Follow Your Inner Urn-Ing

For some time I have wanted an urn in my garden, an urn that was simple but gave a nice touch to the garden. Urns are easy, as they can be planted, take the weather, moisture, and look great just where they are placed.

So in my mind, I began the hunt for the perfect white urn. Why white, because I have two existing white fountains, white is in my garden color palette, and I have a white stucco home. White is a theme. I have found white urns are a bit harder to find than other colored urns. 

So my journey began to find a white urn that would work well in my garden. In my travels and every day life, I came across fabulous urns and began to have "urn envy."

Recently, I stumbled across an urn that I thought would look great in my garden. I should say "urns" as I found three, and made a little vignette. Where did I placed these urns? In a perfect spot, the olive grove. Interestingly, these urns are almost a collage of the fabulous urns I had seen and been admiring, only better, because they seem perfect for my garden in color, form and size. Their white color draws your eye to their heavenly spot, in a most simple and natural way.

 Urns in My Olive Grove

Urns in My Olive Grove

I found urns for my garden, at the most surprising place, HomeGoodsThese urns are very reasonable and beautifully handcrafted in Mexico by local artisans. Suggestions to find urns for sale are nurseries, garden shops, flea markets, and home decor stores. Know what you are looking for, and keep your eyes open!

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.

New Year 2014 Greetings!

Narcissus Winter Beauty Greetings to you all, and wishing you the very best in 2014! It is only natural this time of year to reflect on the fruits of the past year, as well as plan and dream for the year ahead. Consider gratitude as a foundation for your coming year.

One of the blogs I follow, Liz Denney Sanders of She Brand, had a wonderful gratitude post around Thanksgiving which included her top 10 gratitude quotes, More Gratitude Less Attitude. When I think about gratitude I attribute Oprah and Sarah Ban Breathnach as two people who brought gratitude awareness to the forefront and they are included in this top 10 gratitude quote list, too.

Dream big, and write your dreams down. It is said that the simple act of writing dreams down and looking at this list of dreams frequently--starts the momentum. What have you got to lose. Learn something new and exciting this year. The wonderment of learning engages us in life. List some adventures you have always wanted to do, and don't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone.

There are many highlights for me in 2013, becoming an author is a big one, and having the opportunity to meet two of my favorite authors who have inspired me in my life, Alice Waters and Patricia Wells are two others. I embrace the small highlights, as well as the big highlights. Having a healthy "cooing" flock of hens makes my heart sing.

For those that live in San Diego County, it has been very sad to hear of Loren Nancarrow's passing, a well-known San Diego TV anchor, and a garden enthusiast and advocate. He touched our lives in so many ways. He will be greatly missed.

Wishing you a very happy and exciting 2014! I am excited to share with you more garden living through writings, tips, photography, recipes,  and styling. This is a quote that I just love, that I saw this year which has stayed with me. I am not sure of the author. "Make Everyday Your Masterpiece."

Nature is the Best Decorator

My Personal Bird's Nest Collection I collect bird nests from all over my garden. Sometimes a strong wind sends them to the ground. Thank goodness I find them empty, after the young birds have "flown the coop." I marvel at how well they are engineered. Some are large, and some are small. I recognize these nests are made from materials that come out of my garden. It gives me great joy to see the results of my garden from another angle.

I feel these special bird nests are symbolic of new beginnings, life, good fortune, and more. I count my blessings that there are so many of them. When I recently hung a European coat rack, I knew that was the perfect spot for my bird nest collection. Nature is by far the best decorator.

Please share if you collect bird nests. Please share the best bird nest you have found.

Domaine de Manion Harvest 2012

Harvest at Domaine de Manion was September 8, 2012. We had a generous bounty of 600 pounds of estate syrah grapes, an army of enthusiastic friends and family, and a harvest lunch to rival any three-star country chef. The weather was warm, but not the record-breaking heat experienced the follow Saturday close to 100 degrees. Grapes were picked at 26 brix (sugar percentage) and should yield about 35 gallons of wine which equates to about 15 cases of bottled wine.

We had our ritual "blessing of the harvest" and continued gratitude to all who were able to participate and share with us this day. All of our "fruits of labor" from this past year culminating on this special day. This was our fifth harvest. Our harvest is always an event, with cherished family and friends. It transcends generations, and always brings a universal smile to all. Our families who live out of town, migrate annually to join us, and make this an extra special occasion.

Vineyard nets were removed from the rows of vines and rolled up for next year. Eager harvesters started down the vineyard rows in teams, filling orange lugs with ripe grape clusters. Filled lugs yield 40 pounds of grapes each, giving us our poundage count. Lugs were carried to a sorting table, to sort any grapes that might not make the cut.

Dad Manion Enjoying Harvest 2012

Grapes destined for wine, were sent through an augured crusher/de-stemmer machine. Next step in the process, food-grade plastic barrels were filled with slightly crushed grapes and dry ice. Dry ice allows the grapes to sit on their skins and cold soak. A day later, yeast will be added and fermentation is kicked off. Another vintage is underway, with many more steps in the process, and time to age in the oak barrels.

Paella in the Making

Two hours later, and with everyone's help our harvest is in. Everyone is hungry for a well-deserved harvest lunch, served with award-winning Domaine de Manion vintages. It is now time to relax and reflect on the day. We had smoke ribs--brined for two days, paella cooked on the grill, assorted cheeses, fresh fig appetizer, tomato tart, garden salads, fresh chocolate-dipped strawberries and many more sinful desserts.

Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries at Harvest

One has to reflect on all the fun, happiness, and joy surrounding this day. It reminds me of the quote, "Uncork the wine, enjoy the dance, and let the Gods decide the rest.!" --Horace

Our Army of Enthusiastic Helpers

Please share if you have ever experienced a grape harvest. Please share if you visit wine country at harvest time.

A Sunflower to Brighten Your Day

A Sunflower To Brighten Your Day One day this impressive sunflower started to grow and grow, and eventually bloom. I try and imagine how this happened. Did a satiated bird drop it? Did the wind carry it? How is it fell into soil, that might might hold enough moisture for it to grow into maturity? What is the name of this sunflower? And now, how many birds will it nourish and feed?

My philosophy on volunteers in the garden, is to let them thrive where they have planted themselves. Whether it is tomato plants, pumpkins, sunflowers, volunteers tend to be a delight. They thrive against the odds. Nature and its wonderment.

I'm sharing a little sunshine with you today. Please share if you have a great volunteer story. Please comment if you grow sunflowers.

Time to Celebrate Mother's Day!

Sunset has many exciting projects happening this spring, Sunset's News This Spring. One of them is their brand new Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook. Sunset Food Editor, Margo True, has done a phenomenal job with her new cookbook. I read it in an afternoon like a novel. Beautiful photography adds "mouth-watering" appeal. I found the recipes relatively simple to make, with special emphasis on letting the edible home-grown flavors shine.

This softcover cookbook covers vegetables, fruits, and herbs in a flowing, organized way. Tantalizing recipes cover each edible, along with sections on basic ways to cook, why grow them, when to harvest, how to keep, and how to preserve the harvest, if applicable. Sometimes there is an "extra reward" section featuring more tips.

Please comment below for an opportunity to win a Sunset Edible Garden CookbookPlease comment below on your favorite mother-daughter garden memory. Participants must be U.S. Residents. Deadline to post a comment is Sunday, May 6, 2012.

Congratulations to the winners, Elaine Lewis (CA), Sara Sweatman (PA), Karlin DiMarcello (SC), Kelsy Dean (TX), and Leon Flint (CA).  Happy Mother's Day to everyone!

Fall Sunset Over the Vineyard

Fall is such a busy time here at Domaine de Manion with the harvest. It is a time when many related activities surrounding the vineyard and making wine seem to converge. When we have a sunset like this one, it is nice to pause, relax, and reflect over over the fall vineyard and it's beauty. Another year of grape-growing has been completed, and the new wine is in process. No, this is not Santa Barbara or Provence, it is San Diego North County.

A vineyard has four-season interest, and in the fall, the vineyard's leaves turn autumn colors of red, brown, and amber. The vines have borne their fruit. The temperature is cooling. The vines are in the process of going dormant for the winter. Soon they will drop their leaves entirely and shut down until next year's early spring . A good, long, watering of 4-6 hours through our drip irrigation will benefit the vines for the coming year.

Please share if you associate vineyards in the fall timeframe. Please comment if you have experienced a fall vineyard, and winemaking.


VintageGardenGal Tidbit Thyme....

Arlene Charest, a VintageGardenGal reader, needs someone within 100 miles of Northwest Connecticut who will "babysit" her free range family of Bantams.  She will pay for their feed -- plus a sum, plus the 4 eggs that her hens lay every day.  She has 7 chickens which includes one dear gentle rooster and two very well behaved teenagers. She needs to leave CT mid-November and will be back to pick the "chicken people" up in March.  If anyone can help Arlene out, please call 860-601-4193

And don't forget, VintageGardenGal, a garden lifestyle blog, is celebrating it's third anniversary.  Fab Sponsor, ORGIN DAY SPA (tel) (760) 635-1300, in the San Diego, California area, is offering 20% off of services for a limited time, when you mention "VintageGardenGal" at time of scheduling. It's a treat, no trick! Thank you everyone for your interest and support. See you in the garden!

Encinitas Garden Festival This Saturday!

Come and be a part of what has quickly become a tradition in Encinitas, the annual Encinitas Garden Festival & Tour on Saturday, April 30, 2011! This very special event celebrates our community, gardening, and the horticultural heritage of Encinitas!

Our featured neighborhood this year is the historic tree-lined Crest Drive in Cardiff with diverse gardens and panoramic views of our community west to the ocean, and east to the backcountry. Details below.


Saturday, April 30th, 2011

16 private gardens

23 Marketplace Vendors

Tickets now available on-line at 

Tickets also available at

To purchase tickests by mail order, please click here.  Ticket orders MUST be postmarked by April 26th, 2011

Advance ticket prices: Adults $21Children 10 and under $7

On-the-day ticket prices: Adults $25, Children 10 and under $10 Ticket sales at the Gardener's Marketplace are by cash or check only.  Sorry, we cannot accept credit cards on-site.

In case of drizzle, the event will go on.  In case of rain, the event will be cancelled and we thank you for your contribution.

For parking directions and other details, please click here

Center for Creative Healing

New Plants, New Ideas

Enjoy 16 great examples of plants and gardens ideally suited to our climate

marketplace booth

Artists, Speakers, Food, Silent Auction

Our 2011 speaker line-up offers something for everyone: 10:30 AM Creating a Waterwise Garden Kimberly Thorner 11:00 AM Rainwater & Graywater for Gardens Greg Bullock 11:30 AM  Backyard Raised Bed Gardening Madalaine Charnow 12:00 PM Urban Chicken Gardening Heather Thelen 12:30 PM What's New & Cool in the World of Gardening Nan Sterman 1:00 PM Alstroemeria Liz Younflesh 1:30 PM Using Soils to Reduce Water:  Compost and Mulch Sharon May 2:00 PM Composting with Worms Maryanne Bache 2:30 PM Combining Waterwise Perennials w/Succulents Samantha Owens 3:00 PM Tiered Gardens Stacy Sieber


2011 Sponsors

Maggie Houlihan and Ian Thompson


Contemplate the Future

Visit a labyrinth to meditate on the day's experience and on life in general

Double Decker

Ride a Double Decker Bus to the Gardener's Marketplace

Park at Mira Costa College San Elijo Campus and ride the free bus, starting at 9:45 in the morning.  Buses run all day long, between the parking lot and the Marketplace.  Pick up your tour map at the Marketplace, then stroll from garden to garden at your own pace, in whatever order you choose.


When you get tired of walking, stroll on back to the Gardener's Marketplace for lunch or a snack from Annel and Drew's KitchenBull Taco, or Lion Coffee.


Grangetto's Farm and Garden

Southwest Boulder

Sulivan Solar

Olivenhain Municipal Water District

Kellogs Garden Products

San Dieguito Water

Rancho Santa Fe Plaza

Rancho Santa Fe Plaza

Polly Rogers

Winter Bouquet From The Garden

Bouquet From The Garden Hello January, and hello to a new decade! I hope that all of you had wonderful and memorable holidays with your loved ones and friends. May this "New Year" and decade bring you happiness, health, and the passion to "live your best life" (to borrow from Oprah). I look forward to another year of sharing "the garden lifestyle" with all of you here on VintageGardenGal.

For New Year's I gathered up a bouquet of fresh flowers in bloom from my garden. We've had so much rain, there is quite a bit blooming in my garden the beginning of  January. One of my "petite resolutions" this year, is to bring more of my fresh cut flowers into the house to enjoy. Fresh bouquets, especially from your garden, are such a special touch to a room.

As I gathered this bouquet of blooming "My Sweet Valentine" roses, Alstroemeria "Casablanca", and Crimson King iris, I was reminded of my fellow garden blogger, Carol Michel, and her wildly popular "Bloom Day" post every 15th of the month.

Carol writes a popular garden blog out of Indiana, Zone 5, called May Dreams Gardens. On "Bloom Day" she encourages everyone to visit her site, and post photos of what is blooming in their own garden on the 15th of each month. It is a real melting pot and sharing of gardens from all over, and what is beautiful in bloom. What a concept.

This bouquet won't make it to the 15th of this month, but maybe something else wonderful will be blooming to share. Treat yourself, and visit Carol's "Bloom Day" post this month, and tell her VintageGardenGal sent you.