Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Hot, the Loud and the Proud #8

Show us your tropicals and exotics, your hot Mediterranean colors and wild combinations, amazing discoveries and unusual variations. Or how about something exciting you just saw, a crazy garden,  amazing garden art or design, an inspiring visit or hike?
This meme is open to all (you do not have to live in an exotic location to participate)  and will be on the last day of each month…so mark your calendars and lets do something fun on the hot, the loud and the proud meme. I’ll have the link available early, east coast time (USA) to catch you early birds and even earlier for those of you in other countries.


This month, I would love to take you to one of my favorite garden meccas in Northern California and that is Cornerstone in Sonoma. This beautiful place showcases some of the most innovative gardens of local and international landscape architects and designers into small and walkable gardens. Besides the gardens are beautiful high end garden shops, wineries and galleries with imported asian treasures, imported garden artefacts and bookshops, art/sculpture galleries, and cafes. You will spend an enjoyable day just browsing and getting inspired with all gardening related activities and of course beautiful gardens. I’ll highlight some of the most exhuberant themes to visit in the gardens.

Here’s a contemporary take on a garden titled “ Garden Play” with local garden designer, Topher Delany. The backdrop is a barcoded wall in beautiful blue/black bars adding a burst of color to this minimal garden and the graveled grounds contain large twined balls along with smaller silver balls. I almost want to play a contemporary version of bocce balls, but could not find the instructions on how to play.


One of my favorites is a simple and colorful tribute to the playful pinwheel. The pinwheel daisy border by New York Garden designer Ken Smith evokes the innocence and playfulness these pinwheels generate. It creates wonderful patterns and different moods with the wind, sun or rain adding to this installment. I can just stay here for awhile and watch the wind blow through these and create this joyful experience in mass.


The prairie garden by John Greenlee is a Sonoma tribute to various grasses growing in the valley, creating wonderful texture and patterns. Along dreamy pathways mowed out for visitors to follow, it lends to a nice experience like one was going to meadows and nature inspired walks in this free flowing space.



“ The Garden of Contrasts” by designer James Van Sweden offers a new paradigm to the American garden.  Under a canopy of old olive trees this minimal palette of grasses, herbs to dramatic agaves show us the wonderful textural play and how color, pattern, bold forms and scent can lead to a dramatic and quite visually stunning design.




There are quite a few more gardens at Cornerstone and I would love to show you these in the next post.  Meanwhile, let me temp you with some of the amazing sculptures that I saw at the New Leaf Gallery – such a wonderful art and sculpture gallery.






Hope you enjoyed the tour to Cornerstone. Please do visit some of the other amazing Hot, Loud and proud posts below, you will be amazed.

This is also my contribution to scenic sunday, go visit

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Secret Jewel of California Missions


San Juan Bautista is one of my favorite California missions to visit in the central valley. Almost completely intact, it has maintained that almost back to original times feeling, when the mission was still functioning, minus the hordes of tourists. One of the main reasons for its well preserved nature is due to the local residents care in preserving the mission, plaza and the town to all its beautiful glory. The church still functions today for all religious celebrations. Those interested in getting a glimpse of real missionary life should visit the mission and museum where you will get to see artifacts, re-created rooms to all the various parts of the mission including the church with its beautifully hand painted walls and alters. This is definitely one of the gems of the California Missions.


The old plaza really feels like a square of old times with the main buildings of the day surrounding the central grounds, a few hotels, a stable and some civic buildings. The mission stretches on one whole side with the church with the beautiful arcades of the mission adding comfort and amazing vistas to the plaza.



The front of the mission contain this sweet smelling garden of antique and hybrid roses in a circular garden with beautiful bronze sculptures of father Serra and a native Indian. Both sculptures created by a local artisan  and is placed to add dynamic composition to this aromatic garden.




If you are ever in the Central Valley on the way to Monterey, go and visit San Juan Bautista mission and the surrounding plaza and town, its a true jewel off the beaten path of typical visits to Old California.

This is my contribution to Fertilizer Fridays, go visit Tootsie for more at

Sunday, October 24, 2010

It’s a Carnivorous World Out There


I happened to run into this special exhibit at the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park and what a wonderful show they put on. The members that put on these amazing temporary shows really go all out.  With the help of specialty grower California Carnivores in Sebastopol California, we get to see some of the most amazing Nepenthes or carnivorous plants in the world.

The famous venus flytraps…take a look and see if you spot any critters in their red traps.


Here’s a huge pitcher plant dangling from the rafters of the conservatory, I was only able to capture a small portion of this one huge plant, it must be quite heavy as a potted plant. These highland Nepenthes grow in higher and cooler elevations of the tropical rain forest.


This collection contains some amazing creatures like the well known Venus fly traps and pitcher plants to the more exotic cobra plants and corkscrew…take a look at some of these unusual specimens.


The Cobra Plant (Darlingtonia California) is a local native growing native to the far northern California to Oregon borders in meadows and along river banks.

This exotic wonder is called a tropical Sundew, they come from all over the world and need a constant humid and hot temperature to grow.



American Pitcher plants are the most ravenous and showy of the pitchers and are truly magnificent. They have very beautiful flowers  and leaves, and they are extremely easy to grow and from these pictures some of the most rewarding to have in a collection.


There are a lot of these carnivorous plants that are easy to grow as indoor or outdoor plants. You should give some a try when you see them in your local garden centers, you just find another new plant to add to your exotic collection.

For other views of Today’s Flowers go visit

This is my contribution to Scenic Sunday, to see more posts go to

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Glass Menagerie







Just off to the left of the beautiful Dahlia dell is the striking glass conservatory called the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. It is the oldest and largest wood and glass domed greenhouse in the United States. Recently updated to its original state, this impressive monument houses various tropical gardens ranging from the cloud forest, to the humid lowlands of the tropics, the dry dessert garden to interesting curiosities like Nepenthes (carnivorous plants).









Entering the large domed entrance to the great hall one immediately looks up to the curved glass domes where huge tropical trees from the cloud forests dominate the entire space. A large hundred year old philodendron completely covers one of the trees nearby, in the center of this photo below.





I really was surprised to see a whole collection of begonias, but not just ordinary one’s,

these are special hybrids, doubles and frilly varieties. The collections shown were

very colorful, loaded with flowers and very delicate looking.











The separate water pavilion is so exotic with different types of water lily’s like these gorgeous tropical purple varieties. They also had the extra large water lily called Victoria Amazonica with their huge bronze/green pads and maroon in the center with creamy white to pink flower petals.










The conservatory is beautifully decorated outside as well with beautiful annual beds, the dahlia dell, a succulent hill other border areas that hold a collection of shade plants and other perennials.  When you are in Golden Gate park, do make an effort to visit this amazing monument – its quite a show inside as well as the outside.



This is my contribution for Today’s Flowers to see more go visit

This is also my contribution for Fertilizer Friday’s to see more posts, go visit

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Dahlia Dell


One of my favorite things to see in Golden Gate park during October is seeing the last blooms in the Dahlia Circle just off the Conservatory of Flowers.

This circle garden has been open to the public since the 1920’s.  Dahlias are the official flower of San Francisco, which  makes sense in this town full of unique and colorful districts and people.



There is an international selection of specialty tubers and hybrid flowers grown in the circle and along the hillside of this wonderful garden. Tubers coming from New Zealand, South Africa, England and even Mexico are highlighted in this international extravaganza – and what a show it is!



There are over 500 + plants that are cared for, dug up and re-planted every year along this garden and well maintained by the Dahlia Society – what dedication and fantastic tribute to their admiring audiences visiting the park.




This is my contribution for Today’s flowers go visit for more

Also, this is my contribution for Fertilizer Friday’s, go and visit Tootsie for more

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Inspiring Views from an Inspiring City




Its wonderful being in San Francisco again at this time of the year...Arrived on a very Balmy 85 degrees, and then it cooled down considerably to winter-like conditions. Since I'm staying out here in the Sea Cliff area, very close to the Golden Gate bridge, I can feel the cool winds and see the fog roll in and out at different times of the day. Fortunately, I brought a nice warm Gortex jacket to with stand the cold and windy elements that I'm not used to. There's so many exciting things about this area, just a block away on Clement street there are over 40-50 different restaurants with cuisine around the world in a three block span. There a many local produce markets providing fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms - its so amazing to see this much variety and at bargain prices. I've been taking a lot of walks along the myriad of trails nearby along the coastal cliffs in Sea Cliff - a gorgeous and wilder area around the Golden Gate, left intact because of the steep terrain and difficult building topography - that was actually a saving in disguise from many centuries of developers that I'm sure would have loved to take advantage of the magnificent views of the Golden Gate and the even more spectacular coastline, Take a look at these amazing views of this coastline and forested areas.


More to come on my visit back to the bay area, please stay tuned. This is my contribution of

scenic sundays, to see other posts go to

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