Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tiny Monsters

It's the little things in the garden sometimes that excite me.  Little things, like the seed pods from Baby Blue Eyes, or Nemophila menziesii Hungry Hungry Hippoeing their seeds off into the world.  It's hard to tell if they're spitting something out or getting ready to take a big bite.  Flashy Spring flowers abound (and I do have plans to highlight my favorites here), but today it's the humble, brown seed pod that captures my fancy.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Happy Reunion with Home

Since last I was here, I have since:
-become Mrs. Martin
-explored the rainforests and sampled the warm sands of Belize

After the whirlwind the of the last few months, I'm rediscovering the miracle of home, the joy of domesticity.  The paradox of meditative calm and excited anticipation in the act of replacing the Winter vegetables with the small, green stems that promise the bounty of Summer.

The nonchalant experimentation of pickling Radish seed pods, worrying over the recipe and flicking through the pages of my pickling book.

Sending myself out into the garden on a quest to capture the last of the Miner's Lettuce seeds to send to a friend in need of a happy surprise.  Tipping the succulent upturned umbrella leaves as the glossy black specks reluctantly toddle into the waiting envelope.  Letting out an exclamation of joy upon discovering new little caches of seeds hidden among the sticky mint leaves.

Feeling as if I should be more excited than hurt by the fact that the front garden did splendidly in my absence, bursting Calochortus, Brodiaea and Carpenteria flowers skyward with exuberant force.

Never have I been so happy to be home, to launch into the myriad projects bouncing in the confines of my head, to relax and wander and enjoy.  To wonder why the New Year doesn't begin in Spring.  I'm home.

Friday, March 25, 2011

SF Garden Show: Tiny Insights

I've got a head-ful of thoughts and impressions of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show, but let's be honest:  the children's miniature gardens were probably my favorite.  That's not to say the professional gardens weren't spectacular, but how can anyone compete with the power of the googley eye?!  Leave it to a bunch of third graders, I guess.

The eyebrows are a particularly nice touch.  I think a few of my clients will soon realize that their plants are watching them in the very near future...

Here's a Frida Kahlo inspired garden.  I love the colors and the inclusion of the shiny little objects to arouse that blackbird syndrome side of me.  The composition is lovely, too;  how the layout leaves mystery and invites exploration.  And is that a flowery ball pit?!  How fun that would be to jump in!

An Alice and Wonderland garden- what an interesting garden idea with a series of large yet narrow panels to navigate through.  Sort of like a maze without an end goal.  It would create a space for contemplation and moments of special little discoveries.

I loved this portion of the children's area, but I must say that right across from these sat the most depressing part of the whole show:  Handfuls of Monarch butterflies fluttering helplessly in enclosures with nothing but hybridized pansies and petunias (which aren't native food sources for this type of butterfly).  I realize that there's only so much we can expect children to learn and absorb, but I'd love to see educational exhibits push past the typical caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly stories.  Hmm, sounds like I'm volunteering myself for something.

I was so delighted to stumble upon the miniature gardens, but many more garden show photos and thoughts await you, dear reader!  Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ribes: For Those Impatient for Spring

While time ticks by slowly for most garden plants through the remaining months of Winter, California natives have emerged ready for Spring.  Ribes sanguineum, Pink Currant, I'll admit looks rather lackluster at the end of Summer.  Leaves turn rust-colored and sparse.  But come February the garden becomes a fairyland of hanging pink ornaments.  Delicate little earring droplets drip off the edges of branches while hummingbirds rush to visit each one.  Instant enchantment!

Violets and Douglas Iris sit at the Queen's feet, adding splashes of lavender to the scene.  I'll be honest and admit that I can't remember what variety this is.  I'll venture a guess at 'Claremont.' 

This lighter variety grows happily in a large container planted just over the Summer.  I love how lady-like this one is with her pink gloves on for tea!

Ribes speciosum, Fuchsia Flowering Gooseberry, has been going strong since January.  The outgoing, wild sister of sanguineum, this spined, arching shrub shoves out seemingly millions of these racy red drops.  The Summer months find these flowers transformed into fuzzy orange balls, slightly transparent and filled with black seeds.  To call them berries does not do them justice- more like special gifts from space aliens.  I can attest, however that they are sweet and quite tasty, although the seed to fruit ratio is about equal.  The perfect plant for a low-traffic part-sun area of the garden in need of color.  I imagine its brambles could deter roving bands of cats from entering through that hole in the fence you've been meaning to repair.  Or if I've totally lost you there, plant one for hummingbirds who have been known to nest in these.  It's a win-win!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Light Up the Night

If you manage the temerity to dash outside this evening, I would highly recommend plugging in a set of non-LED Christmas lights to tuck around the tender plants.  Not only will it protect them from our incoming snow (?!?), but it will also be a nice sparkly alternative to that old Strawberry Shortcake comforter.  Perhaps a quick check to remove dry, flammable material would be a good idea, too.  I can't imagine anything out there still being dry, but what's a suggestion without a disclaimer?  Bundle up and enjoy paging through all the plant catalogs coming through the mail!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Things to Love

Since today is about love, I can't end the day without sharing some photos I'm obsessed with at the moment.  Plant fans, please don't despair- I've been installing a few things to show you, but the rain and sun will have to take its course before things get photogenic!

Armed with the knowledge Saturday that we should enjoy our early Springtime before the clouds rained on our parade, we journeyed to Pt. Pinole, a park on the site of an old dynamite factory (!).  We discovered a large, peaceful park with a long shoreline strewn with clam shells.  It was as if we were following a trail of confetti thrown in aforementioned parade.  Instinct had overtaken me and soon enough I was rooting around in the sand, finding "treasures" and trying to find where I had left my shoes. 

It seemed like a miracle to me that the small shell in the center had survived the waves and sand.  It reminded me of a baby's fingernail.

I love, love, love this photo!  It's got lichen, number one.  Who doesn't like lichen?!  It also reminds me of a lazy day spent tromping through Oak and Bay woodland, looking for mushrooms and other finds.

I love it when nature designs something so outrageous.  I'm sure these disks serve a perfect function in the life cycle of this, it's just an added bonus that aesthetics are included!

This one reminds me of aerial photographs of rivers.  So delicate!  Perhaps I like it so much because it seems that lichen is nature's lace.  Sigh...  I love lace.  What are you loving right now?

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Twiggy Trellis

Introducing my latest twig trellis!  I love this design because it allows me to practice my joinery, but since there are only four joints I can accomplish this much faster than a more complicated pattern.  It also allows me to recycle long plum branches from my neighbor's tree, pruned last Summer (thanks, Janet!)

I picture this being more of a room divider than a privacy screen trellis, with the option of leaving it as is or allowing a vine to traipse across its branches.  Perhaps since they're blooming now, I think a Dutchman's Pipevine (Aristolochia californica) would be pretty cool! 


Obviously, the twine and sticks will deteriorate before the redwood does.  However impractical that might be, I like the idea of being able to make a canvas which can hold a number of different looks over time. Many products are built for life in the name of sustainability- which is always good practice, but it's also important to remember the fickle tastes of the consumer!  I for one enjoy a change of scenery and am excited to create something that supports it without adding to the waste stream.