Thursday, September 26, 2013

Craftsman Staircase

The staircase and railing dominates the central area of our home. The original railing and stairs was cheap track home chic with carpet rolled over the side of the stair treads. The first day we moved in back in '98' Byron got his head stuck in between the rails. Not up to code. 
I designed the layout but I hired others to do the construction (a rare occurrence). A staircase requires a high degree of specialized skill that is beyond my humble ability. Sometimes you just gotta make the investment to protect your kids heads and keep up the value of the homestead.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Doing Fine Without a Lawn

I took out the lousy lawn many years ago. I replaced it with wood chips provided by my tree trimmer. Every two or three years I tell him to drop off a load from one of his tree trimming jobs. It saves him a dump fee and costs me nothing. BUT no pine or palm trimmings. Last load of chips was from a Cedar tree!!!
You should have been around when I took out the front lawn 13 years ago. The HOA wasn't thrilled but they learned quickly not mess with yours truly. Now our HOA president (sounds important but he's a good guy) has replaced his almighty lawn with drought tolerant stuff.

First morning of Autumn 2013. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


Whether in a long shadowed forest or your own backyard trails always provide a sense of exploration. 

I eventually paid for the trails I built with a blown out back. Rocks are heavy!! I figured I laid about 2 tons of rock along the trail.

The color of the Santa Ynez stones, used to line the trails, closely matches the natural rock found in the area. A garden should be part of the natural environment and not compete with it.

Rosemary Prostrata and Rosemary Tuscan Blue are the primary ground cover. The larger shurbs are Sugarbush and Lemonade Berry (a relative of Sugarbush  with serrated leaves)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Morning Tea

Every morning starts off with a cup mug of tea downed in my private corner of the garden looking out onto the hill behind my home. 

My private sitting area is bordered by two native California Sycamore Trees. In the foreground are drought tolerate Nandina (Heavenly Bamboo although not really bamboo). I use Nandina extensively throughout the garden for it's color, foliage, exceptional heartiness and bright red berries that birds love. Nandina looks best when planted in groups, In the rear are privets which were already in the ground when we bought our home and were well established. They have been allowed to grow naturally and have done well under low water conditions. They have a short but awesome flowering period when grown naturally.  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

About Our Home and Garden

In 1998 we (my beautiful wife Carrie, son Byron and daughter Leili) moved into a typical suburban track home in Agoura Hills, CA. At the time the price was right. We bought it well before the bankster fueled housing bubble shot homes prices up through the sky. But it seriously lacked, as most track homes do, any character. But it suited our needs as it had some space on the side of the house to build out a guest house for Carrie's mom who passed on in 2013. 
If I could choose to live in any style home it would be a bungalow style affair with a natural garden. Such was not the situation, so I began work on trying to create a bungalow like home within a  California track home.
So so good.

Me and ma doggie Betzi.

Byron and Leili

My beautiful wife and best bud Carrie