This cactus (a Cereus of some kind) in Silver Lake is covered in bright pink fruit. The birds love it!
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).
It isn’t really summer yet, but you wouldn’t know it from the hot weather we had the past couple of days. Here’s a little taste of what’s to come at the Getty Museum over the next few months. The garden at the Getty — designed by Robert Irwin and maintained by an army of skilled gardeners and horticulturalists — is one of my favorite in L.A. to visit because it is always in flux, never boring. With the museum and other Getty Center buildings forming a stark backdrop to the slightly wild quality of the garden, it is also a great place to sketch.
When the summer temps are near my boiling point on the east side of town where I live, it’s like a vacation to spend a day at the Getty and soak up the cool ocean breezes in the garden.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Happy Inauguration Day.
In honor of yesterday’s events, I am posting a few photos from my recent trip to Washington D.C. This was the first time I’ve visited the relatively new MLK, Jr. Memorial. I’m disappointed to say that I agree with some of the comments I’d read about it when it first opened, although I tried to approach it with an open mind. I found it to be a bit cold. The expression on King’s face and the crossed arms may be meant to convey strength, authority and dignity, but instead I felt a sense of remoteness. For someone who was so dynamic, I found the statue of him to be very static and rigid. I also thought the white stone was an odd, and possibly unfortunate, choice of material and the site itself was very stark. Personally, I think King deserves a better memorial than he has received.
The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial next to King’s is quite a bit larger, very lovely and filled with rich detail. The contrasting textures of the rough hewn stone, the patinaed metal reliefs and sculptures, the leaves ablaze with fall color and the sound and energy of falling water make for a very rich experience.
I am including a quote from the FDR memorial about civil rights from 1940. It fits right into the continuum of women’s suffrage, the struggle for civil rights beginning in the 60′s and the fight for marriage equality. The movement continues. There is still so much work to be done, alongside those who are fighting for their rights and on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves. For me, that includes not only people, but the entire environment that sustains all life and which must be protected.
As Dr. Seuss wisely put it:
“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.”