This Week's Podcast — Restoration in California
Click on the small black arrow on the bar to listen, or the MP3 to download the show:
I left New Jersey on March 25 where the temperature was 19 degrees F, and arrived in San Diego, where it was 91! I was picked up at the airport by garden designers Laura and Don Starr. They took me around for the rest of the day and I got to see some incredible things. We checked out the Botanical building at Bilboa Park.
Then, we visited Lani Freymiller’s mostly shady garden. When we arrived on the driveway, it was very hot, but we walked into the garden and felt a breeze and I would estimate that the temperature was fifteen degrees cooler.
I gave a lecture the next day to the Village Garden Club of La Jolla. My gracious host was Gleneva Belice.
Everyone was talking about the drought. These people have come to have disdain for lawn, and have embraced succulents. They love them, and that is a great change from the last time I visited Southern California.
I flew north on the 27th where I connected with dear friends Tom Koster and the artist/sculptor/garden designer Marcia Donahue.
(Clockwise from top left: Lani Freymiller’s garden, Annie’s Annuals, Cornus florida ‘Urbaniana’, Marcia Donahue and Cevan Forristt)
The next day, we paid out respects to Marcia’s marvelous and world renowned garden. Then off to Annie’s Annuals. I remember when Annie Hayes started her nursery, which sells rare baby plants — unusual and familiar plants sold as seedlings and rooted cuttings in four-inch pots. People are thrilled to get things they cannot get anywhere else, and now, Annie also does mail order.
We drove down the Peninsula south of San Francisco to visit garden designer Cevan Forristt’s remarkable garden in San Jose. We basked in the brilliance of Cevan’s garden with citrus trees dripping with fruit. Cevan fed us (Tom, Marcia and me) with six courses of Burmese dishes over five hours. These things were totally strange to me – and spicy. The first course was fungus salad.
The next day, Sunday, it was up to Napa to visit NoelGieleghem and Brandon Tyson. We started with a wonderful lunch of all sorts of delicacies sampled in their garden. They have an old and tall specimen of one of my favorite trees, Cornus florida ‘Urbaniana’. I’ve started many of these trees from seeds from this tree. It was in full bloom with typical dogwood bracts, but they are fused at the tips and look like Chinese lanterns.
We then went to see one of Brandon’s recent designs – a water-wise planting. Brandon is famous for creations where plants star. Unlike many designers, the plants are the thing, and they are featured like sculptures or patterned arrangements. His work is unparalleled. Next, to Sebastopol and Peacock nursery, then to nearby Sonoma Horticultural Nursery that specializes in Rhododendrons, but features many other plants including one that they selected: Davidia involucrata ‘Sonoma’ – a young-blooming and vigorous version of the handkerchief tree.
Tom wanted us to see a few blocks in town where many neighbors have sculptures in front of their houses made by Patrick Amiot out of found and repurposed metal objects and painted by his wife, Brigitte Laurent. The sculptures are ingenious, imaginative, playful and funny. (Above: The Babe by Patrick Amiot in Sebastopol, CA.)
What a trip! It is cold enough in Northern California for lilacs and warm enough for palms – fantastic! I didn’t realize how much I needed to get away, and especially to experience spring early in a wonderful climate with magnificent plants.