Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Huntingdon visit

I've been working really hard, and as a reward for finishing up my projects, I told myself I could go visit The Huntingdon Gardens and Art Collections.   So yesterday was my all day visit.  I was really excited to visit the Desert Garden for all the lovely, spiky and unusual plants.
I think I am picking up some epiphyllum cuttings this afternoon, so I was excited to see this over the top display.   It gives me ideas of where I might put mine (which will be like one or two little strands!)
Like Mr. Huntingdon, I am not a big fan of cactus, but the colors on this one might make me one!
 More spiky cacti.  They look great here, but not in my garden!
I also love this mass planting of aeoniums, agaves and the tree aloes.  Of course, I don't have 120 acres to garden, but I think a little patch of aeoniums are in my future.
I don't remember what these are called, they're from Madagascar and they look very lush with their lovely green leaves, but those spines! yikes! (oh, they're alluaudia).  They usually are upright, this one was on the ground.

By the way, if you want to check out a really amazing blog, look at Danger Garden - which is a great name, and a great blog.  Loree's blog is a fabulous resource and inspiration!

Besides the Desert Garden, there are other amazing gardens to check out - the Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden, a Rose Garden, a Palm Garden.  And some great pieces in the art collection as well, like this pair of Ghirlandio portraits
And Harriet Hosmer's "Zenobia in Chains". My students studied both of these in AP Art History when I taught high school.


I wanted to visit the conservatory, but it was just so humid and hot inside that I couldn't stay for too long.  Beautiful plants inside, and a long spiral walkway that goes down - lots of great, educational bits.  I'm going to go back in the fall or winter when the outside weather is cooler and I can stay inside for longer.  I did stop in long enough to check out the carnivorous plants.
I had a lovely day, but oh were my feet killing me at the end of the day!  I stayed until nearly closing.  I wanted to go revisit the Japanese and Chinese gardens, but I am saving that for another trip.  Also, the Library Exhibition Hall was not open, and the Gutenberg bible and the Audubon double elephant folio edition and the Chaucer manuscript are all things I'd love to visit, so when they get those pieces set up I'll be back to check them out.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

More Yard Work

The front entry is in limbo right now - I primed the walls, the ceiling needs more patching, and I've got lots of painting and trim to go -- but we spent part of the weekend working on the yard.  We've patched together a pretty nice little planting bed along the back wall with mostly free plants we've picked up on Craigslist.  Now we're in the long hot summer of Southern California, and the very sandy soil we have dries out super quick.  To keep the moisture in for our transplants, we bought bags of mulch to help keep the watering to a minimum while maximizes the moisture retention.

It's looking worlds better than it did when we moved in.  I did buy some plants - some caladiums, and some ground cover for the most part, although I also picked up some shasta daisies and some purple coneflower to give the area some color.   Here are some 'before and after' shots of various parts of the yard:

 All the efforts to get the backyard in shape are somewhat temporary.  We are considering putting a pool in next summer, so I'm not terribly concerned about the grass, but I am hoping to keep the plantings around the edges.  And I'll probably move things around, which I do all the time.

Mulching the planting area will help things grow well, as evidenced by the progress we saw in our front planting box.  I had planted a bunch of little mums from the dollar store, and they were going nowhere for about 2 months, until I added a few inches of mulch in the box.  They sprung up rapidly after that -- So I'm hoping the backyard will have similar results.
We also scored the two chairs and table free off craigslist.

Another couple of things we did was to transfer a staghorn fern from a cocoa-lined basket (where it was looking pretty sad) to the avocado tree, by wrapping it to the tree with fishing line.  I don't know how long it will take to attach itself to the tree, but the fishing line is nearly invisible.
Along the back wall, the bamboo is doing rather well - still sprouting and sending up shoots - I'm hoping it will fill in more with the mulch.  One thing I have to be careful of - mulching around those agaves was tricky!

Just some progress shots - the succulents along the driveway are looking nice:

There are still some areas that need work, for sure.  Here's the area behind the garage.  We've removed the laundry line and cut down the weedy tree.  Dale cut up the dead tree, and we transplanted the camellia elsewhere in the yard.  It's still a dusty, sandy desert there.

Eventually, we have plans to build on to the back of the garage (a small studio guesthouse), so I don't want to plant anything really nice back here.  We just use it to store firewood and bricks.  We planted bamboo, some aloe succulents, and dwarf lemon and orange trees here along the wall on the right.

Other plants we've picked up on Craigslist - these elephant ears and succulents, along with a geranium we inherited from a previous rental.  The first house we lived in had a ton of dying plants in the yard that the owner said we could have.

The spider plant was from that house, and we picked up the jade plant and the bird of paradise off Craigslist.  They were both in the same dried out planter, so tangled together that we had to just hack them apart with a hatchet, after breaking the pot to get them out.  They're still recuperating from the trauma!  The little rose I got at the dollar store.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Entry

Well, our last group of summer visitors left yesterday.  We spent the evening enjoying the relative peace and quiet, but I woke up early this morning and couldn't get back to sleep, so I decided to take advantage of the cool morning and get a jump on a new project.

Our entry space, like the living room, is paneled and the paneling is painted.  It's not my favorite, but it's liveable.  However, one thing I really don't like is that they also paneled over the doors and removed all the casings and trim around the doors.  I love the doors in this house - they have 3 panels and they're very retro.  So I wanted to do what I had done to the bathroom door - remove the paneling, sand down the door and repaint.  Luckily, the previous renovators had only used glue and not nails, so I have have to pry the paneling off and remove all the extra spacing.  Then I sand it down (and sand and sand), and repaint 3 coats of nice white paint.

I figure if I do one door each morning (there are 4 doors in this little entry way!), by the end of the weekend, I'll have some nice doors to break up the paneling.  And that was really a good idea.  Too bad I didn't stick with it.

After I got the closet door down, sanded and with the first coat of paint drying, I decided I wanted a little peek behind the paneling, just to see what was there.  And I also wanted a peek underneath the acoustic ceiling tiles, to see if there were any obvious cracks that would explain why someone would cover the ceiling with them.

An hour later, and I've got paneling and ceiling tiles all over the place, and the hallway now looks HORRIBLE!  LOL - this is what most home improvement projects are like.  You start one little thing....
Whew.  This is one ugly little space now!  I was contemplating painting this little area a black or deep blue and then painting a white pattern over it - some kind of stencil - but after seeing how dark and cavelike it looks, well, it's going to get painted a nice light color.

Isn't this the ugliest wallpaper ever?!

And the ceiling tiles - they had gold glitter all over them - fancy!

They'd been painted white several times, so it wasn't until we pulled them down that we could see some unpainted areas.  The good news was that the ceiling was in fine shape - apparently they just wanted it to be sparkly here.  We also have ceiling tiles all over the living room and kitchen ceilings -- we'll get those taken care of when we get to those rooms.  Underneath, the ceiling was painted a dreary shade of brown  - we'll patch up the nail holes from the furring strips and give it a couple of coats of stain blocker to cover that awful brown.

But I have my work cut out for me now - scraping wallpaper off these walls.  I got a start, just using a spray bottle and a putty knife, but I had to take a break and go out and get the scoring tool and a better scraper, so I'll have plenty of work to do this week.  Got some good podcasts loaded up on the ipod, so it looks like I'll get caught up on my listening. 

Oh, and that door?  It looks great - although it's the only thing in the entry that does right now!
One down, 3 to go.
I seriously love these doors!!

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