WOW FARM – OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA

In the last two decades, thousands of small farms have appeared in cities around the world. They provide neighborhoods with healthy food, herbs and flowers. For those without local access to a grocery store, they are an absolute necessity.

Many city leaders and community organizations are continuing to develop many acres of vacant land to help revitalize blighted communities and create some measure of hope to the underserved. One such city is Oakland, California, a metropolis of 300,000, with a rich history of political and social activism. Oakland, the eighth largest city in the state, has one of the most ethnically diverse populations in the U.S. Despite decades of disinvestment, systemic racism, a crime rate that is one of the highest in the country, a drug epidemic, and youth unemployment, the city’s fortunes are turning. Investment has increased, sustainable energy practices are being implemented, technology companies are relocating to the city and the arts community is thriving.

Neighborhoods are fast becoming gentrified. Gentrification, while increasing property values and ‘improving’ neighborhoods, is a mixed blessing. Where do the poor go when the affluent move in?

While the city’s fortunes are rising, there are many who remain untouched by the surge in economic and cultural prosperity. A large number are at-risk youth who experience social and economic hardships including poverty or homelessness, teen pregnancy, gang membership and consequent involvement with the criminal justice system. This is where West Oakland Woods (WOW) Farm comes in.

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WOW Farm is an example of a small-scale agriculture and horticulture enterprise partnering with community organizations, schools, volunteers and the business community. In affiliation with Game Theory Academy, it runs programs to teach young people how to grow, harvest and market plants and, at the same time, giving them the tools for strategic decision making and   financial self-reliance.

 “I am learning how to farm. I want to grow vegetables and make my grandmother’s salsa and sell it.” – Wow Farm intern.

“I am doing this because I want a career farming herbs. I want to start a shop selling lotions and balms. I have a sister with lupus and herbal medicine really helps her. I want to help her and lots of other people.” – WOW Flower Farm Intern

In 2012, WOW farm’s founder, Philip Krohn, partnered with Patricia Johnson of Game Theory Academy to develop a 3,000 square foot triangular lot as an enterprising micro-model for organic vegetable production and youth empowerment.

(Game Theory Academy http://www.gametheoryacademy.org/ )

“It’s a really great program and I can use it as a stepping stone to college and a career.” WOW Flower Farm intern.

In 2014, the farm expanded its operations to a second site, a 7,000 square foot asphalt plaza outside an abandoned train station. The asphalt was removed, soil brought in and a flower farm was created. Both are small plots of land but they are farmed intensively.

“I am learning how to be an activist. How to organize my thinking and my actions. I want to be an activist for people who are forced out of their homes and have to live in their cars. There are people who have been here for three generations. Now they have nowhere to live. So many live in their cars.”-WOW Flower Farm intern.

Student-farmers select what to grow, when to grow it and when to harvest it. WOW now sells vegetables and flowers to gourmet restaurants and florists in the area. Its success is not only measured by the number and quality of the plants it produces but by the growing self-advocacy of its students. “I am doing this because it gets me off the street. I am getting away from the bad people.” – WOW Farm Intern.

For five months a year about thirty Oakland high school students earn a paycheck by working on the farm while studying strategic thinking, time management and other necessities of financial stability. Game Theory Academy’s mandate is to provide strategic decision making tools in a business context and in a way that they can apply in their own lives.

Growing flowers and vegetables is a tool – a means to an end. As Patricia Johnson says, “Growing food and flowers is incredibly meaningful in that the young people experience a degree of contact with nature that they’ve never had before. They learn a lot about nature by watching the seeds grow. They experience that little bit of magic in the transformation process from seed to food, and farm to table.”

The medium is the message. What would our world be like if we taught every child to garden?  What if we taught every child to take care of something?

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Tsukiji Fish Market

Visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market is what jet-lagged tourists do when in Tokyo. They look at temples and shopping malls too but the fish market is one of the main draws for tourists and normal people  when in the city.

Opened in 1935, it is the world’s largest fish market selling approximately 660,000 tons a year. It is being moved next year, at least the wholesale market. It’s possible there will be a fish-themed shopping mall put in its place. Or perhaps a giant smart phone, sportswear and  Pokémon Go emporium.IMG_8260.CR2

 

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I asked the vendor what this was. He said, ” Oyster – big motherfucker.” He had spent three years in New York City.

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Tiny crabs. They are cooked before they are eaten. A good thing for everyone.

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Industrial strength cooking.

IMG_8268.CR2Real wasabi (Wasabia japonica).

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Bitter gourd – Goya

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Fish. (rather obviously)

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Some kind of sea snail. A little chewy, like muscular snot. Yum.

IMG_8283.CR2Something to drink with lunch. Barrels of sake.

I asked a Japanese friend, “What will happen when we have eaten all the fish?”

She said, “What do you mean ?”

 

 

 

Planting in a Post-Girls Gone Wild World

(with apologies to Thomas Rainier and Claudia West authors of ‘Planting In A Post-Wild World’)

For those inclined towards plants and the natural world, Las Vegas is not the first city in America that comes to mind. While not the Sodom and Gomorrah it once was, it is a city full of people – 42 million visitors a year – and lots of noise. It is VERY LOUD.

It is still a gambling, booze, and silicone-enhanced tits and ass town but millions of families flock to ‘The Entertainment Capital of America’. Some of those families do wander away from the casinos. Some even venture out to see the real show. To the west and the north-east, are Red Rock Canyon Conservation Area and the Valley of Fire.

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The Aztec Sandstone rocks are vibrant orange-red contrasting with the gray limestone that is a product of the Keystone Thrust Fault. It is a geological wonder.

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Aztec Sandstone is a Lower Jurassic geological formation of primarily eolian lithified sand .

Back in Las Vegas, there are interesting things happening. Vegas has a park. The Park designed by !melk, a landscape architecture and urban planning company based in New York.

A 5-acre boulevard of verdant dreams, this first park in the city is destined to be one of the most visited parks in the world. And it’s not bad, not bad at all.

Opened in April this year, The Park will eventually be a small woodland under-planted with native or desert-adapted plants. There are lots of oaks, Rock Oak (Quercus buckleyi), Texas Live Oak (Quercus fusiformis), and Cathedral Live Oak (Quercus virginiana ‘Cathedral’), providing a growing and necessary shade canopy in the fierce sun and heat.

The fast-growing Evergreen Ash (Fraxinus uhdei), native to Central America, will become a large tree, changing the feel and look of The Park in a short time. X Chitalpa tashkentensis, a hybrid between the cigar tree (Catalpa bignonoides) and the desert willow (Chilopsis linearis) adds a little color with its pale pink flowers.

IMG_7720.CR2Underneath the trees is a mixture of Agave; Weber Agave (Agave weberi), Octopus Agave (Agave vilmoriniana) and Agave americana to name three; Dalea greggii,  Toothless Desert Spoon (Dasylirion quadrangulatum), Silver-leaf Cassia (Cassia phyllodinea), and Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa), a shrub with white flowers and silvery puffs of fruit heads. There are over 7,000 plants in the garden.

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What is particularly striking is Marco Cochrane’s ‘Bliss Dance’, a 40-foot high dancing woman. Formed by steel tubing covered in steel mesh and lit by nearly 3,000 LED lights, she is part of Cochrane’s Bliss Project.

He describes the project thus,  “These sculptures are intended to demand a change in perspective… to be catalysts for social change.  They are intended to challenge the viewer to see past the sexual charge that has developed around the female body to the human being.  They are intended to de-objectify women and inspire men and women to take action to end violence against women, thus allowing both women and men to live fully and thrive. Forty feet tall, Bliss Dance depicts a woman dancing, eyes closed, expressing her joy, her energy, herself… even though it may not be safe to do so.  She is brave, strong, powerful, riveting.”

She is.

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Vigelandsanlegget – Vigeland Sculpture Park

Visiting Oslo, Norway, a few weeks ago, I went to see one of the most popular attractions.

In Frogner Park, is the famous Vigeland installation, a permanent sculpture installation of 212 bronze and granite pieces created by Gustav Vigeland between the 1920s and 1943. I was enthralled by the granite sculptures of humanity in all of its phases. There are sculptures from babies to old women, lovers and haters, athletes and the infirm, the dying and the dead. The sheer number, the largest installation of a single artist’s work in the world, has considerable power.IMG_7456

The humans represented are naked. I can’t imagine that sculptures of naked men holding naked children would be acceptable in today’s prurient America. It would be as if a collection of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs were turned to stone and populated Central Park.

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As magnificent as the collection of work is, I felt an underlying discomfort. I couldn’t identify it until I returned home, although, at the time, I asked the guide at the museum whether Vigeland was a Nazi sympathizer. She said, “No”. Why did I ask this? I felt something.

Pola Gauguin, son of Paul Gauguin, and a prominent art critic of the time, wrote that the installation “reeks of Nazi mentality.” Ah, that’s it. Beyond the technical wonder, the fascination of inspiration, the slight eroticism, lies the fascism.

The sculptures are heroic and romantic, themes that were dear to the Third Reich. What is interesting about Vigeland’s work is that it also includes the aged. One of the most powerful pieces is of two old woman with creased faces, flat breasts and sagging bellies. Does this not contradict the message of muscular humanity, “uncontaminated by Jewish influence” as the Nazis described their work?

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Gustav Vigeland was a Nazi sympathizer and supported Quisling’s collaborationist government. I don’t know what was in his mind when he imagined the sculptures. I just don’t know enough.

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State of the World’s Plants 2016

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I read the news today oh boy.

To be exact, the State of the World’s Plants 2016, published by The Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. It is an 84 page document that can be downloaded here –https://stateoftheworldsplants.com/

Please read it.

There are a number of important points in the report that maybe be of interest.

  • An estimated 391,000 vascular plants species are known to science
  • 2,034 new plant species were discovered in 2015
  • At least 31,128 plants species currently have a documented use
  • 1,771 important plant areas have been identified globally but very few have conservation protection
  • Some areas of the planet exhibit an incredible quantity and diversity of plants, with many unique species. But many of these areas are degrading or disappearing entirely under the assault of increasing threats, including land-use change, climate change, pests and diseases
  • In the past three decades, changes to the climate have been apparent at a scale and level of variability not seen in the past 850,000 years
  • 4,979 species are now documented as invasive
  • One in five plants are estimated to be threatened with extinction. ONE IN FIVE
  • Around $80 billion worth of PRIMARY tropical timber products were imported globally in 2014.
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Sunnylands and the Salton Sea

I have just returned from spending a little time in a California desert. The Sonoran desert around Palm Springs.  I went to the Salton Sea too.

People say the desert is empty. Who these people are I don’t know.

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San Jacinto Peak

San Jacinto Peak looms over Palm Springs, its 10,000 feet seeming to stare down at the city’s frivolity.

‘From the summit of San Jacinto one has to my notion the finest outlook for unstudied comprehensiveness in all of California. One can see great distances in every direction. The mountain ranges succeed one another northeastward but one can not only overlook them but detect the vast mesas and desert plains which lie between them. And the highest range in the distance which finally shuts out the view is so far away that it gives no sense of dissatisfaction or complicating of a problem which one desires to solve as in the case of a range near at hand closing the immediate view as in the Sierras. Everything is understandable, comprehensible, to be worked out readily with the eye. ‘

Willis Lynn Jepson, August 1903.

There are limber pines (Pinus flexilis) and Sierra lodgepole pines (Pinus contorta subsp. Murrayana) and all manner of plant wonder on the mountain. Interestingly, at least to me, San Jacinto is the Spanish name for Saint Hyacinth, a Polish friar who was canonized in 1594. Who knew ?

Close to Palm Springs is Sunnylands, the former Annenberg estate, now a conference center, house and garden. Presidents and film stars meet here. President Obama met with the leaders of Asian countries. Nixon retreated here and Eisenhower played golf. Frank Sinatra sinatra-ed  and Bob Hope sang ‘Thanks for the Memory’.

Thanks for the memory
Of sentimental verse,
Nothing in my purse,
And chuckles
When the preacher said
For better or for worse,
How lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of Schubert’s Serenade,
Little things of jade
And traffic jams
And anagrams
And bills we never paid,
How lovely it was.

We who could laugh over big things
Were parted by only a slight thing.
I wonder if we did the right thing,
Oh, well, that’s life, I guess,
I love your dress.

Thanks for the memory
Of faults that you forgave,
Of rainbows on a wave,
And stockings in the basin
When a fellow needs a shave,
Thank you so much.

Thanks for the memory
Of tinkling temple bells,
Alma mater yells
And Cuban rum
And towels from
The very best hotels,
Oh how lovely it was.

Thanks for the memory
Of cushions on the floor,
Hash with Dinty Moore,
That pair of gay pajamas
That you bought
And never wore.

We said goodbye with a highball,
Then I got as high as a steeple,
But we were intelligent people,
No tears, no fuss,
Hooray for us.

Strictly entire nous,
Darling, how are you?
And how are all
Those little dreams
That never did come true?

Awfully glad I met you,
Cheerio and toodle-oo
Thank you,
Thank you so much.

The gardens of Sunnylands are new,  created in 2011 by landscape architect James Burnett. It is refreshing to observe that not every 21st century garden is a cultivated wildness.   http://sunnylands.org/

This is a formal garden with rows and rows of golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grussonii), Morroccan mound (Euphorbia resinifera) and Artichoke Agave (Agave parryi var.truncata), with pink donations of Hesperaloe (Hesperaloe funifera hybrid) and white offerings of Our Lord’s Candle (Hesperoyucca whipplei).Like a sleeping army they are ranked in lines, some straight, others bowed.

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There are avenues of the most wonderful desert tree, Parkinsonia x ‘Desert Museum’, a selection of palo verde that flowers in spring and summer. Have mercy, this tree is so beautiful.

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To the south of Sunnylands  is the great Anza-Borrego desert and to the east the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea has such a rich history of hope, decline and fall.

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The Salton Sea

It is not a sea but a land-trapped lake. Saltier than the ocean and full of agricultural run-off, it was once a resort. Now it’s full of selenium and other heavy metals. In the winter it is a stop-over for migrating birds, thousands of them.

It is one of my favorite places in the U.S. Cracked by the sun, ruined by poison, devoid of hope.

Tilapia, that tasteless fish, was introduced into the Salton Sea. There are now hundreds of thousands of them. So many that, twice a year, they die off, making a wall of dead fish around the lake. A beach of bones.

Dead fish
Dead fish
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The end of the world.

 

 

Orangeade, green monkeys and golden rocks.

I have just returned from spending a few days at the Golden Rock Inn http://goldenrocknevis.com/ on the island of Nevis. I went there because the owners, Brice and Helen Marden, landscape architect Raymond Jungles and architect Edward Tuttle have created a remarkable and ineffably beautiful garden.

Situated on the slopes of Nevis Peak, the garden is part of and surrounds the Inn, a small hotel with eleven guest rooms. It may be one of the most botanically enthusiastic small hotels in the world.

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Raymond Jungles is crazy for plants and there is so much horticulture going on that it makes your head spin – in a good way. His signature plantings are the large and sweeping gatherings of bromeliads that swirl down and through the slopes of the garden. The bright colors and fat leaves are not so much a punctuation, there are other plants that provide that, but are rolling paragraphs of plants tumbling through and around each other creating patterns that both propel and pull the garden together.

If there is one dominant plant amongst considerable competition, it is the sun-loving, orange-leaved bromeliad, Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orangeade’.  With a height of 4 feet and a spread of 3-4 feet, one plant stands out but planted in groups of twenty to thirty, the red-tipped orange leaves are more than a splash of color, they are a rubicund tidal wave. As if the auburn leaves weren’t enough, tall spikes of brilliant red are produced from the central rosette. The flowers last for months. The orange foliage is a unifying color amongst the many shades of green, always bright as fast moving clouds, pushed by the trade winds, constantly change the light. Orange dances with blue and red and the bromeliad is planted next to the blue leaves of Agave americana and the blood red of Bougainvillea ‘Flame’.

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Aechmea blanchetiana ‘Orangeade’

 

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Yikes

All this is set against a mixture of 18th century Caribbean colonial plantation architecture, romantic ruins, mid-century furniture and brightly colored cottages.

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After one particularly intense day, I sat on a terrace to watch the sun go down. As I did so, a troop of vervet monkeys passed through, picking fruit off trees and looking for any morsels dropped by visitors.

I didn’t know much about the monkeys except that they are native to Africa and were brought to a number of islands in the Caribbean, escaping captivity to form robust feral populations.

And so I began to do a little research.

‘The vervet monkeys in St. Kitts and Nevis are known to locals and tourists alike for their love of alcohol and tendency to raid beachfront areas for alcoholic beverages. Some researchers have studied their behavior in an attempt to better understand alcoholism in humans.

A controversial research project that involves giving alcohol to 1,000 green vervet monkeys has found that the animals divide into four main categories: binge drinker, steady drinker, social drinker and teetotaller. ‘– Psychology Today

Another study produced this – ‘Sex differences in children’s toy preferences are thought by many to arise from gender socialization.  In this study, we found that vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops  sabaeus) show sex differences in toy preferences similar to those documented previously in children. The percent of contact time with toys typically preferred by boys (a car and a ball) was greater in male vervets than in female vervets , whereas the percent of contact time with toys typically preferred by girls (a doll and a pot) was greater in female vervets than in male vervets . The results suggest that sexually differentiated object preferences arose early in human evolution, prior to the emergence of a distinct hominid lineage. This implies that sexually dimorphic preferences for features (e.g., color, shape, movement) may have evolved from differential selection pressures based on the different behavioral roles of males and females, and that evolved object feature preferences may contribute to present day sexually dimorphic toy preferences in children.

‘Alexander and Hines. Evolution and Behavior, Official Journal of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society. http://www.ehbonline.org/article/S1090-5138(02)00107-1/fulltext

I looked at the vervet monkeys with new respect but still shooed the little fuckers away when they tried to steal my gin and tonic.

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A tired and emotional vervet.

Back to plants and the design of Golden Rock Inn.

I was stunned to come across a dragon fruit (Hylocereus undatus) growing between two red window shutters. Simple and perfect. I liked the  terraces with geometrically clean pools and the Montgomery Palm (Veitchia montgomeryana) growing tall. The whole thing looked pretty good at night too.

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The flared trunk of kapok (Ceiba pentandra) stopped me in my tracks. I spent a couple of hours sitting with my back against this wonderful tree.

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Helen Marden’s choice of furniture is a pleasure too.

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In all, Golden Rock is a wonderful if  horticulturally over stimulating place to spend a few days. With so many plants, so much color and texture and depth, I needed to rest my head. And so I went sailing for an afternoon, and after swimming with turtles, and listening to Bob Marley on the way back to the Inn, I was feeling a natural mystic blowing through the air. I was feeling irie.

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If I could grow just one plant

it would be ridiculous. What gardener would grow just one plant ? And when we have one plant, we want three, and after three, we want nine, and ninety and ninety-nine.

We are obsessives who want LOTS of  instant gratification even though it may take years. We want it NOW and are ill-prepared to wait  for that tree, shrub, herbaceous plant or any other, to grow and bloom. This is why some of us end up in the padded room.

But, if I could grow one plant today, it would be Verbena lilacina ‘De La Mina’.

IMG_5790.CR2Planted twelve months ago, from a six-inch pot, it is now almost 4 feet across and 2 feet high. It grows in crap soil, doesn’t need much water, smells sweet, and blooms for months. At least, it does all this in my tiny garden in the Bay Area of California.

IMG_5788.CR2This plant was collected by Carol Bornstein, former Director of Horticulture at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, ( http://www.sbbg.org/ ) now Director of the Nature Gardens at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. http://www.nhm.org/nature/visit/nature-gardens .

It was discovered by her  in the Canyon de la Mina on Cedros Island, an island off the west coast of Baja California. Praises to Carol for bringing us such a wonderful plant.

On the other hand, I am, today, very fond of Euphorbia characias ‘Dwarf Variety’  with huge  chartreuse flowers on a plant that grows  2.5 feet high and 3 feet  wide. It’s easy to grow, doesn’t need a lot of water and blooms for three months. Last year, I left the seed-heads on and now have about a dozen young plants growing out of the paving on my patio. The seedlings  have wider leaves than the parent. I suspect the dwarf form does not come true from seed. O well.

This year I will remove the seed heads. It’s a small backyard and I don’t want a forest-ette of Euphorbia. ‘Dwarf Variety’ is, by any other name, probably the same as ‘Bruce’s Dwarf’ or ‘Humpty’. The English call it ‘Humpty’ but they would.

Euphorbia characias 'Bruce's Humpty Dwarf'
Euphorbia characias ‘Bruce’s Humpty Dwarf’

 

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Growing next to it is another favorite, Echium gentianoides
‘Tajinaste’ .

IMG_5808.CR2Unlike the taller Echium candicans, this is not unruly in its proclivities and does not self-seed. It flowers for almost four months, the bees love it and so do I. It’s about 4 feet high in my garden now. When flowering is finished, I dead-head it and a smattering of flowers will appear later. The species is endemic to the island of La Palma, the Canary Islands. It is listed as ‘vulnerable’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

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If I cared about garden design in my own garden, I would add something orange and sit back and drool.

These three plants were purchased at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, a nursery not far from where I live. http://www.anniesannuals.com/

I have not met the famous Annie but she is high in the pantheon of garden goddesses. One day I will go to her in supplication.

 

California

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Monolopia lanceolata. Common hillside daisy

“An afternoon drive from Los Angeles will take you up into the high mountains, where eagles circle above the forests and the cold blue lakes, or out over the Mojave Desert, with its weird vegetation and immense vistas. Not very far away are Death Valley, and Yosemite, and Sequoia Forest with its giant trees which were growing long before the Parthenon was built; they are the oldest living things in the world. One should visit such places often, and be conscious, in the midst of the city, of their surrounding presence. For this is the real nature of California and the secret of its fascination; this untamed, undomesticated, aloof, prehistoric landscape which relentlessly reminds the traveler of his human condition and the circumstances of his tenure upon the earth. “You are perfectly welcome,” it tells him, “during your short visit. Everything is at your disposal. Only, I must warn you, if things go wrong, don’t blame me. I accept no responsibility. I am not part of your neurosis. Don’t cry to me for safety. There is no home here. There is no security in your mansions or your fortresses, your family vaults or your banks or your double beds. Understand this fact, and you will be free. Accept it, and you will be happy.”

 ― Christopher Isherwood, Exhumations

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Clematis lasiantha. The Pipestem Clematis

California is a Garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see,

But believe it or not, you won’t find it so hot

If you ain’t got the do re mi”

 ― Woody Guthrie

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“But there is one tree that for the footer of the mountain trails is voiceless; it speaks, no doubt, but it speaks only to the austere mountain heads, to the mindful wind and the watching stars. It speaks as men speak to one another and are not heard by the little ants crawling over their boots. This is the Big Tree, the Sequoia.”

 ― Mary Austin, California, the Land of the Sun

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Amsinckia intermedia. Common Fiddlehead

“God will break California from the surface of the continent like someone breaking off a piece of chocolate. It will become its own floating paradise of underweight movie stars and dot-commers, like a fat-free Atlantis with superfast Wi-Fi.”

 ― Laura Ruby, Bad Apple

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“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgundy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”

 ― Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Decline and Fail: The SF Flower and Garden Show

In 2014, I was, for six weeks, the (kind of) director of the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.I was  enlisted by John Greenlee  and the new owners and we worked hard to elevate the show to a standard befitting one of the best horticultural and landscape design centers in the world. I believe we did a good job given the restrictions and, let’s just say, personalities that were present .I will also pass on describing the emotional and logistical ups and downs of coming to a flower show just six weeks before it opened. It was a mess. I lost one friend who had a temper tantrum but I gained a couple of new ones. So it goes.

I went to the Show today. It is opening day. I went with as much of an open mind as possible. I had recovered from the miasma of 2014 and now…not my circus, not my monkeys. I wanted the show to be great. After all, the Bay Area has some of the best landscape architects, garden designers and nurseries on the planet. Evidently they were all elsewhere when it came to this year’s show.

In its heyday, the show featured 20 to 30 gardens. They were elaborate gardens, many of them excellent. Today there are ten gardens. I almost liked a couple.

 What I saw, as I entered the gates of the show, left me gobsmacked. Gobsmacked is a British slang word meaning extremely surprised or shocked; astounded. I will forbear on writing a lengthy criticism and let the photos speak for themselves.

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The show entrance. Ten minutes before opening.
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Part of the central avenue on opening day
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A degree of minimalism beneath the ordinary
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Bocce ball court. It helps the game if you don’t have a lot of plants obstructing the view.
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The most developed garden by Treeline Designz and Succulent Gardens
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The garden featuring this combination of Bromeliad and Agave won the Gold Cup. An award given for horticulture !
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An interesting combination of hybrid Rhododendron and native American tipi