about me

Welcome to [ Lost in the Landscape ], a blog project by James SOE NYUN.

I live in San Diego, California where gardening is a year-round opportunity. When I’m not playing in the garden or working at the computer or doing the day job thing I try to squeeze in doing art. Most of it’s photo-based work or outright photography. In what I do I spend a lot of time looking at and thinking about the landscape and our place in it.

Click here to see my portfolio.

Some favorite artists and photographers, depending on my mood:

  • Robert Irwin
  • Mark Rothko
  • Harry Callahan
  • Edward Weston

Some of my favorite places:

  • the desert Southwest in general; some favorite spots:
    • Chaco Canyon
    • Chiricahua Mountains
    • Muley Point
    • Goosenecks of the San Juan River
  • Yosemite
  • the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • the California desert

Some of my favorite plants, depending on my mood:

  • California natives
  • orchids
  • Rosa chinensis viridiflora
  • Stapelia gigantea
  • offbeat bulbs
  • salvias
  • aloes
  • Hedychium gardnerianum

36 thoughts on “about me”

  1. Greg, thanks for your concern. I’m okay. It was about 2 miles from work. Within minutes everyone was talking about it and had the news feed on their computers. It was pretty tragic, all right. Not quite in the back yard, but close enough. The jet missed a high school by just a few houses, so it definitely could have been way worse–but how do you tell that to the guy who lost most of his family while he was at work?

    The price of life near the runway, I guess. But there’s stuff flying everywhere you look. You just trust that what’s up there will stay there.

  2. I’m so pleased to have found your interesting site.
    I was wondering what equipment you use to photograph garden plants. What could you recommend for close up photography of plants?
    Being Australian I was delighted to see your segment on Eucalypts. My state of Victoria recently had some devastating bushfires which burnt through thousands of acres of natural eucalypt forests. Loss of human life and wild life has been distressing. We have had drought conditions for 10-12 years. In Melbourne we can water our gardens twice a week for 2 hours at a time. I think San Diego is warmer than Melbourne…we can grow apricots and apples! I’m looking forward to exploring your site further, thanks again.

    1. Hi Ruth,
      Glad you found me a hemisphere away and stopped by! News of your fires have certainly been in our press, and I think all of us in similar flammable situations can commiserate with the events in Victoria.

      I was planning to do a series of posts someday soon on garden photography, including equipment to use. But until I organize my thoughts better, I can tell you that I use a Canon Rebel XTI for almost all the garden images that appear in my blog. This is a 10.1 megapixel digital single lens reflex, meaning that you see through the viewfinder what will register on the memory card. The camera has interchangeable lenses, though quite frankly on almost all occasions I use the stock, inexpensive 18-55mm zoom that comes with the basic kit. This lens can focus quite close. The few images I’ve shown with extreme closeups were done with a dedicated 100mm macro lens. I hope that helps, and feel free to ask me any further questions you might have.

  3. Hello James,
    I tried to add you to my technorati favorites, but no luck.
    Do you know what I need to do to pull up your blog there? Does it need to be your exact blog address?
    Also, can I read/include your blog in my google reader?
    Or is it not compatible?
    Thanks,
    Alice

  4. Hi Alice, I added the Add to Technorati button to my sidebar though I did have the plain text link to them on my blog links. Let me know if you try again and can’t make them work–that’s always good to know so that I can see if there’s something else I need to look into. (I was able to both add my blog and yours to my Technorati favorites.) I also activated Technorati on my bookmark widget that allows users to bookmark individual posts.

  5. Hi there. I work for the San Diego River Park Foundation. We are a non-profit group working to preserve land in the river’s headwaters (as well as create a river-long park system). I just love your photo from April ’09 “Englemann Oak at Santa Ysabel Preserve”, it is so beautiful and captures that area so wonderfully! Would it be alright with you if we used the photo in one of our educational brochures I am working on? We would really appreciate it!

    Thanks much,
    Elizabeth

  6. This is a great website and I’d like to know more about gardens in San Diego area – see you’ve just signed up to follow my blog, but would be really grateful if you’d email me (details on my info page) so that I can get in touch. Thanks

  7. Hi, Just stumbled on your blog while researching Antonio Gaudi. Being an Artist and Landscape Gardener, you’ve inspired me to start blogging as I love how you’ve put your passions together on yours. It all feels so familiar to me. My environment is very unique to Australia as it’s subtropical rainforest. Living in a high conservation area surrounded by 3 national parks on a 37 acre plot you can be sure that I’ve been busy in the garden. An interesting element to gardening here is that you can grow anything almost anytime of year. So the scope is enormous. One percent of the Australian continent is made up of rainforest. We are the wettest part of a dry continent. The area was formed by ancient volcanos and is in the northern part NSW. near Byron Bay. Just wanted to thank you for inspiring me.
    All the best,
    Faye

  8. Faye,
    Your surroundings sound stunning! I’d be thrilled to have 37 acres to plant almost anywhere on earth, and your location sounds like it’d be an especially rewarding one to work with. My own climate lets me grow a wide palette of plants, though many require doses of additional water. Still, I end up coveting a number of plants that have no chance of succeeding here. Please let me know more about your blog once you get it going. I’d love to follow the progress of your landscape.

  9. I agree with you choice of Robert Irwin. His Process of Abstraction has helped me immensely in developing design concepts in landscape architecture. That process though can be applied to just about to anything.

  10. Fabulous blog. Thank you for being so generous with your eye, with color, with your love of plants and design. Very inspiring.

  11. Hi,
    I love your site. I am writing to ask permission to use one of your photos in a free handout at a do-it-yourself, “Build a Bird and Butterfly Water Source surrounded by Native Plants…” type demonstration at a nursery in North San Diego County. I didn’t intend to post this to your blog, but don’t know how to e-mail you directly.
    Your aster (lessingia filaginifolia californica) photos are great and would be helpful. If you prefer not allowing it, I understand and apologize for taking up blog space.

    Thank you,
    larryc

  12. Hi Greg,

    Your website is amazing.

    Would like to invite you over to tour 1/2 acre of your taste in plants and gardening (have systematically removed lawn over the past 15 years and landscape still looks lush and East Coast. Would also like to share ideas.

    I garden every morning between 9am – 12noon. 7 minutes from downtown San Diego.

    1. Hi Jill–
      Thanks for the invite. Your garden sounds great and I’d be interested in seeing it. I’m going to be underwater with projects for a couple weeks, but after that might be great. I always learn things from other people’s gardens!

  13. Hi,
    I’m wondering why some or many people with landscape related websites, in the San Diego region for example, don’t have a picture of themselves on their own site?

  14. Hi!
    Love your site. As an artist and gardener and nature lover it was real fun to look at all your great pictures. Here’s our on line portfolio if you’d like to see what we do click on the nature folder for plant stuff made out of glass.
    Cheers!
    Jennifer

  15. Hello, I’ve only just now found your blog but am entranced… I’m an artist/gardener/blogger/designer in Riverside. I work in LA and am an art director for the LATimes. My blog is ranchoreubidoux.wordpress.com

    I’m looking forward to reading-back your posts but I love it already! Thanks, Reuben

  16. Hi Reuben, thanks for your comments and for stopping by the blog! I used to commute back and forth past the Mt. Rubidoux area on my way to school many years ago and am looking forward to spending more time at your blog to revisit the area as well as all the other places you’re blogging about…

  17. Hi James,

    I really appreciate your blog. I was able to identify from your site two plants that I didn’t know the i.d. names that I was searching for. One, the local non-native Asphodelus fistulosus, which is how I found your site. And the other, Rosa minutifolia, which I ‘discovered’ for myself last fall on the north side of 905 in Otay Mesa area by the condos where the Bergerocactus and vernal pools are. When I was on your site yesterday, I recognized that to be the plant you had a little expose about, though I wasn’t even looking for it, – mission accomplished.

    Very impressive efforts and passion with what you’re doing with your plant/habitat passions and with this blog,… and just as a hobby too, apparently. My goodness. And yes, it’s very much appreciated.

    1. Scott, I’m glad you found the blog and found it helpful! I’ve been meaning to see if I could find the local stands of R. minutifolia. I thought it was somewhere around where you’ve described but only had a general idea, but you’ve probably saved me a few hours of futile exploration. Gosh, they might even be in bloom now…

  18. Hi, so glad I found your site. I’m looking to do some retaining walls like yours. How did you maintain the wall level during install. Seems hard esp when hammering steaks in. How is it holding up? I am considering using a wethering steel. But is more expensive. How tall is yours? I am wanting to do mine 22-26″ do you think that gauge would be thick enough if I space the steaks 12-16″ apart.
    Thanks. Chad Clement

    1. Hi Chad,
      Of all my posts this is the one that’s drawn lots of questions. I’ll try to answer your questions, and I’ll do a more thorough follow-up post when I have a little more time.

      I used a basic bubble level the keep the stakes level. I used various shims under the steel to adjust its height.

      So far the wall is holding up pretty well. This was an experiment and there are some things I would do differently next time to help it last longer. The outside is not a problem, but wherever it contacts soil is an opportunity for rust. In these ground contact situations, coating the steel or layering something waterproof between the soil and wall would do a lot to extend its life. I’ve seen mention of thin fiberglass sheets specified for this purpose on some projects.

      I’ve read something on the web that said Cor-ten steel–the kind designed to rust and develop a protective layer of oxides–is NOT recommended for ground contact situations (nor is regular steel, really) and it appears that regular mild steel would be a better choice (and lots less money). I don’t remember the site, but it seemed trustworthy at the time.

      My wall is about 18 inches high. You could probably add 4-6 inches to it without problem. I used 90-degree corners and added some steps to the center of the wall to help with the bracing in addition to the stakes.

  19. Hi,
    I just stumbled onto your blog, and I have to say I really enjoy your topics and your writing style. Very entertaining! The photos you took at the succulent show were fantastic – right up my alley. I grow succulents myself, and I have a very large Ipomea Platensis specimen of my own. Like you, I gravitate to plants that others don’t view as especially beautiful. Of course, they’re beautiful in their own way! Thanks again for sharing your excellent photos. I look forward to following your blog!

    Best,
    Monty
    Hondo, TX

    1. Monty, thanks for the comments and for stopping by! I went over to your Flikr page and saw some terrific weirdness, including a few plants I’ve got myself. Weird plants rock!

  20. Hey buddy!
    I was referred tO you by Rob of the pitcher plant project. He said you’re in SD and might be able to point me in the right direction with my new Cp obsession!
    I live in Torrance and am a celebrity hairstylist.
    I am devoting lots of my time now to a passion of mine that I have always had, CPs.
    I have bought about 50 plants in one month as I just started
    My collection, I’m always looking for more! Please email me if you want to talk plants!
    Love your blog!

    1. Hi DaVen,
      Welcome to my blog! I’m sorta on hiatus here, but I’m getting ready to post some more. I spend a lot of time playing with my CP monsters but haven’t posted much on them. I’ll have to fix that!

      Living here in San Diego we don’t have any organized CP groups, but up your direction I know there’s at least an LA fan base. So jealous.

      I’ll drop you my email in case you want discuss these cool plants some more without having to go through the blog. (You’re gonna have to combine your celeb hairstyling with CPs somehow, but I’m sure you’re already thinking that way…)

      James

  21. I love your comments on the old paintings. I saw the ones about tulip mania. I would love to see more of your comments about old artworks.

  22. Just wanted to quickly comment that the “native” limonium on your site is actually a non-native that rapidly modifies tidal marshes. It has been planted in many marshes in San Francisco and Southern California because it looks similar to our native. Here is a link to a PDF of the different Limonium pictures: http://www.sfbayjv.org/sfbjv_wetland_news_documents/About%20invasive%20Algerian%20sea%20lavendar%20%28Limonium%20ramosissimum%29%20in%20SF%20Bay-BAEDN.pdf

    Thanks for your good work and beautiful pictures.

    1. You are so right, Whitney! I checked with the nursery and they said that their taxonomist had decided what they were selling wasn’t a native after all. Fortunately I have one seedling off the mother plants, but in marshy areas it’s quite the invasive!

  23. Thanks for the heads-up Whitney! I’m following up with the (native-plant) nursery I got it from to see what’s up. I noticed they haven’t been selling it for the last year or two.

    1. Thanks, Beth. I made them out of raw sheet steel several years ago. More than half a decade later they’re starting to show their age and do what steel does: rust. It was an experiment, and still one that I think is attractive. But in a very few years I’ll need to come up with something else.

  24. I came across you blog here a while back, maybe two years ago. I was doing a google research on California Coffeeberry and it’s ability to attract not only beneficial pollinators, but those of the pest predator variety. Almost no mention be so-called experts who research such things and very little photos of massive amounts of insects on coffeeberry’s inconspicuous flowers. Love the reference to the garden tour and homeowner’s comment. I’ve referenced you post twice now in two of my posts on the subject.

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an artist loosed in a garden