Go plant shopping at the San Mateo Arboretum Society

Go plant shopping at the San Mateo Arboretum Society

I don’t usually recommend that you go shopping. Unless it’s something with a cause. Doing good while shopping helps everyone. In this case you can snatch a deal on plants in Central Park in San Mateo. The San Mateo Arboretum Society open their doors on Tuesdays, Thursdays 10 am – 2 pm and Sundays 10 am – noon. Starting December 4th, 2018 their winter hours are 10 am – 12 pm.

They have scrubs and flowers and a whole lot of succulents. Most succulents come in an interesting pot.

The real beauties are the orchids. They are in the back conservatory. All of the plants are fair priced and help the Arboretum Society to protect and maintain the horticultural heritage of San Mateo.   

Roses for sale at the San Mateo Arboretum Society.Thanks to these gardeners the Central Park is in splendid shape. They made it their mission to educate the community about sustainable gardening, while creating and maintaining demonstration gardens in Central Park. At their opening hours, between 11:30 am and 1 pm, you can talk to a Master Gardener for advice on your plants.

You can also improve your gardening skills by taking a class. The next classes are a wreath making workshop (December 2, 2018)  and a rose pruning symposium (January 6, 2019). Please check the SMAS website for more information.

Fairy garden at San Mateo Arboretum SocietyAs an extra bonus I enjoyed their fairy garden. A bonsai, some succulents and other plants arranged with whimsical creatures.

Do you have a place to shop for a cause?

 

Admire the foresight of Palo Altonians

Admire the foresight of Palo Altonians

I don’t know if you are called Palo Altonien if you live in Palo Alto. So forgive my word creation and listen to the laudation.  

I have been hinted at multiple times that, especially in the Bay Area, water is life. Some nicely decorated water towers, Libby ‘s in Sunnyvale and Campbell’s come to mind, proof that people around here worship water.

Historic water tower, Palo AltoI’d like to add the historic Palo Alto water tower and well to this reign. The foresight the early inhabitants showed for the preciousness of this element makes them admirable. In 1896 Palo Alto was one of the first cities in the nation to operate its own water utilities. In fact, Palo Alto is the only city in California to own and operate its own utility services.

Erected in 1910, it took $2000 to purchase the land the tower is built on, and almost $10,000 to build. This well-insured the citizens of North Palo Alto a reliable source of water and was also used for fire protection for the many wooden structures around.

Not only the tower but the garden surrounding it is a tribute to water. The drought-tolerant plants are arranged in a flowing water theme. Historic water tower, Palo Alto

These days it looks abandoned. The only article I found was from the Palo Alto Online in 1995 which states that Tom Taylor was proposing to buy and convert the tower as a living space for him and his family. This obviously didn’t happen.

Do you know of any plans for the Palo Alto water tower?

 

Discover the Redwood City rose garden

Discover the Redwood City rose garden

Fountain at the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City Sometimes by wandering around I discover the most wonderful things. The other day, while I looked around at the Red Morton Community Park  in Redwood City I was surprised by the blooming roses. A fountain in the middle with some ram heads spilling out the water. Rose petals decorating some of the water’s surface.  

Rose at the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City It is a small garden with a large variety of fragrant roses. The Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden was established in 1968. It is named after the woman who proposed developing a municipal rose garden but sadly died two years before the opening.Mosaic art work at Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden, Redwood City

I love the quote I found embedded in a mosaic art work:” A single rose can be my garden…A single friend my world.” by Leo Buscagila.

Have you been to the Catherine Brennan Memorial Rose Garden?

 

More information about Redwood City’s fascinating history of their parks can be found in the PDF:

The Story of Redwood City Parks 1937 – 1987

 

Walk the Great Spirit Path

Walk the Great Spirit Path

Today I pulled into the Bedwell Bayfront Park, in Menlo Park. Originally I wanted to check my phone for directions, but I was intrigued by a park that I had no idea was here. I got out of the car and walked over to pick up a brochure.

I was informed that Bedwell Bayfront Park is in fact Menlo Park’s largest park and it’s the only Open Space preserve on the Bay. Besides birdwatching for at least 105 species, you can see the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration, the largest tidal wetland restoration project on the West Coast!,  and you can hike the extensive trail system. What caught my eyes was the Great Spirit Path. Advertised as an unique art installation – and unique it was!

Station of the Great Spirit Path, Menlo ParkThe creator Susan Dunlap describes it as a “505-ton stone poem inspired by Native American pictographs”. The different stations, each holding a section of the poem were installed along this ¾ mile hike between 1980 and 1985. Knowing now that this is from the 1980’s, it makes sense that some paths are more maintained than others. The sign post got restored in 2015. I also missed out on the Great Spirit Path brochure; (for a pdf) all three possible holders were empty.Station of the Great Spirit Path, Menlo Park

So, for me this was a true adventure. Led maybe by those spirits I might have conjured? After all, some folks around here celebrated indigenous people day just a week prior.

Station of the Great Spirit Path, Menlo ParkIn the beginning I was led by sounds of hammers from a nearby construction site, the sign of the times. Walking closer to the Bay, it was surprisingly calm. I felt understood by the poem and liked the stone interpretations of the Native American signs. No wonder locals named it the “Stonehenge by the Bay.”

The four stanzas of the poem are spread out over a ¾ mile hike. 53 posts depict each part of the poem. With 892 rocks used it is the largest sculpture of its kind in the world!

The poem reads as follows:

Evening good

Weather clear with stars.

I walk with the wind behind me

Inspired, with glad heart.

 

Come,

Discover many animals,

Grass, sun, canyons, and earth.

No hunger, war, no fear,

Making peace and strong brothers.

 

Climb this way,

Over mountain or hill.

Go in four directions –

Up, down, close, or far away,

To places hidden or bright,

Under rain or cloud, night or day,

Reaching to see

Birds, plants, water and trees,

As you walk this trail and cross this path.

 

Rest here.

Talk here.

Flee your troubles to the sky

Holding firm to harmony, virtue and peace,

Barring evil,

Strong with wisdom and healing,

Reaching out with supplication

To the Great Spirit everywhere.

                           Copyright S.C.Dunlap 1985

 

Have you walked the Great Spirit Path?

 

Harvest some community fruit

Harvest some community fruit

One of the apple tree's in the Gentlemen's Orchard at Filoli's in WoodsideVillage Harvest is a great volunteer organization that picks fruit, mostly in neighborhoods, and donates it to local food banks. I went three years ago with my brother-in-law to pick some apples in an old orchard in San Juan Bautista. It was a different sightseeing trip for sure! A Mountain backdrop – we met the couple that owns the place – very enjoyable! This San Juan Bautista event is coming up again, October 13th, 2018 9am – 12:30pm.

I finally got around to help out a second time. This time was even more special: Filoli’s in Woodside Gentlemen’s Orchard. The varieties in this orchard are insane. There are about 400 different apple, pear and grape varieties, plus some more uncommon fruits like medlars, quince, and shan zhas.  I am happy to say if you help picking you are welcome to try the fruit. I enjoyed a variety of apples and the chatting with other volunteers that occurred around the trees. Being greeted by wild turkeys was a highlight too.

Sorting the applesAfter the picking you gather around and sort the apples. You are encouraged to take the ‘bad apples’ home – and yes there will be apple crumble at my house soon. Afterwards we were treated to a walk around Filoli. The three crates full of apples in the entrance of the estate proved that I hardly ate or saw all the apple varieties while I was in the orchard.

One of the three apple crates in the entrance hall at Filoli's in Woodside.If you are a location junkie, like me, you might enjoy the Gentlemen’s Orchard. The people you meet while picking the fruit are very special, with their hearts in the right place. Village Harvest also has neighborhood events, where you pick fruit in multiple front and backyards.

Filoli does tours of their Gentlemen’s Orchard. The next tour is 10/7/2018 from 11am – 12:30pm. Please check their calendar for available dates.

Have you ever volunteered with Village Harvest?

 

Admire the oldest house in San Mateo County

Admire the oldest house in San Mateo County

There is plenty of history surrounding the site of the Sanchez Adobe in Pacifica. An important site for the Costanoan Indians, a supplemental mission farm for Mission Dolores, the home of Don Francisco Sanchez (former mayor of San Francisco), residence of General Kirkpatrick, a hotel, a speakeasy, an artichoke storage facility and finally a museum.

An old method to grind cornAt the Adobe house kids can learn a great deal about the first inhabitant  Don Francisco Sanchez and his living conditions around 1845. A school group will rope a ‘cow’, make adobe bricks, or grind some corn.

Remains of the agricultural outpost for the Mission Dolores can be seen next to the house. They are the only known remains of the many outpost that once thrived in the area. The remains of the Mission outpost

Every third Saturday in September is Rancho Day Fiesta, a celebration of early California living.

General admission is free with an option to donate. Opening hours are Tuesday-Thursday 10 am – 4 pm, Saturday and Sunday 1 pm – 5 pm.

Have you been to the Adobe House?

 

Further reading:

Sanchez Adobe History:

http://www.historysmc.org/sanchez-adobe-history

City of Pacifica – Sanchez Adobe Historic Site

http://www.cityofpacifica.org/about/history/adobe/default.asp

National Park Service – Sanchez Adobe Park

https://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/ca/ca34.htm

Costanoan Indians

http://factcards.califa.org/cai/costanoan.html

 

Hear the wind blow

Hear the wind blow

To find a windy day in South San Francisco might not be too tough. The real obstacle, if you want to see the Wind Harp, is finding parking. Surrounded by Genentech buildings during the weekdays this area is busy. For Wind Harp visitors Sunday might be the day to go.

Wind Harp, South San FranciscoErected in 1967 by Lucia and Aristides Demetrios the 92 foot metal sculpture stands on top of a hill. If it weren’t for the office buildings surrounding it, one would have a great view of the Bay. Three metal benches invite you to sit and listen to the fog horn like arie.

Wind Harp, South San FranciscoIf you interact with it by let’s say hitting a metal column in a fast pace with a small object, maybe a stone, the sound coming back might remind you of laser guns in Star Wars. This is, of course, information only, not encouragement for you to do this!

My love for large sculptures brings me to the most interesting places.

 

Have you ever played with a wind harp? 

Do you have a large sculpture that you love?

 

Visit the Woodside store

Visit the Woodside store

Have you ever driven by Tripp Road in Woodside and wondered what the general store was all about?

Counter of the general store, WoodsideThe old general store, post office, and community center constructed in 1854 by Robert Orville Tripp and Mathias Parkhurst is now a California Historical Landmark.

Tripp also was a dentist and winemaker. The store flourished; it was the only general store and stagecoach stop between San Francisco and Santa Clara.

Today, school groups can explore what it was like in a general store. The Woodside store is also open for the general public, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12 pm to 4 pm. I really enjoyed the fact that you can go behind the counters and take a closer look at the packages on display.

Gift shop at the general store in WoodsideThe little gift shop in the corner is appropriate – with books from that period and arroCandy cane at the general store in Woodsidewheads. But the best offering are the candy sticks. I have been told that bubble gum is one of the favorite flavors. At 25 cents each they are a true bargain and a welcome souvenir to take away.

The back rooms are a tribute to the lumber industry with large saws  on the wall, but also skunk and racoon fur to touch.

Have you been to the Woodside store?

 

Hail to the water (part II)

Hail to the water (part II)

Water is precious. If you live in the Bay Area and experienced a few droughts, you’ll know this perfectly well. So, it might not comes as a surprise that there are a few water temples around.

I already talked about the water temple in Sunol. If you find yourself near Filoli in Woodside you should consider stopping at the Pulgas Water temple.  

Pulgas Water Temple, WoodsideAs a monument to the engineering of the Hetch Hetchy Project, that brought water 160 miles from the Sierra Nevada to the Bay Area, the Pulgas water temple is a tribute to the ancient architecture of Greece and Romans. The 20 year project finished in October of 1934.

Plaque with inscription at Pulgas Water Temple, WoodsideThe inscription “I give waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people.” underlines the importance of drinking water after the 1906 earthquake and the raging wildfires that followed the quake.

I was surprised at how many people were exploring the monument. Some relaxing on the lawn, some horsing aroPulgas Water Temple, Woodsideund the pool. The reflecting pool, a great backdrop for wedding photography and other photo opportunities was widely used as such.

The water temple is open seven days a week, from 9 am – 4 pm, but on the weekends the parking lot is only available for permitted events.

How do you hail to the water?

 

Buy art by locals

Buy art by locals

If you missed the Silicon Valley Open Studios this year, but you are still on the hunt to purchase local art, one place to consider is the Community Art show at PJCC. The Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City currently shows art to purchase by 83 local artists until August 26th, 2018.

On a variety of mediums from metal to paper, jewelry, and sculptures you get a great overview of the local art scene.

For me, always a fan of the whimsical, two artists stood out. First, Winnie van der Rijn. Her The 37 ingredients in Wonder Bread- a contemporary still life is a sculpture art, having the ingredients of wonder bread in 37 small glass bottles. Also the necklace creation Second Sight repurposing old glasses caught my eyes.

I also liked the paper art by Marlene Subhashini. She has two pieces showing: Maple Leaf and Sailing Ship. Rolled up paper that form into a picture.

Of course you are encouraged to find your own winner of the show.

Mother with child, from the Grow Justice Mural at the PCJJ, Foster CityI enjoyed a light lunch at the cafe and ate outside at the Mark Hamlin Garden. The Grow Justice Mural at the garden facilitated by Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen, has an eerie current relevance, one of the five panels is showing a mother with a child and the words ‘Human’, ‘Rights’, ‘Stop Profiling’, ‘Immigration Rights’ and ‘Freedom’ on tiles below. Grow Justice is a Jewish commandment to make the world a better place; a goal we should all strive for – no matter what we believe.

If you are Inspired to paint yourself, the PJCC offers classes for young and old.

Do you buy local art?