Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Almost Foiled By A Cyclops


All I wanted to do was project some PowerPoint slides of planting combinations on the screen and teach my eager students to become brilliant designers. I had spent an hour picking out images that range from simple "harmony / contrast" studies to more complex garden ideas.

But instead, I was lured into a bloody battle between man and machine. Chaos erupted as I tried to get the goddamn computer to "see" the shiny cyclopean creature clinging to the ceiling, motionless, but whirring with delight. Step one, turn on computer; step two, turn on projector - zip, nothin', just 'HITACHI' in block letters on the screen. "Crap!" I muttered, barely audible to the class.

Okay, we'll just reverse the order of ops: Shut down projector, shut down computer. Step one: turn on projector; step two....... "DAMN! Come on, this is the high point of tonight's class!"

One knowledgeable student offers, "Press the F3 key!"

"No," offers another, "it's F7."

"No," thinks me, it's FU. One classmate suggests we all just gather around the 14" monitor that's connected to the computer at the lectern. So's I plugs in me trusty thumb-drive and the projector springs to life.

"What did you do?" everyone asked. Damned if I know. Here are a few of the images I showed them with a sprinkle of commentary. I'm feeling like a teacher today.

Green and Green

The pic at the top of this blog is a tight shot of dark green mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) sharing the frame with golden moneywort (Lyssimachia nummularia 'Aurea'). Harmony? They're both green, one a dark conifer kinda green, the other a glowing disc of chartreuse. Very different leaf forms create the contrast. Nice marriage.

Pushing the Yellow

I love the contrast of forms--the chunky, sculptural agave with its gold slash along the edge and the vining extensions of licorice plant (Helichrysum petiolare 'Morning Light') reaching through. The gold marries the two decidedly different forms

Magic Wands


I pointed out to my students that the big event here is the rhythmic forms of blue lavandin (Lavandula 'Provence') and island alumroot (Heuchera maxima - CA native) rising above the foliage. Each has a small delicate flower, but their color and petal shapes set up a nice dynamic. The creamy alumroot seems so right with the soft lavender flowers.

One more?

Shocking, Simply Shocking!

This one got lots of oohs and aahs. I like killer combos that challenge the students. I had a few volunteers take over the lecture, point out which where contrasting characteristics and where there were harmonious connections. They did pretty well. The dark leaf shrub is Smoke Bush (Cotinus coggygria) and the delicate yellow-green critter is golden tansy (Tanicitum vulgare - not sure of the variety).

The class ended well. No shots were fired, I didn't need to be escorted from the class and everyone thought they'd learned something.

If you're in the Santa Barbara area and want a one-day intensive planting design class, join me at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden on Saturday, April 4. More info at they're website and click on Classes.

9 comments:

Gardeness said...

HA! Love this post. I often doubt the "advances" of computer technology. But then, that's why I prefer simple pleasures like dirt and plants. That final pic with the Smoke Bush is gorgeous. I've got similar combos around my garden - black mondo grass with Angelina sedum. I had golden tansy and it spread like mad. I think I lost it all in the renovation though. Nice blog.

dinzie said...

The good thing about working in IT is that there is always a techie nearby to sort things out for me :O)

I would love to be at your seminar..I'm not too hot on the garden design .... SHame I'm so far away :O)

D

VW said...

If I was going to be in town, I'd definitely come to your class. Glad the projector finally decided to cooperate for those beautiful photos. VW

kate smudges said...

I'm oohing and aahing over the alumroot/lavender combination. Love the light and airy look to this one. The Smoke Bush combined with tansy looks dramatic. Oh my, wish I lived in a warmer climate with palm trees and no snow. Maybe a big jade plant or two ~ I'm fed up with snow.

Skrip said...

Very cool combos! I think I will try and take a little vacation in April and perhaps check out your 1 day class. You're a couple of hours away, not too bad of a drive.

Alice Joyce said...

Oh god, I still show slides! Kicking and screaming I go to powerpoint.... Yes, I take digital photos now, but I'm attached at the hip to thousands of images in my slide library!!

Rosemary said...

Oh my, gave me a chuckle at the man vs machine battle. Your pictures on constrasting combos very informative. Love the smoke bush and tansy killer combo.

Teresa said...

Even in my kindergarten I get suggestions in how to use the document camera and computer. And the "oh crap!" and FU are always lurking in the not so far recesses of my mind.

Monica the Garden Faerie said...

I just love teaching because I always learn something, too. And it IS amazing how many different things can go wrong with technology, isn't it? Oy!