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the controversial castor bean plant

Ricinus communis, the castor bean/oil plant, is the freshest sight in this late-summer garden. Unlike the rest of us, the swampy heat of late August only improves its looks. The tree-like mother plant, a ‘New Zealand Purple,’ lived through our typically frostless winter, just as ricinus infamously naturalizes all over Southern California. By early summer […]

fall-blooming salvias and where to find some

I’ve been trying to scale the garden down, which means there will be no shed-sized, fall-blooming salvias this year like…

Salvia involucrata, Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden, the rosebud sage. Some of the salvias like a bit more moisture than I’m doling out lately, and this one would fall into that group.

The bog […]

when art and gardens collide

Those of us who chase gardens and plants seem to divide into two camps: Those who enjoy art works in the garden and those who don’t. Oftentimes, leaving out ostentatious decorative pieces is as bold a statement as their inclusion.

No need for any distractions from the muscular trunks of this tree in Connie […]

tithonia and zinnias

The last week temperatures have hovered mostly around 90 degrees, by far the warmest days we’ve seen all summer. Even though I’m none too pleased with the change, tomatoes, zucchini, tithonia and zinnias obviously are thrilled. I’m linking this post to the Seasonal Bouquet Project, where the house rules are: “All the ingredients in the […]

anatomy of a late-summer road trip

Is there a tinge of desperation in the road trips of late summer? By the end of summer are we stuffing itineraries with an absurd number of places to see in the dwindling opportunities to experience daylight until 8 p.m.? Guilty here. I’ll give a recent example from just this last weekend. And for the […]

Folly Bowl Presents

Saturday, August 24, 2013, 7:30 p.m. $5 donation suggested. Contact: james.griffith4@gmail.com

Part of a summer-long, outdoor concert series at the Folly Bowl, the hand-made amphitheater in Altadena, California, created by artists Sue Dadd and James Griffith.

This just might be the night you’ll never forget from summer 2013: tucked in […]

the packrat king

If you’ve ever visited Lotusland, you’ll instantly know why I was drawn to these clamshells.

Set up temporarily on a bird bath stand. I was hoping they’d hold a lot more water than they do.

Sitting on the stand at these awkward angles, the only stable arrangement, leaves just a very shallow […]

Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony’

Seen at the 2013 Inter-City Cactus & Succulent Show held at the Los Angeles County Arboretum over the weekend.

Once again, on the show table, not the sales table. Echeveria agavoides ‘Ebony,’ intensely desirable and chronically unavailable. Is it going to take a Kickstarter campaign to get this propagated and into general […]

a garden with a roof

I miss when Sundays were neatly divided by the sections of a thick Sunday newspaper that sprawled across tables, beds, and couches. The travel section might include articles like this one on the Buenos Aires home of Mercedes Hernáez and Alejandro Sticotti, which they describe as “a garden with a roof.”

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driveby garden; LAPD headquarters, Downtown Los Angeles

“The first five months of this year were the driest on record in California, with reservoirs in the state at 20 percent below normal levels.” – Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn, The New York Times, August 11, 2013

I stumbled onto another forward-looking example of civic landscaping in Downtown Los Angeles this […]