Saturday I went on an adventure with my friend Joan Underwood, visiting native plant nurseries and hunting for buckeye seedpods on the side of the road. We were up in Tilden Park when we were distracted by a "Pottery Sale" sign…

Joan is a potter and we are both lovers of the craft, so we gaily (and only slightly guiltily) let ourselves be temporarily swayed from our tasks to follow the sign.


I’m so glad we did. We soon found ourselves admiring the ceramic art of James Newton, which was displayed attractively throughout his house. There was a great range of dinnerware and sculptural work being shown at very reasonable prices, including pit firings, raku, and this decorative technique using maple leaves. Tim – who is also a masseur and reiki practitioner – and Joan were soon deep in pot-tech conversation, so I continued to explore until I found the charming little studio where all this beauty was created, tucked away down a flight of stairs.

I fell in love with the studio immediately, imagining myself sitting at the wheel, peacefully throwing pots and looking out on the lovely koi pond and garden right outside. It looked like one could open the glass doors in summer and be right outside for some plein air potting.

After our little detour, Joan took me to Annie’s Annuals (now I understand why it’s famous around these parts), where I was able to find the perfects plants for the little garden that leads off my own downstairs office.

They have wonderful exhibition gardens and fully-grown examples of most species so you can really see what you’re getting, and the people who work there are very knowledgeable and friendly. If you’ve never been there and live anywhere in the bay area, I highly recommend visiting this incredible resource for plants – not only natives, and only some of them annuals, knowledge, and creative inspiration.

Our day’s adventure was a little longer than we’d anticipated, but just the psychic freedom of not having to answer to anyone else for time spent was worth it in itself. And the pleasure of finding new resources and kindred spirits was, as the MasterCard commercials say, "priceless".


So, the moral of this story is to follow whatever signs cross your path if they make your heart beat faster with joy and anticipation. You just may end up with a butter-yellow bowl on your dinner table and an anagalis monelli in your garden…

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