Monday, June 18

Garden Lighting: Pre-Hailstorm-Sky-Color

We are closing in on completing the Contemplative Garden. I am helping with the installation myself, which is different for me: getting muddy, wet, dirty, sweaty and so sore! But it's more fulfilling than ever because I have put my heart and soul into creating this tiny jewel-like garden. I almost don't want to finish! ;-)

Saturday I was watering and cleaning up over there, and thought I would shoot a few quick photos. I could tell we were in for a storm and the light -- the color of the sky -- was so beautiful! I was clicking away when a huge hail stone hit my camera body (fortunately not the lens) and before I could blink I was being pelted by hundreds of hard stones. Got in the car in a hurry!

Made me think of garden lighting. Here was a storm adding a whole new dimension of landscape lighting to this garden.

I always love the way the air seems to take on a thickness right before a big storm -- an actual color, rather than just a clearness. Hailstorms bring their own pre-storm color, the air tinged with a visceral yellow against dark blue-black clouds. Usually hailstorms hit us on early summer afternoons: sun close to the horizon slices through a hole in the clouds. That sunlight mixes with a palpable turbulence, an electric charge on the back of my neck, a yellowish caste in the air - it's enough of a warning for any soft-bodied creature to get under cover. And yet ...

And yet when hail stones threaten, that's when I most want to be out in the garden, taking it all in - it's as if the storm brings super-saturated colors to the ordinary landscape. It's exciting. A little dangerous. Sensual. Every color full of every possibility.

Right before a big storm I can clearly see -- and feel -- that color is made of light.

Above, more pix from this garden installation. Click on any of the photos to see a larger version, and from there, you can see the entire album. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 16

Mid-June Garden Delights

These photos were all taken on June 15 in our garden. The subjects are some of the more colorful parts of our garden at this time of the growing season.

Please enjoy the slideshow format. You can view any of these images enlarged as part of the Picasa album, by clicking in the lower left corner of the slideshow box, where it says: View Maureen's Album.

Wednesday, June 13

The whole wide world pours down

You will never be alone, you hear so deep
a sound when autumn comes...
... you never heard so deep a sound,
moss on rock, and years. You turn your head --
that's what the silence meant: you're not alone.
The whole wide world pours down.

-- Excerpt from Assurance by William Stafford


To everyone who has been asking about Sam, our 18-year old flatcoated retriever, I wanted to fill you in:

Sam is still going as strong as an old guy can ... he takes two walks each day. He beams at us, silently -- so perfectly communicating to us what he wants or needs, how much he loves, how he feels .... where he wants to be. He has slowed down markedly, yet I am still in awe of his age, his energy, his devotion, his enthusiasm for life.

I also wanted to share photo of Sam doing what he does best: dreaming, sleeping, wandering around in the forest of his heart ... in a state of silence (he is deaf now) and peaceful existence.

One day melts into another day, like a dream. I believe in his heart Sam remembers days when he could chase rabbits and almost catch them. Days when he could scout ahead of us on the trail -- far ahead -- and never have to pause to catch his breath or pretend to find a smell because he could not go on... days when he could leap effortlessly from a river bank, find the stick in cold deep water, and with perfect movement bring it back to shore

... memories like filtered sunlight falling all around him. The whole wide world pours down, like light, like leaves, like dreams, like love.

Friday, June 8

Portland 1st Thursday Art Update

Gabe has posted an update and a bunch of photos (shot by Arian Stevens and others) of his one-man show during the First Thursday Art Walk in Portland.

photos by Arian Stevens

Check out the live painting event at Berbati's with Gabe Shaughnessy painting his impressions of local d.j. Cool Hand Luke who spins his magic for club-goers and art-lookers alike. Sounds like the opening was a success. Here's an album with all his pics from the opening night.

Wednesday, June 6

Portland Urban Art Exhibit

Live Painting Sol Ball, originally uploaded by Gabe Shaughnessy.

photo by Arian Stevens

Exhibit of Paintings by artist, Gabriel Shaughnessy
To my Portland blog readers who also happen to love art, I encourage you to attend the opening for Gabe Shaughnessy's art exhibit on Thursday night. Even if you don't live in Portland, if you might visit P-Town in the near future, the show will be up until the end of June.
full disclosure: Gabe is my son

Gabe will be exhibiting 16 oil and acrylic paintings and four large UV reactive paintings in a one-man show at Berbati's in Portland. The paintings are from the last two years, with some new work. Gabe will be creating a live painting (left) at the opening.

Opening Date: Thursday, June 7
Time: 5 pm til whenever
Venue: Berbati's Restaurant
Address: 231 SW Ankeny, Portland view map

Gabriel writes that he is
"looking for potential collaborators for the opening night, June 7th. It'll be on the first thursday art walk and listed in the papers. I'm into whatever, the restaurant is open for music, performance, art production."

from Gabe's P-Town sketchbook:

for a little retrospective/perspective, a few illustrations from Gabe's (much) younger years:

a thank you card for his Grandma ...

Tuesday, June 5

Building a Dry Stream Bed

Building a Dry Stream Bed, originally uploaded by MontanaRaven.

This garden has a pond that appears to extend under a low deck. There will also be an overflowing urn fountain about 25 feet from the pond. The water will flow over the rim of the urn and disappear into a hidden reservoir under the container. We wanted to visually connect the urn fountain with the small garden pond as well as solve a drainage problem.

The solution was to build a dry stream bed using the same stones we used in the pond and around the urn. The dry stream gives an illusion of flowing water and in the imagination and mind of the garden visitors, the urn is a perpetually flowing source of clear fresh water for the pond.

In order to fool the eye and create as natural-looking a stream bed as possible, I took my inspiration from the way bedrock, boulders and cobbles come to rest in a mountain stream. Too many times when folks attempt to create a dry stream bed in their landscaping it results in something that looks really unnatural -- or worse. The tendency people have is to dig a swale or channel; line the edges with large rocks and fill the center with smaller river rock. That isn't the way river dynamics form streams in nature!

In the center of the above poster, you can see the rough sketch I started with before this garden was started. Fortunately I was able to stay involved in the construction process to make sure the final results matched what was in my head.

another view of the garden a little further along in construction:

Links that might help:

Above, more pix from this garden installation. Click on any of the photos to see a larger version, and from there, you can see the entire album. Enjoy!

Monday, June 4

Design Process: from vague idea to concept

This is one way I work up a concept for a client's landscape design -- I try to give them something that -- no matter what their abilities to visualize -- they can hopefully imagine themselves living and relaxing in this landscape.

Sometimes people have difficulty visualizing the final results if all they have to look at are plans (bird's eye viewpoint) and elevations (2-dimensional, straight-on view) ... a perspective sketch is worth so much!

I have had lots of feedback from clients that when the perspective sketch (as above, or below) includes elements of the "real thing" it really helps them imagine what it will look like when the landscaping is installed.

To see more detail, head over to my Native Design flickr account -- I am posting strictly landscape design photos there. I hope you enjoy perusing the gardens.

What's keeping me so busy? This ...

Saturday, June 2

Contemplative Garden with Pond

For the last two years I have been working off and on in this garden. It is still a work in progress. One of the best things about this garden is the little pond we installed. It is designed to appear as if it extends under the low deck, or as if the deck is cantilevered over the pond. It brings the sound of running water, and the sights of fishes flashing in the shadows right up to where people are sitting on the deck.

If you are considering building a garden pond, planning is super important -- location, location location! You can go to alot of trouble and expense to build a pond, and if it is off in an unused corner of your back yard, or right next to the front door (when you never hang out there) you won't be able to enjoyt the benefits of the pond as often as if you locate it close to your favorite hangout. In this case, that meant close to the deck and patio.

Koi, originally uploaded by Dean in the Flickr
Ponds group. Check out the pool of pond
photos -- lots of inspiration there.
Other Links to pond design and how-to:
Audobon Backyard article on wildlife ponds
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Backyard Ponds
Another Audubon Backyard article on a low-cost watergarden to attract wildlife

I'll update this post as the garden progresses further. Please check back