Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cor-ten, how do I love thee?

This is a project I am working on in Mission Valley, the completely remodeled Discount Technology Building. We just started planting it, and I am so happy with how the new entry came out that I just had to share!

The architect, Phil Reyes, stripped off the horrid 1970's lava rock facing this planter and replaced it with Cor-Ten Steel. I love the effect: both modern and earthy.

I can't say enough good things about the remodel of the building itself- is is almost hard to believe that the structure of the building is identical because it is almost unrecognizable. Just so you can see how much the building has been transformed, I'll give you a "before" photo (yep, I know, it is hard to look at):

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lawnless in South Park

This garden is hands-down the most gossiped about front yard in my neighborhood. It was designed by Kendra Berger at Revive Landscape Design and was installed about a year ago. I love how much it varies from the expected in almost every way: color, texture, and a complete lack of a front lawn (I especially like this last bit).

I'm sure you all know by now about my obsession with blue-green and blue-grey foliage, and this garden uses them in abundance: two different types of Scenecio, dymondia, Dasilyrion, and Festuca ovina glauca.

And she plays another of my favorite games: she adds splashes of burgundy for contrast: the flowers of kangaroo paws (maybe Anigozanthos 'Big Red'?), New Zealand Flax, and a few things in the Protea family (looks to me like Leucondendron 'Safari Sunset'). Some other plants she uses that I love: Aeoniums (maybe Aeonium 'Cyclops'?), Pittosporum crassifolium nana, and the little weeping tree Leptospermum laevegatum.

I wonder what the back yard looks like.....

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nice things to add to your outdoor design

I don't think I have ever done a write-up on Kate Presents of an online retailer just because I like them, so here is a first for me. I keep finding nice little things on the Ballard Designs website. I wouldn't call it especially fancy, but whoever does their buying for them just has nice taste, and the prices are very reasonable.

Here are a few of their products that I thought were worth a second look (photos above): a screen that seems like it would be great for hiding things like ugly AC units ($249), mock Toulon planters (the large one is $149 compared to authentic imports for more like $600 a peice), a cute and simple fire feature that runs off propane canisters ($399), and their armillary sphere ($149: not bad at all for a peice of outdoor art that is actually tasteful).

And they have a small but nice selection of outdoor furniture. This set, including all 7 peices, is just a little over $1,000. That isn't easy to find, and it especially is tough to find if you want a more traditional look. So if that is your style, they are a great place to start! (For inexpensive furniture with more of an earthy look, I start with Cost Plus, but they only have outdoor furniture in the spring and summer. Target can also have some good options).

Monday, May 10, 2010

A go-to plant: Lavatera

Lavatera is a go-to plant for me. It is reliable, a fast grower, pretty when it isn't in bloom, and very pretty when it is in bloom. And best of all, it is in bloom so much of the year! And then the kicker, this is a really waterwise plant that takes all sorts of punishment including bad soil, and just keeps on keeping on. What's not to love?

I use them most often as large screening shrubs or on hillsides where you want a large pop of color but don't have easy access (and therefor want looooowwwww maintenance). Don't be worries if you buy them very small because even a tiny one gallon plant will be four feet tall and wide in six months. They have soft fuzzy leaves shaped like grape leaves, and the fuzziness gives them a delicate grey color. I trim mine back severely every winter in late December to keep them from getting woody, because I prefer them with a softer look, but it is also fine to leave them be and let them reach their full height of about 8 feet.

The photo above is the most common variety: Lavatera maritima or Lavatera bicolor (depending on the nursery you are buying it from). To the right here are two other lovely options, the white/pale pink flowers of Lavatera 'Barnsley' and the rich deep pink of L. 'Red Rum'.

I especially love using these to get an English Garden look without the water!