Sassy Spanish Courtyard Garden

Every now and then a landscape project comes along that is soooo in my wheelhouse that designing it and implementing it doesn’t feel like work at all. This was one of those tasty little projects.  Right away, the homeowner and I clicked—on both a personal and design level—and good stuff always comes out of that.

Their were two main challenges to this garden design. First, the front yard was much larger than the teensy back yard, so that meant I needed to flip the design around and put an outdoor living area in the front. This leads me to the second challenge: the giant coast live oak in the front (which as we all know, are royal pains in the ass to design around). I immediately envisioned a courtyard created from permeable materials (good for oaks), a swooping, curved seating area that played off the wicked curve of the new French door, and some of my favorite plants (all of them able to look fab with little summer water and the dappled shade of the oak canopy). Oh, and it had to be really funky and cool with some booty-kickin’ colors thrown in for good measure.

Instead of talk about it, I’ll take you on a photo journey of the project, start to finish. I think it turned out pretty flippin’ sweet!

THIS IS THE TRACE PAPER CONCEPT DRAWING I MADE BEFORE FINISHING THE FINAL CADD DESIGN. NOT MUCH CHANGED FROM ORIGINAL CONCEPT TO INSTALLED GARDEN.

THE “BEFORE” SHOT. OLD CONCRETE. IVY. BROKEN BRICK. ‘NUFF SAID.

3-D RENDERING OF THE COMPLETED COURTYARD. I ALREADY HAD MY SIGHTS SET ON GETTING A FINISHED-GARDEN PHOTO WITH PETEY THE BEAGLE IN IT.

POST-INSTALLATION: PETEY WAS IN THE MOOD TO LAY DOWN, NOT STAND UP, BUT I STILL THINK HE DID A HALF-WAY DECENT JOB OF PLAYING THE PART!

DETAIL CLOSE-UP OF THE TWO DIFFERENT GRAVELS AROUND THE OAK. I WAS GOING FOR A SHARP AND ANGULAR LOOK, TO COUNTERBALANCE THE STRONG CURVES IN THE SEAT WALL AND ON THE HOUSE.

THE NEW FRENCH DOOR AND LANDING.  THE SAME GLASS MOSAIC APPEARS IN THE GUEST BATHROOM. I GET MY KICKS OFF OF REPEATING ELEMENTS THAT MAKE A (SOMETIMES SUBCONSCIOUS) CONNECTION BETWEEN INDOORS AND OUTDOORS.

TO ADD A PERSONAL TOUCH, THE FAMILY’S INITIALS WERE FABRICATED IN METAL AND EMBEDDED IN THE PATIO (THANKS, DROP METAL!) OH– AND CHECK OUT THE GROUT: IT’S PERMEABLE–YOU CAN POUR WATER RIGHT THROUGH IT! PRETTY COOL, PERVIOUS PRODUCTS!

THE NEW ENTRY GATE IS LASER-CUT ROLLED METAL WITH A BRONZE FINISH. IT MATCHES THE SCREEN ON THE CURVED SEAT, AS WELL AS THE SIDE YARD ARBOR INSERTS.

I DECIDED TO TURN A KORNEGAY CONCRETE PLANTER INTO A FIRE PIT. I THINK THE GRAPHIC QUALITY OF THE CONTAINER, AS WELL AS THE PURPLE FIRE GLASS, MAKE THIS THE FOCAL POINT OF THE WHOLE GARDEN.

THIS ABUTILON ‘TIGER EYE’ REPEATS THE BOLD COLOR PALETTE OF THE HOUSE. AND IT’S ONE OF MY MOST FAVORITE PLANTS, SO IN IT WENT.

EVERY GARDEN NEEDS SOME BLING, AND THE GIANT AQUA AND COBALT CHUNKS OF GLASS SCATTERED ABOUT FIT THE BILL.


THIS SIDE YARD AREA USED TO BE GREY, UGLY CONCRETE–WALL TO WALL. I HAD THE CREW SAW-CUT IT UP INTO JAGGED-LOOKING CHUNKS, STAIN IT TERRA COTTA, AND FILL IN THE JOINTS WITH GRAVEL. TOTALLY SUSTAINABLE AND AFFORDABLE. 

VIEW FROM THE FRONT PORCH. THE SPILL FOUNTAIN DOES DOUBLE DUTY AS A DRINKING FOUNTAIN FOR PETEY THE BEAGLE.

 THIS WAS ONE OF THOSE MAGICAL LITTLE PROJECTS THAT COME TOGETHER (ALMOST!) EXACTLY AS PLANNED, WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO THE VILLAGE GARDENER FOR INSTALLING IT, AND FABLE, INC. FOR FABRICATING THE METALWORK.

New Orleans, A Love Story

If there is one city on this planet that has no problem letting its freak flag fly, it’s New Orleans. Oh my, am I in love with this city. Five years ago, after a lifetime of yearning to go there,  I finally got the chance—and that was it.  Love at first sight. I’ve returned five times in the last five years. So much for playing hard to get.

The city’s storied past is a beguiling one.  Devastating fires, plague, yellow fever, rebellions, war, floods, malaria, smallpox, the French, and hurricanes have all left their battle scars over the last few centuries.  Yet, what has always intrigued me is the way in which the city’s inhabitants have dealt with the setbacks: they seemingly build a collective conscious that incorporates the sadness and mixes it with equal parts spirit and jubilation (think jazz funerals). Not even the 2005 triple blow dealt by Katrina, FEMA, and George Bush could keep her down for long. The city is still alive, and dang—she’s in the mood to party.

There’s a hauntingly beautiful mix of darkness and ebullience in everything about New Orleans. I’ve chosen a few images from my recent visits that have inspired me, in every conceivable way. New Orleans makes me want to lighten up, break the rules, be a bad-ass, and design with complete abandon.

EVEN IN THE UPPER-CRUSTY GARDEN DISTRICT, COOL DESIGN ELEMENTS ABOUND. THE SKULL MOTIF ON THIS FENCE SURROUNDS THE FORMER HOME OF AUTHOR ANNE RICE.

THIS DELICIOUS MIX OF SANSEVERIA, PLECTRANTHUS, SPANISH MOSS, AND BRIGHT AQUA SHUTTERS HAD ME AT HELLO.

THE NEW ORLEANS BOTANICAL GARDEN BOASTS AN INCREDIBLE “STAGHORN FERN WALK.” DOES DESIGN GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS?

NEW ORLEANIANS DO NOT DO NEUTRALS. BRIGHT, CHEERFUL COLOR IS EVERYWHERE, EVEN ON THE FANCY HOUSES. THIS IS MY FAVORITE HOUSE ON THE PLANET. AND YES, THAT’S ME IN A DORKY GARDENING HAT, FANTASIZING FOR A MOMENT THAT I LIVE HERE.

ALONG MARDI GRAS PARADE ROUTES, ALL THE LIVE OAKS ARE DRAPED WITH COLORFUL BEADS–THOUSANDS OF THEM THOWN THERE BY ENTHUSIASTIC PARADE-GOERS.

HITCHING POSTS ARE ON EVERY BLOCK IN THE FRENCH QUARTER. SOME HAVE AN EXQUISITE PATINA BUILT UP THAT MAKES THEM WORKS OF ART ALL UNTO THEMSELVES.

REPETITION IS A POWERFUL DESIGN ELEMENT, AND NEW ORLEANIANS TOTALLY GET THAT.

EVEN  THE PURE ABSURDITY OF THE CITY IS INSPIRING TO ME. WHERE ELSE ON THE PLANET COULD YOU WITNESS A LEPRECHAUN STROLLING PAST TWO BUSINESSMEN (WHO AREN’T EVEN BLINKING AN EYE AT THE SIGHT)?

OR HOW ABOUT A LATE NIGHT REDNECK WEDDIN’ PARTY, DANCING DOWN THE STREET WITH A FULL JAZZ PROCESSION?

AND YES, I DO BELIEVE WEIRD CAN BE WONDERFUL.

New Orleans is a sensual experience, a moving, breathing work of art.. These few pictures capture just a teeny tiny glimpse into the soul of the city. As a designer, I seek out inspiration in everything, but nowhere else on the planet affects me half as much as this funky little city.

My Garden, Myself


If anyone wants to get to know the real me, all they would have to do is come over and spend some time in my garden.

I unabashedly love my garden. I’ve spent the last twelve years (alongside my equally-hard-working hubby) molding it into the sweet little thing that it is now. If you had seen the garden when we first bought the place— pitted asphalt, spiderwebbed junipers, and dirty white rock–you would get it. I love my garden because it is ours, fully and completely. We designed it. We installed it. We keep it looking purdy.  As the owner of a business and the queen of the 14-hour workday, I have no time for my garden— but every now and then it beckons. I find the time. Even though I bitch and complain when I have to work out there, I have to admit that I love the feeling of sweat mixing with dirt, and the taste of a well-deserved beer that comes after a long Saturday spreading mulch and shuffling plants around. My garden makes me happy, and that’s all that really matters anyway.

So, in order to demonstrate my love for my garden, I’ve come up with the Top Ten Reasons Why I Love My Garden. I hope you enjoy!

Reason #1: SUCCULENTS AND FRIENDS

Succulents make my world go ’round, but I do prefer them mixed in with other types of plants.

MIXING SUCCULENTS WITH OTHER STUFF MAKES FOR A LUSH LOOK.

Reason #2: FLAMINGOS

I love tacky pink garden flamingos. I’ve been looking on Ebay and Etsy for a vintage set for so long, that I finally gave up. My mom bought me these (definitely not vintage) cuties a couple of years ago. I think they’re even better!

IT’S NOT A COINCIDENCE THAT THE COTYLEDON FLOWERS IN FRONT OF THE FLAMINGOS ALSO LOOK LIKE FLAMINGOS. MY OBSESSIVE-COMPULSIVE ATTENTION TO DETAIL KNOWS NO BOUNDS.

Reason #3: YUMMY STUFF TO EAT

My yard is petite, so I’ve dedicated the back side of my driveway to food. Galvanized troughs filled with tomatoes, herbs, and pole beans look so cute, and keep the stuff up high so pugs can’t pee on anything.

WE EVEN EAT THE NASTURTIUMS (MIX WITH ARUGULA AND FRESH PEAS AND SERVE OVER BURRATA AND GRILLED BREAD. DRIZZLE WITH OLIVE OIL AND SPRINKLE WITH SEA SALT. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Reason #4: PUNCHY COLORS

I’m  currently on a yellow kick. Bright colors are a cure for Boring-Ass Garden Syndrome.

THIS SPOT IS S’MORES HEADQUARTERS ON SUMMER EVENINGS.

Reason #5: ANTLERS

I’m also on an antlers kick. I keep getting more. They’re multiplying. They’re rustic and just a bit dangerous looking, which is why I love them.

MY ANTLER, THE COLOR YELLOW, AND NEW ORLEANS FETISHES, ALL CAPTURED IN ONE PICTURE.

Reason #6: BLACK AND WHITE STRIPES

Those who really know me, know that I love black and white stripes. I recently counted THIRTEEN black and white shirts in my wardrobe. Obsessive-compulsive much?

P.S. THE TABLE WAS A GIVE-AWAY FROM A PAST CLIENT. WE SANDED IT DOWN, STAINED IT, AND OHYEAHBABY.

Reason #7: FUNKY, MAGICAL LIGHTING

Punched tin lanterns hanging from the pergola, colored glass ones hanging from our persimmon tree, and curvy bronze pathlights in the front yard make the evenings glow.

GOOD OUTDOOR LIGHTING CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Reason #8: A PATHWAY TO REMEMBER

I like to think that this meandering path to my door brings joy to even the mailman. A curved path gently forces a person to slow down, take some time, and yes, maybe even to smell the roses. Or the euphorbia, but I don’t recommend doing that.

EACH PIECE OF BROKEN CONCRETE IN THE PATH HAS TO WEIGH AT LEAST FIFTY THOUSAND POUNDS BY MY ESTIMATE. THIS PATH WAS A BITCH TO PUT IN, BUT WORTH IT.

Reason #9: THE DAMN ROSES

I’m not a frou-frou, rose-garden-y kind of person. But my husband LOVES roses. And I love my husband–hence this 60-foot long wall of ‘em. This time of year, I’ll admit they are spectacular and I fall back in love with this showstopping mix of “Fourth of July” and “Climbing Eden.” The rest of the year I spend cursing my husband each time I try to get in and out of my car.

PRETTY BUT DEADLY. I HAVE THE BLOODY ARMS TO PROVE IT.

Reason #10: JUST HANGING OUT IN IT IS FUN

A good garden makes you want to just chill, kick back, soak up a little sun, drink a little local craft brew, you know, r-e-l-a-x. I have a hard time relaxing, but when I do—I prefer to do it in my own little garden. Or on a beach in Hawaii, but this is a close second. We all enjoy being out here, especially Otis and Maisy.

OOOOOOOH, THAT SUN FEELS GOOD!

Smokin’ Hot Public Plantings

I am a sucker for well-designed and well-maintained plantings in public places. When the plant choices are thoughtful, inspired, evocative, and sustainable—I find myself wanting to shout, “THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT, PEOPLE!” to any poor soul in earshot. I want to send love notes and brownies to the responsible landscape companies and city officials.

Recently I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and while I drooled over the sea dragons and jellyfish, I was even more smitten with the plantings that I encountered on my walk from the aquarium to the parking garage (true sign of a plant nerd).

Everywhere you look, there were stellar plant combos and signs of good maintenance practices. Here’s a shot of one sidewalk planting that caught my eye: is there anything hotter than rows of galvanized livestock troughs brimming with yummy foliage plants?These are run-of-the-mill plants, but grouped together—they create pure alchemy. The deep plums of the Cordylines contrast beautifully with the blues of the Senecios, the golden green of the Coleonema ‘Sunset Gold,’ and the pinky brown of the Coprosma. Besides looking fabulous, all of these plants are tough as nails and easy to maintain, requiring very little fuss and muss to keep them looking this sexy. And kudos to the maintenance crew for keeping their filthy paws off the hedge clippers and pruners.

Here’s a raised planter that had me squealing like a little girl. Again, these are basic plants that have been grouped together in an informal, naturalistic (yet structural and beautiful) way. The best part: everything has been left to do it’s thing. The plant butchers haven’t mown down the fescues, chopped the phormiums down to nubs (never freaking do that, by the way), or sheared the Erysiumum beyond recognition. I felt like kissing somebody.

Later, I ran into this sweet little raised planter. Same deal (common plants done really well). This time, they upped their game by including some naturalistic berming, locally sourced boulders, and even a California native or two (the yellow Achillea and Festuca californica). Happy little bees buzzed all around. How often do you see habitat-friendly landscapes in a busy tourist district? Well played, Monterey city officials, well played.

Lastly, I encountered this pitch-perfect explosion of texture, subtle color variation, and gorgeous structure. Note how well this area has been maintained: the weeds and dead stuff are gone, but the plants themselves have been allowed to billow and weep to their heart’s content. This is a primo example of the right plants, in the right place, with just the right amount of care.

It’s mind-blowing to me that this kind of serendipity happens so rarely. I wish it was the case more often, especially in public spaces. These well-designed and well-maintained landscape areas serve as positive inspiration for visitors and residents alike.

Not Really A Recap Of This Year’s S.F. Flower and Garden Show

The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show was last week, and, oh yeah, baby—I experienced a glorious week of parties, plants, and all things right with the world.

The main draw of the garden show, is of course, the display gardens, and we were treated to some yummy stuff this year.

As someone who’s designed and built one of these things before, I fully appreciate the time, effort, and energy all of these gardens represent. But I have to admit I have a special place in my heart for the gardens that provide an authentic, transportive experience.

A few of the displays were “kitchen sink” gardens, and lacked restraint and cohesiveness. Some displays were a bit one-dimensional—their sole purpose to provide a marketing opportunity and show off the handiwork of the landscaper’s crew. Most of the gardens had at least a couple of priceless take-away ideas. In fact, I snapped a ton of photos, for future reference for my landscape design clients.

There was one garden however, that I didn’t take many photos of. Instead of tooling around the space, snapping pictures, I simply went in and experienced it. The garden, called “Savanna!” was about as complex as my pug’s brain: in other words, it couldn’t get any more simplistic. But somehow, this garden affected me more than all the others.

HERE'S A PIC I TOOK OF "SAVANNA!" DURING THE INSTALLATION. THIS PIC SHOWS THE TUNNEL EFFECT THAT THE GRASSES CREATED.

The garden, designed by meadow guru John Greenlee and built by Rock & Rose Landscapes, was more than the sum of its parts. I was smitten with the grass and snake-inspired sculptures by Marcia Donahue (I really geek out over everything she does). I also adored the savanna/nature sounds emanating from hidden speakers. But what really got me was how I felt in this garden.

At the entrance to the garden stood a small carved driftwood sentry, lit from the interior by a warm, glowing light.

WAY MORE FABULOUS THAN YOUR RUN-OF-THE-MILL PATH LIGHT.

You had to enter and walk this narrow space single-file, which meant that this was a quieter garden than the rest. People had to wait to gab about the garden after they exited, and the imposed silence added to the garden’s inherent contemplative feel.

Once you stepped all of the way into the garden, you felt like you had left the Event Center,  and had shrunk to Alice In Wonderland proportions. The tall grasses and bamboos formed a lofty cathedral archway over the path; the effect was somehow both imposing and sheltering. For the few minutes that it took to walk the path, the garden became a protective shroud, a momentary buffer from the crowds that buzzed all around. I ended up walking through more than a few times.

GRASSES, RESTIOS, AND KNIPHOFIAS MAKE MY HEART GO PITTER PATTER

I felt that this garden was bold in its simplicity. Even the plant material was subdued: the grasses, restios, and bamboos had a monotone, almost “weedy” look to them. We designers know that the general public tends to get all excited for color and flowers–hence the gutsiness in choosing this more subtle palette.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am in the middle of a serious meadow-fetish, so it goes without saying that I’m in love with John Greenlee and everything he touches. Maybe that biased me. Regardless, “Savanna!” was an outstanding addition to this year’s show, and for me, is the one garden that I will remember.

ARTIST MARCIA DONAHUE CREATED THE WONDERFULLY SUBTLE AND QUIRKY SCULPTURES FOUND DOTTED THROUGHOUT THE GARDEN

It’s Garden Show Time! (Or How To Say “Yes, Those Are Real Alligator Heads” One Thousand Times Without Completely Losing It)


After months of feverish preparation and frequent night terrors, the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show had arrived. Somehow— even though I hate to ask people for anything–I sweet-talked a slew of volunteers into helping me pull this thing off.

You get two and a half days to build your show garden. On the first load-in day, all of the other garden creators showed up with their fleets of fancy company trucks and large crews of experienced, uniformed workers. We, on the other hand, showed up with a graffiti-covered U-Haul, a handful of horticulture students, coerced members of my family, a couple of landscape contractors, and a whole mess of nervous energy.

Each garden gets its own “staging” area out in the parking lot, where you dump all of the stuff that goes into your garden. As I looked around at all of the other areas, my heart sank. They were filled with beautiful boulders, stacks of expensive flagstone, and gorgeous water features. My area, in comparison, looked like a garage sale gone bad.  I attempted to stay calm.

The next two and a half days were long, exhausting, and adrenaline-filled.

Here’s a short photo montage of the set-up process:

HERE'S WHAT WE STARTED WITH. I COULDN'T BELIEVE HOW NINE MONTHS OF NONSTOP WORK WAS ALL GOING TO FIT ON THIS TINY PATCH OF CONCRETE.

CREOLE COTTAGE GOING UP, AND BRICK FLOORING GETTING MARKED OFF

GARDEN STARTING TO COME TOGETHER

WAS ALL OF THIS CRAP GOING TO FIT?

IN DIRECTING MY CREW, I HAD TO BE SUPER BOSSY. I SWEAR THAT'S NOT HOW I AM IN REAL LIFE. I SWEAR.

And then, at noon on day three, it was time for us to clear out and make way for the judges. I turned on the New Orleans jazz, set the faux tealights to flicker, and went home to clean up and get ready for the evening’s reception. I fell in love with this garden, and was excited that it all came together even better than I imagined. I was on fire with anticipation at how it would be received—by the judges, and the public. I was baring my soul to the gardening world, and I felt very exposed–but really, really proud.

OVERHEAD SHOT OF THE COMPLETED GARDEN. I LOVED HOW THE BRICKWORK TURNED OUT. THE GLAZED TILE INSETS ARE MADE FROM RECYCLED TOILETS.

CLOSE-UP OF CREOLE COTTAGE AND MOSAIC SUCCULENT FOUNTAIN WITH GATOR HEADS (YES, THEY'RE REAL, DAMN IT!)

FRONT OF GARDEN SHOWING REBAR FENCING WITH MUSICAL NOTES AND CRAWFISH

It was a huge relief to find out that the judges and the public liked my garden almost as much as I did. The garden took home five awards, including a judge’s gold medal. Attendees voted my garden their favorite. I was interviewed twice on television–which, thankfully, I never watched: my daughter told me I looked “terrified,” and my husband said I looked like “a deer in headlights.” The garden was a great hang-out spot during the five-day show run. People didn’t breeze through it; they sat down, brought in their glasses of wine, and grooved to the jazz. It pulsed with positive energy the whole time, which was precisely my goal, all along.

Now, (YAY!) the garden show is here again (March 21-25), and I get to experience the magic all over again, this time as a (relieved) spectator.

The San Francisco Flower and Garden Show Part II: Hunting and Gathering the Guts of the Garden

If you read my last post, you will learn how an unknown, small-potatoes designer (me) decides to build a garden for a world-renowned garden show, and then proceeds to turn into a neurotic, stressed-out insomniac. There. You’re up to speed.

Truly, I was determined to not humiliate myself at this thing. So I spent hours and hours, every day for nine months, working hard on my little garden. It’s all I talked about. It’s all I thought about. My Facebook posts were all about it. I’m pretty sure my family and friends couldn’t stand me at that point.

I called my little obsession “Salvaged Creole Jazz Courtyard” and not too many people know this, but in my head, the garden belonged to this guy:

After watching this magnetic, sexy trumpeter perform, I started to fantasize about the type of garden that he might own (I promise honey, I was only fantasizing about his garden). I envisioned a Creole “shotgun” style house, passed down to him from his grandmother, with an old courtyard garden that he didn’t have a lot of money to redo, yet wanted to inject his own style into. Once I had fleshed out this character—a musician’s life story—in my head, I based all of my design choices on it. With everything I collected for the garden, I asked myself, “Would a broke, hipster New Orleans jazz musician put this in there?”

The blanks started to fill in: vintage drums used as containers for plants. Some cheesy, touristy alligator heads in the fountain. Votives, an old coffee mug and a copy of the Times Picayune on the porch. A fence built out of old rebar with musical notes and trumpets welded into it. Used guitar picks for plant labels. The soulful sound of New Orleans jazz playing. Lots of black plants, and plants with cheeky, theme-appropriate names (Cordyline ‘Black Magic,’ Aeonium ‘Voodoo’, Helleborus ‘Mardi Gras Black,’ etc.). I aimed for an authentic space that had layers upon layers of details, so that people would notice something new each time they came through. I also aimed for a garden that would encourage people to hang out—hence the urbanite (used concrete) seat walls (thank you, Brian for building these!) and good-vibes music.

I also gave myself the added pressure of trying to create the garden using 100% salvaged materials. Craigslist, Freecycle, Ebay, garage sales, salvage yards, dumpster diving, you name it, I did it. Even the ramps used to enter the garden were scrounged from a salvage yard. This was 2010, the worst of the recession was hitting the fan, and I wanted a garden filled with ideas obtainable to everyone, regardless of paycheck size. No custom pergolas, fancy waterfalls, and expensive stonework, thank you very much.

I experienced some setbacks. Hundreds of dollars worth of succulents that I purchased waaaay too early rotted out (remember that f-ing rainy winter?). I gathered a veritable ton of used brick (HUGE pain in the ass) only to realize I couldn’t use them (long story). And I started to run out of money. My initial cost estimate for building this thing? Well, let’s just say I spent five times more than that. And that’s not even including the price of a little impromptu “buying trip” to New Orleans that, in addition to a whopping hangover, resulted in only one item: a three foot long metal crawfish.

Next blog post: It’s Showtime! (Or How To Say “Yes, Those Are Real Alligator Heads” One Thousand Times Without Completely Losing It)

THE OLD FOUNTAIN FROM MY FRONT YARD, GETTING COVERED IN MOSAIC I GOT FROM A GARAGE SALE. A MESSY, TWO-MONTH PROJECT THAT I DID INSIDE MY HOUSE, THANKS TO THE WET, MISERABLE WINTER THAT WE HAD.

TESTING OUT WHICH PLANTS LOOKED GOOD IN WHICH DRUMS

AFTER DESIGNING A MUSIC-THEMED ARCH AND FENCE TO ENCLOSE THE SPACE, I SWEET-TALKED A FENCE GUY INTO BUILDING IT FOR ME (THANK YOU, JAVIER!)

HALF-BUILT SHOTGUN FACADE: IT TOOK ME ONE TORTURED MONTH TO DECIDE WHETHER OR NOT TO PAINT OVER THE ORIGINAL SALVAGED PATINA, BUT I KNEW THAT THE NEUTRAL COLOR WOULDN'T "READ" WELL IN THE DARK SHOW SPACE. IT ENDED UP GOING THROUGH THREE COLOR CHANGES.

MY FIRST ROUND OF SUCCULENTS ALL DIED AND HAD TO BE REPURCHASED. EVEN THOUGH I KEPT THEM UNDER A TENT, THE RESIDUAL MOISTURE IN THE AIR FROM THE SOGGY WINTER SPELLED D-E-A-T-H.