Posts tagged garden

As autumn officially arrives later this month, I’ve begun taking stock of our summer kitchen garden and the lessons learned in tending to its needs. I measure success by how close I’m able to provide a feast such as this aspirational bounty. It might be a lofty dream, but I retackle the challenge each spring with optimism.

Alas, I’ve fallen short yet again. Tis the fate of the kitchen garden of this landscape architect! But yet, there were many lessons learned, and even a few successes:


Right now my geraniums – potted flowers rooted in memories of my Grandmother’s backyard in San Bernardino – are blooming profusely. This plethora of deep color pollinated with nostalgia keep these flowers in my backyard near the kitchen garden.


Only one tomato plant thrived to provide a number of sweet cherry tomatoes this season. And even now, though there are still plenty of fruit on its vines, the leaves have begun turning yellow. The other three tomato plants grew lovely green leaves, but also sprouted fruit with blossom end rot, producing inedible fruit. Ugh! Seems cherry tomatoes are less susceptible to this rot (and are full of delicious flavor!).


A summer garden mainstay, our towering drying sunflower blooms continue to provide food for local birds and squirrels.


The marigolds add some spots of bright color in the garden, while the watermelon continues to flower and set fruit. And what tasty fruit they have produced on their long vines! I will definitely plant more again next spring.


Though notably early in the season, some pomegranates fruiting on our huge shrub look ready for harvest already.


I’m pleased to report of a small, yet notable victory: I finally got a basil plant to flourish! Usually it’s dead within a couple of weeks. But I think I found a semi-shaded spot next to the French and Mexican tarragon plants where the basil seems to thrive. Each of these herbs provide a renewable culinary resource to cut to use while cooking – adding fantastic flavor and aroma to every dish – growing back again and again.


This was my attempt to get a creative shot from underneath our dwarf Meyer lemon tree looking up into its canopy. Periodically, I’ve been able to harvest fruit from its branches this summer, but I’m expecting an even bigger harvest this winter.

I’ve also come to the pragmatic conclusion that I need to install drip irrigation system on a timer to keep everything watered sufficiently. By the end of summer, I undoubtedly grow tired of dragging around the hose every very hot morning!

About a year ago I began a post with this photo, accompanied with plans for growing a “lush, overflowing garden of kitchen ingredients” intended for backyard backyard fêtes. All photos: Jennifer Salazar.

Ah, yes…summer officially arrived a week ago on June 20th at 9:24pm. It was at that exact moment the sun reached its most northern apex from the equator. Given the passing of the season into the next, alongside the extreme temperatures torching across the entire southwest United States recently, I found myself inspired to offer an update about my kitchen garden.

Sadly, I begin with a bit of disappointment: some of the strawberries have not survived, and I have yet to see any fruit. The sugar snap peas and sunflowers sprouted without any problems from seed, while my tomatoes – old standbys like Early Girl – are thriving as well, and filling up the bottoms of their cages. Thyme and fennel continue to thrive, while the hot colored marigolds bloom and dry out in a continuous floral cycle of bloom and bust (the flower even coordinate with my orange gardening Crocs!).


Surprisingly, the basil plants which I always have trouble keeping alive are doing ok. The hot pepper bush, cilantro, and a couple Italian parsleys are withstanding the heat, continuing to grow.


A couple of squash plants are spreading their vines out confidently, my fave being this watermelon’s variegated and highly articulated leaves – its expanse creating a pleasing flat carpet of green over one of the beds.


The large pomegranate shrub at the back of the beds continues to set fruit, so I hope that will produce a bounty of pomegranates to enjoy this autumn.

Another favorite is the Geranium (though not the botanically correct Pelargonium species) – a favorite because their constant bright blooms appear even during drought conditions, and also because of the everlasting memories connected with my grandparents’ Inland Empire backyard growing up.


Unfortunately I had to install a set of plastic green stakes with fencing to keep our 2 dogs from digging up the beds before we planted. It was the least visually obtrusive solution, though I cannot say I am a fan of it.

Who knows, there may still yet be a chance my backyard will one day produce a summer harvest to meet my goals of this ideal backyard feast!

I find the allure of the Luxembourg Gardens is its incredible beauty that the Parisian people share and use as a community. I love the Garden’s elegance revealed in the sum of its details: long rows of large, mature Horse Chestnut Trees with high, shady canopies overhead; large expanses of decomposed granite in a gold color or expanses of green turf (this is NOT Southern California of course) on the ground plane; and the multitude of iconic mobile chairs that are beautiful and comfortable. There are simple, yet stunning water fountains that are both sculptural and areas of play.

Boats at Luxembourg gardens

The Garden’s large expanses allow visitors to enjoy their park as they like, and this openness provides a framework for various activities. Young people dash around large tree trunks, while children sail toy sailboats in the large fountain during the summer. Groups and couples can gather chairs together to enjoy the park and socialize, while lone visitors are left to read a book or enjoy the sunshine in solitude. There are areas of deep shade, full sun, and every sun exposure in between to enjoy.

Details add to the beauty: the very low foot rest that encircles the lawn areas; the wood box containers for the trees; and the lovely edges of the water fountains as the water spills off into the basin below.

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We may not be able to build high maintenance, high water use public spaces such as those found within the Jardin du Luxembourg here in Southern California, but the beauty of its design can certainly inspire our work as designers, even on the smallest scale.

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“Even though there is a lot going on, there’s this incredible sense of calmness – the garden never excludes the landscape, it’s always welcoming.”

Filmmaker Howard Sooley has been visiting author Anna Pavord’s residence, Sunnyside Farm, in the Southwest English countryside for a decade, noting how the author’s garden gently transitions into the surrounding natural landscape to the effect of “a series of doors leading you from one room to the next with signs telling you to drink the potion.”

Pavord, the author of The Tulip: The Story of a Flower That Has Made Men Mad, a horticultural love affair with the wild flower, created her garden dictated by the rhythms and forms of foliage, flowers, and ferns to shape what she believes is a person’s best defense against the worst of the outside world – the garden as an idealized landscape of the “world that we wished we lived in”. She invited Sooley to film her in this space for NOWNESS and their excellent Great Garden series.

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7 ways to skip a shower: The premise behind the “campaign” is a plea for pledgers to skip 26 showers for every 4-ounce hamburger consumed in order to offset the vast amounts of water used when turning cattle into food. And while the idea of skipping 26 showers per burger may seem unrealistic, the figures are real.

How Much Rain Would End the Drought?: What’s the best way to get people to stop watering their lawns? Why aren’t we investing in desalination? Will we ever get used to the idea of drinking our own (recycled) pee? And most importantly, when will this drought be over?

The New Creativity: Man and Machines Curated by Sylvia Lavin with the UCLA Curatorial Project
From the first house R.M. Schindler designed using a drafting machine to contemporary architects who design digital drawing devices instead of houses, The New Creativity: Man and Machines examines creative practices in relation to the social and technical complexes that support and constrain them.

Once illegal, watering the garden with drainage from the washer or shower is gaining favor: Costanzo is among millions of Californians who, amid the state’s fourth punishing year of drought, are increasingly turning to gray water – from the clothes washer, shower or bathroom sink — to keep trees and other plants hydrated.

California’s Drought Changes Habits in the Kitchen: Across California, home cooks and restaurant chefs are adjusting to a new reality in kitchens where water once flowed freely over sinks full of vegetables, and no one thought twice about firing up a big pot of water for pasta.