Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Few Garden "Fricks"..And More

  A zillion years ago I worked at the Carmel Valley Begonia Gardens. 
  I knew that I loved plants, and had a bedroom that was not unlike a jungle. I would visit the Begonia Gardens anytime I had a little extra cash, just to see what new houseplants were available. 

  Thinking about it now, I realize that it started before our family moved…I think I began collecting plants when I was in 7th or 8th grade…Coleus, wandering jew, asparagus ferns..all the simple 'beginner' plants. 
  When we moved to Carmel Valley, it got a little out of control. In a good way, I think. It gave me something to care for, as well as something to do. I had no friends, being the new kid, and my plants became a huge focus.

  Anyway, I bring this up because it was Noel, the then owner of the Begonia Gardens, who coined the phrase "Fricks" for any plant that went weird. Either it would revert, or get some bizarre growth pattern…something odd like that. You plant lovers know what I'm speaking of.

  Because I am so very fond of variegated plants, I will sooner or later see something odd begin in my own little garden…my own little "fricks" to love and admire...

There is a big branch going goofy here.
This is so cool….

Our Buddha likes it just fine.

  I am always tempted to try and make cuttings of these little oddities, but I haven't yet. I guess I like to see where they will go, if I just let them be. As long as they look as great as these all do, I'm happy to sit back and watch.

This small bit of beauty just popped up on this geranium.
Usually, it goes the other way, and I lose the variegation completely on a branch.
Then it's called reverting to the original. Here, it's the opposite, it seems.

   I wonder if it's something about my soil that causes this 'white-out'…? I guess it's a virus of some sort.
As long as it doesn't cause any damage to the bigger part of the plants, I'm ok with it.

  Below are two of several areas around the garden where my plectranthus is "fricking out".

So trippy…..

  …And since I was shooting some pictures in the garden, I thought I'd add these, too…Just some areas I think are looking extra sweet right now.

Oh, YUM.

I just keep making more cuttings of my favorite succulents.
Why not, eh?

  The area around the fish 'pond'..which is really a huge pot, is looking so delicious right now. Better than ever.

I've gone back to watering the container plants with MaxSea, a product I like a lot.
The results are great. I save my water for the special things...

One last shot. The purple flowers are from this Brazilian impatient plant.
It dies back in winter, but seems to be loving the Max Sea.

  I'll let you know if or when I make cuttings of my little fricks. They would be fun to spread around…!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

A Visit To Le Celle

  During our visits to Umbria, we make a bunch of day trips.  It's such a perfect area to start from, and there are so many wonderful places to check out within an hour or two driving.

  We had heard about "Le Celle" from Aldo (of Bar Gallo fame) during our first visit to Panicale, but hadn't gotten around to going until last year, 2014. I can't believe we waited so long. It's a lovely spot, especially off season, which is when we normally travel.

  "Le Celle" translates to The Cells…and the full name of this place is actually "Santuario Le Celle".
  From what I've read, it dates from around 1200, and was a spiritual stop for Saint Francis of Assisi. Over several years and visits, it became a monastery which housed a small community of Franciscan monks. The Cells refer to the small rooms which were used for living quarters, as well as prayer.

  It is located in a wooded area just a few kilometers from Cortona. The drive is easy, but it is a small and narrow road. Once there, you can park and stroll around the both the gardens and the monastery. You must stay quiet, but the energy here makes this task very easy.

The signpost at the entrance of Le Celle

  Supposedly, St. Francis helped build the cells, along with a follower, Brother Elia. St. Francis also dictated his Will here, four years before his death. So is written…
  All I can say for certain is that it is beautiful, peaceful, and well worth a visit.

It was a perfect day for this.

  As you can see from these photos, the monastery is built into the side of a canyon…kind of hidden away until you are right there. I was amazed…How did they do this?

  As we approached the entrance, all we could hear were birds, the gentle sound of the breeze, and the soft murmur of water winding down the canyon… I understand completely why St. Francis chose this place to spend some serious prayer time.

The color of the stone facade with the blue sky just
makes me melt...

  We were there in late March, and though the day was a sunny one, it was not yet full blown spring. I would love to go back just to see this garden, below, in it's glory.

You pass above the garden as you approach the entrance
to the main buildings.

  We could hear the sound of water well before we saw where it was coming from. What a great surprise! I couldn't help but imagine naked Franciscan monks sliding down this algae covered rock/water slide on a warm summer evening! I could just hear the laughter echoing off the canyon walls.
  At least that's how I would love to imagine their life…lots of prayer and then some fun, you know?


  Once inside the actual chapel, we found the cell of St. Francis.

The sweet little chapel, with the cell of St. Francis to the right…
This is the "old", original chapel.

These peonies blew my mind, by the way.
Yes, real.

A place to pray and sleep...

  I think Johnny really enjoyed being in here. Seeing the stone cell and imagining St. Francis here. He has a very soft spot for old 'Frank'..and we have several versions of the famous animal & bird loving Saint in our garden at home.
  I enjoyed it, too. I loved the total quietness of the surroundings. All we could hear were sounds of nature.
  As it should be...

A contemplative Mr. J

A stone bridge leads to the veg garden.

We walked down the canyon a ways, and back up to see this view..
The new spring growth on the willow trees is so pretty.

  We spent time in various areas, but never saw another person. Even in the tiny gift shop. There was an 'honor system' box to put euros in, if you wanted something. Johnny picked out a few little things to bring home. 
  We could hear soft voices in the distance, but didn't see anyone. Maybe it was prayer time for the residents? There are a few still here. It was cool. We just wandered around, enjoying the ambiance and taking pictures...

A rather modern take on St. Francis.
I like the birdies...

Just one more thing I want for my garden.

The 'new' chapel, constructed by Capucin monks around 1630.

  A morning very well spent, I must say. I would return, but later in the season. I'd like to see the gardens when they are really happening. 

Time to say arrivederci, for now….
But we'll be back.

  As we drove back along the canyon, I had Johnny pull over to take a photo (below) from across the way. You can just see Le Celle there, in the middle. It's tucked in below the large stand of trees. 
  Like I said…you hardly know it's there, if you don't know where to look.
  I bet that's just how they wanted it.

Le Celle…It's almost not even there….

Here's more information about this very special place:

Le Celle