Monday, April 18, 2016

Dicentra formosa

Dicentra formosa (Native Bleeding Heart)

Dicentra formosa is a perennial forest plant native to the Northwest Coast, from the Pacific Ocean to the Cascade Mountains in Washington & Oregon.  It is one of our most beautiful native plants.  The flowers are usually a pale pink, but darker individuals, like the one shown in this photo, can be found. In time, one plant will spread widely by its creeping rootstock & also by seed.  Over several years it may fill up a shaded area.  Dicentra formosa does not grow well in full sun, but will take some partly sunny locations.  This is primarily a plant of the forest floor with moderate water needs in summer.  The leaves have a pleasing, fern-like appearance.  They die to the ground in winter.  Dicentra formosa pairs nicely with Oxalis oregana, a native forest groundcover.  Find them in the native plant section of most nurseries in the Seattle area.

Friday, April 1, 2016

National AIDS Memorial Grove

National AIDS Memorial Grove in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco in April 2014

The National AIDS Memorial Grove is located in the de Laveaga dell in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The dell has always been one of the most charming parts of the park, which has nowhere near the topography as most of this city, notorious for its steep hills. The park is gently rolling & the dell makes a small cleft at its eastern end, not far from the residential & business district of the Haight. The dell contained redwood trees long before the creation of the AIDS grove, which added more of the trees & greatly improved the landscaping of the entire length of the dell. It is a pleasure to spend time in this quiet little forest. The small plaza is inscribed with the names of people who have died from AIDS. There is a curved bench along a low stone wall.  The landscape here is tasteful in every way.

The de Laveaga dell was created through a gift from the estate of Jose Vicente de Laveaga in 1898. When the dell was opened to in 1921, it included a lake & stream, with live oaks & tree ferns that still exist at the opposite end from the redwood grove.  The lake has become a lawn & the stream is mostly dry stones.  The present form of this landscape began in 1991 with the first work party of volunteers.  In that same year, a team of landscape professionals, under the guidance of Garrett Eckbo, developed the basic design & master plan, approved the following year.  The US Congress & President Bill Clinton approved the National AIDS Memorial Grove Act in 1996, which officially set aside the dell as the site for the first AIDS memorial in the nation. This legislation was introduced by Representative Nancy Pelosi & Senator Dianne Feinstein, both from the San Francisco Bay Area. Feinstein is a former mayor of San Francisco.