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Rancho’s O-Zone

August 30, 2010

Street view

For the past few weeks, including the week I had off for vacation, we’ve been working on a new landscaping area. Located outside our fence, facing the Evergreen Cemetery and butting-up to the street, it’s almost another full yard-worth of space that was previously occupied by large, old, ratty, insect-infested pepper trees. Already messy eyesores, they were not being served by the city’s tree trimmers … in fact they would look worse after their biannual bad haircut top-offs. Thankfully, the city offered a solution: they would remove the old trees and replace them with specimens of our own choosing. Perfect! Once the pepper trees were taken down, their stumps ground into mulch and the area cleared, we realized: it’s a lot of space. Open space that would need to be addressed and included into our already rocky desert theme. Putting on my thinking cap I came up with a plan: I had to take into consideration that the area was now mulch-y, and that new trees would eventually appear to replace the old ones; I needed to come up with a scheme that would merge the two looks. First, I decided I would play up the trees, grouping them at the far end to create a forest effect. This would take advantage of run-off from our neighbor’s backyard watering, and include his rear property area as well. To provide a transition from this much-different zone, I came up with a big ‘O’ — an ‘O’rigin story.

The idea being that I would give rocks a point of origination that would eventually flow into the sea of gravel that forms most of our landscaping. The literal big ‘O’ is a 7-foot-in-diameter rusted steel ring that Paul and I embedded into concrete; emanating from this point, 4-tons of river rock in various sizes would form a dry creek bed that would fan out organically and ultimately connect with the existing gravel. I drew it up and it looked good on paper, but we had a lot of work to do. Well, it took almost all my vacation (mostly due to the relentless 100º+ heat of that week) but we did it! We contoured the slope, got all the gravel and river rocks delivered, then moved all of it into place to form the creek bed. We also addressed the role a new storage shed (we had it made to free up garage space for my new studio), would play in the scheme … After all, I wanted it to be a part of the look, too …

Rancho graphic

After looking at pre-fab and off-the-shelf sheds we were lucky to find a local carpenter-handyman-jack-of-all-trades named Bob, who quickly signed on to create the custom shed of our dreams. We explained what we wanted and he came up with solution that fit in seamlessly with our fencing (ably assisted by his wife)… and that had the rustic (and rusty) charm of an old farm shed. It perfectly complemented our existing c0rner garden sheds, and, he actually patinated all three to match (he paints, too!). I decided to pay graphic homage to Rancho Reubidoux by adding corner ‘R’s in an old-fashioned typeface. (I drew the ‘R’ out on cardboard, then X-actoed out the taller-than-me template; after tracing it onto the shed’s corrugated steel, I added three coats of latex housepaint in shades of brick red, dull brown and then the same brown with burnt umber added.) Because I want to be the only person festooning my shed’s walls with typography, we added stand-offishly prickly cacti at the shed’s base. I think the cactus, with their distinctive shapes and colors add a nice graphic touch of their own, don’t you?

The big 'O'

The ‘O’ itself, while pretty awesome on it’s own, is far from finished. My plan is to suspend a ‘Mother Stone’ of some sort in its center, hanging from a rusted, sturdy chain. This ‘Mother Stone’ could be a gorgeous, round, natural stone … or, a millstone perhaps … or, most interestingly — expensively — a carved-stone female face! (See quickie mock-ups below) Whichever, I think I’ll press master shed builder, Bob, back into duty. Did I mention he’s a welder, too? As you can see in the photos above, the ‘O’s area and the space behind it, has yet to be fully addressed. I plan to add more forest-y looking plants and grasses that will go from dense to looser plantings as they move toward the creek bed — natives, and low-water specimens that will complement the new trees (three gorgeous palo verdes and one palo blanco), of course. As these changes are accomplished I will post on them. We’re pretty proud of this new zone, and reviews by neighbors and passersby both, are overwhelmingly positive. This will be another area for visitors to the Rancho to enjoy during next year’s Garden Tour, and, once finished I can move back inside the fence to re-work those parts of the gardens … after all the Garden Tour’s photog will be here in a mere 7 months to take pictures for their website!

Hmmm, I wonder ...

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. mattisalomaki permalink
    August 30, 2010 5:30 pm

    Awesomeness. I love your designs. Great idea to suspend a stone inside of the hoop. I vote for the left one (center one is my least fave…just a little to symmetrical for me). oh…nice trick with the R graphics. Matti

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 30, 2010 5:40 pm

      Thanks, Matti, I was hoping readers would weigh-in on the ‘O’ quandary … I can’t decide!

  2. August 30, 2010 6:27 pm

    WOW! That is impressive and looks darn fabulous! When I first saw the ‘R’s I wondered where you happened to find such perfect old patina’d metal with the perfect graphic….but no! You made it! Wonderful. I am so envious of your lovely agaves in the ground….

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 30, 2010 6:31 pm

      Thanks, Loree… it’s really coming along now!

  3. August 30, 2010 6:32 pm

    Amazing work you’ve done in the heat. And what a find Bob is. That shed literally has RR all over it! It’s all coming together thematically as though done all at once, and not in stages. Love your “Story of O.”

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 30, 2010 6:35 pm

      Thanks, Denise … and speaking of the ‘Story of O’, I did feel like a complete masochist hauling around rocks in the heat… but it hurt so good!

  4. Donita Smith permalink
    August 30, 2010 8:49 pm

    First let me say the space is bee-you-tee-full! I had to chuckle when I saw your rusty O ring and read your plans for it. I have a wagon wheel rim, made of iron and about 4 feet in diameter. It’s a bit thicker than your ring. I had exactly the same idea for what I want to do with it! Set the rim in cement and suspend a large rock from a chain in the middle. Only my big rock was to be a chunk of granite that is currently being stored at my brother’s house.

    I’ve had a lot of time to be thinking about this idea and it’s been through a few revisions. I’ve decided to replace the big rock with a large disc covered with mosaic.

    At this stage it’s all about the ideas. I long for the day when the finances will allow a complete yard overhaul. Then the rim and disc sculpture can be created and have a home.

    Concerning your design idea, I like the donut rock. It reminds me of something you’d see at an old CA mission. The shed turned out beautifully. Congratulations on finding such a fabulous husband/wife team.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 30, 2010 9:08 pm

      Donita, you have to come by sometime! I’d love to meet you; see your place, too!

  5. Donita Smith permalink
    August 30, 2010 8:51 pm

    Wait! I just noticed that the third option is a head on a chain (I thought it was a different kind of rock). Ooh, I like the head on a chain.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 30, 2010 9:08 pm

      Duly noted, thanks!

  6. Mrs. Marriott permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:51 pm

    I guess it depends on the rock you use. If it’s just a big ol’ river rock, then I vote for the millstone. If you’re hanging something like a huge piece of quartz , etc., then I vote for the stone. Hanging a piece of stone sculpture worries me, because I think it might be a bit too much going on, the carving, the hanging, the ring itself, and the movement from being suspended. I hope that makes sense.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 2:52 am

      All good points, all under consideration…

      • Mrs. Marriott permalink
        August 31, 2010 4:04 am

        Oh, I forgot to say, I really love your new shed, especially the double R. It looks amazing!

      • reubix1 permalink*
        August 31, 2010 4:05 am

        Thanks again!

  7. susan permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:33 am

    another neighbor who has been warching the progress of the new section with admiration!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 2:52 am

      Thanks, Susan … glad you like!

  8. Cyndi permalink
    August 31, 2010 12:49 am

    I agree that the face sculpture might be too much going on. My vote is for the simplicity of the millstone.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 2:53 am

      Hmmm… another vote for simplicity!

  9. August 31, 2010 12:52 am

    What a wonderful design ..and thanks for lending me your creative mind–I have three wine barrel rings, and had dreams of acquiring more and making a sphere , but a hanging sculpture , or even a container might be just the thing. Look forward to seeing the trees installed .
    I’m voting for the grinding stone..the head gives me a little too much of a gallows vibe !

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 2:55 am

      I had the gallows vibe moment, too… of course the head I used was just something I dug up on the ‘net … I’m on the lookout now for something usable … but good points; glad you found the post inspiring!

  10. Dave in Toronto permalink
    August 31, 2010 1:26 am

    When I first saw the ring, I thought, Oh, Reuben has installed a Stargate!!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 2:58 am

      That’s next year, Dave! The Stargate goes in back and the Portal to Dimension IV will be in the front yard…

  11. August 31, 2010 1:26 am

    Wow that looks really good. You’ve inspired me, but I haven’t got the space… maybe at our next house…

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 2:58 am

      Thanks, Evelyn, I’m happy you found the post inspiring!

  12. August 31, 2010 3:31 am

    What an impressive undertaking! I love the double R’s on the shed. I have to admit, I find the carved head a little creepy… I would vote for the option on the left. I can’t wait to see how things progress!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      August 31, 2010 3:33 am

      I love the ‘R’s too… thanks for weighing in!

  13. Sparky permalink
    September 1, 2010 8:54 pm

    I actually like the head in the ring as do some other people who have commented.

    My wife, dog..Jojo and I pass by for walks on a regular basis and love what you have done to your yard. Very inspiring, interesting and clever. It makes our creative juices flow for putting together ideas for our yard as well.

    Keep up the great work.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      September 1, 2010 8:56 pm

      Thanks very much! I think I know who you are from your description, so I take your compliment as high praise …

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