Friday, March 28, 2014

Things I saw in Carmel

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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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A pair of tall angel-wing begonias

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Echeverias and queen’s tears (Billbergia nutans)

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I think the tall aeoniums are a hybrid called ‘Cyclops’

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Foxtail agaves (Agave attenuata) outside the public library

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First time I’ve seen Agave attenuata in combination with daffodils

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Great combination: Senecio mandraliscae and festival grass (Cordyline x ‘JURred’)

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The tall kangaroo paws (Anigozanthos sp.) are standouts in these pots

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LEFT: Beautiful tile work from Carmel’s early days
RIGHT: Abutilon megapotamicum

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Abutilon megapotamicum

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Variegated nasturtiums (Tropaeolum minus ‘Alaska Gold’). I just sowed some seeds at home.

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Small park behind the Blue Dog Gallery

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One of George Rodrigue’s famous Blue Dog paintings

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The fairytale cottage of the Tuck Box, one of the many restaurants in Carmel

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Tuck Box

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Typical view of downtown Carmel

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Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’

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Leucadendron ‘Safari Sunset’

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LEFT: Another beautiful tile staircase   RIGHT: Narrow alleyway to a gallery

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Succulents and blue fescue grass

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Aeoniums and sweet alyssum

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Aeoniums and dusty miller

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Aeonium ‘Zwartkop’

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Sweet pea shrub (Polygala x dalmaisiana)

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California lilac (Ceanothus sp.)

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Another fairytale building on Ocean Blvd

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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. 

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Tree ferns!

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Tuscany or California?

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Silver carpet (Dymondia margaretae) and woolly grevillea (Grevillea lanigera)

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Aeoniums wherever you look

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And the occasional wisteria

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Another unusual but winning combination: blue chalk fingers (Senecio mandraliscae) and parrot’s beak (Lotus berthelotti)

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Blue chalk fingers (Senecio mandraliscae) and parrot’s beak (Lotus berthelotti)

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Scenic Road with view of Carmel Beach

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This is one house I wouldn’t mind living in—not only for the succulent landscaping!

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The agaves are Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’

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I swear I didn’t set out to photograph so many aeoniums, but they were everywhere!

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A creative way of using a tree stump!

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I don’t know how much soil there is in the hollow but the aeoniums sure look happy

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The yellow flowers are aeoniums in bloom

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And finally a few more shots of the million-dollar houses lining Scenic Road:

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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!

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7 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing Gerhard. I love Carmenl and Monterey.

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    1. At the next Succulent Extravaganza I'll allow extra time to visit the Carmel Mission. Just 30 minutes from our hotel in Marina, provided we'll stay there again.

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  2. I've never been there in person but this seems to be the next best thing, thanks for the extensive tour!

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    1. No nurseries of note, but just walking around is a ton of fun--and eminently relaxing.

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  3. The place looks beautiful and peaceful! No wonder artists, tourists, and the affluent flock and take residence there!

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    1. Another stop on the Best of the West tour you must eventually do, LOL.

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  4. What a beautiful area! You sure get around! Wonderful photography!

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