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Darn, where did those spring flowers go? What an amazing show we had this year in the Far Niente gardens—the best yet in my 11-year tenure as garden curator. Plant maturity has become quite apparent in many specimens throughout the property, and the spring display told the tale.
For those of you who witnessed this episode’s drama, I like to think of your enjoyment as an inherent part of our mission. Thank you for your participation, which brings the garden experience full circle.
Flowering began in early February with the giant camellia trees leading the way, followed by our signature azalea beds and on to the towering rhododendrons. We are now moving into the growth phase and keeping up is quite a challenge—feeding, pruning, sculpting, manicuring, and taming the wildness of this ancient Oakville knoll we call home. Working in unison with our partner, Mother Nature, we each have a hand in the balance of creation—growing together to perform on yet another season’s magical stage.
Spring is in full swing here at Far Niente and, folks, it is absolutely glorious! Thousands of azaleas are soaking up their moments in the sunshine—bright, rich pastels painting the understory canvas in our woodland gardens. There to back them up with an abundance of color and scale are a collection of rhododendrons towering throughout the landscape like dense clusters of butterflies awaiting the spring metamorphosis.
Not to be left out of the dance are the many mature flowering trees: pink and white dogwoods, Chinese perfume (fringe) trees and tulip trees, with deep purple-pinks and whites. Maples awash in deep crimsons, burgundies, blood red and velvety greens make their presence known. Even the mighty, live oaks along with the valley oaks get into the act with their long tendrils of flowers welcoming the rush of spring.
All in all, we are enjoying a feast for the senses here at our winery estate gardens—the perfect backdrop for savoring our Napa Cabernet and Chardonnay.
With the winter garden at rest, the naked architecture of the woodlands sets the scene as time appears to stand still. The mighty Black Oak towers in the sky next to the Carriage House. The majestic Valley Oaks feel right at home dotting the woodland gardens. At their feet, dogwoods, magnolias and maples wait for that little glimpse of spring to tickle their branches and awaken the growing season. The long shadows have begun to lift ever so slowly as the days become longer, bringing light and new beginnings.
A Black Oak near the Far Niente Carriage House
Not just yet, I say. Winter is here to stay if only for a few more full moons. This is a time to enjoy the emptiness and simplicity of nature’s scaffolding and natural architecture. In time, will we be blessed with a new canopy of texture and many beautiful flowers, as if a flight of butterflies have suddenly burst into a visual symphony. Here at Far Niente, the magic is year-round…
Our lovely Japaense Maple
The winter months are a lovely time to visit. Call ahead for an appointment: (707) 944-2861.
16 2012on October
at 9:55 am
As I walked through the new raised beds at the Far Niente culinary gardens, the smell of autumn hits me. The leaves are blowing in the air and all around the hint of fermentation: the fall harvest is on. And not just for the grapes but also for the squash, eggplants, beans, tomatoes of all kinds, corn and many fruits. The citrus trees are swollen and will bear in late autumn, early winter.
Over the summer we installed 23 new, lined, raised beds made of redwood each at 3’ wide and 18” tall. The lengths vary from a 65 foot herb bed to 25 and 35 foot vegetable beds. This layout allows for a magical jaunt through a maze of beds and trellised archways. We like to grow plants vertically as much as possible to maximize the space. It’s a wonderland to feast upon—literally. There’s always something different and tasty.
I love seeing the Chef Trevor’s culinary creations that come from our gardens. Autumn is a great time to sow all kinds of lettuces, cabbage, romanesco, broccoli, cauliflower and much more. Enjoy the bounty and the fruits of our labor at winery events planned throughout the coming year.
Stay tuned—our 2013 events calendar will be posted in December.
19 2012on January
at 4:28 pm
Landscape Designer Daniel Townsend shares the reward and satisfaction of composting at Far Niente.
We are deep into our frigid winter with mid- to low-20s, cold for the Napa Valley. I see a plume of steam on our compost pile. I investigate and find that our pressure cooker beneath the mound is a comfortable 82 degrees Fahrenheit, nearing the end of the cook cycle.
We compost most everything from our gardens and winery, using all of the leaf litter from the woodland gardens, grass clippings, wood chips, and grape harvest materials, such as seeds and stems, must or pumice, and grape vine cuttings. We make about 150 yards of compost a year here in the Far Niente gardens. It is very rewarding to sink your hands into this black gold and to be able to introduce this back into the gardens, coming full circle again and again.
A behind-the-scenes peek at Far Niente and the fine Cabernet and Chardonnay we produce here in Oakville.
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