Our neighborhood is decidedly modest. The houses, which date from the nineteen-teens and -twenties are tiny, the gardens are small.
Just up the hill, everything changes. The homes are significantly more posh, and some of the gardens are downright gigantic. I participate in an online gardening forum that's centered in the hills of East Oakland, and when I sign my messages as "Lisa on 41st" nobody has any idea where I live.
This past week, a message came across on the garden forum. A local gardening treasure was hosting its annual open house. Orchids Fiori D'Amore is one of those businesses that you might drive past a thousand times, and never even notice. On a quiet residential street, the owners have been collecting and growing orchids for a quarter of a century.
Every year, on the week before Mother's Day, Nina and Paolo Di Candia open their home business up to the public.
What a spectacular place it is! I stopped by the open house on Saturday, and then dragged Robb to see it on Sunday. I had heard that the owners were considering selling the business, and I wanted him to see this place, before it was gone forever.
Their primary focus is cymbidium orchids, which are a type of orchid that do very well -- outside -- in the San Francisco Bay Area. Since my orchid collection (such as it is) began when we were apartment dwellers, and since cymbidiums are large plants, I never considered buying them.
Until now. Yeah, I bought an orchid or two.
Aren't these plants spectacular? Imagine the care that goes into growing something like that.
The orchid growing facilities at Fiori D'Amore are vast, and beautifully well-tended. But you'd really never know this place was there, if you were to drive by. A visitor has to walk up a steep driveway (not so easy for Robb) and into the property that sits well back from the road.
Of course, not everything is in bloom at this time. I found the growing-houses as impressive as the show-houses. (By the way, I'm totally making up the names for all of these orchid houses. I have no idea what they are really called.)
The view from the garden is spectacular. Robb and I could see all the way across the San Francisco Bay, to the Golden Gate Bridge.We sure can't see anything like this from our little house in "the flats."
I'm in awe of the work and effort that went into creating this orchid nursery. This humid-house has a multi-leveled waterfall, in the middle of the orchid display.
Fifty-one weeks out of the year, this place is closed to the public. I'm delighted that Robb and I were able to see it, and share photos with our blog friends. Now let's just hope that I don't kill my new orchids with my inept care.