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April 12, 2017 / Linda Hartong


Carmel stone is used extensively in Carmel. You will see it in many historic buildings like Harrison Memorial Library.

carmel stone on Library

It is used in businesses such as Wittpenn’s Antiques

Wittpenn's Antiques


and in countless residences.

Gate House

Once cheap and easy to find, it is sedimentary shale with lovely creamy yellow, rust, orange, and pink and caramel iron oxide striations.

It is typically softer and more porous than other types of building stone and much more likely to degrade with time and exposure to the elements. The Carmel Mission was one of the earliest local structures made from it more than 200 years ago.The Mission has undergone extensive stonework renovation. As you can see this porous quality provides opportunities for small plants to grow in the rock, further eroding it.

carmel stone deterieration on the Mission

I read an article in The SF Gate about the stone and stonemason Michale Mahoney who learned to cut and build with Carmel Stone in the 1970s. Mahoney has been building with the stone since then. He is also a rock guitarist who studies manuals on Moorish arches and builds the chiseling hammers he uses to achieve his hand-hewn work. As a child, he was a bell ringer at the Mission where he watched Harry Downie do his work in restoring the Mission.
Below are some examples of Carmel Stone used in gates,



Conrad Home


carmel stone wall

entry paths and steps,

path, steps and entry 2


path and doorway surround

and facades


facade 3

This home on Scenic is a wonderful example.

house on Scenic

March 27, 2017 / Linda Hartong

The Elegant Calla Lilly

The calla lily is one of the most recognized flowers in cultivation. There are many colors of calla lily, but the white is one of the most used and part of wedding celebrations due to its association with holiness, faith and purity. In Kansas City they can cost up to $10.00 a stem

Carmel 2009 268ready for flickr

So imagine my delight to see them growing wild in Carmel.
The first one I saw was in my own yard in a very inhospitable spot. Then I started to see them popping up along the street like weeds.

Calla Lilly

Calla lilies don’t drop petals like many other plants when their flowers are done blooming. Once the calla flower begins to die, it rolls up into a tube, often turning green on the outside.

Calla Lilly

One day as we were talking with our friend, Melissa Fletscher, she showed us a photo she had taken of a field of wild calla lilies in Garrapata State Park in Big Sur. She gets amazing photos with her phone.

The park has two miles of beach front, with coastal hiking and a 50-foot climb to a beautiful view of the Pacific.
Bill and I hiked there one day but did not get down to the trail near the parking at gate l8. This trail leads down to the beach near Doud Creek where the lilies bloom.

The park offers diverse coastal vegetation with trails running from ocean beaches into dense redwood groves. The park also features outstanding coastal headlands at Soberanes Point.

This is the area we hiked.



Sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters frequent the coastal waters and California gray whales pass close by during their yearly migration.Trails and stairs were introduced in this valley to protect these wild flowers and lilies but visitors oftentimes trample over them especially on weekends.

We are getting ready for a trip to Carmel next week and this is the time the lilies bloom.

If you would like to see some wonderful photos of Garrapata State Park. Follow this link to David Gunbernick’s site.

March 19, 2017 / Linda Hartong

High Tide- A storybook cottage in Carmel


If you have strolled along Scenic Drive in Carmel, no doubt you have noticed this handsome home. High Tide is just outside the one square mile that is Carmel-by-the-Sea, so I have no city hall records to tell me about it.

The house combines many elements of the Storybook Style such as the wave roof and rounded doorways and windows.

Image 2

The smooth stucco is a distinctively California exterior material.

The towers, eyebrow windows, ornamental chimney pots and dutch door all add to the charm.

Image 22

Image 16

Add a cottage garden and you have charm, charm, charm.

Image 4

March 15, 2017 / Linda Hartong

Casanovas Restaurant



Such a charming ambiance. It is still the restaurant we recommend to visitors. We usually go for lunch to keep the cost down.


Bill loves the Moules Frites. Our Grandson swears the Cannelloni is fantastic. I tasted the Gnocchi Casanova on the Carmel Food Tour and believe me …….Delicious.

I love eggs and omelets and if I ask nicely, the waiter can often get the kitchen to prepare one for me.


It is located in the former home of Aunt Fairy Bird who was once the cook for Charlie Chaplin .



Take time to wander through all the different rooms.





March 13, 2017 / Linda Hartong

California Poppies

IMG_0288Although I am no longer posting my elaborate posts, I still have a cache of photos from Carmel that I would love to share with you. So here goes….

From February to September, the California poppy graces California landscapes and gardens. The foliage is ferny and the bloom bold and cheerful.

It is used as a herbal remedy and the pollen was used cosmetically.

In 1903 it became the state flower of  California.IMG_0274

December 7, 2015 / Linda Hartong


This one and two-story Spanish Eclectic style home was built by English -master-craftsman Frederic Bigland. I have featured several of his houses on the blog.

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 1.13.14 PM

The Conrad Home  


And the H. Markham House


It is interesting that no relationship has been established between the two Markhams, whose homes both have a Moorish feel to them, both built by Bigland.

This stately home on two lots, turns its face in toward the courtyard. 

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 4.19.14 PM

I knock in vain at the front door




And then work my way around the house snapping shots.


Kent Seavey notes the flat roof seen over the door is associated with the Moorish influenced design of North Africa and is quite unusual in residential design.

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 4.19.47 PM

As I walk on down the street , I can see the “paired and stepped exterior eave-all chimneys with their lancet shaped tops” that Seavey describes. 

I try the lower gate which I later learn has been close off and made into a corridor with a fountain beside the guest house.

I make my way back around the east side of the house

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 1.18.09 PM

and admire the grilled window


and succulent plantings outside the walled home.




I have noticed an arched gateway.

Screen Shot 2013-05-27 at 4.21.31 PM


I tentatively knock and push the gate open. 

I am now in a “hallway” leading to the courtyard.

Placed along the way is this beautiful tile


And this open-mouthed gentleman who is surprised by my presence.


Wow! What a beautiful courtyard with yet another gated court within it. 


This fountain, the azaleas


And this tile 


Glow against the warm stucco wall.

The garden is quiet and warm.


A guest house sits to the west of the main house, its roof covered with trumpet vine. 


This fountain


And plaque add character.


Everywhere I look is beauty.

IMG_9255 copy

I am out again and on my way pleased to have seen yet another home on the Carmel Historic Inventory.

July 21, 2014 / Linda Hartong



It is the winter of 2013


Christmas has come and gone.


Deep snow covers my Kansas City garden.


I have sustained some injuries and am to use a walker for 6 more weeks. I have worn a groove in the floor between the bed and the recliner.

I NEED a project to cheer me up. I have always loved leafing  through gardening books this time of year and gathering ideas for my garden. I decide that this year will be no exception. I have wanted to redesign my Carmel garden for some time now.  Many of my “go to” plants for Kansas fail miserably in temperate Carmel.

We have friends in Marina who recommend  Kathleen Coss  (


so I give her a call and we chat. We are kindred spirits and start exchanging e-mails, questionnaires, plant likes and dislikes 

and finally plans.

cos arbor and fence

cos Plan 1

I “cut and paste” like crazy  

cos front yard plan

 trying to visualize the garden and we make more changes.

Color Palatte in the Garden

Possible new look from curb

By April we are ready to start and I am well enough to make a trip out.

We already have a gardener and handy man that we love and he submits a bid along with others. We take his bid and are on our way with Luis Cardenas and Kathleen Coss.

We mark the plants that can stay.


Then Luis and his crew start the “heavy lifting”.

Plants come down revealing the front of our cottage for the first time in many years.




The patio beds empty out.


And debris is hauled away by the truckload.


Soil improvement comes next. 


My front yard resembles a sandbox.


The City grants permission for a new fence and arbor.


Kathleen and I go shopping! We both love Griggs Nursery ( ) where they bend over backward to help us. The choices are staggering.



Then we visit the Drought Resistant Nursery in Carmel Valley.  



We buy a Gopher cage for every plant we plant. Yes, every plant! Now I know why all my flowers died before. The gophers eat the roots of the plants in Carmel.


Plants start arriving.


And being placed.






May 13th we make giant strides. The stones are placed for the path and some plants have temporary homes. But I am so exposed to view now. I wave at passersby while I eat my breakfast. 



Then my hedging plants arrive.  We are using Pittosporum tenuifolium which Luis will tightly shear.


front (1)

Kathleen is conducting the arrival and placement. She is a small package of dynamite energy.


The post goes up for my bird house.


It is looking good. 

This corner is my feng shui power spot. From here I survey both my front and patio gardens and both gates. With the new changes, I don’t have a backdrop to cozy into. Maybe later.


The last touch is a gate between our garage and house to hide meters and gadgets.


Next week, I will show you some of the plants we chose.





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