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AGM 2008, Monterey, Impressions and Memories I

by Heather Martin
photographs by Daniel Auvergne

For the full text of this article see The Mediterranean Garden No 55, January 2009

Amazing trees! Monterey cypresses (Cupressus macrocarpa) with intriguingly
twisted trunks and sometimes almost flat-topped crowns, pines, enormous sequoias,
frightening warnings about skin rashes from the shrubby poison-oak.

We went inland to Rana Creek Nursery at the start of our first day. This place is big on
native grasses and succulents, millions of which it had supplied for the one-hectare (2.5-acre)
living roof of the new California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco which had
formally opened just two weeks earlier.

It was interesting to learn how the plants grow in patented BioTrays made of coconut husk.

Carmel. There seemed to be nothing between the garden and the ocean, although
there was in fact a small road out of sight below the cedar grape-stake perimeter fence.

As we rounded the corner of the house, however, there was a breath-taking panorama
of ocean, a sand spit and a lagoon, the latter in fact the mouth of the Carmel River
with the water held back by the sand. From here the garden seemed to be virtually
surrounded by ocean and beach, with a view to Point Lobos a few miles away to the south-west.

Cowan garden. A garden in the making

Its curved seating wall round the fire pit and a curved polished concrete bench
were reminiscent of the curved structures at the garden at the mouth of the
Carmel River.In keeping with the area there are tall old pine trees throughout
the property, tidied with lower branches removed to maximise the ocean views.
The designer, Bernard Trainor, had used the same 50 x 50 mm (2 inch x 2 inch)
hand-split grape-stake fencing of varying heights as at the Carmel River garden.
Its irregularity suits the wild cold sea.
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