Wine Country Trip: Part 3 Gardens
August 27, 2010
Recently returned from a 5 day trip to the California wine country of Napa and Sonoma counties. This was a personal/pleasure trip with professional overtones (and perks), as my husband is “in the trade”. Splitting the trip review into 4 sections:
Part 4. Biking
The gardens at Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville have been at the top of my list of must visit and re-visit gardens for some time. When Adolf Heck bought Korbel from the Korbel family; he and his daughter restored not only the Korbel family house, but also the gardens. Close to the house are some formal bed areas.
Old garden rose aficionados know that OGRs are a mainstay of the gardens, particularly around the old homestead (my old CompuServe friend and rosarian, Rosemary Simms, raved about the varieties in this garden). Unfortunately, mid-August is not prime rose season. There were a few blooms sprinkled throughout the property, including an all time fav of mine, the Hybrid Musk, Buff Beauty.
Because we were fortunate enough to be guests of Korbel and staying on property, I had leisurely access to the property – both around the Korbel homestead and throughout the winery grounds. The area around the vineyard house, where we were staying, provided a small glimpse of what was to come.
Most of the grounds are not a formal garden, rather they contain mixed borders – an incredible mix of perennials, annuals, flowering shrubs, evergreens and trees. Throughout paths and walkways invite you to explore.
Just down the path from the vineyard house was what appeared to be the gardener’s office and nursery area. On my early morning stroll through the grounds, saw ample evidence of the crews needed to maintain Korbel in such beautiful and impeccable condition.
Can you imagine being able to do your morning walk/run through this grand scenery?
The pool area is fun to visit, shaped like a wine bottle, surrounded by gardens and areas for entertaining.
In addition to the roses, other plants are repeated throughout the property. Dark leaved dahlias, agapanthus, hydrangeas, and surprise lilies ( lycoris?)
The Korbels originally purchased the property for it’s lumber to fuel their cigar box business. Remnants of this time and the lumber town provide a charming feel as you wander the gardens. The brandy tower built by Fredrick Korbel as an exact replica of the brandy tower he saw outside his cell during his days in jail under Hapsburg rule in Czechoslovakia.
While I may have had insider’s access to wander the grounds, the public has a not to be missed opportunity for garden tours, offered in season Tues-Sun at 1 and 3 pm. I’d call ahead to ensure a spot! Korbel Cellars: well worth the 13 mile scenic drive out River Road, for both the champagnes and the gardens.
We had a laugh here, when I told my husband if he ever decides to erect a statue in my honor, he had better *not* place it behind a bed of marigolds. Yuck.
Moving from the purely ornamental to the functional, but still highly beautiful, while riding the bikes into Yountville for lunch, we stumbled upon the kitchen garden of the French Laundry. Impeccable. Proving that vegetable gardening can also be art. And making me want to eat at this restaurant the next time we visit – no matter what it takes!
Once again a Chicago post….more lustworthy plants and plantings
October 3, 2009
The streetscape, Chicago urban plantings, I’ve highlighted in my June post and the one earlier this week were just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more. I’m sure that I have barely scratched the surface in my walks – which have always been no more than a few blocks east or west of Michigan Avenue – from a southern point of the Blackstone Hotel north to the North Avenue beach. A tiny, but vibrant slice of this great city. Great plant combos, incredible use of color, texture. Mixes of annuals, perennials. Can’t help but share a few more, random sightings. In the center of one of the main promenade entrances to Millennium park, is this planting centered by what I assume is some sort of dark leaved sugar cane or Saccharum arundinaceum. Unfortunately, I struggle with my blackberry to find the perfect shot to highlight the scale and drama of this beauty.
The most striking aspect of any plant focused stroll through the heart of Chicago is the wide variety of plantings. Sure some plants, like the Angel wing begonias are repeated, but with different partners, in different ways.
But even in variety is repetition, bringing both drama and cohesiveness to an area.
And, I must acknowledge the individual plants who caught my eye, grabbed my heart. The striped maize noticed on the walk to the start line of the Chicago Rock-n-Roll half marathon, the unknown silvery beauty, and of course, the oft mentioned un-named yellow dahlia.
The Lurie garden in Millennium Park has offered a full season of ever-changing vistas with the current scene dominated by the Japanese Anemones, Russian Sage, Ornamental Oreganos and a late season second bloom of perennial salvias.
My late September visit to the Lurie Garden was the first time I noticed the use of twig “fences”, used to both keep the plants from the paths – and I’m sure keep the people out of the plants!
I have a running joke with my world-traveler Mom about her opinion that when you stand on the shores of Lake Michigan and look out, you have a view that could be anywhere – the Baltic Sea, Downtown Chicago, the Atlantic Ocean. This planting at the Oak Street Beach really helps blur that line.
Changing of the guard…an update on Chicago Streetscaping
October 1, 2009
Last June when I wrote about the streetscaping and plantings around downtown Chicago, I mentioned that it would be fun to watch these evolve over the summer. Evolve they did. Now with the return of fall’s cooler weather and frost imminent, that evolution has dramatically accelerated as crews mysteriously rip out the old and replace with the fall mums, kale, pansies, etc. Somewhat sad that the planter outside of Union Station was switched to mums last week, before I could re-stock my supply of Verbena Bonariensis seeds. Or that the masses of coleus along Willis Tower and on Michigan Ave were replaced before I could put my “grab some cuttings at the last minute before frost” stealth operation into gear.
I’ve had several trips into the city since June, and on each one have discovered new plantings, new gardens. And on each visit, I have snapped many, many pictures with my phone. All within downtown, all walking distance from Union Station. Thought I’d share some of my favorite spots, and how they’ve changed since June….
I am especially taken with the series of annual beds along Michigan Ave, just south of the Art Institute. On my first trip they had just been planted. This is them on June 23, August 1, September 9, and today the last day of September. The Castor Beans are stunning. Taller than me, providing strong interest in the center.
Of course a visit to those beds requires a quick hello to the lions outside of the Art Institute and the grand plantings they watch over. In their summer glory and today in the new fall look.
The Willis Tower outside patio used one of my favorite garden combos – yellow and blue. Here it is as it was last week with the blue Salvia and yellow Cannas sharing the stage with the chartreuse Ipomoea batatas or sweet potato vine, and today in fall colors, salvias gone replaced by mums and kale:
An early morning walk on my trip the 1st week of September had me stumble upon this grand example of an ornamental kitchen garden.
And of course, that wonderful dark leaved, yellow flowered Dahlia that enchanted me back in June, continues to pull at my heart. So much so, that during the Rock-n-Roll Chicago half marathon, I paused for a second to grab a picture when I realized I was running on Michigan Avenue right next to the plantings.
Finally a single planting, outside a business, a perfect example of a balanced fall grouping…..
There’s so many more…but another time, another post.
Growing up in *the* Garden
July 29, 2009
In my grand mental list of possible Blog topics, I have “write about the Missouri Botanic Garden”, and “tell people about the great plant database MOBOT provides”. However, as I looked through pictures last evening, I realized that I had a photo essay of my son growing up within The Garden.
The Garden, with emphasis upon “the”, is how I always thought of the botanic garden. I was a member, frequently took classes, and made a point of trying to visit in all seasons each year for inspiration. A gem in the city center of St Louis, MO. The Missouri Botanic Garden or MOBOT, along with the zoo, Forest Park/The Muny, the City Museum and a few garden centers/nurseries are the things I miss about living in greater St. Louis. While I frequently say it is not a place I want to live again, these are places I will go back to visit again and again over the years.
However, the real beauty and value of MOBOT is the draw for the both the gardener and non-gardener alike, young or old. Visit any June weekend, and you will see bridal party after bridal party doing photo shoots around the grounds; families walking the grounds, photographers looking for the perfect shot, couples strolling arm in arm oblivious to their surroundings. A hodge podge of people there for a hodge podge of reasons.
We first visited when my son was not quite two, and moved to Milwaukee when he was 8. Over our many visits, he developed some favorite areas of the garden. The Kemper Center was a first favorite. This area with it’s test garden, urban gardens, expanse of perennials is the spot within The Garden to bring the grandeur and splendor of the whole botanic garden down to the scale of the typical home landscape. It provides a help desk for both the homeowner frustrated with lawn care or the avid gardener with tomato blight. But for a child it also provides some great interactive fountains to captivate the young ones and draw them into the garden.
The grouping of stone sheep became a favorite photo stop on our visits. Funny how in the first visit, he is on the small sheep, but on the New Years Day visit with his big sis, had progressed to the full size version.
As he grew, other areas of the garden began to draw my son. The Victorian maze was a must visit spot.
The koi in the Japanese garden with their giant mouths brought smiles to both of us. And a requirement that I came prepared with quarters for the fish food machine!
The advantage to me was I never had to beg him to visit the garden. If I needed a bit of inspiration, a dose of beauty, or just a calming walk through this familiar place, at any age, my son jumped at the chance to accompany me. And this was before they built the actual “children’s garden”. A little bit of icing on the cake.
Finding this photo journey of my son’s growth while we lived in St Louis has been great. Even better this reminder of him with his beloved “Papa”, my Dad, who died from prostate cancer in December 2006, 5 months to the day after this photo was taken. One of the last days together before we knew how sick he was. How appropriate the day was spent in one of our favorite places!
Mommy and me: A garden play date
July 15, 2009
Sorry if you were hoping to read about children in the garden. Ok, yeah, that is one mis-leading title. Saturday was a planned garden date with my Mom and I…but not exactly a play date. Instead a day spent on the “Secret Garden Tour” hosted by Four Seasons Garden Club of Kenosha, WI. A tour of 6 private gardens most in the Pleasant Prairie/Carol Beach area. The day was perfect, rain had been threatened, but by 11 when I met Mom, the sun was out, low humidity, upper 70’s…a beautiful Wisconsin day. All the gardens were enjoyable, some more than others. The plant snob in me didn’t have much to see, but each garden sparked ideas in me. Overall I found several themes between the gardens…the importance of sitting areas within a garden space, the added interest containers can bring throughout a yard / garden, the importance of whimsy, and how the use of water features takes a garden to another level.
The light was not ideal to take a picture of this grouping of three wooden barrel planters each with a trellis to give height. the perfect solution to hiding a work area behind a garage.
Several gardens used non-traditional planting “containers”
Others used excellent plant combinations or groupings of containers
All six gardens had great sitting areas…a couple of my favorites:
This very impressive, very large water feature included one of the best looking bio-filter, natural rock filtering areas I’ve seen.
I found this use of a garden ornament to highlight and echo the colors of the plants to be very compelling.
It was a very enjoyable way to spend the day, just Mom and I. Made even better by a lunch al fresco at the Kenosha Yacht Club watching the boats go by. And of course, a bit of dreaming about a house on this empty lot with this view…where you could be anywhere.
Thanks Mom for the invite, great day. Love you.