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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

February 25, 2017 / Linda Hartong


If a Clint Eastwood “sighting” is important to you, this is the place you will have the most luck. Try coming to the piano bar late in the evening and you may be treated to hearing this talented musician join in with bar patrons. If not, you will at least meet some of the locals who frequent the bar and love to sing , drink and talk.

Clint bought the  ranch in 1986, rescuing it from an impending fate as a condominium development.

The Mission Ranch has a rich history. In the 1850’s William Curtis bought the property for $300.00 and it became one of the first of the early California dairies. Century-old eucalyptus trees greet your arrival. You can see them here towering over The Bunkhouse which is the oldest structure on the Ranch and is now one of the unique buildings where guests can stay.

The Farmhouse is one of my favorite structures. Look at the upper story. That was once the main building. It was raised and the first floor and wonderful porch were added in 1896.

Honeymoon Cottage has these inviting rocking chairs.

When Clint renovated the buildings he sought out the best craftsman who could replicate moldings, door frames, and hardware to match the original style.

The restaurant

with its fabulous view of the Santa Lucia mountains,

the ocean,sunsets and the meadow filled with sheep,

was once the creamery.

Fireplaces, the piano bar, comfortable seating and great food greet you. Bill and I split the Prime Rib. We also love to go to the Jazz Brunch on Sundays and sit outside for that view.

This year the sheep were about ready to lamb and everyone was excited about it.

 More guest buildings are nestled among the trees and gardens.


The Inn now consists of 31 hotel rooms located within ten buildings on the property where the barns were once used for hay and milking.

This property is also home of the Mission Ranch Tennis and Fitness Club which guests can use during their stay.

The Mission Ranch is located at

26270 Dolores Street
Carmel, CA 93923-9215
(800) 538-8221

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.

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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. 

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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.

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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

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and admire the grilled window


and succulent plantings outside the walled home.




I have noticed an arched gateway.

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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.

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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.


July 13, 2014 / Linda Hartong


Over the past 20 years we have made many changes to our little bungalow but none have pleased me more than the changes made in the garden.

This is the front before. The fence and gate were rickety even then but ivy covered it and we lived with it until May 2013.





What an improvement


and I adore my new arbor and gate.



Our front porch improved a bit at at time.


We planted along the straight concrete walk.


Now the path curves around a planting bed and is made of boxwood lined stones.


I like sitting in the rocker in the evening and listening to the ocean murmur.


The sellers sodded the front yard to clean it up and I tried to maintain grass over the years. It was a losing battle.


I prefer my current look of a stone path winding through shrubs, flowers and ground cover.


I have only this one photo looking toward the gate. Not much to see.




The back gate leads to this patio which was cracked concrete for many years.


Now pavers replace the concrete and form a raised planting bed


filled with colorful blooms.


The front NE corner of the garden went from this


to this. SIGH!



My privacy problem solved by lowering a patio and adding a raised planter. From here I survey both front and side gardens.


This is the sad little spot between our house and garage.


Now all that is hidden by a handsome gate and plantings.


This is the view toward the garage.


We redesigned the space over the years adding a fountain with its inviting sounds. The birds are constantly bathing here.

side garage

Planting beds on both sides of the walk way are filled with color.



The front of the cottage is now visible and tidy.



How did this all this come together?

It was with the help of Kathleen Coss Landscape Design – I have come to think of her as my gardening fairy godmother.

And the meticulous work of Luis Cardenas- Landscaping.

Next week I will show you all the hard work that went into this transformation.

March 17, 2014 / Linda Hartong


I started writing “Tales From Carmel” in January  2011.  I wanted to know the history and stories of this place I have come to love. 

I wrote of  Carmel’s curious customs,


its unique courtyards, 




and restaurants. 


I wrote about its stunning cottage gardens,




and exquisite setting. 


But what I loved the most was that I had an excuse to engage Carmelites in conversation. They were enormously generous with stories and tours of what they had created and held dear .

238 posts later, I find myself with little to add that is of significance. I am ready to take on a new challenge, one discovered by my experiences while writing this blog and while growing older. 

We are all aware, to some degree, that our lives are a story, parts of which we wish we could put in writing to live on after we die. As we experience the dying process of someone we love, we may hear stories that we have not heard before. We see sides of them we have not seen before. Their stories become a precious gift.

As Gail Lumet Buckley says “Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future.”

Hospice helped both my Mother and Father die in the way they wished. I have looked for something I can give back and finally found something. 

Crossroads Hospice in Kansas City 

life journals

has started using volunteers to help patients create life journals to leave as legacies for family members . The Journals focus on heritage, special memories and  life treasures. They contain family photos, favorite recipes, memories , bits of advice and a place for the family to write their own memories. 

I have just started on this project, but you know how  I like to tell a story.

Thanks for reading and commenting on the blog. It has really been a joy.  

If you are new to the blog please take a look at the post of which I am most proud

Hugh Comstock’s Fairytale Cottages By The Sea


Carmel’s First Courtyard- The Court of the Golden Bough


What The Heck Is a Fairytale Cottage, Anyway?


I  Am Invited To Tour Biddlestone Cottage and Garden


Maintaining The Essence Of Carmel


Carmel-By-the Sea’s Best-Kept Secret


Carmel’s Golden Hour


“On Little Cat Feet”





I will not be posting every week as I have been but will post from time to time as I find things I want to share. Until then, be well, be happy.

February 22, 2014 / Linda Hartong


Perhaps you have read about Carmel’s Golden Rectangle and wondered “what the heck is that?”.

Courtney Jones of Carmel Realty informs us

“it is literally a rectangular area outlined by Ocean Avenue, Scenic Avenue along Carmel Beach, Santa Lucia and San Carlos Street.


What you’ll find in this highly desirable area is typically a 1,600 sf, 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home on a 4,000 sf lot. 

40-60% of these properties are vacation homes.  The average price per square foot runs about $1,100 these days, down from about $1,500 in the hey day.”

We bought in this area many years ago so that we could walk to all that Carmel offers. Real Estate values tended to be more predictable here than in other areas and we needed that as second home owners.

Our bungalow is 900 sq ft with 2 bedrooms and 2 baths.

Monte Verde 5 SW of 12th is a newer home in the Golden Rectangle. It was built in 2005.


The landscaping and the stained glass window always catch my eye.


Today a “For Sale” sign is up so I go to its website. It is listed by Mike Canning of Carmel Realty for $2,2500.00.

Courtesy of the web site, I slip in the gate and 

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admire the stone patio. 

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I love the open floor plan with vaulted ceilings, pecan floors and arched doorways.

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The patio is built around this tree because trees “trump”  floor plans in Carmel. I see many homes with this configuration.

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The fireplace is welcoming. Carmel’s temperate climate encourages the use of patios and decks every day.

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The kitchen has Viking appliances, granite counter tops, and a walk-in pantry.

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The master bedroom and bath are on the main level. 

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The master has a fireplace.

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Love that porthole window in the shower. That used to be a trademark sign of a Don McBride built home.

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and the sink configuration.

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There is one half- bath.

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Upstairs two bedrooms

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share a bath.

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Such a pretty home. It was a treat to tour courtesy of Carmel Realty.

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