R. Beck (1952-2004)
Louisa had a strong affinity
for plants and gardens. Her home in Willow Glen had a large garden
with one of the immense willow trees the neighborhood was named
for. She loved the tree for the shade it provided and the perches
for birds. In addition to the willow, a Japanese maple and large
pond and waterfall formed the bones of the garden.
She preferred to hand-water
the beds, giving her lots of time to observe subtle events that
others would have missed. Praying mantises bred in the garden
and she was delighted whenever she would detect an adult or one
of their egg cases. She once grew a dish-sized sunflower and
took photographs of it daily to chart the progress of finches
consumption of the seeds. A metal screen created airy walls and
a ceiling to enclose the deck (and keep her two declawed cats
safe yet free to enjoy the fresh air) and she like to grow gourds
that would hang down from the top of the enclosure.
She and her friends thoroughly
enjoyed attending native plant sales as well as cactus and succulent
events. Plants in the garden where she grew up in Mill Valley,
such as Billbergia nutans, remained special in her heart
although several other commonly grown garden plants from that
era were not held in much regard. Plants she had a particular
fondness for and grew at home included Philadelphus californicus,
Salvia "Bee's Bliss", S. canariensis,
S. "Indigo spires", S. uliginosa, S.
semiatrata, S. carduacea, Anemone "Honorine
Jobert", Aristolochia californica, Melianthus
major, Asclepias sp., and Cuphea llavea among
A dried seed pod of
or "Devil's Claw"
Gretchen Kai Halpert
|She had a unique collection
of cacti from a period when she lived in Tuscon, Arizona. She
grew the southwest native Proboscidea louisianica and
would hang a dried seed pod of this plant in interesting places
including the dash of her 1972 Volkswagon beetle. In fact, one
might consider the pod to be Louisa's emblem.