Plants and Stone for California Gardens


Eichler Party

A couple of weekends back, we went to a party in one of the gardens we installed this spring. I realized that this doesn’t happen all that often, that we don’t often get to see people out using and enjoying the spaces that we create, and that we don’t often hang out in and enjoy those spaces ourselves, so it was really nice to be in one of our gardens in something other than a professional context.

It was also interesting because the project was at an Eichler house. Eichler was a developer in the 50’s and 60’s who built homes in the California modern style, mostly in the Bay Area. The homes are known for their vision of California indoor/outdoor living, often with floor-to-ceiling glass looking out on the backyards, and it was nice to see that in action. The house and garden really do have a seamless transition.

Allium unifolium in the no-mow blend this past spring

The plantings are still young, so the No-Mow fescue meadow is the most interesting horticultural element while everything else grows in. The no-mow blend is one of those things that we’re not always sure that people will like; it’s not manicured enough for some people, and the sod looks like a bad shag carpet when you first unroll it. This one has been a big success, though; everyone at the party seemed to like it and talk about it and to find it much more interesting than a regular lawn. Someone recently wrote into the Chronicle describing the no-mow blend as looking like ‘bear fur or yak fur or something, really beautiful.’ I wouldn’t have expected yak fur to be used as a compliment, but I guess I can see their point. I just think it looks more appropriate for California than mowed bluegrass. I have tended to think of the no-mow blend as a form of lawn, but this summer it sent up golden seedheads that glowed in the sun like a proper meadow.

We’re planning to add bulbs to it this fall and see what we can get to naturalize. It was too late in the year to do much this past spring, but we did put in a few starts of Allium unifolium and two kinds of Rain Lily, Zephyranthes candida and flavissima. Neither of them were in sufficient quantities to make a big show, but the rain lilies have taken and we’ll see if the alliums come back this fall. (update 10/20 — I just did the bulb planting and the alliums did indeed survive through the summer. A. unifolium really is the most moisture tolerant of the alliums in my experience.) We’re doing our bulb order soon, and if all goes according to plan I’ll have some photos with a bunch of flowers in the meadow next spring.

5 Responses to “Eichler Party”

  1. September 10th, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Town Mouse says:

    Wow, what a house! What a garden! Glad you go to enjoy it.
    (Come over for a cup of tea on the mini-patio you built for me any time. Regrettably, we don’t have parties there ;->)

  2. September 10th, 2010 at 8:30 am

    ryan says:

    I would definitely enjoy a cup of tea. I still have a lemon lily to deliver at some point too.

  3. September 10th, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Megan says:

    I’m loving the yak fur fescue! Hope to see more and more of this. Great before and after.

  4. September 12th, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    ryan says:

    Somehow I doubt they’ll start marketing it as the yak fur fescue, but I agree it would be great to see it become more common. Besides the environmental advantages, it would be great to see the yak fur aesthetics catch on with more people.

  5. September 13th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    lostlandscape (James) says:

    I second the love for the lumpy fescue. It reminds me of carex “lawns” but looks like it fills in a lot quicker and might be more dependable. The occasional surprises blooming out of it give it a nice meadow vibe.

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