Monday, December 28, 2009

I Love Susan Harris at Garden Rant

One good turn deserves another and that one deserves another one. Susan Harris, that super-nova ball of energy, knowledge and dry wit, was kind enough to invite my wife, Lin, and me to her home just north of D.C. last September, where I was delighted to offer some fresh design ideas for Susan's sloping, narrow, forest-surrounded backyard garden.

I guess I could have been polite and said, "It's nice," but, hell, why lie to a friend?

So I paced out and pantomimed plant massings that I thought would better serve her. A few weeks later, she e-mailed me a rough sketch of the yard I'd seen. Out came my trusty colored pens, and here's what came of it. I don't know the specific plants that will thrive in Takoma, Maryland, but I do know where she needed big background shrubs, where the border between her alternative lawn and ground covers should be, and the best place to pop things with a strong focal point.

Today at, Susan does a little show and tell.

Read on...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Don't Smirk! Santa Barbara HAS TOO Got Fall Color!

Don't believe everything you hear as a kid. It turns out that deciduous trees don't turn yellow and orange and red because forest dwellers paint the leaves by the light of a full moon. I vaguely remember seeing that in a cartoon, but even as a young child, I was skeptical. Where, I wondered, would the Keeblerians get all that paint? How could they organize and execute en masse? It's not like they could text.

Click for the rest. Some very hot color going down in the 805!

Friday, December 11, 2009

When The Temperature Drops, Look At Flowers

I was flipping through my digital images and realized that most of the recent "winter" images are some pretty hot. I figured it might help warm up my readers shivering their days away at home.

So I posted this tidbit at my Cool Green Gardens blog at Fine Gardening column.

Hot! Hot! Hot!

FINALLY - A Time Machine That Works!

And what a cool trip it was! There's nothing that makes my day better than traveling back 85 years and seeing how people of wealth AND good taste put the equation together. My tour of Casa del Herreo (House of the Blacksmith), the Santa Barbara area's newest National Historic Landmark, is captured in this recent blog at

Gorgeous pictures and an interesting story to boot!

Casa del Herrero article at

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Television celebrity for landscaping shares green tips in class

I'm a glutton for punishment, mostly due to my inability to utter the words, "No thank you, I'm terribly busy right now." Or, "GET THE @#$^ OUT OF MY FACE!!!" depending on my mood. So this fall I once again, overly-ambitiously, bit off more than I could chew.

I not only began my stint as a professor in the Santa Barbara City College Environmental Horticulture Department - inventing a rigorous 3-unit / 45 hour curriculum out of thin air - but also enrolled in Journalism 101, thinking I'd have time in my "retirement" (read "lay-off") to hone my self-taught writing and reporting skills. I only lasted a few weeks, quickly realizing that I wouldn't learn much without investing a lot of time that I didn't really have.

But lo and behold, Andrea Ellickson, one of my Residential Landscape Design students, was simultaneously enrolled in her own journalism class and thought I would make an interesting subject for one of her assignments. Her story was good enough to merit publication in The Channels, the campus print and on-line newspaper.

And a tip of my stingy-brim hat to Bilge Akinci for her lovely photo in my favorite garden in the whole wide world.

For your edification, here's the article.

Television celebrity for landscaping shares green tips in class - Features