There aren’t many places where you can stop in for a cup of coffee and leave with a succulent plant. In fact, the charming little Succulent Café in Oceanside, Calif., may be one of a kind. Its courtyard is a succulent fantasy land, featuring a delightful array of plants everywhere you look, all growing in unique containers, from old tennis shoes to hanging lanterns.
I love everything about figs. They are the fruit of the season, the fruit about which I am always happy to expound. The tree's life cycle is one of my favorites—a thrilling tale of life, death, sex, and captivity—and they're impossible to avoid in Southern California, particularly now. Ficus trees are a leitmotif in the landscape, and their fruits have been ripening in the late summer heat.
This family-owned establishment in the heart of Orange County has the distinction of being the “largest single-store garden center” in America in terms of sales. People come from near and far to buy the latest or best plants; for top-quality garden furniture, accessories and decorations; and because the large staff (80 full time) is really skilled and passionate about plants.
Hollywood notables judge real estate by three qualities: privacy, privacy, and privacy. When Marg Helgenberger, longtime star of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, shopped for a new home five years ago, she found her sanctuary in a Spanish-Mediterranean revival on a corner lot in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Brentwood. Landscaping enveloped three sides of the property, with elderly ficus trees on the front and north sides. At the back of the house, a columned loggia afforded a sequestered entertaining space.
This article appeared as "Empty Canvas" in the November/December 2011 issue.
It’s been cool in Los Angeles, but every few days Lari Pittman gets up early to turn on the sprinklers in Parque Oaxaca, the three-quarter-acre private garden he and his partner Roy Dowell have been building for nearly a dozen years. It’s mostly cacti and succulents, olive and pepper trees — drought-tolerant plants that can endure the heat without watering.
During a visit to Los Angeles, a friend remarked to me that so many streets are named for things that to eat: Olive, Orange Grove, and Grape. Like dandelions in sidewalk cracks, these street signs peer through the city's neon and vinyl, a reminder that Los Angeles was once organized by boulevards of orchards, not Hollywood and Sunset.