Archive for the ‘private gardens’ Category
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. (more…)
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.
The far backyard was a large meadow grown from seed. In person it was very inviting and I had to suppress the urge to sprawl out and roll in it.
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.
Just in time to stay with the topic of lawn coversions, a friend of ours in Los Angeles sent us photos of a project we helped with. He’s a former roommate of Anita’s from the years when she was in grad school; he is now married and living in Los Angeles, and he recently bought a home with one of those terrible Southern California front yard lawns. He sent us some photos, asking for a planting plan to replace it. He and his wife wanted to keep the existing citrus tree and Brugmansia, they liked lavenders and succulents, and they wanted to do the work themselves. We sent him a drawing with some big caveats about how we had never gardened in Los Angeles so he would need to double check the plant suggestions with the local nurseries.
That was last winter. This week he emailed us photos of the project, now completed. We had argued for taking out the red walkway heading straight to the door. We suggested replacing it with a DG path, figuring it would be easy to install and easy to upgrade to tile or flagstone in the future. They went ahead and installed the upgraded path right away, hiring a contractor for that part of the project and doing the rest of the work themselves. Most of the plants vary from the ones we suggested (probably a good thing), but they follow the basic layout of the drawing.
When we named our lawn-conversion/sheet-mulch class Lawn Begone, we were joking about how sheet-mulching can have a certain magic to it, that it’s the closest thing you get to just pointing a wand at the lawn and casting some kind of goofy Harry Potter spell. This project — before and after photos appearing in our inbox, the not-quite-real quality it has because we never physically saw or visited the site, I never saw any of the work happen — takes the magic even a bit further. I’m about as skeptical of designing over the internet as I am of Harry Potter, but in this case it feels a little like we cast a spell and it worked.
I don’t know about following the master with one of our own gardens, but the same day as I visited the Tommy Church garden, I also took photos at a garden we installed three years ago in Redwood City. The house is on the market, so this was a good opportunity to photograph it.
It was a good opportunity, but it also a farewell to the garden, too. Before I started working in gardens, I really had no idea how often Americans move. The statistics say that 1 in 5 Americans move every year, and it sometimes seems that 1 in 5 of our clients move every year as well. The real estate listing called this an ‘Oh, Wow’ Rear Garden,’ which sounds good, but it also said the paver patio was made of stone, so the real estate agents might not have the most reliable opinions. I was going to link to the listing, but it’s already been taken down; there was a sale pending last I heard, so the house has probably sold already.
The stonework is all veneer, thin pre-made panels made of saw-cut stone. If you look closely you can see the seams. We were going to do dry-stack walls, but when I was walking around with the clients at the stoneyard, it became clear that this was the only look they liked. A bigger carbon footprint, a bit more expensive, and a much slicker look than dry-stack. Some more photos and a plan of the garden are below. (more…)
A couple of weeks ago I got to see a Tommy Church garden in Burlingame. Tommy Church is often called the father of modern landscape architecture, and he’s the one most responsible for the inside/outside California-living concept, the idea of ‘garden rooms,’ and the now-cliched kidney-shaped pool. He did a huge number of residential gardens, but not a lot of them are still intact. I only knew his work from drawings and from photos of the Donnell Garden. His designs tend to have a lot of lawn, hardscape, and juniper, and to be more like what people now call landscaping rather than actual gardens.
This Tommy Church design, however, is an actual garden. It’s also quite close to his original design, perhaps because it’s more formal than most of his other work and there’s something about formal designs that make you afraid to change them; I think you sense that everything has already been thought out and decided and that your role is just to keep it from ever changing. I don’t know the story of the garden or when it was put in or any of those details, but most of the plants and materials clearly date from that era. It’s pretty much the complete opposite of the gardens that Anita and I design, but I found it surprisingly interesting and engaging when I wandered through it. There are some nice spaces and moments within the formal structure. More photos are below. (more…)
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