This weather is not what we expect in January and it’s not doing us any favors, either. We could really use some rain, but there’s none in sight. Meanwhile, the plants are confused. These Kniphofia, or “Red Hot Pokers” usually bloom in the summer. But when we’re having summer temps in winter, how are they supposed to know the difference? Some plants tell time (or season) by the temperature and others by the length of the day (or sometimes a combination of both). These are getting some mixed signals.
I’m so happy to have opened a home and garden shop in October along with two great friends. It’s been a fun, exhilarating, creative (and sometimes exhausting) process. It’s a blast working and collaborating with other creative people to showcase the artists, designers and products that we love and want to share with others. As soon as we get the outdoor garden center open (by the end of January), it will also be a laboratory for garden ideas and outdoor rooms. We were fortunate enough to get a nice write-up in the Los Angeles Times this week — such a great way to kick off a new year! Please come visit when you’re in Eagle Rock. Check out the Acorn website for more details.
My husband and I both work for ourselves, in various aspects of design and construction, and we are both lucky to have a lot of really wonderful clients who are kind, interesting and talented people. Tom’s roster of clients includes some very notable people, which occasionally makes my own life and work a lot more interesting. This is one of those occasions. In August, Tom spent a few weeks working on Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands — that is the island owned by Sir Richard Branson and, as well as being a gorgeous resort, it is also his primary residence. Luckily for me, at the end of August, I was able to join Tom in the islands for the last few days of his trip. We stayed on Virgin Gorda, a short boat ride away from Necker, and I was able to hop over there to his job site and see this amazing place for myself and meet the incredible staff and crew they have there. Even more lucky for me…? They hired me to do a small interior plant-scaping project for them, so at the end of September, Tom and I both traveled back to Necker, both of us with work to do, and this time we stayed on the island itself…. in a private Bali house…. with our own pool. It does not get much better.
Days began with a dip in the pool. We then spent long hours working to help to put the main house back together after being reconstructed, almost two years to the day, since it burned down due to a lighting strike caused by Hurricane Irene in 2011. There were hundreds of hardworking people that got this done and we contributed only tiny pieces at the end of the process. Anyway, another dip in the pool at the end of the day, followed by a delicious dinner, free-flowing champagne, dancing and celebrating. Only to start the whole thing over again the next morning. Sir Richard was so elated to have his house back, that at the very first dinner to be hosted in the great room in over two years, he danced on down the middle of the dining table with one of his guests, nearly hitting his head on one of the massive ostrich egg chandeliers that hangs over the table that comfortably seats 40. It was phenomenal. On another night, we dragged bean bag cushions to the roof of the great house to gaze at shooting stars and the milky way, while hearing about Virgin Gallactic’s plans for commercial flights into space, from the man himself.
But some of my favorite parts of the trip were the close encounters with the wildlife that has the full run of the island: huge iguanas, giant tortoises and fat geckos, flamingoes, scarlet ibises and dive-bombing pelicans, and three different kinds of curious and playful lemurs. I was just visiting, but they get to live there full-time.
We are getting a new park in Highland Park! It couldn’t be in a better location. What has been a ragged, fenced off vacant lot, at what is currently one of the “hippest” intersections in this very park-poor city, will finally become green, public space. We don’t know yet what will be inside the park (they are seeking public input), but the amenities that already exist outside the park will also contribute to its imminent success: bike lanes on York to and from the park (and The Bicycle Doctor right across the street if you are in need of any parts or repairs), Cafe de Leche right across the street (for a shot of caffeine or a delicious plachinta to take al fresco to enjoy), a busy art walk on the second Saturday of every month and increasingly vibrant street life all around the area.
How park poor is Los Angeles? According to a 2006 study by the Trust for Public Lands, we have only 4 acres per 1,000 residents (compared to the national standard set by the National Association of Recreation and Parks of 10 acres per 1,000 residents). To make matters worse, about one third of those acres are in large and remote parks — such as Griffith Park and Topanga State Park — that are not easily accessible to most residents, especially those who use public transit. In many parts of the city, there is virtually no open or green space. To help correct this, the LA Parks Foundation is partnering with the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department to build 50 new parks in the city, including this one at the corner of York and Avenue 50.
Some things I would personally like to see included in the park:
- Lots of seating of different types: to encourage gathering, relaxing, reading, etc.
- Shade, of course: preferably in the form of trees
- Water fountains for people and dogs
- An air station to fill bike tires
- Some innovative play equipment for kids
- Low-water and native plantings: possibly as a demonstration garden to show people how they can rethink their own yards and gardens
- Bioswales and permeable surfaces that help to keep water and pollution out of the storm drains
Thanks to those who are helping to make this happen:
The Annual Venice Garden Tour was May 4th — almost a month ago. Yes, that is how long it takes me to download a few photos from my camera. It was a gorgeous day, spent with some favorite friends, with many plants in a full riot of bloom and some good food tossed in. For me, that adds up to the closest thing to perfection I can think of.
Here’s a smattering of images for you….
And a few more serene photos from the day…
It’s Chasmanthe season again (at Offramp Gallery).