Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Archive for April, 2013

The Town Mouse Garden!

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.

Landscape Architecture Bicycle Tour

April is landscape architecture awareness month and landscape architects everywhere are raising awareness. Or perhaps more accurately, one landscape architect that I know, Anita, is raising awareness. 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 smiles on their faces. After the tour, I went back a few times to take photos and do some watercolors. I love that big fountain.

Bloom Day List

I didn’t take photos for bloom day, but for the last three Aprils I’ve posted a list of what’s blooming in the garden. It’s a lot of the same things this year and more of interest to me than anyone else, but I wanted to keep going with it. The list is below. (more…)

Save Sugar Pine Bridge?

The National Park Service has released its new plan for Yosemite. In 1987, Congress designated the Merced and the Tuolumne as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and now after years of study the park has put together a plan to comply. I’ve been reading through some of the plan, trying to understand the details, but I haven’t made a lot of headway, and the plan is only open for public comment until the 18th. The report is here with links to a summary and information about commenting.

From what I’ve read, a lot of the proposals make sense. For instance, the proposed expansion of Camp 4 is desperately needed. During the high season, people start lining up hours before sunrise and by 6AM there’s a line of people in sleeping bags waiting for the kiosk to open, essentially camping out in hopes of getting a campsite. I don’t even try to get a site any more. So that proposal is easy to support.

Proposed development in the west end of the valley, near El Cap Meadow, is more of a concern. I LOVE El Cap Meadow, in large part because it is one of the less developed parts of the valley. I would be sad to see it change. I haven’t read deep enough into the plan to find out the details of what is planned. The Access Fund, a climbing advocacy group, has a form letter that more or less represents my point of view until I get a chance to find out a bit more.

I also wish I knew more about the proposal to remove Sugar Pine bridge, the stone-clad bridge near Curry Village. According to the report, the bridge impedes the river’s flow during high water. You can kind of see in these Library of Congress photos that the abutments are out in the flow of the river.

I wish I was going to have a chance to read more about that before the comment period ends. If anyone know or finds any substantial info, please let me know. Sugar Pine is probably not the single most iconic of the Yosemite bridges, but as a group the stone bridges are quite wonderful. There aren’t a lot of stone bridges in California. It would be shame for one of them to go.

The Garden at the Start of April

California Fescue, Festuca californica

I haven’t posted about our garden yet this year. It’s still a little early for the showiest bloomers and I have a few projects to complete, but it’s in a nice phase. It doesn’t have a lot of plants at full bloom, but most of the deciduous plants are leafing out, and everything is happy and enjoying the spring, with a lot happening and a lot to appreciate. Before the recent, welcome rainstorm I made a pass from the street to the front door, taking some photos along the way.

Front Steps, Pots, and Galvezia

Matillija Poppy with California Poppy

Our outer yard has a large mound made of construction rubble covered with soil. Our landlord calls it Nasturtium Hill, though we’ve replaced the nasturtiums with native plants and a fig tree. This spring the Matillija Poppy is making a case for changing the name to Matillija Poppy Hill. We don’t ever water the mound, except for a monthly soaking of the fig tree on the lower shoulder of the mound, but the Matillija Poppy has exploded out with growth, engulfing a number of nice native plants and popping out runners a good five feet from the main mass of the plant. The construction rubble has kept the bamboo in our yard from spreading, so I’m impressed and concerned at the Matillija Poppy’s ability to spread. I think I’m going to rescue the other plants out from its clutches and be even more circumspect about this plant in the future. There are worse things than a large mound full of Matillija Poppy.

Annuals Starting to Fill In

The annual wildflowers, mostly Clarkia, have started to fill in, and the bulbs are starting to bloom.

Front Gate


Lilium pardalinum

We have native lilies in several parts of the garden. The one inside the vegetable garden is now enormous. Carex dipsacea in a container and a mirror are behind it. Pretty happy with the effect the mirror has.

The Veggie Garden

The rest of the veggie garden is looking a little wild with the Miner’s Lettuce, Mache, Arugula, and Love in a Mist that reseeded around the Snap Pea tepee trellis.

Pandorea Vine

We have three different vines on our front porch. The Pandorea blooms first, the Wisteria is just starting to unfurl, and the native Clematis should be last, though it’s still young and hasn’t ever bloomed yet.

Tulipa bakeri

I really like the little pot of species Tulips, T. bakeri, on the steps. I’ve been growing a different species tulip, T. saxitilis, for a few years, and we have a nice patch of them that has already finished for the year. This year I’m trying out a few others, though, I don’t remember which ones and won’t know until the flowers open. So far, T. bakeri is very similar to saxitilis. I like how the blooms have the look of a classic Tulip in the morning before they open up.

Species Tulip, Tulipa bakeri

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