5/16/10

The Berkeley Garden Party

Flickr is a great place to meet gardeners if you didn't know that already. You may remember our visit to the Cazadero Garden a few months ago; I met that gardener on Flickr. Last week Mark Delepine (who goes by the Flickr handle SerialPlantFetishist) invited me to visit his Berkeley garden.

Mark says,
"I've been making this garden since about 1993 and it's the only garden I've ever made. My initial interest in gardening here was for the sake of enhancing the landscape as habitat for birds and insects. In part, I've placed plants to create 'verge' areas or transitional zones between open areas and 'wooded' areas to make it more appealing to birds. Grouping plants by water needs is necessary here in drought-prone California. I find I lean toward making a garden which feels like a plausibly natural landscape though I appreciate looking at many kinds of gardens."
I lingered at the party for about three hours, drinking wine, enjoying the garden as the light changed throughout the afternoon, and talking to other gardeners--including Ellen from CalHort and Flickr friends xerantheum and Morabeza79. We had a long talk about the agony of pairing red and yellow (I know--I'm a lot of fun), although I am not sure they came to see things entirely my way.

Like most of the Bay Area, gardeners in Berkeley enjoy warmer, sunnier summers than I do in San Francisco, and elsewhere along the coast. This particular garden is located about 10 blocks from the Bay so I imagine, like me, Mark enjoys mostly frost-free winters.

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Mark has a lot of roses, like my friend Emma does in Menlo Park.

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I think they make great companions for many kinds of plants.

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This is also a great garden for foliage contrasts.

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Of course, I'm more flower- than foliage-oriented so that's what I gravitate toward.

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Drosanthemum bicolor

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What I enjoyed most were the paths and transitions between the different garden areas, and the many, many special features throughout the garden.

When I'm sitting on this rocker,

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I'm at the boundary of two areas,

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directly underneath blood orange abutilon.

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Over here, there's another sitting area in the corner. Can you see it?

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It's a pair of redwood slabs wedged in the corner of the fence behind two birch trees.

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I particularly like how the umbrella is mounted to the fence, getting rid of the clunky stand.

Tucked in the middle of the garden, a cozy spot to nap or read.

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I loved this spread of red urns in a workshop area.

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I would like to copy this.

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I took the next picture on my phone so I could share it on Twitter right away. What a brilliant way to cap a cut tree limb. (You can see some of the reactions people left on the Flickr page.)

GREAT way to cap a cut limb!

In the book Shocking Beauty, Thomas Hobbs writes "Visual impact is often more memorable when it isn't 'pretty'." (Hobbs was talking about this somewhat demonic looking water feature.)

And I'm always thinking about this bit from Stephen Anderton's book Urban Sanctuaries:
"Once, when I was a student, I went for a walk with a girlfriend around the city suburbs at 2 am. We strayed into the high-hedged gardens of a convent where it was pretty inky-dark for a town, and we managed to lose physical touch with each other going through a narrow tunnel of hedge. I crossed the next open space in absolute darkness, arms forward like a cartoon sleepwalker, and suddenly found myself torso to torso with Mary Mother of God. She was cold, white, and just--just--visible in the dark. I was terrified.

It is that quality of experience that deserves to be created in a garden. The tall, white statue at the end of a simple green space, like a secret locked in a closet, can be both a strong piece of design and a strong piece of theatre."
A gnarled, old fig tree covered in little faces would be the creepiest thing. I would love it!

I will conclude with a few stray shots,

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(Note the blue ceramic insets:)

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Looove the birdhouse mounted on top of the gazebo, with branches, to make it more bird-welcoming.

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A very cool thing to do with that scalloped edging material:

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Finally, a picture of the lunch spread, because what a great thing to bring to a potluck: Waffles! Brilliant! It's a great finger food to go with wine. Unlike cheese or bread, you don't have to cut it. No toothpicks are necessary, no silly napkins. No fuss, no muss. Waffles.

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4 comments:

Katie said...

I'm sad I couldn't make it to Mark's party this year. I was really looking forward to it! His garden has always inspired me, thanks for the beautiful pictures.

Mark said...

Katie, you're still expected next year, hair or no hair. Fletcher was having a great time greeting everyone until the open gate tempted him to take a walk.

I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, Chuck. I actually had a good time too, even as I careened between guests. I always make it a point to invite lots of other gardeners, and most of Lia's artist friends are as into their gardens as anything else they do.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I would like to copy those red jars, too. And I would also like to grow some blazingly red-orange flowers to hover near a shiny black container fountain. And while I'm at it, how about growing black aeoniums to the size of SHRUBS. (Please?!)

Uluwehi said...

You took beautiful pictures that day in and out of Mark's garden. I like this post.

I will never think of red and yellow together without remembering Ronald McDonald now!