Posts in Provence
Climbing Eden Rose
Climbing Eden Rose In My Potager

Climbing Eden Rose In My Potager

It has taken me three years to cultivate a single bloom from my climbing Eden Rose. It is not easy to find Eden Rose in local nurseries. Search for this rose in pot and bareroot form for sale online. Heirloom Roses is one source for it in a pot.

I first planted my Eden Rose in too shady a spot where it struggled. Finally, this winter I transplanted it to my potager arch to co-mingle with my young Golden Dorsett apple trees. It is very happy now, and has exploded with happy blooms. Eden Rose is a versatile repeat bloomer with an unusual blend of pastel pinks, creams, and yellows. I simply love this rose, and it reminds me of Provence!

I saw and recognized Eden Rose while visiting the magnificent potager, Bastide des Saveurs, near the village of La Cadiere-D'Azur in the Bandol Region of Provence. Here is a link to my past post and visit with Chef René Bérard in May 2015.

Chef René Bérard told me this rose was called Pierre de Ronsard. In the back of my mind, I knew it had another name, and did some exploring. According to Wikipedia, Eden Rose, also known as Pierre de Ronsard was created by Marie-Louise Meilland in France by Meilland International in 1985, as part of the the Renaissance Collection.

Bastide des Saveurs is Chef René Bérard's potager and location for cooking classes. For a treat, visit his website for more information on his quaint family-owned hotel, restaurant, spa, and cookery school,  Bérard Hostellerie.


Provence Morning Light and Eden Rose in Chef Bérard's Potager

Provence Morning Light and Eden Rose in Chef Bérard's Potager

Climbing Eden Rose in My Potager

Climbing Eden Rose in My Potager

A Summer of Tomatoes
Luscious Cherry Tomatoes From the Garden

Luscious Cherry Tomatoes From the Garden

It has been a splendid tomato summer! Volunteer cherry tomatoes from last summer's plants joyfully returned without a nudge. I had the sweetest cherry tomatoes from May through July. The best recipes are the simplest. I washed the tomatoes, halved them, tossed them with fresh Basil Temecula Olive Oil, dried basil for further basil flavor layering and extra intense flavor, freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper, and kosher salt. I roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees F. for a half hour. At this point the cherry tomatoes caramelize and are ready to be tossed over my favorite pasta or zucchini-spiraled sauteed pasta. It doesn't get any better than this!

"Dressed to Thrill" Cherry Tomatoes

"Dressed to Thrill" Cherry Tomatoes

In July, the beefy big boys started making an appearance, Cherokee Purple, Lemon Boy, and Renee's Garden Crimson Carmello, a top flavor "French tomato variety renowned for exquisite flavor." I used these tomatoes for summer sandwiches and sumptuous salads.

Cherokee Purple and Renee's Garden Dark Green Raven Zucchini

Cherokee Purple and Renee's Garden Dark Green Raven Zucchini

In August, the Italian San Marzano tomatoes and Inca Jewels Container Roma tomatoes (seeds from Renee's Garden) start ripening. I want to use the roma tomatoes for rich, flavorful tomato sauces. I sliced and froze the roma tomatoes for recipes for my fall upcoming "Lunch in Provence" Cooking Classes.

Jeweled Roma Tomatoes and Italian San Marzano Tomatoes

Jeweled Roma Tomatoes and Italian San Marzano Tomatoes

To have tomatoes all summer long, plant different varieties for different uses. Always plant a few new varieties to experiment with. Although I sent away for tomato seed varieties from Renee's Seeds, Home Depot had a good selection of different tomato seedling varieties such as Cherokee Purple, Indie Rose, and Lemon Boy.

"Life is endlessly delicious," treat yourself, a friend, or loved one to a fall "Lunch in Provence" Cooking Class! For more information, please visit, Cooking Classes.


Terrific Tomato-Staking Technique
Row of Staked Tomatoes in Provence Kitchen Garden

Row of Staked Tomatoes in Provence Kitchen Garden

In Provence last May, Chef Berard gave me a tour of his magnificent kitchen garden at La Bastide des Saveurs near Bandol. Although his kitchen garden was stunning, the way he staked his tomatoes really stood out for me. Each tomato plant is planted at the base of these curved metal stakes. There were about 6 to 7 tomato plants per row. As the tomato plants grow and mature, the tomato plant is wrapped around the curved stake keeping the plant anchored and supported. Mature tomato plants, especially laden with fruit can carry some weight. Larger wooden stakes placed on each end of the tomato row lend more security for the tomato rows. Two wires interlaced from one end stake to the other, through the curved metal stakes provide additional support and strength.

Same Tomato-Staking Technique in My Kitchen Garden

Same Tomato-Staking Technique in My Kitchen Garden

At the time I thought to myself, I'm never going to find this kind of tomato stake anywhere. I was wrong, I have found it here in San Diego at many garden departments at Home Depot, Armstrong Garden, and Dixieline.

I like these stakes because the tomato plants respond to being trained up the curved stake, the curved stakes take less room than other tomato support options, the tomato plants are well-supported, when the tomatoes are mature each row will look like one large row of tomato plants, and tomatoes should be easy to harvest.



Lady Who?

Inspired by my trip to Provence, France in the fall of 2014, I finally finished a part of my garden which had been vacant for five years. I had been waiting for the design to come to me in my head. Mind you, I had played with the design on paper too. I had to consider several things, 1) it had to work seamlessly with my existing boxwood garden, 2) it had to be drought-tolerant, 3) it had to have pathways and access, 4) it had to have year-round interest, 5) it had to draw you into the garden as our west deck and home overlooks it--and it is part of our ocean view and horizon, and last 5) it had to call to my soul. That is a tall order!

My mind was fresh from visiting some of the best "earthy and elegant" world-class gardens Provence has to offer. It was a chance page-turning moment however, in Louisa Jones' Gardens in Provence where I saw a small 2-3/4" x 2" color photo of a garden similar to what I had envisioned in my head. I had my design, and could move forward.

The design is simple. It consists of four African boxwood parterres created by pathways. Within each parterre is a "Tiny Tower" Cypress, Goodwin Creek Lavender, and Irene rosemary. Goodwin Creek Lavender is an excellent landscape lavender as it blooms nearly year-round and has great gray foliage against purple blooming spikes. Irene rosemary also blooms profusely, with a low-mounding shape. The inside parterre hedging is flowering dwarf myrtle.

Soon after that, luck was on my side when I found this beautiful "Venus de Milo-esque" fountain at my favorite consignment shop. She was a "lady" with a presence, and the centerpiece for my new garden. She stands on a pedestal and a large basin. A small quiet stream of water arches out of a dolphins mouth at her base. She provides a cooling effect for the garden and a soft gurgle noise to tweak your senses.

Here she is on the first day in our garden when everything was still a vision. As the garden continues to grow, I think this fountain needs a name, Lady Who? Obvious ladies to name her after are Lady Di, Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum--you get the picture. Please comment and share, if you think you have a great name for her.

VintageGardenGal Turns Seven!

It is hard to believe my blog, VintageGardenGal is celebrating seven years! I started writing VintageGardenGal on September 4, 2008. With over 253 posts under my belt, it has been a wonderful experience to share with all of you. Thank you for your continued interest and support!

How does one celebrate a blog milestone? How about with a celebration "Grape Harvest Cake!" Ever since I read the book, We've Always Had Paris and Provence, A Scrapbook of Our Life in France, by Patricia and Walter Wells, I've always wanted to make Patricia Well's "Grape Harvest Cake" from Chapter 23. She makes this cake often May to September at her Provence Farmhouse, using various seasonal fruit, and grapes from their vineyard in the fall.

My husband, John, and I too, have a vineyard in which we grow Syrah grapes. Well, it is a bit of "lemons to lemonade" story. We did not have a good grape-growing year, low yield, and not even our traditional harvest event. Normally, I am so busy with the harvest, winemaking, family and friends in town that a "Grape Harvest Cake" is nearly out of the question. This year I took our "petite" yield of good fruit, and said, "I am going to make this harvest cake for my blog anniversary, and share it with all of you."

Grape Harvest Cake

Recipe Type:  Dessert
Cuisine: Provence
Author: Patricia Wells
Cook time: 55 mins
Serves: 12

A simple Provence cake that uses seasonal fruit, and grapes in particular in the fall. If you don't grow grapes, use fresh purple grapes such as Champagne grapes. This cake is made with olive oil, typical of Provence, creating a cake that is moist and light. You will need a 9 inch springform pan and an electric mixer fitted with a whisk. Lightly sprinkle powdered sugar over the finished cake as an optional garnish before cutting and serving.


  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup nonfat milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste ( vanilla extract)
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon, and 1 orange, preferably organic
  • 2 pounds small fresh purple grapes (which have to be carefully seeded if they have seeds)


  1. Olive oil and flour a springform cake pan. Tap out an excess flour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk, beat the eggs and sugar at high speed until thick and lemon-colored, about 3 minutes. Add the olive oil, milk, vanilla, and mix just to blend.
  4. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Add the lemon and orange zest and toss to coat the zest with flour. Spoon the flour mixture into the egg mixture and stir to blend. Let this mixture sit for 10 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb the liquids. Stir three-fourths of the fruit into the batter. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan, smoothing over the top with a spatula.
  5. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the remaining grapes on top of the cake. Bake until the top is a deep golden brown and the cake feels firm, about 40 minutes more, for a total baking time of 55 minutes.
  6. Remove to a rack to cool. After 10 minutes, run a knife along the side of the pan. Release and remove the side of the springform pan, leaving the cake on the pan base. Serve at room temperature, cutting into thin wedges.
Chef Berard at La Bastide des Saveurs
Gracious Chef Réne Bérard

Gracious Chef Réne Bérard

In hot pursuit of cold rosé wines, my husband, John, and myself found ourselves in the fairytale region of southern Provence near the Bandol area. It is breathtakingly beautiful much, like the lower Rhône Valley with medieval hilltop villages and rugged rolling landscapes, with the blissful addition of the glistening Mediterranean in your sight.

We stayed in the hilltop village of La Cadiere-d'Azur, where some of the village's defense walls date back to the 13th Century still stand. By recommendation we stayed at the Hotel Bérard, a quaint family-owned and managed hotel that also boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant. In fact, father, René Bérard, and his son, Jean-François are the chefs.

In my research I noticed on their website, Bérard Hostellerie, there was a property in a garden setting, La Bastide des Saveurs, in which they offered cooking classes, sommelier food and wine pairings, and special events. I innocently asked if we could see the garden at La Bastide des Saveurs--thinking it was a grand vegetable garden. The tour was arranged and the next morning Chef Rene Berard personally met and escorted us the three kilometers to his property.

Yes, La Bastide des Saveurs was a grand vegetable garden or potager and so much more to my surprise and delight! It proved to be one of the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen, mixing herbs, flowers, and vegetables together. Typical of a potager is a focal point, pathways, and divided parts of garden planted in herbs, vegetables, and flowers. Arches of happy blooming roses billowed along the pathways. I saw one of my favorite climbing roses over and over in full glory, the lovely Pierre de Ronsard, or better known in the United States, as the climbing Eden rose.

Arches of Roses in His Potager

Arches of Roses in His Potager

Chef Berard was so gracious to detail and explain how he used these herbs and vegetables in his cooking. Chef Berard speaks a bit of english, and I speak a bit of french, but we were definitely speaking the common language of "cooking from the garden." On this beautiful morning, the light and landscape added dramatic drama to this incredible garden. I thought to myself, this must be one step away from heaven.

Staked Spiral Tomatoes

Staked Spiral Tomatoes

Chef Berard showed us how he plants many different varieties of tomatoes, and how he successfully stakes them individually, and anchors them with end poles. I must try and find this tomato pole for next year's growing season.

Provence Fountain, Olive Trees and Lavender

Provence Fountain, Olive Trees and Lavender

Everything was spectacular about this property, down to the Provencal fountain holding court amongst the olive trees, lavender, and iceberg roses. I highly recommend looking into cooking classes at La Bastide des Saveurs. Chef Berard will customize cooking classes for a group of six or more. You can find more detailed information at Hotel Berard.

Passionate for Provence

DSC_0076Not quite over jet lag and time difference, with my head still drifting back to special moments, my husband and I have just returned from an incredible spring visit to Provence and Paris. Towards the end of our trip on a rainy Sunday in Paris (rain makes Paris even more romantic) I noticed this "larger than life" quote in a Marais pastry shop window.

"La terre est un gateau plein de douceur." --Charles Baudelaire

Translated it means "The earth is a cake full of sweetness." Charles Baudelaire was considered one of the most influential French poets in history, and one of the greatest poets of the 19th Century. He was also a critic, essayist, and a translator.

When I saw the quote I immediately thought of my beloved Provence. That's it, Provence is so full of sweetness, the landscape smiles back at you. Not only is the landscape so utterly breathtaking, everyday life is colorful, food and wine are exceptional, and the unexpected becomes the norm. It is simply the magic of Provence and all of it's sweetness.


I have so much more to share with you regarding Provence, please stay tuned.

Paris, Provence, Patricia Wells

DSC_0026 Patricia Wells has a new cookbook out, The French Kitchen Cookbook: Recipes and Lessons from Paris and Provence. Last weekend, Owner and Founder, Susan McBeth's Adventures by the Book hosted culinary legend Patricia Wells at Torrey Pines Lodge. Check out Adventures by the Book, you'll never go to another regular book signing again. McBeth features what I call value-added creative author interactive book events, such as author-guided travel, fund raising, intimate dinners, receptions, and more.

Wells is delightful in person, very warm and friendly. She spoke briefly to local fans on some of her guidelines, principles, and tips she showers her students with during her week-long cooking classes in her Paris kitchen studio or her 18th century Provencal farmhouse. Wells has had a very storied culinary career with many accolades, four James Beard Awards amongst her many cookbooks to start, but what I cherish about her is her willingness to share all that she knows about Paris, Provence, and her food world. Who her favorite cheese monger is, her favorite chefs, her favorite wines from all regions, her favorite markets--I could go on and on. The French Kitchen Cookbook is filled with delightful recipes that urge you to make them now. Wells also shares many of her personal styling tips and kitchen suggestions that are fabulous.

I have been extremely delighted with her suggestions through her articles and books over the years, and have used her recommendations for the backbone of my Provence itineraries. One such adventure was eating at Le Bistro du Paradou Provence, Karma or Coincidence, and having a chance encounter with Princess Caroline of Monaco.

Ironically, after being a long time devotee of Wells, she and I are both coincidentally in the magical book, Lunch in Provence that was published fall 2012, by coauthors Jean-Andre Charial and Rachael McKenna. Wells wrote the engaging introduction, and I am serendipitously quoted in the book on the radiating beauty of Provence. This I know for sure, "like attracts like" and we both share passion for Paris, Provence, and delicious food.