One of the many things that I enjoy about my job is when I am asked to visit school gardens.
Last weekend, my husband and I went away to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We’d been looking forward to leaving kids and work behind and spending time alone eating great food, sleeping in and long walks enjoying beautiful surroundings.
|30 years ago|
Drive through any Southwest neighborhood and you are highly likely to see cacti growing alongside shrubs and groundcovers.
I must admit that I don’t have a lot of cactus in my own landscape – there are three to be exact. But, the few that I have, I find myself particularly attached to.
|Newly planted – March 2013.|
|March 2015 – 2 years later|
|Three years after planting.|
Well, another road trip is drawing to a close, but not before two more fun-filled days.
Next on our tour was the existing Cornerstone Gardens, which are described on their website “as an ever-changing series of gardens, showcasing innovative designs from international and local landscape architects and designers. They create a cultural and creative haven, celebrating the connection between art, architecture and nature”.
“There are currently nine Cornerstone Gardens.
Continually in a state of evolution, some garden installations will be in place for a season, while others will remain for several seasons.”
I loved the use of contrasting colors and textures in this garden, don’t you?
The view at the end of the ‘tunnel’ was a field of grape vines.
Thank you so very much for coming along with me.
We will be back on the road next year!
San Francisco has been a popular destination for me and my family. While I was born and grew up in Southern California, both my parents are from the northern part of the state. As a result, trips to the San Francisco area were frequent events in my childhood as well early in my marriage when our two oldest girls were young.
For this part of our road trip, we decided to do something that we had never done in San Francisco – visit Alcatraz – or more specifically, the gardens of Alcatraz.
successful career as a landscaper once he was released.
|Canada geese with their goslings explore part of the garden.|
|A seagull sits on her nest amidst colorful ice plant.|
As there are no prison staff or inmates to take care of the gardens anymore, volunteers come to maintain the garden areas.
What a cool way to volunteer!
Built in 1929 the warden’s house was created after the popular Mission Revival style. In 1970, a fire destroyed much of the house. The skeleton still stands.
Our visit to Alcatraz lasted about 2 hours, which took us through the prison building and allowed plenty of time to explore the picturesque gardens.
It also serves as a good reminder that it pays to follow the law 🙂
If you would like to learn more about the gardens of Alcatraz, click here.
What is the tallest tree that you have seen?
|See how tiny I am compared to the trees?|
Upon entering the park, you notice the shady conditions with spots of sunlight shining through.
On the left is a large cross-section of a redwood tree that fell in 1934.
What is special about this tree is its age.
Tree rings tell the age of a tree and this tree has lived through many historic events, including the birth of Jesus, indicated by my finger.
This outer ring is from when Lewis & Clark’s expedition in 1804.
As many times as I have seen this display, it never ceases to amaze me at the longevity of these Coastal redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens).
Visitors take a leisurely stroll along the .8 mile-long path that meanders through the redwood grove.
The enormous height and size of the trees are hard to understand until you see someone standing next to them.
Compare the perspective from the photograph above and the one of the same area below, except now I am standing at the end of the path.
It’s hard to see me, as I am so dwarfed by the trees.
Coastal redwood trees grow along a narrow corridor from Big Sur to southern Oregon.
Rainfall is just one way that the redwoods receive the water they need. The fog that primarily occurs in summer can provide up to 50% of their water needs.
The lower leaves (needles) are flat, which allows water droplets from the fog to drip down to the root zone. The upper needles that are exposed to more sunlight are rounder and have a thicker coating, which protects them from excess evapotranspiration (losing water from their leaves).
The walk through the trees is quite educational, with certain trees singled out for special attention.
Our favorite has always been the tree that has a ‘wooden cave’ inside its base.
The Fremont tree has a hollow base that was created from a fire long ago. John C. Fremont was exploring California in 1846 and allegedly camped inside the tree.
Over time, the outer part of the tree has been slowly growing back over the old fire damage, creating a ‘wooden cave’. The opening is gradually closing up, making it difficult for adults to step inside without doing a lot of crouching.
While these trees are very long-lived, our family has seen the Fremont tree change.
-In the 1950’s my mother and her entire family of six, could walk through the hole of the tree and stand up inside.
– In the 1970’s I did the same with my family.
– Once the 1990’s came around, I brought my kids to this place and while we had to crouch to enter the tree, we still could.
– Fast forward to 2016, and the opening is too small for me to want to crouch to get inside – I’m afraid that I won’t be able to get back up 😉
Walking next to these old, majestic trees, you cannot help but get a healthy perspective on what’s going on in your life and the world when you consider all the history that they have lived through.
The photos above are all of the same tree. It took three separate photos to get the entire tree.
After leaving the Big Basin Redwoods, we drove up the adjoining mountain, 5 minutes away on a hunt for a cabin that used to belong to our family.
The cabin was owned by my mother and her siblings. For years, we would all travel to the cabin where we would spend our summer vacation together with aunts, uncles, and cousins.
The cabin had three self-contained levels and a deck around the middle level. We had heard that the cabin was not being used and that they path to the cabin had been blocked. To be honest, we weren’t sure if it still existed.
So, I headed up a different trail, lower down, hoping to see our much-loved, albeit very rustic, cabin.
Imagine my surprise and delight when I found the cabin looking much the same as it did 16 years ago.
Fun-filled memories began to come back, including my cousin’s wedding held down in the forest and her reception on the deck of the cabin.
Our cabin was balanced precariously on the side of a hillside and had no foundation. Believe it or not, it rested on jacks.
Back in 1989, we were staying there when there was an earthquake; that was a pre-cursor to the large one that hit the San Francisco area in October for 1989. The cabin didn’t slip down the hill then and is still standing.
There are no occupants of the cabin, and we are not sure what the owners have planned. Maybe they want to build a new cabin someday?
At this point of our trip, we were ready to head north to San Francisco. Like most of our road trip, we don’t always travel the fastest way – our goal is to enjoy the journey, so we decided to travel on Highway 1 along the coast through the small towns of Pescadero and Half Moon Bay.
Pescadero is one of the few areas that has remained largely untouched in the 20 years since I had been there. The church, with its tall steeple, still is the highest point in the town.
The two small grocery stores have a nice selection of baked goods – especially sourdough bread. Californians are serious about their sourdough!
Creative container plantings lined the street.
If you think that you have heard of Half Moon Bay before, you likely have. Surfers flock to the beaches of this small town where waves 25 – 50 ft. and more are known to occur.
San Francisco, here we come!
This day of our road trip proved to be the most activity-filled of all.
|Our hotel, The Butterfly Grove Inn.|
|Vintage glass containers filled with succulents.|
Well, it turns out that I was willing to share some bread, so my little friend invited some of his friends.
This Canada goose also wanted some too.
After feeding both birds and squirrels, my bread was gone.
However, this was not to be our only encounter with wildlife this day.
As we drove down the coast toward Lover’s Point, we noticed a group of people gathered next to a temporary fence with binoculars and cameras.
Curious, we parked our car and joined them.
This is what they were looking at.
Can you see the two animals in the center of the rocky shore?
This particular beach in Pacific Grove is a very popular place for harbor seals to give birth and raise their pups. From March to May, they give birth and care for their babies for about a month before leaving them to fend for themselves.
The people we joined in viewing the seals, were volunteers, who observe the seals and note their size and activity. Some volunteers keep track of how many babies are born each season. So far, there had been 35.
As we were watching the seals swimming along the shore, a mother and her pup came up on the sand so that her baby could nurse. What a special moment to have been able to see!
After we had spent some time with the seals, we drove to the nearby city of Carmel-by-the-Sea, which is a small beach city that is famous for its beautiful mission, picturesque downtown and fairytale cottages.
If you have followed our road trip, then it shouldn’t surprise you that we found ourselves at the Carmel Mission. I had first visited this mission back in 2000. Known as the “crown jewel of the missions” for its beauty, the Carmel Mission opened in 1793.
The gardens surrounding this mission were absolutely lovely.
Wooden gates were flanked by large beds filled with a combination of flowering perennials and shrubs.
For entry into most missions, you pay a small fee, usually at the gift shop before entering.
Within the walls of the mission were smaller structures with a colorful mixture of geraniums, roses, Jupiter’s Beard (Centranthus ruber), sea lavender (Limonium perezii) and Santa Barbara daisies (Erigeron karvinskianus).
The branches of a Lady Banks rose adds beauty to the side of this mission building.
A large cork oak tree adds beauty to this inner garden of the mission.
|Santa Barbara Daisy (Erigeron karvinskianus)|
You often see Santa Barbara daisy, with its small white and pink daisies, growing throughout many coastal areas of California. I grew it as well in the garden of our home in Phoenix in filtered shade.
This is a part of the cemetery where native American graves are edged with abalone shells.
The significance of the abalone is explained with this sign.
After touring the garden and other structures, we headed into the church.
As you can see, the interior is beautiful. The metal rods that run through the ceiling help to provide stability.
At the front of the church, the crucifix along with other statues add to the beauty of the church.
For those of you, like me, who learned the history of California in school, this grave will interest you. Father Junipero Serra, the founder of many of the California Missions is buried right here, where his picture rests.
Besides the having the “crown jewel” of California Missions, Carmel is also know for its fairytale cottages.
|Our House Cottage|
These small cottages were built in the 1920’s, by Hugh Comstock and they look like they stepped straight out of a fairytale.
|I’m not sure which one this is.|
He created the homes for his wife’s rag dolls that she made and sold. The cottages came with unique names such as Birthday House, Hansel, Gretel, Fables and Storybook Cottage, just to name a few.
|The Birthday House|
The size of the homes are quite small and people really do live in them.
To get to them, you have to hike up some hilly streets – (my feet still hurt) while being respectful of the occupants privacy.
To learn more about the imaginative cottages, click here.
Toward the end of the day, we headed toward adjoining Monterey and The Old Monterey Marketplace and Farmers’ Market, which takes place on Tuesday evenings, beginning at 4:00.
Three city blocks are filled with vendors selling delicious organic produce, baked sweets as well as handcrafted items.
We bought some food for our dinner before heading off to our next destination of Santa Cruz.
Walking toward our car, we passed by this vendor displaying his wares…
If that doesn’t scream California to you, then I don’t know what does.
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for your kind comments on both my blog and facebook page. It has been so fun sharing our experiences with you!
Whenever we go on a road trip, something always unexpected happens, which helps to make the experiences that we have, even more memorable. This was certainly true of this day.
Four days into our California road trip, we have had a wonderful time, which included some welcome surprises.
|My mother and her sister, enjoying a nice conversation over breakfast.|
|Me and my cousin, Mandi.|
The third day of our road trip began in Santa Barbara – a place that we are both very familiar with. However, our goal for this day was to do a combination of things; some which we had done before while also taking part in some new experiences.
This is the ‘lavanderia’, which was built in 1808 by the Chumash Indians of the Santa Barbara mission village. It is the wash basin where the Indian women did the laundry. The clothes were washed in the basin and then scrubbed and laid out to dry along the sloped sides.
At the end of the lavanderia is the head of a mountain lion that was carved by a Chumash Indian. It is thought to the be the oldest, public stone sculpture in California.
|A flowering Dasylirion quadrangulatum.|
The cemetery was filled with old graves from the late 1700’s all the way to the early 1900’s. The Indian girl from the book, “Island of the Blue Dolphins”, who was found on the islands just off the coast of California, is buried on the mission grounds in an unmarked grave.
This shaded pathway ran along the side of the cemetery.
Have you ever visited a California Mission? There are 21 located along the California coast from San Diego to San Francisco. I’ve seen several, and will visit a few others on this trip, which I’ll share with you.
Now for the second part of our day…
Casa del Herrero is an historic mansion located in Montecito, which is a small town located next to Santa Barbara.
This Spanish Colonial style home was built in 1925 and is still largely the same, indoors and outdoors making it a wonderful example of the style of the 1920’s period.
|A purple trumpet vine crawls up the side of the front entry.|
This was the home of the Steedman family who came from St. Louis. They made the decision to build their second home in Santa Barbara (Montecito). Mr. Steedman was a engineering graduate of Harvard and owned a munitions plant that was instrumental during WW I.
After retiring, he began silversmithing and working with other metals, earning him the name “the blacksmith”. His workshop is filled with countless tools, meticulously arranged. There areseveral of his inventions still in the workshop that he had patented.
|Bright red geraniums hang from the window, peeking through the rejas (decorative iron work covering the window).|
Tours of the estate are by reservation only and small groups are led by docents at a pre-arranged time. The tour begins in the home where no photography is allowed. Then it moves to the garden and finally the workshop. As you can probably guess, I was mostly interested in seeing the garden.
The tour begins in the house. Photographs were allowed outside but not indoors. I did really like the windows, which were covered with decorative metal iron, which is characteristic of the Spanish Colonial Revival style. Another feature of this style is that window aren’t symmetrical – they are asymmetrical and occur wherever a window is needed for light or to open up a view.
The style of Santa Barbara (and Montecito) is the Spanish Colonial Revival style and I was very excited to see some great architectural examples as well as in the landscape design.
This view from the downstairs of the house shows a brightly-colored Spanish tiles. The refreshing sound of water made me yearn to go outside.
At this point, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the inside tour.
When it was time to go outdoors, I tried to stay toward the front, without being obnoxious so that I could get pictures of the garden without people turning up in them – I think that I mostly succeeded 😉
This slightly raised area is backed by a ‘foot fountain’ where you can cool off your feet in the shallow basin – I’d love something like that in my garden, wouldn’t you?
In this area of the garden, plants with white blooms were added at the request of the owners. They liked to take a strolls at night and without outdoor lights, could still see where they were walking due to the way white blooms appear to ‘glow’ at night.
|White bearded iris|
|Calla (Arum) lilies|
Here is the rose garden, which was filled with tree roses enclosed in sharply pruned boxwood shrubs. Not really my style, but they were nice.
This other section of the garden starts with a unique water feature.
As with all Spanish Colonial Revival design, there are Moorish influences as is shown with this eight-pointed star-shaped fountain.
A grassy space lined with star jasmine, trained as shrubs lead toward another water fountain and a gate at the very end.
I don’t know about you, but I really want to know what lies beyond the little gate.
Standing at the gate, you see an area that has been allowed to remain natural except for the Spanish tiled structure. Evidently, the grandchildren of the originally owners would have campouts in this area and the servants would haul out cots, sheets and blankets for the kids. I know that my kids would love to have done something like this.
Adding to the intrigue of this more natural area is a huge dragon tree (Dracaena draco), which adds intrigue and interest to this area.
Semi-circular steps lead you back up toward to the back of the house.
A shady seating area is covered with lovely tiles. I think that this would be a really great option for a decorative patio.