Cross-Pollination July 2013

Garden designer Dustin Gimbel hosted another of those fabulous mid-summer rave-ups that he calls “Cross-Pollination” at his home and garden, where “hikers, nursery professionals, beekeepers, home brewers, crazy plant people, artists, architects and designers” gather for food and conversation, slipping away occasionally from the outdoor tables for periodic forays into the surrounding garden that nourishes as much as the food and conversation. A trifecta of sensory input. Think a slightly more design-centric Roman bacchanalia and you’ve got the basic idea. (And in case there’s any doubt, I fall into the “crazy plant people” category on the invitation.)

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photo by Dustin Gimbel

Maybe another attendee will post photos of the tables groaning under bowl after bowl of fresh, summery food and the friendly group that assembled to partake of the potlucked largesse.* This will be my typically monomaniacal plant reportage. For me one of the stars of the party was the Aristolochia gigantea vine in full, jaw-dropping bloom against the mauve wall of the garage. Various parts of the human anatomy were offered up as visual analogies for these bizarre, fleshily gorgeous flowers. (A non-profane example would be lungs.) The colors here in this corner of the back garden make up a tangily delicious concoction. The golden, feathery shrub is Coleonema pulchellum ‘Sunset Gold.’ On the left is Dodonaea viscosa. Euphorbia cotinifolia is directly behind the central variegated number, which is either a ponytail palm or a cordyline. Or something else entirely. In Dustin’s garden, always expect to be confounded and surprised.

This is Dustin’s photo and description: “Giant dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia gigantea) is reveling in heat AND humidity. Usually if it gets hot and dry these comically large blooms get seared by the heat and often don’t even open, burnt crisp by the sun.”

A horticultural event of immense drama — but then that pretty much describes Dustin’s garden any time you visit.

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Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ and Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’

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Gomphrena ‘Fireworks’ with Dustin’s hand-made totem towers

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Cotyledon orbiculata var. flanaganii with mattress vine

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Peachy Russellia equisetiformis and a golden Agave attenuata, possibly ‘Raea’s Gold,” with I think Sedum rubrotinctum

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Dustin was way too busy hosting the soiree to be coralled into extended plant ID sessions like I normally do. So I’m hazarding that the shaggy beast in the far left container is Acacia cognata ‘Cousin Itt,’ with firesticks, Euphorbia tirucalli, and bowls of echeveria. A visit to Dustin’s garden always reminds one to go large. No itty-bitty gestures, please.

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The Acacia pendula arbor over the main diagonal path in the front garden, seen from the front porch, to which the path runs roughly parallel. The golden, glowing strip in the background lining another path to the back gate is variegated St. Augustine grass. Dustin recently pulled out assorted plants here to go for a bigger impact with this grass. A wise man, that Dustin.

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Silvery ribbons of tillandsias and Spanish moss have been tied to delicately drape from the rebar arch.

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The Acacia pendula, an Agave ‘Blue Glow’ surrounded by Frankenia thymifolia, a walkable ground cover Dustin uses to such good effect in creating quiet pools of visual rest. Possibly Leucadendron argenteum and burgundy dyckias in the background. The privet hedges enclosing the front garden are maturing and filling in, screening the garden from the busy street.

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I have to admit I wasn’t too excited about the Gainey ceramic pots on pipes when I first saw them, but with the simplified planting underneath of Myer’s asparagus fern and variegated St. Augustine grass, I’ve become an enthusiastic convert.

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The Crested Ligularia, Farfugium japonicum ‘Crispatum,’ and an equally crested ivy, pairing the frilly with the frillier.

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Agave gypsophila and the Woolly Bush, Adenanthos sericeus. The silver trailer might be Lessingia filanginifolia is Chrysanthemoides incana.

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Bocconia and Frankenia thymifolia engulfing circular stepping stones

Thanks to Dustin, after such a magical evening one can’t help but leave feeling…well, pollinated and fertile with new-found energy and ideas. And just a little hung over the next morning.

*And Annette’s marvelous post can be read on Potted’s blog.

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16 Responses to Cross-Pollination July 2013

  1. Just read Annette’s post right before yours. Back to back it’s ALMOST like being there.

  2. Denise says:

    Loree, thanks for the head’s up! Heading over to Potted’s blog now…

  3. Annette says:

    It would have been so fun if you had been here too, Loree! Guess we’ll just have to get up to Portland. Nice post, Denise. Now I know what some of those plants were actually called.

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Sounds like a magical evening indeed! Love the totems and your exquisite description of the evening!

  5. Be still my heart! The things you can grow there as perennials just blow my socks off. What a fabulous garden. Very envious of your visit to this gem of a garden. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Sue says:

    I would absolutely love being on the guest list to an event like this!

  7. Denise says:

    @Annette, maybe a PNW Cross-Poll summer 2014 when Loree co-hosts the garden design bloggers?
    @Peter, make sure you check out Annette’s post for some wonderful twinkly light shots.
    @Deanne, there’s a little film by Fran Sorin on GGW about the courtyard gardens at Chanticleer which reminded me a lot of Dustin’s style.
    @Sue, you guys do this all the time — and with Moniques’s cannelloni pie!

  8. reuben says:

    Gorgeous pictures, Denise — so great seeing you and everyone else this year … I want to come back up and take pics of my own before the vine of ambiguity changes again!

  9. Pam/Digging says:

    Every time you and Annette post about these cross-pollination events I’m torn between envy over not being in L.A. (and wrangling an invitation) and a desire to try to get something like that started here in Austin. I also love your posts about Dustin’s garden. That variegated St. Augustine keeps popping up on my radar, and it’s funny because I didn’t like it the first time I saw it, but seeing Dustin’s big swath of it is making me reconsider.

  10. Denise says:

    @Reuben, it was such a treat to see you and Paul again. Your fabulous orzo salad is my culinary goal for the week.
    @Pam, Cross-Pollination could sweep the country, another blog meme!

  11. Oh Denise, c’est vraiment magnifique.

  12. Les says:

    Lucky you to snag an invite. Did you happen to notice how the totem towers were put together?

  13. Denise says:

    Delphine, indeed!
    Les, the hypertufa are strung through rebar. Makes you want to get all crafty, doesn’t it?

  14. Your photos are amazing, as usual. I’m so impressed how you can take a picture of mostly greenish plants and make them all look distinct and interesting. It was like seeing Dustin’s garden from an entirely new point of view. Of course, I was busy feasting and chatting and soaking up the festive vibe–all fueled by those ridiculously delicious irrigation-tunnel-rescued-bee-honey-and-tequila margaritas. Once again, Dustin, along with his hive of warm and lively friends, elevated cross-pollination to a high art form!

  15. darlene couch says:

    Dustin, how did you drill the rocks in your totem. What did you use to do this. What drill and bit did you use.

  16. Allie says:

    Such gorgeous & inspiring gardens and photos!

    Do you have any second guess on what the trailer with Agave gypsophila & Adenanthos sericeus might be? It’s gorgeous but doesn’t quite look like Lessingia filaginifolia to me…

    Many thanks,

    Allie

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