Archive for the 'gardens' Category


getty center, 2 (walk and talk)

robert irwin, the artist who designed the getty center gardens, planned a walk down to the azalea pool that, in its broad arcs scythes across the downhill plain in ever widening strokes. the gravel path crosses a stream (a “water feature” that would be the envy of any neighborhood, even brentwood) that cascades down an ever diminishing rocky cavalcade–from large boulders at the top to a mosaic of narrow rectangular rough tiles and then rushes into the pool that supports the azalea maze.

DSC08093it is a path that begs to be walked and talked, whether with your companions or with strangers. the towering arbors blooming with bougainvillea are a counterpoint to the abrupt angles of the center clad in its travertine stone.




getty center, 1 (a day with/without art)

DSC08086we spent the day at the getty center in l.a. yesterday, consciousness of “a day without art”  filtering in and out of our time with an old friend from chicago. it’s hard to live life without realizing that art is all around you, all of the time; it’s our job (or the job of artists) to make you/us aware of art’s presence in our everyday lives and it’s power to evoke passion, thought, and action.

DSC08087what to do then at the getty center? even the most callous among us would be hard-pressed to not see the beauty in the setting, the buildings, the gardens, the art. it is such a grand meeting place, whether or not you’re there for the art–which i believe most people are–but also for the ease of sociability, a rare commodity in l.a.

DSC08090 in a brief essay on the website, artist and educator, david gere, shares how art can transform the world, “MAKE ART/STOP AIDS demonstrates how art can make things happen in the world, how it can teach and goad and shift and protect us. It’s a reminder, on World AIDS Day, of the most exceptional thing that art can do: save lives.  [italics, mine] you may read the full essay here.


le petit jardinier (more to the story than meets the eye)


“le petit jardinier”, etching by erik desmazière

i spent the summer of 1973 working as an assistant greenskeeper at the elks club golf course in rapid city. assistant greenskeeper may be too good of a description for my actual job which was confined to the simplest of tasks: mowing fairways, fishing rattlesnakes out of the cups on the far greens, running errands, playing nurse to the head greenskeeper as he repaired machinery, “hand me the #12 allen wrench,” “rag!”, “wipe my brow!” (okay, not the last one, but almost.), and most importantly dreaming of randy, the other assistant. (whom i’ve written about in these pages, but i can’t find the link right now. c’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?)


century plant x 2 (left or right?)

DSC07889are you left- or right-brained? take the test.

DSC07887i took the test twice. the first time just after i had gotten up, the second a few minutes ago after i had walked the dogs, had some coffee, gotten dressed. results the first time: left brained by 69% over 31%. results the second time: right brained by 69% over 31%. i’m going to go with 50/50.


red hibiscus three ways (notes on living)

let’s just say your world was no bigger than this hibiscus bush.

DSC07891if you have a short life span (compared to that of a tortoise, let’s say), and if you are quite small with the attention span of a ____ (which is not really fair, because you may be driven by need, not conscience or intellect–so many are these days), then the world as you know it might be infinite(ly), composed as it is of bark, leaf, flower.

DSC07890however, if your size only allows you occasional visits to the hibiscus bush (should i have said ‘shrub’?), to alight upon its waving stalks and intricate latticework of branches and leaves (all william morris-designed), if alighting is your thing, of course, it’s possible that you’ve scurried to the safety of its lower branches and denser undercarriage, why then, it would only be a part of your considerably larger world. my question remains though, what if your world were this small, but you knew there was more just beyond the stamen of the topmost bloom?

DSC07892as long as we’re speculating, and your world view encompassed at least the garden that the hibiscus bush (or shrub, you decide), but you resolutely denied the existence of such experiences of a pebbled path, a rose bush (which is never a shrub), a geranium, the dirt the bush grows in, the vine of honeysuckle beckoning like the long extended bony finger of miss havisham (just for kelly, should he read this), what would that make you? angry at yourself for your timidity, for your denial of the existence of greater experiences, lashing out at those who might want to share with you the beauty of one moment of life different from your own (and hard to live with.)


water, water

my mother wasn’t much of a gardener. she worked long hours and had a house to tend to, a child, some pets, so the out-of-doors were expected to take care of themselves.

DSC07700when i was three or four and we were living in highland park, illinois, up by fort sheridan where my mother and father had been stationed, i picked all of the tulips that were blooming along the side of the house we were renting and brought the bouquet to my mother. although she said, “how beautiful,” i could tell by the look on her face that i’d made a mistake too, that flash of sadness in her eyes a reprimand.

DSC07705someone picked the yellow rose that was blooming in our garden this week. there were two blooms and one is still there, i guess it’s consolation that at least one was left. i thought maybe that it was a deer that had plucked it, but the cut is too precise and there weren’t any other indications of wildlife (other blooming roses went left untouched–not the m.o. of any deer that i know.) i think i understand that look on my mother’s face now.


flora, part four

a couple of tips:

DSC07703watch “homeland”, it’s a nail-biter.

the other evening i was sauteing a bunch of fresh asparagus that i’d gotten the day before at the farmer’s market, when my eye caught the buttock roundness of a pink lady apple lounging in the fruit bowl that sits on our kitchen counter and i thought to myself, “why the hell not?” so i cored and cubed the apple and tossed the pieces into the pan with the asparagus (olive oil, kosher salt, ground pepper) just long enough to heat it through, but not so long as to make it mushy. capice? oh, and panko bread crumbs to sop up some of the oil. yeah, i know, you’re welcome.



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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