The Week in Bloom


Rhododendron at their loveliest stage

This Week in Bloom is tempered by my recent, prolonged absence from our natural environs over the past two weeks as I focus on the installation of our public art project in Oakland, where I have been living and working from Sunday nights through Saturday afternoons. It’s been about six years since I’ve temporarily relocated for such an installation and three years since we moved from the City to our rural idyll on the Sonoma Coast. I did not anticipate the degree to which I would become attuned to the subtle daily changes reflected in the flora and fauna of our land and the surrounding bioregion, or the extent to which I would rely upon this for daily nourishment. When I arrived home last Saturday the ground felt unfamiliar, the meadow grasses higher than expected, and the twilight sounds sharper, more staccato and melodic after late spring rains and a string of balmy days. The overall effect was both welcoming and disorienting.

My initial interest in tracking the progress of countryside flora and fauna is a kind of backlash to my default mode of observing subtle changes in fashion and social patterns in the ‘urban village’, having spent most of my adult life coolhunting in cities. It is simply human nature to seek out pretty, bright things as well as odd aberrations, and negotiate a sense of one’s place accordingly. The contrast of rural/urban and nature/culture that informs my recent days has given me new insight into the significance of the hand in the decorative arts, which bolsters my appreciation for the perennial role of the decorative arts in the built environment, however neglected in contemporary life. Here’s what’s been happening around our neck of the woods, culled from the past two weeks:


Ene planted these Rugosa roses


Viburnum carlesii in flower


Our loquat trees (Eriobotrya japonica) are beginning to fruit


The persimmon tree (Diospyros kaki) is in full leaf


Blackberry bushes (Rubus fruticosus) beginning to flower