Sunday, September 30, 2012

Little and Lewis

Back in July during my trip to Oregon and Washington with my axe murderer and serial killer garden friends, we paid a visit to the famous concrete garden sculpting and painting duo of David Little and George Lewis.  Although Little and Lewis are celebrities on the PNW garden scene, they aren't as well known in New England.  Much has been written about them by people who are better writers than me.  If you would like to learn more about them and the work they do, visit their website HERE or launch a quick google search.

I am absolutely in love with the bold tropical garden style of Little and Lewis!  By most standards their garden is small but the attention to detail is unsurpassed.  Details that encourage visitors to explore and discover.

Our group spent almost an entire morning in the garden (which is also their home) on Bainbridge Island in Washington state.  Like so many other owners of nurseries and gardens we visited on this trip, George and David were welcoming and gracious hosts.

George chats with the group.

This tree is actually a concrete sculpture covered with moss.  Water constantly drips from the mosses creating a delightful effect.  Water is an important design element in a Little and Lewis garden.

Lisa capturing the perfect shot.

Creative vignettes were thoughtfully placed all throughout the garden.

Front door detail

Cast concrete leaves painted in eye popping colors are another signature Little and Lewis creation.    

Some of the smaller items available for sale.  I purchased the red chicken to the left of the mirror.  My first choice, a cast leaf was a bit rich for my budget :).

Concrete columns positioned as tropical ruins are another Little and Lewis trademark

I've been home from this trip for more than two months.  In some ways it seems like just last week and in some ways it seems like last year.  Before you know it we'll be firming up the plans for next year.  Is tomorrow really the first of October?  Time flies and the future is not guaranteed so follow my lead and celebrate every day.

Tonight I am struggling to celebrate today but it's been a challenge.  Last night my cable internet went out and today it took close to five hours including five calls to Cox and a trip to one of their stores for a new cable modem (not the problem) to get back online.  At the end of the day I did get the lawn mowed, my workout done, and something that remotely resembled dinner on the table without having to kill anybody so for that I am thankful. 



Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Gouveia Vineyards-Napa Comes to Wallingford

Although Gourveia Vineyards has been open to the public since 2004, for some reason I didn't make my first trip until last week.  For this egregious oversight, I'm blaming my friends and fellow atmosphere and destination foodies, Monique and Les.  They must be slipping because despite living in Wallingford, until recently they had never been to Gourveia either.  However, now that we've sampled the goods and immersed ourselves in the experience, I suspect there will be many more visits to come.  

Connecticut has no wine country per se but is not without wineries.  In fact, according to the CT Wine Trail website there are twenty-four.  I need to get out more because including Gourveia I've only been to two of them.  Three if you count numerous dinners at The Hopkins Inn.

But back to Gouveia.  Since my experience with CT wineries is limited, I'm unable to compare and contrast.  However my Gourveia experience seemed exceptional.  Due to zoning regulations, they can't serve food but you are allowed to bring your own and that we did.  Thursday night is farmer's market night in Wethersfield so I swung by and picked up a spinach, mushroom and goat cheese quiche from Sixpence Pie Company and some humus from Yummy Hummy.  M & L brought a selection of cheeses, crackers and a veggie plate with dip.  Needless to say, we didn't starve.  But then again we never do.

Since this was my first visit, I bellied up to the wine tasting bar for a sampling.  Four wines were preselected and you were given the option to choose one more.  I was impressed by the selection and the wines were all quite good.  At the end of my tasting I purchased a glass of my favorite, the Chardonnay Oak, and joined M&L at a table next to the windows in the tasting room.   

A bank of rogue clouds swooped in and gypped us out of what I had expected to be a perfect sunset.  But before it got dark I went for a short stroll around the grounds and snapped a few pictures of the outdoor areas and meticulously tended vineyards.  If you didn't know any better you'd almost think you were in Napa...almost. 

Located to the east of the winery building is a picturesque small pond overlooking farmland and vineyards.  A pair of picnic tables offer roaming visitors a spot to sit, savor their wine and enjoy the view.

I loved this pergola and patio area that is attached to the winery building.  Had it been just a tad warmer, I would have opted to spend the evening out here taking advantage of the 360 degree view.  Even though I've lived in CT since 1988, I was totally flabbergasted to find such an expansive and bucolic setting so close to my home.  What a find!

This very cool stone building houses the tasting rooms and sales area.  Inside, the rustic, exposed beam decor is warm and inviting.  Hours for the tasting room are located on the website.  On Thursday night, business was brisk but it was by no means crowded.  In a way I'm glad I don't live any closer.  It would be far too easy to skip over on a Thursday or Friday night after work for a quick happy hour.  

Can you image sipping a glass of wine in front of this cozy fireplace on a chilly Sunday afternoon?  If so you're going to have to get up pretty early to beat me to the seat!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Out On The Porch

Today I finally had a garden party.  Probably the last one of the season. I have to admit it wasn't my idea-my friends invited themselves over and gave me the equivalent of about 24 hours notice to prepare.  Yikes!  No way could I pull it all together that quick (at least to my unattainable standards).  So I dashed around like a mad woman focusing my efforts on the garden areas where I spend the most time and where my guests get the best visual impact.  Somehow I also managed to shop for some food and clean the house just enough to keep the board of health at bay.  In the end the planets aligned and it all came together beautifully.

As my guests arrived they quickly settled on the patio for an afternoon of wining and dining.  On a gorgeous early fall day like today, the patio is the perfect place to hang out and enjoy the garden.  However, as I sat there it dawned on me that the garden space where I spend the majority of my time, my screen porch, gets almost no guest exposure.

I love the screen porch.  It was one of the selling features of my house.  Last night I was out there until bedtime.  Tucked away on the east side of my house it's a perfect place to enjoy morning coffee, relax after work or sip wine into the evening.  To maximize use, every spring I open it as early as possible.  I guess I can see why it's not really a spot for entertaining-at least on a larger scale.  In the warmer months, guests prefer the patio and if it's too cold or hot for the patio, the porch usually isn't an option.

So the porch will remain my little private space.  A place where I can relax, unwind and squeeze every last minute out of the warmer months.  Summer may be slipping away but there's still time to enjoy the porch!