kriselkeeper: August 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Dichondra: Krisel's signature

Dichondra is a ground cover that seems to be popping up everywhere lately. I let it grow even in places I don't want it because I feel I owe it to William Krisel and his vision. Who is William Krisel? Here is a little history about Modernism, our house and a great architect.

Our neighborhood is called Corbin Palms. Our homes were built in the mid 1950's by Palmer & Krisel. You may not recognize the name but you would recognize the homes. For example, the Elvis and Priscilla Presley's honeymoon home which was originally called the "House of Tomorrow".

Corbin Palms was the first tract housing community Krisel designed for the Alexander Construction Company. At the time Krisel was a start up architect and his goal was to build a better looking home for less money, and he did. Krisel went on to design more than 30,000 homes in Southern California. He also designed many beautiful and architecturally significant properties most of which are in Palm Springs. Today, at 84 years old, Krisel continues to design and consult. He visited our hood before we moved in. I heard he was elated to see the conserved homes and in awe of the horror of others. A few homes are still in the hands of original owners. Most have been sold to people with and without architectural taste and knowledge.

We fell in love with the design of our home. When we put in an offer we were not aware of the house's history. After moving in we realized the gem we had stumbled upon. Krisel was both an architect and landscape architect. He believed, along with the modernist movement, that a living space should flow from inside out and outside in so his selection of windows and greens all had a purpose. Dichondra was Krisel's choice for ground cover. It use to cover all the properties instead of grass. So, whenever I see it grow I leave it because I feel it's Krisel's signature on our house . Lately, I see more and more of it which I interpret as the house's way of saying "you're taking me back to my roots....thank you!"

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Cheeeken Faaamers!

Today is our last day to have our guest chickens: Blackie, Reddie and Chickadee. They were on loan while our neighbors were on vacation for three weeks. We've loved them. They were easier to care for than expected. I think we'd run out and get some ourselves except we are planning on having another baby in the future and I think pets should come after all the humans are inhabiting the house. The hubby and I have also schemed and feel our "checkeeen fameers" should be of age to let the chooks out at their 6:30am clucking call.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Our neighbor, Calvert Street Elementary

I've mentioned before that we live across the street from an elementary school. I love it but can sometimes hate it. I love the sound the kids make when they play in the yard. I hate the sound the parents make when they honk their horns like they're in Mid-town Manhattan.

My husband and I have gone back and forth on the idea of our P attending Calvert. We finally came to the conclusion that part of being in this community is being part of the school, so we'll give it a try. The neighbors have been very involved in moving the school in a positive direction and we feel we should join that momentum.

Although P won't be there for another three years I decided to get involved with the kinderyard. Right now the yard is awful. From the outside it looks ok but once you're in there playing you see it's dirty, run down, out dated and uninspiring. There is a play structure that was's the one saving grace.

I have big plans for this space. I think my talents as a graphic artist, art department coordinator for commercial productions and research on stimulating child senses and brain development are best suited for helping out in this space. I have a master plan that will probably take a good two years to execute. For now though, I'd like to make an immediate visual change for the coming year. So this is my plan for the Calvert Ocean.

This is the "Ocean" area as is:

This is what I'd like to do with it:

The "Ocean" area is part of my master plan so it's a good place to make a lasting start. I chose this part of the yard to be the ocean because it is constantly shaded and therefore cooler than the rest of the yard....kind of the same feel you get when you jump in the water. Now, I'm looking for free materials and a little muscle to help.


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Big Front Mess

I started working on our front yard again this week. My original plan was to tackle this area over the summer, but LA has new water restrictions. It's a bad time to plant new greens even if they are draught tolerant. It's been a good thing because I've changed my mind about what I'd like to do in this space. Every time I get an issue of Sunset Magazine I have a new plan.

For now I'm just cleaning it up a bit so that in the fall the area will be prepped and ready to plant. Even though we can water twice a week I've decided not to water this area except in select places by hand. I'm not paying to water weeds.

Our only true survivors are the grasses and flax on the south side and the French lavenders, ficus, sage and nandina on the north side. The grasses and flax were a trade with our neighbor for two palm trees I didn't like.(you can see the hole where one palm use to be in the picture above) As expected they are struggling but coming back strong so they are my big concern and I'm trying to keep their area clean. The rest is a big fat ugly mess. We can be so white trash sometimes. We had two plastic bins of mulch on the front lawn since May!

South side
The Fountain Grass and Purple Grasses trying to make a comeback.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Charlie Brown Tree

Back in April I got a free tree on Craigslist. It's one of my favorite trees, the Fern Pine or Podocarpus gracilior, but my husband doesn't like it. Because it was free he couldn't complain so he picked it up on his way home from work. The poor thing was in too small of a pot and not doing well. My hubby called it the "Charlie Brown Tree".

I have high hopes for "Charlie". He's starting to get fuller and I hope he'll give us some decent shade in two years. I've shown my husband various examples of how awesome the fern pine can be and I think it's growing on him. The Fern Pine is clean, pest free and an evergreen, all qualities I need for it's location. "Charlie" now resides on our south side median facing the school. I think he feels loved.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Something on the Side

We live on a corner lot so we have two medians to care for. One facing east and the other facing south. The south one also faces the elementary school next door. I've wanted to spruce this median up because those poor kids don't need to look at any more ugly. For the longest time it was overgrown crabgrass and weeds knee high. I weeded different sections three times over the past year but what I planted either died or I never got to plant anything...please bear in mind i have a toddler who is now 21 months but a year ago she was less than a year old! Brutal!

On Mother's Day this year my gift was to garden freely for an entire day and I planted the following: Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima)

all draught tolerant. I also changed our regular sprinklers into soaker hoses to get the water right where it's needed, at the roots. Three months later its doing great despite the water restriction happening in Los Angeles. Eventually the Myoporum will spread and this section will be a carpet of green with the grasses fanning out.

This is the median in it's semi original state. Just crabgrass no weeds, so it was way worse.

This is where we were in May

Now in August


Monday, August 10, 2009

Pea's Room at 21 months

This is where I am with our Pea's room. It's mostly a play room. Her bed is in our room for now. We built her the play table for her Plan City. The space works well for us because we'll go from playing with the toys to reading to playing with puzzles and back again. Everything is very accessible. My one regret is the rocking/glider chair. Wish I would have gotten an Eames Rocker instead but not sure if the comfort level would have been the same.

Hanging flowers from Paper Source and the wall elements from Walter.

Books are a huge part of our activities. She loves to be read to and to "read" herself.

A vintage Fisher-Price record player. A hand-me-down from a very cool neighbor and her girls.