Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Passion for Life .. Deborah Szekely

Deborah Szekely

"You have to have a passion to live long,"

... Rancho La Puerta owner/director Deborah Szekely (88 years young),
speaking to our gathering of invited bloggers.

First in a series of features on the Rancho's landscape, kitchen gardens & cooking school,
as RLP enters its 70th year of commitment to healthy living, protection of the environment, 
 & under the auspices of Fundacion La Puerta,
giving back to the area's school children and the community of Tecate, Mexico.

The landscape and guesthouses nestle in the foothills of Mount Kuchumaa.
Majestic evergreen live oaks offer shade and shelter throughout the gardens, 
while succulents, countless native & Mediterranean species, and drought-tolerant
 plants such as Grevilleas create inviting wildlife habitats.

Bird song enlivens every pathway & patio during daylight hours.
On a bird walk I encountered year-round residents - many breed at the Rancho:
 Phainopepla, California quail, Anna's hummingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, 
California thrasher (what a sight!), various finches and sparrows.
Winter visitors include Cedar waxwing & Hermit thrush.
Can anyone identify the bird pictured above in Aloe arborescens?

The jogging track encircles a field of grapevines.

Each dormant grapevine spoke to me: 
Their aged, contorted forms demonstrating a unique sculptural bearing
...or anthropomorphic quality.

Aloe lutescens


  1. Alice:
    What a wonderful resort to escape to. The scenery itself is enough to take one's breath away! The aged and contorted plant is quite mermerizing indeed, and the reflexology path, it beckons to be walked upon. Say, I've got some extra snow if you're at all interested. I'm sure there must be another post or three on your trip and am eager to escape from the ice and snow of the great white north!

  2. A wonderful philosophy!

    I am fascinated with the reflexology path and would love to know more about the patterns.


  3. Teza, my sweet ;~)
    How can I lure you to visit Northern California and escape your icy wonderland while your flock of 'children' are resting. If not, I promise more enticing images of the Rancho La Puerta plantings and scenery.

    Deborah is such an inspiration! Her Vita lists page after page of accomplishments. Activism, along with a dedication to living life to the fullest. I can only aspire to spend my days with such intelligence and verve.

  4. Wonderful landscapes and plantings Alice... it is so otherworldly from the New England landscape I look out on. What a fun getaway for you. I am ready to pack my bags!

  5. This is a fantastic retreat; how I would like to spend a few winter days there. Such scenery would surely inspire clean and healthy living!

  6. Dear Alice, This looks absolutely fascinating and so very, very different from anything I have ever seen. The flora and fauna are, from your pictures, are spectacular. I do hope that you enjoy your stay.

  7. What a fabulously spikey garden, I love it!

    RO xx

  8. Alice,
    Just wonderful and inspiring stuff ...thankyou Look forward to more photos. I think the bi-coloured Aloe is A lutescens and the top one a hybrid of A. arborescens. Such fantastic winter flowers and loved by birds.
    kind regards

  9. Ian, my notes were jumbled and I was sleepy, so thanks for the clarification. The aloes do appear like glowing candles on a winter day.

  10. RO
    As the days passed I watched roses and a host of shrubs and perennials begin to bloom. Can only imagine the display as the weeks pass from winter into spring!

  11. Wow! I love that reflexology path! I bet you really enjoyed this place!

  12. The cart is what has drawn my eye- what a playful element to the landscape!

  13. GG
    I was not really familiar with reflexology except as a concept. Very stimulating to walk the path with simply a slight cushioning from my socks. The massages included quite a bit of pressure point reflexology, and each treatment was divine!

    Those wonderful carts are placed throughout the grounds. Every one a unique element in its own way. I thought they were wonderful. Thanks for stopping by, Alice

  14. The reflexology path is incredible! That's exactly the kind of thing I go nuts for.

  15. What a lovely garden and i agree with Edith hope that a bit different. love the aloes. I wonder how passionate i will be at this age.

  16. What a wonderful job you have, always on the fun side and the good life, as if looking always for vacation. The photos are great too. HOw i envy those marvelous gardens!

  17. Carol, Deb and Edith
    After spending most of my winters in Chicago, enduring frigid temps,
    I do feel as if I've entered an altered universe in California, and certainly at Rancho La Puerta, so close to San Diego, yet rich with the culture of Mexico, warmth of its people and magnificent plant and animal life.

  18. MK
    I'm wondering what passions will stir in me as the years go by. One never knows ;-)

    My good fortune is never taken for granted. When I began visiting and writing about every type of garden, a joy I had not known before colored my days.