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One of my greatest honors is to have my work inspire others.  When students email me with stories and photos of their water-wise gardens inspired by one of my classes, for example, I am thrilled.

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Imagine my delight, then, to discover that my book, California Gardener’s Guide vII inspired a gorgeous mosaic mural!

A few months back, public artist Christie Beniston invited me to the dedication of her tile mural as it was unveiled in its permanent home at the main entrance to  Flower Hill Mall in Del Mar, California.

The images in Christie Beniston's mosaic mural are based on photos from California Gardener's Guide vII

The images in Christie Beniston’s mosaic mural are based on photos from California Gardener’s Guide vII

Christie’s 5′ x 9′ mural features oversized flowers and critters in fantastic colors.  She designed it and assembled it with the assistance, she tells me, of many hands “The mural was created by members of the community” she says, “under (my) design for ‘Arts in Bloom 2009‘ sponsored by the Solana Beach Art Association and Flower Hill Mall.”

Book Works, one of our finest local independent bookstores, invited me to speak at the event, but for some reason, I didn’t get a chance to see the mural that day.

Later, Christie told me that she’d used my book as a reference guide for the flowers.  “The flowers pictured are meant to represent verbena, cape mallow,  California fuschia, matilija poppy, penstemon, and marigold” she explained, “I took some artistic liberties along the way but your book was the guide, it is a beautiful resource.”

How thrilling!

The mural is both colorful and whimsical

The mural is both colorful and whimsical

I asked Christie how the piece came together.  She said, “Teen Korps volunteers helped supervise and break tiles.  I painted a cartoon outline on the cement substrate to help guide the placement of the broken tiles. We used commercial tile and some handmade tiles from my studio.  The tiles went on with thinset.  I then grouted (with some help from friends!) and the sign company that works with Flower Hill (Mall) donated the frame and helped with the permanent installation.”

Several months back, I had seen the mural in-progress when I visited   the Center for a Healthy Lifestyle at Solana Beach Boys and Girls Club.  Our mutual friend, garden designer Katie Pelisek, who runs the center,  had generously allowed Christie to use her facility to assemble the mural.

At the time, I had no idea that there was any connection to my book.  I just admired its whimsical, colorful, oversized flowers.

The mural’s beauty is the result of Christie’s magical touch, just as she has a magical touch with all the art pieces she creates.  And she creates alot of art!   Murals, sculptures, garden art, and more.

Christie Beniston by her installation "Time Interwoven"

Take a look at her on-line galleries!  Recently, the San Diego International Airport held a dedication for Christie’s installation “Time Interwoven.”  (It also won a coveted “Orchid” award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids and Onions Awards).

Christie Beniston by her installation “Time Interwoven”I’ve always been fascinated by mosaics, though I’ve yet to try my hand at making any (anyone want to invite me to a mural making session?  I’d like to learn!).

I’d love to have one of Christie’s pieces in my own garden, but for the moment, I’ll have to live with having my garden in her art instead!

Visit Christie’s Beniston’s mural at the main entrance to the lower level of Flower Hill Mall , 2720 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014-1923

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