Having Babies....

Not me...but our Agave plants!

When I purchased plants for the our Ojai landscape, I included three varieties of Agave.

They are very drought tolerant and add so much interest to our garden beds. 

 I wanted these to be companion plants, to the many other softer,
 more willowy plants that complement the style of this garden

Sometimes they are called a Century Plant, 
because they bloom about every 15 to 20 years,
but what I have learned is that they will bloom sooner
 if you pamper them a bit...which it looks like I have done!

Most of the Agave that we planted were in 3 and 5 gallon containers...actually pretty small

I planted the T Webber's Blue, Americana 
and my favorite the Desmettiana Variegata

Almost all the Agave have become really large, 4 years later
 and most of the plants are surrounded by "pups" 

 We will try to dig up and divide these this winter or early spring 
to use in other areas of the garden.

Let me add that these pretty but pesky plants 
are really difficult to dig around...my husband and I have both gotten some pretty nasty "pokes' from the sharp ends 
and they leave bruised and tender lumps when you get jabbed!

 now for the 
"plant sic-fi"
 part of this post

  about a month ago two of them started to sprout this 
crazy weird asparagus stalk thingy...
what is that....?

oh no...

I don't think this is a good thing!
the stalks are about 4 feet high right now 
and seem to be growing about a foot each week...

it's like a Jack and the Beanstalk event

 I did some research and came across a great blog called  

You must visit this site
 if you are even somewhat into gardening...trust me on this one.

 One of the blog writers happens to be a well known author and lecturer named Debra Lee Baldwin. 
 I realized when I read her bio, that I have one of her books, which I love:

Designing With Succulents.

I highly recommend her book 
if you have a desire to use succulents in containers 
or in your garden.  

It is full of info and inspiration!

 Agave are a type of plant called Monocarpic,
 which means the plant will die after if flowers.

  The mother plant grows this tall stalk, in order to reproduce more agave
and expends all of her energy as she does this. 

In the photo above you can see where the stalk is staring to produce 
the beginnings of lateral branches.

Here is a photo of what this stalk will eventually look like
 courtesy of Debra's web site
 The stalks will go from green to red 
and form these 20 foot tall "trees"
Each branch will have many groups of blossoms.  
When the stalk can no longer support the weight of the blossom clumps
 it falls over.

  The idea is 
that the small little Agave babies 
will start to grow where they land...how efficient is our Agave mom!?

This type of agave offers highly nutritious nectar for butterflies and hummingbirds too

It is also used as a sugar substitute 
which I think we have all seen in the super market  as 
Agave Nectar...
similar to honey but much sweeter

 The longer I garden in this climate 
the more I have come to love succulents 
and the beauty of these unique plants
 I will keep a good "gardeners journal" on this happy event
I may never see this happen again in our garden..or in my lifetime even!
  I have decided to buy a pair of really long leather gloves for dealing with these beauties...and maybe a pair of goggles...
and a helmet
and a...OK I'll just show you
happy gardening!

It's been way too long....make way for the chickens

 It 's been so long since I have posted... I almost forgot how to upload photos!
We have been super busy with design projects and yard work 
that sometimes blogging gets put at the bottom of the list

We are finally going to tackle the chicken coop and garden shed project.  I have been collecting photos for quite a while and I like so many different coops it's hard to pick a favorite.

People have gotten so creative with this urban chicken craze, that I'm glad I have waited to build a coop, because there are so many great designs out there

Most coops follow a pretty standard design formula...
the chickens need a coop to nest and lay eggs
they need a place to scratch and feed and a spot to hang out and perch
 they need fresh air and sunshine 
but need protection from critters that like to have 
chicken for dinner 
and they need to be warm in really cold weather
 We have decided to use cedar siding and redwood for the coop and some old windows and doors we have saved from our remodeling projects.  The roof will be galvanized metal which will be good because the coop will be located under some big oak trees.

Here is our chosen spot...across the creek
 What i like about this spot is it has filtered sunlight...
It is easily accessible from the vegetable garden 
and I will be adding another compost bin 
adjacent to the coop to toss in chicken poop

Next door to the coop will be a new garden shed 
for storing all of our 
like mowers, fertilizers, clippers, hoses etc
This is a big open area between the two bridges 
which has a great view of the yard

We are going to build the coop first and get the design right 
so we can repeat some of the same elements in the shed
 Here are some great coops...
Heather Bullard built this one and I purchased the plans from her....It is so cute!
 this little gem I saw on Pinterest
what a great door and window
 I not sure who's coop this is but it is wonderful
I think using the up-cycled material really adds to the charm
 This one I found on backyardchickens.com
Another great coop with clearstory windows
I love the white trim
This is a modern looking coop which is really cool painted black
and has little candle lanterns...very nice don't you think ?

I like the idea of painting the trim a color maybe green or black or white...maybe even red!

 If you have a coop or a chicken story 
I'd love to hear your advice!

In the mean time I'm clucking along....and so happy fall is finally here



Kitchens with Clutter...What Do We Really Want?

 I recently read a great article on Houzz 
regarding the trends 
or perhaps the endless confusion...
as to what really belongs in great kitchen design 
and when is 
too much, really way too much
what is that special "thing" we are all looking for right now?

Should kitchens be left bare, clean and spare,
to showcase appliances and gorgeous stone?
the clutter be confined under an island 
or in a freestanding cabinet?

Do we like open shelving 
to display our dishes and glassware?
is this just going to become a big dust collector?

Are we loving the vintage inspired kitchen,
 with rough limed stone and raw wood
is modern, sleek and classic our choice overall?


is it best to just tuck it all away and I mean everything...
behind doors and cabinets, 
just like we have been doing for decades?

  So here is the question....

is it 
clean clean clean
interesting personal and unique


Here are a few kitchens that I happen to think are all pretty darn wonderful...
each quite different and all with their own style, personality 
and each show examples of 
  what should/can be placed on or not
 (as the case may be) 
on counter tops, in shelves, cabinets, furniture etc 
the list goes on....
 the uncluttered classic kitchen 
with an incredible island...via Pinterest

notice how the ceiling mimics the pickled wood of the counter

 A Karin Blake kitchen...with folk art!  
She was one of the first to incorporate furniture into kitchens in the 1980s 
and she is a master of this look
A Nancy Koepke kitchen...lots of vintage and collections and so much to look at!
Could you do this one? I so could for a vacation home
 Meg Ryan...modern yet very warm...perhaps like the owner!

 Sarah Richardson...
she does great kitchens
 and all of them seem to be a bit different
This was not one of my favorite of her designs 
but I like many of the elements she used
 this is a modern interpretation of a country inspired kitchen...amazing!
 This looks to be a European kitchen...all of the elements really belong in this room
 and it doesn't seem cluttered
 Open shelving, but tidy and pulled together with a bit of industrial

I think I'm over industrial at the moment...just me

 Very minimalistic, with just a few touches of wood 

This is a pretty simple kitchen
 and would be very easy to do as a remodel
 Another classic kitchen with Ina Garten inspired glass canisters 
on the counters

Do we like canisters?
I like them and think they always belong 
in a great looking kitchen space
 but not over done and everyone loves 
a great looking french bottle rack with mugs
 I like the shelving,
 but I think this room was styled with way too many objects 
that don't really work together...why the cake and the round shell ball?

It's got a Shaw's sink for pete's sake... keep the clutter away!
 I think this kitchen is by Molly Frey....perfectly balanced and all great elements

 The whole idea of furniture in the kitchen is really wonderful
and I totally love the idea...it is definitely on my list of "must haves"
 More unique furniture, used as an island. 
 I like the way they took the uppers and made cubby like spaces for the dishes
 Heather Bullard's kitchen...this girl know what she's doing!

 Martha...I think

It's the repetition of a single element
 that works so well
 Collections in the kitchen? 
 I think I like this collection of hotel silver
 but is it too much of the same element?

 What about the idea of open shelving in the lower cabinets?...

I like this kitchen a lot but I doubt this is such a great idea.  
I have a feeling my dog would be in there licking the batter bowls!

But the period details are wonderful

 What do you think of the brick floors
and the wood counters? 

Probably with all of the different textures and design elements going on in this kitchen
 it  would not be great kitchen
 for lots of display 
and might start to look too cluttered

 The kitchen above is wonderful and I would really hesitate
 putting much of anything on the counters... 
you really just want to enjoy the size and the design
 Martha Stewarts Turkey Hill kitchen above is beautiful 
but I find all of the copper distracting, 
not to mention the up keep...argh!
 Here is Martha's new gleaming gray kitchen,
so much more soothing and interesting

 Martha really knows how to conquer the clutter!

 Here is one of my old kitchens...looking at this now I still like it,
 but I think I would change things at this point in time

 You couldn't actually work at this counter with all of this stuff 
but it looks great as a styled photo and all of the element work so nicely with one another....
even the bread matches!
 another kitchen with old furniture
 The Belgian de-constructed kitchen is the new hot look 
in many magazines and on blogs.

I like the look of this 
but it seems like an impossible place to do dishes or to actually prepare a meal,
but maybe if I were living here I could work around that!
 The "It's Complicated" kitchen looks pretty darn real to me...this looks like the counter top of someone who uses that sink and actually cooks

I guess that's the point with great set design, right?

 Grey is definitely the new white in kitchen design...
just enough counter clutter to be interesting and again no uppers in this photo
 A Nancy Fischelson kitchen...
she really knows how to add interest with vintage items 
and notice that there are no upper cabinets here either
and of course the famous Sally Wheat kitchen
 via Joni at Cote de Texas...this kitchen has been copied over and over by blog readers

once again...conquering the clutter 
but adding just enough interesting, visible elements to make you want to see more

I think this is a Pam Pierce kitchen....
More furniture, which I love and open concept styling 
 another brick floor!  
Trend alert!

 Jane Moore's kitchen via Veranda
is this the one?

no upper cabinets...check

Peri Wolfmans kitchen...again perfectly balanced 
with all of the things we seem to want right now

I think this photo is probably at least 10 years old 
but she just did this kitchen right!
and just to make sure you have not forgotten what a real life looser kitchen looks like...this is my kitchen in Ojai, when we first purchased this house.

 This is my idea of the worst clutter,
silly hanging pots, bad wine racks, gross tile and old cabinetry...

I like to think of my old kitchens like old boy friends
...we will never ever love each other ...ever again

don't call me...I'll call you...