Sunday, January 20, 2019

Blue Ribbon Garden in DTLA

I realized i never shared these pictures of a great garden that i visited for the first time 2018! The weekend after the Fling, i had less than 48 hours at home (in SoCal/LA area). Rather than spending that driving to and from LAX, I decided to stay in DTLA. One of my favorite things to do in downtown is wander around - and this trip, i found three cool new-to-me gardens. The first was the Spring Street Community Garden, where i got cuttings!

From there, i headed over to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. Hiding behind it is the Blue Ribbon Garden. I first learned about this garden from someone else's blog post, and this was my first visit. It is very cool! This is a pretty picture-heavy post, as I took way too many pictures of this pretty garden.

We start by going up the stairs:

there are no signs (that i could find anyway)
 The garden is tucked right up to the concert hall - which means the silver/aluminum walls make for some awesome backdrops:
 The plants were actually fairly well labeled, although i didn't pay much attention to them. Instead, i wandered around taking pictures of these red flowers popping against the silver walls.
 There were a lot of smaller flowers too - very pretty when you looked at them close up
pretty blue!
 The garden is somewhat shady, so even in early May (this was May 12) there was a lot of green.
this part was long and skinny
 Here is a sign!
 And more blue flowers - some parts of this garden looked like an Annie's Annual planting catalogue!
that is obviously a compliment!
 The beds were very curvy, with paths (and light posts...) throughout the garden:
no grass here!
 The skies were overcast that day, but that just made for better pictures. And the skies and building matched each other!
I'm sure i should have looked up which tree this is...
 There is a sculpture in the middle, that in some signs was referred to as a fountain. I saw no water, and this was the best picture i got without other people in it.
although the garden wasn't that busy
 More of those red flowers, and i would not mind hanging out at those tables for my lunch if i worked nearby (i do not, sadly)
everything was clean and well taken care of, especially for a publicly accessible garden
 In the middle of the garden was another sign with more information:
more information on the garden
 Another view of the concert hall, fountain/statue and those red flowers
so pretty!
the building makes such a unique background
 There was one bed that seemed to be suffering from over-growth - although this senna wasn't complaining

Some more up close plant shots - there are so many great plants in this garden!

Foliage as well as flowers
towards the end of the garden, the palette changed to more white flowers
including poppies
 And there were more places to sit:
 so you could really admire the view:
i maybe took to many pictures of the garden against the building?
A funny (and very LA-thing) - in the "canyons" between parts of the building, there were at least 3 groups of people that looked like fashion bloggers taking pictures. I didn't realize this was such a popular photo shoot location!
one last picture before we head out
This was a great surprise garden! I'll have to go back and see what it looks like when all the trees have leafed out? I'll add it to the list for 2019!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Restraint is something to be considered...

Now that it's been almost 9 months since Austin, looking back at the pictures, even more things jump out at me. One of them is how many of my pictures captured simple/restrained garden views. Maybe because my own collection tendencies usually make my garden look like a hodge-podge of stuff? Here are some (erm, many?) views that caught my attention...

I love the way that the gravel, stone and planters all work together here, plus large plants that have space to each be admired..
Same goes for the next two vignettes - also several copies of the same plant, plus a common ground cover...

This look out of Pam's garden has a similar there - multiples of the same plant, plus clean gravel & one focal point.

This vignette has more of the same gravel, with each plant highlighted in a way that allows it to really shine...

Some more examples of multiples of the same plant making a restrained, calm, and gorgeous view:
yuccas & bamboo muhly
ground cover, grasses and opuntias
succulents in a planter, repeating..

I loved this combination of planters, rocks and plants

even exuberant gardens have order to them - like all these matching decorations
so many good agaves!
This area doubled as a water harvesting area, i think? I like the subdued colors and plants
I like this vignette, even as i realize i would plant 4 different yuccas instead of 4 of the same...
same here! although this view in Jenny's garden is so gorgeous!
Loved this combination of similar pots and plants against a green wall
I'm sensing a theme in some of these pictures...
Thoughts on how to apply this lesson to my garden:
  • Maybe i should consider that sometimes, more of the same plant is ok? Or at least focus on plants with similar forms, so that from far away it looks more restrained
  • Many of those pictures have pots lined up with walls - that's something i can do. I can also be more intentional at picking pots that "match" each other. Most of mine are already some kind of blue. 
  • Especially in the front garden, some areas of restraint (leaving room around the agaves, more of the same plants, etc) could be good. 
  • Keeping the plants well groomed (like cleaning off all the agave pups, cutting back the grasses, etc) will probably go a long way to creating some order in the chaos
  • Since i don't have grass, some areas to create "simple green" as a background could be with the ground cover plants, and the DG areas
  • Maybe 2019 is the year to trying growing vines on the block wall? I should look into what plants might work!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

New Roses For the Front Garden

This was one project i did in the end of 2018 that will hopefully look nice in 2019, and reminds me of the Austin fling everything I get home! No current pictures... because they look like rose bushes in the winter. 

One of the plants i saw in Austin that I wanted to get for myself were these "Livin' Easy" roses. Here they are in the garden of Kirk Moring - in person, the orange popped out, and the smell was amazing. 

From Kirk Moring's garden
Since i'm trying to apply the lessons I learned in Austin (in addition to buying all the plants!), i figured that Livin' Easy would work well in the front garden. The flower color would play off the orange lantanas. Roses do ok here, although in general they need a bit more water, especially in the sun. However, i have some roses on the north side of the house that survive and bloom really well. So I knew that if i could give them some shade, they'd do fine. 

Coincidentally, this bed in the front garden needed an update anyway. Its in the shade during our hot afternoons (facing due east), and i installed drip irrigation a number of years ago. The current occupants were a opuntia and a Black Knight butterfly bush. The Opuntia was doing fine, but leaning over the side walk. The butterfly bush had been doing fine, but took a big hit during the house painting and really didn't recover. 

Current residents right before being evicted...
The sad buddleia
I'm actually not entirely sure what happened here - the last few years, this plant was 6+ feet tall. My guess is a combination of broken irrigation, bugs (something ate its leaves - every year) and rough handling during painting finally got it.

Speaking of broken irrigation...

Had to fix where the old sprinkler head converted to drip
Do not ask me why the previous owners installed old fashioned pop up sprinklers in a bed filled with rocks. Even weirder is the fact that there is some major plumbing equipment another foot under the ground here. A part of the rock mulch is actually laying on an access hatch i installed to make it easier to service that in future...

Of course, before i started any of this, i had to source Livin' Easy. I probably spent a good 2 months checking every orange rose i saw, and checking online. I had just decided to wait until bare root season and ordering online, when i randomly checked some roses at the big box store, and found 'Livin Easy'.
One on one side
I had just said "i'm not buying any plants today", when i, of course, ended up with plants. Oh well - at least now i have the rose I want!
and one on the other side!
All the rocks put back, and some bark mulch (the same as in the rest of the garden! I learned!) and everything looks cleaned up...
Now grow!
 These pictures are a bit too bight, but the roses did give me some immediate gratification in the form of flowers...
they are more orange in real life!
 So pretty...
a little bit better color match to RL
These are (probably) the last plants I'll get to plant this year. They will get a bit of supplemental hand watering the first few months (and during heat waves) but so far they are doing alright. And now i have one of my Austin Plant Lusts in my own garden!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Cool plant combinations

While it's winter (and cold, and wet (!) outside) so very little gardening going on, this is a great time to look back at some of my favorite plant combinations from Austin! Some of these might be achievable for my zone this year...

In no particular order with some thoughts for me on how to do this in my garden...

silver pony foot always looks so good... except in my garden. Maybe try again?
love this combination of mexican feather grass, fish & cacti (all doable here!)
this planter might be a really good way to keep some of the mangaves in the ground & not eaten...
i really have to track down some bamboo muhly & try it with yuccas like this!
i'm not sure i have room for 3 of these, but i can do this tall-medium-short with some other plants?
I love this agave on a stone column... 
this combo is 100% doable! i just need to move some plants
same for this! although i'm thinking i should replace my Guara so they look more like this
this garden on the last day had so many good, and achievable plant combinations!
i love this combination & want to try it with my current russian sage bed (which doesn't have this view, sadly)
Its fun to come up with new plans, while we get more rain & the plants soak it all up!