Monday, July 6, 2015

Lawnless Yard #25, With Mysteries

 The more I looked at this property, the more I wondered.  It's in San Marino, one of the most expensive cities in Los Angeles County,  San Marino has a median home price of $2.1 million.  This property is on a wide street in a beautiful neighborhood of old (1930's) houses with big trees and big lawns.
Considering the size of the plants, the garden obviously wasn't installed yesterday by Turf Terminators for the lawn-removal rebate:
 Amazing cacti and Euphorbias of amazing size, all crammed in together.
 Looking harder and thinking longer, it became apparent that the cramming was done in a completely random fashion.
How do they weed?  Or are the weeds too intimidated to grow? 
 The multiple alarm company "armed response" signs made me a little uneasy.  The front window was barred, though no one could possibly access it through a forest of cactus, and there was a heavy metal grate over the front door.  The metal plus the cacti plus the "armed response" had an unwelcoming vibe...how intentional is that? 
 The randomness of the plants was almost as if someone had picked up little cacti at a big box store one at a time, and stuck them in over decades.  I checked the property history--it last sold in 1993--I expected an earlier date.  Guessing by the heft of a Dioon in one corner, and several Echinocereus grusonii, which I did not get a great photo of, I would have thought some of the cacti had been there since the 70's.  
How long does it take for a Dioon to get 15' tall and wide? 
 In one spot, something appeared to have died a few years previous, and random things were stuck in recently--the Agave, the Dyckia at the bottom-leftish of the frame...what is going to happen when the Agave starts offsetting like mad? 
 There were a few wonderful cristate plants, like this crested...ahh..something.  Notocactus magnificus cristata?  The plants almost all looked clean and healthy, as if they are regularly hosed off. 

 This one is commonly available (but not when it's twelve feet tall, as this one was).  Myrtillocactus geometrizans?? 
 This---something--must have taken years to grow to this size, at least 2 feet across.  A long time collecting obsession...?  What is the mind behind this garden?  The gardener is the garden.
 
Oddest was the parkway.  I checked San Marino's current parkway policy--it might have just changed because of the drought.  Lawn is not mandatory, but non-trees must be less than 24" tall.  

This I do not get.  

 No idea (or concern?), apparently, as to how large these plants will grow, or how much they will offset.  Then there's the lawn--how do they mow? 
 And planted in a row, like...corn? 
On the initial drive by, I was expecting sophistication of plant knowledge that closer examination did not re-inforce.  Curiouser and curiouser.
 Amazing and puzzling at the same time.

And new acquisitions continue...I would have loved to have met the gardener and gleaned some perspective.  The gardener is the garden...what is the story of this one?  

42 comments:

  1. Could it be a new owner, who perhaps doesn't have the knowledge yet that the earlier one did?
    Amazing garden nonetheless!

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    1. No sale since 1993, so it is either the same owner or an offspring. Yes, it is amazing!

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  2. A wood of cacti and Euphorbias, at first sight it looks beautiful but also scary. I wonder how they handle these prickly monsters, impossible to weed or walk between them without scratches or worse. It should be interesting to meet the gardener for I wonder what kind of person loves to live behind these cactI.

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  3. A wood of cacti and Euphorbias, at first sight it looks beautiful but also scary. I wonder how they handle these prickly monsters, impossible to weed or walk between them without scratches or worse. It should be interesting to meet the gardener for I wonder what kind of person loves to live behind these cactI.

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    1. It's well kept. I'm just wondering how they cut the grass with those Agaves sprouting out of it.

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  4. Baffling isn't it? But beautiful nevertheless. It would be cool to find out more about the owner and the background story of such planting and arrangement.

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  5. It's really quite amazing any beautiful, even if there seems to have been no plan. I would have left a note for the owner with contact details so you could get the entire story. Who knows, they might even have photos of the plantings when young.

    Great discovery -- I'm glad you shared it!

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    1. I'm glad I shared it, too--I knew plant lovers would be fascinated.

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  6. What an amazing garden. As you at a distance looks spectacular and then everything crammed in.You'll have to camp out and see if you can catch the owners to find that story.

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    1. It is quite amazing, more so in person!

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  7. That shot of the front garden from down the street, with all those pristine lawns around it, is freaky. Strange, weird and eerily beautiful up close. Makes you wonder if the gardener is as prickly as his or her plants.

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    1. As prickly as the plants--I do wonder!

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  8. This I want to see ! You drive and I'll boldly knock......what's the worst that could happen yes ? Did you get the address? I'll drop them a note............K

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    1. I'll send you the address. You are brave! I am not.

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    2. We need Jeanne L. She probably knows them. ;^)

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  9. Wow, beautiful! In your 3rd photo I spied that parking strip (so wide!) and wondered what the disconnect with the front garden was all about. And of course I noticed the lawn on both sides (neighbors). It reminded me of my lawned 'hood (although of course our lawns are all gold now, green disappeared at the beginning of June) where my planted up craziness stands out.

    Anyway...I like rusty duck's suggestion that there was a prior owner and a newer owner. Or maybe the original gardener and now a child or surviving spouse. Whoever it is definitely has a little paranoia going on with the bars and alarms. I'm glad your photo taking wasn't rewarded with a visit from the cops.

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    1. It was 8 am on a Sunday morning on a holiday weekend. We had the neighborhood to ourselves. Not even dog walkers.

      Your planting craziness looks great on your street, and Portland is so much more gardening oriented.

      It is a fun planting scheme. Gotta love the sheer boldness of it.

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  10. Aside from the mixed intentions of the parkway, I love this. And with the big guy smack center at the base of the steps, this gardener is proclaiming Cactus Rules! If anyone dared, it could be thinned and still look fabulous and probably be safer to maintain. The gardener seeks to control plants, but in the end they sometimes control the gardener. This one might even be a prisoner of the cactus!

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    1. I saw it a couple of years ago on the way home from the Huntington--we went an odd way due to traffic conditions and passed that house. Rather than scare the pants off Alan, who was driving, and cause an accident by screaming "STOP RIGHT NOWWWWWWWWWW!", I made a note to get back there and have a closer look. It is so bold, and in that sea of lawns even bolder. Looking at Google Earth, the back garden is more of the same.

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  11. I love gardens with a sense of mystery, and this one has it in spades. Let us know if you ever find out more.

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  12. It does stand out among its neighbors! In addition to speaking to the gardener, I'd be curious what the neighbors have to say. It's too bad that the intriguing specimens get lost among the giants. I wonder if the bones were set in place by the pre-1993 owner and the subsequent owner is more a collector than a designer - unless, of course, the design is intended to say "keep the heck away."

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    1. The house is very well maintained, so it's not a matter of neglect...I'd just love to meet the gardener, but walk up and knock is not moi.

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  13. It reminds me of a collection of ceramic doodads or collectibles you see in houses that have been lived in for decades, except these all have spikes and live outside. But I do admire a gardener who does things their way, to hell with everyone else. Bravo, cactus collector!

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  14. Lacking your knowledge base, I am free to simply love everything about it (excepting the parking strip). If things keep up the way they are going here, we may be embracing this gardening style...it's HOT!

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  15. You mentioned that google earth shows more of the same in the backyard, maybe the house is full of seedlings, propagation's & experiments & this person has stumbled across some amazing invention where you can get prickly plants to draw their spikes in when you want to come near. Probably not, but it sure gets the imagination going, doesn't it!

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    1. That's a lovely thought, prickly plants that draw in their spines when their human comes close. They may eventually evolve that way in order to encourage watering...It is a garden that gets the imagination going!

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  16. When collecting becomes pathology...
    Someone someday will probably comment on the odd collection of my plants left in my garden. Then rip them all out.

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    1. You never know. A few of the shrubs my Mom & Dad planted before I was born are still alive and growing at their old house! A historic house in the area still has the Camellias that were there in photos taken in the 1920s.

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  17. It is an amazing garden yet a little alien and scary too, it would take a brave person to weed amongst those thorny cacti. The Dioon is also amazing, it looks very healthy with all of those new fronds.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. The Dioon looked great--I wish I'd gotten a better photo of it.

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  18. Wow, that is an amazing garden! Even though cacti aren’t something I would put in my own garden I really admire someone who’d create something as spectacular as that. And most gardener are proud of what they do and would talk endlessly about their garden given the chance, I would - wouldn’t you? If someone knocked on my door and said ‘I have just been admiring your front garden, would you mind telling me a bit about how you created it and why because I am just so curious?’ – well, I would not have to be asked twice….people in California can’t be that different, can they?
    I would have knocked on that door and asked, the owner is very well aware of what a special garden he or she has.
    Let us know what you find out :-)

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    1. "Timid" is my middle name, and it was 8:00am on a Sunday morning!

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  19. Beautiful photo's of a great garden. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. I imagine if you knocked on the door, an older woman would answer and she would be at first cautious, but after expressing an interest in her garden, you may get a friendly invite to see the back, where every flat surface that isn't a garden bed will hold cuttings taking root.. Compliments paid and the right questions asked may get you a cup of tea and a return visit.

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Always interested in your thoughts.

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