Winter in the Blake Garden

Winter seems like an iffy proposition in many parts of California this year. We have a warm spell every January, but this year is unprecedented. It felt like summer, driving around with the windows rolled down and my left elbow out in the sun. Nothing in the forecast but more sun and mild weather.

I visited the Blake Garden. I've been here many times and I've shown you many pictures from these 10 acres. I have a real affinity for this place and whenever I visit, there are some key areas I always look forward to seeing and lingering in. We're going to look at just a few of those areas today.

One is the vegetable garden, which is fairly inactive right now.


I like to see all the structures--very basic homespun. I wouldn't want to have anything "nicer" in my garden.

Vegetable garden structure

vegetable garden structures

Vegetable garden structures

This bench is new. Put some rambling roses up that thing!


And I like the clutches of pots massed here and there. I do this in my own garden for sure.


I think there are just a few fixed rows and beds in this vegetable garden. Things seem very different every time I visit. The big structures are fixed, and there is a drip system. I think they must decide something they want to grow or a design they want to execute and then find a way to work it in around the established elements. In between times, the drip lines get rounded up and the beds get sheet composted.


Right now there is just one row of coles.


And that's Italian Parsley, right?



Here's something you don't see in a garden very often!


Do you know what this is? I guess you could say its presence here adds that vital, ineffable "sense of place" to the garden.


This is also new--a play area obstensibly inspired by Andy Goldsworthy.


There isn't much here right here right now, but this could be interesting.



Moving on...

Another garden area that I like is this little pond. The Blake Garden has five ponds, varying in style and scope. The simplest one is my favorite.



Very simple pots. I like this a lot.


Small gravel is better than large gravel, and it's nice to have a little pink in it.


Two neatly clipped cones anchor the entrance to the pond area.



The neatness help makes the chaotic elements more enjoyable. You could have these grasses without those cones, but in a small area like this I think my interest in their dying state would exhaust itself sooner.


The grandest pond is the reflecting pool and koi pond in front of the house.


For me it's the simultaneous sense of movement and stillness that that makes me feel reflective around a pond.

And I think it's ideal to have a pond under trees to reflect that picture of the sky.

I mentioned before how much I like the house. I think the front entrance strikes the perfect balance between formality and informality, and it's very hard to do that. Wouldn't be good enough for a Garden Design magazine cover, but I find this very desirable.


I like the random layout of the flagstone.


I like the Mexican fleabane, or Santa Barbara daisy if you prefer, (Erigeron karvinskianus) allowed to come up between spaces.


I like the beautiful empty pot.


Tree ferns look beautiful all year long.


I think it's perfect.

Veg garden, small pond, front door--those are the three vignettes that I specifically wanted to blog about.

But there is one other element that I also want to include. This is a four-square spring bulb and summer cutting garden featuring Magnolia kobus.


The magnolias are flowering now...

Magnolia kobus

And underneath, blackened seedheads.


But it's Cryptomeria japonica in its winter coat looming over the top in the backgound in the picture above that really draws the eye.

Cryptomeria japonica

I don't know if you can see the same colors I do, but the tree is pink, purple, and green.

Cryptomeria japonica

Cryptomeria japonica


steelystyle said...

So cool! I love the idea of a garden play place...must incorporate it into a design soon. And as for the cover of Garden Design, plaugh. I'd rather see an entrance like this that feels real and welcoming. Bet it'd be good enough for Gardens Illustrated, a much better read in my opinion.

Brent said...

"I like the random layout of the flagstone."

Actually it's not random - there's a diagonal line of symmetry and possibly more going on there. I think that the underlying order among disorder is very visually appealing - akin to the pyramidal juniper cones next to the dead grass that you mentioned up top.

My next blog post: tile something with Penrose-like tiles for fun and profit.

Michelle said...

What a beautiful spot, even the vegetable garden is lovely right now. Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I like those geometric ponds you showed. It's giving me an idea for my entry garden. I'll have to muse on that for a bit.

Anonymous said...

No wonder you love this place, everything you have shown is perfect. I love the hand made twig structures too. Prince Charles himself uses similar things in his gardens, and then composts them at the end of the season. We could so do that too! :-)

CiNdEe's GaRdEn said...

I loved Everything! What a fun place.

Annie in Austin said...

The way you presented the Blake House and Garden is enchanting, Chuck - with videos added at just the right places. It's beautiful and large and almost formal yet it still seems like a place where real people could live.

It's too late for me to copy the idea this year, but that winter kale and flat parsley combination caught my eye.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

lisa said...

Very enjoyable post, Chuck! I like those twig structures too, and the points you made ring true with me as well. Our tastes are quite similar for garden elements.