Urns as Sculpture

Urns of any scale can be an easy and effective way of adding visual interest to any garden. But large urns are especially impressive.

A large tijana or olive oil urn from Portugal anchors a lush planting in this Berkeley CA garden.
(Photo by Marion Brenner).

This tijana complements the large-scale plantings in this Napa Valley garden.  In the foreground a large Beschorneria (a Central American spineless agave-like succulent) is starting to produce its flower spike.

This smaller urn is an attractive accent in this stroll garden of drought-tolerant, low maintenance garden.

2011 Fellow of the California Native Plant Society (CNPS)

It was a very thrilling evening for me when I was presented with the annual 2011 Fellow award of the California Native Plants Society (CNPS) on November 15th.

After the presentation of the 2011 Fellow award I also received a Commendation declaration by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors with David McCrory.

CNPS presents the Fellow award once a year as "a means of awarding special recognition to persons who have made an outstanding contribution to furthering appreciation and conservation of California native flora and to the success of the Society." Thus it was an incredible honor to receive such recognition. And if that were not enough, I unexpectedly received a Commendation from the Sonoma Board of Supervisors congratulating me for getting the Fellow award and my 30 years of work with native plants and in particular increasing the awareness of, and conservation of the Main Canyon parcel we owned at The Cedars in Sonoma Co. This was very satisfying too, as The Cedars has been a real passion in my life and is one of Sonoma County's greatest ecological "wonders"; very nice to know the Board is aware of its special treasure with that amazing area.

David McCrory (Planet Horticulture)  and Phil Van Soelen (Cal Flora Nursery) making comments at the presentation.

Getting such awards has made me pause and reflect on what an amazing trip it has been since I arrived in California in 1978 - at that time knowing no more about the native flora than being able to recognize a California poppy (Eschscholzia californica). Now I'm considered an authority on the flora of the state, had four plants named in my honor (Tomales red-ribbons, Clarkia concinna ssp. raichei, The Cedars' fairy-lantern, Calochortus raichei, Cow Mt. manzanita, Arctostaphylos stanfordiana ssp. raichei, and recently a new subspecies of bristly jewelflower, Streptanthus glandulosus ssp. raichei), and have co-published two new entities (The Cedars' buckwheat, Eriogonum cedrorum and The Cedars oceanspray, Holodiscus dumosus var. cedrorus). Wow, somehow I still find it hard to believe I did all that! And this doesn't take into account 30 years of horticultural endeavors both with native plants and plants from all over the world.

A whole contingent of friends came up from Berkeley to see the award and my Powerpoint presentation on The Cedars. L-R are Skip Durham, Marcia Donahue and Kathy Ann Miller (Marcia's sister).
More friends from outside of the county; Linda Aurichio, Richard Ward (head turned), Jana Olson and Robin Parer. In the background right are two local friends, Josh Williams and Nancy Summers.
I was especially thrilled to see how many friends from out of the area attended, some from several hours away - thank you again to all of you, and the many well wishers who could not attend.

And a very very special thanks to Phil Van Soelen, Angel Guerzon, Warren Roberts and Phyllis Faber who nominated me and shepherded the nomination through the process - it wouldn't have happened without you!

Starting Big

 Weeping Atlas Cedar
Planet Horticulture uses plants of all sizes from 2" liners to amazing specimen trees. In this West Sonoma County garden we planted a uniquely trained 80 year old weeping Atlas cedar. A slow growing form of a drought tolerant North African native, this tree provide a powerful focal point and screening for the front yard of this delightful 19th century farm house.  Once it was installed, it seemed like it had been part of the original landscape.

  Gudalupe Island Palm
Brahea edulis, the Guadalupe Island palm, a rare endemic native of islands off the coast of northern Baja Mexico is very slow growing in cultivation and is also drought tolerant and among the hardiest of palms.  This specimen was estimated to be more than 40 years old and helped to create an instant oasis effect in this wine country poolside garden.

Ancient Olive
The clients of this newly built modern home in the Oakland Hills wanted to start the landscape with as many mature trees as possible. We chose this special ancient olive as a focal point for the main entry courtyard. This gnarly old tree gave the house a more human scale making it seem more at home in the landscape.

A Welcoming Cottage Garden

A diverse planting of succulents, shrubs, palms, perennials and annuals all attractively arranged for a long season of interest.

Before                                                         After

The driveway approach to this cottage in the foothills above Calistoga in the Napa Valley now has a welcoming garden of diverse heat-tolerant, low water, all season plants. This garden border invites lingering and perusal of the plants, both as individuals and for their combinations. The stairway seen in the Before image is just beyond the gray shrub on the right.