A Flower Apple Pie???

This amazes me. I never would have thought to create a pie from flowers yet Carly Cylinder of Flour LA did just that. It was a customer’s request. “A customer came up with it because her father-in-law loves apple pies.” She used pale-yellow ranuculus, pee gee hydrangea’s and a sprinkling of sand. Ingenious!

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A Giving Christmas Tree

Me with my decorated tree on the event night

This year I volunteered to decorate a tree for S.O.S. (Share Our Selves – a charity to help Orange County’s homeless). All the trees were remarkable and oh so creative and they were auctioned off last week. S.O.S. raised a whopping $32,273! My tree ‘Garden Glitz’ was filled with colors and textures I love: Chartreuse, gold, red and copper. I used silk Hydrangea’s in cream and red; copper-colored roses; glittery gold spikes, soft bows and lots of balls. Hats off to all the people who volunteered their talents for this event, but mostly to those who volunteer their time every week to help those less fortunate. God bless you this Christmas season.

Our California Coast

If you haven’t driven from San Fransisco to Southern California along Hwy 1, you must add it to your bucket list. We just did this last week. At times we were alone on the road with this natural, pristine beauty surrounding us. This always surprises me since California is so full of people and cars…everywhere…so it seems. Nature lays things out so beautifully. The Monterey Pines are majestic and regal sitting on the cliffs. I noticed the wild dill growing along side of the road. The Achillea and other natives were along the turnouts where we stopped to take pictures. We only drove through Carmel and I’m determined to get back there. We ended our trip in San Luis Obispo which has always been a favorite.

Carmel

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Middle School is So Over

Today my ‘little boys’ graduated from middle school. They are so cute, my Jack and James. All morning they complained about having to wear their good clothes with, “Why do we have to tuck in our shirts!”. They growled, but I think they were just anxious about the whole thing. These two are each other’s ‘best-good-friends’, quoting Forest Gump, and it’s true. So, now we have three in high school. And just to make it clear, James says to Bridget, ‘We’re all together again”. She rolled her eyes. Precious.

Why I charge for consultations


Recently, an ‘almost’ client cancelled her appointment for a consultation for a modern-style design she wanted in her postage sized backyard. We had gotten along quite well over the phone and I was looking forward to meeting her so I was surprised when she cancelled. When I asked her why, she said she found someone who didn’t charge for consultations. Last week a women called me about creating a meadow of grasses in her front yard to replace the turf – something with movement and drought tolerant. She did not want to pay me to come out and kept hinting around that I should simply give her the names of my favorite grasses. I gave away nothing. Then last night a woman called me about helping her with a design using fruit trees. When she realized I charge to consult, she informed me that she had a small budget and would not use any of that money for a consultation.

So what is the value of a design consultation? I charge $150 for 2 hours and if I am hired for a full design, that money is rolled into the cost of the design. For 2 hours we talk shop. Where is the great potential here? What challenges need to be overcome? Should you take that tree out and if so what will take its place? How can we design a focal point that will showcase the cool art you brought back from Mexico? What is your style and which plants will create that? It’s so individual and personal. Most of my consultations end up becoming full designs, but sometimes the client has worked out enough of the kinks and gained enough knowledge to get started.

Is it worth the money?

In Honor of my Dad

Today would be my dad’s 84th birthday and, even though he’s been gone for 10 years, I’m a little nostalgic. It amazes me that this loss has never really lost its edge. I wish he was here for so many reasons. Obviously to see how awesome my kids are. He would love Bridget’s brilliance and her Irish look. She remembers him. The twins, Jack and James, have no memories – only photos. Dad would get a kick out of their wit and shenanigans. In return, they would like his wit and stories of his shenanigans.

I tell my kids about him. How he loved to golf (shot a 69 once) and ate lunch every day with his buddies; how he enlisted in the Navy at 18 and headed off 6 days after his high school graduation to join WWII; he sang in the church choir always and sang ‘Ave Maria’ and ‘When Irish Eyes are Smiling’ at our wedding; he loved a good party and he and my mom threw some great ones; he always voted; he was fun to dance the Jitterbug with; he taught me how to play craps; he was always home for dinner; he drove us around to look at Christmas lights when we were kids; he sent flowers on Valentine’s Day when I was away at college; he loved my mom forever.

I’m at a loss. Tonight Scot and I will have a beer and toast one of the greatest men who ever lived. Cheers!

Like the French do

One pretty pot

One of my worldly clients, Jean, called me to let me know that the flowers were blooming and it was a good time to take pictures. While there we were chatting and I was snapping pictures of all the blooms, I commented on this one lone pot near in the side yard. This yard is small part of the overall design with raised planters for her vegetables and cutting flowers. Yes, in this sparse and simple side yard sits a small pot with blooming purple flowers. It has to be watered by hand. Jean pointed out that when she lived in Europe, this was a typical way to set a pot. There would be only a pot or two with colorful plants. These plants might be special, such as something grandma had, and they would sit alone. They demanded their own respect and were admired for their own beauty. The simplicity of it left time to sit in the garden and share a glass of wine with a friend. I’ve been mulling over this way of thinking.

APLD designers rock the L.A. Garden Show

I have to admit that I was not part of the APLD design team for the L.A. Garden Show. I simply showed up last Saturday for my 2 hour shift to greet visitors and hand out information on the design. Needless to say, I was stunned by how fabulous the exhibit was. Having only been to the L.A. Arboretum only once, (shameful, I know) I had to find the exhibit among the wild peacocks and vendors. Imagine, seeing it there, the house on top of the hill surrounded by ‘The New California Garden’. It made so much sense. The house was Greg Fleishman’s Puzzle Prefab Shelter DH1 and 13 APLD designers surrounded it with exceptional combinations of plants and trees that don’t need all that expensive water. There was NO turf grass and visitors just hung around and took it in – the beauty, the visiting butterflies, and lemon scented orchard. The kids squated down to touch the succulents and watch the lizards. It was a phenominal work of art and I truly appreciate the immense talent and time these designer put in.

The Dog House

The Dog House

The Puzzle House and patio

Meadow of Carex pansae

Looking towards meditation garden - Wooly Pockets wall

My First Speaking Gig

It was really fun! I gave a talk this morning to the Women Creating Community group at Saints Simon and Jude Church in Huntington Beach on ‘Inspired Container Gardens’. I bought four pots to different kinds of plantings: shade, French, herbs, and succulents. We held a raffle at the end to give away the pots and cover the costs. It was a huge success and I like public speaking. The few butterflies I had quickly went away once I started.

Planting the French pot

Planting the herb pot

The Shade pot

Demo the ’60’s: part 2

It’s coming along. I headed back out to this site at the end of last week to find all the pavers and stacked stone in. The waterfall is in. This week the patio cover and arbors will be built and the wood is sitting on the future dining area. The plants are there and set where they are to be planted. I always wish we had more plants on planting day. In my mind I know they will fill in and create the lush retreat I designed, but on planting day, it seems skimpy. I always explain this to homeowners and I know they ‘hope’ I’m right. Here are some updated photos and I am pleased and can’t wait to see the final scene.

Standing near hot tub looking towards conversation pit

Standing near hot tub looking towards conversation pit.

From conversation pit looking towrds future dining area

Standing near future dining area looking towards conversation pit and waterfall.