native plant-themed fabric and giftwrap

I’ve been playing.

In the darkness of late December I started to think about spring and the plants and flowers that were just a few months away. I’d recently started spending some time at the Spoonflower site where you can upload your own designs for fabric, wallpaper, giftwrap and decal. What kinds of patterns could I make out of my old photos of California native plants?

Here are a few I cam up with, and there are a few variants up at eventually I’ll add a few more as time and life permit.

I’ve put these designs up at a little storefront at the Spoonflower site. The cost of these one-off custom prints is steep compared to paper and fabric produced in quantity overseas, but you’re welcome to use these designs if you’d like to make a special pillow or wrap up a special package. And if you do that Spoonflower sends me a little kickback that I can apply to future design and printing projects.

California Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica) on Periwinkle
California Bush Anemone-Modern on Periwinkle

California Bush Anemone (Carpenteria californica) on Black
California Bush Anemone-Modern on Black

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea), version 1
Hummingbird Sage-Monochrome on Yellow

Hummingbird Sage (Salvia spathacea), version 2
Hummingbird Sage-Natural Colors on Magenta Pink

Fort Miller Clarkia (Clarkia williamsonii)
Fort Miller Clarkia

Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), Medium Size–Sepia
Chalk dudleya-Medium size, sepia

Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), Big Print, Graphic and Gray
Chalk dudleya-Big print, graphic and gray

Chalk Dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), Big Print, Natural Colors
Chalk dudleya-Big print, natural


spring garden tour

Okay, it’s been a while since my last post, but this is definitely something I didn’t want to let pass unnoticed. Fifteen private and public gardens in northern San Diego County will join together for the Garden Native Tour 2014. It all happens March 29-30.

Karen Hutchinson_02_Ironwood and Seating_SMALL WEB I helped with the photography for the event, either going out to shoot some gardens, or making the garden photos people took look even more glamorous.

I shot these photos one bright January morning. Expect these gardens to be even more inviting as spring kicks the plants into high gear.

Ken Kramp_02_Rock with Dudleyas_SMALL WEB

You’ll see a variety of garden styles: comfy informal home spaces, garden spaces with adventuresome hiking opportunities, a home mixing natives with a working vineyard, gardens that showcase plant collections, a mature lakeside space perfect for entertaining, an institution that sets art-making in a warm native landscape…you’ll be inspired.

Ken Kramp_01_Trail and VIsta_SMALL WEB

Joe Ferguson_01_Overview with Cottage_SMALL WEB

Peder Norby_01_Toyon and Sculpture_SMALL WEB

Tickets to the tour and to a pre-tour fundraiser where you can try out your new cocktail attire can be purchased online [ here ].

I hope to see you there!

safely in pots

Pitcher plants going crazy in the bog garden

Pitcher plants going crazy in the bog garden


The bog gardens have been looking really good this spring. Plants that I got as single-growth divisions are establishing themselves, and smaller seedlings are starting to approach their awkward but exciting teen years.

Magic Gopher Hole

Magic Gopher Hole

Compared to the rest of the garden–which this year has had the worst plague of gophers in recent memory–the bogs have grown up safe in their little green zones, insulated from the subterranean horrors of the garden by four inches of concrete. Apparently gophers aren’t great at chewing through four inches of concrete. Who’d have thought.

Rather than drag you down the rabbit gopher hole, let me show you some of this year’s successes in the bogs.

The bog by the upper waterfall pond

The bog by the upper waterfall pond

The planting above the pond features mostly taller, green-tubed forms of carnivorous species like Sarracenia alata and flava. There’s isn’t easy access to this garden, so the tall, green plants read nicely from a distance against the dark leaves behind them. This used to be a pond that leaked, but now filled with dirt and then plastic tubs buried up to their necks in the dirt and planted with the bog plants. The plants seem pretty happy.

The upper bog, closer up

The upper bog, closer up



Lower bog

Lower bog

Another failed pond morphed into this other bog, using the same planting techniques as the upper pond bog. These plants share the same tub of growing medium as five or six other plants. This bog you can walk right up to, so it features smaller growing plants are almost eye level. This is where many of the small all-green plants go, along with species or hybrids that really need to be viewed up close to appreciate them.

Two clones of Sarracenia (courtii x Green Monster), Robert Co hybrids

Two clones of Sarracenia (courtii x Green Monster), Robert Co hybrids



The bog bench

The bog bench

And then there’s this, the main growing zone, a long seating area that I built with an integrated wet bog. Basically the bog is a long rectangle, built up with eight inch sides, and waterproofed with pond lining. The plants each get their own pots and stand in a thumbnail’s depth of water.

This is where a lot of the big, splashy numbers go. These are plants that look good from across the garden or bear inspection from close-up while seated on the bench.

Up close and personal with Sarracenia flava var. ornata, Prince George County and Sarracenia excellens

Up close and personal with Sarracenia flava var. ornata, Prince George County and Sarracenia excellens

Yah, it’s been a tough year, with life sending us nettles and then gophers. But at least the plants in containers are thriving.

unbearably cute

The piece, with a truck added for scale

The piece, with a truck added for scale

Here’s a fun artwork from the Stuart Collection at UCSD, Tim Hawkinson’s Bear. At almost 24 feet tall and 180 tons it’s a little bigger and heavier than your average Steiff bear, but it’s gotta be at least as cute.

It’s a pretty simple idea: take eight big to really big boulders and pile them together, just so. There’s a fair amount of engineering that keeps the piece from falling apart, but all the tech stays in the background. Nothing intrudes into the piece’s overscaled cuteness and child-like sense that anyone could assemble a few rocks together like this.

A portrait from closer up. Awwwww......Cuuuuuuuute.....

A portrait from closer up. Awwwww……Cuuuuuuuute…..

In our stats-obsessed world people will compare the piece’s “mere” 180 tons to the 340 ton mass of the monster rock that achieved superstar status as it got transported into downtown Los Angeles to become the central element in Michael Heizer’s Levitated Mass at the LA County Museum of Art. (You can read about the piece–and the rock–lots of places, including [ here ] on fellow blogger Ryan’s Dry Stone Gardening.) But, hey, 180 tons is already double the weight of a space shuttle, so I’ll allow myself to be impressed.

Actually this, the back, is my favorite angle on the Bear

Actually this, the back, is my favorite angle on the Bear

The stone comes from a quarry up in Pala, in the foothills about an hour to the northwest. It looks a lot like the boulders of our backcountry: smooth-surfaced, light-colored, with a warm rosy orange glow. A geologist once told me that at least some of the stone that makes up some of the adjacent formations is quartz monzonite, a felspar-rich mineral adjacent to granite on a family tree of plutonic rocks. But whatever it’s made out of, granite, quartz monzonite, it’s cool to have a big pile of big rocks from East County, remixed into a giant bear.

But one thing keeps bugging me about the work. The campus mascot of UC Berkeley, Cal, is the bear, and I keep wondering whether the artist got it wrong and thought that all the UC campuses had the same mascot. (San Diego’s is–lamentably–the tritons. Lame, but at least not insulting to many members of the population.) If this piece were transported to that northern campus I think it’d be an instant pet artwork and a big hit. So I keep wondering whether this site-specific artwork ended up at the wrong site. Very cute, but also very lost.