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Exploring the Moorten Botanical Garden – Palm Springs

Re-post from 2015

Jonathan and I spent a cold & rainy New Year’s in Palm Springs this year. Instead of hanging out by the pool, we bundled up and headed out to look at desert plants.

I had heard about the Moorten Botanical Garden for years, but it wasn’t until our last trip out to Palm Springs in October that we found it when we were doing an architectural driving tour with my grandparents. It is only a few blocks west of the Ace Hotel and Pool Club, where we have been hanging out for years.

IMG_1519Started in 1938, many of the 3000 desert plant varieties are large and mature. I think of the Moorten as kind of a scrappy desert cousin to the Huntington rare cactus and succulent garden in Pasadena.


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There is a $4 donation requested for entry. They have a nursery when you can buy small cacti and succulents. And they rent out the garden for special events like weddings.


IMG_1484It is staffed by a group of plant loving senior volunteers. I laughingly told Jonathan that I was seeing my future. I predict we retire to Palm Springs someday and that I spend my golden years volunteering at the botanical garden.


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Upside down hanging cacti in the cactarium!

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Next time you in Palm Springs, save an hour or two to visit the Moorten. And bring home a little cacti to remember your visit!

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April 16, 2017
See more: in California, landscape & garden, on the road, plant stars

Hammock Circle of Love | Spirit Wind

I’m very excited to introduce you to my new favorite spot in the world.

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If you haven’t guessed already, it’s the hammock circle at Spirit Wind. I’m been Instagramming about it since we finished building it on the 4th of July. Jonathan and I designed it. It’s basically the center of the universe.


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As one of our guests said, “It’s supreme!”. We built it for star gazing. But it’s great during the day, too. The wind gently rocks you while you soak in the panoramic view of the house, mountains, boulders and Joshua trees.



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At night you feel body less and like you are floating through space. It’s the perfect spot for watching meteor showers. It’s just completely magical. Photo: @niritgur


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You can also get a great view of the architecture. The facade of building based on ratios in atonal ancient musical scales. Photo: @nextleveljay


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All your stress and problems just blow away. Bunnies hop by. Birds soar. It’s the perfect spot for deep life altering conversations and pondering the universe. Watching the sunset.


 
UPDATE: Luna Shadows filmed part of her video for her new song Cherries at Spirit Wind (and Noah Purifoy). Check out our hammock circle in action!


Follow @spiritwindjoshuatree for more magical hammock photos
Or come to Joshua Tree and enjoy it yourself!

September 15, 2016
See more: buildings & places, design, diary, in California, Joshua Tree, landscape & garden, on the road

Welcome to Spirit Wind, Joshua Tree!

Screen Shot 2016-03-08 at 1.52.04 PMWhen it rains, a waterfall comes off this corner of the house and lands in a dry creek full of rock.

Exciting, life changing news! Jonathan & I just bought a house in Joshua Tree, California. The property is called Spirit Wind (named by the second owners). It was designed by architect George Zelenz and was completed in 2009. It’s on the edge of the National Park and a few miles from the west gate. It’s a really special, magical place. We have over 100 Joshua trees on the property, thousands of cacti and stunning 360 views. It really looks like it could be on Mars or another planet!


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The house is clad with Hardy Board and core-10 steel.

We are still kind of in shock that this place is ours. It was a long complicated escrow because there were a number of things that had never been finished on the house, that had to be resolved before our mortgage broker, Natalie Salins from Movement Mortgage could get it approved. The house needs a bit of renovations and finishing touches. For example it was was missing a bunch of railings on 2nd and 3rd floor. There was a spiral staircase with NO railing. I climbed up it a couple of times because I was really curious to see the view from the roof, but it was pretty precarious.

The plan is to eventually move out there full time, but that might be 10 years away or more. In the meanwhile we going to split our time between Los Angeles and Joshua Tree. It is about a 2-1/2 hour drive between our house in Echo Park and Joshua Tree. We are looking forward to making lots of memories out there!


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View from the front door… I’m planning to plant a grid of Barrel cactus out here.

I’ll post more photos of the Spirit Wind renovation soon!


March 8, 2016
See more: buildings & places, diary, in California, Joshua Tree, landscape & garden, Los Angeles Real Estate, on the road, real estate

Way Way up in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, White Mountains, Inyo County, California


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Last week, while we were up in Bishop, California to attend Mule Days, Jonathan and I made a day trip up the Ancient Bristlecone National Forest in the White Mountains to see the oldest living non-clonal organisms in the world.


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On our drive up to Schulman Grove we stopped to see some other type of pine.


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Up at Schulman Grove it was colder than I expected and I didn’t have gloves with me. The metal interpretive signs were surprisingly hot baking in the sun — so I stopped at each one to warm my hands.


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We started our main hike at 10,000 feet above sea level. It had just snowed that morning and it made everything seem particularly epic. One of my friends on Instagram said it looked Gameofthrones-ish.


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The oldest living tree they have dated in Schulman Grove is over 5,000. It’s the world’s oldest recorded living non-clonal organism. There are also a number of dead trees and some of them have been dated back as far as 12,000 years.

I did some Mitochondrial DNA testing a few years ago, and that was back when some of my ancestors (soon to be Scandinavian vikings) were still living in modern day Turkey. 12,000 years in human history is a really long time ago. But geological time barely blinks.


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Up close grain of the wood. It can survive with most of it’s bark gone.


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The interpretive signs said that most of the trees eventually die because erosion uncovers their roots and exposed them to root diseases. In a few thousand years over 2′ of soil may erode due to wind, etc.


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The needles are surprisingly soft, it was like shaping the hand of a muppet.



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In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.

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One of these trees might be the oldest tree they have identified. To protect the tree from vandalism they intentionally don’t mark it, but it is in this area.


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My husband playing in with snow. He is adorbs.


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The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

-John Muir

 


And then…. the next day….. we went petroglyph hunting in Red Canyon.

Photos of that next week!


May 29, 2015
See more: buildings & places, in California, landscape & garden, on the road

Week in Photos: The White Palms of Sunset Blvd | Projection LA

“I'm trying to produce something that is (1)

Jonathan and I had fun exploring the motel installation on Sunset Blvd. yesterday. It’s a temporary art piece by french artist Vincent Lamouroux, supported by Please Do Not Enter.  He whitewashed the old abandoned, derelict Sunset Pacific Motel and the landscape/palms with a lime wash. It’s pretty striking on its own, but there will also be some sort of projection on it April 26th.

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It was like a shimmering ghost of Los Angeles past. A cathedral to the Boulevard of Lost Dreams. An architectural model before it was ever built. A party inside a memory.

I was most struck by the white palms. They were disturbing and iconic. And were both great looking and fake. And made me think of fake palms they use in malls and in projects in the Middle East and China. But they are real. And probably full of rats. And we love them.P1040178

The white was gleaming and I wish I had my sunglasses. P1040159

All the shadow play on the building, the textures of the palms, fence, barbed wired reminded me of a textile or tapestry. Stitching. We were there just before sunset and the light was bright and shifting rapidly.

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The folded leaves of the fan palm. It must have been difficult to paint them with the lime.

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The artist took the shittiest building on that stretch of Sunset Blvd and make it something for Angelinos to be proud of. A peek through the fence at the inner court yard. I think this is where the projection will be on Sunday. I was disappointed that the LA trash bin was not painted white. That would have been a great detail.

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Everyone was craning their necks to take in the signs and palms. Strangers on the sidewalk were talking to one another and discussing art, theory, city planning, Los Angeles. It was kind of amazing.  But I couldn’t help but think about the other people who once stayed here. People who picked up Route 66 in Illinois or Oklahoma and who followed their dreams and Route 66 as it turned into Sunset Blvd. and who took a right and pulled into this parking lot looking for a room. Welcome to Los Angeles.

P1040182There is also this stage like quality about the place. You feel like you are on a set. Everyone is striking a pose. Instagramming. The dress I’m wearing is by Osklen, a Brazilian brand that does edgy resort wear.

P1040172And fittingly, I guess, the motel is going to be torn down soon to make room for condos soon. It was the developer who made the property available to the artist. LA is getting denser. It needs to get denser. And it is critical that we remember the ghosts of the past, as we decide what to keep and what to let go.

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April 20, 2015
See more: art, buildings & places, design, in California, landscape & garden, Los Angeles, week in pictures