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Getting Ready for Open Days Tour

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

The Garden Conservancy is dedicated to preserving America’s exceptional gardens. It’s written right there under its name in any literature. Exceptional. So you can imagine what an honor and how excited I was to find out that my garden had been selected to be on this year’s Open Days Tour for Los Angeles. Excited…and then pure panic. Yeah, sure, they liked my garden enough to want it on the tour but now it had to be “exceptional”! So I decided to rip my driveway out.

 

 

At some point my driveway became the land of broken pots…one of the perks (or not depending on your perspective) of having a store. ├é┬áSomething got chipped and I took it home. But everything was mismatched and worse, nothing could stand the burning heat of all that concrete. I always longed to cut it up and grow Dymondia between the pieces. So we cleared off, no kidding, 50 pots and I gave them all to my sister. She better be a lot nicer to me.

 

 

Then we started drawing how we wanted the lines to be cut. I knew I wanted to grow Alphonse Karr Bamboo (can’t get enough of those stripy stalks) on the side to finally hide our neighbor’s house, but it was a real trick to get a pattern going with the lines so they seemed random in width. It’s such a long narrow path, it seemed important that they not be so perfect.

 

 

Here’s a view from upstairs before the fence went in and also before we randomly cut off the ends of some of the pavers so they were more chopped up.

 

 

And here’s the final view with the bamboo planted. Since this photo was taken I’ve added or am adding a potting bench and little shed, more pots, a small fountain and crossing my fingers that the bamboo gets a little height before the tour. I can’t show you everything because then you would have nothing to live for (and wouldn’t come to the tour!)

 

 

So since as they say, the devil is in the details, following are some of the things I have repotted or added to punch everything up. This huge pot was from a landscape client of mine who didn’t want it so I planted it with an Acacia purpurea which unfortunately is still going to be quite stick-like for the tour, but I love underplanting…

 

 

…and think these will get a chance to fill in by May. Succulents make such good housemates for an acacia.

 

 

And I love the detail of this cork pot giving me some height. I’m sure as things mature I’ll make adjustments but that’s the fun part.

 

 

Here’s an old Bauer coffee mug with Jade that I’ve put on the ledge of my outdoor shower. Much prettier than shampoo bottles.

 

 

This is a Furcraea macdougallii I underplanted with aeoniums. I don’t know how long it will last in that pot as these guys get huge, but I think they’re pretty slow growing and I just couldn’t resist the squid-like quality.

 

 

Here is my extremely pathetic piece of lawn…

 

 

…and here are two of the three cute reasons it looks that way. I only have that patch of lawn so the dogs would have a place to, you know, enjoy, and they’ve just destroyed it. I’m thinking synthetic. It really has come a long way. I can’t look at that sad dirt and weeds any more. Opinions?

 

 

Using slag glass to keep the gates open. Much prettier than a brick.

 

 

These pots were being made at Gainey Ceramics before they closed down ceramic production. I’m so happy I snagged one.

 

 

And this beautiful little pot was a gift from Sara of Petersen Pottery, a prototype for the evolution of the Nantucket series. The plant is a Monadenium schubei from Tanzania that I just bought from California Cactus Center for a million dollars but I couldn’t resist. I also refreshed the Geo Planter by Kelley Lamb and my Julius Planter. It’s a lovely trio.

 

 

On the other side of my house I also decided to do a bunch of work. I added this Modern Bench from Campania on the fig tree patio that actually started Potted (another story for another time). All the walkways around this patio were mismatched and sinking so we ripped them all out and laid pavers with tile that matched the patio.

 

 

My favorite thing about this bench (besides it being gorgeous) is that it’s totally customizable. Here I’m making it a planter but you could easily add a fountain insert or a longer bench or a corner piece for two benches or…lots of options. Best Modern Bench ever.

 

 

And next I’ve got to replant the baby’s tears that got wiped out in the construction.

 

Please come to the Open Days Tour on Sunday May 5th from 10-4 if you want to see how it all turns out and lots more. Besides my house, there are 5 more amazing gardens in a three-mile radius that should make for an amazing garden gawking afternoon. Tickets are available for purchase on the Garden Conservancy Website and also on the day of the event at the lead garden which for us is Ferndell Park. So come and better yet, become a member!

New Designers – Titia Estes and Susan Wong

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

We always love discovering new talent. It’s the best part of owning a store…people come in, show you what they’ve created and we get really inspired. In the case of Titia Estes and Susan Wong, we had the great pleasure of having a booth near them at last year’s Arboretum Show and spent a good deal of our time drooling over their wares. But what separates the wannabe artists from the ones who have what it takes are those that can deliver the goods…and Titia and Susan have done it in spades.

 

 

Titia’s work is very different as you can see. The texture is unbelievable.

 

 

“I became interested in ceramics about 7 years ago and made the transition from designing and fabricating jewelry. Because of my love of cacti, succulents, and plants in general, my first series of pots were planters of all shapes and sizes. Over the years these pots have morphed into planters that are simple in shape and highly textured.”

 

 

“The pieces textured with torn strips of clay resemble ripples of water. In contrast, the pieces textured with crisp, clean lines imply movement like the wavering lines of a pin stripe suit. Mellow brown clay, highlighted with a soft matte black glaze, create an interesting and natural surface for the planter that does not distract but, rather, enhances the beautiful color and structure of the plants themselves. Enjoy.”

 

 

Estes Pottery is already flying off the shelf here at Potted. Come see it for yourself.

 

 

Susan Wong uses ceramics in a different way…

 

 

“Pottery has been one of my passions for many years, and being from an Asian culture that highly values ceramics, I gravitated to this craft with great enthusiasm. Being of a practical nature, I have endeavored to incorporate its elements into my day-to-day life, either through the production of functional forms, ie. bowls, platters, cups, serving pieces, etc. However, over the last few years, sustainable edible gardening has become another passion, and it seemed a natural progression for me to create pieces that could be integrated into my garden.”

 

 

“Initially, I used pottery to make over 100 ollas (water jugs) which I presently use in my raised beds and containers to aid plants through the very hot summers here in LA. However, gradually, I wanted to create decorative elements which I could enjoy while toiling in my natural space. Henceforth, ever in the practical plane, a series of bells, lanterns and bird baths have evolved from this yearning. Hearing the resonance of a well rung bell evokes a sense of peace and well-being whilst being surrounded by green space, as well as an essence of just being.”

 

 

Susan has also created these dreamy tea light holders in beautiful transparent glazes. Each one throws light in a striking pattern. All of Susan’s pieces are one-of-a-kind and must be seen (and heard!) to be truly appreciated.

 

We are very proud to be able to bring you these two strong new artists. Susan Wong and Titia Estes…the newest and best from Potted.

 

Modernism Week 2013

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Modernism Week in Palm Springs began this last Friday and due to the success of the small Modern Marketplace they did last year, this year the promoters decided to do up big…in a big top tent.

 

 

We were honored to be asked to participate (they imagined it like a mini Dwell) and decided to use the venue to launch our new Plexi House Numbers. We thought we’d share some of the highlights of the first weekend in case you wanted to head out there to catch the second weekend. The weather was fantastic!

 

 

Our booth was really nice right in the middle of the tent with our very own tree. We featured all of our designs including the Circle Pot, the Orbit, Iron Spheres, Clam Chairs and, of course the City Planters with our new Plexi Numbers.

 

 

 

I really love how Cristina, our planting genius, has been using Tillandsias mounted on branches to plant the City Planters too. They are so unique.

 

 

And look exceptionally good with the new Plexi Numbers.

 

 

These striking Sanseverias looked amazing in our new Brushed Aluminum City Planters. We only had a prototype to display at the show, but I think they are going to be exceptional…lightweight, non-rusting and super modern. They were a big hit.

 

 

Besides our booth, I was mad for these exceptionally designed coat racks from Blue Dot. They just make you happy.

 

 

I liked a lot of furniture from them. They have a store on Melrose, but are based in Minneapolis. They were very happy to be in Palm Springs.

 

 

Our neighbor was an exceptional designer of lighting and furniture, Brandon Morrison of Whyrhymer.

 

 

We loved how he used wood and ceramics and glass in his designs and his wood working was truly exceptional. He has a showroom on La Brea and also does custom work.

 

 

This was a concept that I could really get excited about…semihandmade. The idea here is to have you buy all your cabinetry from Ikea-let them measure, etc. but you just don’t buy the door covers. Then these guys make you beautiful customized door panels. It’s a brilliant concept for about a quarter of the price of true custom-made cabinets. All done in Southern California but shipped anywhere in the country!

 

 

Love Urbio. They were on the show Shark Tank and it was fun hearing about their experience. Watch their episode here…very interesting.

 

 

The Palm Springs store Pelago had a nice booth including this brand-new re-issue of the Russel Wright Residential Melamine collection. I love melamine.

 

 

Another amazing find was Modology of Ohio. They make these incredible lucite credenzas but also amazing art work. I really enjoyed seeing what they were up to.

 

 

This mobile was made with paint brush handles…genius!

 

 

These planters (featured recently in Garden Design Magazine) are from Steel Life. We will very shortly be carrying some of their amazing designs at Potted. Look for them.

 

 

And how could you go to Palm Springs without flamingos? Actually the True Value Hardware store which had a booth is very high end there and loved the flamingos so much they actually rescued them from near extinction. So now you know where to get them.

 

 

There are also a couple of pre-fab houses and this very cool Silver Bullet trailer and next weekend there will be more and different vendors not to mention all the house tours and fabulous parties and restaurants and…oh, you should just go. And if you do, come by and say hi.

New York Gift Show 2013

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013

The best thing about owning a store is getting to buy lots of beautiful things and not having the guilt of having overindulged on myself (okay, I do confess to a few lapses of, “five for the store, one for me,” but what can I say…I love beautiful things). Every January/February there are the flurry of gift shows throughout the country but the one we prefer is in New York which, besides being a great show, has the advantage of being in New York. I don’t really think there is much explanation needed there. Just thought we’d share some of the things we bought.

 

 

Here are some of the Frasadas we love to get. I discovered these on an earlier buying trip when I stumbled upon a booth in the Global/Handmade section of the show that looked like it had been descended upon by locusts. People were throwing blankets to each other and trying to be civilized when secretly wanting to rip a coveted textile out of someone’s hand. It was amazing. But when I saw what they were all so excited about, I threw down my bag and jumped right in.

 

 

Every blanket is one-of-a-kind and what you pick at the show is what you get. Usually by the end of the first day there isn’t much left. I’ve now learned to plan every one of my shows to start at this vendor so I can get first dibs. This year I found out some people had actually bought vendor passes so they could sneak in early. Grrrrrrr.

 

 

 

We’ve done really well with the Turkish towels, but when I saw these African ones, I just had to get them. Similar concept…thin, dry out quickly, work great as cover ups or table cloths…but the colors were so saturated and gorgeous I just couldn’t resist. I bought the tea towels in the reverse colors for a nice combo.

 

 

If you wanted to take those towels to the beach, these very elegant baskets (that one thin line just made me so happy) would do just the trick.

 

 

And if you got cold, these absolutely stunning throws made of alpaca and synthetic wool are so soft and warm you will think you’ve died and gone to heaven. In fact I first saw these throws at the Unique LA event just before Christmas and I basically told my sister if she didn’t get me one for Christmas she could just forget about Christmas dinner. There I go being a bully big sis again.

 

 

Really liked the marbleized effect of these baskets. They would be beautiful with plants or general catch-alls. Very unusual.

 

 

This new planter by Campo de Fiori called The Echeveria was a real show stopper and I bought a few of them in large sizes too. Not sure how the natural moss will hold up if you were to use them for succulents because moss and succulents aren’t really bedfellows, but the shape of the planter is so nice it wouldn’t really matter.

 

 

This planter is also quite cool and fairly lightweight. It reminded me of one from a Belgium company whose name escapes me at the moment. It’s pretty large with a great balance of rustic and modern.

 

 

From the same company we also got these Peacock Planters which we had last year in a different finish and they just flew out the door. In fact I just featured it in my last blog post. They will also be available in a celedon green.

 

 

Then there’s the truly unusual. Whenever we go to any show we are always hoping to find something that makes us stand up and say, “Wow, I’ve never seen that,” because unfortunately or not, we’ve seen a lot. And these planters by a local Brooklyn artist did just that. Previously he did objects for huge events and store displays but decided to create a line that can be more easily reproduced to keep costs in check and make it more affordable. I didn’t buy this huge one (not practical or affordable), but the following are so amazing I just can’t wait until they arrive.

 

 

 

We will have several sizes and styles arriving in 8-10 weeks which will be well worth checking out.

 

 

Anything with birds usually peeks our attention and these cute beverage dispensers definitely did that. The ice sits separately in the center and the little bird sits invitingly on the spout waiting for you to pull.

 

 

Also these Bird Vases from Chive were fantastic. Sort of the Adams Family meets Downton Abbey. I loved them. We also got some really great little colored planters and vases from Chive as well.

 

 

And finally these beautiful bells we didn’t get (yet) as we’re on the fence about cost but not about beauty. But they are handmade by a really talented artist in Brooklyn (hmm, a lot of talent in Brooklyn it seems). She also made these:

 

 

 

So that was the New York Gift Show highlights. We also purchased some beautiful jewelry, linen scarfs, gifts and lots more. Three straight days of walking from 10am until 6pm writing orders. You can start playing those violins for me right now.

 

Some items will be arriving right away and some will take their time so please visit us often to see what’s arrived.

Houseplants… My Addiction

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

I remember saying once that I would never have a houseplant. When will I ever learn not to make blanket declarations? Let’s see, by my last count I think I’m up to 22. But when you have a store it’s so hard not to rescue an orphan that needs a little TLC or to take home something exotic that just begs to answer the question…Can I kill that? It’s gotten pretty bad. My husband told me if I didn’t take the agave out of the bathroom, he was going to divorce me. It never pokes me (it likes me better). I think I need to go to a support group. But instead I am going to embrace my nerdy love of houseplants and start passing on what I’ve learned to you, dear readers, both practical and decorative.

Since we mostly sell succulents and cactus at Potted, everyone wants to know if you can grow them inside. General wisdom is they don’t particularly like the indoors (poor air circulation, heaters, too dark, over watering), but if you can avoid all those pitfalls, you might do okay.

I hadn’t tried too many succulents inside myself so one day I potted up this guy. I love using Tub Trugs to do my potting. They make pouring soil so much easier to direct and cleanup is a snap.

I added this chartreuse sedum for contrast…

…and inside this baby went. And it’s done fabulously. I ended up moving it to a North facing window were it got lots of indirect light because this particular sedum will burn with too much sun, and I’ve only watered it about once a month. I have noticed the sedum not looking too happy lately though as the heaters have been going full blast in the house. I’m trying a little more water but I want to be careful. I’m sure it will revive in the Spring.

What I’m always trying to find, though, is the perfect plant for my dining room table. What I’ve learned is that it’s good to enjoy things while they are looking good and swap them out when it’s time to move on. That’s why cachepots are a girl’s best friend. In fact, except for one terrarium, NONE of my houseplants are actually planted in their container. More on that later.

If you know me at all, you know I have a huge thing for black pots. Maybe it’s the whole black and green combo that gets me going…I don’t know, but I love it. Anyway, here is one of my favorite black 9″ Bauer Flower pots that is just perfect for a 6″ nursery pot. And a trick I’ve learned over the years (thanks to my husband’s love of good wine) is to save corks and use them to lift pots. If the plant is at the correct height and then you use moss to conceal the nursery pot, it looks great. This hydrangea will probably last a few more weeks and then I get to try something else. Hmm…

I really liked the detail of this little vase next to the larger plant and the pewter Moroccan tray by Roost (we often sell them in the store) pulls the whole thing together. I have a very long table so I like to have something large on one end to “decorate” that space when it’s not in use. Obviously you would never eat with something this big on the table but we almost never eat here anyway.

Here’s a little terrarium I put together today in about two seconds. I love cloches which is basically what this Pill Terrarium by Chive is. I’ve assembled my 4″ Hypoestes (Polka Dot Plant), my terrarium container and some spanish moss. That’s it.

Plant goes in terrarium, moss hides nursery pot, glass dome covers whole thing and voila…

You have this beautiful arrangement. And the best part…if you kill the plant by say forgetting to water if for 6 months (because you almost never have to water it as it creates its own moisture in the dome), this plant costs about $4 and you can just throw it in your green bin to become compost and go buy another one. Cost less than a cappuccino.

This final beauty is my favorite and one of my only finicky plants, the alluring Rex Begonia. It’s not hard to take care of them if you just remember one thing…consistency. They do not like to EVER dry out and the one time this one did (thanks to hapless teenagers left in charge for a long weekend), it immediately was devoured by a disgusting slug that nearly consumed it. But being extremely fond of this plant, I picked them out one by one (wondering where in the heck they came from in my kitchen) and nursed it back to health. Same advice for Maidenhair Ferns.

Most houseplants are actually quite easy but some, like the begonia and the maidenhair, do not thrive on neglect. But for all my houseplants right down to my agave (which gets watered once every three months) I take each one and put them in my sink and put diluted sea kelp in the water to give them a little boost. This is the main reason I never plant them. It’s so much easier to water them this way. They don’t get too big. And if I want to redecorate by putting different plants in different pots, it’s no big deal.

Stay tuned…I’ve got lots more plants in my house to show you.

The Iron Art of Simi Dabah

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

On my recent trip to the desert, I was lucky enough to stumble upon an “art drive” in the Joshua Tree/Twentynine Palms area. Local artists opened up their studios and with the map provided, you could drive to their homes and purchase their wares. And this would have been a wonderful way to spend the afternoon if the first place we went to hadn’t been metal artist Simi Dabah. One look at his 8 acres of rusted metal sculptures and I knew I really didn’t care if I saw one other thing that day.

As we pulled into the parking lot I practically leapt out of the car with my camera, fully expecting to be told that I wouldn’t be allowed to take any photos. But just the opposite happened.

I was greeted by very friendly people who actually didn’t know that much about the art but were very excited to tell me about their organization that helped the elderly in the Morongo Basin get to and from their doctor’s appointments. All the proceeds from the sculpture sales were benefiting them. I was intrigued.

It turned out that the infamous Simi Dabah (he was no where to be found) apparently ONLY donates his work to charities. He either gives a piece to the non-profit (say the Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles) or, as in this case, he allows the charity to sell his work and keep 100% of the profit. How amazing.

The pieces ranged from 12″ to 20′ and you can imagine how much 20′ of steel weighs. You had to figure delivery out on your own, but these pieces were so unique and beautiful that they would be worth it. And they weren’t really that expensive considering how amazing they were.

Mr. Dabah apparently took one welding class over 30 years ago and was hooked but still, some how, doesn’t consider himself a professional artist. I guess if you give all your art away then technically you aren’t.

From the photos of him on his website he looks to be in his late 70s or early 80s but he still welds every day in his Los Angeles studio creating new works all the time.

A lot of the pieces he creates from old die casts or scrap pieces.

I think I may be a bit smitten with Mr. Dabah because he reminds me a little of my grandfather who was also a metal worker…though of the more menial labor variety. But he did work on the Golden Gate Bridge.

As I was looking for more information about Simi Dabah for this piece, I found a facebook posting from the Boys and Girls Club from just last week where they were selling his work as a benefit for their organization…so if you’re interested in purchasing anything you might try doing searches like that.

And now you might start noticing some of his work in public spaces through Southern California…especially the Morongo Basin in places like Copper Mountain College.

And if you happen to find yourself in Joshua Tree on Sunfair Avenue, you can probably leer through the chain link and gaze upon all the rusted beauty yourself.

This was the one I almost bought…just couldn’t spend the money that day. But I know I’m going to regret it.

And this was a very affordable cute little guy.

And this is my last shot as I sobbed off into the sunset hoping that some day I would get to meet the mysterious Simi Dabah. I’m sorry, Mr. Dabah, you’re a professional in my book.


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