Friday, August 26, 2011

A Passion for Perfume

Over the past few months Vanessa & I have been daydreaming nonstop about the art of fragrance.   So two weeks ago we took the plunge and met up with the lovely and talented Sarah Horowitz of Sarah Horowitz Parfums.  Sarah taught us the ins and outs of perfumery during one of her inspirational classes.  Afterwards we packed our bags full of luxurious treasures and headed into our studio.  I have been hard at work mixing fragrance oils and testing ideas.  Looking forward to the day we get to introduce some of our new creations to you.

Friday, August 19, 2011

dark fridays - agonis flexuosa 'jervis bay afterdark'

It's Friday People!  and why am I still working at this hour?  Because I'm dedicated, that's why... and a glass of cabernet really helps too.

I just couldn't leave you for the weekend without giving you a taste of the dark friday du jour.   Today is a real treat.  If you like it dark, this tree will bring you to your knees... Agonis Flexuosa 'Jervis Bay Afterdark'

And afterdark it is.  So deep rich purple that it could be black.  You'll notice that the new growth has a lighter burgundy tint to it.  This is an excellent mid-sized tree to use in a drought tolerant garden.  Since the long fine leaves are so textural, I like to pair this with sculptural agaves and succulents.  One more thing, the leaves have a lovely peppermint scent when you crush them!  

I've used agonis in pots and in the ground and it is always a beauty.  It makes a great foliage to use in floral arrangements too!

Now go have a great weekend, I'm off to fill up my glass...
Latin Name: Agonis Flexuosa 'Jervis Bay Afterdark"
Common Name: After Dark Peppermint Tree

Category:  Tree
Zones:  15-17, 20-24 for info on climate zones go here 
Exposure: Full sun
Water: low water needs
Size: 15-25' tall, 10-15' wide
Flower: White, Spring-Summer
Growth: Slow growing

Specs from Sunset Western Garden Book

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

birds and the bees

Butterflies go totally crazy over butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) as proven while out plant shopping the other day.  We saved these two love birds from the middle of the road from death by golf cart as they were too drunk off of milkweed to go get a room...

Friday, August 12, 2011

dark fridays - cosmos 'chocolate'

Happy Friday everyone.  Vanessa here... and I have a deep dark confession today.  I'm a landscape designer, but I never really liked "flowers." 

I know, I know... how can I design gardens and have a flower shop and not like flowers?!  Well before I get tarred and petaled, let me explain that when I said that, I meant that I don't like landscapes that depend on flowers.  A flowery rose garden with annuals upon annuals is just not my cup of tea.  I typically leave that type of planting to pots which can be changed out seasonally.  I prefer a garden full of colorful and interesting foliage.  Something structured that is going to provide year long interest.  I love playing with texture and I feel that is best expressed through shrubs, leafy perennials, and succulents!  Flowers can then be an accent, an almost seasonal surprise that can come and go but the garden is not dependent on them...
I have to say that since Stephanie has started the floral design arm of Foundation design, I have warmed up to all kinds of flowers and I definitely use them more in our garden designs as well.  I have a select palate of what I consider flowery perennials and one of my favorites is the Chocolate Cosmos (you had me at "chocolate"... ).

Chocolate Cosmos is an excellent garden perennial blooming in the late summer and fall (right now) with deep reddish brown 2-inch wide flowers.  It looks great in a wild garden such as this one below.  The best part?  The flowers even have a perfume of chocolate or vanilla!  Love at first sniff.

Stephanie uses Chocolate Cosmos in many of her Flower arrangements when she needs a little dark kick or contrast.  Gorgeous right?

Latin Name: Cosmos astrosanguineus
Common Name: "Chocolate Cosmos"

Category:  Perennial in Milder Climates, Annual in Cold
Zones:  4-9, 14-24 for info on climate zones go here 
Exposure: Cool sun
Water: moderate water needs
Size: 2-2 1/2' tall, 1 1/2' wide
Flower: Burgundy Late Summer-Early Fall Bloom
Growth: Perennial from tuberous roots, self sows freely

Specs from Sunset Western Garden Book

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

exterior hardscape - going green

One way to soften the environmental (and financial) investment in exterior hardscape is recycling an existing material and reusing it on site.  

How is that possible you ask?  You only have an old cracked driveway or patio.  Well, how about if we break up and remove that cracked concrete...

and we grade the site and reset the broken "stones" often called urbanite (or recycled concrete) in an organic pattern...

We could make a walkway and fill the space between the urbanite with decomposed granite or groundcover.

we could make a little patio or transition zone...

or even create a landscape element such as a fire pit, fountain or bench by stacking the urbanite.

The sky is the limit with recycled concrete!  It is an amazing resource if you have it, and in LA you can often find it for free (you save a person the cost of hauling it to the dump).  It's a major win win and I think it can look as great as flagstone or other expensive materials.  One of the tricks is to use only the largest pieces and to make sure they are set well in a visually pleasing arrangement (not too much space between, not too little).  

Now go bust up that sidewalk and have fun!

Friday, August 5, 2011

dark fridays - aeonium arboreum 'zwartkop'

It's friday, friends... and you know what that means.  I am sharing another dark and delightful beauty with you today.

This one is a real showstopper... Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop' or commonly known as Large Purple Aeonium.  There are a few great dark aeonium species which I'll touch upon in later posts, but the Zwartkop is the deepest darkest.  Actually, the Dutch name "Zwartkop",  literally means "black head" - pretty fitting right?

Because of their tall gray-brown stalks, I like to underplant and interplant the Zwartkop with grasses and bushes in contrasting color and texture so that the large and luscious dark rosettes are the most visible.  The Zwartkop will meander its way beautifully through a wild garden such as the one we designed below (filled with sages and agaves).

Or it can be used in a linear planter to create height and contrast against a simple stucco wall...

The best aspects of all of the aeonium family are their low-maintenance and drought tolerance.  Water these babies infrequently but deeply and be sure to plant in a well drained area (if in a pot use a cactus mix and make sure there is a hole in the pot for drainage). 

Latin Name: Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop' 
Common Name: "Large Purple Aeonium"

Category:  Succulent
Zones:  15-17, 20-24 for info on climate zones go here 
Exposure: Cool sun/Light shade
Water: low water needs (drought-tolerant)
Size: 3-4' tall, 1-2' wide
Flower: Yellow summer bloom
Growth: forms clumps of gray-brown stems that often branch near the base but not above ending in terminal rosettes

Specs from Sunset Western Garden Book

Thursday, August 4, 2011

waiting... a preview

Here is a shot of some gorgeous plants so patiently awaiting installation at their new home.  I love pulling all of the plants for a project together into one big jumble to see how the textures, colors and personalities will work out in the garden.  I think this one is going to be phenomenal and I can't wait to get them in!

Can you see some dark plants in there?  Maybe a little preview for tomorrow's dark friday post...