Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Life and times of Philip and Ian

My severest critic who always reads this blog before I post, is my partner Philip who corrects my English, often suggests and title and inevitably finds the places where I have missed apostrophes! He has often said that I should make this more personal but there again its a gardening blog - we don't agree on everything! But the other week Philip surprised me with a lovely gift of a new iPhone6 - wow - super technology and I am the guy who wasn't really into phones! My previous, an iPhone4 was found in the street whilst out running two years ago and I was instantly converted!

Top of the aerial tramway - Palm Springs

San Francisco

Hot day at the Getty Center Los Angeles

But to get to the point, I had become increasingly impressed by the camera capabilities of the new iPhones and was itching to get the latest, mainly for this reason. It's far easier to carry an iPhone in my pocket than a bulky SLR camera with a zoom lens! This all set me thinking how cameras have changed in my lifetime. As a kid I recall my parents had a box Brownie, a simple black cube that of course took film that had to be developed at the chemists and resulted in black and white 'snaps'. From my teens, I took slides of plants and gardens and collected thousands before the change to digital which seemed an immense leap but now I have over 27,000 garden and plant pictures.
Box Brownie camera

Rather losing the thread of this blog but trying to be a bit more personal, I thought I'd tell you a little about us - Philip and I. We have now been together 19 years, originally meeting back in Nottingham, becoming Civil Partners in  2006 and getting married in New York in 2012. Philip is now a US citizen and I have my Green Card. Palm Springs is now very much our home, although we still own a house back in Nottingham. So a few pictures taken with a range of cameras from black and white through to digital and iPhone.

Back in my teens
Ian teaching - way back in the 1980's

Philip teaching back at Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham
Brighton Pride - many years ago
Bournmouth UK - Big kid!
Philip's last starring role - Bobby in Sondheim's 'Company'

Arty mirror pic at Floriade some years ago

Fort Lauderdale holiday - years ago

Trying on the merchandise at Disneyland
The year I broke my foot!

Rainforest Cafe - thereby hangs a tale!

Thought I was the flower arranger!

On board a tram in San Francisco

Millennium Night - don't ask what he was wearing underneath!

Millennium Night but what was I thinking?

Previous car - no comment on the colour!

Civil Partnership 2006
New York Marriage with Mark and Keith as witnesses


Philip in Eisenhower uniform in USA

Philip finally walks on water outside the Louvre in Paris

Philip becomes a USA citizen

On board the Queen Mary II

Friday, January 9, 2015

Tenderloin and seasonal vegetables

Just back from a lightening trip to San Francisco for three days and as promised a bit of new horticulture. As well as visiting two art galleries, I did check out the botanic garden  but I'll tell you about that next time.  On my way back from Golden Gate Park, dozing in the oh-so-efficient bus, my sleepy eyes spied a small community garden bang in the city centre, so yesterday I trekked back to find it.

It was worth the walk. This wonderful city centre allotment is only yards from San Francisco's Civic Centre with its huge gilded cupola and formal square. The building adjacent to the garden bears a sign suggesting it is or was an electricity sub-station, so presumably the land was previously just derelict. The area, called the Tenderloin, has traditionally been underprivileged and has no local grocery store. There are many homeless and poor people.  The garden is run by volunteers and the food produced is distributed free.

I have to admit in the past to showing horticultural snobbery about some similar projects but this one seemed to be neatly laid out, well maintained and complete with drip irrigation. It was obviously producing valid crops. In addition there was a pretty little ornamental garden in one corner complete with an  arid bed and a golden Brugmansia in full bloom - not bad for January!

More information on the Tenderloin People's Garden - click this link.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Post Christmas Crumbs

Writing a blog is great when the writer - that's me in this case, has something to write about and some good pictures to share but sometimes inspiration fails.  Another blog author once wrote that he had no shortage of things to write about, only a lack of time to do it! Well I envy his creativity. I love writing but have to have something worth saying. Yes - I'm struggling today but I hope you'll read on!

Not quite 12th night - an interesting variation on Christmas decorations for the desert!
I had this quirky idea that I would write about the local wildlife - well not really wild but the strange animal-like ornaments that people use to 'adorn' their gardens.  So I set off on safari round our local community with my camera but I think it must have been the hibernation season or my camera scared them away. That's that idea down the drain! 

Can you just imagine the thought pattern behind wanting a plastic swan to adorn a desert landscape?

Why would one ever want a plastic humming bird when we have the real things here.

Last week I went off for a trip to Bob Williams nursery in Indio to buy some cacti and succulents for my planned new desert bed. The local Lowes have succulents but they are not much more than rooted cuttings and two in a pot which seems to be the norm, doesn't make a very balanced plant. Nearby Home Depot (B&Q for UK readers) have better plants but bearing scant inaccurate labels - 'prickly pear' and so on. Mollers have wonderful, properly labelled plants but the prices! Some beautiful unusual Agaves at $89 each  - ouch! So I set out for Bob Williams but arrived and found it closed. Yes - another frustrating moment!
Pic from my last visit - this is what we hoped to see and will next time!

Anyway the trip wasn't entirely wasted. On impulse we called in at a restaurant called Jacalope with a beautiful garden. The restaurant wasn't open for service and so the water features weren't working - another hiccup but the surroundings are lovely and I must return.  Lots of beautiful plants and quality sculpture - no plastic humming birds here!

What is this tree?
Just love the steel cactus bollards!

A climber I don't know - Chad - are you reading? Update - Disticus 'Rivers' - thanks Chad!

And another challenge! Update - Cordia boissieri - he did it again!

We also walked along El Paseo, an area of upmarket shops and art galleries. It includes an area called The Gardens which has recently been refurbished in desert style - a great redevelopment but difficult to photograph. Very stark and modern and in total contrast to the lush gardens of Jacalope.

Well - I guess that's it for 2014.  Its chilly here with night temperatures in the 30's but the sun is shining! Hooray for California! Next week Philip and I are off to San Francisco, in part to see an exhibition at the art gallery but I hope to escape to the botanic garden at some point, so hopefully more of a feast and less crumbs next time!