Categories

Roof Dogs

To every urban challenge, there is a potentially joyful response.

Image found here.

Roof Dogs, a movie by MB Maher.

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?

Photobucket

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.)

Photobucket

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.)

PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

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.

PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

Lemon Arbor

Arbors of roses, wisteria, grapes, long trusses of laburnum…timeless horticultural cliches under which one glides lost in the quandary of which Jane Austen heroine one resembles most. (Fanny Price of Mansfield Park.)

Never had I walked under an arbor of espaliered lemons, sun warming every pristine fruit and leaf, dappled light preventing scalding and burning of the fruit. An energizing saunter in which one plans feasts for dozens on long tables outdoors, plates piled with lemon risotto, fresh asparagus and artichokes drizzled in lemon. Lemons for homemade limoncello. The future is golden, sun-dappled, and limitless under a lemony tunnel.

The ‘Eureka’ lemon arbor at Lotusland, planted in 1988.

Photobucket

Photographer James Wojcik

Possibly one of the most visually inventive editorial product photographers working today. Some garden themes.

PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

James Wojcik

Bloom Day April 2011

Southern California, a mile from the ocean, zone 10, spring a couple months ahead of most of the country.

With the grasses joining the frothy euphorbias in bloom, there’s now a supercharged atmosphere that animates the garden.
I love it when plants start to inhabit planes other than just ground level and do so with very little bulk. The see-through plants. Aerial fizz.

Pennisetum spathiolatum shooting skyward amongst anigozanthos.

Photobucket

Luzula sylvatica ‘Aurea,’ the golden woodrush. The bluer leaves are the Tradescantia ‘Concord Grape,’ now blooming, this photo taken a couple weeks earlier.

Photobucket

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

Photobucket

Continue reading Bloom Day April 2011

Free-Range Succulents

At Lotusland (USDA zone 10), it was thrilling to see succulents set free from ceramic pots to creep and spill over rocks. Increasingly, even in frost-free gardens, succulents have become the darlings of container designs, but where they can overwinter outdoors it’s great to be reminded of the incredible synergy of succulents and stone.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Occasional Daily Photos/Lotusland

The clamshell beach at Lotusland

Photobucket

Backed by a low retaining wall dripping with dudleyas and other succulents

Photobucket

Photobucket

(Thank you, Kathy!)

Changing Tastes

I visited a couple nurseries today and was a bit horrified by the seemingly overnight invasion of flat after flat of “spring color,” a reaction which made me wonder if I’m growing snobbish. So am I a snob? I don’t think so, just possibly confusing strong personal opinions with snobbery. I am amassing stronger opinions the older I get, exclusionary opinions that make distinctions and draw battle lines, if only for my own sense of clarity on issues. But I don’t think that strictly counts as snobbery.

Roses would be an example. No floribundas. I would never plant a rose for scentless masses of color.
(I can’t think of any plant from which I’d ask for masses of color, preferring the intriguing, shimmering inflorescences of Stipa gigantea to, for example, landscape roses, though that’s not strictly an apples-to-apples comparison.)

Photobucket

We can agree to disagree. Many people will prefer strong color over all else and find what I’ve come to love weedy and insubstantial. Others will find any rose unbearably old-fashioned, just as bearded irises go in and out of fashion. A mature stand of bearded irises in bloom nowadays is a rare sight in my neighborhood. These sorts of plants, bearded irises and roses, have in the past inspired extreme loyalty that overlooked any faults as garden plants. I recognize well that loyalty, since years ago I once gamely tried to make a garden out of a collection of old roses, over 30 in number of mostly noisettes and tea-noisettes, in this very same small garden. And though I loved them all, I have never felt more constrained and miserable as a gardener. Tastes change.

Reuben’s friends, Hal and Bill, invited us to visit their lovely garden, classically bricked and box-hedged, and this is but one stand of their many irises in bloom interspersed among trees of Euphorbia lambii and sprawling matilija poppies. (Who can look at bearded irises in bloom without thinking of Henry Mitchell, who took his yearly vacation the few weeks his hundreds of irises flowered, to stay home with them in their fleeting glory?)

Photobucket

And yet Hal and Bill were most excited by their new “meadow” of toadflax, Linaria maroccana. Tastes change.

Photobucket

As far as roses, I ask for intense scent, voluptuousness of bloom and iridescence of petal, preferably in a climber. Many can deliver all this.
But I’m finding I feel tyrannized when I grow more than one at a time. And the water bill doesn’t like it much either.

Photobucket

Right now, that one rose is the tea-noisette climber ‘Bouquet d’Or,’ and she amply represents all rosedom for me.

Photobucket

She makes do in a narrow gravel border with some exotic bedfellows like this beschorneria at the far end.

Photobucket

Tastes change.

Riches of Rancho Reubidoux

Faithful readers of Reuben Munoz’s blog, Rancho Reubidoux, will have followed Reuben’s decision to join the Riverside Flower Show and Garden Tour, cheering him on as he underwent the harrowing process of qualifying to be on the tour and then the months of grueling preparation leading up to the fateful weekend. Fortunately, I live within 50 miles of RR and wouldn’t miss the chance to tour Reuben’s garden for the world. Garden designer Dustin Gimbel, who blogs at non-secateur, drove out with me to catch the tour of RR yesterday, a gorgeous, balmy Sunday. Tickets for the tour were bought at the Elks Lodge, where the “Flower Show” part of the festivities takes place, with tables holding row upon row of lovingly tended blooms in vases, orchids, succulents, all neatly identified. Very country fair. I could have happily passed a couple hours in the flower show hall, but the prospect of seeing Reuben’s legendary Rancho lured us quickly out of the hall, back in the car, with the “treasure map” in hand that would lead us to the fabulous riches of Rancho Rubideaux, home to Reuben, Paul, Inky and Frito, the latter two safely tucked away with friends for the tour.

Photobucket

Continue reading Riches of Rancho Reubidoux