Cultivating a Culture of Gardening™

Friday, August 27, 2010

Gardening Greatness at the Getty

First, we started our Getty tour with an sumptuous dinner at the Getty Restaurant. Oh my goodness- only because I knew my momma would kill me if she ever found out did I not pick my plate up and lick it. The food was THAT GOOD! But add in getting to know in real life my horticulture twitter buddies Annie Haven, Adriana Martinez, and Fern Richardson
and the evening was already a shoe-in for a great gardening event. The Getty gardens were cool (as in temperature was in the upper 50s - I had to buy a great looking hoodie from the gift shop) and crowded (lots of folks wanting that late afternoon sun for prime photo ops).
We headed to the tram and saw soft shades of purple Verbena bonaris, silver artemesia, and the white or blue agapanthas flowers.

Walking up to the gardens we had space ships from the planet Horticulturon that greeted us.

Their occupants as sweet as their scents - Alyssum, a Boltonia type plant, and rosemary.And got to glimpse some of that famous California glorious sunset.
Beds filled will succulents, euphorbia, variegated fuschia, wonderful black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus 'Nigrescens), and a whole assortment of delightful but unfortunately untagged plants. Between the four of us we were able able to figure out most of the plant varieties but PLEASE, Getty Garden Staff, TAG YOUR PLANTS. Inquiring minds want to know.

One of the most interesting displays I saw was this unique trellis that housed Bouganvillae forming a floral tepee.

Thought this Russelia equisetiformis - Coral Plant was pretty awesome. Fern and I were both snapping pics of all these wonderful colors (as was this unknown co-photographer). Dahlias and Heliotrope hogged the camera for a while.

But then we came to the circle garden. Wow. Massive Brugmansia trees, a circle of Variegated Garlic Tulbaghia violacea, a circle of what I think was Vera Jamison Sedum, and a moat surrounding Bouganvillae hedges (I couldn't quite tell so far away).
The Tibouchina was incredible.The brugmansia magical and fragrant in the evening.And several plants that grabbed my attention but I have no idea what they were.Kangaroo Paws Anigozanthos are pretty neat lookingAs is the quirky looking Sea Holly Eryngium
But don't worry about dressing up for all these fancy plantings. Bow ties provided for those underdressed :). Bow Tie Vine Dalechampia


Tricks of Nature

Walking past this Japanese Maple I was amazed to see something blooming on it. Surely I'd discovered the next great plant that would take the gardening world by storm!

But, alas, it was just a fallen flower from the balcony planter overhead. Fame and fortune some other day...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

You Just Never Know What You'll Find

While attending IGC2010 - Independent Garden Center Show at Chicago's Navy Pier - I stayed with a friend who lives in the pretty little suburb of Glen Ellyn. I got up early one morning to walk around her neighborhood and just a few houses away I found this inviting entrance to what looked like a secret mountain garden.
This arbor was made from cedar, the design was classic, and it was obviously able to withstand the blasting snowstorms of the area. Right there before me was surely a portal to the wilds of New Zealand.Tentatively I crossed the threshold.

And I found myself at the Chicago Botanic Gardens!

Not really. I had to get my friend to drive me there a little while later that day because the arbor was no portal except to a woodsy backyard garden. But isn't it fun to just imagine....

Monday, August 16, 2010

The REAL Stars of Rodeo Drive

While staying in Los Angeles to help with my grandson's surgery recovery, I took a little time to meet up with gardening pal Annie of MooPoo Tea fame, and we headed out to meet Fern from Life On the Balcony and Adriana from Anarchy in the Garden at the Getty Gardens. I'll have a whole separate post on our visit at the Getty. Annie and I had our set of adventures as we cruised from the LA Children's Hospital down Santa Monica Boulevard acting like regular sight-seers, especially when we hit Rodeo Drive. The only difference is that I was playing paparazzi to the plants rather than the people! With no where to park, I jumped out of Annie's truck to snap pics of the real stars on Rodeo Drive - the hanging baskets and containers enhancing all the building. Goodness, anyone would look gorgeous walking alongside these plantings.
Hanging baskets filled with Petunias, Bidens, Angelwing Begonias, and Ivy Geraniums would stop traffic for a truck load of plant nerds.

Loved the succulent plantings throughout the thoroughfare.
Climbing roses (White Dawn, maybe?) and Rosemary make a luscious combo.
I may have been too far away for this picture but I loved the use of these rectangular planters to border the outside eating area.

This store was decked out from top to bottom. VAVAVOOM!

OK, and there was this one dress I saw that I would have LOVED to try on....


The Tie That Binds

I sat outside the hospital door with my head in my hands sobbing. The cries of pain were still racking my mind and at 3 am at the LosAngeles Children's hospital there were few options for places to escape the searing wails of agony. I felt the soft hand on my shoulder and heard, "Are you alright?" The last thing these busy night nurses needed was for this grandmother to be falling apart on them. All I could get out was, "There is so much pain... so much pain... " and I pointed to our room. The nurse peeked in and saw my restless but quiet year and a half old grandson; he had finally quieted down after nearly an hour of painful screams as the anesthesia had started to wear off from his surgery and before the morphine and other pain meds took effect. She looked a little confused and once again gently responded, "Aiden seems to have calmed down; we'll keep on schedule with the pain medicine for another 24 hours. Aiden is really doing well."
Yes, thankfully, Aiden's surgery had gone well and I knew that going through the pain was a part of the recovery to his new health. What this kind nurse did not realize was that the cries of pain coming from the young boy sharing our room were more the source of my emotional meltdown. In the hours that that we had shared this room I learned that the 13 yr old boy 3 feet and a thin curtain away has cancer. He had come in to find out what was causing his severe headaches that had him up throughout the night screaming for his mother to hold him, to take the pain away, to even "hurt my feet so I won't feel my head!". So much pain and so little hope for this young boy. So much pain and such agonizing helplessness for the parents. The tears I shed were not my own; my tears were the ones that the parents had no time to shed on this long long evening. There is a sharing of suffering that bonds humanity if we allow ourselves to hear and embrace the agony of others, a sharing that brings compassion rather than impatience, a desire to help rather than judge.
So "why are you writing about all this in a gardening blog?" some may ask. Gardening has often been a good tool for teaching life skills, especially in parenting. Lessons in nurturing and pruning come to mind immediately. But what adheres this post in my gardening sphere is that the bond that unites gardeners is on a less intense scale very similar to that bond that unites parents and grandparents. There is a joy in creating a garden, a family; there is a suffering and heartache in growing a garden, a family. My children are often puzzled by my quickly formed friendships within the internet gardening world. Through blogs, tweets, e-mails, and phone calls my gardening friends have shared my disappointment over lost crops (the May 1, 2010 flood), have advised on pest or growing issues, have sent seeds and soil amendment samples, have agonized over the loss of a heirloom rose. There is a sharing of suffering that bonds humanity if we allow ourselves to hear and embrace the agony of others, a sharing that brings compassion rather than impatience, a desire to help rather than judge.
The tie that binds me to the family that shared our hospital room is a kindred chord to the tie that binds me to my gardening world. Sometimes all we can do is weep for others; but the time comes when we can do more. That is the time to sow the seeds of service, to grow a row of kindness, to harvest the bond of friendship.
Aiden with Momma Alex 3 days after spinal surgery. Aiden was born with Spina Bifida.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Escape to a Cooler Place

My friend Rick McNight sent me these pictures of his backpacking trip to Glacier National Park that he took with two of his grown children because he knows how much I love flowers. What Rick didn't realize is that while I am known for my plant passion, I secretly long to be an opera singer. (Ironically his wife, Cathy, just recently told me that singing opera is a passion we share). So when I look at these pictures, I am inspired by the wildflower beauty, and when I look at the mountains I can hardly contain myself from breaking into full bravura... "Cliiiimb e-very mounTAIN....."

Rick should have taken Cathy and me along - we would at least have kept the bears away.