Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Archive for June, 2013

Lukens Lake Shooting Stars

Lukens Lake Meadow

I just got back from my first Yosemite/Tuolumne trip of the year, including a hike to Lukens Lake to see the wildflowers. This is late June, rather than the late July of my visit last year, so most of the wildflowers were not in bloom yet. But it was still great. Instead of the multitude of species I found last year, this year I found multitudes of a single species, Shooting Stars, the most I’ve ever seen. They followed the flow of water through the meadow in a graceful drift that gathered into a pool of flowers near the lake, really beautiful.

Shooting Stars and Corn Lily

Berkeley Rose Garden Watercolors

I’ve stopped at the Berkeley Rose Garden several times this year, first in February while everything was dormant, then a couple of times as the roses were starting to wake up, and once recently with everything in full bloom. The Rose Garden is a WPA project from 1937, a terraced amphitheatre with a 220 foot long pergola topped by climbing roses. A gardener friend recently said she’d never checked it out because she’s not a rose person, but the roses are only part of the appeal. I’m not a rose person either, but the pergola and the stonework and even the sadly culverted creek running beneath the terraces all have a classic 1930’s Berkeley style. One of the iconic Berkeley places.

The city says that the pergola was suggested by Bernard Maybeck, though someone else executed the actual design. It’s one of my favorites, and probably the one I would see in my head if I ever looked up the word pergola in my private mental dictionary.

Magnolia Underplanting

Magnolia with Ipheion in the foreground

One of my goals for the year is to get better photos of some of the gardens we’ve designed. I have lots of photos of our own garden and lots of photos taken immediately after an installation when the plants are just little things surrounded by mulch, but I haven’t been as good about going back and taking garden photos with decent lighting. Last year I was especially bad; this year I’ve been better, though that’s partly because a couple of the gardens are within walking distance of our house, and this one, especially, I often pass by while walking our dog. She’s been surprisingly patient about waiting for me if I stop, partly because she likes to eat the Deer Grass in the parking strip. I took the above photo in March, and then I thought it might be cool to get photos from a similar angle at several different times throughout the year. I’ve stopped several different times so far, and I also want to take a picture next January when the Magnolia is at peak bloom.

Heuchera maxima, Penstemon heterophyllus, Watsonia

So far, I think the first photo is the best. The next two are from early May. I love the bloom color of Penstemon heterophyllus in real life, but it never seems to look quite as good in photos.

Heuchera maxima

The Heuchera maxima looks good and it’s a plant I really like, but it’s hard to get too excited about a photo of Heuchera.

Yarrow, Achillea millefolium

This is from last week, mid June. I think the Yarrow was already in the garden when we did the planting. I don’t remember if we transplanted it or just left it in place, but I usually don’t plant the pure white yarrow, even though it’s the native one. I saw this morning that the maintenance gardener deadheaded the Heuchera, so I might take another photo with the old bloom stalks gone.

Sisyrinchium, Heuchera, Yarrow, and Calamagrostis

I also might try with the Yarrow pulled out of the frame so that you can see the Sisyrinchium striatum behind it. S. striatum is not a native, but it’s a more interesting plant than the yarrow.

Snow in Summer, Verbena bonariensis, Geum, Coreopsis

I’ve also tried to photograph the planting on the slope beyond the Magnolia. My dog gets a little more restless if I venture down there.

Snow in Summer, Verbena bonariensis, Geum, Coreopsis

Watsonia, Nasturtium, Cal Poppies, Love in a Mist, and a couple of other volunteers have popped up in what was already a rather unrestrained planting.

Nasturium in the Verbena

Snow in Summer, Verbena bonariensis, Geum, Coreopsis


I accidentally clicked this photo with the camera moving and everything blurring into an impressionist painting. Part of me thinks it’s the best image of the bunch.

Garden Conservancy Open Days in Marin

This past weekend I went to the Garden Conservancy Open Days in Marin, a nice little tour with three gardens quite close to each other in Kentfield. Two of the gardens are collaborations of some sort between Tim O’Shea of Greenworks and Davis Dalbok of Living Green, whose work I’d seen in Garden Design magazine. The first one was the most photogenic with an impressive entryway and dramatic plantings with olive trees, Japanese maples, lavender, lots of succulents, and a very cool hedge of Arbutus Marina planted close together in a double row.

Several agaves are planted in the lawns. I wouldn’t want to have to edge around them or deal with pups coming up in the lawn, but the effect was striking.

The view from beyond the water feature.

The back has a great view of Mt. Tam. I would eat all of my meals there. A few more photos are below. (more…)

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