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Showing posts from August, 2010

Designing A Landscape With Contrasting Materials

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The idiosyncratic combination of bricks with arroyo stone that became a hallmark of Greene and Greene landscape design is one example of how to use contrast to create drama or emphasis in the garden. The two materials couldn't be more different: The dark-colored bricks are uniform in size and shape, while the nearly-white stones and boulders exhibit a variety of rounded shapes and sizes.
The technique can be used horizontally, as shown in the close-up of the walkway around the ponds in the rear terrace of the Gambel House, or vertically, as seen in the construction of a garage on a neighboring street. The elaborate wooden garage doors add yet a third contrasting element.

The walkway inserts an element of surprise, in that we expect brick pathways to have linear boundaries contained by a soldier course of brick on either side. In the case of the Gambel terrace, not only is the edging made of a completely different material, but the bricks in the perimeter of the walkway are also stag…

Gambel House Gardens

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Recently we traveled to Pasadena to tour the famous Arts and Crafts Style Gambel House. The three-hour woodworkers' tour focused on the joinery of the house's construction, but I had my own agenda, concentrating on the views and the construction of the outdoor spaces. The distinctive Greene and Greene architectural style is instantly recognizable, as is their idiosyncratic combination of clinker bricks and local arroyo stone in the landscape.

The Gambel House's rear terrace sports a low, pierced, clinker brick wall, which is softened by a nearly 100-year old creeping fig. All of the lighting fixtures, including the magnificent copper and art glass lamp on the terrace were made specifically for this house. What are now twin ponds were originally wells built to accommodate two eucalyptus trees that were original to the property.

Visitors can only imagine what the Gambels' views of the Arroyo Seco and the San Gabriel Mountains must have been like. Today's perimeter ro…

Succulent Garden Sculpture

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This elegant dancer at the Quail Botanical Garden in Encinitas, California is made entirely of succulent plants mounted in moss, on a wire frame. Nearby is a mariachi band covered in variegated ivy and several other dancers, whose hats, boots, and vest are made of copper. I love artwork in the garden and what could be more wonderful for avid gardeners than artworks made of plants!

The first thing I think of when I see something like this is the amount of work involved to create and maintain it. Every plant was perfect, even in the wilting 100+ degree temperature. It took a moment for the beauty of it all to sink in.
Succulents won't work outdoors year-round in places where winter temperatures dip below freezing, but hardy succulents would provide a short-season visual extravaganza. Ivy, or other hardy vines, such as variegated Vinca major would also do the trick, although not with the same stunning effect. Think about using climbing roses or Clematis, too.

The sculpture needs to be…

Exotic Jersey Tomato Salad Recipe

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I'm just back from a whirlwind trip to San Diego and Pasadena, part business and part mini-vacation. More about that later, because I first want to share with you a great recipe while my readers in New Jersey and nearby areas can still get fresh, ripe tomatoes. This was a salad I nearly swooned over at the Red Pearl Kitchen in the Gas Lamp District of San Diego. And it's soooo simple, just three ingredients. Here's my version, for two people: One-half can of hearts of palm, salad cut (reserve liquid)    One ripe avocado cut into large chunks    One tomato cut into large chunks (two tomatoes, if it's summer and they're Jersey tomatoes)    Light Olive Oil (mixed with truffle oil for the adventurous)    Salt, pepper, and herbs to taste You can also add a squirt of lemon or lime juice.

Mix the palm hearts, avocado, and tomatoes together and season to taste. Mix in with half the palm liquid and about two tablespoons of olive oil. This gives you a rather wet dressing. I…

Gardening Resolutions –Midseason Check-Up

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Did you make some New Year’s gardening resolutions in January like I did, or fantasize about a series of projects to complete before summer’s end? (See mine at http://loisdevries.blogspot.com/2009/12/gardening-resolutions-for-2010.html). Well, it’s the end of July and we’re halfway through the gardening season. Time to check progress against plans.

My primary goal was to stay on track with my gardener-coaching practice, something new this year. It's been a lot of work and gave me less time in the garden, but I'm very pleased with the results: My website is up, I've booked a number of speaking engagements, launched an online course that's gotten very positive response, appeared on Bonnie Graham's Up Close and Personal radio show, and am featured in the current issue of a national magazine, American Gardener.

The 75-foot cherry tree trunk in the east garden hasn't been touched, but Dan thinks he can still enlarge the exclosure, this year (we have to open it up…