A couple of days I showed you some of the plant-rich sights of Monterey. But that pales in comparison to what I saw in the nearby village of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
Founded in 1902 as an artists’ colony, Carmel-by-the-Sea has long been synonymous with scenic beauty and understated wealth. Today, Carmel, population 3,700, is full of art galleries, upscale boutiques, and gourmet restaurants. You’re almost as likely to see a Jaguar drive by as a Toyota Prius. And yet, in spite of the trappings of monetary excess, there is a charm that cannot be denied. Life seems slower paced here, and many residents take the time to talk to the visitors that flock to this idyllic paradise on the edge of the Monterey Peninsula. Maybe it was all in my head, but I felt genuine friendliness from the people I had interactions with.
The Monterey Peninsula has great beaches, and the one in Carmel is my favorite. The sand is white and extremely fine—rumor has it was imported, but then, there are many rumors about Carmel that aren’t true. (However, it is true that Carmel bans “wearing shoes having heels more than 2 inches in height or with a base of less than one square inch unless the wearer has obtained a permit for them,” with permits available for free at City Hall.)
Ice plants, like Carpobrotus edulis seen in the photos below, were introduced 60+ years ago to stabilize hillsides but were found to be invasive and edge out native grasses. In the past 20 years, a concerted effort has been made to eradicate them but they can still be found in many places along the beach.
Now let’s take a walk through downtown Carmel. As you can see, there’s plenty for plant lovers to see since almost every commercial establishment has at least a flower box or two outside.
A pair of tall angel-wing begonias
Echeverias and queen’s tears (Billbergia nutans)
I think the tall aeoniums are a hybrid called ‘Cyclops’
Foxtail agaves (Agave attenuata) outside the public library
First time I’ve seen Agave attenuata in combination with daffodils
Great combination: Senecio mandraliscae and festival grass (Cordyline x ‘JURred’)
The tall kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos sp.) are standouts in these pots
LEFT: Beautiful tile work from Carmel’s early days
RIGHT: Abutilon megapotamicum
Variegated nasturtiums (Tropaeolum minus ‘Alaska Gold’). I just sowed some seeds at home.
Small park behind the Blue Dog Gallery
One of George Rodrigue’s famous Blue Dog paintings
The fairytale cottage of the Tuck Box, one of the many restaurants in Carmel
Typical view of downtown Carmel
Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’
Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’
LEFT: Another beautiful tile staircase RIGHT: Narrow alleyway to a gallery
Succulents and blue fescue grass
Aeoniums and sweet alyssum
Aeoniums and dusty miller
Sweet pea shrub (Polygala x dalmaisiana)
California lilac (Ceanothus sp.)
Another fairytale building on Ocean Blvd
What a great place to have lunch!
I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to walk through the residential streets, but I hope the photos I did manage to take will give you an idea of how tasteful the landscaping is in front of many houses.
Tuscany or California?
Silver carpet (Dymondia margaretae) and woolly grevillea (Grevillea lanigera)
Aeoniums wherever you look
And the occasional wisteria
Another unusual but winning combination: blue chalk fingers (Senecio mandraliscae) and parrot’s beak (Lotus berthelotti)
Blue chalk fingers (Senecio mandraliscae) and parrot’s beak (Lotus berthelotti)
Scenic Road with view of Carmel Beach
This is one house I wouldn’t mind living in—not only for the succulent landscaping!
The agaves are Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’
I swear I didn’t set out to photograph so many aeoniums, but they were everywhere!
A creative way of using a tree stump!
I don’t know how much soil there is in the hollow but the aeoniums sure look happy
The yellow flowers are aeoniums in bloom
And finally a few more shots of the million-dollar houses lining Scenic Road:
Unfortunately, there wasn’t time to visit the Carmel Mission, Mission San Carlos Borromeo del Río Carmelo. The second of the 21 Spanish missions to be built in California, it is the most beautiful in my mind and I would have loved to take you there. Next time!