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Archive for July, 2011

Potted’s DIY Cinderblock Wall

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

A while back I had a discerning client who was also an interior designer. We got along great and she was easy going…all she asked for was something nobody else had or that she’d never seen before. Sure, no problem. I come up with those ideas 20 times a day (okay, that’s a total lie…I wish I came up with them 20 times a day). But I accepted the challenge and started looking for inspiration. And then I was struck…

While looking through a building material yard for another client, I came upon these cinderblocks. The ones with the circles were used for sewer lines and I thought they’d make amazing planters but then I saw the half emptied pallet of the other cinderblocks, ones that are usually used to build walls, and I knew I had it…something I’d never seen before!

And here is our cinderblock wall. A friend of the store, Laure Joliet, is an editor at Apartment Therapy and when I told her about the idea and how easy it would be for people to do themselves, she was excited and asked me to let her post it on the site. This blog post was reposted so many times it was incredible (and we were just a little bit proud.)

Here is a version in Texas from Pam Penick’s blog Digging.  In her wall she made it double sided which I thought was a great extra.  She also goes on to show how she did it which apparently involved chicken wire and landscape cloth.  I just filled mine with soil and it seemed to work just fine. Pam also used different cinderblock than I did which I think worked better for pulling them out without creating a void behind them. The larger blocks I used gave you more room for soil however which I think is a plus. I saw another reposting using these cinderblocks as well.

Here is Form LA’s booth at the recent Dwell on Design Show at the LA Convention Center and I was thrilled to see yet again the cinderblocks. I loved the addition of the bench and the black “grout” they used between the blocks (it was actually thin plywood painted black but I think for a permanent installation they would use actual grout…for our wall, we used liquid nails).

It’s a handsome planter. The possibilities are endless. If you’ve tried a version of the cinderblock wall, please send them to us. We’d love to see them all. And if you have any ideas for things no one has ever seen before, by all means please send those along too.

PS…as I was about to post this, the picture above came up on Urban Gardens Blog. Too funny.

PSS…If you are concerned about safety, you should reinforce any wall you build with rebar and mortar. The first one I did was only 4 blocks tall and stacked against another cinderblock wall. Use common sense…any freestanding wall should probably be reinforced.

Lotusland

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

When I attended USCB in the early 80s, I remember being fascinated by a piece of property in Montecito. It had a seemingly endless pink wall and these weird exotic plants peeking over the top. It looked abandoned and scary and so, of course, I couldn’t stop wondering about it. Years later when I become involved in landscape design, I was thrilled to find out that this odd, magical garden was known as Lotusland.

Madame Ganna Walska began her garden in 1941 and continued working on it until 1984 when she died in her 90s (just goes to show you…gardening can prolong your life). Apparently she was still alive when I was in college trying to climb over the fence and from what I’ve learned about her eccentricity, I’m glad I never got caught.

Madame Walska was a pioneer in mass plantings. She valued plants for their structural aesthetic as can be seen with these giant spiraling Euphorbias that surrounded her front door.

Here are more examples of her mass plantings and eye for architectural botany…

A forest of Ponytail Palms.

Another forest of Dragon Trees in sizes I’ve never seen before.


The cactus garden that was actually donated by a fellow eccentric collector and delivered and installed plant by plant after Madame’s death. But Madame wasn’t only interested in succulents and cactus.

Here is an amazing example of a lemon arbor from a pre-existing section of the garden.

And here she’s filled in the original swimming pool and created a lotus pond.

But don’t worry, she did build another swimming pool (two actually) and made sure to outfit them in her own special style.

No where you go is there anything ordinary in this garden.

Here is the original front driveway showing a mass planting of agaves. The 37-acre property is split into approximately 18 different gardens with one of the jewels being her cycad garden. Ganna was a pioneer in realizing the beauty of these prehistoric plants and now has some of the few remaining specimens in the entire world.

These three beauties are known as The Bachelors as there are no surviving females of their species and once they die, that’s it.

To say this garden is worth visiting would be a gross understatement. I’ve left out so much in this posting that you just must go and see for yourself. The garden is in a residential neighborhood so reservations are required and a docent lead tour is highly recommended so you can get some more insight into the very interesting life of Madame Walska and how her garden came to be.

Lotusland. Santa Barbara, California. Reservations: (805)969-9990

Terra Trellis Now At Potted

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

A few weeks ago the Los Angeles Times did a wonderful piece on our friends at Terra Sculpture announcing their new line, Terra Trellis, and showing us as a retail outlet. Well it’s just a little after the fact, but now Potted is stocked and excited to be showing this beautiful new line of outdoor arbors and trellises.

We were thrilled to get this Petal Pink Gracie Arbor which looks heavenly with the serene blues we had going on our front patio. Jennifer Asher and Karen Neill, the founders of Terra Trellis, wanted their line to come in colors that were bold and vibrant, giving your garden a little something extra that elevated their pieces from merely functional to more artful.

Here’s the Gracie Arbor in lively Kumquat Orange.

You can choose from an array of colors and styles from hanging wall pieces to garden focal points.

We love Terra Trellis’s Lazlo piece, an homage to Robert Irwin’s rebar bougainvillea trees at the Getty.

photo by Robin Goddard

So come on down to Potted so you can see these lovely pieces up close and personal. The whole line was conceived and fabricated in Southern California and made to last.


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