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Posts Tagged ‘Garden’

Flora Grubb Gardens

whimsy at Flora Grubb Gardens

Stylize shabby-chic whimsy, then intersperse it with plenty of copper, grey-green hues of the Southwest, and you have Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco. Add lots of outdoor bistro chairs in this environment and you can’t help but linger.

Flora Grubb’s succulent nursery needs no plug from me. She’s got plenty of marketing savvy and makes her place an active destination not only for plant and accessory sales but for demonstrations too. In what seems a comeback warehouse district one is drawn off the typical tourist path and near the “India Basin” industrial waterfront.

Agave at Flora Grubb Gardens

In addition to the shopping fun, I got to see the loving-care hose-misting of the vertical succulent garden, pictured below. Hung on the wall it is nearly as wide as I am tall. For those wanting to start their own vertical garden she does sell 20″x20″ trays which contain 45 slanted planting cells to support the plants and soil once the frame is mounted on the wall.

Among other things I was delighted to find the perfect weathered grapewood branch upon which to mount the air plant waiting for me back home.

Do visit Flora Grubb Gardens http://www.floragrubb.com/idx/index.php

Nancy R. Peck

Flora Grubb Gardens' succulent vertical garden

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Golden Gate Park Japanese Tea Garden

Japanese Tea Garden, Golden Gate Park

The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park is, of course, a favorite attraction. On April 3 the azaleas, magnolias and cherry blossoms are in full bloom, the sun is shining, 75 degrees—what could be better?

This 5-acre garden, the oldest Japanese garden in the United States, was originally created as a “Japanese Village” exhibit for the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. Makoto Hagiwara designed and paid for the bulk of this rural-type garden and was officially appointed caretaker the same year. He passed away in 1925 and his family continued to live there in a 17-room house in the Sunken Garden area. In 1942, as with others of Japanese heritage, the family was forced to leave. The San Francisco Recreation & Park Department has maintained the garden since.

Though late in coming, Hagiwara Makoto and his family were honored in 1974. A road along the garden is now named Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive.

Link http://japaneseteagardensf.com/

Also of interest: San Francisco Parks Trust http://www.sfpt.org/

Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden

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Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park Conservatory of Flowers

Lowland Tropics room, Conservatory of Flowers

Golden Gate Park in San Francisco offers a number of sites for the plant lover. In a view from the road, we see two sun-lovers sprawled on a blanket on the wide open lawn space. Annual garden plots set off a strikingly-bright white Conservatory of Flowers beyond. Small chaperoned troupes of delightful children are prancing about . . . taking in the fresh April air between potty breaks.

The Conservatory’s main center dome is flanked by a wing of two galleries on the right—Highland Tropics Plants and Aquatic Plants. The wing to the left of the dome offers a Potted Plants display and temporary special exhibit room. I cross the entrance threshold and immediately find myself in a moist Palm Court of towering green Lowland Tropical plants—a magnificent thick display of ferns, banana, cacao, Jurassic cycads and much more. Here and there blue and orange bits of color are randomly cast, source being the sunshine through the structure’s stained glass.

Through the next door, the Highland Tropics gallery recreates high elevation forests of the tropics. There’s a nice display of mosses and the epiphytes which I like—plants that grow on other plants. The room offers much to whet our appreciation of orchids. This is where a renowned collection of Pleurothallid orchids can be found. Through another door, the Aquatic Plants room is picture perfect as we learn about water lilies and lotus. Also on view is a collection of carnivorous pitcher plants and bromeliads.

This striking building is said to be the oldest public conservatory in the Western hemisphere—opening in 1879—as well as the oldest structure in the park.

Much thanks goes to recent restoration efforts and dollars to do so. With these plants well-established and in such a yesteryear atmosphere, I just might get inspiration for writing a Victorian historical novel. At this conservatory one can get close to specimens: smell the gardenia, inspect the fronds, study orchid details and view exotics from around the world. http://www.conservatoryofflowers.org/

While others might prefer a huge botanical exhibit extravaganza as found in some other large cities, I felt this was just the right size with an ambiance for a mini-retreat—leaving time for other Golden Gate Park experiences. Next stop: Japanese Tea Garden.

Nancy R. Peck

Aquatic Plants room Conservatory of Flowers

Aquatic Plants room, Conservatory of Flowers

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Botanical Garden at UC Berkeley

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

I’ve left the desk-nest this week and am touring the San Francisco area. Sunny weather. That’s always a nice gift to bring to one’s host.

Field trip to UC Berkeley Botanical Garden: Up up up the hill the car crawls past two flagmen. Grunting trucks are painstakingly choreographed  in the renovation/retrofit project going on at the old university football stadium. Destination reached and admission paid, we enter this very diverse 34-acre UC Berkeley research garden—13,000 varieties sectioned off by geographic regions of the world’s continents. First we enter the Arid House with its large collection of the quirkiest of cacti, sheltered, because they would not tolerate the Bay Area’s dampness. The collection dates back to the 1920s.

Exiting that shed, one is immediately struck by (photo above) the “Southern Africa” rocky hillside on the left dotted with oranges, yellow, purple annuals and bulbs and fan aloes. Turn around and there’s a view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay behind a gauze of atmospheric blue.

I’m always attracted by the sound of water features. The Japanese Pond (photo below) augments the diminutive Strawberry Creek which runs midway through the property. The pond is set off by a small waterfall framed by maples, empress tree and dogwoods. But the pool’s claim to fame is its breeding ground reputation for Taricha torosa (newts), native to upper Strawberry Canyon. I got to see several newt couples doing their thing which is always interesting. Ah spring.

The loudest aspect of the botanical gardens, I would say, is a chorus of frogs. They live in a pond ecosystem which lies between the Herb Garden and Chinese Medicinal Herb Garden. No need to follow path signs, just follow your ears.

There’s much to see and learn at this botanical garden but I did notice that some toddlers couldn’t be happier frolicking around a small man-built water feature next to the tour deck and rest rooms. Down close to the ground and with attention to details they were fascinated searching for the little slimy critters clinging for dear life to the concrete pond wall.

http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/

For a list of garden tours click here http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/education/tours.shtml#children

Nancy R. Peck

UC Berkeley Botanical Garden Japanese Pool

Japanese Pool at UC Berkeley Botanical Garden

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garden in Austria

See the garden gnomes lurking in the corners of this Austrian garden?

The recent Gnomeo & Juliet animated feature film inspired a dear friend-reader to suggest I get to know garden gnomes a little better. Great idea.

Now I know in some circles garden gnomes are considered déclassé (banned from the great Chelsea Flower Show, UK for one). The mass consumerism associated with garden gnome ornaments—and their bold colors—make for cautious use in today’s residential garden.

But regardless of where they stand in our individual taste-meters, it is interesting to note that these figurines actually originated in the 19th century in Germany, where they became known as Gartenzwerg (“garden dwarf”).

In addition, according to Wikipedia, Philip Griebel made these and “terracotta animals as decorations . . . based on local myths as a way for people to enjoy the stories of [their] willingness to help in the garden at night.” Popularity quickly spread across Germany and into France and were “first introduced to the United Kingdom in 1847 by Sir Charles Isham, when he brought 21 terracotta figures back from a trip to Germany and placed them as ornaments in the gardens of his home, Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire.”

Perhaps back in 1847 garden gnomes were smaller and of earthier tones. Can you imagine today’s gnomes here? http://www.lamporthall.co.uk/

My research seems to have hit a wall, but feel free to send in your gnome encounter stories.

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You’ve heard that exercise is good for your physical and mental health. You’ve also heard that being outdoors de-stresses and improves the mood—clears out the cobwebs. I know you’re already aware of how gardening is therapeutic.

Well, now there’s a new name for all of this. . . brought to you by the world of science + copywriting.

Green Exercise—when you combine exercise with nature—when you commune with the outdoors and move about a little bit. What will they think of next, you ask? Nature-deficit-disorder, attention- restoration theory, environmental psychology, biophilia, Green Gym and green prescription—that’s what.

At the University of Essex-UK, using meta-analysis and assessment of multiple studies involving 1252 participants, it was quantitatively implied that even short five-minute spurts of green exercise had long-term health benefits. All types of green exercise were beneficial—and the presence of water in the natural environment created even more positive effects.

Self-esteem especially increased for the youngest subjects. And the mentally ill showed the greatest rise in self-esteem improvements. As Jo Barton concludes about the results “we believe that there would be a large potential benefit to individuals, society and to the costs of the health service if all groups of people were to self-medicate with green exercise.”

In another study at Wageningen University & Research Centre in the Netherlands, gardeners over 60 were compared with non-gardeners over 60 in the same neighborhood. A significant increase in perceived health and decreased stress levels was found.

And in New Zealand, the Get Growing with NZ Gardener television show teamed with the Mental Health Foundation: “. . . gardening is a great way for people to incorporate the five winning ways to wellbeing into their lives—connect, learn, give, be active and take notice.” They add (what to us may seem obvious):

  • Joining a gardening club or community gardening project can help you connect with new people.
  • Gardening can inspire you to take notice of the natural world around you.
  • Learning about plants keeps you discovering new things.
  • Regular gardening can help bring structure to your life.
  • Gardening gets you out in the fresh air and is a good form of physical exercise.
  • It’s a good outlet for your creativity and it is fun.
  • Growing veggies and herbs can encourage healthy eating and save money.
  • You can give surplus veggies or cuttings to friends, family and neighbors as a gift, or trade them with produce from other people’s gardening successes.
  • Gardening is something the whole family can do together.

Hmm. Push-ups today or weeding?  Have you squeezed in your Gardening Green Exercise today?

Photo: Tom Adamson, Flickr Creative Commons

Nancy R. Peck

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National Arboretum Needs Your Help

Azaleas Photo by Don Hyatt

This is a story—a true one—of a few people who made an unpopular decision, and a much greater number of passionate people opposed. How a little piece of blog news exploded. And how we can still find heroes. It’s also a story of what we stand to lose if we’re not careful: The National Arboretum.

If you’re outside the mid-Atlantic metropolitan area, you may have missed this unfolding drama that has been hovering over the National Arboretum for the past four months—an arboretum visited each spring by 100,000 people, 446 vivid acres in northeast D.C. It is the only federally funded arboretum in the United States and it’s been having problems in spite of itself. Read on. (more…)

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