Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Drill sargeant

Apparently Denise thinks I'm a drill sergeant of plant names...

Kashmir Cypress

Thinking outside the box on fencing

Here's to spoiling you with loads of blog posts...

I have for over a year had a deep deep deep desire to put a fence up between the neighbors and me. It's not that I don't like them (even if there are some shady dealings going on... allegedly!).  But one of my greatest desires is to have some real privacy. I don't need to cavort in the moonlight, but it would be nice to have the option.

Originally the previous owner of my house built two duplexes next door. Apparently he like to keep an eye on things as the front doors of the four units face my house.  The only thing separating the two properties is an old picket fence and a weedy privet hedge (why wont they let that hedge grow!).  As Mitchell Maher so tactfully put it on his first visit "you have a lot of permeability".  Well permeability is great for dialysis tubing but not for neighbors.  Of course I could have built or had the fence built right away when I took possession of the house. But the list of chores on a 90 year old craftsman runs long and I kept putting it off.

Looking back I can say the biggest hurdle was the mental aspect of the fence.   An anxiety over spending money hit me and I was in a perpetual state of putting away for a rainy day. But there has been a benefit to taking as long as I have with the fence and that is research.  I have had a ton of time to find a surface with which I would be happy.   First it was corrugated metal, which is sadly not allowed, even though I do see it in the 'hood.  Then it was traditional redwood, which is nice if a bit pricey.  But then I discovered Hardieplank and Hardieboard... What a find!  This is a composite material made of cellulose fibers and cement.  No rot, no termites and it comes smooth or with a wood grain. I snapped a shot of a fence in Venice Beach that used Hardieplank, but the builder didn't use enough uprights and the boards (see below)

So, as soon as I have a free weekend I will get the posts in the ground and transform my permeable membrane into a solid screen.

What I get to look at.... picket fence is gone

Not very pretty save the black Phoebe on the handle of the shovel

Nice if not well executed Hardieplank fence in Venice

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ranch Reubidoux and Watts Towers

Hmm... What a couple days.  It's interesting how things work out. I think I tend experience quite a bit of synchronisity and serendipity.  Today I had to go to Watts, out of the blue to run a errand, and on my way back to the the freeway I decided I should at least try to come across the famous Watts Towers. Luck struck and I didn't even have to go more than a block off course.   As I stood looking at these incredible structures I reflected on a few things. I thought about the look of the neighborhood that possesses the towers,  these incredible spires seemed to have no effect on the look of the houses around them. No artists flocked to their beauty. Everywhere just the same depressed houses. And I wonder if what beauty I can create in my neighborhood, which I call "ghetto lite"  and will I ever feel the effects of what I do.

And then I thought about Rueben of Rancho Reubidoux (ranchoreubidoux.wordpress.com), and how he would probably incorporate the Watts Towers into his garden if only someone would put them on Craigslist.  Yesterday I was fortunate to visit his garden with Denise of the blog, agrowingobsession.com.  It's not often you get to see something that is so truly unique.  Rueben has like Rumplestiltskin spun gold from mere straw, carefully collecting and curating "junk" and assembling it into three dimensional and living collages. Denise and I both envied his restraint,  his garden is not full of plants like our gardens but studded with living pieces of sculpture. Throughout the garden there are "moments" and vignettes, which are as playful as they are beautiful, and surprisingly they all felt at home, not contrived.  Bravo Reuben!

Watts Towers

Rancho Reubidoux

Friday, April 8, 2011


I watered some pots this morning.  We were promised rain, something we are getting used to in these parts,  but only a shower here and there hit us.   While I was giving the smallest plants a bit of water I was caught by an unmistakable odd aroma.  All you knowledgable gardeners will know the aroma I mean,  one that is listed in old English tree guides as "indecent". Many trees have this smell, most of the ones I can think of have prolific small white flowers that scent the air with their dubious attractant. Carob is the worst one I can think of, I personally can't stand the smell and am thankful that none grow near me.

So, as I caught this whiff on the air I started to hunt it down.  I was shocked when I sussed out the culprit,  my old friend Geranium maderense.  Why in all these years have I never smelled it?  Anyway it isn't as strong as the carob tree, and it is in full bloom.  What a glorious plant, smell or no.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A year on: a picture is worth a thousand words

Here's your virtual tour through the garden this morning.  I'm kinda shocked myself seeing the before and after photos.  One year later...




This morning!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yes, Tweedia again.

OK.  So not only did I lie about a tour through the garden being the next post, I'm also going back to Tweedia.

But I have a good reason.  I had a friend in the garden in the dying light of the afternoon and was struck at the beauty of this little perennial, again.  So, I grabbed by camera.

If you want to know more about my thoughts on this plant you can go back to my previous post:  non-secateur.blogspot.com/2010/09/plant-of-week-tweedia-caerulea.html

But for now you can just enjoy this little guy blooming his heart out.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Remember when...

Jeeze.  I think I'm officially old.   And there are so many meters... grandpa ear hairs, the memory loss, but the thing I really notice is the speed.  Where does the time go?  Time is so weird. On one hand I feel like this has been the longest year of my life having my first home and garden... but on the other it went by in a flash. And 2011 is already whizzing by.

In any case I was thinking today about the age of the garden, not quite a year old yet.  I'm amazed at how full and mature it looks. I ponder on what will the next year bring, the next ten. How will the areas change over time? Will I get bored and change them? Will the hedge ever satisfy my need for privacy on this populous street?

Remember when the garden looked like this? Weedy uncared for Bermuda lawn, flat and without a single surprise.  What a year.

Next post... a tour today...

Mid April 2010, boardwalk in place, with no plants? How perfectly ridiculous it looks! Look at the haystack of weeds and Bermuda grass.