time of year while driving in the greater Los Angeles area.  For one it drives me crazy that to drive to a store 3 miles away I am often stuck in traffic for over an hour.  But in May and June I can almost forgive my geographical location because the Jacaranda mimosifolia are in bloom all over the city.  And “Are you kidding me?!” is something I exclaim when I see them in full bloom as well.

With big dream like clouds of lavender flowers they look like a drawing of a tree that a child would do if they used the purple range of crayons for the leaves instead of the usual greens.  They are almost too good to be true.  As street trees they are also a pain in the ass to photograph if you don’t want to cause a traffic jam and get killed so to get these pictures I had to walk over to the Beverly Center where this stand of large trees was growing in the shade of new construction at Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Unreal right? I am not really sure what conditions they like because some of them look sort of pitiful but these two are in a miserable high traffic spot on a little island surrounded by pavement and are magnificent.

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Venice Garden & Home Tour

On Saturday I went to the Venice Garden & Home Tour.  It is something I have been meaning to do for a while now and neve got around to.  Advance tickets are kind of pricey at $60 each but proceeds go to the Las Doradas Children’s Center so at least it is for a good cause.  And you get to see 31 homes and gardens so it is a pretty good deal.

Sadly I am having an issue with my digital camera settings so the exposure on some of my photos was a bit off.  But I do have a few cool things to share.

Venice itself is a very artistic and fairly wealthy neighborhood.  In the neighborhood where the garden tour was located each street has a parallel pedestrian alley which makes you feel like you are in a little village.  Some of my favorite gardens were not on the tour at all but were simply neighboring houses.

click images to enlarge

The street that I parked on was less affluent but many of the houses had very nice little gardens. I parked in front of this run down old house with a beautiful Rosa banksiae 'Lutea' growing against the front porch.

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Farmers Market Sunday

I go to the Hollywood farmers market on Ivar Avenue every Sunday morning. Aside from great produce I almost always see someone famous shopping there.

Hollywood Farmers Market

No famous people today but that’s OK. All I really care about is getting my berry fix from the Pudwill Berry Farms stand and Gaviota strawberries from the Harry’s Berries stand. This time of year if you don’t arrive before 9:30 or 10 (the market opens at 8:30) all the Gaviota strawberries will be gone already.

Berries!