Wednesday vignette 11/2/16

Ever wonder what Huntington Botanical Garden employees display on their file cabinets?

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Luisa Serrano (Crow & Raven) and I got a tiny glimpse when we visited the Huntington in early October.

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The rest of these photos come from that visit as well, mostly the desert conservatory and then the new entrance garden, part of my Wednesday vignette hosted by Anna at Flutter & Hum.

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Fishing with Senecio radicans

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From a recent garden tour. The fishhook senecio, Senecio radicans, doing what it does best, throwing its lines of hook-shaped leaves not from a pier but from a second-story balcony.

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Maybe I’m reading too much into this arrangement, because it wasn’t directly underneath but around a corner, screened by other plants. A perfect circle about 5 feet in diameter was dressed with oyster shells and planted with just a few blue echeveria. The casting pond? The relationship between the senecio and the circle could only have been apparent from the second-story balcony. Refreshingly lacking the emphasis so common when gardens turn playful, I didn’t notice the association until studying the photos later. All I noticed at the time was how the pearly, iridescent mulch sparkled in the strong mid-day sun. If it was meant as a private joke, I belatedly enjoyed the pun too.

young grasshopper

Helping himself to a serving of Aeonium ‘Cyclops.’ I admit to being just ever so slightly phobic about grasshoppers. I have no idea why. No other insect rattles me like these. This one’s tawny color and freshly minted exoskeleton drew me in, and for a brief moment I forgot to be repulsed. Shedding one’s skin obviously builds a keen appetite.

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Agave geminiflora



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Agave geminiflora spangled in morning dew is one of my favorite sights these mornings.
Slow growing, doesn’t offset, rare denizen of open oak woodland in Mexico, and just about everybody agrees the best thing in a container since Nutella.
The Ruth Bancroft Garden has more history and cultural information here.


riad means garden

It’s February, so thoughts naturally turn to travel, escape, adventure. But I’m not going anywhere at the moment, so I look harder, stare longer, at local scenes, hoping to squeeze something new and startling out of familiar sights. But walking or biking around town, craving some inspiration from a jewel-box of a front garden, is more often an exercise in frustration than inspiration. In low-rainfall climates like mine, where gardens are in use year-round, they are frequently concealed behind walls, hedges, fences. This is an ancient impulse, in thrall to instincts dating back to the first riad. (See The New York Times images of some of the riads of Taroudant.) Here at home we’ve gotten into the habit of referring to our house and garden as “the compound.” Not in a crazy sect sense, but in the sense of sanctuary. Like the ancient riads of Morocco. The word itself is Arabian for garden. So to everyone whose high walls prevent my enjoyment of your luscious gardens as I pass by, I get it. I really do. And I should, because I’m working on my own riad too.


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Dar al Hossoun, Taroudant, Morocco

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Simon Watson for The New York Times

holiday lull

How are we all doing? Holding up okay? The first holiday is already a wrap, and we’re suspended smack in the middle of the countdown to the next, so resumption of routine is still a week away. (And happy holidays, if I didn’t say so already.) If you’re in Los Angeles, may I suggest a trip to the Getty during this holiday lull? Traffic is fairly light, and the weather has been almost unbearably warm, so bring strong sunglasses to curb the blinding glare from all that travertine. And water. It will cost you $3 a bottle at the Getty. And a large bag to stow the water bottle as you enter the galleries since there’s plentiful museum staff to point out your egregious behavior. And make sure you have a fully charged camera battery. Oh, and you must stay for the sunset. And whatever you do, don’t forget to…well, that’s enough of me doing my best troop leader impersonation. I will, though, just lastly point out that the Aloe bainesii are starting to bloom among the budding Euphorbia ingens, and it is quite the sight around 4 o’clock. And after checking out the Central Garden in winter, with the huge sycamores along the rill scrubbed of all their leaves, inside the Getty there’s several wonderful photography exhibits, including the absorbing camera obscura work of Abelardo Morell. As usual, I was drawn to the work depicting landscapes.


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Camera Obscura: View of Central Park Looking North-Spring, 2010

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Camera Obscura: View of Central Park Looking North-Summer, 2008

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Camera Obscura: View of Central Park Looking North-Fall, 2008

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Camera Obscura: View Of Central Park Looking North-Winter, 2013

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Camera Obscura: Garden With Olive Tree Inside Room With Plants, Outside Florence, Italy, 2009


Occasional Daily Photo 12/4/13

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These gazanias were pulled up last spring to make room for the manfredas, but obviously some roots escaped my trowel.

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whoa. I’m rubbing my eyes after looking at just two flowers. Imagine fields of them in South Africa.

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I have to say I do like how the manfreda’s spots pick up the red in the gazania.