A happy byproduct of the garden tour was meeting fellow bloggers Dustin and Denise, both of Long Beach and both with encyclopedic recall of plant names **sigh**. Dustin, in his travels, had found two metal towers he thought I’d like (I did!) and he kindly offered to truck them over to his place for safekeeping. Saturday we drove up to pick up the towers, and also to see his garden (amazing!) and for dinner (delicious!). Paul and I lived in Long Beach for over 30 years, and although we don’t visit often, we do enjoy seeing friends and the ol’ neighborhoods there. Dustin’s place is in one of those nabes, an ethnically diverse, densely populated part of the city with a combination of single family homes and apartment buildings (and a lively street scene). His Craftsman-style house is typical of many of the homes in Long Beach, but his front garden is decidedly not typical … it’s a lovely, varied, wildly colorful and energetic patch he calls his laboratory. Literally a testing ground for ideas and techniques, this garden is anything but the chaos he referred to it as at one point; rather it’s the physical manifestation of a lively and creative mind …
One of the first things I noticed in Dustin’s garden was a variety of spherical forms — tiny ones on the ground to define areas, larger orbs that provide punctuation here and there, and most notably, stacked on rebar poles.
These stacked spheres add a chunky vertical element to the scheme that’s organic and graphic at the same time. Made of lightweight hypertufa and threaded on rebar uprights, they’re ingenious and fun.
Lots of recycled and repurposed materials are used in the garden, and they provide structure and visually define spaces. Here, chunks of broken concrete create a low curvy wall, perfect for echeverias to rest their huge pretty heads upon.
Color is a hallmark of Dustin’s garden and amazing color contrasts abound. A mismatched selection of pavers add geometric oomph to the riotous mix; I particularly love that turquoise-glazed diagonal tile!
Such a concentration of foliage types and colors, to me, doesn’t seem chaotic. Rather I get the feeling of a collage or tapestry. Low groundcovers have the look of a perfectly faded antique carpet, something in a cool blue color palette.
One of my favorite features is this rebar arbor — rearbor? — made of arched rebar simply joined with wrapped wire. Both rebar and wire have that rusty look I love so much and I’m thinking I really have to try my hand at a similar structure at the Rancho. The slatted boardwalk and wooden path are made from repurposed materials and are well-executed.
More visual rhythm in the form of cylindrical planters perched atop metal poles. I was delighted by the juxtaposition of the modern planter next to the leaf-cast bowl and garden duck, as well as the colorful succulents in the pots.
Leading up to the front door I spied an attractive tangle that looks like a bizarre root form. Dustin explained it was actually two plant fragments joined together and I think it makes perfect sense. I love a good mashup.
Dustin served a delicious dinner of salad, couscous and Middle-Eastern spiced turkey, and we shared champagne and a serendipitous array of Middle-Eastern desserts I’d bought earlier at the farmer’s market before I knew the menu. Getting to know both Dustin and Denise better over dinner, seeing his garden and home, was terrific. Ultimately we decided the towers were too large overall to fit in our car, so Dustin has offered to bring them out for us later — for the right enticement … I’m thinking this might be the beginning of a garden supper club!
I admired the many cast faces that appeared randomly in Dustin’s garden, and he gave me one just like the one above. Thank you, Dustin!