Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Archive for February, 2012

February Bloom Day — First Blooms

Iris douglasiana

This’ll be a short bloom day post. We don’t have a lot in bloom, but things are starting up with the promise of more to come. This past week saw several plants open their first flowers. We have our first Doug Iris, first Cal Poppy, and first Daffodil. The Tree Coreopsis, Ribes ‘White Icicle,’ and the New Zealand Tree Fuchsia have been blooming for a couple of weeks. One of the Sidalceas has had a clutch of flowers for the same amount of time. And the ever-bloomers have flowers, Alyssum, Geranium ‘Bill Wallis,’ Calendula, and the Iochroma. Of the deciduous plants, the Ninebark broke leaf at the start of the month and the Snowberry is breaking leaf now. That’s early for the snowberry, but right on schedule for the ninebark.

Coreopsis gigantea

Thanks to Carol for hosting bloom day. Click over to MayDreamsGardens for links to many more blogs showing off their flowers.

Andy Goldsworthy’s Stone River

I almost included this in my post about the Richard Serra sculpture at the Stanford museum, but it seemed like it should get its own post. It’s Stone River, one of several Andy Goldsworthy pieces in the Bay Area. The others are Drawn Stone at the De Young museum and Spire in the Presidio. This one is my favorite of the three. I love the snakelike form and the stylized coping stones. Vertical coping stones along the top of a wall are common, especially in Europe, but I’ve never seen them quite like this. It’s all built from rubble the university saved after the earthquakes of 1989 and 1906, 128 tons of stone, 320 feet long.

The whole thing is set into the ground with the top of the wall at grade. Because the color of the stone and the dirt match so closely, it sort of feels like someone took a big scoop of dirt and compressed it into the stone for the wall. I like to see how far I can get walking along the top (not very far).


This warm weather and lack of rain has me a little unsettled. I remember some winters like this when I was growing up, but that was before my gardening days and I don’t remember how it affected the plants. I guess I’ll be finding out. In the meantime, I’ve stopped at Tilden several times this winter to check out how the manzanitas are responding to this lack of a winter. I thought I could look at past photos to see if the different varieties are acting any different this year, but I couldn’t figure out anything conclusive. I think I’ve seen bigger bloom clusters in other years and I think they started blooming a couple of weeks late this year, but I couldn’t say for sure. In any case, they’re looking good right now in the heart of manzanita season.

The one in the photo below, Arctostaphylos montana-regis, has one of the best tree trunks I’ve ever seen. This little cluster of trees is probably my favorite spot in my favorite garden.

The next thing to keep an eye on is when everything deciduous wakes up. A few things in the garden had buds, but nothing had broken into leaf yet.

Tree, Line by Zander Olsen

I really like this photo by a photographer from the UK. It’s great how it plays with my eye, but also how it seems to satirize or exploit the practice of painting tree trunks white. He has more photos on his website.

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