Sunday, January 24, 2016

Garden Visit Between Rains

 I should have done some much-needed cleanup and rose pruning today , but it's been gloomy and rainy and it seems like I've been nowhere but the grocery store and the office for ages. It was time for a winter visit to Berkeley Botanical Garden-maybe some Aloes would be in bloom ?

   Unfortunately I was a couple weeks early for most of the Aloes. There was a plethora of safety cones and barricades where paths were washed out , and care had to be taken not to step in mud.  Nevertheless, it was a reasonably pleasant day for January and there was plenty to see.

  Unnamed Aloe with one of the many fabulous Cycads in Berkeleys' collection. And speaking of Cycads, sometime last year I decided I was going to collect them -modest sized specimens of course since the prices are palpitation inducing. This is likely justified- I have had a Dioon for at least ten years and it has exactly 4 fronds.

 I'd have to win the lottery to get anything resembling these cone producing guys.

 I swear though , I'd be happy with a frond or two..

 I think most of these depicted are Encephalartos cultivars, but I was a bad blogger and took no notes. Worse, I resolved before I left home to write down names. A one hour drive listening to sports talk radio (one of my sad addictions) and good intentions went where they always go.

 Always the last stop on the way out---would there be Cycads ? Alas no.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Chefs Gardens

  Food---cooking it, eating it, and pairing it with wine consumes a lot of band width here  in the Napa Valley.  In the last several years the trend toward fresh and local food has led to a wellspring of gardens that are located near or on the property of some of our best dining establishments-including the venerable French Laundry.

  The French Laundry Culinary Garden is directly across the road from the restaurant -3 acres laid out grid style , it is a no nonsense working organic farm pristeenly maintained.

 Nice digs for the egg factory..

a peek inside the greenhouse ..

 I was surprised to see so much lawn--and very green at that. This photo was taken in August when most residential lawns were at their water-deprived worst.

 A mile or two north is the garden of Mustards Grill , a garden with a much more informal feel .

Flowers for the tables and a seasonal farmstand

 In the city of Napa, the gardens a the former Copia Center for Food Wine and The Arts have been rescued by a group of local chefs .

 The buildings and garden of Copia have been recently purchased by the Culinary Institue of America. The CIA has a campus just north of St Helena in the old Christian Brothers Greystone Monastery, and the Copia facility should be an ideal fit .

 The destiny of the Napa Chefs Garden is an unknown- the gardens they tend though part of the Copia property are divided from the facility and the main garden site by first Street and were not included in the sale to the CIA.