A golden moment

On Wednesday, a visit to the Allied Arts Guild in Menlo Park, just a bit north of where I live, to appreciate its gardens in early winter but not in the rain. An Allied Arts trip always includes a walk through an elaborate formal garden in a courtyard and then on to an allée of classic hybrid tea roses, among them my man Jacques’s special favorite, ‘Mister Lincoln’ (bright red, sturdy, and highly scented; a Mister Lincoln stands over the spot where J’s ashes are buried in Maine).

Since my last visit, the courtyard had been re-worked into a golden garden, a riot of plants with yellow and orange flowers, mostly yellow. Sometimes subtle, often bold, but overall an astonishing sunny effect for the end of November, when a weak sun hangs low in the sky and deciduous trees are almost entirely bare. A garden featuring lots of yellow composites (plants in the aster, or daisy, family, formerly the Compositae, now the Asteraceae); trying to look them up brought me to the wonderful notion of DYCs: Damned Yellow Composites, pretty yellow flowers that are maddeningly difficult to distinguish. So hard to tell one DYC from another.

One side of the courtyard, in an earlier configfuration:

(#1) Yellow roses, a few nasturtiums, Citrus tachibana in bloom

The rose walk:

(#2) In November; Mister Lincoln is on the right, just past the break in the hedge

The AAG’s own adjective-heavy descriptive copy:

Owned and operated by the Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary, Allied Arts Guild is a beautiful and historic garden oasis, home to unique shops, artists’ studios, and Blue Garden Café. Since 1929, Allied Arts Guild has provided an inspiring environment for working artists, beautiful gardens and shops for visitors, and support for critically ill children at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital [now part of Stanford University Medical Center, just ropened after a huge reconstruction and expansion project].

And a capsule history, from Wikipedia:

In 1928, wealthy art lovers Delight and Garfield Merner of Hillsborough bought 3.5 acres of land at the edge of Menlo Park in order to create a center for craft production, having been inspired by craft guilds they had seen in Europe. They worked closely with architect, Gardner Dailey and artist, Pedro Joseph de Lemos to design a Spanish Colonial style complex, re-using some of the old farm buildings on the property. The Merners’ goals were “to provide a workplace for artists; to encourage the crafting of handsome objects for everyday use; and to support all peasant or folk art, especially that of early California.”

Ansel Adams was the Guild’s photographer of record and took the first interior and exterior photographs shortly after the buildings were completed.

Some of the tiles and objects of art used to decorate the walls were brought from Spain, Tunis and Morocco. Additional tiles, mosaics and frescoes were executed by the de Lemos family and Maxine Albro. The logo was designed by Pedro [de] Lemos, who served as the Guild’s first president from 1930 to 1932, then as vice president in 1932-33.

In 1932, the Merners’ interest in the Stanford Home for Convalescent Children (now Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital) prompted them to invite its Palo Alto Auxiliary to provide lunch service at Allied Arts Guild for the benefit of the Home. The Merners retired from active operation of Allied Arts Guild in 1935 and leased the complex to the Home’s Senior Auxiliary. The Allied Arts Guild Auxiliary is the name of the entity now operating the complex in support of the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. The Guild premises were renovated in 2004 at a cost of $8.5 million to meet current earthquake standards and to repair structural problems.

Its setting:

(#3) The Allied Arts district within Menlo Park (in pink)

Notes: Santa Cruz Avenue is the main shopping street of Menlo Park. Jacques’s dementia care facility was on Roble Avenue; the thin connection from Roble to Nealon Park is a footpath (between high hedges). San Francisquito Creek divides Menlo Park (and San Mateo County) from Palo Alto (and Santa Clara County). The yellow area on the lower right is Stanford Shopping Center, right next to Lucile Packard and the rest of SUMC.

And a map of the grounds:

(#4) 4 is the rose walk, 11 the courtyard

Some of the flowers in the courtyard right now (photos from the net): yellow and orange nasturtiums (Tropaeolum), as groundcover; yellow roses; yellow daylilies (Hemerocallis);


yellow milkweed (Asclepias);


yellow flowering maple (Abutilon), which is, by the way, not a maple;


small tangerine trees (Citrus tachibana) loaded with fruit;


and a rich variety of DYCs.

Wikipedia on those composites:

A damned or damn yellow composite (DYC) is any of the numerous species of composite flowers (family Asteraceae) that have yellow flowers and can be difficult to tell apart in the field. It is a jocular term, and sometimes reserved for those yellow composites of no particular interest. Notable individuals who referred to these difficult yellow composites as “DYCs” include Oliver Sacks and Lady Bird Johnson.

Compare: little brown mushroom and little brown job (referring to a bird).

With some trepidation, I’ve identified one of those DYCs as Paris daisies. In my 8/29/15 posting “Gerbera and other daisy-oid flowers”, #6 was Argyranthemum frutescens, marguerite daisies, or just marguerites (distinct, alas, from the flowers called golden marguerites), or Paris daisies. Some sources (like the Sunset Western Garden Book) treat it as a species in the genus Chrysanthemum.

From Sunset: “bright green, coarsely divided leaves and woody-based, 3-ft. stems”:

(#9) C. frutescens

I suspect that some of the AAG’s DYCs are species of Tagetes (marigolds), but I’m not at all sure.

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