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Visiting Ann’s World

November 20, 2009

Allosaurus meets aloes

Uncommon sights abound in the garden of our friend, Ann Plasker. She and her husband, Ed, have created a truly amazing environment at their home in Riverside. Before we became owners of the Rancho, Paul and I enjoyed having the Plaskers as our neighbors while living across town in the area behind the University and under the big ‘C’ mountain. We were privileged to be invited to see their grounds then, but hadn’t been by since moving. So, when we saw Ann at the UCR plant sale, and she mentioned that she had some plants she wanted to give us, I was excited to think we’d see their place again. These pictures are from that visit and are of just a small portion of the grounds: the cactus/succulent garden. I think you’ll agree, Ann’s garden is truly a sight to behold.

Gnarly gorgeousness with roadrunner

As I mentioned in the plant sale post, Ann’s botanic knowledge is encyclopedic. She constantly impresses with her use of the proper names of the plants she’s got in her garden. And, with the overwhelming variety she’s got on display it’s that much more remarkable. Tall stands of cactus like the one above, dazzle with not only their height but also with its unusual appearance.

Dragon tree extends a sharp welcome

All-time favorite, the dragon tree, makes its presence known and is even more striking than the last time I saw it. The writhing mass of leaves atop the stout trunk seems like something from prehistory and I find it almost hard to believe that something so fiercely beautiful exists so matter-of-factly in front of me.

Accessorizing; always important

Accenting all this wild cactus beauty is an assortment of interesting and delightful objects. In the picture above there’re everything from vintage ceramic electrical insulators to sun-bleached vertebrae. A rusted old hand plow completes a vignette that could only exist in Ann’s garden. On the right, small metal tags on skewers display the hand-written names of the cactus and other plants. These helpful little reminders appear everywhere here and elsewhere on the grounds. Look closely, you’ll see them in virtually every picture.

An inviting prickly path

Rocks, gravel, decomposed granite, shards of broken pottery, they all have a place in the cactus garden. Junk, sculpture, bits of this and some of that, it all perfectly complements the wildly natural look of the plants. The image of Ann, who’s tiny and with a thick cloud of white hair, working under the prickly branches of these magnificent cactus specimens is something I enjoy.

I love the cactus garden, but Ann’s and Ed’s spread also includes a butterfly garden, among other areas like a space for growing gourds, and a water garden. All of it is an obvious long-term labor of love, and I never come away from a visit to their place without recognizing just how much affection for nature and plants they both share.

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