Friday, December 4, 2020

Hibiscus Sugar Tip .. One Sweet Shrub!

I've always been dotty about variegated foliage. Combine splashed leaves with a flower that's so alluring and it's difficult to imagine one lovelier. I'm over the moon about this stand-out shrub in Alice's Garden.

Hibiscus 'Sugar Tip' offers a delicate white tracery on its leaves, while the petite blooms with their colorful centers are sweet additions to flower arrangements. The double frilly flowers are subtle, about 1 and 1/2 inches wide with an eye-catching vermillion center.

 It's won me over completely.
And I'm not known for selecting pale pink flowers.
This ProvenWinners Color Choice Shrub arrived as a trial plant, and remained a beloved summer bloomer in my California garden.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Revisiting the Blue Poppy

Among the most magical of plants,
the Himalayan Blue Poppy (Meconopsis) is quite the mythic character within our community of avid gardeners.
At one time it could be found growing to perfection in the Pacific Northwest
at the Berry Botanic Garden, which sadly now, has shuttered its gates.
It was in this setting of rare flora that I first came upon a vigorous stand of blue poppies
intermingled with blooms of pink, peach, and red!
An unforgettable sight.

Be that as it may, I'm currently enjoying a very wet San Francisco Bay Area winter,
where Napa & Sonoma Wine Country always beckons
Especially when the sun decides to peep through the clouds.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Paris in the Fall ...

These delectable cheeses featured in a picnic lunch last Fall, while traveling through the South of France: 
purchased at a market in the delightful town of Uzès, in this instance.

But the fact is, I'm mired in the technical so-called 'back-end' of the blog today.

While I would love to do nothing more than reflect on the magnificent sights, sounds and flavors experienced in Paris & Provence last September ... Case in point, this terrific potager in the charming wine village of Tavel,

I'm engaged instead in a frustrating battle with an advertisement that I have been unable to remove from my posts here.

I would much prefer to recall the jaw-dropping beauty of Gordes

and the wonderful Sunday in Paris, when I strolled along the elevated gardens of the 'Promenade Plantee' - where a staircase right outside the door of my Air B&B allowed access.

C'est la vie!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Magnolias .. Spring in the Bay Area

Magnolia sighting while strolling a lovely side street north of the Golden Gate Bridge:                                                                                 
A sure sign of Springtime in the San Francisco Bay Area!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Point Lobos Vista

A day of hiking in California ... Point Lobos State Nature Reserve

Life is good.

"Walk Gently, Breathe Deeply, Reflect"

Monday, January 14, 2013

Adieu, My Sweet California Garden

Greetings my friends, 
today marks the 4th Year Anniversary of Bay Area Tendrils ...

It's a celebratory day, yet one that is bittersweet as I'm preparing to say farewell to my garden.
Perhaps the dearth of posts has hinted at a major life change on the horizon. 

And so, for the second time I am parting from a garden I've nurtured from the ground up, having worked for nearly 15 years to create a sanctuary space from scratch in Northern California. The Bay Area Tendrils archives tell the tale of my move from Chicago, where I left behind a beloved small-space town garden.
The Midwestern winters had taken their toll after decades of shoveling snow, together with the endless challenges of icy winters and a flat-roof building. The temperate climate of California held the promise of a kinder environment: Year-round gardening with a breathtaking palette of plant material.
In the past I've posted photos to illustrate the transition: The process of designing an outdoor room for relaxation, to share meals, and bask in the company of birds, bees and butterflies. But first, I would spend the better part of two years extricating brambles and shoveling out loads of rubble in preparation for planting. Digging deep, then mounding up a series of beds and borders filled with compost and fresh soil amendment. All toted back and forth, bag-by-bag in my Honda hatchback, along with pavers and plants to transform the blank slate into my own lush botanical wonderland. 

When I leave here I'll take a small selection of container plants: 
 Indispensable herbs like rosemary and lavender;
Cupheas to invite hummingbirds to my new balcony; 
Succulent beauties like Aeonium 'Schwarzkopf' & 'Sunburst.'

"The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied.  The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows."   ~  Vita Sackville-West

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Rancho La Puerta ~ La Cocina Que Canta

The rainy season has arrived in Northern California, a long-awaited drenching for garden beds and borders.

La Cocina Que Canta Cooking School
I rarely have time to post these days. Life seems to be getting in the way.

As Fall moves toward the Winter season, I sit with a cup of tea and dream about my visit a few years ago to Rancho La Puerta. The inspiring landscape of Tecate, Mexico remains in my mind's eye, along with a high point of my week long-stay at the spa: a cooking class at The Kitchen That Sings! ... La Cocina Que Canta

With the sound of falling rain outside my office window, I'm imagining the scent of something wonderful baking in the oven. A savory tart for dinner? Or, I might just step out into the garden to pick Lemon Verbena leaves before the first frost of the season. If I turn the oven on very low, the leaves can be quickly dried for tea to enjoy in the months ahead. The wonderful aroma of the drying herb will fill the house!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Garden Glory in Italy and Alice's Garden

Vignettes from my forays in Venice & the Veneto...

 Villa Barbaro Nymphaeum: a glassy pool and the sculptural extravagance of the architecture could only be glimpsed through the villa's expansive windows   ~ Maser, the Veneto.

A mosaic design accents the richly adorned paved paths ~ André Heller Botanic Garden
Gardone, Lago di Garda

Austere hedging and meticulous pebble pathways surround a private villa garden in Bardolino, Italy   ~  Lago di Garda

... while here, in Alice's Garden the Red Cestrum ~ Cestrum newellii is a top performer. 
Blooming nearly year-long, it's a shrubby specimen that invites hummingbirds, bees and butterflies to the waxy red flower clusters!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Visions of Venice

Decorative metalwork .. Peggy Guggenheim Museum gateway.

When in Venice .. If  you find yourself yearning to leave the crowds behind, continue strolling along the canal, away from the tourists that gather round St. Mark's ...
... and eventually you'll come to the expansive public parklands - the Giardini at the eastern edge of the city. This green space was quiet during my June sojourn, but I believe the Architecture Biennale is taking place there this Fall.

A favorite meal ~ Misto alla Griglia
Nothing is more exciting for a lover of fine food than happening upon an inviting cafe, especially when the skies have opened to rain down on me.  The small bar/restaurant where I enjoyed this meal was very much off-the-beaten path, a spot I wouldn't have found had I not been searching for a 'secret garden' my B&B host told me about.

Though the garden was locked when I finally located it, the cafe provided a cozy table where we sipped a lovely white wine from the Veneto region, accompanied by the freshly prepared meal of roasted vegetables ~ a highlight of my day.

After leaving Venice to tour Lago di Garda for a week or so, we had returned to Venice to stay in a hotel in the Castello sestiere. [Our initial stay had been at a B&B in the Cannaregio.]

A yearning to get to know a city more intimately always motivates my journeys. As in choosing to walk away from Venice's popular tourist attractions in an attempt to discover the city of the modern-day Venetian. 

Venice is not a city to dash into and out of, in my opinion. It is no longer the city I visited years ago, but it remains a unique destination. A glistening city at twilight; entrancing if you allow a languid approach to exploring its rare wonders. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Veneto Vista - Italian Gardens

One of the hauntingly romantic landscapes visited during my sojourn in Italy's Veneto region:

Villa Arvedi allowed me to experience the hospitality of a contemporary setting that remains true to 
the sophistication and elegance of another era.