lost in Florence

Zadie Smith’s essay “Love in the Gardens,” describing complicated family relations against the backdrop of visits to two gardens, the Boboli in Florence accompanied by her father, and the Borghese garden in Rome after her father had died, gave me quite a few shivers of recognition. Not that I traveled much with my father after […]

prowling the plant nurseries in fall

A startling sight at a local nursery this week was Dalea frutescens in roaring, five-alarm bloom, a Texas native that endures extreme heat and drought, then explodes with flowers in fall. Imagine this Black Dalea with muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, and the shocking band of red violet they would paint on a landscape in fall. […]

a kale of two cities

“America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement.” — Alexis de Tocqueville Unlike Dickens’ tale of London and Paris, the two cities under consideration here are yours and Paris. Because by now it’s probably safe to assume that your city, like mine, has been […]

chasing muhly grass

As far as seasons go, to me summer is rich, pungent, dense, where autumn is quicksilver, vaporous, light on its feet, with a tartness that is the perfect apertif to summer’s gluttony of sensation. The eaves are now dripping morning dew as the dry season comes to an end, with hopefully the return soon of […]

Stanford’s New Guinea Sculpture Garden

More updates from the Bay Area, this one from occasional AGO photographer and contributor MB Maher. I’ll let him tell this adventure in his own words:

“Shirley Watts messaged me to keep my Wednesday evening open. And per her instructions, I found myself on the 4.09 caltrain to Palo Alto, getting off at Stanford, […]

in the news

Since the government shutdown, I’ve been checking in with The New York Times at an increasingly feverish pace, several times a day, (and doing little else, it seems), so it was in real time that the story on James Golden of the blog View From Federal Twist scrolled across my screen last night. What a […]

Natural Discourse: Culture & Cultivation 10/10/13

What to make of this impulse to create gardens? Most of my ruminations are done leaning on a shovel, or moving a pot inches to the left and wondering why in the world it matters. One of the few constants throughout my life has been making gardens with the single-mindedness of the bowerbird making his […]

tithonia for Clarice Cliff

I’m still cutting buckets of tithonia from the community garden plot and filling every vase in the house, even those I usually leave empty, like this museum reissue of a Clarice Cliff vase, the 20th century British ceramic artist famous for her post-WWI “Bizarre” line of ceramics. With her love of strong color, I think […]


What occupies my thoughts on the garden for next year this hot Sunday is nothing more earth shakingly consequential than planning the beginning of a smallish spine of shrubs to snake through bays of herbaceous stuff.

Ozothamnus ‘Sussex Silver’ moved into the back garden last spring, after proving its bonafides in containers […]

Occasional Daily Weather Report 10/5/13

Humidity is at zero degrees. The wind rattled and snapped the window shades all night. Sirens wail in the distance. This repost from 11/2/11 sums it up:

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair […]