Entries in tree (14)


In My Garden: Cherries!

Above: Minnie Royal cherry tree

Many people don't believe me when I say I have productive cherry trees in my yard. Their response is always "Cherry trees only grow in cold climates, not on the coast in Southern California." But the fact is we have two very good varieties of delicious dark red cherries with a very low chill requirement (hours per year under 45 degrees). They are the Minnie Royal and the Royal Lee. These two varieties should be planted close together, as they pollinate each other.

When the cherries start to darken I put up bird netting with 3/4" hole spacing, or smaller, to keep the birds away. This size spacing also prevents the birds from getting caught in the netting, as can happen with larger spaced netting. I tie the netting around the trunk of the tree so no one gets in from underneath and possibly trapped inside the net. I leave several overlapping folds in the netting so I can reach in to pick fruit without having to untie the net every time. 

I also want to say that I have several fruit trees on my property from which the birds can eat the fruit to their hearts content. Maybe when my cherry trees mature and I am harvesting lots of cherries I will share with the birds who nest and live in my yard. But my trees are still young and while I got a significant amount of cherries this year, the nets stay on and the cherries are off limits to the birds until I the trees are producing enough to share. 

Above: Minnie Royal cherry tree, 2014

Above:  Four years later, 2018, the same Minnie Royal cherry tree as in above photo. Unfortunately, I had picked all the cherries off before taking the photo. 

Above: Ripe cherries!


Fox Entryway in Utah

I was commissioned to design and build the main house entry, the guest house entry and a carved mantel, all out of solid walnut, for a fantastic mountain retreat being built in Utah. This blog is about the guest house front entryway.

The owner saw a photo of the fox door on my website that I had carved many years ago and wanted something similar. I never repeat my designs exactly, rather I take a design and change it to reflect each client and their surroundings where the home is. In this case the mountains of Utah and the foxes and trees that would be seen in that area. I also incorporated 1/2" thick carved and fused glass techniques, something I didn't use in the other fox entry door.

Walnut is one of several woods I love carving because it's hard, firm grain allows great detail, and it's a stable and beautiful wood. 

Before drawing the full-scale of a carved entryway with specific characteristics, I study the components of the design using photos taken from the area and other reference books that I have in my library. In this case, I used those studies for the fox, trees, and landscape to be able to carve and express the feeling of the fox and the trees that I am putting in my work. I do this with every project no matter how detailed or simple it is. The challenge of carving the fox is to express the feeling or expression of the fox, giving "life" to my sculpture, and not just carving the shapes.

For the glass art, I fire a pallet of all the colors I plan on using in the design in my kiln to make sure they will turn out exactly right for the project. Sound complicated? Yes, but that's what I love!


A Fantastic Entryway in Rancho Santa Fe, CA

This entry is in Rancho Santa Fe, CA, next to the original Rancho Santa Fe Golf Course, and it turned out really beautiful. The scene is of a large California live oak tree with four female quail carved into the wood at the base of the tree and a colorful male quail, done in my fused-glass technique, on the lookout in the branches above. There are also a couple of mourning doves in the fused glass in the uppermost branches.

Above: This is the best photo I could get of the transom above the door. 

Above: Three of the female quail

Above: The fourth female quail

Above: The male quail as a fused glass art piece, incorporated into the wood branch of the oak tree

This peaceful scene is not unusual to come across on golf courses with plentiful canyons nearby in Southern California. 

The heavily carved solid walnut door is about 10 feet wide and 12 feet tall including the transom, and it's over 3" thick with 1/2" carved, fused glass panels integrated into the doors, side lights and transom. This makes for a seamless design, with the door handles, inside and out, carved as part of the branches, assimilating the parts together to become one.

I have added more photos below, but pictures never do justice to let you feel the size and scope of the art piece.

Above: You can see the door handle that I carved to look like one of the tree branches, incorporating it into the design.

Above: Close up of the two mourning doves in the upper branches.



In My Garden: An Abundance of Fall Fruit!

At this time of year there usually isn't much fruit on our backyard trees. But with a little planning late summer to fall can be a cornucopia of fruit. Pictured in the photo above, starting at the top and going clockwise, are fuyu persimmons, chocolate persimmons, white sapotes, jujubes, pineapple guaves and dragon fruit (pitaya) in the center. All these fruits have a wonderful taste and great health benefits. And soon my cherimoyas will be ready. I have six varieties lasting from November through February. 


Palm Tree Entryway

Not only is this entryway unsual because of its design, it is unusual because of the architecture and setting as well. The home is located on a hilltop in El Cajon, CA, on many acres planted with what has to be one of the largest collections of palms in Southern California. Pathways spiral around the hill, each palm with it's very own name tag. 

The house was originally built by my client's father, and then remodeled. It is Polynesian styled with a bowed center ridge beam. The entry is beneath this outrigger beam.

The double-door entryway has a palm tree that I hand carved in heavy relief and filigree carving of philodendron in the wood. I also etched the glass in-between. My client wanted a specific type of palm tree on his front door so he took me to Balboa Park in San Diego to show me mature palms of that type. I took my sketchpad and drew them and turned my drawings into the final design which he loved.

There is also a row of side lites on either side of the palm-tree-carved double doors, hand carved with a filigree of a tropical leaf design and etched glass that opens for ventilation, with bronze screens inside.

The wood I used was Sweetina Mahogany with a satin marine finish. The etched glass gives privacy and added depth to the design. 

This was a large project, and it was complicated from design concept to final installation, which makes it all the more fun for me. I love a challenge!