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Moisture Activated

January 26, 2015

Wet … and whoa!

Nice agave, right? It’s one of the larger specimens at the Rancho and it’s much loved. It was one of two I purchased from a local propagator, I’d say five years ago; both were small and in pots. The vendor warned me that I should allow for space when planting them since they would grow to be super-large … I thought sure, right, great … but did as he instructed. Boy, am I glad I did! Although the other died eventually, this guy has grown and grown, completely filling the corner of our lot at 14th Street and Isabella Streets. Gorgeously dark green, each of the spike-tipped agave spears is a perfect water-directing device. During the rains of the last few weeks I enjoyed watching rainwater course toward the agave’s core … and, when the rain stopped I noticed something else: The tip of a giant aparagus tip was sneakily peeking out at the top! Long time readers of this blog know that nothing provokes garden excitement in me more than a showy succulent stalk, and on an agave this size it’s sure to be one for the Rancho’s record books. But how big is it exactly? Let’s place something next to it for scale …

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Art Garden On the Move

January 19, 2015


The Art Garden (formerly The Garden Shop) is having a moving sale all of January and February 2015. The building and fenced yard they’ve been occupying has been sold so everything must go at an amazing 30 to 50% off! And when they say “everything” they mean everything; here’s just a partial list of the great stuff you can take away: Vintage doors, windows, lighting; architectural salvage including used bricks, tile, wrought iron, barn wood; plants; furniture, including chairs, tables, desks, shelving; cabinets, bed frames; tools; artwork; books; appliances; home and garden décor including chandeliers, sinks, antiques, fountains, rocks, statues; LP records.

Stephen, and partner Valorie, have been my go-to garden wizards for years, capable of conjuring up that certain something I might be in search of; or, if not the actual thing, a worthy substitute that hadn’t occurred to me. So, stop in — browse or ask for what you need — and take it away at a great price! Click over to the next page for their address:
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One-Off Project: Vintage Car Door Do-Over

January 12, 2015


One in a new series of quick repurposing projects


As a blogger with an undeniable affection for what some characterize as junk, I find myself the recipient of the odd gift … emphasis on the word “odd”. See, despite the giver’s certainty that I’ll love said gift, they are frequently completely off the mark. You shouldn’t think me mean-spirited, I’m simply hard to buy for; I’m always gracious and thank the gifter with a smile. Of course there are times when a gift is perfectly me, but I have no use — or place — for it. Then it becomes a nagging presence in the yard or garage, one that needs to be moved to make space for other things, one that becomes a bone of contention during discussions on the use of space; one that wakes me up at 3am for a can’t-wait brainstorming session. This project features one of those latter gifts; I loved it, I just couldn’t find a place for it. I hung onto it for a couple of years, trying (and failing) to sell it at a neighborhood block sale, finally paying it forward and gifting it to my friend Britney — who received it graciously. Here are the particulars on the door’s makeover: Read more…

RR’s Top Books, 2014

January 5, 2015


 2014; whatta year, right? Tons of ups, lots of downs, way too many Kardashians … but let’s not talk about all that, let’s talk about books. These four were my favorites of ’14; three of them are garden related, one of them is not. Three of them are moveable without a forklift, one of them is not. One of them devoted 3 pages to Rancho Reubidoux, three of them did not. All are overflowing with satisfying artistic inspiration, uplifting design solutions and lavish photography. All share that transporting quality that makes you wish you were there … one even had me considering air travel to a cactus garden in Spain — that’s some book! Please don’t be daunted by the list prices shown; if you go through you can usually buy them for less. Just click the link at the end of each blurb.

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Looking Up

January 1, 2015

pointing+hand+vintage+image+graphicsfairy2Introducing RR’s new header for 2015. I realize it’s very familiar at this point, incorporating our holiday greeting’s image the way it does, but the response to the photo of Paul, myself and the chihuahua sibs was so positive I couldn’t resist. The type font I’d selected for the card was also remarked upon by many; it seemed only natural to use it here as well. (For those who asked, the font is called Balfrey; it’s part of a suite of vintage fonts available through Waldenfonts.) I’m very pleased with the new header; it’s optimistic and perfectly represents my outlook going into this new year.

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Happy Merry Wishes!

December 25, 2014


Holiday greetings to all! We hope you’re having the best day ever.

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Cutting Remarks

May 27, 2014


Inertia can be defined as “the state of being inert; inability to move or act”. This perfectly describes my own state for the last month as well and is responsible for the dearth of posts here. I apologize for being a bad blogger but I have a good reason: On June 19th I’m embarking on another course of spinal surgery. More extensive than the one I had a year-plus ago, this one will again involve my lumbar area but include the installation of titanium rods, among other wince-inducing niceties. I put off my neurosurgeon for over a year but after enduring new and different pains in both my lower back and legs, and trying a number of remedies, I had to face facts. I’m sorry that my blogging duties have been derailed but I seem to need lots of time these days for just, er, being … visiting with friends and family and just plain resting before the big day. Unlike my other surgery, which I approached with virtually no trepidation, this one truly looms large in my mind. I ask your indulgence as I take this time before the date.

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Attention, Succulent Shoppers!

May 5, 2014


The annual show and sale sponsored by the Gates Cactus & Succulent Society will have a new home this year! Previously held at the Jurupa Mountain Cultural Center, this year’s venue will be Landscapes Southern California Style in Riverside. Local vendors — as well as growers from New Mexico, Arizona and San Diego — will be offering thousands of plants for sale. The Saturday-only juried  Society Show will feature hundreds of exotic specimen plants, and children 12-and-under can create a take-away succulent garden at the Kids Table for $1.00. This is a unique opportunity for Inland Empire succulent lovers to purchase, view and enjoy their favorite plants … you don’t want to miss it! Read on for websites and details:

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Whatta Pair!

April 26, 2014


Riverside is home to many attractions, including the Mission Inn, UCR’s Botanic Garden, the Fox Theater and Mt. Rubidoux. But the one I return to most is Tio’s Tacos Mexican restaurant … and outsider art installation. I love the food and drink at Tio’s of course, but more often I go there just to view the always-evolving collection of structures and figures made of basura (refuse). Martín Sanchez, the man behind Tio’s garden of trashy delights, saves what most restaurants would waste and transforms it into sculpture. Towering over downtown’s Mission Ave. are two recent additions I call Adan y Eva (Adam and Eve). They stand at more than two stories, dwarfing passersby and cars alike, and stare wide-eyed in a northerly direction toward … San Bernardino?! Unlike their famous namesakes, this striking duo is naked from the waist up only. Waist down, they both sport snazzy patchwork bell-bottomed trousers and cowboy boots. Tasteful? Yes, the guacamole’s to die for!

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Under Deadline, Finale: Lights Out

April 15, 2014


NOTE: The final in a series of projects completed for a new local newspaper publication. To read the first post in the series click here.


LIGHTS OUT: Last stop on our 6-part Rancho tour is the area I used to call The Temple. I called it that because it had a symmetrical, altar-like presentation (click here) made up of classical-looking bits of this and odd-looking bits of that. But, if it was anything, it was a shrine to collecting; I loved tracking down pieces and plants to insert into its whimsical mix. In 2011 and ’12, I sold most everything that made up the garden and the Temple was not spared. With everything gone, I decided to turn the spot into an elevated concrete lounge pad (click here), keeping its existing salvaged factory windows and gate as backdrop. I was fine with the completed pad, however my lounge idea stalled … I seemed unable to make a seating/eating/chilling/lounge space materialize. I added a multicolored salvaged wood wall on one end, then dissatisfied, I turned it into a floor … I added, then subtracted, furniture; it seemed exposed and forlorn perched atop the stark concrete. Thinking the pad’s face needed softening, I added stacked cement block planters on either side of its step-up; still not content, I placed white stalagmites in front of them, their organic irregularity finally giving me the softening effect I craved. A bizarro rusted steel BBQ/smoker came next; I centered it on the painted wood floor where it would hold its own and have pride of place. Then: Inertia, brought on by my spinal issues, surgery and recovery … until that fateful editor’s call last month that shook me back into action. Forced to look at the pad as it stood, I decided that what it needed was a sense of enclosure, a wall to finish off the end that looked toward the Evergreen Cemetery. As in the past I searched Craigslist for a solution, finding it in the form of vintage galvanized carts. Complete with plastic liners, these carts probably once held wet uniforms on their way to an industrial laundry … I saw them planted with grass-like succulents, finishing off my outdoor lounge in style. I bought all carts offered and they worked out perfectly! I got my lounge wall without blocking sight-lines to the view beyond (see next photo) …

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