parachuting in on the airplantman

I asked Josh Rosen if Mitch could pay him a visit with his camera to see what he’s been up to, which turns out to be quite a lot.  The landscape architect, aka airplantman, is moving away from full-time landscape architecture and focusing more on product design and custom work for clients as farflung as Singapore, as well as teaching a plant materials course at UCLA Extension.   For such restless creativity, one thing has remained constant for the last decade or so with his design process:  there will be tillandsias.

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From Josh’s website airplantman: “I’ve fallen in love with these absolutely incredible species of plant that have the unique adaptation to live without any soil. They can grow suspended in air, on treetops or rock faces and absorb water and nutrients right through their leaves.”
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A home visit reveals Josh’s appreciation for all kinds of plants

Mitch caught up with Josh at his home/design laboratory in Mar Vista, California earlier this month.

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the back garden doubles as design lab
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which means keeping lots of tillandsias on hand
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mash-up of staghorn fern, tillandsias and succulents
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it’s a whole new epiphytic world at Josh’s house
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dog eyes the increasing encroachment of plant world warily
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His classic air plant frames come preplanted, in an array of sizes.
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Most recently, I saw his work featured in 2018 at a local design show

I think I first saw his modular air plant frames back in 2012 at Big Red Sun in Venice and was immediately struck by the serious design chops that honored these little epiphytes’ growth needs as well as cleverly exploited their potential for a soil-less life in a stylishly modern framework. Already in 2012, the public’s infatuation with tillandsias was in full swing, and air plants were routinely being asked to live out their increasingly dessicated days under glass in twee dioramas — no wonder they developed an undeserved reputation for being difficult to grow. Good air circulation and easy access for drenching or frequent spraying are paramount needs that can’t be ignored. And if twee isn’t your jam, grids made on sleek, powder-coated frames provide a) great design b) optimal air circulation c) crucial ease of watering.

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Tillandsias have had the staying power of succulents in their rootless hold on our imaginations. (Actually, they do have roots, but they’re used only as anchors and not for nutrient or water uptake, which all happens through the leaves.) Indoor care is more exacting than for outdoors. Mine are all outdoors and get sprayed a few times a week. For indoor care, Josh says if you position them not more than 6 feet from north or east-facing windows and soak them, as in submerge them, 6-10 hours once a week, preferably in room-temperature tap water left to sit for 15-20 minutes before use, you should be good to go. His frames and vessels are all designed to facilitate this type of care. Grow lights indoors are fine too, no particular spectrum required.

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If spraying is your only option, do this several times a week, and make sure no water pools in their crowns because that will surely cause rot, so dry them upside down to avoid pooling. Again, air circulation is critically important, and rotating indoor tillandsias outdoors when possible is a good idea, or at least keep a window cracked. And don’t manhandle them either — oils in our fingertips can mess with their ability to uptake water, so keep handling to a minimum.

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Tillandsias are in the bromeliaceae family and, like cactus, are found only in the New World, more than 600 species hailing from South America and up into Texas. Their tough, epiphytic ways are a recent adaptation, which Josh finds metaphorically inspiring, now that we face a possibly rootless modernity ourselves that will require quick adaptive moves as year after year becomes the hottest on record. And as far as plant obsessions go, it doesn’t get more lightweight and transportable than tillandsias.

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Some of his favorite species include T. chiapensis, T. caput-medusae (most tolerant indoors), T. latifolia, T. ionantha, and of course the dramatic T. xerographica. Many will begin to blush just before bloom, and some of the flowers are incredibly scented.

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Josh helpfully points out where the new pup is forming at the base

After flowering the mother plant will die off but leave you with some pups, or offsets.

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For smaller-scaled, table-top displays Josh has developed air plant vessels in powder-coated steel, ceramic, and wood.

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Felted-wool kokedamas on customizable pegboards give lots of options too and look addictingly playable. Josh is exploring working with cacti like rhipsalis and others that, unlike air plants, do require some kind of substrate in which to grow.

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One of his latest designs has the working title of “airplantern,” which came about from some recent custom work when a client asked for a lantern planted with tillandsias. Josh envisions the airplantern as more for outdoors than the frames, say for hanging from a tree in temperate climates.

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The bigger spheres come with misters and lights, and the flexibility of the design allows it to be pulled into other shapes as well.

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I think I’m in love
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Thanks so much, Josh, for sharing your home with us and giving us a peek of your new work!

Photos by MB Maher

Posted in artists, design, MB Maher | 2 Comments

bloom day July 2019; what’s new

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Flowers? What flowers? This eastern end of the pergola is pretty much identical to last summer. Maybe a few more bromeliads — added a new one just yesterday, Bilbergia ‘Catherine Wilson,’ not in this photo

The blooming backdrop to July in my coastal zone 10 garden, the background fizz abuzz with winged creatures, continues to include grevilleas, horned poppies, flowering tobacco, Salvia chiapensis, Verbena bonariensis, little erodiums, and I’ve been adding a few odds and ends too like that new agapanthus ‘Indigo Frost.’ Summer is such a permissive time in the garden, isn’t it? Go ahead, grab that sexy thing and plant it is my July mantra. Planting in the ground mid-summer can be dicy, though I’ve been doing that too this marine-layered July, but pots can always be shuffled out of a heat wave if needed. There have been a couple surprises too, like Sinningia ‘Invasion Force,’ planted last year, with new blooms just noticed last night at the dryish base of a young Yucca rostrata (no photo). And how did I miss that bud developing on the night-blooming cereus? (last photo below) The grasses are blooming now too, one of my absolutely favorite things about summer. And despite these foliage-heavy photos, let me just affirm I do like summer flowers, especially little incidents of them, but they’re just not in the driver’s seat here. So let me point out some of them, because you’d probably miss them if I didn’t.

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new — Penstemon kunthii against foaming backdrop of the Euphorbia ‘Diamond Frost’ that is perennial here. Agave salmiana var. ferox ‘Medio Picta’ is finally starting to get those leaves off the ground and up into a graceful arch. Grass is Sesleria ‘Campo Azul’

Even before I visited Denver’s gardens filled with penstemons I was testing the beardtongue waters again this spring at home with old standby hybrids like ‘Midnight,’ just whatever I could find local. This little species penstemon from Mexico, Penstemon kunthii, looked like a baby phygelius sitting on the sales bench at Xera Plants in Portland, Oregon, during a July 4th trip up the coast. Lots of penstemons flowed through my garden decades ago, sourced outside the U.S. by Lester Hawkins and Marshall Olbrich of Western Hills Nursery in Occidental, CA. The hybrids inevitably grew too large and flopped, and then the budworms found them. Seeing some of the compact species in Colorado rekindled the old penstemon flame. Maybe I need to look at the smaller species and grow them lean among the succulents. I remember ‘Midnight’ in particular getting out of control as far as size fairly quickly.

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Also picked up at Xera Plants, Cypella herbertii. Closeup of its furled bud this morning. The open flower is an intricate wonder. A South African bulb often grown in rock gardens that may be a good fit for this little succulent garden. Blooms last just a day. And that’s completely okay. And then omg there are blue-flowered species too…
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Cypella bud is on the left. Dianthus ‘Single Black’ is beginning another flush of blooms and getting along well in the same conditions as its succulent friends. A small nepeta trialed this year with the succulents, ‘Little Trudy,’ is looking promising here too. The silver leaves belong to Dichondra sericea, which has a ground cover habit and larger leaves than D. argentea but not as rampant as the more familiar trailing Silver Ponyfoot. Dianthus ‘Charles Musgrave,’ ground-hugging with white flowers, is starting to bloom out of frame to the right.
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Slightly better photo of Dichondra sericea’s habit of growth, filling in around an aloe. It seems to expand its range in summer then retreat in winter. Really good plant.
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The grevilleas are always accompanied by a buzzing, thrumming soundtrack of beating wings.
Grevillea ‘Moonlight’
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the leaves are bluer on the orange-flowered Glaucium flavum aurantiacum than the yellow-flowered Glaucium flavum, but this much blue is a trick of last night’s evening light
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new to the garden the last couple weeks, Salvia microphylla ‘Heatwave Glow’ grown by Native Sons, bought in bud and ready to jump into end-of-summer action. I thinned out some Aeonium ‘Berry Exciting’ to squeeze in three 4-inch plants.
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new — Xera Plants’ Sphaeralcea ‘Hot Pink’ — I’ve got my own mini trial of globe mallows going. Trialed a couple years ago, ‘Newleaze Coral’ is a monster shrub that I wish I had the space to let rampage. I think there’s a globe mallow out there for all-summer bloom in a small, dryish garden. Also on trial this summer is peachy ‘Childerley.’
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Miscanthus nepalensis, verbascum leaves, globemallow, Adenanthos sericeus. Heart-shaped, deep green leaves belong to Salvia purpurea gaining size
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Miscanthus ‘Silver Sceptre’
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locally grown Tradescantia sillamontana throwing a few flowers, as if those incredible leaves weren’t enough
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brown tips on leaves resulting from a sidelong blast of strong afternoon sun. To keep the leaves pure silver, ditch the strong sun, but I’ve seen it grown both ways. Good dry garden ground cover
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Solanum pyracanthum seedling from the garden potted up — there’s a big plant that wintered over blooming in the garden too
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And actually there is a bloom in this foliage-dense scene. See it next to the Xanthosoma ‘Lime Zinger’? Pink frothy bloom is from Begonia ‘Red Fred’
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An artemisia new to me, the Maui Wormwood, Artemisia mauiensis, very silky and more finely cut than ‘Powis Castle’ and hopefully much more compact. From Lincoln Avenue Nursery in Pasadena: “In the wild it is only found
growing at elevations of 6,000-7,500 ft in Haleakala National Park on the island
of Maui in Hawaii. Its Hawaiian name is Ahinahina and refers to its gray color.
” — Bustani Plant Farm
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Yes, there are some summer flowers — just added a coreopsis with a name so awful I hate to use it (‘Lil Bang Red Elf’ — imagine asking your nursery person if they stock that plant?!)
The vine Senecio confusus is getting trained up fishing wire in the background. Just saw it grown spilling over a planter last week, so there’s always that approach.
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A stealth bloom from a night-blooming cereus branch discarded in a parkway that just recently rooted and was potted up. I hadn’t even noticed this bud form. The flower is flush against the fence because it was providing support while the cactus was rooting.

Wherever your floral ambitions lead you in the garden, May Dreams Gardens collects bloom reports the 15th of every month.

Posted in Bloom Day | 7 Comments

friday clippings 7/12/19; shapes of things

With this July being the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, it’s been nonstop space coverage here at home. I doze off and on, but Marty is absolutely rapt, so I can always quiz him afterwards on what I missed.

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Poppy Northcutt — via Time
(engineers come in all shapes — do you think there was any mansplaining going on at mission control?)

I was awake, though, to learn about Poppy Northcutt, the first female engineer in mission control, who was hired as a “computress” — where’s the movie on Poppy? It’s such an enthralling story. And she bears a remarkable resemblance to Kirsten Dunst, so the casting practically takes care of itself.

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it came from outer space…bearing tillandsias
photo by MB Maher

The shapes that inspire artists, engineers and designers are all around, and I can’t wait to learn more of the back story behind Josh Rosen’s latest creation pictured above and below.

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photo by MB Maher

The airplantman has devised a new structure/habitat that maximizes the conditions for tillandsias to flourish — in a celestial shape that the eye just doesn’t want to let go. Hopefully we’ll all know more in the next few weeks.

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magnification of the structure of tillandsia trichomes, the gatekeepers and mediators of moisture for these epiphytes
via Science Source
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More mesmerizing shapes. This silo belongs to the Denver Botanic Garden’s Chatfield Farms. We just got back from a road trip up the California coast into Oregon, where silos, barns, and granaries gracefully dot smallish farms with their intensely green geometric grids of summer vegetables. Whether in space or here on Earth, there’s so many inspiring shapes all around, whether purpose-built by natural selection or by us for our various schemes. I’m a city kid, born and raised, which might be why farm buildings exert such a powerful pull on my urban imagination. Buildings crafted to facilitate specific tasks are so incredibly stripped down and pure. Very reminiscent of the adaptations of plants in a way.

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Gas Works Park, Seattle, Washington

Here in Los Angeles, the local gas refineries, with their low tanks and slim minarets lit up and sparkling at night, were exotic, glittering cities before I knew any context for their real purpose. Incredibly, the Saturn 5 rocket that took us to the moon burned more fuel in 1 second than Lindberg’s trip across the Atlantic. Ask Marty, he’ll tell you all about it. My next question to him will be: Can we get the manned mission to Mars off the ground with biofuel?

Have a great weekend.

Posted in clippings, MB Maher, science | 3 Comments

sharing the view; driveby gardens with kangaroo paws

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Okay, I admit I’m chasing the goal of 10,000 steps a day. Chasing it all over my hometown. And it’s amazing how familiar streets by car can turn up all sorts of unfamiliar scenes by foot. So this is technically a walkby, not a driveby, or possibly a hybrid of the two — I might have initially caught that searing blur of kangaroo paws when doing errands by car then went back to investigate on foot. My old standby, a form of pale yellow Anigozanthos flavidus, is blooming as strong as ever in my garden, but the rusty oranges and egg-yolk yellow forms have died out as the back garden grows shadier. This is one of the strongest, most vibrant displays I’ve seen locally.

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See that snippet of low white picket fence? That’s a clue to how this front garden accomplishes depth and scope beyond its actual footprint — because whether by design or serendipity, it’s borrowing the view from the front garden next-door that belongs to that grey, black-trimmed house with the enviable casement windows.

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From this view, the garden is luxuriously deep, building up mounding textures and spikes, backed by tall kangaroo paws and leonotis blooming like solar flares against that cool blue haze of a sprawling eucalyptus — a borrowed but nonetheless spectacular backdrop. In actuality, the gum tree takes up most of that neighbor’s front garden, as seen below.

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limbed up to show that warm red trunk as is often done with manzanitas — this is what can happen when you whole-heartedly commit to a tree. You work around it. I should know. Half of my own front garden is taken up by a similarly sprawling Acacia podalyrifolia where agaves and succulents used to grow. And then there’s the issue of my back garden becoming too shady for kangaroo paws…

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what first appeared from the car to be a cut-leaf acacia, it’s more likely a eucalyptus sporting juvenile growth from extensive pruning. The kangaroo paws and leonotis bloom in both gardens. Cooperation or competition? Just another example of how plantings often go viral in a neighborhood.
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both houses really know how to cover the ground, keeping shapes in scale.
Little blue flowers from Convolvulus sabatius, the Ground Morning Glory
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back to the shared view — salvias, lantana, golden coleonema, kangaroo paws, leonotis and agavesque yuccas

Two gardens, two houses, but I only took photos of this house because I love how it sits in the landscape, snugged into the view from the neighbor’s garden. (And privacy reasons too — the owner of the house belonging to the foreground garden was puttering outside.)

Posted in driveby gardens | 9 Comments

a quick visit with garden designer Kelly Kilpatrick of Floradora Garden Design

Mitch’s note to me: These are the images from Kelly’s house call — she’s such a delight — thank you for producing this! I was super early and drove by her place on my way to Market Hall for coffee just to see the angle of the sun and there she was out front in the yard deadheading and prepping and I was hit by a pang of guilt that she had taken time from Sunday with her family to create a photo-friendly fantasy for me, but then I saw her dog and her husband right behind her and remembered that we are visual people and that there’s nothing better than separating delight from chaos in your own space. I hope she wasn’t exhausted! Anyway, she threw me into her contractor truck and we drove across Oakland to see her projects and it was such a blast. She has more and larger scale work in Atherton and Hillsborough on the peninsula that we made plans to see next time I’m shooting in the Bay — so much fun — best, M

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Kelly in her converted attic workshop

I’ve met Kelly a couple times on garden tours and blogger meetups,  including the one she helped organize in San Francisco a few years ago, but to shoot her an email asking if she could give Mitch a tour of some gardens to photograph with just three days’ notice was a bit presumptuous, to say the least. That she said yes, after a busy workweek, says everything about Kelly’s generosity and steadfast support of garden culture.  I don’t want to think about what exploiting that generosity says about me other than being mad about plants and gardens can make one appear just a tad pushy from time to time — which Kelly graciously chose to ignore because she completely understands.  She is just the best.  

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I love that she allowed Mitch access to her work space as well, which is the converted attic of her home in the Broadway Terrace neighborhood of Oakland, California, that she shares with her husband Jay, their son Parker, and a kinetic bundle of black and white patches named Bessie.

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the sometimes breezy attic necessitates a a collection of objects for paperweights to anchor design plans
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talismanic paperweights ready for duty
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But let’s step outside to check out the kind of detailed planting that’s she’s known for, in sun or shade, for spaces large or small.

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Kelly and a neighbor cooperate with borrowed views/walkways

At her own home, Kelly has cleverly persuaded a neighbor to pool their adjoining narrow side yards, ending up with a multi-interest space that is much more than the sum of its parts. In this particular instance, that maxim about good fences making good neighbors would only result in two rather forlorn narrow strips instead of these warm and welcoming shared walkways filled with ceramics and striking plants.

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Bessie chose not to sit for her portrait, she had way too much to do welcoming visitors

And about these striking plants. Somehow, despite a busy design practice and an overflowing household, Kelly has managed to steadily inch forward to becoming a landscape architect and is now very near completion. Judging by her immaculate workspace and home garden — remember the minimal to no prep time for this visit? — this is one organized woman. I think it’s fairly well established that landscape architects do not routinely begin their training with an emphasis on plants first. Kelly’s design practice is built on a bedrock of a deep knowledge of plants and a love for ferreting out the most gorgeous yet site-appropriate choices for her projects. Her background includes a stint at the beloved Bay Area nursery for all that’s rare and wonderful in the plant world, Annie’s Annuals in Richmond.

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a cussonia peeks around the corner

Even though the space available at home to garden is minimal, this is not a case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes. Kelly has exploited and polished every inch of available space. If you happen to be garden poor as far as physical space, it helps that your designer has dealt with these same issues as well and transcended them beautifully.

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Kelly says they can pass cocktails through the open window

These narrow strips surrounding homes often get short shrift, design-wise, or are at best neatly hardscaped. Here Kelly methodically builds up layers with plants — ground covers, perennials, shrubs and even small trees. The cooling effects of plants and their ability to capture carbon make prioritizing their inclusion essential in even the smallest of urban gardens. And this kind of layered planting is incredibly bird friendly, as I often observe in my own garden, offering gradations of cover and shelter. That rocky pool of water at the base of the tree is a wonderful touch as a round, reflective surface in the design as well as a source of water for small creatures.

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aspidistra, ozothamnus against the fence — a narrow side yard thoughtfully planted. And even the smallest spaces need trees for cooling as well as wildlife habitat — “Carefully positioned trees can save up to 25% of the energy a typical household uses.” U.S. Dept. of Energy

Great style paired with an encyclopedic knowledge of plants makes for very sexy gardens, and that is a hallmark of Kelly’s designs.

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possibly the bromeliad Quesnelia ‘Tim Plowman’
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Fuchsia boliviana
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Yucca ‘Blue Boy’
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Even on such short notice, Kelly was able to arrange to show Mitch a client’s garden in her neighborhood and tour if not photograph some of her other work. The nearby garden designed by Kelly was a crisp, cleanly organized space to relax and dine outdoors filled with beautiful plants — for screening, shading, for forgetting everything else while being utterly absorbed in their shadows, movement, patterns and forms.

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And, again, the cooling effects of plant-centric gardens are often a secondary consideration to aesthetics for the general public, but such effects are very real and becoming increasingly more important as cities grow warmer. Kelly has skillfully layered in here dry garden-appropriate succulents and shrubs that will also be low care for the client.

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Tetrapanax papyrifer ‘Steroidal Giant’
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Soft, textural, almost cuddly, the coastal woolybush, Adenanthos sericeus, near the bottom of the stairs is a jewel of a shrub for the dry garden
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Kelly, thank you so much for letting us drop in on you! We had a wonderful visit and can’t wait to see more of your stunning garden designs.

Kelly Kilpatrick, Lic. #959336, Floradora Garden Design

kelly@floradoragardens.com
510-610-3863

photos by MB Maher

Posted in artists, design, garden visit, MB Maher, pots and containers, succulents | 7 Comments

that moment with the eremurus and smoke tree in the Shinn garden

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(photo heavy post)

I had a little moment with this smoke bush and eremurus in the Carol & Randall Shinn garden on the recent bloggers’ tour of Colorado gardens. Hitting notes bright and deep, still in that incipient sparkle stage, buds concentrated and full of promise, not yet dissipated. Newborn fresh tints of blue-green, pale yellow, deep burgundy. Luminous spires against soft dark mounds of leaves with a flash of gold glitter from the still-hard buds that will soon transform into puffs of this tree’s eponymous smoke.

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Posted in artists, design, garden travel | 11 Comments

summer stock: Agapanthus ‘Indigo Frost’

I have even less impulse control when plant shopping now because…summer. Of the four seasons, summer seems to be the one that we’re constantly admonished to savor to its fullest or risk being filled with inconsolable regret.  And you won’t get any argument from me.  It can be hot, dry, and miserable, but since about 5 years of age the season has become baked into us as inseparable from adventures, vacations, vagabonding, daydreaming, and overall freedom from boring routines.  Liberación!  You can’t fight that kind of hardwiring.   

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So when I sensed a need for a few more Sesleria ‘Campo Azul,’ because a few more of this grass are always needed, off I went to the local nursery, where I ran smack into Agapanthus ‘Indigo Frost’ and its seven swaying bloom stalks.   It was definitely playing the summer card.  Shamelessly playing it.

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I see agapanthus all over town in summer and have never particularly desired to possess it for my garden.   I’ve tried some dark, dark blues and some golden-leaved variegates as occasional novelties. But this ‘Indigo Frost’ number seemed to be a purpose-built messenger for summer:  Psst, you know this summer will never come again, right?   Sure, I’m a little OTT, but it’s summer!  Subtlety is for losers!  So what are you waiting for!?

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There’s the Sesleria ‘Campo Azul’ in the foreground. A Salvia ‘Love and Wishes’ filled that pot winter and spring and needed a cutback for rebloom. But gardening is a fluid thing. A light cutback inexplicably turns into yanking the entire plant out of the pot and instantly deciding to move on to something else. Hmmm, what could it be? Oh, yes, the bromeliad just brought home from Ray’s plant sale. I’ll drop that in the pot, shove the pot a few feet this way, plant the base of it up with more sesleria, make a quick dash to the nursery to purchase said sesleria — oh, and a bicolor agapanthus too. As I say, it’s a fluid process.

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And as far as losing Salvia ‘Love and Wishes,’ a great salvia btw, I’ve got a much stronger bond with the willowy, smaller-flowered Salvia chiapensis. Comparing the leaves of the two, I’ll always prefer chiapensis.

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I’ve been regularly deep watering the eastern boundary cypresses, the indispensable privacy workhorses of the garden, but apparently not so much the rest of the garden other than containers. This area under the tetrapanax’s canopy was spitless dry, not easy conditions to dig a hole for a 3-gallon agapanthus. (The dry conditions and increasing shade were no doubt to blame for the poor show this year of the big clump of kangaroo paws, Anigozanthos ‘Tequila Sunrise’ nearby, which was also dug up.) After planting I must have stood watering the area in for a solid half hour. Slow hand watering — another of summer’s pleasures.

Agapanthus ‘Indigo Frost’ came bearing the Sunset Western Garden tag:

Feature: Multiple spikes of large, bicolor, white and blue flowers

USDA Zones: Hardy to 10°F – 20°F USDA Zones 8-10

Sunset Zones: 4-9, 12-21 (I’m technically in zone 24)

Special Features: Attracts Pollinators, Clumping Habit, Cut Flowers, Disease / Pest Resistance, Heat Tolerance, Upright Habit

Landscape Use: Border, Container, Cut Flowers/Foliage, Firescaping/Fire Wise

Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Flowering season: Summer (reputed to rebloom through summer)

Dimensions: 1-3′ H x 1-2′ W

Growth Rate: Moderate

Plant Type: Evergreen

Water Needs: Medium Water Once Established

Soil: Well-drained garden soil

Fertilizer: Yearly in spring and summer

Pruning: Remove old flower stalks after bloom. Divide every 2-3 years

Posted in Plant Portraits, pots and containers | 7 Comments

Denver Botanic Gardens #gbfling2019

Since returning on Monday, I haven’t been able to shake Colorado from my mind. It’s a landscape that leaves you with a visual hangover, so this post will be hair of the dog, blog style, while the visit is still fresh and even my case of chapped lips lingers from the thin Rocky Mountain air.

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penstemons, blue flax/linum, grasses at DBG
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Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

for the hard-core greenhouse fans

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You asked for it. More greenhouse photos from my visit to Rancho Soledad Nursery in May. I’m out of town for the moment and will be right back.

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the greenhouses at Rancho Soledad Nursery

I have quite a history with commercial greenhouses.  There was a large, abandoned greenhouse at the end of my cul-de-sac’d street, the mesh netting detached in places from the rickety structure and flapping in the breeze.  Through the gap in the mesh is how my nosy, grade-school self found a way in.  Once inside, clearly trespassing, I was mesmerized by the sights, the smells,  the few plants remaining, the absolute quiet, and the tracery of the structure itself, which despite its frailty seemed capable of holding light and shadow captive.  And then there’s the fact that I was trespassing and getting away with it, always a bonus with a Catholic school kid.  Childhood lays down a roadmap that’s carelessly tossed under the front seat as you drive away.  (Growing up in Los Angeles, the metaphor will be cars.)   Which is just as well, since it’s mostly illegible, offers no clear way forward, and is only able to confirm a destination once you’ve already arrived.  But because of that roadmap, I brake for greenhouses.

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I asked if the bare-root euphorbia and cactus were for sale — nope.
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With that fading roadmap rustling under the seat, I continue to be mesmerized by its roadside attractions — growth, light, shadow, stepping into strange, transformative places.  Which is why I have hundreds of photos of the greenhouses at Rancho Soledad Nursery from a visit last month. 

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Posted in agaves, woody lilies, plant nurseries, pots and containers, succulents | Tagged | 6 Comments