Phase II

Total transformation takes vision, patience and yes, money.

Landscape Master Plan

It would be nice to say you can create the landscape of your dreams on a shoe string budget, but the truth is you are making an investment in your lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to design a beautiful yard for a reasonable cost but if you’re anything like me you really want to create something amazing.
Southern California’s beautiful weather affords us the opportunity to spend a good deal of time outside so it stands to reason that our outdoor space is just as important as our indoor space.

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Since this is a personal project I’ve been able to take time developing a master plan for our property that will fully accommodate our family’s needs and desires. For our kids a place to play and connect with nature and for my husband and myself a sanctuary away from our hectic work lives. In addition we like to entertain so aside from a personal haven we’ve planned areas for gathering with friends as well.

Phase2

This has been an extensive project (which is still under way) that includes a new from the ground up garage and studio as well as new landscaping. After more than a year of planning/building we’re finally to the fun part, which for me is the landscaping. There is steady progress and I look forward to completion at the end of the month.

More pictures to come as we progress ūüôā

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In my garden

This is the very best time of the year here in lovely Mar Vista, CA. We have beautiful sunny, warm weather, the ocean is turquoise blue and warm and it’s time to work on the fall garden.

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I may have mentioned that we are very lucky here in Southern California with basically a year round growing season so there is always plenty to do on our little urban farm.

I began my day swimming in the ocean, (not a bad way to start things off if you ask me:), and spent the rest of the day planting and tending. This is my first fall garden and I wanted to try my hand at starting from seed. I bought a black plastic sprouting tray with a clear top and some little coir pots. I planted eight different types of seeds in the black, let us call it my mini green house…not a one sprouted…hmmm. Not sure what happened but I’m thinking not enough water. The condensation on the clear plastic top was deceiving. On the other hand, total success in the coir pots! Easy to see if they were dry.

I may have mentioned that we are very lucky here in Southern California with basically a year round growing season so there is always plenty to do on our little urban farm.

I began my day swimming in the ocean, (not a bad way to start things off if you ask me:), and spent the rest of the day planting and tending. This is my first fall garden and I wanted to try my hand at starting from seed. I bought a black plastic sprouting tray with a clear top and some little coir pots. I planted eight different types of seeds in the black, let us call it my mini green house…not a one sprouted…hmmm. Not sure what happened but I’m thinking not enough water. The condensation on the clear plastic top was deceiving. On the other hand, total success in the coir pots! Easy to see if they were dry.

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I planted edamame, brussels sprouts and spinach and I am very happy that the edamame was ready to plant in the the raised beds today. Beautiful, this will be our first time eating organic GMO free edamame.

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My CA-BFF, Rosalie and I just watched GMO OMG (big Friday night adventure to Hollywood) so you can imagine how thrilled I am to have an organic, GMO free garden! I highly recommend watching this informative and funny movie if you have the chance.

Aside from all the planting and tending there is always a lot of action in our garden. Our murderous cat, Charlotte enjoys lounging around under the olive trees…

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and taking a drink from the fountain, which I find hilarious for some strange reason.

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I also turned the compost pile and found these disgusting creatures. I’m sorry I just couldn’t resist showing them to you.

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Of course I picked a dozen or so out for my neighbor,¬†Christy’s¬†chickens. She’s an organic gardening expert. She is also the author of my favorite¬†gardening book¬†(her book has a fun trailer so check out the link). Besides providing her super cute chickens with a yummy treat, I wanted to find out what these ugly buggers were and whether or not I could leave them or if we would be¬†forced¬†(my husband is not yet convinced that chickens are a fabulous idea)¬†to get chickens who will dispose of them for us.

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Turns out they are Black Soldier Fly larva and are great for the compost so I won’t have to worry about touching any more of them (and Mr. Fabulous is off the hook for now). Happy day! In fact as I search the internet¬†I’m discovering that we really are very lucky to just happen to have a plethora of these fabulous grubs! I even found a¬†blog¬†dedicated to all things BSF. You’ve just gotta love good’ol google .

In the questionable category are these beauties, which I found on the fennel.

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They are apparently Swallowtail butterfly caterpillars and are really quiet beautiful. They don’t seemed to have devoured the fennel yet so I am waiting to see if they will end up chicken food or if we’ll have the pleasure of watching them turn into this stunning butterfly.

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No more grass!

Americans have a love affair with their lawns. It seems a part of the American dream, home ownership with a big swath of luxurious green grass surrounding it. I think this is a holdover from the 19th century and the desire to emulate the English garden.

No more grass

Whatever the reason, here in Southern California grass is a luxury we simply cannot afford and here’s why.

California gets only about 22 inches of rain a year, near the bottom of the US average. And that’s in a normal year. What’s happening now in the Golden State is anything but normal.

An average of just 7.38 inches of rain fell in 2013 making it the driest year since California became a state in 1859.

The result is a megadrought so sever that there is a real possibility that Californian’s could actually run out of water. (The above text is from a April 2014 Time magazine article by Bryan Walsh)

Our state is drying up and if you have a hard time wrapping your head around that here’s more dramatic evidence.

From Huffington Post article Click link to watch the lake dry up before your eyesScreen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.26.10 PM

Full water levels are visible in the Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville on July 20, 2011, in Oroville, California, followed by current drought levels on Aug. 19, 2014. Credit: California Department of Water Resources / Getty Images

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It’s time to embrace drought tolerant landscaping and you by no means have to give up a luxurious yard. Au contraire! California is awash with luxurious native plants. Here are few of my favorites:California poppy
California Poppy

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Salvia clevelandii

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Matilija poppy

One of the many benefits of native plants besides their being very drought tolerant is that they provide much needed habitat for wildlife.

This beleaguered monarch is grateful for the sweet nectar of the Red Valerian in my yard!
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And if all of that’s not enough to convince you to ditch your grass LADWP will give you $3.00 a square foot to remove your lawn.

I specialize in transforming water guzzling grass yards into magical, environmentally friendly, livable landscapes.

Phase I

We were fortunate to find the worst house on the best block.

Ugly House

Not everyone is up for the challenge of total transformation but for me it’s a dream come true to take something old and neglected and turn it into something spectacular.

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Once we made the house habitable I set about work on the yard. My goals were multifold; First the grass had to go. Southern California is not an appropriate climate for grass, (we’ll get into that later) drought tolerant’s the only way to go. I wanted to level the yard to make it more user friendly and to create some space from the sidewalk. I also wanted to create habit for wildlife, bees and other pollinators and birds, an area for raised vegetable gardens and lounging space where we could sit and enjoy the sunset.

Garden progress

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