Monday, August 26, 2013

Tropical Paradise Comes To Life In This Del Mar Garden


          I'm pretty sure we all have our own idea of paradise, and from my perspective it includes a garden, of course--after all, the concept is usually associated with the Garden of Eden. Some of us in California (notably my husband) consider San Diego to be paradise, not necessarily for the gardens but just because the weather is sunny and 70 degrees Fahrenheit pretty much year round. Wikipedia cites other criteria for paradise, like life free from human difficulties. That's a bit more elusive, I'm afraid.

           But for many, paradise is usually synonymous with tropical: the islands, water, palms, dense foliage, exotic blooms, steamy temps, cool island breezes and bright colors.

          I came across a pretty good version of a tropical garden in Del Mar, California just outside of the city of San Diego about a week ago. But not without some minor human difficulties. The most unexpected at the moment: my digital camera flashing "out of memory" at me when I realized I the memory card was in my laptop at home.

          What a blogger's nightmare! I'm in the middle of tropical paradise and the only working camera I have is my iPhone. At least the phone was fully charged (for a change). It would just have to do, for me and all of my 35 followers.

            I am not much of an island person myself but I admit I was swept off my feet for an hour while I wandered through this garden. And that was a good thing, too, because just before I came here I was in urgent care getting my wedding rings cut off.

           A rash I developed a day before was causing my left ring finger to swell and my rings were acting as tiny tourniquets, squeezing the life out of me. I was so desperate when I woke up in the morning that I tried to cut them with my Felco F-2 classic hand pruners. An off-label use, I know; but they were cleaned with bleach (as if that made it okay) and, like I told my husband, it's the sharpest tool we have in the shed. Luckily I didn't prune my fingers or the rings off and I am a little embarrassed that I even tried it.

          So I went to a nearby urgent care and it was torture waiting for the doctor, but with my rings safely cut off with a sterile tool and my hand feeling only slightly better, I drove off to this garden, which was opened to members of the San Diego Horticultural Society, and I briefly forgot about my morning.


               The breathtaking colors of the foliage made it easy to do.  The homeowners created this garden because of their passion for exotic locations like Bali and Indonesia. The bromeliads and succulents

 are beautiful in the garden (despite my bad cell phone pictures) and add such unexpected colors.

Lava rocks made appropriate edging

and pavement is the color of sand.

Indonesian sculpture added a feel for the wild

and the koi made the place come alive.

          The day's little difficulties quickly faded in my memory as I admired this lovely space: the plants, and how one garden room seemed to flow so nicely into another and then another: a space to enjoy a fireplace, a pond, a pool, several spots to eat, sip a boozy drink and lounge, and even a space to watch television. This very well could be a backyard paradise.

This, most definitely, is GardenEnvy. 

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Don't Mess With Texas Gardens And Don't Miss This Dallas Botanical

The Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas area is lucky 
to have two gorgeous botanical gardens just about a hop, skip and a jump (or about 45 minutes in drive time) away from each other. 

 I recently blogged about the Fort Worth Botanical Garden when I visited Texas in early May. The very next day, I went to the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden and couldn't have been happier to be here, too! Think of it as kind of another 'Texas two-step' next time you are in the area--you just have to do both.

The place was jumping on this week day visit too. The school buses planted in the parking lot should have tipped me off but I never noticed them.

I did, however, notice hundreds of school-aged children inside the garden that day,

doing the things children do in a park--running, laughing and taking a roll down a grassy hill. 
That made me smile. Good times.

In addition to the school children, I counted four brides and one quincenera doing photo shoots in the garden. And for good reason. It is gorgeous here. This 66-acre garden isn't free like the Ft. Worth Botanical Garden, but it is definitely worth the time and money.

The garden, including the rose garden,

with pink polyanthas, knockout red roses and a Weeping Atlas Cedar (Cedrus Atlantica) drooping over a stone-walled garden with classic urns and low green hedges create a romantic backdrop.

I couldn't get enough myself.

The vistas, which included a lake in the background, were beautiful no matter where you looked.

The garden designs are pleasing to the eye, and eye-popping color where you least expect it is a wonderful twist in a maze of  hedges.

It was Spring when I visited, in the beginning of May.

The columbines (Aquilegia) were perfect,

the foxgloves (Digitalis) too.

The gardens whether from a distance 

as well as close up were immaculate and with such attention to detail.

I have to say that I have never been a huge fan of weathered wood that turns gray, but this classic  and weathered garden bench surrounded by silvery dusty miller at its feet, and against trimmed green hedges and bushes, won me over. I get it now. Understated and beautiful.

I couldn't close without showing you the great display of Japanese Maples at this garden.

A beautiful collection 
combined with a woodland setting and waterfall

that you don't want to miss.

As they say in these parts, don't mess with Texas. Now I get that, too.
This is GardenEnvy, y'all.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Homes And Gardens With Historical Roots In Chicago

While visiting Chicago this past May

I was searching for gardens to visit and located the small but pretty Women's Park and Gardens on the near South side of downtown. This park is home to the oldest house in the city, the Clarke House Museum.  It was built in 1836 but it was moved to this location in 1977.

There is a simple yet elegant copper fountain in front of the home.

There's a playhouse-sized replica of the Clarke home for children,

room for a little soccer,

or a quiet stroll.

The rhubarb

and chives were ready for harvest in the community garden plot, which is also on this site.

The garden is intended to be dedicated to notable women in the city's history,
so there is also space for reflection.

This display of hand sculptures

is a monument dedicated to Jane Addams (1860 to 1935), 
who influenced social philosophy and provided assistance to immigrants in Chicago with Hull House, the first settlement house in the United States.

 I was thrilled to admire the Eastern Redbud,

the azaleas, ornamental shrubs

and trees that were laden with blooms.

I can imagine how beautiful autumn must be in this garden when trees here turn gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and red. Spring and autumn are Chicago's strong suits when it comes to the four seasons, and fall color is something I truly miss as a resident in San Diego.

 The Women's Park is situated on a beautiful tree-lined street 

named Prairie, aptly named for this Midwestern historical landmark district. 

There are lovely red brick homes with black wrought iron gates and small front yard gardens. And, as I learned while I was visiting, at one time the wealthiest Chicagoans lived on Prairie street in the 1870's and built their homes here. 

This included the likes of Marshall Field, of department store fame on State Street, Phillip Armour of the meatpacking industry and George Pullman, who designed luxury railroad sleeper and dining cars. Some of these houses still remain such as this French chateau-esque styled home above,

 although currently it is the home of the United States Soccer Federation.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, the John Cuneo mansion and garden was completed in 1916 in Lake County. It is approximately 40 miles north of downtown and, essentially, this was the countryside at that time.  Interestingly enough, the wealthy Armours and others were also in Lake County by the early 1900's.

Back in the day the Cuneo mansion was considered high tech: an Italianate villa with electricity, an elevator and retractable ceilings (what?) for that instant European courtyard effect, and even a chapel for Sunday morning mass.  But the Cuneos also enjoyed entertaining and having parties here.

Hmm, if these walls could talk...

The garden, originally designed by the formidable landscape architect Jens Jensen (although modified since then) is spacious and grassy. 

A prairie garden was originally included here, but this garden feels European with an emphasis on lots of statuary,

including an allee of statuary.

And, if statuary could talk, I wonder what she could tell us...

This is GardenEnvy.

Copyright 2013 by Jeannine at
 GardenEnvy logo by dezine9. All Rights Reserved.