Tag Archives: hydrangea

The Hortensias of Biarritz

When I left Rockridge I was only a little sad to be leaving behind my beloved hydrangeas just as the season was getting started in earnest.  To my great surprise and delight the southwestern coast of France and the north coast of Spain are virtually covered in them–and in every size, shape, and color imaginable (cone, mophead, lace, blue, purple, magenta, light pink, green).  In France they are most commonly called Hortensia. They are prolific and huge–these blooms are bigger than a human head.  Unbelievable.  I found the Hortensia especially striking in Biarritz, where they cover hillsides and line the boardwalks along the sea.

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Paris

I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here.  Even though it’s late in the three o’clock hour and I have a 5:30 wake-up call for a early high-speed train to Marseille.  With all the passport drama I began to lose faith that I’d never get here.

I love love love Paris.  We are staying at Hotel Verneuil in Saint Germain des Prés, which is a lovely little place, though I’m convinced we got the smallest (/least desirable) room (the only one on the ground floor).  Still it’s charming and has a really great shower.  And tripping around the bed, which takes up most of the room, sort of reminds me of staying in a really expensive hotel room in lower Manhattan–you know the kind–practically $500/night and the only place to be is on the bed?  Like I said, for one night, c’est trés amusant non?  Anyway…

[also to the hotel’s credit, the service is impeccable.  To answer the mighty question of tripadvisor.com, yes, I would recommend this hotel to my best friend]

But the best part about Hotel Verneuil is the fact that it is right around the corner from one of my favorite florists in Paris, Olivier Pitou.  I couldn’t believe it when I walked out the door and found it right there.  It is a beautiful place to visit.  This time they had out of this world peonies of course, but also hydrangea that I couldn’t believe–like nothing I’ve seen in the States.  The roses weren’t necessarily designated “garden” roses, but they all smelled beautiful–like real roses!–not like the farmed scentless variety you find even at the most beautiful florists stateside.

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Above you can see some of the most wild hydrangeas in the upper left-hand corner–bright pink and green!  I actually though they were silk…and of course luscious Sarah Bernhardt peonies in the foreground.

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I love this little arrangement with the mint leaves emerging from between the roses.  The little store was a cool reprieve from the street affected as much by air conditioning as the scent of mint from a huge urn filled with it in the front of the space.  mmm…

After a visit to Olivier Pitou we walked, and walked, and walked.  First across the Sienne, through the Jardin des Tuileries (stopping for iced coffee), along Rue St. Honore, past the Louvre, up Boulevard de Sebastepol (little seedy, not my favorite), and up to the 10th to visit some friends in their new office.  By five thirty I was having a hunger crisis and we’d logged 6 miles on the new pedometer (thank you Brookstone Logan Airport).  We cabbed it to the Ile St. Louis knowing for sure it would be a welcome reprieve.

My mother lived on Ile St. Louis for years as a young adult.  This tiny little island on the Sienne was her home, with its charming narrow street running from one end to the other and of course the original Berthillon.  The charm is still there, one hundred percent, though the real estate has skyrocketted since those bohemian days in the late sixties and early seventies.  Ile St. Louis is a super chic place for an apartment, but the tourists traipsing over from Notre Dame keep it down to earth.  We went to one of my favorite restaurants, Brasserie de L’Ile St. Louis, which has been on the island as long as anyone living can remember.  It is the perfect, perfect place to sit, relax, watch the world of Paris stream by in front of you, but without the noise and congestion of so many of the city cafés.

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watching the sun get low with a little glass of Chablis

lardons

frisée aux lardons

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leeks

au poivre

steak au poivre

Not pictured here is my husband’s favorite–the cassoulet.  I thought it was crazy to order cassoulet on such a hot day, but he did, and it was delicious as always (though I have to admit to preferring eating it inside the old brasserie on a chilly evening).  But it was worth it–the cassoulet really is excellent here.

Off for a nap till Gare de Lyon in a few hours, then onto Provence.  Vive la France!

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Guest Room Flowers

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An Unusual Sight

I love oak leaf hydrangea.  There is just something wild about it to me–the mix of frou frou hydrangea blossoms and something as strong and iconic as an oak leaf.  I spotted this one on a rare jaunt on “the other side” of College (i.e. the northeast side) and found it striking due to the mix of white and pink blossoms.  While hydrangea bushes are known to grow different colored blooms, and even grow blooms of different colors depending on the stage of the growth season, I’ve never seen anything other than a pure white oak leaf hydrangea.

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The pink blossoms near the base of the dominently white bloom

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Last Minute Mother’s Day Centerpiece

I made this quickly for I. to take to dinner with his mother and brothers so she could have a special centerpiece. 

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White hydrangea, lilac, tulips, camelia leaves

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