Carmel – A City Overflowing With Flowers

– Posted in: Garden Design

When friends heard that I was visiting Carmel for the first time, they couldn’t say enough about what a lovely, artistic town it is. What they forgot to tell me is that it is a city overflowing with flowers.

Gardens in Carmel, CA.

The Church of The Wayfarer Garden in Carmel, CA.

As I wandered the streets ~ in front of and next to shops, as focal points in walkways, and just about everywhere else ~ flowers and colorful plants abound. They’re used in containers, raised beds, window boxes, and draping on walls.

Flowers in Carmel, CA.

Front of store overflowing with flowers in Carmel, CA.

It didn’t take long to see that most of the plantings are done in a hodge podge style – a variety of plants thrown together -with no focus on repetition, effective companion planting, and use of color.  But you know what? It works. The main and side streets of Carmel are a symphony of color.

An unexpected treat happened when I walked out of my hotel early one morning and noticed an interesting garden across the street. I peered over the edge of it, took a deep breath and let out a sigh. I had stumbled upon a gem.

church garden filled with flowers

Church of The Wayfarer Garden

The layout of the serpentine pathways, each flowing into the other, suggests what ‘lays beyond’  The pathways, along with outstanding plantings, inspire visitors to slow down, observe, and take in the beauty that surrounds them.

In the photo above, hydrangea, yucca, aenomium, and boxwood are well laid out with a running fountain strategically placed in the garden bed.

Church of The Wayfarer Garden

Church of The Wayfarer Garden

From this angle, the hydrangeas in the background with the stately vertical spires of acanthus mollis, agapanthus, and ground covers are pleasing to the eye.

Overflowing Flower Garden Design

The Church of the Wayfarer Garden

After taking some photos of  pathways, I noticed a man adding water to a fountain. I went over to ask him about the history of the garden. It was only then that I realized I was on the grounds of the a church – The Church of  The Wayfarer.

Flowers in The City

Church  of The Wayfarer Garden

He told me that the original garden was designed in the 1930s with several of the plants in the garden today planted back then. After a conversation about the maintenance, plant varieties, etc., he invited me to the Sunday morning service.  He said that it was a special service – there was going to be blessings of the animals in the Wayfarer Gardens.

As a dog lover, I couldn’t resist. The service was lovely – paying homage to St. Francis of Assisi – a saint whose love of nature was profound. At least a dozen dogs sat with their owners on the pews – and besides a few barks here and there – were well behaved.

Below are some photos of the dogs waiting to be blessed and being blessed in the garden.

Flowers In The City

Dogs Waiting To Be Blessed


Blessing Dogs In Garden

Pastor Norm Mowery Blessing Dogs

Carmel – a city overflowing with flowers – has been a delightful 2 day respite for me before heading onward to a retreat near by. It has given me a chance, after flying 9000 miles cross the Atlantic, to relax, re-connect with nature, and appreciate a city whose focus on community, the arts, nature, and gardening makes it a unique place to visit.


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Fran Sorin

Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

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Fran Sorin
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