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Presentation Topics:

Secret GardenWalks: Europe
Wine Country Gardens
21st Century Gardens
Great Gardens/Great Plants

Foodie Havens

Paris to Provence!

I invite you to accompany me on a virtual tour as we stroll around Paris, then travel South to Provence. We begin with an obligatory visit to Ladurée .. the unparalleled pâtisserie. Floral touches on the windows, sweet!

Ladurée! Paris © Alice Joyce

Ladurée! Paris © Alice Joyce

The magnificent Musée d’Orsay provides a sterling view across the rooftops to Sacré-Cœur, high atop Montmartre. Due to the time of year I found the outdoor balcony closed, resorting to a photograph through the glass window. Ah well, life is so much about timing! Noteworthy:  The d’Orsay museum’s Café Campana, its fabulous Art Nouveau style ~ a comforting space to enjoy a delicious meal and carafe of wine, which we took advantage of after a long journey into the city.

Sacré-Cœur from the Musée d'Orsay

Sacré-Cœur from the Musée d’Orsay © Alice Joyce

Despite the overcast skies, the Tuileries gardens are a must-see, offering delightful displays and  charming ambiance year-round.

Tuileries roses © Alice Joyce

Jardin des Tuileries © Alice Joyce

I had the opportunity for the first time to stay in the 12th arrondissement area, where I needed only to walk out the front door of my B&B to find a stairway to the elevated gardens of La Promenade Plantée .. the lush green walkway planted on an old Parisien railway line. These innovative public gardens which opened in 1993 surely inspired  New York’s High Line.

Promenade Plantée Paris  © Alice Joyce

Promenade Plantée Paris © Alice Joyce

The fine morning took in a long amble. While identifying many familiar species of plants, jet lag set in, so I located a bench with a good excuse for people-watching.

On now via the high-speed TGV to Avignon, the heart of Provence.

Au Tout Petit © Alice Joyce

Au Tout Petit © Alice Joyce

Merci ~ my thank you to Chef Silvère Vivien for a blissfully satisfying meal at Au Tout Petit. The ‘eye-catching’ graphic design signaled the creative attention to the restaurant’s every aspect, from the inviting atmosphere to delectable cuisine. I’ll be returning to this Avignon foodie haven.

Touring included a few nights in Le Duché d’Uzès ... in the Gard region of Provence.

Uzes Wall Poster © Alice Joyce

Uzès Wall Poster © Alice Joyce

On Wednesday mornings within the walls of the Medieval castle, a perfectly temperate day presents an opportunity for a picnic. Uzès, like many Provençal cities, boasts brilliant markets. A sampling of artisanal cheeses comprised one element of our meal. Once again, the floral touch beautifies the bounty.

French Cheeses Marché Uzès © Alice Joyce

Provence is know for fragrant lavender products.

Uzès Lavender © Alice Joyce

Uzès Lavender © Alice Joyce

Upcoming on Alice’s Garden Travel Buzz .. Rosé Wine Tasting in Provence ~ pure pleasure!

California Wine Country

Raymond Vineyards ~ Wine Tasting Joie de Vivre

A satisfying afternoon combined garden touring and tasting fine wines at Raymond Vineyards ~ ruby red Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. I awoke with a smile on my face the next morning, still savoring the aftereffects of a heady joie de vivre that characterizes a visit to this St. Helena winery.

Theater of Nature © Alice Joyce

The spirited ambiance emerging throughout the Raymond property is colored by the elegance and humor of CEO Jean-Charles Boisset of Boisset Family Estates, the driving force behind the Vineyard’s insightful use of solar power, its commitment to organic farming methods, and a lavish aesthetic sensibility. Receiving kudos for Cabernet Sauvignons distinguished by a silky depth, Raymond Vineyards recently garnered the Wine Enthusiast ’2012 American Winery of the Year’ award.

Unique tasting opportunities at this Napa Valley destination are designed to excite all the senses: Consider reserving an unparalleled offering ~ Raymond’s velvet draped, Baccarat embellished Red Room ~ click on the link to learn more.

Raymond Vineyards 'Frenchie' detail © Alice Joyce

Stroll through the  extensive biodynamic gardens and you’ll come upon a “shady dog suite’ … aka Domaine Frenchie!

A perfect place to park your pooch.

'Frenchie Winery' © Alice Joyce

For a self-guided tour of The Theater of Nature gardens, there’s a very cool app available to all!

Enter the following into your smart phone

… and click on ‘play’ for an explanation for each of 60 or so distinctive elements of the garden’s organic and biodynamic guiding principles. Among the topics you’ll learn about: Building soil, nurturing goats, chickens and sheep, and planting to attract beneficial insects.

Theater of Nature - Photo Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

RAYMOND Flow Fountain © Alice Joyce

Flow fountains like the one pictured are an integral aspect of biodynamic gardens; designed to move water in a vortex motion that replicates the infinity symbol.

Raymond Exterior Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

Winery displays celebrate the multifaceted sensory pleasures of wine. Below: An array of aromas to increase awareness of the complexity you might experience in a fine glass of wine; floral and spicy, fruity, earthy and spicy.

Aroma Display Photo Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

The Crystal Experience is one of the sparkling spaces at Raymond Vineyards. The glittery decor casts an enticing, theatrical spell; icing on the cake, so to speak, as you enjoy a tasting while learning about the art of decanting wine.

Raymond Crystal Cellar Photo Courtesy Raymond Vineyards

Botanical Gardens

San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers: Glorious, Historic Greenhouse

A detailed restoration true to the roots of its historic architecture sets apart the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park,  a glorious structure standing as the country’s oldest public glass and wood greenhouse.  You’ll doubtless find it easy to spend hours roaming through the Lowland Tropics and Highland Tropics rooms teeming with rarities both towering and tiny. Tropical specimens in the moist environs of the lowland gallery include a 100 year-old philodendron and ‘economic’ plants like bananas reaching skyward.

Potted Plants Gallery © Alice Joyce

I’m drawn to the lush Victorian displays in the Potted Plants gallery, with its wooden arbor acting as a focal point that draws visitors to enter and explore arrays of fabulous foliage and flowering species.

The current exhibit beguiles with an educational foray into the life cycle of butterflies and moths. The atmosphere is pure magic, as butterflies swoop and flutter about the gallery. One sweet creature landed on my hand and rested there for minutes until I made a slight movement. In a case filled with butterfly and moth pupa, visitors may observe the transformation taking place when a chrysalis begins to vibrate, and an adult emerges.

S F Conservatory Butterflies and Blooms © Alice Joyce

My visit coincided with a very special get-together …

The Garden Bloggers Fling 2013 celebrated a delectable dinner gathering in the Conservatory’s event space.

The Conservatory of Flowers provided a perfect setting for the group, coming together from near and far to relax after the Fling’s first day in the City by the Bay. A brilliant evening … enjoyed by all!
San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers

Exotic orchids abound…

Orchid © Alice Joyce

Overhead in the Aquatic Plants gallery, a beautiful rendition of the giant Amazon water lily, Victoria amazonica ~ hovers in space;  an eye-catching sculptural highlight of the gallery.

Victoria amazonica Water Lily Sculpture © Alice Joyce

These wondrous lily pads can grow to 8 feet in diameter; one of the wonders of the tropical watershed.

SF Conservatory of Flowers © Alice Joyce

Verdant displays offer delightful experiences in each of the Conservatory’s gallery rooms.

Anthurium cultivar © Alice Joyce

Shown below on the right: A living green wall constructed by Chris Bribach ~ Plants On Walls ~ welcomes you upon entering the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers. The colorful, textural expanse of flora creates just the right note as visitors prepare to experience the communities of plants awaiting inside each of the five distinctive galleries.

Conservatory Green Wall © Alice Joyce


Butterflies Blooms Exhibit © Alice Joyce