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.