I created a curved retaining wall from the cobblestones that I found a few weeks ago…now I’m pulling dirt from the back to the front to level out enough space to build a little bench.
Here’s a reminder of what the area looked like before:
aeonium in bloom, 21 feb 2011…
My aeonium is going to explode into a
million gazillion little yellow buds very, very soon~! Check out those cones. . .
Daffodils signal spring so, they’re my fav.
7 February 2011
Having dug into the grade and moved a lot of dirt to the front of the garden, I consolidated the old pattern of several separate rows of wine bottles into one, stepped, mass which will be a retaining wall for the back portion.
Here’s a reminder of what the area looked like before:
Nearly fell off my scooter last night when I saw these discarded cobblestones at the site of a public works project, ready to be sent downtown for grinding. (Can you imagine???) This morning of course, meant hauling them out-back to the garden. Let’s make a little retaining wall with them!
Found across the street on the curb, the plant was completely root-bound and sickly. When I finally managed to pry it from its container it was easy to see why the plant was sick, too- the poor thing was soaked, and sitting in stale (stinky) water. The bottom layer of roots had completely rotted so I removed those mushy parts (yeah, yuck) but the roots around the root ball looked significantly better, at least. By george I think he’s going to make it; I repotted him in a larger plant, perched upon a drainage layer of broken styrofoam pieces, and surrounded the root ball with cactus soil.
25 January 2011
My latest garden project involves removing several of last years wine bottle rows and digging deep into the hillside to flatten out the garden floor. The wine bottles will be replaced in a new configuration, to make more of a ‘feature’ of them. Additionally, I’ve carried lots of found, discarded granite countertop pieces to the back of the garden where they’ve become little retaining walls for new flower beds. The dirt I’m digging up at the front is going back there to fill up those beds. I’m hoping the result will be a more dramatic contrast in height in the garden, and that the materials will be highlighted in a more impactful way.
I love this plant. Given to me as a gift in 2004, its my very first succulent. The original start for this little guy was given to me by my dear friend Marin, himself an avid gardener, cook and intrepid camper. In fact, while on one of his camping trips to Point Reyes, he found a bunch of dudleya on an outcropping near the beach and, since I’d expressed an interest in learning to garden, he plucked a pup from the plant, and brought it back for me. At that time I was just starting my garden by growing some poppies from seed on my terrace. He asked me if I’d considered planting succulents and I explained I didn’t even know what they were. He gave me the dudleya pup, wrapped in damp paper, and explained what I needed to do. . . just put it in the soil! I treated it gingerly, so afraid that I’d kill it, but of course . . . it grew. And quickly. And changed shape and form fantastically! My love of succulents was born. The plant has thrived since 2004, the one pictured above being one of the many offspring from its hearty parent. I always think of Martin when I see this succulent. He and this plant got me started and inspired my love for gardening and especially, for succulents. Martin has since moved back to Spain so when I see my Dudleya, I’m reminded of my dear friend.
Great art inspires. . .
Last year my great friend Deena took me to a favorite spot of hers, a grove in the Presidio National Park where the forest opens to a beautiful panorama of San Francisco, right in front of you. It’s a spiritual spot, and a meditative one. It was easy to see why she brought me here. When it was decided that a monument to should be installed here, only one artist could do a place like this justice, celebrating but not changing it: Andy Goldsworthy.
So, in 2008, he built SPIRE. The amazing thing about this monumental sculpture, made of timber lashed together 90 feet high, is how effortlessly it has become part of the scene. It blends right in. This is a hallmark of Goldsworthy’s work, he incorporates natural materials from the site in which he’s working and from them he creates beautiful, fanciful and ephemeral art. Here, he took trees that would be felled (for the safety of the environment) and then used only that timber to make the sculpture. Part of the art is not only the finished state, but also the manner in which it is, in turn, reclaimed again by Nature. And will the sculpture last a minute? Two? Months? Years? That part is left to Nature, too.
Goldsworthy strives, “to make connections between what we call nature and what we call man-made.”
There is another Goldsworthy I want to tell you about, much more subtle than Spire. It’s the crack in the foundation of the de Young museum, Faultline, 2005. For this commission he created a zigzag crack in the hardscape outside the museum. The crack is a ‘path’ from the roadside to the entrance of the museum, but also serves as a subtle reminder of the seismic activity latent in the ground underneath, a characteristic of this place in the world. Unless your eyes are directed to it you might not see it but when it’s pointed out, the impact hits you immediately. Check out this great article about that piece, here.
I’ve since become a fan of his. I was so inspired after having seen Spire I created a mini-version in my backyard garden. For mine I reclaimed dead bamboo shoots from my friend’s garden, and the Hancock Spire was born!
Not willing to stop here, I wanted to try another one. I had my opportunity when my neighbor knocked down their retaining wall and threw away the cobblestones. Thus, I gained ‘site-native’ materials for another project, and I built a zigzag ‘Faultline’ of my own by setting the stones directly into the ground, and emanating from my Spire!
My exploration of the public art in Hayes Valley, Ecstasy in Patricia’s Green, (link to post here) reminds me of the monumental and inspiring Spire. While the scale of both projects certainly inspires awe, simply by virtue of their height which forces the eye skyward, they also are partnered in my mind because of the artistic process behind them. While they differ in the sourcing of the materials, Ecstasy made from man-made objects while Spire is made from felled trees, both make from found materials sing. These monuments speak to how repurposing an everday object, even a discarded one, can imbue the art with an added significance and intrinsic beauty.
some aeonium, senecio, crassula falcata. . .
ah, oscularia deltoides, a prolific groundcover that grows fast in the garden- It produces simple but pretty lavender blooms in the springtime.
With nearly 10 hours of gardening in the back yard, my muscles are tired but happy from moving rocks, pots and plants much of the weekend. My reward was seeing the view Sunday, late afternoon; while I was down in the garden with friends Dick and Matte Gray, shafts of light illuminated the newly-planted plants, turning them a shimmering gold. It was so beautiful!
The weekend included visits from not only Matte Gray, whom I want to thank for the beautiful aloe, but also visits from the Bamboo Whisperer, Bob & Andy. I had TONS of help from, and quality time with, my superstar upstairs neighbor, Dick. Thanks Dick! and thanks to all for coming to check out the garden, and for the wonderful contributions! The garden reflects the love everyone has brought to it!
The weekend also included a great meals at B&A’s house on Saturday and on Sunday, at Heart Restaurant for their “Spaghetti Sundays” – house-made pasta & meatballs, a wonderfully fresh salad & garlic bread, all incredibly well prepared– this restaurant certainly deserves all the praise it gets from the foodie community.
This was a mighty fine weekend, indeed!
Having dug the path and then, building up mounds of dirt to create a little height and shape, the addition of the moss and palms has brought the space to life. I’ve dubbed this corner of the garden, ‘Palm Grove’.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been collecting wine bottles for the last several months and I’ve been using them to create a border for my planting beds. Plunging the bottles into the ground neck-down, I have created a lovely organic pattern of variegated greens and browns, translucent and shimmering when they catch the rays of the sun. However,what I didn’t expect was that they could support life. Much to my surprise I’ve found plants growing inside the bottles! I have over a hundred little terrariums now. . .
One of my favorites, the Sempervium Arachnoideum, or ‘cobweb succulent’
morning light on flowering hellebore, march 2010
While doing a little research on this plant, the hellebore, I was delighted to find out it has a long history dating all the way back to the Classical Greece and steeped in mythology! Owing to its hearty nature, able to not only withstand frost but even flower in winter, the plant was distributed widely by centurions and settlers alike throughout the Roman Empire. In fact, because of this ability to flower in winter the plant was believed to be a being of magic, possessing mystical powers and the ability to ward off evil energy, spirits, witches and dark magic spells. It was often planted near the door to one’s house, as a means of spiritual protection for the home.