This past weekend I went to the Garden Conservancy Open Days in Marin, a nice little tour with three gardens quite close to each other in Kentfield. Two of the gardens are collaborations of some sort between Tim O’Shea of Greenworks and Davis Dalbok of Living Green, whose work I’d seen in Garden Design magazine. The first one was the most photogenic with an impressive entryway and dramatic plantings with olive trees, Japanese maples, lavender, lots of succulents, and a very cool hedge of Arbutus Marina planted close together in a double row.
Several agaves are planted in the lawns. I wouldn’t want to have to edge around them or deal with pups coming up in the lawn, but the effect was striking.
The opposite view from the entryway.
The back has a great view of Mt. Tam. I would eat all of my meals there.
Plantings by the pool included two tree aloes, Aloe barberae, which I haven’t seen very often in the Bay Area. I feel like some tours have a lot of the same plants, so it was nice to see some unfamiliar plants in this garden and the last one.
The second garden is on a steep difficult site with beautiful oak trees. The big design moves are the cor-ten moon gate and cor-ten walls with a reverse batter.
Smokebush in all its glory.
The third garden is the home garden of the owner of Geraniacea.com, a nursery devoted to geraniums. I’d met her at the flower and garden show, but had never looked at her website, which turns out to be a good resource. The garden has a large backyard space full of more geraniums than I think I’ve ever seen at one time. The rest of the property is planted with a lot of classic garden plants — roses, clematis, dogwoods — plus a lot of variegated plants and other interesting shade plants. It’s the kind of garden that rewards exploration, with foliage-lined paths traversing the slopes, and I put the camera away to just wander around enjoying the plants.
A quick bloom day post. A lot of the plants blooming are the same ones that we’ve had the last few years. I took almost this same photo of Allium unifolium two years ago, the difference is that our new neighbor took off the gray vinyl siding next door, revealing the red wooden siding underneath. The Clarkia is starting up around the alliums. I scattered a wildflower mix, but the clarkia is the only one that seems to have taken. It’s not my favorite of the clarkias, but that’s okay. The Bearded Iris have barely bloomed this year, I’m not sure why. Meadowfoam went to full bloom and finished since the last bloom day.
The Wisteria shower also came and went since the last bloom day. This was the best year yet for the wisteria, with some of the bloom stalks five feet long and a thick carpet of fallen flowers now that its done. The Spicebush starts blooming around the time the wisteria stops. Lately we have to prune it a couple of times a year to keep it off us in the shower.
Along with the Spicebush, a few other plants are starting up. The first Bread Poppy opened today, the first Leopard Lily yesterday. The Leopard Lily in the vegetable garden, with lots of compost and regular water, is 6 feet tall and will have over fifty blooms open in a couple of days. It’s one of my favorite flowers all year.
Check out MayDreamsGardens for lots more bloom day posts. My thanks to Carol for hosting.
The third garden I checked out was the garden on Old Adobe Rd. It’s an impressive garden with a large wildflower meadow and flagstone labyrinth, an extensive recirculating creek and pond system, and extensive stone work. It’s one of the most extensive private native gardens I’ve seen, up there in the same class as the Fleming garden. It manages to convey the feeling of a house set in a native meadow, rather than a garden with a meadow in it. Town Mouse said it was featured in the recent issue of Sunset.
Like with Town Mouse’s garden, the mid-day lighting was pretty harsh. A few more photos are below. Read the rest of this entry »
I went to two other gardens on the tour. At Town Mouse’s recommendation, I went to see the Greywater Wetland Garden, a new house and garden built with a lot of green features, inlcuding stormwater catchment and a greywater system. The owner, Catherine Mohr, has a TED talk that got a quarter of a million views and she kept a blog during construction which includes a plant list and photos of the greywater system. Everything in the garden was young, but I liked the design, by Green Pad Design, and the greywater system was interesting to see.
More photos are below. Read the rest of this entry »
Last weekend I drove down to the peninsula for the Going Native Garden Tour, which of course meant a visit to Town Mouse’s lovely garden, one of the staple gardens of the tour. It wasn’t really photography weather and I probably didn’t photograph anything that Town Mouse hasn’t already shown many times on her legendary team blog, but it’s always nice to have my own photos of things. And I’m not complaining about the weather; it was a beautiful day, perfect for seeing and enjoying the gardens. While I was there I met her esteemed co-blogger Country Mouse and also Helen Popper, author of California Native Gardening: A Month-by-Month Guide, which Town Mouse reviewed when it came out, and I also bought some Lewisias from Gold Rush Nursery who was there selling plants. It’s a very pleasant garden to hang out in, and I stayed for a while.
Among other reasons to see the garden, I wanted to take a photo of this little patio I made a few years ago. The only photos I had were from the stoneyard where we mocked it up and from the end of the day with the wet DG still covering the joints. Town Mouse wrote a series of posts about it, parts 1, 2, and 3. It makes a sweet little sitting spot.
The garden also has a section of urbanite, more recent than the patio, that I wanted to check out. Anita and I are often trying to convince people that recycled concrete with saw-cut edges can look as good as many other kinds of paving, and this is a great example of that; we already sent this photo along to a friend who is demoing an area of concrete. The recycled glass for the joints is a nice touch.
The backyard has a sunny section and a shady area beneath a redwood tree. I liked how the California fescues were catching the sunlight. I’m down to only a couple of them in my own garden, but I started thinking I should get a few more.
The focus of the garden is of course the natives, but there are some nice non-native plants too. I’ve never planted hellebore and dicentra together, but it makes perfect sense, winter bloomer with winter-deciduous/spring bloomer.
And back to the natives in the front yard. There was lots more to see, but it was really sunny and bright. I went to two other gardens on the tour that I’m putting in a separate post. I was glad I drove down, and appreciative that Town Mouse and the others put their gardens on the tour.
April is landscape architecture awareness month and landscape architects everywhere are raising awareness, Anita included. She’s leading a bicycle tour of several landscape architecture projects in San Francisco on Sunday. Last year she was sick and I ended up leading the tour. I was a bit leery, but it turned out to be pretty fun and I recommend it to anyone who wants to bicycle around San Francisco for a few hours. We went to several projects, with the highlight at Levi’s Plaza, Lawrence Halprin’s masterpiece. My favorite ‘built’ landscape in the Bay Area, it blows me away every time I see it, and it was interesting to see a group of people experience it for the first time. Everyone got all smiley. After the tour, I went back a few times to take photos and do some watercolors. I love that big fountain.
Anita put up a post about the bike tour on the ASLA-NCC blog. Looks like Halprin’s work was again the highlight, with Levi’s Plaza of course, but also the much maligned fountain at Justin Hermann Plaza. When I led the tour the previous year, everyone agreed that the fountain was pretty ugly to look at. But after we went into the fountain and experienced the water, we all had a completely different opinion, unanimously agreeing that the experience was fantastic.