Far Out Flora

The Gardens at Lake Merritt

July 11, 2013 by Megan Speckmann | 4 Comments

The Garden at Lake Merritt

This weekend we headed over to Lake Merritt to check out Fairyland with Zoe. We got there too late, so we ended up visiting the fantastic gardens instead. The Gardens at Lake Merritt include seven acres of gardeny goodness including a bunch of fun themes and it’s totally free! We were too late to get in to the bonsai garden, so we’ll have to go back and check it out soon.

Oh yeah, we’re back in California. We found a cute house to rent in Oakland. What’s up with all the sun and warm weather in these parts? I love it! It would be tough to go back to windy, foggy, beach land. Anyways… here are some shots from our recent visit:

Succulent fun

Loving all the different colors and textures happening.

Is this some sort of Cassia?

Flowery happieness

Asclepias physocarpa

How can you not smile when you see the “Family Jewels” plant?



I think there’s going to be quite a bit more blog action these days. Pretty soon I’ll dust off the good old DSLR again. These iphone pics aren’t the most magical.

CornerStone Chic

September 10, 2011 by Matti | 7 Comments

Mark Rios, Cornerstone Sonoma, CA

Mark Rios, Cornerstone Sonoma, CA

Everybody has their special spot to wet their creative juices.  CornerStone is one of our Go To places that always pulls us out of a garden rut…and a great stop while heading up to Sonoma CA for a little wine tasting.  CornerStone attracts designers from around the world to install Avant-garde styles into the landscape.  Sitting on 9 acres, their 27 garden plots has something for all.  Oh Bonus! it’s free to visit.

Blue Tree by Claude Cormier

Claude Cormier - Blue Tree

Probably one of most iconic sites at CornerStone has been this large tree covered with blue balls.  Canadian landscape architect, Claude Cormier, installed Blue Tree back in 2004.  The tree was diseased and slated for removal.  Instead of chopping it down, it was covered with 75,000 sky blue balls.  However during our last visit, we couldn’t help notice that the tree has been heavily pruned and basically just a very tall stump at the moment.  We did find some amazing pics of Blue Tree on Claude Cormier’s site if you want to get a taste of how it looked back in the heyday.

CornerStone - Sonoma CA

Topher Delaney - Garden Play

San Francisco artist, Topher Delaney, is behind Garden Play.  This minimalist space plays with shape and scale.  There are a handful of over-sized rope balls sitting amongst a small stand of birch trees.  Great garden to view especially if you can find a moment to have it all to yourself.

Artichoke - Cynara

Artichoke - Cynara

When we were there in June (man…where is summer going?) the Artichokes were going crazy.

Small Tribute to Immigrant Workers by Mario Schjetnan - Cornerstone Sonoma, CA

Small Tribute to Immigrant Workers by Mario Schjetnan - Cornerstone Sonoma, CA

Tucked within Mario Schjetnan’s garden design called Small Tribute to Immigrant Workers, this space was one of our fave artichoke patches.

Artichoke flower - Cynara

Artichoke flower - Cynara

Frankly, I never saw one in flower until seeing them here.  Who knew that artichoke blooms were immense…were talking as big as your head huge.

Smoke Bush - Cotinus species

Smoke Bush - Cotinus species

Here’s a gorgeous ornamental that is an eye catcher, Cotinus…aka the Smoke Bush.  I’m not sure how well it would do in our foggy garden.  I seem to only recall them going in a little more heated areas.  I see that Rancho Reubidoux has a great photo of Cotinus.  Anybody have one growing in your garden?

Daisy Border by Ken Smith

Daisy Border by Ken Smith

As Blue Tree is coming to the end of its life, this garden installation is rising on our charts.  Daisy Border is the conception of Ken Smith.  Filled with a ton of daisy like windmills, it creates a fun play on wind and light bouncing off the blades.  Want some more CornerStone Garden action?  My Back 40 (Feet) has some amazing pics of the installations and some of the shops there too.

— Far Out Flora

February 22, 2010
by Megan

Edible Excitement

About a month ago I ordered a bunch of veggie seeds from Bountiful Gardens out of Willits, about two and half hours north of San Francisco.  They’ve been sitting around collecting dust. After Plant ID class on Saturday our friend … Continue reading