“A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.”

My garden gets very confused this time of year. So do I. Is it fall or summer?  Temperatures can be misleading.
I hate pulling up flowers still enjoying the sunshine, but these old-fashioned zinnias have been going to seed for at least six weeks, as evidenced by all these little seedlings shooting up despite the shorter days.The soil doesn’t  seem to know summer is over!

Just a month ago the zinnias were bright and cheerful, attracting butterflies. I was hoping for Monarchs, but I am happy to welcome any passersby.
Before I brutally ripped the zinnias from their nice warm bed, I salvaged as many seed heads as I thought reasonable, and they can make another appearance in the spring.
But there’s a lot of garden management between now and spring.
British actor Richard Briers said, “A garden is a thing of beauty and a job forever.” 
That’s certainly my observation, also, and this time of year I typically lag in gardening interest.
However, fellow bloggers, especially garden enthusiasts, often provide inspiration at just the right time.
If you haven’t yet met, Kevin, let me introduce you to the Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, and “The incredibly true misadventures of a home gardener. “
The NGDM opened his September 18th blog post with the statement, “At this time of year, as the garden tumbles into autumn colors in preparation for its winter sleep, it’s difficult to not search out garden photos — whether of my own garden, the gardens of other bloggers, or especially gardens of the past.”
And that was the advice I needed to hear to get me motivated, too.
I was the lucky recipient of a recent giveaway following NGDM’s  interview of Caroline Ikin, author of an exceptionally well-researched book titled, “The Victorian Garden.”
Victorian Garden Book
This lovely book is full of archival photos and historically rich documentation thoroughly detailing the development of Victorian garden style and artistry, chronicling the shift from structured gardens once exclusive to wealthy estate owners than later influencing the less ostentatious home garden in local towns and villages.
The book follows the history of the Victorian garden from the original formal British structured layouts and includes fascinating information about a later development termed “wild gardening,” a more natural style in response to formal bedding systems.
This book offers so much rich information that although my personal gardening taste is shifting away from formality and isn’t directly patterned with Victorian influences, I was still captivated by the history, and looking at the photos, I couldn’t help but compare many of the British garden estates to some of the grand homes and gardens I admire along Orange Grove Boulevard, in Pasadena, once called Millionaire’s Row.
Many of the early 20th century landmark mansions that line Orange Grove, the starting route for the famed New Year’s Rose Parade, stand as examples of Victorian grandeur, with huge expanses of lawn, very formal gardens, exquisite topiary and garden ornamentation.
Pasadena is often referred to as “Rose City,” particularly due to the historic Rose Parade, but roses, as you might guess, are hardly native to Southern California. So many of the grand estates included very large rose collections in an attempt to follow the fashion of Victorian England. 
Evidence of Victorian garden splendor is abundant in the San Gabriel Valley, despite water shortages and a gradual shift towards native plants and flowers
Another avid rose collector, railroad magnate Henry Huntington, boasted a wealth of beautiful roses on his personal estate.
I  make frequent visits to the Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Garden as a study, and also to lap up the beauty and come home with a little bit of inspiration. Maybe I also enjoy the feeling of luxury and a by-gone era.
The roses are a little sad this time of year, but the gardens are still blooming with soft autumn color.

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You may notice that Southern California’s shades of Autumn are more subtle than in other parts of the country. But one color we don’t see is “snow-white.” So I still have several gardening months ahead of me before we move to the splendors of spring.
Thank you, Kevin. I will continue to enjoy “The Victorian Garden” and I’ll be particularly interested in visiting the grand botanical gardens again, looking for Victorian detail I have probably overlooked in the past. 
One more quote: “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh how beautiful’ and sitting in the shade.” Rudyard Kipling
Yep! There’s a lot of work left to do.
I’m still sensing that I’ll need all the inspiration I can possibly find!  

The dark side of beauty…seasonal allergy at its worst!

I have been humbled.

In my last post I very enthusiastically shared about early signs of spring with photos of showy, colorful flowers and grasses from my weekly trips to a local garden.

Maybe I had a heightened sense of “good for me”–I’m enjoying spring!

That wasn’t my intention, but now that I’m suffering from seasonal allergies, which, by the way, have hit me with symptoms beyond any I’ve experienced in quite some time, I’m thinking that spring has a down side. Pollen counts are very high in my area.

Did you know there is an actual PollenCast website that offers pollen count alerts? f If you’re suffering as I am, click HERE to get an accurate local pollen count for your community.

So I’m on temporary hold for garden tours.

But I can still admire the beauty of our state flower, the California Poppy, which, as a side note, despite being my favorite wildflower, is listed as a known contributor to the seasonal pollen count. Seems a little ironic.

Henry Evans linoleum block print

This colorful California Poppy is a linoleum block print, part of a current Huntington Library exhibit devoted to the appreciation of California’s wildflowers. This Henry Evans print (1918-1990) is part of the more than 300 drawings, paintings and herbarium specimens on display.

The exhibit is called “When They Were Wild,” inspired by specimen-gathering artists collecting wildflowers that at the time weren’t even in domestication, then documenting their findings with artful illustration.

On show were beautiful works of art representing many different wildflowers, but I paid particular attention to my favorite, the bright orange California Poppy. It is such a happy flower!

This is a colorful and really interesting exhibit for anyone interested in learning a bit more about our native botanicals.

As a collaboration between The Huntington, Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont and Theodore Payne Foundation, the heritage of wildflower illustrations from the late 19th century to mid 20th century  showcases the fieldwork contributions of wildflower enthusiasts. Field studies served as valuable research with the artist’s illustrations often accompanying a pressed flower or gathering of seeds that were of historical value to horticultural societies.

One goal of the exhibit is to inspire people to consider adding more wildflowers or other native plants to their home landscaping. The exhibit is spotlighting the wildflowers best suited for gardens within a 50-mile radius of the Huntington.

The Huntington has many wildflower related events right now, but I’m at least temporarily sidelined. I may need to steer clear.

The editor of the Pacific Horticulture magazine was quoted in today’s Sunday edition of the Los Angeles Times stating gardeners are attracted to wildflowers because they are “pollen and nectar rich and valuable for sustaining pollinators, which have taken such a hit in the modern world.”

It’s the pollen part of the equation that’s giving me a hard time.

So while I’m taking a brief garden break, maybe it’s time for me to share about some outings I’ve had on the back burner.

Where is this?

Here’s where we’re going next. Any ideas? It’s not as beautiful as the wildflowers, but you may find it much more interesting. Many do…and it’s very unlikely to produce any allergic reactions.

Curious? Feel free to share your guess!

Weekend in review–including time with a new friend!

Many of you commented that our weekend plans sounded a bit crowded. You were right. We did enjoy a very full array of interesting activities, but we ran out of time for the Bond movie. That’s been held over for next weekend. I rationalized the change in plans as preferable given opening weekend crowds.

But we did spend several hours in Downtown Los Angeles enjoying the new 12-acre Grand Park. It is special enough to warrant its own post, so I’ll see which of the several dozen photos I want to share! I have a very patient traveling companion–Jay never complains at my meandering.

But the weekend really kicked off Friday with meeting a special friend. I previously teased that I had lunch with a blogging buddy.

Some of you have already “met” Rosie. “Wondering Rose”  is a delightful blog I’ve been following for more than a year so I already knew that Rosie was going to be interesting and someone I would enjoy.

Rosie’s schedule doesn’t permit her to submit multiple weekly posts, but when she does share, there is depth and very rich context. She has shared intimately about her family, including some powerful early childhood memories from her life in South Africa. She loves poetry and frequently contributes works I otherwise would not know. Her stories come from “Wonderings, Wanderings, and meetings at my Museum cash register.”

I really took notice this past spring when she walked The Camino to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain.  What an incredible thing to do!

I could highlight many things about what makes Rosie’s blog interesting, but how much better was it for me to spend time face-to-face!

Roseanne and I had been emailing for months, trying to coordinate our schedules, although she lives only a half hour’s distance. We had a tremendously complicated time trying to coordinate our schedules, but we finally pulled it off!

The minute Rosie walked in we laughed at how unusual it was to meet for the first time, yet immediately feel comfortable. After all, we aren’t strangers. In another era we would be termed “pen pals.” We quickly learned we are within months of being exactly the same age and have many similarities in tastes and points of view. Our perspectives on health and well-being, cultural and political contexts, family and  life are compatible to a degree that surprised us both.

I was also delighted to have a friend as eager as I to eat at Pasadena’s  Real Food Daily, an organic vegan restaurant popular in other Southern California locations but new to Pasadena. I was so happy to learn that we both enjoy a vegan meal–it’s not a first choice with some of my friends.

After a very leisurely lunch we took note that the weather was milder than predicted and quickly headed to the Huntington Library to take a quick peek at a new exhibit, “Just Cause: Voices of the American Civil War.” The Huntington holds a very extensive collection of manuscripts and printed materials  from the Civil War era.

On display are 80 letters, diaries and writings from Northerners and Southerners, including articles belonging to Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, George McClellan as well as soldiers, physicians and others.

We were awed by the number of exhibit articles and absorbed what we could in one visit. This exhibit is a complement to another current exhibit we weren’t able to yet see, “A Strange and Fearful Interest: Death, Mourning, and Memory in the American Civil War”, 150 works by famed war photographers, including Mathew Brady.  The American Civil War is a big topic. We will have to go back to take in the other exhibits.

Walt Whitman’s hospital notebook

During the Civil War, Walt Whitman spent three years caring for the wounded at a Washington hospital.

A Harper’s Weekly Cartoon

The Democratic Convention met in Chicago in late August 1864. The platform, written by the anti-war wing of the party, called for an immediate end to the war. This Thomas Nast cartoon criticizes the Democratic Party by imagining the result of ending the hostilities.

Joseph Warren Revere, wounding of Stonewall Jackson, ca. 1870

Joseph Warren Revere, Union officer and grandson of Paul Revere, witnessed the scene of Jackson’s wounding during his retreat after battle, and sketched the scene from memory.

It’s an exceptionally complete exhibit. I hope this whets the appetite to explore the Huntington. Rosie and I certainly enjoyed it!

I could tell you  many interesting things about Rosie, but I want you to discover more about her on your own. I certainly encourage you to visit over at her blog, and because I was so fascinated with her walk along the Camino, I’ve linked to the first post shared after her return. You can read about that HERE.

Well, a very full weekend is over! I typically use the week to put some time into planning the activities we might want to enjoy the NEXT weekend. But I think I need to slow down. I will be hosting Thanksgiving at our house…that requires a little planning and effort.

And apparently I am feeling a little subconscious stress about all that goes with end-of-the-year activity.

Last night I dreamed I had a calendar glitch and somehow I was “off by two days” and completely unprepared at Christmas.  I was in such a rush playing “catch up.”

I acknowledge it was a wonderful weekend, BUT…

I think I’ll go to work tomorrow to slow down and rest!