Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Visit to Filoli


I wanted to visit the gardens again at Filoli while I was back in the Bay Area in June. Its been awhile since I’ve been here and I was looking forward to seeing the beautiful roses and transition to summer flowers in the various gardens.

It’s wonderful to see a well run organization with lots of support at Filoli. I was impressed with all the gardeners, docents and other volunteers helping to make every visit special. Starting with our volunteer docent Donna, she gave an educational and entertaining two hour visit to the home and


The tour began with the gardens since it was cooler in the morning, and the grounds were not too crowded,  leaving ample space to have great discussions to the various rooms and their history and for picture taking.


We entered the sunken garden facing the garden pavilion and pond. A stand of delicate purple alliums popped out with huge purple globes dotting the walled border, along with salvia and cotinus coggygria in the background.

A detail of an allium head.

One area of the walled garden had beautiful grass walkways lined with topped Irish yews, pansies and spring flowers creating a nice vista down to the natural meadow.


The garden pavilion over looking the pond was built to just the right scale mimicking the grand brick home. The English renaissance style with the formal gardens is not so common in Bay Area gardens, but it works very well in this naturally preserved environment.


A colorful spring bouquet inside the garden pavilion filled with flowers from the cutting gardens. Many of the interior rooms of the home were decorated with impressive floral displays from  experienced floral volunteers that have worked here for many years.


On the other side of the tea room is the rose garden and it is an amazing collection! Every rose and experimental variety seemed to be perfectly displayed and cared for in this garden. No doubt, the organic treatment and over 1200 Filoli volunteers help to make the beds impeccable. (not all gardeners though). The summer displays of roses were just starting to come out into full glory, I would love to see this place again in a few more weeks to see even more glorious summer display.


Perfect beds with trimmed boxwood edges allow you to see the roses closely and even take unlimited whiffs of wonderful scents. You can see that the rose gardens are the main showcase garden at Filoli.


Rounded and lined boxed topiaries and trimmed green walls add form and texture to the rose garden, and create a green base to make each rose plant shine into a stained glassed effect which is what the owners wanted in this garden.

Lots of beautiful sitting areas including this bench and arbor covered with this dazzling display of creamy white to peach roses.

Purple irises and blue campanula, create a sea of calm in this section of the walled garden.


A beautiful shady parterre garden with just planted summer blooming plants, (I’m guessing zinnias). This all green room will be bursting with hot colors in a few more weeks.


From the parterre, I spot a beautiful ornate gate leading into the orchard and flower cutting beds and further down into the Irish yew corner where the one and only official family wedding took place at Filoli, a restriction the owners wanted before deeding the property to the non-profit organization.


Many of the fruit trees like these bartlett pears are starting to develop fruit, this one looks loaded with fruit already.  The gardeners experimented with espaliered techniques to add more trees and to include a design element into the orchard.


One of my favorite rooms was the ornate herb and knot garden. The colors were just starting to come out with the various herbs that were blooming.


A detailed shot of the various herbs in this garden including santolina, berberry, lavender and rosemary, and thyme.


All the masses of colors are so beautiful clumped in large clusters and the red berberry interspersed to introduce the knotting effects.


Surprisingly the working kitchen garden was very small, I’m assuming that since the home is not in full use, the kitchen garden is mostly used for display and some of the greens grown to be used in the cafĂ©.


There were large sections utilized for the cutting gardens so the beautiful floral displays throughout the home could utilized a plethora of year round flowers available for arrangements.
Below is one of the areas showing beautiful beds developing new flowers plants.


It was a full day touring the home and gardens so at this point, I think I will end for now and continue in the next post to show more rooms and then the beautiful exteriors to the home.

This is my contribution to June garden bloom day, to visit more gardens around the world go to

Monday, June 11, 2012

Emeryville Community Garden


While visiting family in Alameda, I happened onto this sweet community garden in Emeryville.


Titled ‘Big Daddy’s Complete Rejuvenating Community Garden, City of Emeryville’, this place really puts a smile on your face. The founder who is an artist and professional welder, placed many colorful and whimsical structures throughout the garden, adding a fresh and funny twist to this wonderful garden.

They grow huge sunflowers in this garden bed.


All the flowers and vegetable beds are built up on beds with amended soil placed in, irrigation lines are placed for daily unsupervised watering of the beds.


This beautiful tulip pagoda, caught my eye immediately, I loved the color combination and whimsy of this piece, wish I could take this home with me to put in my garden.


Flowers and vegetables are placed into the mixed beds and create colorful arrangements.


A combination of follies and imaginative towers create height  and whimsy in this garden.


Sculpture add modern elements to this section of the garden, the red gate type structure behind has a string of butterflies placed into the design.


Wildflowers like these naturtiums, salvias and catmint bloom in planters and other beds throughout the garden.


This poultry prison filled with plastic hens, made me chuckle – I loved seeing humor sprinkled throughout the garden.


A side detail of the foul prison and the caged birdies.


I love these metal sculpture pieces, creating another graphic element to this section of the garden.


Fresh vegetables ready to be harvested, the beautiful colors add all the art in the garden.


Interesting shadows spill onto the concrete next to these nasturtiums and gazania.


There used to be an auto body shop located on this spot called ‘Big Daddy’, hence the name of this zany garden.


Certain areas are cordoned off in chicken wire to prevent domestic animals and other wildlife from entering.


A wall of these beautiful black eyed susans line this wall and adding a punch of orange.


This was a fun visit. I’m sure it must be wonderful place for the community to join in, trade or share their harvest and stories. I would have loved to meet more of the gardeners enjoy talking about their love of gardening.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Springtime Visit to San Francisco


I love coming to visit the city in spring time when all the wild flowers are blooming. Hard to believe but there is still some beautiful and unspoiled areas around this amazing city preserved so all could enjoyed the wonderful vistas and trails.





It’s a great time to hike along the coastlines and see all the amazing wildflowers in bloom. The park conservancy has done an amazing job of planting all the seeds and seedlings that thrive in a dune environment that once covered a very large portion of San Francisco’s coastal plains.


Beautiful native blue lupines bloom in masses along the coastal areas.





Isn’t it amazing to see California natives thrive in this dune environment, I love all the profusion of flowers surviving on their own. Below, large stands of native yellow lupines light up the shoreline trails.




A close up study.



Set against a backdrop of pines and a beautiful ocean, what more could you

ask for on a sunny spring morning.





I took a lot of daily walks along the coast line while I was visiting family – this area is so beautiful in spite of being in a densely populated and urban environment.





I don’t think I could ever get tired of walking along the coastal trails, not only are the views spectacular, but you get a real workout on walking the various trails.



What a wonderful walk, in fact I think this was a combination of various daily walks along the coastal areas of the Golden Gate Presidio.

So glad I had my camera with me to document these beautiful beaches and coastlines.

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