February 09, 2007

nagging mystery.


Wild! I tore out this image ages ago. I have the other side of the spread sitting on my desk next to the computer but I've lost this side of the spread. Which has been driving me crazy because I am totally in love with the artwork featured here but I don't know who did it (I think it's the owner of the house but I'm not sure). So I wanted to see if someone out there knew who did the art, but I couldn't ask because the picture had disappeared into thin air, so I couldn't post it. Total frustration insued.

So tonight I'm catching up on some favorite blogs, link to wonderful desire to inspire, and there it is! This is so weird. It's not like this is last months elle decor we're talking about. It's australian vogue living (which I have to buy in a magazine specialty shop) from quite a while ago. Oh do I love the internet and I really love desire to inspire at this moment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Which brings me to the point, finally. Does anyone know who the artist is who made the amazing black and white botanicals on the wall? I'd love to know and would be forever grateful to you for ending the nagging mystery.

February 08, 2007

I love birds and flowers.


How fabulous is this pillow from les bucoliques? So fabulous! Thanks for the link from design dna.

February 02, 2007

michelle ivankovic.


And speaking of wire love, this is a very nice example of something swell made out of wire and metal by michelle ivankovic for umbra. The flowers come as a bouquet of 18 and are either silver or 14 carat gold plated. Great alone or mixed with real flowers. Very nice.

January 31, 2007

susie ganch.


Check out this wild bracelet by susie ganch. It feels microscopic, modernistic, botanical, space age, all at the same time. Plus it's beautifully crafted. I don't know if I'd want to actually wear it, but I'm enamored with it nonetheless.


deb mersky.


One of my favorite artists is deb mersky who's provocative monotypes are made with clay impressions, collaging and goauche. They feel like they've come from another era, worn with time and steeped in nostalgia. But I also find them very modern too. I don't know if it's the mix of textures or the colors or the unique technique she uses to produce her work. Or the subject matter of her work: patterns, birds, botanical imagery that interlocks to create the rich, layered canvas that draws me in. Whatever it is, I continue to love deb's work as it broadens to include mixed media pieces, as well as amazing public installations.

January 28, 2007

susanne schjerning.


oh joy has a great link to the site susanne schjerning who's pillows are fabulous (as is her site entry page pictured above). Thanks for the great link!

January 25, 2007

rose love.


Ok, sometimes you just gotta love flickr.

January 24, 2007

fiona hall.


And another breathtaking discovery from bloom #15 is the amazing artist fiona hall. Her intricate sardine can sculptures are beautifully made botanical drawings in 3 dimension. I've never seen anything quite like them. Crafted, cut out, patterned, illustrations in metal. Amazing (as are her leaf litter paintings, by the way).

January 21, 2007

a form to love.


I love this ring by victoria bratberg. I think I love it because I love the crysanthemum, allium, center of a flower form so much.


I love it in lighting like this piece, pistillo sconce.


And I love it in art like this lovely print from angie lewin. Wonderful!

January 18, 2007

tord for kvadrat-maharam.


I just got a chance to see the new line of textiles by tord boontje for kvadrat maharam up close and personal. They are wonderful, not surprisingly. I'm particularly smitten by the above pattern called happy, aptly named, because it makes me very much so.

January 17, 2007

portia munson.


Check out the fabulous flower mandelas by portia munson. In the dead of winter it's hard to believe flowers can be this bright. What a nice reminder that sunnier days are ahead!

January 16, 2007

chilled apple.


It's so beautiful outside that I just can't help myself. Sorry. I've filled my winter garden set with all my frenzied snow day pics, so that's it for the posting of photo's of stuff covered in snow from me today. I promise!

celia at flore de papel.


What a lovely illustration from cecilia. Thanks for the sweet link via oh joy.

let it snow...


"Oh the weather outside is frightful, but inside it's quite delightful...let it snow, let it snow, let it snow." What a fun surprise this morning. Again, a rarity for us here in the northwest. Maybe once a year. So I guess today's the day for 2007. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.

January 14, 2007

la marelle bag.


I want this bag from lamarelle for my 2007 carry "things from work" bag. It's a great addition to the perfect uniform. A fabulous find via imedagoze.

January 13, 2007



It snowed this week which doesn't happen a lot in the pacific northwest. It's kind of an event for us here. Schools close when there's a 1/2 inch of snow and all my friends from the east laugh at the hysterical west coasters. Regardless, I love it when it snows. It makes the garden feel so different, highlighting some plants that before were faded and dull, like this sedum above. It's dark out these days, and cold, but I don't mind because my garden is transformed yet again.

January 11, 2007

heather moore


I just discovered the wonderful work of heather moore thanks to bloesem. I really like her stylized botanicals so very much!

nazan pak.


I'm really liking this fabulous bauble from nazan pak. Stylized flowers, very modern, very nice.

Postscript correction: my mistake. I origninally called ela cindoruk (who's work is also lovely) as the artist for this lovely brooch. Thanks to reader

January 09, 2007

extratapete patterns.


There are so many amazing new wallcoverings out there, it's hard to choose a favorite. Well this beautiful pattern colette from extratapete is certainly on my list!

January 05, 2007

ulrike hamm earrings.


I love my flowers so it's not surprising that these amazing earrings made by ulrike hamm, out of vellum of all things, make me pretty happy. They're smart and modern and organic. Very nice indeed.

January 04, 2007

the bluebird returns.


I saw this picture of an eastern bluebird in the new york times home and garden section today, and my heart skipped a beat. Was this magical bird for real?. It was, I came to find out when I read the article it so proudly represented, a crop of azure, scarlet and gold by anne raver. She talks about how the garden she planned in her mind, has changed dramatically with the return of bluebirds and pileated woodpeckers and carolina wrens. These birds, long absent to her central Maryland farm, have returned thanks to farmer's cutting back on the use of pestisides and new government subsidies that have turned cropland into land for native grasses and trees. So she's left trees she thought she'd remove and allowed weeds to grow in places she normally wouldn't, all to keep these beautiful birds happy and home. I have never seen an eastern bluebird in my life (since I live in the west) but I imagine the return of these beauties to my garden would be worthy of quite a celebration and a welcome garden redesign. Once in a while, there are happy endings out there and this article tells the wonderful story of one of them.

January 01, 2007

seed pod vases.


I'm liking these sweet seed poddy vases from whitney smith pottery. Pretty, pretty, pretty.

December 28, 2006

garden journal.


One of my favorite gifts for Christmas was this lovely garden journal from a great friend. It's a beautiful handmade book, with a woodcut print cover, from a local artist at push me pull you press. She got it at a sale that took place a few weeks ago at my favorite bakery of all time, baker and spice. I can't wait to use it to document the changes in my garden throughout the year!

hard frost.


We had a hard frost last night. Everything in the garden is covered in a dry, sparkling layer of white frost. Every leaf detail, every twig is outlined. What's left of the garden is made graphic and particular. The hot red of the barberry's fruit stings against the muted colors of the rest of the garden. Sharp punctuations. A small red berry like this would be barely noticable in the summer, but now it's the only source of bright color, so it grabs my attention. It is utterly beautiful this morning.

December 26, 2006

falling gardens.


I'm usually not a huge fan of installation art. I guess I'm basically a bit traditional in my taste in art forms. I'm big on painting, printmaking, drawing, ceramics, metal work and of course, collage. Occasionally though, I'm surprised and thrilled by something in the performance or installation category, which is certainly the case here with the falling garden piece by gerda steiner and jorg lenzlinger. Wow! It's pretty delightful on screen and I imagine, magnificant in person.

December 22, 2006

carey sookocheff birds, dogs, flowers.


I'm so excited to be back from the hospital, so much sooner than I thought! Yipee. I hate hospitals. But having said that, I'm certainly not moving at 100% to say the least. So the posts will be sporatic. Depending how long I can sit...but right now, at this very moment, I'm having a burst of energy. Quick post a couple of goodies and then back to bed. Still it feels great to be up to even this. Like I said, yipee.

Check out the really lovely work of canadian illustrator carey sookocheff. I've always loved off register printing and her work takes it to a nice, sophisticated level. Plus she has lot's of illustrations of flowers, birds and dogs. Not a huge surprise that I like her work.


December 15, 2006

ernest ciavano drawings.


A nice friend turned me on to the breathtaking work of ernesto caivano. I love the confidence and sparsity of his line work. And well, of course, I love the subject matter. Such a lovely find!



Photographer howard schatz has a new book out called botanica. It's got some amazing shots of flowers as well as some colorized images that are interesting as abstracts. It's definitely worth a peek.

December 14, 2006

stanley bielen flower paintings.


The paintings of stanley bielen make my heart ache, I love them so much. They remind me a bit of the last flower paintings of manet which can be found in a lovely little book by the same name.

December 13, 2006

favorite book, lovely drawing.


I love this wonderful illustration by emma akerman, of one of my all time favorite childhood books, the secret garden. I can't imagine loving the story more than I already do, but when I see this illustration, I'm thinking maybe I could if this were the book's cover. As I've said before, I'm totally willing judge a book by it's cover!

December 07, 2006

running dog topiary.


This is an image from some ancient newspaper clipping that I've had forever. These are topiary of dogs running across a lawn. I think it's from some estate in England, but I'm not sure. It continues to absolutely delight me. Whoever thought of this deserves an award as far as I'm concerned. Or a hug.

November 23, 2006

lovely flower studies.


A number of months ago, I wrote about all these groovy sites featuring art that's been created everyday by an artist. There are lot's of reasons why they approach their work this way, and thanks to our friend the internet, we get to watch the process. As well as get some lovely art for an affordable price, if we so desire.

With the holiday's quickly approaching, I thought I'd share my own experience with one of these sites. The above painting is one I bought from the very nice nick jainschigg. His goal in creating a painting a day, was to hone his skills as a painter in oil. It's fascinating to see his work over time and particularly his flower paintings, in my opinion, are pretty fantastic. The photo's of his work on the site are very true and so when my lovely flower study arrived on time and as promised, it was exactly what I'd expected. Well, and then some, because of course, the actual beauty of the paint was so much more in real life. The point is that the whole process was wonderful. No surprises, Mr. Jainschigg was lovely to deal with, the price was quite affordable and the painting itself is very special. If you're looking for a nice flower painting for someone special, definitely take a look at a painting a day for some possibilities.

November 22, 2006

I heart mary margaret's monotypes.


My great (and very talented) friend mary margaret is having a studio sale the first 2 weekends in December. Her work is absolutely breathtaking in person. The process that Mary Margaret has developed, creates a soft, sensuous play between the realness of the plant material she uses and the very graphic aspect of her motifs and compositions. Richly rendered and beautifully colored, these botanical monotypes, are also mounted on lightweight blocks, so they don't need framing. I am lucky enough to own a couple pieces and now, after seeing her latest work, I want more. Look at these stunning pieces from the indigo series. Her work just slays me!


November 04, 2006

bill samios flowers.


I'm quite liking the paintings of bill samios, especially the ones of flowers, though he also has some terrific ones of birds and dogs. Very nice.


October 31, 2006

I heart angie lewin printmaking.


Thanks to my friend Jeff, who just turned me on to the extraordinary prints of angie lewin. I really love her design sensibility and skilled "simplification" of complex natural forms. Her work is reminiscent of charles harper's amazing birds. What a beautiful treat!

October 30, 2006



There have been a bunch of books released lately, featuring beautifully photographed things from nature, both life size and micro-sized. The latest I've had the priviledge to flip through is the magnificant book, seeds, the time capsules of life. As a gardener and a designer, I couldn't be happier with this book. To see the incredible structures of some of my favorite plant's seeds is a real treat. And the forms themselves, are at once visually arresting and functionally perfect. Yes, I am easily persuaded, after seeing this book, that there is pattern to be found in everything in life. Beautiful!


October 28, 2006

maple color.


We joined the japanese garden this fall and today was our first visit as new members. And oh what a day. Foggy in the morning, we arrived as the clouds were burning off and shafts of sunlight were streaming through the trees. We haven't had a big, wet storm yet so many of the maple trees still have their leaves, some green, some screaming yellow and red. There is nothing like a perfect fall day in a japanese garden.


October 24, 2006

herman vanbostelen.


How nice are the wonderful graphics by herman vanbostelen! Love them.


October 17, 2006

tulips in october.


I bought tulips the other day. They were so fabulous, orange, strange. Tulips are for April, not October, but I just couldn't resist. A small indulgence, as fall settles in.

October 15, 2006

amy helfand.


I'm still liking the work of amy helfand. I've seen her rugs plenty of times, but I'd never gone to her site until today. I love her works on paper. Great color. Surreal garden like imagery. Flat pattern that feels fresh. Very nice.


fall color full.


It's really raining out. Finally. It's been an unseasonably warm fall. Mid 70's into the middle of October, which has been pleasant but also a bit weird. But this morning it's the fall I know and love. Wet, coolish, and also shockingly colorful. Look at the hot red barberry in contrast to the cool green grape vine. Or the dusty blue euphorbia wulfenii with a single branch of barberry meandering through it. Screaming beautiful color. So breathtaking and so soon, going away for another year.


October 11, 2006

botanical models.


Check out these amazing vintage botanical models from meulendijks & schuil. Who knew such beautiful things existed? I love these so much. Modern and sculptural but also old world and scientific. They make my heart flutter with desire.

October 05, 2006

artistic botany.


This beautiful image is by Judith K. McMillian, created through the use of an x-ray machine as her camera. I so love the results. It makes me think of some kind of soft, luscious drawing, while at the same time, appearing so very scientific. Totally lovely. Her work also of reminds me of the photography of Karl Blossfeldt from one of my all time favorite books Karl Blossfeldt: Working Collages.

Thanks to amy alice for the link.

October 04, 2006

acid bloom.


I came across the book acid bloom by Ninagawa Mika again the other day. I'd seen it a couple of years ago and loved it then. Saw it yesterday and remembered how much I loved it. This book of her work in particular, is very inspiring to me. From the subject matter of course, to her photographic approach and signature color point of view. I love the blown out, oversaturated colors of her images as well as the bug's eye view that frame up her compositions. I realized yesterday how much I look at my garden and the flowers there in a similar way. I don't have anything close to her amazing technical skills (I'm a digital camera point and shoot kind of gal) but even so, I like the blurry, not so perfect, in motion approach to garden photography. It's not still in real life so why should all your finished pictures feel still and perfect?

September 24, 2006

3 favorites of the week: 9.24

heavy petal is the first groovy gardening blog I've stumbled apon. I don't always agree with her style choices but I love the youthful, sassiness of this garden blog.

More fabulous pillows from design public. These sweeties from salvor fauna have been around for a while, but man, I still love them.

Again, maybe not so new as a resource, but still a beauty to remember. little otsu paper goods make my heart go pitter pat.

September 23, 2006

lovely day.


It's one of those achingly gorgeous afternoons that you hope you will never forget. Warm, wind lightly blowing through the garden, soft light dancing off the colorful grasses and still lush trees. It makes my heart hurt a bit, because it is so beautiful. And fleeting, because it is late September and colder days are fast approaching. So today is a wonderful gift to savor. So lovely.

September 22, 2006

sunny days.

It's sunflower season. The rain has stopped and it's supposed to be near 80 degrees this weekend. That'll be fine because it's September 80, not July 80. Lovely during the day, quick to cool off at night. Pretty much as good as it gets, as far as I'm concerned.

September 09, 2006

hot spot.


Schitzostylis is one of the flowers that signals fall to me. Hot colored, hardy and confident to the point of invasiveness, this plant is a terrific late season bloomer. I love the bright coral against the barberry seed pods. I love it against most of the subtler fall hues of the ornamental grasses, rose hips and sedums. They provide a lovely, sharp visual punctuation point amongst the softer drifts of turning colors in the garden. Proof positive, that there is still some hotness left in these early days of fall.

August 31, 2006

fall's turn is coming.

It's blustery and warm with an undertone of coolness. Fall coolness. The flowers of fall are in bloom, still colorful and bright, but also seeming a bit softer in tone than the flowers of summer. Maybe it's just the change in light that makes this seem so. Echinacea, schitzostylis, anenomes are coming into there own along with the second full bloom of roses and the last of the daylilies. It still feels more summer than fall, but it's clear that soon it will be the opposite. The days can be pretty hot still but nights are downright cold, and this morning I felt like I needed gloves on my walk with the dogs. It's a terrific time full of tensions between seasons. But I know which season will inevitably prevail in the coming weeks. It's time for glorious fall.

August 28, 2006

succulent infatuation.


I totally infatuated with succulents as plants. I love their sculptural form and exotic coloring. I can't really grow them here in the Northwest, so I have to settle for finding them in California or desert gardens that I plan to visit in the future. It's funny how no matter what you have, you're always drawn to the thing that is hard to obtain or extraordinary. I guess it's not the most noble of human tendancies, but at least in the case of succulents, it's not so awful.

Hm. But then again, remember the 17th century tulip mania?

August 25, 2006

pat austin love.


The light is changing and autumn is approaching. It's sneaking in, a bit at a time, slowly, everyday. I love this time of year because the roses are blooming their second bloom, the sedum is just beginning to flower and the ornamental grasses are in full seed. And my favorite rose of all, the David Austin english rose Pat Austin, is gloriously blooming again. It is such a stunning flower and the scent is absolutely heavenly. Unfortunately, its not very good as a cut flower, fading very shortly after it's cut. So I guess I'll have to just enjoy them on the bush. Somehow I think I can suffer through.


August 20, 2006

3 favorites of the week: 8.20

gadget girl flickr set. wonderful, stylized photography of flowers. great colors.

xocoa chocolate. great packaging graphics. and for god's sake, it's chocolate.

kajander cv. wonderful, fresh example of a resume. love the graphics, the storytelling, the layout. I'd certainly notice this one in a stack of the usual resumes.

August 13, 2006

3 favorites of the week: 8.13

I'm going to institute a new category 3 new favorite links of the week on dear ada. I saw something like this on some site I'd read a few months back and I thought it was a great idea. So here you have it. I'm going to assume that I'm linking to stuff lot's of people already know about and I'm just late to somebody's party. I guess that's the nature of the web. You're always outside of some cool thing. I'm going to just embrace my uncoolness and do this anyway. So here we go for this week. I hope you enjoy what I found.

1. lucy pepper, blogzira. Very funny, well written, wonderfully illustrated. Thanks to learning daily for the link.

2. heritage scrapebooks. Over 1500 images of amazing heritage scrapbooks from the last 300 years.

3. meiri ishida jewelery. Surprising felt, fiber and metal jewelery design. Thanks to valdemar lindekrantz for this link.

August 12, 2006

sensory overload.


I can get a bit overwhelmed at a farmer's market. Plenty, is the word that comes to mind, over and over. So much plenty. Color, vegetables, flowers, textures, fruits, flavors, plants, scents. Baskets and crates, filled to the brim with fresh tomatoes, in 10 different colors and sizes. Tables piled high with potatoes, bell peppers, jalepenos, string beans, watermelons. Neat turquoise and purple boxes filled with dark burgundy cherries, dusty red raspberries, enormous huckleberries. And buckets full of dahlias, sunflowers, zinneas, hydrangea and lillies, line the aisles. It's a place of sensory overload. It's also a reminder of all that we have available to us. I walk away from the farmer's market, every time, full of awe and gratitude. Sounds corny, but it's true.

August 08, 2006

first plums.


We have an ancient, old plum tree in the backyard. The tree has two grafted plum varieties, one an italian plum, the other, we don't know. The unknown plum branch seems to be on it's last leg but the italian plums are producing with a vengeance. I'm always amazed at how blue they are. So pretty and tasty too.

August 07, 2006

pod head.


These are the seed pods from the amaryllis bulb that bloomed last month in the outdoor planter. Love them against the new green wall in the kitchen.

July 30, 2006

hyper-color at joy creek.


The Joy Creek Nursery is a wonderful nursery specializing in hydrangea's, penstamon, clematis and hosta's to name a few. Located near Scapoose Oregon off of hwy 30, the display gardens, open air nursery and greenhouses are nestled midway up the hill against a backdrop of lush green forest. Around the small house on the property, is an extensive display garden that showcases the many plants they specialize in, grown to full size. And wow, do these plants ever get big! Lillies towering over your head, hydrangea's 8 feet tall and wide, hosta's the size of a small car, all remind you that it's good to leave space around the plants you put in the garden. But I never do and so we have to divide them after 3 or 4 years as everything fights for space to breath. But that's another story...

Known for offering a wide variety of the genus' it specializes in, Joy Creek has a great catalog to buy from, for the gardener who knows their stuff. I'm not so great at knowing what plant we're talking about without a picture, but for those who can, this catalog is a must. Better yet, if you can visit, it's really the best of all worlds. A beautiful setting, incredibly knowledgable staff that are always eager to help, all while deciding which of the fabulous, healthy and unique plants you can't live without. Who could ask for more? We visited Joy Creek Nursery last nigh at dusk, for an event they do once a year, which was really wonderful. I've never photographed the garden at dusk and with the flash on, the plants and flowers came out surreal and hyper-colored, giving yet another view of the wonderful Joy Creek Nursery. (To see more, check out the joy creek flickr set).

July 21, 2006

in progress.

This is a detail of a collage I've been working on. It's "sweeter" than I'd expected which I'm not sure about. I suspect it's because of the butterflies.

July 13, 2006

daisy surprise.


These daisies were not planted by me. Some passing bird or the wind deposited the seeds in the garden without my permission. And I'm so glad they did. The surprises can be so much better than anything you planned. Plus who could ever have issue with a flower as cheery as a daisy?

July 08, 2006

desert gardens.

I'm in love with desert gardens. The incredible shapes, colors and survival methods of the diverse plant types that make their home in the harsh and arid conditions of the desert, are always surprising and impressive. That "biology of survival" added to the rigors of designing an appealing and interesting garden, seems a design challenge of the highest order to me. That's why I love the Huntington Desert Garden in Pasadena. It is a magnificant example of both: great garden design and a great desert garden. It's one of my favorite places in the world.

Another desert garden, that I'd like to visit some time, is the Ruth Bancroft garden in Walnut Creek. This garden is described as a "preeminent demonstration of the art of garden design. Working primarily with the dramatic forms of her beloved succulents, Mrs. Bancroft has created bold and varied compositions in which the colors, textures, and patterns of foliage provide a setting for the sparkle of floral color." Sign me up for some of that!

And later this month, I'm going to visit the gardens of the late Madame Ganna Walska at Lotusland in Santa Barbara, which boasts of a great cactus and succulent garden (among many other types including a blue garden!) on the 37 acre estate. I'm so excited, I can hardly wait!


In between the rare chances to see real desert gardens up close and personal, I have just found a great resource to satisfy my love for desert gardens. diane's baja desert garden blog is a wonderful chronicle of the beauty and challenge of growing a garden in a place that has had only 1.5 inches of rain in the last 2 years. The site features beautiful photography of the strange and wonderful plants in her garden, as well all the birds and animals that live in or around it. Her garden is a testament to designing within the very harsh conditions of the desert, resulting in the creation of a place of unique and magical beauty.

July 06, 2006



Love these red dahlias with their dark stems against the chartruese foliage of the salvia.

it's not even christmas.

You know those amaryllis bulbs you get at Christmas time? Well they can be planted outside after you're done with them, and around the time you forget about them, they will surprise you in all their glory. This is one I stuffed in a planter 18 months ago and low and behold, here it is, working it's magic. Who knew?

July 03, 2006

buckets of flowers.


I do love the farmer's market.

July 01, 2006

modern bird food source.


We went into design within reach today, and found this wonderful egg bird feeder by Jim Schatz. It's been around for a couple of years and it still makes me so happy. I think this is a great example of someone smart coming along and turning the accepted idea of something (in this case, the utilitarian bird feeder) on it's ear. Plus, can you imagine a couple of these hanging from the trees? It'd be like jewelry for the garden. Be still my heart.

June 24, 2006

lily says hi.

Thanks for indulging me on all the garden shots. This is the best time of the year for our garden and I just can't help myself. My garden set on flickr is not surprisingly, enormous. This is the 6th year for our garden, which we started from scratch and now I believe what I've heard about garden's coming into their own around year 5 and 6. I don't even want to think about how much we're going to have to divide stuff in the coming years. But for now, it's fine, with plants really settling in after taking a few years to establish themselves. Like this lily who's name of course, I can't remember. It's been kind of a whimp in years past and then this year it's 5 feet tall, saying, "look at me. Aren't I fabulous?"


June 22, 2006

fresh berries

Pruning, pruning, pruning the other day, I looked up and saw the first raspberries of the season in the garden. Tasty treats to distract from the aching muscles. Mm.

June 16, 2006

liquid sunshine


It's one of those rainy late spring days. Actually it's almost summer but it's still raining here, with moments of sunbreak and then a downpour and then sun again. The roses are at their prime right now but they're also taking a bit of a beating from the rain. Oh well, they're still pretty glorious, regardless.

May 29, 2006

hot geranium

Our garden was featured as a part of the Garden Conservancy open days program a couple of years ago which was fun. We were happy to open our garden to the public for such a great organization plus it gave us a good deadline to work towards on some bigger projects. The day arrived and the skies literally opened with such a deluge, I was sure that no one would venture out. It poured and poured and poured, plus it was absolutely freezing out too. But gardeners are a hardy bunch, so in spite of the weather tons of people of showed up (even a tour bus from Vancouver BC arrived which was a bit daunting). People wandered around with wellies and umbrellas full of questions and nice compliments. Plus we some got great tips from people who visited too. Like the recomendation of this great (of course I can't remember the variety) hardy geranium that adds a tangy heat to the cool greens and dark burgundies that serve as the backdrop to the entire garden. If you have an open garden program in your neighborhood or city, I'd highly recommend checking it out. It's a great way to see what other gardeners are doing to get some new ideas as well as some wonderful examples of what you surely want to avoid.

May 21, 2006

and speaking of roses..



oh my god!

early summer in spring

It's only May and the garden is in full bloom. A week of temperatures in the 70's, 80's and even one day in the 90's, seems to have truly jump started the season. And the scent of all the roses in bloom is divine.

May 07, 2006

favorite garden reads

I'm reading a terrific garden book right now called "Cultivating Delight, A Natural History of My Garden", by Diane Ackerman, the author of the best seller, "A Natural History of the Senses". It's wonderful. So beautifully written and observant. I like how singular the author's voice is in this book. It's definitely her view of her garden and nature and life. She includes some passages that are harsh but truthful about nature and human's and what we do to the world around us. It makes me a bit uneasy but I like that too. And I love the title: Cultivating Delight. I think that is a great adage to live by. Delight takes effort, and the garden is a great place to work for it. The pay off may not be immediate but in the long run, it's definitely delightful!
While I'm on the subject of garden literature, there are a couple of other books that I've found to be a great reads. The first is the book "Green Thoughts, A Writer in the Garden" by Eleanor Perenyi, published in 1981. It is a rare combination of beautifully written, highly informative and very funny insights about plants, their habits, gardens, design, tools, and maintenance among many other subjects. The essays are presented alphabetically rather than by the usual seasonal order, so there is this kind of loopy, randomness about the book that is refreshing and surprising: lawns, lillies, longevity or partly cloudy, paths, peonies. And yes, it is really funny too. I actually found myself laughing out loud due in great part to Ms. Peroenyi's sassy smartness and obvious delight she takes in both gardening and writing. This book is truly a treat!
Another favorite of mine is a book called "Planted" by Andy Sturgeon. Mr. Sturgeon is an accomplished garden designer and his book is so funny and groovy. It's truly one of the coolest looking books I've seen in the gardening book realm and the straightforward, "what you need to do" aspect of the writing, makes it a great resource. And then there is my favorite section which has his very opinionated recommendations on particular plants: "Rue: Granted it's an attractive blue grey and it is sort of evergreen, which accounts for its popularity. But what's in a name? A lot. Graveolens is Greek for 'strong smelling'. I don't know what the Greek for 'stinks like cat pee' is, but it would be far more appropriate." Or: "Vinca Major: is it a shrub? Is it a climber? This is truly a plant with an identity crisis." Yeah, I really like this book.
And my final garden book of note is "Gardening Mad" by Monte Don. It's the best designed book of the garden book bunch that I've found, beautifully written by Mr. Don with photographs by Fleur Olby (featured in this blog). The book is pleasure to look at even if you don't read the essays. But that would be a mistake because they are so well written and informative that I had to stop myself from reading ahead in the excitement of just wanting more. The book is laid out by season and it was great to read the April essays in April, so that I could run out an apply what I had just discovered. Again, another great read!

May 06, 2006

2 weeks worth of growth

the garden on April 15th.

the garden on May 3rd.

May 04, 2006

first rose of the year

It's been in the 70's for the last couple of days and the garden is very happy. Plants are blooming willy nilly in the soft warmth of these sunny days. And the first rose to bloom this year was the hardy, scrappy rugosa, simple in form and so fragrant to smell. Happy days!

thriving with neglect

I love these welsh poppies. Every year they come up in front of our brick planter. They've been here since we moved in and we do nothing to insure their survival. And yet they literally thrive in the crack between the brick wall and the street. They are remarkably resiliant beauties!

April 29, 2006

clematis fig symbiosis

The last few days have been sunny and warm. I keep finding myself surprised at how much is blooming and then I remember that it's almost May. It's supposed to be this way. The clematis montana that I planted on the ancient fig in our yard, is beginning to bloom. It's absolutely exuberant. And the fig likes it too. I think the spot was too sunny for it but now with it's canapy of clematis, it seems to be happier than ever. Every fall I seem to have more and more figs than I know what to do with. So who can complain? Gorgeous flowers in May and bowls of figs in September. I do love the garden!

April 15, 2006

rainy day weeding

This is the garden on March 31st. Sunny, warm. The first day of real springlike weather. Everything felt like it was exploding with growth.
This is the garden just two weeks later. Rainy, cold. So many plants are beginning to fill out and bloom, not to mention the weeds and errant grasses that send out their tufts of new growth on long, white runners, like missionaries in a foreign land. It's a great time to keep after them because the ground is so saturated and they are relatively easy to dig up and pull along the runner, from one tuft to the next. I find that very satisfiying. Not only getting out the grass right in front of me, but also the one inches away, even feet, with a gentle pull. Often the runners break because they run deep into the ground, so I am forced to come back a few weeks later to see what new grass is growing in the bed I just cleaned out. Vigilance is key.

April 08, 2006

clematis and a little philosophy

One of my greatest friends and I went to the biannual Hardy Plant Society sale today. It was a small adventure in the best sense. We have a great time when we do these type of outings because of the fun of the search and the wonderful conversations in the process. We catch up, we laugh alot and after 25 years of knowing each other, we can get philosophical, in the way friends who've known each other that long only can. We were talking about the world and how it's so full of bad things (think Bush administration to start) but also how full it is of good things too. And how, as we get older, we find ourselves choosing to focus on the good where we can. Literally choosing. Not in a pollyanna, "everythings good and nothing is bad in the world" kind of way, but rather as a kind of lean, to the places that bring happiness where we have the choice. I told him about how this blog was that for me. A place where I can go that has a collection of the things I love and care about. And then he told me about how he and his wife, after reading my blog, were trying to buy a piece of art from one of the artists I'd blogged about a few weeks ago. Which made me so happy! That the good of doing this (for myself) will translate into the good of my wonderful friends getting a piece of art from a terrific artist they might never have heard about otherwise. Good begat good. How cool is that!

But I transgress. Back to the Hearty Plant Society sale. My friend and I go to almost every sale they have, searching for a special variety of some plant we know and love or on the rarest of occasions, discovering something we've never seen before. It's not that either of us need any more plants but the lure of the possibility of some wonderful find keeps us coming back each time. And today was such a day, with both discovery and a rare find. On the ground at the Edelweiss Perennial's booth, almost under the table, was a dark purple foliaged clematis called Midnight Mascarade whose white flowers will hopefully bloom happily this summer in my garden. In truth, I really don't care about the flowers that much. It was the dark purple foliage on a clematis that convinced me to drop the big bucks (ok, it was only $30, but compared to our other finds, it was tres expensive). I have a prime spot for it and I can't wait to see how it will do.

Other than the exotic clematis I got a couple of Euphorbia Red Wing, which is a variety I don't have but my friend does and he highly recommended them. He got a couple of amazing Soloman's Seals as well as a wonderful hardy geranium whose name I forget but whose small, dark purple flowers will be great next to his Heuchera. I also picked up a few Verbascum Violetta and a couple of Primula x pubescens, which is a new variety for me. I love primula's because they are so reliable, coming back year after year, at a time when you are just about to give up hope for winter to ever end.

And that was about it for us. We didn't overdo but we came away with a few treasures plus another terrific small adventure together. Life is most definitely good.

April 02, 2006



I know I said that I think of spring as burgundy, chartreuse and dark green. Well it's also about color and flowers for me too.


botanical inspiration

Ron Van Dongen's had the opening for his wonderful show of large format botanical photographs at the Froelick Gallery yesterday. It was the first time I saw his work and I was so impressed. Though the photographs were of course about flowers and plants, what resonated the most for me was the color and form that his work celebrated. The images were taken with a large format camera, converted into a very high resolution scan and then printed on watercolor paper at various scales and sizes. The largest of the editioned pieces was 40"x32" and because of the size, the actual flower form became abstracted and obscured. The use of brilliantly selected colored backgrounds for each of the flower studies, forced me to see the different elements of color and "graphics" that together came to be the flower as a whole. Each piece felt like a portrait of a beautiful character, never precious or cliche. I left the show feeling that I had come to know the flower in a way I hadn't before.
And luckily for all of us, Mr. Van Dongen also has 5 stunningly beautiful books of his photography published by Nazraeli Press, which of course we had to have a couple for ourselves. Prior to this show and very surpising to me, Mr. Van Dongen had only photographed in black and white, so we bought one of his black and white books (Nudare) and the one featuring the colored photography from this show (Effusus). The books are a wonderful reminder of a very special show, all of which can be purchased through the Froelick Gallery.

March 31, 2006

early spring

I have the door open while I'm writing this. It's sunny out and warm enough to let the fresh air into the house. So beautiful and scented with the early spring flowers' fragrances. Spring is apon us and everyday the garden seems to be doubling in size. Literally from one day to the next, plants are budding and then leafing out before our eyes.
The predominant colors of the garden today are burgundy, chartruese and dark green, with a few splashes of purple from the violets and yellow from the daffodils and primroses.
Most people talk about spring in terms of the flowers and color spots, but I always think of it as the colors of euphorbia's, hellabores, the barberry starting to leaf. Burgundy, chartruese and dark green are the colors of spring for me.

March 19, 2006

today is spring

Today was the first day of spring. Well not officially, but in my garden it was. Today was sunny and warm and blissfully quiet. For once no whining engine noise from some lawn mower or weed wacker. Just birds and wind and beauty. Everything peeking up and budding out. All a bit tenative, given the last month of rain and snow, but about to explode with life, given half the chance. Today was perfect. We pruned the roses, weeded the errant grass in the flower beds and even transplanted a few plants. I did the easy stuff, what with the healing shoulder and my wonderful husband did the rest. And I'm already feeling it in my legs and back and torso. Gardening is so good for you but the first day is always tough. Winter is for hunkering down and spring is about streching. Yes, today was absolutely perfect and I feel giddy. Here comes the sun!

March 04, 2006

helluva hellebore

The hellebores are out en masse. We had a wicked cold snap a few weeks ago and I thought the initial blossoms were goners. The first of the blooms were out when the below freezing, below zero "with wind chill" weather decended upon us. The snap lasted about 3 days and the hellebores green and purple heads were bent to the ground in shock. I know that hellebores thrive in far colder climates than ours; they are afterall a winter bloomer. But the Northwest has pretty mild winters overall, even if we do get the occasional ice or snow storm. I thought that my hellebores might be too used to their relatively comfortable existence and as such, not make it through the surprise, prolonged arctic blast.
But they are of course fine now. Faces up, in full bloom. Happily reminding us that spring is really coming. They are truly one of my favorite flowers from any of the seasons throughout the year; it's not just that they are special because they are blooming when most everything else is dormant. I love to see them in combination with the foliage of the purple euphorbias and the deliciously fragrant daphe. Not only are they a wonderful variation on the green/purple/pink/white combination I so love, but combined, they feature rich, heady scent, beautiful flower shape and graphic expression along with the emotion and excitement of the promise of warmer days. Scent, sight and the imagination. What could be better?

February 18, 2006

the days are getting longer...

Remember when it was summer? It's hard to imagine during these cold days of winter. But I know that soon, the thorny rose canes in my garden will produce these spicy scented flowers again. Patience!

January 01, 2006

money in the bank

In the dead of winter it's great to be reminded that flowers do exist, even it is somewhere else. It's rained so much over the last couple of weeks that it seems inconceivable that summer will ever return. At times like these I try to think of the rain as an investment. In about 6 months we'll reap the benefits from what feels like the unending, grey, wetness we call January. In the meantime, these will certainly do for me.

December 18, 2005

controlled randomness

Here's another artist who's work I really like. Her name is Amy Mayfield and I just discovered her while wandering on the web. I like her use of color as well as the focused and fantastic illustrations she's integrated into the free form drops of paint. Her work has an interesting tension between the random and controlled.
There is a biological, scientific character to her paintings, as well as an illustrative, playful one. They feel serious and fun all at the same time. For me, her work touches on a number of key currents happening in the world today: animation meets obvious material expression meets illustration meets biology meets craft meets innocence meets sci-fi. Whatever the reason, they feel very cool to me.

November 13, 2005

3 days difference + color


red, up and down in 3 days time.


purple and green,

more red plus orange,

some yellow and brown in November.

August 04, 2005

dahlia photo


dahlias are the flower of the dog days of summer. hot, flamboyant, pushy.