apel: (Default)
Today I went to Almaden Valley Nursery in south San Jose. It was a very productive shopping trip. Particularly as my car was getting serviced while I was enjoying the nursery.

I got there a bit early. This is what I saw as I looked through the window. There were at least two nursery cats, I discovered later. They were chatty and friendly. It was pretty cold and drizzled on and off but petting the cats helped my mood.
Gift shop cat. 🐈

I took this picture for a friend who loves true blue flowers. They're Corydalis curviflora Blue Heron. Sadly my friend can't grow these. Nor can she grow Meconopsis, another true blue flower.
Wow, these Corydalis curviflora Blue Heron are very blue.

lots and lots of plants )
apel: (garden_inthe)
As I wrote back in August, my ideas about gardening and garden design have changed quite a lot over the last few years. When I first moved to this climate, I wanted to grow all the things I wasn't able to grow back in Europe. I loved all flowers all the time. The bigger, the better! No grasses or succulents for me. I thought they were boring.

But I've come to realize that a grass or succulent that is happy, is much prettier than a half-dead flowering plant. My taste has also developed over the years. And of course being ill, means I'm not able to spend as much time and physical effort on gardening as I used to.

While I've been ill, I've been watching British gardening programs. It started with The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge. It's about six garden designers who compete about getting to design a garden for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The show was great! Very inspiring. As a result I've been rethinking my design choices for my own garden, specifically for the large border.

Here's an overview. There are three arches. The first one contains Rosa 'Pink Perfume', the other two hold Salvia canariensis. It looks pretty messy in the photo and also in person. I'd like something a lot more designed.
Overview of the large border from the south

photos and plans )

apel: (California)
Carlsbad is on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego in southern California. Of course I went to the beach. It was perfect t-shirt weather, even for this always-freezing Swede.

Passion flower, Passiflora coccinea, just casually growing in a garden.
Passion flower.

I saw these bananas in the San Diego Botanic Garden. What was even cooler was that a member of staff invited us to try some ripe ones from another plant. I've never had a banana straight off the plant before.

This area is close to Mexico, so there's a strong Mexican influence. Like in this tiled fountain in the botanic garden.
Fountain in the Mexican Garden.
apel: (California)
The sky is on fire. #nofilter

We're finally having some California winter weather. It's rained, hailed and thundered today. The clouds make for interesting sunsets.

Jan. 23rd, 2015 09:12 pm
apel: (january)
Last weekend I went to Calero County Park. Here's a bare oak that I shot on the way back.

Wintertime oak tree at Calero.
apel: (january)
On New Years Eve I ended up at Pinnacles National Park. This time I went to the western entrance near Soledad. The drive was beautiful and it seemed less crowded than the eastern entrance. I'll be sure to come back.

My hike went up the Juniper Canyon Trail. I continued just a little bit past the junction with Tunnel Trail. It's a steep trail with plenty of switchbacks.
Switchback views

cliffs and moon )
apel: (january)
My road trip from Carmel Valley to Pinnacles took me along the magnificent Arroyo Seco to Soledad. I particularly like the green bridge in this panorama.

very long scrolling panorama )

Previous panorama from Carmel Valley Road
apel: (weepingoak)
On New Years Eve I drove from my hotel in Carmel Valley to Pinnacles National Park. I took the long way, along Carmel Valley Road and Arroyo Seco to Soledad. The route was beautiful in a way that's hard to convey in photos. But I took a couple of panoramas that hint at the charmingly rural experience.

Here's the first one. If you recognize the scene, it's because I took a similar panorama of it last time I was there.
very long scrolling panorama )
apel: (beach)
On my first full day in Carmel Valley, I wanted to visit Point Lobos. Unfortunately that didn't happen. The parking lot was full, so I continued south on Highway 1 to Garrapata State Park. Part of the park is on the beach-side of the highway. I spent a very enjoyable couple of hours walking and meditating here.

Garrapata State Beach

three more Garrapata photos )
apel: (California)
On my way down to Carmel Valley, I stopped for a little sight-seeing in San Juan Bautista. It's one of the original Spanish mission towns. The mission was established in 1797. Here are the mission bells.
Mission bells of San Juan Bautista.

San Juan Bautista turned out to be very quaint. Here's a cottage that's part of the State Historic Park centered around the only remaining Spanish plaza in California.
Cute cottage in SJB.

Another preserved building from the early days is the jail. It has a single cell and was mostly used to hold drunks. To me it looks like something straight out of Bonanza.
Could have been in Bonanza: the single-cell jail in SJB.
apel: (trail)
We had a lot of rain in December. We really needed it. The rain brought the drought level down from exceptional to extreme. Keep in mind that we need to get all our annual rainfall during December through March. Summer rains are negligible here.

These two photos were taken only a month apart. The difference is easy to tell. This is from November 23. It had already rained some, so there's some green grass along the trail in the foreground. Just a month earlier, all the annual grasses were dead. That's normal for that time of year.
Winding Trail

I went hiking again on Christmas Day. There's now green grass all over the hillside and also on the hills in the distance. But you can still see grey tusocks of dead grass in the foreground. Hopefully we'll get more rain. By the time the rainy season is over, the new grass should cover the old grass and be full of wildflowers.
A month later.
apel: (California)
A little later in the day, the sun was mostly gone and the clouds were thickening in warning of the incoming storm.

very long scrolling panorama )
apel: (beach)
This is from Sunday last week. The winter sky made for dramatic clouds with occasional glints of sunlight on the waves.

scrolling panorama )
apel: (beach)
I went to the beach yesterday. It was great. There were a lot of one of my favorite birds, brown pelicans. Here some of them are flying south along the shoreline.
Pelicans flying into the sun.
The weather was decent to begin with but when the sun hid behind the clouds, it got chilly. Then there were more clouds. I was unsurprised, because the weather report had predicted more rain on Monday, ie today. This was the last photo I took in Half Moon Bay.
More rain on the way.
My plan was to go up to Pacifica and have dinner there, before the sun went down. So I left at 4 and drove up the very scenic Highway 1. This was the first time I got to drive through the tunnel that replaced the infamous Devil's Slide section of Hwy 1. Apparently the official name is Tom Lantos Tunnel. It's a noticeably long tunnel.

Here's the ocean, the Pacific Ocean, from Pacifica. The sun is setting.
Seagull in Pacifica.
After dinner in Pacifica, I drove on to San Francisco. And today I went to Alcatraz from there. But that's for another post. The rest of yesterday's photos are on Flickr.
apel: (California)
Another one from my holiday earlier this year. This is looking west, across the Bay. You can just about make out Mount Tam across the water.

scrolling panorama )
apel: (trail)
This was from my holiday back in September. Devil's Pulpit is near the summit, on the south-east side of the mountain.

scrolling panorama )
apel: (trail)
I've only been to Mount Madonna once before (scrolling panorama). This time I drove to the main entrance and visited the historic site first. It's the ruins of a summer house built in the nineteenth century. It's supposed to be haunted.

Ruins of Henry Miller, the Cattle King's, summer house.

This wasn't a very satisfying hike. Several trails were closed and the trails I did visit had hardly any open vistas. If I go again, I'll definitely use the other entrance. From the main trail head all trails lead down. Given that what goes down must laboriously hike up again, I prefer when the trailhead is at the bottom of the trail.
Trail on Mt Madonna.

At the end of my hike, I took a few moments to visit the fallow deer enclosure. Apparently the ancestors of this bunch were given to Henry Miller, the ruins of whose summer house you saw above, by William Randolph Hearst, the famous newspaper man.
Fallow deer. If weren't for the sign, I would have thought that they were goats.
apel: (Default)
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