Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Field trip!: Newport Beach, So Cal

   Husband and I just got back to the Great Northwest from a family reunion in Newport Beach, California. We had a wonderful time swimming in the ocean ( aka being tossed like a dryer sheet by the surf  ) visiting with family and enjoying the oh so sunny yet mild climate. Between naps and meals and planned activity  we found time to stroll the streets and take in the swanky beach-ness that is Newport. 

    Bougainvillea, the plant that can single handedly conjure memories of warmth and sunshine and bird calls in a courtyard. 

   This lovely entrance had two gas lamps flanking an iron gate that led into a grotto like entrance. I couldn't help wondering who got to live here?

A gate belonging to the same house.

   This window with it's reflection of palms trees, perfectly trimmed roses and opulent petunias sums it up, wealth, leisure, class with a touch ( just a touch now ) of simplicity. 

   Among all the perfection however, there were a few refreshing standout homes of rich people looking for something a little bit different and having the means to indulge their whims. I loved this front gate and swooping wall, even if the spikes on top of every turret said "keep out."

   And then there were the homes of folks who have lived in Newport since forever. This humble place had years worth of accumulated beach finds and tacky chachki in it's tiny yard surrounded by giant mansions. I was instantly charmed and relieved.

   But what really really got me was all the beautiful plants! Things that I have no hope of growing in my yard. I had plant lust bad. Everywhere I looked where these giant echevaria that made me practically squeal with delight! They seemed to come in all different colors from deep burgundy to sherbet variegation of pink, blue and lemon yellow. 

   Husband found this great front yard planting on one of his early morning rambles and led me and my Mom on a pilgrimage after coffee one day. See the burgundy smaller echevarria? It's paired nicely with a small blooming barrel cactus and some lovely blue succulents.

   Same planting, great spiky palm type thing and a different variety of blue purple echevarria that had great yellow pinky blooms. 

More echevarria.


And More! I told you I had plant lust didn't I?

I have no idea what this is but I loved the almost cone like blossoms ( ? ) and the swirly leaves.

   While I was definitely obsessed with echevarria I did notice other things too, like great textures. This privacy wall separating the sidewalk from the front entrance of a modern beach mansion looked like someone had taken a slice of beach and placed it so you could see the strata of a hundred years worth of tides. 

   Or the myriad of textures in the bark of different varieties of eucalyptus.

   This giant at the back of the Newport Public Library looks ancient but is actually only 50 to 30 years old. My Mom, who grew up in Southern California, told me settlers planted eucalyptus as fast growing drought tolerant wind breaks, but something about being in the Northern Hemisphere ( they are native to Australia ) made them twist like the beast you see up top. 

   So, if I had a buh-jillion dollars I could buy this bay side empty lot and build a tropical paradise from scratch to vacation in. Yet, I do not have that kind of money so I will just have to enjoy looking and take inspiration from the gardeners who do such a great job tending to their employers lots. Thanks guys!