Monthly Archives: April 2011

Armchair Spelunking

I’m a little excited this morning. Some clues…
What do all these images have to do with each other?
Explorers, cave paintings, spiritual communion with rocks…

Ralph Fiennes as Count Laszlo Almasy, The English Patient; Anne-Louise Lambert as Miranda, Picnic At Hanging Rock.

Seeing things on film you’d otherwise be unable to experience.

Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World.

The incredible ability of movies to capture our all-too-brief love affair with the physical world.

Something that we’ve been documenting for a very long time.

Cave of Swimmers, Western Egypt

Werner Herzog’s new documentary, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, is in limited release this weekend.

Urbane Nasturtiums

I’ve been transplanting a few self-sown nasturtiums and tucked a couple in with some eucomis bulbs to spill out of an ancient cast-iron sewer pipe that somehow made its way here years ago.

I wonder which previous car’s shocks had to absorb that load.


Brought home no doubt during the same period when I couldn’t walk away from a cast-off manhole cover either.


Or an old street lamp glass shade. I seem to be continually bringing home bits of aging cities.


Nasturtiums flourish in whatever contains them, be it the finest Impruneta terracotta, a rusty sewer pipe, or an abandoned city lot.
Common and easy, but no less exquisite.


Horticulture’s Continuing PR Problems

In a March 12, 2011 issue of The New York Times, in a column by Maureen Dowd entitled “In Search of Monsters,” Ms. Dowd comments on the suitability of Donald Rumsfeld giving current foreign policy advice: “You would think that [he] would have the good manners to shut up and take up horticulture.”

Politics aside, I just can’t get over Ms. Dowd’s back-handed slap at horticulture.

Mr. Rumsfeld, coming to a community garden near you.

The Kashmir Cypress

A pre-dinner garden tour at Dustin’s.

“What is it?” I asked.

You asked me that last time,” he answered patiently. “It’s psoralea.”

Oh, the Kool-Aid something or other?” (Strange, how memory works.)

Right,” he explained, “from Annie’s.

His psoralea is growing up into a beautiful little tree.


Continue reading The Kashmir Cypress

Landscape Crit

A new shopping center was planted with sharp plants four years ago. Agaves, yuccas.
I was thrilled but also slightly alarmed.


Continue reading Landscape Crit


This spring I am not going to be drawn into running out into the garden with my camera every time I hear the whoosh of a rapid aerial descent then the whirring of tiny wings. I don’t have the stamina or the lens for it. I swear these will be the last 58 frustrating attempts at capturing this little guy on the wing.
You can just make out his mocking smile.


We’re both just not interested anymore. Really. We are so…over…hummingbirds.




Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch- Cherry Bomb

Anyone else curious enough about “The Runaways” movie last year, based on the eponymous, all-girl, Los Angeles-based band of the mid ’70s, to see it in a theater?


Cherry Bomb was their big radio hit, Joan Jett the post-Runaways star. I’d almost forgotten about the band, which wasn’t at all a favorite musically, but an all-girl group was definitely an attention-getter in that pre-Madonna/Lady Gaga moment in music. As the movie documents, the band was the cynical creation of a hard-boiled huckster, a gimmicky concept band which was jarringly out of place in the midst of the earnest DIY punk explosion alongside such great seminal LA bands as Black Flag and X (whose searing performances were captured by Penelope Spheeris in her documentaryThe Decline of Western Civilization, unfortunately still unavailable from Netflix). But I was hoping the movie would at least serve as a nostalgia trip, with fastidious set recreations of the Whiskey and the Troubador clubs, maybe cleverly inserted footage of some of the other bands playing at that time. Disappointingly, that wasn’t the case, but the two lead actresses worked hard to portray the jail-bait, punk Eliza Doolittles. (In reference to George B. Shaw’s Pygmalion heroine, not the young English pop singer. I hate it when what were once-enduring cultural references get muddied and have to be explained.)


A ‘Cherry Bomb’ I do like is this lampranthus, which I stuck in one of the succulent baskets hung on tripod stilts last year. Now that it’s blooming, of course, I can’t help but stutter every time I say this iceplant’s name. It’s bombing away, trailing down the sides of the mossed basket with other succulents, which is a possible solution to lack of space for these galloping ground swallowers in climates where they thrive. Might also be something new to try as an annual for summer containers.

Some plants, like some bands, only know a few chords but still manage to communicate immense vitality.

Occasional Daily Photos

On the trip to Lotusland last week, on arrival looking for a 7:30 a.m. cup of coffee, found next-door to The Sacred Space.
Which is where I sipped my coffee and took these photos April 13, 2011. (My oldest brother was a “surf bum” for a while in Santa Barbara, and years ago we camped on the county beaches. And that’s all I really know about Santa Barbara and its neighboring towns, like Montecito, where Lotusland is located, about two hours north of Los Angeles. Obviously, I need to shake the sand out of my shoes. Debriefing my mother over the phone this morning on her senior bus trip Sunday to see the Ramona pageant, she informed me excitedly that there are 58 counties in California. Seems you get out more as a kid on school bus trips, then pick up where you left off as a grey-headed senior.)


A market which caters to surfers next-door to an outdoor collection of brooding spiritual stone sculpture, all within spitting distance of Highway 101.
Ah, Santa Barbara.