Saturday, June 24, 2017

Quick trip to Provence?

It constantly amazes me that just a short drive from Palm Springs and we are in a different climate and landscape. Gone is the barren, dusty desert and craggy mountains and instead we have trees, lush fields and temperate gardens. Last Saturday Jim and I went out to Cherry Valley, just 35 minutes from Palm Springs. The purpose was to see an exhibition of David Fairrington's portraits which were lovely. The main road in to town was lined with the most wonderful avenue of deodar, cedars which sadly I didn't photograph. Just imagine mile after mile of majestic cedars!

After enjoying the gallery, we went in search of lunch and ended up in the local Lavender Festival. It was like being transported to Provence with sweeping fields of blue, groves of olive trees all under the hot midday sun. Pieces of ancient farm equipment littered the landscape gracefully rusting away and a horse drawn cart trundled visitors around the farm. The event was inevitably commercial and there were sales of everything lavender. I did avoid the burgers with lavender mayonnaise! Otherwise a lovely day. 


Persimmons I think

The thousand year oak. Me thinks it needs some tree surgery if its to live much longer!

Wild curcubit - the stinking melon I think.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Waterwise Botanicals

Back in 2006, the UK suffered a rare heatwave and drought. My publishers ask me to write a book about gardening in a dry climate, which was published in 2008, a year that turned out to be excessively wet with storms and floods. As you can imagine, the book didn't sell well! Here in California after several years of severe drought, we welcomed the rains this last winter and sighed in relief when drought regulations were lifted and our parched gardens started to grow again.  

All of  this came to mind when earlier this week Jim and I paid a visit to Waterwise Botanicals, a plant nursery in Bonsall near San Diego. I had read of this nursery on Facebook and seen some wonderfully colorful pictures.  The real thing was however way better than our expectations. It's mainly a wholesale nursery but as visitors, we were able to wander freely and there is a sales area for individual customers. Near the entrance there are some ponds and planted display gardens.

For two hours, I was in horticultural heaven, wandering among batches of beautifully tended plants with not a weed in sight. There were inevitably cacti and succulents, but also shrubby plants, perennials, roses and a whole lot more!
The huge and diverse range of plants suggested that the owner was a real plantsman rather than just a wholesale grower. What's more the staff were friendly and chatty. Jim and I bought a few plants, including a small tree for Jim's garden. Whilst we debated whether we could get it in his car, the owner announced that he was in Palm Springs the next day so would personally deliver. You can't get better service than that! 

Finally we asked for a recommendation for lunch and were directed to Nessy Burgers  about two miles down the road. Now whilst I am not normally a fan of little roadside food wagons, the lines waiting to order and the crowded picnic tables suggested that this might be OK. It was more than OK - the best burger and fries I've eaten in a long time! A great end to a lovely morning!