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February 28, 2006

Best Garden-Home Improvement Forums to Visit

I have touched on some of these resources previously, but wanted to list some of the best garden and home improvement forums I have encountered to ask questions or find information. This morning on KQED radio, Michael Krasney had on guests talking about citizen journalism/media and how the internet has changed the way information is disseminated. The same is true of citizen landscape architects, contractors, gardeners that populate online discussion forums. There are often answers in these forum to items so obscure or specific as to be found nowhere else. The mark of a good forum is that the commentators are knowledgeable and that there are lots of postings and ideas being shared. In some of the forums below many of the commentators are contractors or other experts in their field. Always amazing how people are willing to share the expertise and just another example of the power of the internet.

Gardenweb Forums
- The best Gardening Forum
Contractor Talk- for those who want to get technical
About.com Gardening Forums
Dave's Garden Forums
Bob Villa Home Improvement Forum
LawnCafe- Another industry oriented forum
John Bridge Tile Forum
The Gardener's Forum
Forum from HGTV

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 11:57 AM | Comments (0)

February 24, 2006

About Our Blog- What & Why?

To our Readers,

Sometimes when reading a blog, if it is a site that you have never visited before, the question becomes what is this blog/site all about?

Part of this is due to the novelty and recent emergence of blogs. Jumping into the daily entries of a blog can be confusing at times. Turned Earth is an informational blog created by O'Connell Landscape, a design-build landscape contractor located in Marin County, California.

We maintain a blog for a few reasons. First, it allows for the dissemination of some great information for both prospective clients, and a wider web audience in general. You will find here a wide range of articles including information on our current projects and company news, information on landscape/garden materials, good links to online resources, local garden events and more.

Hopefully this information is useful in itself, and for clients in our area who are looking start a landscape project, hopefully it lets you know a little bit more about the company, design interests, our projects, services, and expertise.

So please, browse around, we try to post new information regularly (3-5x per week). Our main site also contains some good information, including our Great Gardens & Parks portfolios from around the world. Feel free to comment (it lets us know people are reading!) and feel free to ask questions to get more information.


Michael O'Connell
O'Connell Landscape

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 04:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

Lawrence Halprin's Stern Grove- San Francisco

Landscape Architecture magazine had its cover feature this month on Lawrence Halprin's redesign of the Stern Grove Amphitheater off Sloat boulevard in San Francisco. The amphitheater had deteriorated quite a bit after 75 years of use, and after a 20 million dollar renovation debuted in the summer of 2005 with free concerts every Sunday. Halprin helped transform it with his signature focus on using stone- one of his key inspirations was the ancient Greek amphitheater.

Image from Stern Grove Campaign Website- Visit to see more renderings


Image from Stern Grove Campaign Website- Visit to see more images

For more:
Stern Grove Music Festival Website with Pictures
Stern Grove Halprin Profile
NBC 11 Interview with Halprin from 2005
SF Chronicle Article on Stern Grove refurbishment
SF Parks Info on Stern Grove improvements from 2005

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 08:45 PM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006

Architect Sim Van Der Ryn Interview

Noted California architect Sim Van Der Ryn was on Forum with Michael Krasney on KQED radio today (listen here). It was interesting to hear some of his perspectives on green architecture, alternative energy, and associated topics. See this previous post on the Real Goods Solar Living Center for more information on Van Der Ryn.

View details on Van Der Ryn's new book Design for Life at Amazon.

Image from Amazon.com

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 06:10 PM | Comments (0)

February 19, 2006

Garden Events- Northern California

Here are some selections of Northern California Garden events from the current listing of Pacific Horticulture Magazine, check their complete listing for events throughout the west. If you live on the west coast Pacific Horticulture a must have magazine for gardeners and horticulurists.

February 20
California Native Plants for the Garden, lecture with Carol Bornstein, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien, 7:15 pm, California Horticultural Society.

February 22-March 29
California Natives in Style, class with Glenn Keator and Alrie Middlebrook, 6:30 to 9 pm, plus three field trips, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society. Fee $115; pre-registration required.

February 26
Microclimates in Your Garden, guided tour and discussion, 2 pm, Arboretum Terrace Home Demonstration Garden, sponsored by UC Davis Arboretum.

March 4
Sick Plant Clinic, with Robert Raabe, 9 am to noon, UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley.

March 5
Healthy Soils, Healthy Roses, lecture with Lakshmi Srisharan, 1:30 pm, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. Fee $15.

March 5
Wildly Successful Plants, a class with Pam Peirce, 2 to 4 pm, Elizabeth F Gamble Garden. Fee $25; pre-registration required.

March 8
Mixing It Up: Combining California Natives with Plants from Other Regions, lecture with David Fross, 7 pm, Western Horticultural Society.

March 15-19
Where Gardens Meet Art, 21st Annual San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, 9 am to 8 pm daily (to 6:30 pm Sunday), Gala Preview Party, Tuesday 5 to 9 pm ($150), The Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, 415/771-6909, www.gardenshow.com. Admission $20 or $17 in advance; half-day tickets ($13) at 3 pm. Call for schedule of events.

March 16
The Lure of Lavender, a class with Susan Ditz and Sharon Shipley, 6:30 to 8:30 pm, Elizabeth F Gamble Garden. Fee $25; pre-registration required.

March 20
Flowers of Greece and the Mediterranean Basin, lecture with Bob Gibbons, 7:15 pm, California Horticultural Society.

March 28
Becoming a Resident Naturalist in Your Garden, lecture with Kathy Biggs, 7 to 9 pm, The Marin Art & Garden Center. Fee $5.

March 30
Napa Gardens, a coach tour with lunch and refreshments, with Charmain Giuliani and Fred Bové, 8 am to 5 pm, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society. Fee $165; pre-registration required.

March 31-1
Gardens to Match Your Architecture III: Fresh Design, West Coast, a seminar featuring Andrea Cochran, Craig Steely, and Bernard Trainor, Golden Gate Club, The Presidio, San Francisco, cosponsored by The Garden Conservancy and Pacific Horticulture. Fee $135; pre-registration required at www.gardenconservancy.org.

April through June: Poppies of the World, an exhibit of qouache paintings by Gianna Marino, daily except major holidays, 10 am to 4 pm, artist's reception Thursday, 4/13, 5 to 7 pm, Helen Crocker Russell Library, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society at Strybing Arboretum, 415/661-1316 x303.

April 1
First Aid Plant Walk, with Chuck Garcia, noon to 2 pm, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society. Fee $5; pre-registration required.

April 8
Spring in the Perennial Garden, guided tour and discussion, 11 am, the Gazebo, UC Davis Arboretum.

April 9
Garden and Climate, lecture with Chip Sullivan, 1:30 pm, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum. Fee $15.

April 12
The Canopy Above: A Walk Among the Trees of Stanford University, lecture with Ron Bracewell, 7 pm, Western Horticultural Society.

April 17
The Savage Garden: Growing Carnivorous Plants, lecture with Peter D'Amato, 7:15 pm, California Horticultural Society.

April 22
Cob Construction Workshop, a hands-on class focusing on straw/clay construction, 10 am to 3 pm, Brooks Park Community Garden, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society. Fee $15; pre-registration required.

April 22
Fabulous Containers, workshop with Charmain Giuliani, 10 am to 3 pm, San Francisco Botanical Garden Society. Fee $35, plus materials fee; pre-registration required.

April 30
4th Annual Going Native Garden Tour, self-drive tour of water-wise gardens featuring native plants in Santa Clara Valley and the Peninsula, 10 am to 4 pm, sponsored by Santa Clara Valley Chapter, California Native Plants Society. Free; register at www.GoingNativeGardenTour.com.

April 30
Third Annual Alameda County Bay-Friendly Garden Tour, a self-guided tour of Mediterranean retreats, edible gardens, wildlife habitats, and gardens designed for children. For details and registration, call 510/444-SOIL or visit www.BayFriendly.org.

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 02:01 PM | Comments (0)

February 18, 2006

Green Building Products- Green Fusion Design Center

A good source for ecologically friendly building products is Green Fusion Design Center in San Anselmo. Green Fusion's mission is, as described on their website: "to promote the understanding and use of green building practices by connecting homeowners, design professionals, builders and the general public with natural, eco-friendly, healthy products and services. The company is committed to the process of inspiring our culture toward conscious lifestyle practices by providing modern goods that blend function, style and sustainability."

To that end, their showroom provides a variety of home improvement and building products, many of which are highlighted in their products section of the website.

Products include paints, stains, ecologically sustainable wood products, recycled materials, and furnishings.

For More:
AFM Safecoat- Non Toxic Paints and Stains
Anna Sova- organic paints and textiles
Oikos Green Building Directory

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 12:28 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2006

Progress Images- Tiburon Project

Here are some progress images of the framing for a perimeter fence on a current project in Tiburon. The cedar fencing uses 6x6 posts and 4x6 framing that gives a nice solid appearance.



Posted by Michael O'Connell at 01:19 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006

New Project- Tiburon

We are excited to be working with Caletti Construction on a new construction project in Tiburon. The new custom home and garden has an interesting design with some very beautiful materials detailing. I will post progress images here as the project starts to come together.

A progressive look at the house construction can be viewed on the Caletti website.



Posted by Michael O'Connell at 03:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2006

Digital Timers for Light Transformers

We recently made the switch from old fashion analog style timers to digital timers in our lighting transformers. These digital units allow for a lot more scheduling flexibility in setting on and off times, have a security feature for random on/off times, variable scheduling for weekends and other customizations. Even if not used for a lighting transformer these units would be handy for fountain pump or house light that needed a timer.

Available from:
Vista Professional Lighting
Kichler Lighting

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 03:31 PM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2006

Gardens of Kyoto- Nijo Castle

Final entry in this week's series of features on the Gardens of Kyoto from our Great Gardens and Parks portfolios.

Castles do not just grace medieval Europe. The Japanese Castle was a thriving architectural form in medieval Japan as well. The most striking example of Japanese castle building is Himeji Castle a UNESCO world heritage site. Within Kyoto, Nijo Castle is another striking example of Japanese castle construction. From a landscape perspective, the layout of Nijo's gardens, moats and impressive stone walls create an interesting contrast from the multitude of temple and shrine gardens in Kyoto.

Nijo's most striking aspect is the bone of most Japanese gardens, its amazing stone work. Both the boulder arrangements and castle walls are amazing.



For More:
City of Kyoto Brochure for Nijo Castle (Part 1 & Part 2)
Jgarden.org profile
Wikipedia article

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 06:23 AM | Comments (1)

February 09, 2006

Gardens of Kyoto- Daisenin

Continuing this week's series of features on the Gardens of Kyoto from our Great Gardens and Parks portfolios.

Daisenin is the more enigmatic garden counterpart to the clean lines of Ryoan-ji. Another “Zen Garden” with its dry raked gravel, Daisenin has an intimacy and series of boardwalks that give a serial, sequential feel to its spaces. The piles of gravel in the main garden have the appearance of a hybrid, somewhere between that of Ginkaku-ji perfection and Ryoan-ji gravel and stones.



For more:
Great Analysis of the Garden from Jgarden.org
Japanese Based Page with good information on the evolution of the Japanese Garden

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

February 08, 2006

Gardens of Kyoto- Ryoan-ji

Continuing this week's series of features on the Gardens of Kyoto from our Great Gardens and Parks portfolios.

Ryoan-ji (meaning "The Temple of the Peaceful Dragon") is the archetypal Japanese rock garden (read more about rock gardens in this past Post). The small table top rock gardens that have become popular owe their inspiration in part to the 15th century anonymous karesansui masterpiece of Ryoan-ji. The garden has a unique axial configuration, so that, from any fixed point on the ground, one cannot see all of the stones in the garden. It is the ultimate rock garden of contemplation.



For More:
Profile at JGarden.org
Article from New Scientist about Ryoan-ji's appeal
Reflections on Ryoan-ji from Salon
Article about adding elements of Zen Garden design to garden projects

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 06:15 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2006

Gardens of Kyoto- Kinkaku-ji

Another profile from our new Japanese portfolios of our Great Gardens & Parks features.

Kinkaku-ji, or the Golden Pavilion is another of Kyoto's most famous historical pieces of architecture (in 1994 it was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It is interesting to contrast Ginkaku-ji, with its large Silver Sea of gravel, with the layout and actual pond of the Golden Pavilion.

The Silver Pavilion of Ginkaku-ji was an homage to the more elaborate Golden Pavilion. Historically, however the Silver Pavilion holds significance as an original structure, whereas the Golden Pavilion has been reconstructed after being burned in 1950.

The fusion of architecture and the surrounding landscape in these temples and shrines is amazing. It is interesting how Frank Lloyd Wright's methodology of organic architecture parallels the incorporation of the design and layout of the building to its surroundings in a similar way to these Japanese pieces.



For More:
Kinkaku-ji official site
Wikipedia article

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 06:17 AM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2006

Gardens of Japan- Ginkaku-ji

We have posted new sections from Japan in our Great Gardens & Parks section of our portfolio. Thus far there are six gardens from Kyoto. Here is a profile of one of the highlighted gardens.

Kyoto the historical capital of Japan (prior to the move of power to Tokyo in the 19th century), is a striking city full of history and captivating gardens. One of the best preserved major cities in Japan (surviving World War II), it features a wealth of shrines, temples and gardens.

The Silver Pavilion, or Ginkaku-ji, is one Kyoto's most famous temples and houses one of the city's greatest gardens. The striking piles of raked and formed mounds of gravel and stone are wonders to behold. The Silver Pavilion itself is a rare original example of architecture from its period. Often temples and shrines were burned by feuding Shoguns and many have been reconstructed numerous times.

The entrance to the temple complex features a two story Camellia hedge, precisely clipped and indicative of the meticulous nature of the gardens inside. Once inside the Karesansui forms are like nothing else in the gardens of Kyoto. The craft here is amazing, and the raked gravel takes on an appearance of solid mass that should be impossible.



For More:
Check out the Ginkaku-ji Official Site (in English) with an interactive map and detailed history of the temple
Details from Wikipedia
Jgarden.org index of Japanese Gardens

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 10:04 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2006

San Rafael Project- Completed Images

Here is a follow up to the first two rounds (Progress 1 & Progress 2) of images I posted from a current job in San Rafael. We have completed work with the installation of two additional concrete pads to match the existing pathway and facilitate access along the driveway.

Final Lawn, New Pathway Sections & Copper Lights


Wire Trellis with Pink Jasmine Vine

View to the Front Entry

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 06:59 PM | Comments (2)

February 03, 2006

Your Landscape Should Have an Owner's Manual Too

Over the years we have developed a landscape care booklet for our customers to accompany our finished projects. Proper care of newly installed landscapes cannot be under-emphasized. The booklet defines the plant and lawn care, watering procedures and special care requirements of elements installed (like wood fence staining, lighting or fountain pump maintenance).

An important point to remember is that a beautiful garden is an investment of both money and time (the home gardener's or the paid gardening service). Continued care will be required to make the garden thrive and look its best and protect and enhance the initial installation investment. Over time plants may need to be added or removed, mulch refreshed, perennial plants replaced with age. The underlying systems of the garden must also be maintained and repaired from time to time (drainage, sprinklers, lighting, etc.).

While this requires continued thought and effort, it is part of the charm and captivation of the garden. It is a living entity that like all living things does better with love and care.


Posted by Michael O'Connell at 06:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 01, 2006

Recent Project- San Rafael: Before and After

Here are images of a recently completed project in San Rafael. The client wanted to increase usable living space for this hillside residence. Work included moving back and replacing the existing brick retaining wall, replacing existing decking, and installing an outdoor kitchen.


After- New Retaining Wall, Lawn and Bluestone Patio


After- Bluestone Capped Retaining Wall, Lawn, Perimeter Fencing


After- Manufactured Stone Veneer Retaining Wall, Outdoor Kitchen


After- Planter Box with Manufactured Stone Veneer

Posted by Michael O'Connell at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)