Wednesday, November 30, 2011

End of Season Harvest!

Hello Friends!

There is nothing better than home grown produce.  I was with a friend recently, whom I installed a garden for.  It was time to take out the summer veggies and put in the winter crops.  The result was a bounty of beauty and flavor.  I took a few snapshots and wanted to share.  Enjoy!

Squash blossoms + Frisee = Homemade Pizza to die for!

Beautiful and Tasty!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Descanso Gardens.

Hi Friends!

Want to enjoy a world class garden filled with lots of interesting plant collections and set in the gorgeous California Oak woodland...well, if you are in the Los Angeles area then I would say head on over to Descanso Gardens in La CaƱada Flintridge.  The area is rich in history and beauty and set in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.  It is a mix of old and modern with a collection of Camellia, Roses, California Natives, Water gardens, and formal Gardens, the list goes on and on.  Click on the Descanso Gardens link above for more information.

I hope you enjoy these pics. It was a sunny and gorgeous fall day!

Gallardia greatness.

Dahlia dreams.

This is the spot where the Dahlia and Gallardia were spotted.  Not too far from this lawn is the Kid's Train Depot, where kids can ride a mini steam engine around a mini track.  Fun fun fun.

Anemone ambition.  LOVE these.

This was one of four arches that were all draped in vine cover.  This is located smack dab in the middle of the rustic formal rose garden.  Great place to sit and soak it all in.

I snapped about 10 photos of the hop vine covered trellis.  Hops are used to make beer and have a fun latin name:  Humulus lupulus.  Love it.

The Brazilian Verbena, Verbena bonarienis, is a natural in any garden.  It adds a light and airy feel while inserting color and movement.  Butterflies cannot resist!

Rose arbor or adult jungle gym?

Formal gardens adjacent to the rose garden.

Modern and awesome.  Living wall in the newly installed Boddy House garden.

Agave admiration.

Pond near the entrance. 

Adjacent to the cafe.  I am a sucker for water gardens and especially fish.  Love it!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fire Mountain Farm Stand.

Hello Friends!

I recently took my annual trip up to Northern California to the absolutely gorgeous and quaint town of Murphys, CA.  You are probably wondering....Murphys??... where the heck is that?  Well, you are not alone.  I have been going to visit now for the past several summers and only know about it because good friends who call this gem of a place, home.  I think that it is one of California's best kept secrets!  It is full of history, good food, locally owned artisanal shops and restaurants... and best of all, fresh veggies and wine!

Murphys is located about 1.5 hours East from the state's capital Sacramento, CA.  It is nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills along with beautiful forests, streams and lakes.  It is on the doorstep of Big Trees State Park, where some of the world's largest trees call home.  The Giant Sequoia is a sight to behold!

While in Murphys, I got to play, eat and sleep at a place called Fire Moutain.  It is a wonderful property with a homespun garden that is brimming over with organic fruits and veggies.  Every year for the summer season, the garden opens it's gates for Fire Mountain Farm Stand.  Not only is there amazing produce for all, but Shonna (who calls the farm home) bakes the most wonderful muffins, foccacia and delectibles! Yum.

Let me tour you around the farm through my lens.  I was lucky enough to be escorted by the farms most exhuberant resident, Aurora.  Enjoy!

Meet the Locals! Aurora was kind and informative...I learned that mommy likes pink flowers. 

Tomatoes, canned peppers, melons, squash....the list goes on and on.  All delicious all local.

For it's small size, this stand really packs a punch!

The garden in its late summer glory.

Raised beds assist in keeping pests like gophers out of the mix.  They also have the advantage of being free of the biggest challenge in this area: rocky soil. 

Another local resident.  Organic gardens foster natural means of pest control.

Natural form of pest control.  Cats are important farm residents for several reasons.  They help keep rodent populations in control as well greeting visitors with a leg rub.

My tour guide really loves what she does and it shows.

The ladies of Fire Mountain Farm:  chickens provide healthy and nutritious eggs in exchange for garden scraps.  What a bargain!

Yellow and  Orange fleshed watermelons.  Yum!

This squash benefits from the companion planting of Marigolds.  Flowers attract pollinators and beneficial insects that help keep the whole garden in balance.

A space this size feeds a family of 3 along with a weekly farm stand all summer!  Very productive.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Winnetka Farms.

Hello Friends,

Yesterday I was invited to one of the most fabulous places I have been to in a long time...Winnetka Farms.  Located in the very "settled" San Fernando Valley, Winnetka Farms is an urban homestead that has chickens, fruit trees, and lots of scrumptious Italian veggies.  Craig and Gary have put lots of LOVE into their farm and it shows. 

Artichoke in bloom.
 When one arrives, you are greeted to the front field of artichokes in full bloom along with various fruit trees.  The back 'yard' is filled with rows of Italian veggies and herbs along with dozens of fruit trees.  It is a gorgeous example of how farming can be beautiful.  The whole area (entire property) is heavily mulched. 

GARDEN REMINDER:  Mulch is a great way to improve your soil & conserve moisture.  It allows for desirable critters, such as worms, to make the uppermost surface area of the soil home.  It maintains an area of moisture and protection that is the perfect environment for plant roots.  Think of mulch as a protective blanket for the soil.  It protects & improves (the nutrient content, soil food web diversity) of your soil as it breaks it looks great! 

These are Barnevelder chickens.  This breed was selected due to its heat and cold tolerance.  Not to mention it's beauty.  Hens and eggs for sale!  Check it out online.

What a beauty!  She just caught a Japanese Beetle just before this photo.  Good girl.

These hens eat a diet of veggies and grain.  Chickens are omnivores and love to eat insects, grasses, etc, etc.
 Craig invited me over not only to see the farm, but to learn how they harvest their chickens and process them for dinner.  It was an amazing experience to see and experience first hand what it is like to take a living organism and see to it's humane death and processing from start to finish.  I have been a meat eater all of my life and I think it was important for me to be a part of the process.  I have a greater respect for all the pieces of the food web puzzle.  Thank you Craig for imparting your wisdom.

The lovely ladies of Winnetka Farms, Barnevelders.  The not as lovely lady (front and center) is the eldest in the flock.
  If you would like more information on Winnetka Farms, please use this link.  click here.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Farmer's Kitchen.

Hello Friends,

I attended an event hosted by Food Forward this past weekend held in Hollywood at the Farmer's Kitchen.   It was an amazing class all about canning those delicious summer tomatoes.  The women in attendance were shown how to prepare, cook and can summer's most revered fruit in local kitchen.  The Farmer's Kitchen is a local business that is dedicated to providing locals (and tourists alike) foods prepared with local, all natural ingredients and lots of love.  I encourage you all to check it out.  (I had my eye on the Peach Salsa!  Yum.)

It was a fun filled day of good food, hard work and lots learning.  Chef Evan Kleiman of Good Food taught us how to make a real Italian tomato sauce.  Master Food Preserver, Delilah Snell of Backyard in a Jar taught the group how to make Tomato Jam.  Fun fun fun.

I hope this inspires you to create magic in your own kitchen!  

Preparing the donated tomatoes for cooking.

Rainbow of delicious heirloom tomatoes prepared and ready to cook.

Tomato Art.

Evan Kleiman teaches us all how to make tomato sauce.

Tray of tomatoes donated by Scott Daigre of Tomatomania.  These were passed around to admire the various colors and flavors that tomatoes exhibit.  Yum!

More Tomato Art.

Tomato tasting.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sherman Library and Gardens.

Hello Friends,

Do you like succulents?  A visit to the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar, CA is a MUST!  The gardens hold many horticulture treasures for the senses in its 2+ acres on the California coast.  I loved the whole place, but absolutely fell in love with their cacti and succulent garden brimming over with color and form.  It was also dotted with Epiphytes (that's right, I said it Epiphytes! is the Bromeliad and Cacti families that live without soil on cliffs or tree tops.)

I think one of the great things about visiting other gardens is taking home some inspiration for your own garden.  I hope these pics inspire you to create a piece of heaven in your own yard.  And the best part...succulents use very little water!  How cool is that?!

I hope you are inspired and will even visit the gardens themselves.  Check out this link:  Sherman Library and Gardens.

Upon entering the gardens you are greeted with this gorgeous pool and fountain.

And greeted with this adorable garden helper, doing his part to keep the place up.

Succulents along the stairs, why not?!  Looks amazing in person and adds that touch of magic to the garden.

Biggest Rhipsalis sp. I have EVER seen.  Yes, it could be called Cousin It.  I like to call it amazing!

This dry river bed is executed to perfection.  Talk about water wise!  It not only saves water but it 'saves' water by letting rainfall recharge the ground supply.  Genius!

Why not 'paint' a picture in your garden with succulents?

It is a canvas of plants and rocks.

Garden Art.

Here we have a mixing of plant types:  Bromeliads on the left and Succulents of the right.  Stunning.

Say cheese...  I could not help it...that is the biggest Furcrea sp. I have ever seen!  Wowsa.

Love this color and form!

Great plant combo!  Pennisetum rubrum, Orange Nemesia, Pelargonium 'Vancouver Centennial', and a Lime foliage Bacopa.