Category Archives: Nature

Friday I’m in Love: The Mad Plants of Madeira

I recently spent some time with my parents on Madeira. It is seriously a plant-lover’s paradise! There will be more posts at a later date, but today I want to focus on some of the crazy-looking plants I saw…


This wonderful creature Mickey-Mouse bushis called the Mickey-Mouse bush. The yellow flowers fall off to reveal these cute red sepals, and eventually produce black fruits which give the plant its common name. Isn’t it lovely?

And this kapok treeis the kapok tree. Earlier in the year it has striking red five-lobed flowers which are apparently very attractive to bats, but its main importance is the fruit: a light fibre which is used as an alternative to down as stuffing for soft toys and upholstery. I’m told that the fibres kapok fibresloosen and float off, to the great annoyance to residents…but to me they are just cool!




Filed under Flowers, Gardens, Madeira, Nature, Plants, Travel

Friday I’m in Love: Poppies

My mother loves poppies. The red ones that grow (or used to…) on the edges of English fields. The Flanders poppies that everyone wears on Remembrance Day. But then we moved to America and I saw the California version…interesting colours, attractive foliage, and even after they die they are interesting…poppies montage

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Filed under California, Flowers, Gardens, Happiness Project, Nature, Plants, Seasonal Pleasures

Friday I’m in Love: Grevillea

Grevillea is an Australian shrub, evergreen and relatively drought tolerant. I have it growing in pots in my very sunny entrance courtyard. Isn’t it amazing? And hummingbirds love it…an all-round win!

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Filed under California, Flowers, Gardens, Happiness Project, Nature, Plants

Friday I’m in Love: Ocotillo

Another crazy plant! Ocotillo (fouquieria splendens) is a spiny, drought-tolerant shrub native to southwestern America and Mexico. For much of the year it looks like a bunch of dry sticks, ocotillo in courtyardbut after Spring rains it sprouts green leaves and, at the end of each stem, a hummingbird-attracting flower. They are also supposedly edible (I haven’t tried them!) and can be dried for use in a tisane…ocotillo flowerIt pairs well with crown of thorns, as seen here ocotillo & crown of thornsin my newly planted drought-tolerant front garden.

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Filed under California, Flowers, Gardens, Nature, Plants

Seasonal Pleasures: Winter


Warm fires



Snuggly cashmere


Vin chaud



Roast chestnuts

Sparkly lights


Hot chocolate



Mimosa (both kinds!)

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Filed under Happiness Project, Nature, Photo Challenge, Photography

Happiness Project: Descanso in November

November saw the opening of Descanso Gardens‘ Oak Woodland.

Descanso Gardens Oak Woodland | bellesidees

Designed around the existing lake, the project aims to showcase the native landscape of the area, a mix of oaks and other trees, California meadow and chaparral plants.

Descanso Oak Garden montage | bellesideesThough still very young (most of the planting was done in March), the garden promises to be a wonderful resource for gardeners looking for inspiration for xeriscaping and native planting – a must in these drought-ridden times in California…Descanso Oak Meadow garden montage | bellesidees

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Filed under California, Descanso Garden, Gardens, Nature, Plants

Friday I’m in Love: Pinecones

And not just cones…piled in a beautiful bowl…cones and seeds in bowl

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Filed under Decor, General, Happiness Project, Nature, Seasonal Pleasures