Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getty again - and the garden!

Just made another trip to the Getty Center in Los Angeles.  The main reason was to see the Turner exhibition which was showing over 60 paintings from the Tate Britain, both oils and watercolors. Those of you that have seen the recent Mr Turner film will recall that he left most of his later paintings to the nation. I was also surprised to read of the practice of 'Varnishing Days' when key painters added the last touches to their paintings after hanging in the Royal Academy. I had thought this was a film-maker's whim but it was real and a practice that Turner took full advantage of, completeing his most dramatic pieces at the last minute in front of his peers! Just a couple of internet pics of the exhibition, as photography wasn't allowed. 

We then went on to see the Garden at the Getty, which is always wonderful. It was sad to see all the water features switched off and empty but entirely appropriate in the current drought. One wonders how long it will be before we can enjoy them again.  I have written about the garden before but it is lovely to see at any season. (Last year's visit) Its very horticultural and with its carefully planned color combinations, seems to my eye to be very much in the British style of planting, such as you would find at Wisley, Sissinghurst or Hidcote.

Inevitably many plants that I knew and some I couldn't identify at all. Its good to see unusual plants used amongst the familiar. Shrubs, trees, climbers, herbaceous, annuals, bulbs - they are all represented and beautifully grown.

Canna - probably 'Durban' (syn 'Tropicanna', 'Phasion') or could be the dwarf 'Pink Sunburst'

 Digitalis - one of the 'Illumination' series

Climber - name? (Update - Bauhinia corymbosa - thanks Max)

Curious - like an Achillea but shrubby? (Update - Athanasia acerosa - thanks Max)

Thunbergia battiscombei (Thanks max for the ID)

Echevaria agavoides - thanks for the name Mark and Gaz

Grevillea - species? (Update  - 'Peaches and Cream')

Just love these simple container mixes, prostrate rosemary, white alyssum and Erigeron karataviense

White Viscaria
Kangaroo paw - Anigozanthos 'Bush Gold' ?

Clivia miniata

Ordinary petunias but loved the deep red colour
A restio - Elegia tectorum?
The architecture is beautiful with lovely stonework including these panels with great leaf fossils.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Wild West on a Sunny Sunday

Last Sunday Jim and I made a visit to Pioneertown - not exactly a horticultural mecca but I hope you'll find some interest and enjoy the pictures. Pioneertown is about a 40 minute drive from Palm Springs up into the High Desert of the Yucca Valley near Joshua Tree National Park. The day was lovely but in the winter, this area gets snow! Read on - plant pics at the end.

Beautiful rock formations

This fascinating little community started life in the 1940's as a live-in Wild West motion picture set. many Westerns and TV shows were filmed here.  Today it has a population of around 350 and consists of a few modern dwellings, a number of the older buildings which are inhabited, several tourist shops and some remaining fake movie set buildings such as the Sheriff's office and town jail.

The church

There was one rather spartan 'garden', adorned with a variety of 'objet trouvĂ©',  reminding me of Derek Jarman's iconic garden on the Kent coast. (Chad - thanks for the correction - should have checked my facts rather than relying on my dodgy memory!) Everywhere there were huge specimens of Yucca brevifolia the native Joshua tree and big patches of flowering cactus. At least some living things to keep me interested!

Is it a garden?

Mature Joshua tree


Ocotillo - native - one of the best I've seen
Tiny wildflower no more than 1/4in tall

Opuntia species?

Another opuntia!

Which one is the billy goat gruff?

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cactus and cocktails

Last week Philip and I visited the Living Desert which is a 1200 acre zoo and botanical garden, established in 1970. Of this some 200 acres are cultivated whilst the rest remains in its natural state. 

The gardens at The Living Desert showcase the diversity of forms adopted by plants found growing in the harsh conditions typical of the world’s deserts. Over 1,400 different species of plants are represented in the various gardens that constitute The Living Desert’s plant collection.  For those of us that are avid and fastidious gardeners, the landscape here may be a little disappointing, as its a bit rough and 'unkempt'  but it is intended as a realistic representation of desert flora and in many cases as the correct setting for various of the zoo's animals.

Oenothera speciosa

Cylindropuntia fulgida - jumping cholla

Carnegiea gigantea - the saguaro cactus

The opuntia garden

Tecoma 'Orange Jubilee' - common but colorful

Russelia equisetiformis - firecracker plant - another easy desert plant

The real thing - not a sculpture!

Thorns on the silk floss tree - Ceiba speciosa

Anyway with the current drought here in California, any demonstration of what can grow with minimal water has got to be good education even if its not the colourful, plant rich gardens that many of us enjoy.

We followed this with lunch and a cocktail  at Wolfgang Puck's restaurant in El Paseo but forgot to take a picture so you'll have to imagine that!