4/06/2007

I played hookie today...

and visited the Blake Garden, the Friends of the Regional Parks Botanical Garden, and the University of California at Berkeley Arboretum.

You old-timers know how this works...

We start at the Blake Garden in Kensington. This place exerts supernatural power over my mind. I feel that way.

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All the beds pull double duty in the vegetable garden. Strawberry and asparagus.

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Dahlia imperialis (next to the teepee).

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Rosemary goes with everything.

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By now, you should all know the name of this plant.

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Azara microphylla (Flacourtiaceae). Great small tree for shade.

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Nandina + Zantedeschia.

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Afterwards, I stopped by Berkeley Hort and bought exactly this Pacific Coast iris hybrid. It's like I knew it was there waiting for me.

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In a garden, it's vital to have rocks, with plants growing over them.

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This is where you enter the redwood grove.

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It's a modest transition, with these Pinus canarienses standing sentinel.

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Clivia miniata; a ubiquitous plant that never bores me.

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Skunk cabbage. Lysichiton.

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This relaxed little doorway scene invites me to mix myself a gin and tonic and pull up a chaise. I ache for this kind of bored elegance. It's like, I could fix this up a little bit, but that would be work. It's easier to just leave it.

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What are the vital elements? Well, the tree ferns, obviously. Exotic, but not imposing. The big empty pot. You do not have to plant your pots. A good empty pot is a solid piece of garden sculpture. The weeds infiltrating the hardscape. This is very relaxing. It says, "We take it easy here." The structure of the clipped box keeps things from falling apart. You get used to seeing boxwood pruned, so the mind doesn't say "someone worked to do that". It just looks natural that way. Really the only sign of work here is the clay pot with yellow flowers. Someone must have put those there recently. But what a simple, loving gesture to plant some little yellow flowers for spring. It took five minutes to do that.

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Dogwood and magnolia everywhere. Very deep south. But very comfortable in California too.

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I am so embarrassed about something I said when I came hear last year, and I must confess. I called it the brilliantly executed combination of manzanita, agapanthus and boxwood. No, not at all. It wasn't manzanita. It was rhododendron. Can you believe that?! It's like I'm a rank amateur and you shouldn't believe anything I say. In my defense, it was late summer, and I've had very little exposure to rhodies; I didn't know some exfoliated in long strips to expose the dark red hardwood. And, most importantly, they're both heaths (Ericaceae). Anyhow, I'm so embarrassed. I'm just not going to show you that picture again. (And I want the copyright on manzanita-agapatnthus-boxwood. I own that now.)

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Question: What stands out here?

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Answer: That twisted tree trunk.

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If you can have big ropey wooden vines, you should.

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Salvia spathacea flower stalks rising over the grasses and wildflowers.

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Golly, it must be a real bother to have the low annual lupines crowding your garden path.

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NOT!

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This plant stole the show today. Salvia sonomoensis. I never really bonded with it before, but I saw it everywhere today and it was beautiful.

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The thinned out Eriogonum giganteum and Arctostaphylos echo each another.

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Salvias enthrall me.

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Cow parsnip. Heracleum lanatum. I have two of these. I hope it works out.

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The fashionable restios.

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You need liquid smoke to germinate restio seeds.

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More Salvia spathacea. I'm a big fan. As you know.

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Those frosty buds look so good I want to pick them off and eat them.

And I think these were just waist-high when I saw them last...Or at least some of them were.

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I guess we're a week too late to really enjoy this enormous Rosa banksiae 'Lutea'.

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I love a plant that expects you to appreciate its wood as much as (or more than) its foliage and flowers.

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Are you tired of my California mediterranean gardening scene? Would you just like to see something normal for once when you come here?

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This is for you.

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I get in to normal too.

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Bye-bye.



(I have a sinus headache; photos of Tilden Park and UCB Arboretum coming later tomorrow...)

6 comments:

anna maria said...

Playing hookie was obviously the right decision!
I've never even heard of the Blake Gardens and I've lived in SF for 28 years - guess I stick too closely to whatever neighborhood I'm living in.
Really beautiful photos and hope your sinus headache is better. I am well acquainted with them unfortunately.

Pam/Digging said...

No, I'm not tired of your scene, Chuck. Thanks for the tour. There's nothing like bonding with new plants and communing with old favorites, right?

Also, my daughter thinks the tulips are really pretty.

lisa said...

Although I get what you're saying about the big empty pot, it still freaks me out-I want to plant something in it! As for that skunk cabbage-was it the broadleafed plant, sorta hosta-looking? Graham Rice just had an interesting post about it- http://transatlanticplantsman.typepad.com/transatlantic_plantsman/2007/04/skunk_cabbage_t.html#more
I was gonna take a walk in the woods by my house to look for some in the wild up here, but it's just too damn cold and windy! BTW-excellent use of "hooky-time"!

chuck b. said...

Well, I think empty pots look cool. But, yeah, there is definitely a strong urge to plant them up too!

Re skunk cabbage--yes, this hosta-like one I've shown is the western skunk cabbage; Rice blogged the east coast version (different genus).

lisa said...

Different genus...huh...does the western version stink, too?

chuck b. said...

Yes, the western skunk cabbage stinks too. Although I don't have much experience with that plant and its stink. Maybe it doesn't stink for very long? There's a bunch at the Botanical Garden. I'll try to monitor stink levels on a week to week basis. I'm curious myself.