Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spring in Carmel-by-the-Sea

I love having a client on the coast, and to have one in the charming community of Carmel-by-the Sea is a particular treat. Last week I took my favorite back road over the Santa Cruz mountains for a meeting, leisurely lunch and photo stroll (the kind of day that is one of the best perks of being a landscape designer in California!)

Located just south of Monterey, next to Pebble Beach, Carmel is nestled in an oak woodland that slopes from Highway 1 to the ocean. The houses are a mixture of styles, including many one-of-a-kind fairytale cottages tucked into the woods. Known for its cool, foggy summers, Carmel has a floriferous early spring that seems to start right after Christmas.

Most homes and many downtown businesses have lovely gardens, like this elegant mix of lavender, scented pelargonium and dusty miller planted beneath a shop window.

Casanova Restaurant on 5th Street is my favorite place to eat in Carmel. Delicious food, nicely over-the-top service and one of my favorite dining patios ever are tucked into this charming little house. Try the Spinach Gnocchi. Trust me.

I have long coveted this glass roof that covers half of the patio; a heritage oak shades the other half. I would love to adapt this for my own little courtyard!

After lunch we explored the town; at a local florist I admired this planting of succulents, so perfect against the earthy wall.

Orchids for sale...

Luscious lavender roses...

And a charming succulent wreath (yours for only $97.50! We look but don't touch...)

This is my favorite stage in the life of a foxglove; about halfway open. Once the bottom flowers start to die off they just seem past their prime. This is perfection.

Shrub begonias do beautifully in Carmel, and are widely planted; in this mild climate they bloom nearly year-round.

Loved this beautiful planting of Euphorbia characias 'Tasmanian Tiger.'

A beautiful Banksia growing happily in a pot; it looks like Banksia ericifolia.

Probably the most magnificent specimen of Fremontodendron californicum I've every seen. Next to the gas station. Carmel is so cool!

Finally, a lovely planting of Cineraria 'Stellata' which happily reseeds itself in shady areas. Thanks for joining me for this little stroll, more about the actual project will be forthcoming!


  1. Thanks for the quick tour. So different from North Carolina where I garden. We have early spring here, but it's nothing compared to SoCal.

  2. Oh, you have it good, all right. I think I've seen charming Carmel in Chuck's posts at My Back 40 (Feet). Your pics are lovely and make me want to book a flight today.

  3. @Shannon You're welcome! I actually live in Norcal, but Carmel is probably zone 10 or close to it, being near the coast. It's worth a visit if you're ever out this way!

    @Pam I love Chuck's posts, will have to check the Carmel ones, thanks! You'd be welcome in these parts anytime...

  4. Very nice. I enjoyed your tour of Carmel. I had a wonderful lunch at Casanova's maybe 20 years ago, and I still think of it as my Favorite restaurant!

  5. Oh, how I miss those childhood trips to Carmel - and how I miss the sea! So many darling buildings, wonderful shops, and gorgeous scenery. I just love that wreath. Thanks for the beautiful tour. :)