'Tis the season of pineapple sage blossoms and hummingbirds

Season of pineapple sage blossoms and hummingbirds

All summer long the pineapple sage (Salvia elegans) grows without blooming. As a perennial in our climate, summer is its time to finish growing back from the annual "haircut" it gets in January or February when I cut it back almost all the way down to the ground. This bush has been in the ground for about 10 years and does better with the severe once-a-year prune as opposed to lighter more frequent pruning.

In autumn, when the rest of the flowers in the gardens have faded and fallen, the pineapple sage puts on its show. Dazzlingly bright scarlet trumpet flowers bloom and adorn the bushes from mid-October until often well into holiday season between American Thanksgiving and Christmas. In years past I've cut large sprigs off to decorate my Thanksgiving table.

This year, I tried growing pineapple sage in a pot on the deck outside my studio window, so I'd have hummingbirds there too like I used to before the deck was constructed a couple of years ago. The bush in the pot struggled throughout the summer but bounced back in September and is blooming nonetheless.

The pineapple sage comes by its name honestly. If you crush a leaf in your hand and hold it to your nose you can smell the tropical sweetness of pineapples.

The blooms must also be full of sweetness because the hummingbirds love them. Many a fight breaks out in the air over the pineapple sage as our Anna's hummingbirds refuse to share the bounty nicely.

This little gal didn't have to share this afternoon. Lucky her.

Season of pineapple sage blossoms and hummingbirds
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In only a couple of hours the mystery has been solved!

I just LOVE technology! In a matter of hours, one comment from one person solved a mystery that's been bugging me for years (see the post below or click here to read it).

Thanks to Elaine I now know that this photo is of the Bernheimer Oriental Gardens in Pacific Palisades, California.
Help solve the mystery and identify these unknown Asian gardens in 1930s California
Once Elaine gave me a name, I was able to do a quick Google search and I found the following photograph at CardCow.com

Those elephants are definitely the same statuary in the photograph taken by my grandmother (below).

It's these elephants...

From www.image-archeology.com:

Bernheimer Residence and Oriental Japanese Gardens

Pacific Palisades & Hollywood, California

16980 Sunset Blvd, Pacific Palisades, California
Bernheimer Residence and Gardens


In 1924 Adolph Bernheimer leased the Pacific Palisades location, which was being used as a mule camp in the construction of highways. Adolph supervised every detail of building the complex of oriental structures as his personal residence. It housed his ancient oriental collection. It also was a horticultural showplace. The Bernheimer Gardens flourished as a tourist attraction until 1941, averaging 5,000 visitors a week. World War II was a factor in its fall from grace -- because it was oriental and because Adolph Bernheimer was of German origin. This triggered contempt and led to vandalism. Adolph's passing in 1944, financial difficulties and land erosion, caused the Oriental Gardens to slip into a state of disrepair. The property was vacated in the late 1940s and the treasures were sold at auction in 1951. All of the structures were demolished in the early 1950s. An apartment complex was built at the West End of the property and the rest of the property is still vacant land. The above map is from a Bernheimer Oriental Gardens brochure (see full brochure below).
Thanks to Mary Louise for providing this history; various sources used.


It looks like Hubby and I won't be taking any road trips to see this beautiful landmark. We're both sad that it no longer exists.
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Want to help solve a mystery? Identify the California landmark in these photos from the 1930s

Unknown oriental gardens 2

My Grammy was quite the shutterbug. And, for the most part, she was really good about organizing her photos chronologically in nice neat photo albums (you know the kind with the thick construction paper pages and photo squares to secure the corners of the photos). In the late 1930s, as a single woman in her 20's she did a few road trips that she documented photographically and then put into a small album that surfaced a few years ago.

Here's where the mystery comes in...

She failed to label one section of photographs in the little album and I have no idea where they were taken.

Here's what I do know:
  • The photos are definitely from one particular road trip.
  • Based on proximity to other labeled photos and the ages of the people in the photos the trip happened around 1937-1939.
  • She took the trip with her widowed father and kid brother. The destination appears to have been Sequoia National Forest based on the photo below (the sign says, "Boundary Sequoia National Forest").

  • The road trip started in Oakland, California. I know from the photo above that they definitely visited the Sequoia National Forest in central California (see the map below) while on the road trip.
  • The Asian gardens in the photographs I've included in this post must have been located somewhere in central or southern-central California.
  • The first photograph (above) looks like the gardens may have been along the coast of California.
  • The sub-tropical plants in the photos of the Asian gardens indicate that the elevation isn't high enough for the climate to get a lot of winter frost and probably not any snow.
Can you help solve the mystery? Does anything in these photographs look familiar?

I would love to know if these gardens still exist, so Hubby and I could take our own road trip to visit them. The statuary in the photographs is amazing. I wonder if any of it still exists.

Unknown oriental gardens 1

Unknown oriental gardens 3

Unknown oriental gardens 4

Unknown oriental gardens 5

Unknown oriental gardens 6
Look at the elephant statuary crossing the bridge (below)
Unknown oriental gardens 7

Unknown oriental gardens 8

Unknown oriental gardens 9
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Dahlia fireworks

Dahlia fireworks

To me, the dahlia petals look like they are exploding from the center of each flower.
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How many licks does it take to get the center of... a dahlia???

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a... dahlia???

These deep purple dahlias almost look good enough to eat... almost.
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Meeting Mr. Gray Fox


Grey fox (animal ambassador at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum)

Local to us is a wonderful facility that rescues and rehabilitates wildlife called the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. A little over a week ago, Hubby and I took the opportunity to visit and had the pleasure of meeting this handsome little guy, a gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus californicus).

This handsome fellow was found by humans in their barn when he was a young orphaned kit (or pup) and tried to raise him on their own. But the well-meaning humans found that raising a wild animal is something better left to professionals when the fox got sick after a few months. That's how the fox came to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum where he was rehabilitated. But because he had been orphaned so young he hadn't learned the ability to hunt in the wild from his parents, so he couldn't be released back into the wild. When injury or circumstances preclude the optimal release back into the wild that is the goal of most rehabilitated animals, Lindsay Wildlife Museum makes a permanent residence for the animal in their educational facility where the animal can become an ambassador for teaching people of all ages.

Mr. Gray Fox is one of the museum's most popular ambassador right now. He's only a couple of years old so he has a long career ahead of him (he'll most likely live to be 12-14 years old in captivity).

We sat and watched Mr. Gray Fox for about an hour as he excitedly anticipated feeding and "training" time (which we were also able to watch). We were fascinated by his beauty and memorized everything about him. It was the first time we had seen a gray fox, so Mr. Gray Fox was definitely doing his educational ambassador job with us.

A week after our educational visit, Hubby and I came home late in the evening from being out. We pulled into our driveway, and Hubby got out of the truck to retrieve our recycling, green waste and garbage cans from the curb. As he did so, he saw an animal that he mistook for a neighborhood cat at first. It crossed from our neighbor's yard across the street less than 10 yards from where Hubby stood. Because of our educational experience with Mr. Gray Fox at the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, Hubby realized that the animal wasn't a cat. It was a gray fox!

Hubby slowly walked to where the fox had headed into our next door neighbor's driveway and had disappeared from view behind our jasmine hedge. As Hubby rounded the corner of the hedge, the fox trotted back out toward him across our narrow country-lane-of-a-street, then zig-zagged back across to our side of the street again to our other next door neighbor's yard. All the while Hubby was standing in the middle of the fox's zig-zagging getting a perfect view of this incredible creature that humans rarely see the in wild because of their shy nocturnal habits.

When the sighting finally ended with the fox disappearing into the neighbor's yard, Hubby called out to me (I was still up by the house) in a loud whisper, "I just saw a gray fox!" He was so excited. And so was I when he recounted the sighting to me. I wish I hadn't missed it.

We are thrilled that after 11 years here at Rosehaven Cottage, we finally witnessed a gray fox living here. We hope it has frequented our own backyard wildlife habitat and not just our neighbors' yards. The gray fox is the only member of the canine family that climbs trees, and we have some of those for it to climb during the night-time hours when it hunts. Hopefully, it hunts in our garden and helps itself to some rodents. Our garden wildlife habitat is small by most standards but the "welcome mat" is always out.



Prune trees and shrubs between October and December

In Northern California and other temperate areas of the United States, some birds and mammals begin nesting in January. The nesting season lasts into August. When you prune trees and shrubs during those months, check carefully for nests and be sure any babies are gone before you prune. The safest time to prune is between October and December.

(Insider info: My garden and produce are healthier and happier
since I started gardening for wildlife)
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Thank you, Mr. Jobs

On January 24, 1984, this happened...


I never saw this unveiling. But only a few months later, my father's employer (one of the first purchasers of the Macintosh) allowed him to bring home one of the first Macs for long-term off-site use. That evening, there was a much smaller unveiling at our house as my siblings and I were introduced to the Macintosh for the first time.

My world changed that day.

At first I wondered where the C:\ was (otherwise called a "C prompt"). I wanted to enter basic DOS commands to make the computer do tricks like the ones I'd played with at school. I was frustrated and thought this "toy" wasn't worth much if I couldn't interact with it and make it loop with some simple BASIC code. This couldn't be a true computer if it didn't have that C:\. My younger siblings were less jaded than I and immediately loved the Mac. I took a few days to embrace it.

I didn't know that I was in a unique position. I was 17 years old--old enough to embrace technology but not so old that it intimidated me. I didn't realize that the little box without the C:\ was going to change my world (and everyone else's too). I was going to be one of only a relatively few of the world's population that straddle the transition between life before the Mac-led PC revolution and after.

I became an early adopter by default. When the first version of Microsoft Word was released (originally for the Mac), I learned it so I could work at temp jobs during my breaks from college. When the first version of Microsoft Excel was released, I did the same. When on one of those temp jobs an employer handed me a box and said, "No one has time to learn this. Can you?" I took it and taught myself the first version of Adobe PageMaker and entered the world of desktop publishing.

I graduated with a two-year degree in Commercial Art having received all my graphic design training without touching a single computer. My fellow students and I were probably one of the last groups to do that. I was learning how to do layout using "old school" techniques with t-squares and waxed paper bits. All the while I was creating with the Mac on the side knowing there was an easier way to do things.

It doesn't seem that long ago.

As I sat here today in front of my beautiful trusty iMac with its gorgeous display that lets me post-process digital photographs with the utmost color accuracy, I reflected on all the ways that Steve Jobs' vision of the Mac and his passion for pushing the limits of technology has touched my life. It was very hard to contain the emotions that welled within me from the gratitude I felt for someone being willing to tenaciously push forward despite multiple setbacks, the odds being stacked against him so many times, and the voices of critics on all sides.

Thank you Steve Jobs for continuing to believe in your passion. Thank you for following that inner drive that pushed you to see what others couldn't. I thank you with tears in my eyes and the fullest heart.

It is because of you, Mr. Jobs, that I can sit here in the comfort of my home studio and be a creative professional today. It is because of that little box without a C:\ that I can do things I couldn't have dreamed of doing back on that day in 1984.

My world changed again today... because my world had to say goodbye to you.

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

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A visit to the Conservatory of Flowers... like a trip to Hawaii without the cost of airfare

Conservatory of Flowers San Francisco 2011

Sitting like a white palace in Golden Gate Park is a magnificent building--the Conservatory of Flowers. Constructed in 1878, it has been there for a very long time. The building strikes me as a "she" for many reasons. She has survived a major fire in 1883; the horrific San Francisco earthquake of 1906; another fire in 1918; and devastating windstorms of 100 mph shattered the 30,000 glass panes and the glass dome in the winter of 1995-1996.

I'd say that sort of tenacity has to come from a "she" wouldn't you agree?

She reminds me of many of the women in my family that lived in the San Francisco area at the same time the Conservatory of Flowers was built.

Conservatory of Flowers, 1897 San Francisco
The above image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.
For years after the catastrophic winter of 1995-1996, the Conservatory sat in a state of restoration. Whenever I would be driving through Golden Gate park I would wistfully look at her and wonder what she looked like inside. Fortunately, after a masterful restoration she is open to the public once again. And like any elect lady, her true beauties are within.

Tropicals at Conservatory of Flowers San Francisco

Stepping into the first of five separate climate rooms, I was enveloped with the warm moist tropical air of the Lowland Tropics room housed under the main dome. It was chilly outside so my glasses and camera lens fogged up right away. But once everything got acclimated, it was time to explore.

Tropicals at Conservatory of Flowers San Francisco

Stepping into the next annex, I found myself in the cool humidity of the Highland Tropics where more than 700 of the 1000 known species of high-altitude orchids native to Central and South America happily reside.

Tropicals at Conservatory of Flowers San Francisco

Then stepping through another set of double doors I was enveloped by warm moist air even denser than in the Lowland Tropics room. The Aquatic Plants room showcases a massive pond in the center with a breathtaking array of aquatic tropical plants growing within it.

Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco

Some pale blushing anthuriums were one of many tropical flowers growing around the pond.

Anthurium at Conservatory of Flowers San Francisco

Tracking back through the rooms and exiting the Lowland Tropics room on the opposite side, I found myself in my favorite room--the Potted Plants Gallery. Fashioned after what garden historians have termed the "Victorian Pot Culture", the room made me feel as if I had stepped back in time 100 years.

My favorite wing at Conservatory of Flowers San Francisco


Hubby and I sat for quite some time in this gallery on the large curved bench at one end. It was peaceful and serene. It felt like a home away from home. During certain times of the year this gallery's air is pungent with citrus blossoms, but on this particular day the air was only laced with the aroma of fresh soil and the smell of green life... and it felt like home.

More facts about The Conservatory of Flowers (from Wikipedia):
  • The building remains the oldest in Golden Gate Park and is the oldest municipal wooden conservatory remaining in the United States
  • The central dome rises nearly 60 feet (18 m) high and the arch-shaped symmetrical wings extending from it on either side make up 240 feet (73 m) in overall length
  • Physical evidence suggests that the Conservatory of Flowers was constructed originally of redwood milled on the West Coast
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