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A. Marina Fournier
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While I *might* pay that much (assuming I had it, and more!) for The Tres Belles Heure de Jean, Duc de Berry, or the Book of Kells (Trinity College, Dublin), or some other calligraphic treasure I have yet to discover, I'm with Laura: I could do a lot of things with that money, aside from buying a single piece of art. I could buy some curvily organic Art Nouveau furniture, build a custom house with a conservatory for starting plants & keeping tender ones; a library with a stained glass dome, a clerestory above the floors of it, which would also serve as a ballroom; several round towers for the fun of it; a grand kitchen with plenty of storage, counters of different heights (or a worktable of same, for the differently sized cooks of this household; state of the art solar panels to offset power purchases; and a few acres to plan and plant out. Oh, and a retirement fund, artist residential program, and a charitable foundation to allow us to make a difference in the greater world, as opposed to our own microcosm.
Toggle Commented May 3, 2012 on Off Topic, I Know at Garden Rant
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Too many of these garden paths were enh/meh or ick/WTF for me. I do not like walking on gravel of any size in the summer, or in the rainy season. In the rainy season, it gets very uneven and muddy. When I was a girl in Albuquerque, it didn't matter if I wore zoris or went barefoot when taking things to the trash cans: the hot gravel was under my feet. It was usually easier to not wear something for the gravel to get into and poke your feet. I think I learned to levitate a bit over hot gravel--and the straight pins in my mom's sewing room & adjacent hallway. I do not like sharp rocks or rough sand anywhere near where I walk, especially when I walk barefoot in my garden areas. I do not like gaps with a change in height (between stone and water/gravel) where clumsy me can put her foot wrong, trip, stumble, fall, ouch, thus the "floating" steps in the fountain areas are not happening in my yard. I liked the lawn lattice and the usage of thyme in at least three garden paths, as well as the wooded escape. When I get a new gardener, I think what I should do in the area around the pool that is bare earth and pathy-y, is to a) take up the current paving stone b) even out the height of the path with soil, so that whatever we put down (old pavers or slate ones I lust after) will be more level c) put down weedcloth d) put down pavers, put down plugs/squares of creeping lemon thyme and a few other thymes, Irish and Scotch moss, baby tears, and in the shadiest places, some Corsican mint (visual and tactile texture, as well as a variety of scents), and then e) gorilla hair mulch. They will get rain and run-off once established, the rain can sink in, there will be far less weeding with that set up. In my last house, my gardener and I set up the front yard, after the awful white rock hardscape had been removed (to be used in someone's French drain) thus: make a meandering "dry creek bed" of smooth, tumbled rocks (on landscape plastic) from the downspout to the curb, to keep the roof runoff from eroding the foundation and look good as a garden feature. Then, place the bare-root roses around the yard, lay the drip-lines and emitters, plant the roses, set up the weed cloth, add the gorilla hair. MUCH less water usage, and fewer things to annoy the roses. I'm planning on doing something similar once I have a more cooperative and knowledgeable gardener. For any deep stairing, I'd experiment with a tall and a short person to get the optimal sizing. It's not just a visual feature, you know. I love water features and ponds: I just don't want to be injured by them or their approaches. With the dog's floating steps, and a couple of the exhibits at this year's SF F&G show, any tottery person or klutzcould do themselves an injury and the homeowner a sizeable chunk of insurance payoff/civil suit. I liked the "eye candy" but would have liked to see more vertical garden on that structure. I liked the idea of a goal-minded path, but the one they showed didn't wow me. Barefoot in the sand: see barefoot in gravel. For me, sand like that sucks my feet in and makes me very ungainly in trying to walk in it. My feet slip sideways, making me feel as if I will turn an ankle. Not for me, thanks. The driveway transformation was orderly, and a bit of wild might have been nice there. The grassy path, and the path of grass? Enh. As to the walled garden with the stamped concrete path, my choices might have been different. Thicker aged-coral-colored adobe walls or a 3' fence of it, a less-orderly paving, solar-powered path lights, water-thrifty scented plants for day and night, a Moorish fountain--some of the elements I'd use here. The last comes from a childhood spent in San Diego's Balboa Park's museum corridor, with its Moorish rose garden and a subsequent love of Moorish architecture. The grass-circle path: I agree with what others have said about maintenance. Let's see, soft grass, sharp shale, and I'll bet short-legged me can't easily make it from one circle to the next in my usual regular walking pattern. As to the bamboo, most of the bamboo I've encountered (in CA) has not been the clumping type, and should NOT have been put in the ground. I'd love a wall of black bamboo, but it's too pricy for me. Next! Yes to raised beds, no to the gravel. Herbs, baby tears, soft mulch (gorilla hair and its ilk)--nicer on the feet. If I'm meditating, I can easily trip over the rectangular stone that rises a little above the gravel. Then there's that gravel thing again. Must be cheap. I like the curving through green and the native wood fence, for completely different reasons. In my Santa Cruz home, my gardener went down to the mouth of the San Lorenzo River (maybe a creek by east-of-the-Sierras' terms, save that it flows to the sea) and picked up flotsam logs of trees washed out to sea, or washed up from the bay, for building a sturdy arch (reminded me of an entrance to the Paris Métro) and pergola. Loved them. Underneath the Paris Métro and the metal ogee arches were heart-shaped slate steps, which I had hoped to continue through the Back 49, once the center ground had been tilled and seeded with low-growing herbs and ground covers. Soft under (bare) foot was desired, but the look of those slate "pavers" would set that off, with the old Golden Delicious tree in the (off) center. I could have had a labyrinth there...maybe the current owners (who liked what I'd done) will do that. #28, the bridge for seasonal runoff garden--don't want to walk there at all. Any of the paths that were small poky bits with large flat things as "bridges" were better for viewing than for walking. Now we get into the gardens I'm happier with. The rock border in #31 is fine, I'd still want something other than gravel, and I'd like a greater range of greens or foliage. I prefer the kitchen garden paths to the next Mediterranean setup--I really fell for knotwork and other medieval style gardens in my 20s, but have yet to have the yard where they'd work. The idea of a chamomile or moss turf bench truly appealed--one sees them in books of hours and paintings of the period. The patio entry in #35 is exactly what I've been talking about--mulch between the pavers, no sharp bits around. I also happen to like the plants in that garden. I adore the hidden path in the next garden! The storybook setting, magical space, keyhole vegetable garden, and the last one, the thyme travel labyrinth (another feature not for my current yard, blast it!)--I'd be visiting those a lot. The easy-care front yard should perhaps have raked gravel (which lets it out of the easy-care category), or non-lawn ground covers of different heights, greens, and growth patterns, in order to please me. Those things you neither mow or prune. My rambling slant I shan't prolong, (sing rickety-tickety-tin) My rambling slant I shan't prolong And if this comment is much too long, You've yourselves to blame if it's too long You should never have let me begin, begin, You should never have let me begin!
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May 3, 2012