DryStoneGarden

Plants and Stone for California Gardens

Flower

Saddlebag Ditch

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I haven’t blogged all that much about the drought. It hasn’t really affected me as much as I might have expected. Certainly I see a lot of dried out lawns around the Bay Area and I’ve stopped watering my garden for the most part. I’ve done more lawn conversions this year and for the most part lately I’ve been holding off on new plantings until (hopefully) the rains come back. But many impacts of the drought have been off-camera so to speak. So I felt a little shocked when we went up to Saddlebag Lake on the east side to see it had turned into Saddlebag Ditch. There aren’t many things uglier than a reservoir with no water.

Rock Creek Watercolors

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Last week we went out to Bishop for a wedding and then afterwards spent the rest of the week camping in the area. We went a few different places, including three days at Rock Creek, where I made several watercolors along the creek heading up from our campground to the lake, my first watercolors of the year.

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Though it’s called Rock Creek, the prominent feature in that section is a beautiful riparian grass. I’m not sure the species.

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Up top, Rock Creek Lake is a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by pines and aspens. It seemed like peak time for the coloring of the aspens, a great time to be there.

Tournesol Containers?

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One of my recent projects includes some containers for a roof garden. I don’t generally do a lot of containers, and it can be a struggle to find the right ones. These are from Tournesol. They make a number of products and I see their advertising in various magazines, but I wonder if this was a small project for them that didn’t have their full attention because they were a frustrating company to work with. There were long waits for estimates and other information, the turnaround time was a couple of months, and then the containers showed up without the specified drainage holes on the bottom, which was irritating because they had made us specify and draft out the holes for each container. For the price we paid, we shouldn’t have needed to drill our own holes. I’m curious if other people have had similar experiences. I like the containers and how they fit into the space without distracting from the views, but it was a lot of effort to get them and I doubt I’d use Tournesol again.

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I grew up in the suburbs, so it’s always kind of amazing to me to be up on a rooftop like this. A different type of Bay Area garden space than I usually get to work in.

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Renaissance Sculpture Restoration

I’m not particularly interested in figurative renaissance sculpture but this is an interesting story. An important Renaissance sculpture, Tulio Lombardo’s Adam, fell over and shattered into twenty eight major pieces and hundreds of smaller fragments. Instead of quickly glueing it back together around a metal armature, the restoration team took took over a decade to painstakingly restore it using a reversible adhesive and pins in only the ankle and a knee. Quite a process. There’s a cool time-lapse of the restoration here.

Scarlet Monkeys Like Greywater

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Our garden is looking pretty sad these days. I’m not watering much, and a lot of the plants look drought stricken, struggling to hang on until the rumored El Niño arrives. Plus our dog has been marauding through the veggie garden chasing squirrels. One spot — where she repeatedly slams to a halt after missing the squirrel — looks like a shallow bomb crater. The only happy plants are the larger ones that she has to avoid and the ones that are safely raised up in containers, out of the trample zone. Far and away the best thing in our garden right now is the Scarlet Monkey Flower, Mimulus cardinalis, in our greywater bed.

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Above is what the greywater bed looked like in November when I rebuilt it and replanted it with two Juncus and several divisions of Scarlet Monkey Flower. Below is a similar view only eight months later. Needless to say, the Scarlet Monkey have thrived. We’ve had profuse blooms for nearly two months.

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They make such a profusely blooming mass that I don’t always notice the form of the flowers, but up close I like the flowers quite a bit. They aren’t the most refined looking plant, they reseed a bit, and they do best with good amounts of water, but they’re a good plant, perhaps one of the most underutilized natives. I don’t know a lot of flowering natives that thrive with greywater, so as that kind of planting becomes more common, maybe we’ll start to see them used more.

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Noguchi Museum Miscellany

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These are some of the other works that caught my eye at the Noguchi Museum. He worked in an impressive variety of styles and stone, with interesting variations within each style, and it was great seeing them together in one museum, seeing the continuity and the juxtapositions. In the last post, I showed some of the large basalts which were mostly concentrated in the first room of the museum. These other ground floor rooms hold work from a broader selection of time periods, styles, and types of stone. There’s also a room upstairs with works that are generally smaller in scale and feel more domestic.

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These polished marble works use a tensioned cable on the inside to hold them together. If you click on the photo above, you can faintly see that the weird, striped, bone-shaped sculpture has a stone plug filling the access hole for the cable.

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The floor pieces are some of my favorites. I love the one below, Another Land. A similar one titled This Place is also in this style.

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