The year that was 2011

Blog posts have been sparse this year--only 73--as I have devoted myself almost entirely to getting a master's degree in statistics. Blogging happens between semesters nowadays, or when I should be doing my homework. I'm graduating in June and, hopefully, going back to work soon afterwards.

Some of you visitors and I go way back in the blog world, but did you know I have been between careers the whole time? I've had some long-term consulting jobs, but nothing full-time or permanent. Soon, however, I will go back to being what I was before all this gardening, horticulture, and walking around San Francisco taking pictures took over my life. I can't say what the impact on my back 40 (feet) will be, but we will find out together in due time.

Until then, let's take stock of the blogging that did happen in 2011. This is how I spent the last year when I wasn't doing homework.


Last January, I read about a small public garden on Minnesota Street. I had never heard of it, so I had to go investigate.


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We also made quick visits to Heron's Head Park and Warm Water Cove

I visited the San Francisco Botanical Garden just after winter quarter started. At the time, I wrote "I've been cooped up indoors doing homework for days." Ha! I had no idea what was to come. Try being cooped up indoors doing homework for weeks. It was nice to get out.


While I hunkered down to work, taking solace in my fortune cookies, it got so cold, we were told to expect snow. I never believed it, and it never came.


I visited the garden once in February, only to note some varmint was eating my lemons. The place was fine without me. The tree fern continues to gain altitude. It takes many years for the trunk to develop. I am patient.


Once the winter term was over, I hit the road for spring break, going north, all the way to Seattle. I spent the first night camping in Van Damme SP. It stormed furiously, but I didn't care. We admired kelp compositions on the beach,

More kelp. It's like a  David Cronenberg movie crawled up on the beach and exploded.

and I declared this to be California's most picturesque outhouse.

Van Damme SP

The next morning, we took in the heathers at the Mendocino Coast Botanical Garden and pressed on.


I found my next camping site saturated with snow melt and decided I was out of my league depth. I got a room in Garberville and started fresh the next morning. I had Founder's Grove to myself for a couple hours.


Rockefeller Redwoods, recently flooded, blew me away.


The driving itself was satisfying adventure.

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I drove through the Lost Coast and emerged in Ferndale. I spent the night in Trinidad and left California the next day.

dawn in Trinidad, CA

The road trip on the blog ended along the south Oregon coast, although IRL, it continued on to Portland and Seattle. I was already home back in school trying to get these posts up when I ran out of time.

The PNW was cold and gray; no one yearns to see Portland or Seattle in March. The food and company were most memorable. My friend Pam took me to Le Pigeon in Portland and we dined at the bar.

Julie, Arthur and I ate like fiends at Staple and Fancy in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood.

Back in San Francisco, I made time for Bernal Hill, covered in wildflowers....

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Sidalcea Sisyrinchium

but in the whole month of May I posted only once.

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I emerged from spring quarter still amazed by the extent of the bloom on Bernal Hill. I returned to old haunts, like the Garden for the Environment:


And Purisima Creek:

I did this for 4 hours today and it was exactly what I needed.

Guy had business in New York, and I tagged along. The High Line was a sea of humanity

This was my first enounter with a Piet Oudolf garden. Even w/ the crowds it was a total thrill.

and I mellowed out in Washington Square Park.


Back home in June, it rained. Rain in April is the norm. Some rain in May happens once every few years. Rain in June? Real rain? I can't remember that ever happening and I've lived in the Bay Area all my life.


The garden, after so much neglect, was off the hook. I stole half-hours here and there to prune. It was impossible to tell afterwards.


My one summer class was not so onerous a burden that I could not break for some fun.

We went to Santa Cruz,

Random, everyday sight in downtown Santa Cruz.

and saw the Washed Ashore sculptures at the Marine Mammal Center.


We had fennel, dahlias, daisies and fuchsias in the July garden.

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Fuchsia boliviana, Shasta daisy Fuchsia fulgens; Beschorneria yuccoides hybrid

Pardee Park and the Gamble Garden in Palo Alto had more excitement.

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Epilobium canum Ribes sanguineum

Gamble Garden. Palo Alto, CA

Guy had I had an overnight in Tomales--one my most favorite places in the world.

Tomales Bay

We stopped by Larner Seeds in Bolinas on the way home. The demonstration gardens were as lovely as ever.

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Larner Seeds Larner Seeds

Fall color arrived in August and one day in September I spontaneously roadtripped to Santa Cruz. Summer was officially over but the beach town refused to surrender.

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While there, I bought some Banksia at the Arboretum...

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and stopped at Pescadero Marsh.

Pescadero Creek

I met up with Emma my garden guru for a trip to the East Bay. She showed me around the Gardens at Lake Merritt which I had never seen before and did not realize were so extensive.


We visited the dear old Blake Garden together, one of my favorite public gardens in the Bay Area.


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Next thing you knew, we were in London.


We visited the Chelsea Physic Garden our first morning, and the next day I was lucky enough to catch a Piet Oudolf meadow installation in Kensington Gardens. The Hortus Conclusus blew my mind. (I was over the moon when his Flickr account favorited two of my pictures of his work.)


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I spent four hours in Kew and saw about half of it. It's hard to pick a highlight. Was it the grass garden, or the order beds?

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Maybe it was a conservatory. Which conservatory? Perhaps this one.


Rome was unseasonably warm and drenched in sunlight. It is a city unlike anyplace else.

Fabris, Priests, Pantheon and Caffe Tazza d'Oro (El mejor del mundo)

I visited the Pantheon every day, and otherwise wandered aimlessly. The food was everything that I had always heard it was. My favorite thing were the olives stuffed with meat, battered, and fried. You hear a lot about Italian wine, but I think the beer is under-appreciated.

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IMG_2522 Sea of humanity

I took pictures in the Villa Borghese and the Orto Botanico.


School resumed right after we got back. I had three classes this fall instead of the usual two. It started off okay, but came to feel like punishment and pain half-way through. The garden mellowed without any intervention from me.


I had to visit the garden when the tree dahlia bloomed, but otherwise I did not see it much.

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At some point before Christmas fall quarter ended, and I went on a couple overnight hiking trips--first in the Pinnacles,


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and then in Point Reyes. Nights were freezing, but brisk, outdoor activity was just what I needed after three relatively sedentary months spent indoors, studying.


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As the year wound down, I meandered around the Mission, and then we went to the Big Island for Christmas. I wrote a bit about the West Hawai'i Explorations Academy and posted a few pictures of the Holualoa Cemetery.


I don't know how 2012 will end on the blog, but I can tell you it will begin with more pictures of Hawaii. Come back soon if you want to see them.