Thursday, December 8, 2011

transforming front yards

Two weeks ago my friend and design partner Laura and I got our first job installing a garden in an Oakland home. Our job was to clear out and plant three beds in our clients' front yard. They wanted a mix of natives, grasses, flowers and primarily easy to care for colorful plants. They also wanted a flowering vine to trellis up their entrance way. Here are a few photos of the design before and after planting. 

The main bed, with lots of "weeds" coming up, a bare fence and existing tree. 

After a good weeding we laid out our plants and stones. Our designed was centered around a repeating theme of grasses and succulents. The bed is lined with California poppies. An evergreen Clematis vine is what we chose for the entrance.

Here's a close up of our planting groups. We got the stones from American Soil and Stone. The colorful grasses are Phormium 'jester.' In the background along the fence you'll see a CA native grape that we chose to line the wall. 

One focal counterpoint to the existing tree is the addition of a beautiful dwarf Japanese maple 'pixie.' Japanese blood grass provides colorful foliage to the left. 

The view from their porch. We mulched the bed nicely to keep out weeds and pull the design together

The far planting bed along the house, overflowing with weeds and with a well established jasmine and camelia plant. 

We cleared the bermuda grass, and piled in ground covers, and CA native sticky monkey flowers and poppies. 

Designing and installing the garden was great fun. If you know of anyone who needs a little nudge to transform an empty garden space into a thriving native, colorful or edible garden, please get in touch.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Food Rules!

This semester I've been attending the Chez Panisse Foundation/UC Berkeley class called Edible Education 101, co-taught by Michael Pollan and Nikki Henderson.  We had some great speakers including the inspiring Peter Sellars:

With the weather changing and book season in full swing, I've decided to spend a few posts reviewing some of the recent botanical books I've been reading.  Books make great holiday gifts, and there's nothing like spending time in your favorite local bookstore, especially one like  Diesel Bookstore who recently had a fun customer appreciation pie & wine party with every book 20% off.  They also gave away these pins as party favors:

I decided to pick up a copy of Michael Pollan's "Food Rules" with beautiful illustrations by Maira Kalman.  The book outlines some basic food rules we ll should abide by, with the pivotal one being:
" When You Eat Real Food, You Don't Need Rules"

My most favorite rule is certainly:

"Place a Bouquet of Flowers on the Table and Everything Will Taste Twice as Good"  

I admit, I felt a little dorky asking MP to sign my copy at our last class, but I'm glad I did.