4.23.2011

Went to a Garden Party

Yes, like Ricky Nelson, I went to a garden party - but I know it was quite a different affair from the one he attended!  This garden party was at 'Lagunita Heaven' - the beautiful and well-appointed home of dear friends Heather and Harvey, and it was held to celebrate their mutual birthdays. Harvey's birthday is only five days after Heather's; his was a "speed limit" birthday and hers?  Well, it was her "39th."  (I know the true number but, like any true friend, I will never tell!)




Heather is owner of Lenkin Design, a premiere landscape architecture and design firm in Pasadena.  So, you can only imagine that her own garden is, as the name of their home implies, heaven.  There are 21 separate gardens on the property - themed perfectly to entice you to enter and spend languorous hours in each.  Lavender Hill.  Mahogany.  Heaven (of course). Italian Garden. Four Seasons. 



As you enter each space, your imagination runs wild with ideas of the book you will read as you site there in repose, or the romantic walk you will take along the path that leads to... to... Heaven! Or maybe just a nap to take the edge off your day.



Just beginning to bloom that day were the Heather Lenkin roses (pictured above). This rose - as elegant as the woman that shares its name - is a long-stemmed floribunda rose in hues of yellow, apricot, peach and pink. It was born of the "Julia Child" rose and cultivated by Tom Carruth for Weeks Roses. How appropriate that these two beauties are both from Pasadena! Oh, and their roses, too! The Heather Lenkin rose is available for purchase (proceeds benefit the Huntington Memorial Hospital) and information can be found on her blog, The Rusted Trowel.



Ladies in linen and straw hats strolled gravel paths with gentlemen sporting Panama hats keeping the bright midday sun off their brows. Polite bursts of laughter cascaded over hedges of boxwood, pittosporum and acanthus into the Italian Garden. Gentle - almost reverent - conversations wafted down from Heaven. The day sparkled in every way...

The food was exquisite, plentiful and everywhere you looked in the gardens. As we entered, we were greeted by a friendly, smiling young man who offered us our choice of wine, champagne, iced tea and pink, lavender-scented lemonade. One of each, please.... 


In the house dining room, already in its Easter pastels, were platters of cheeses (an entire wheel of Humboldt Fog made my knees weak...), breads, crudités (one glass "package" was of perfectly cooked green and white asparagus!) and dips. Alongside, there were "shots" of soups in vermilion and spring green. Just perfect nibbling foods... And it reminded me that my truffled spring pea soup would make a wonderful little shot to knock back on a warm day... (recipe follows)

Above the house, at the second floor terrace near the succulent garden, there was a banquet of sandwiches to enjoy - chicken with tarragon and walnuts, curried tuna, roast beef with wasabi mayonnaise, egg salad... The list goes on. And I tried each and every one!

The birthday cake was none other than red velvet cake - its cream cheese icing stripped with strawberries, and a small field of blueberries completed the American flag. We all raised out glasses of champagne and sang Happy Birthday which was followed by a lovely solo rendition of Lerner and Loewe's "Almost Like Being in Love," sung by their friend Allen. There was a lot of love that day - Heather and Harvey, friends and family, and a love of all things beautiful.

Enjoy a shot of soup while you look at my photos of the gardens that came forth from Heather's imagination..

- David

Spring Pea Soup with White Truffle Essence

4 tablespoons butter
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 1-pound bags of frozen baby peas
4 cups chicken broth
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste (white pepper if available)
white truffle oil for garnish


Melt the butter in a soup kettle and add the onion.  Cook over medium-low heat until onion is clear and very soft, about 12-15 minutes.  Add peas and broth and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Don’t let the peas turn “army green!”

Cool to room temperature, and purée soup in a blender in batches, then put through a fine-mesh sieve with the back of a spoon to remove any skins.  Chill for at least two hours.  Serve cold or at room temperature with a drizzle of truffle oil. 

Serves 6 as a first course, or may be served in shot glasses (36).

15 comments:

  1. David, these photographs are so beautiful. It must be a wonderful garden! Happy B-day to your friends!
    That pea soup sounds amazing. I will probably make it as soon as I buy fresh peas.
    Have a Happy Easter David!
    Magda

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  2. Thanks, Magda! The garden is exquisite and Heather and Harvey two of the nicest people you could meet. A lovely day for sure!

    Καλό πάσχα! David

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  3. Hi David, The photos are stunning! I can see that the gorgeous setting would make it difficult to set down the camera. Did you find time to enjoy being on the other side of the lens? The soup looks wonderful. Happy Easter! Towny

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  4. Beautiful photos! Inspiration for spring...

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  5. Thanks, Towny! Luckily I was able to enjoy many wonderful conversations, excellent cuisine AND all that beauty - both through my lens and with camera by my side.

    @ Anonymous: spring is coming everywhere - and not too soon for our Northern friends!

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  6. I would still be there, wondering through the gardens, admiring the flowers, the colors, the adornments, the food. Beautiful place. Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing your day and Happy Birthday to Heather and Harvey!

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  7. Great photos, David. Recipe looks light and easy.

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  8. @ Susan - I wish we could all be walking there - a true paradise and I am sure you can understand as a native of California.

    @ Lea - thanks! And you should definitely try the pea soup with or without the truffle oil. Chopped fresh mint makes a nice alternative!

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  9. Wow! Beautiful blog!

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  10. Garden parties are truly, truly the best, magnicfgient photos.

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  11. Thank you, elle marie and anonymous friend. Garden parties are the best - and Heather's garden is the best of the best!

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  12. Heathers garden is the best - oh what fun I had attending that party..

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  13. lovely images, David! garden parties are really the best!

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  14. Don't usually have a lot of time to play on the computer, but was wondering what my favorite gardener, Heather Lenkin, had been up to recently (despite our very compatable interests and love of garden design. we never even have time to email this last couple of years- where does the time go!)and came across a photo of Heather and Harvey, and following that found your blog. (Had been surprised to see Harvey in the wheelchair!)

    Once upon a Garden Conservancy Pasadena open Days Garden Tour,I came into Heather's garden and found myself enthralled. I am a very eclectic lover of garden style ("A GREAT GARDEN IS ONE THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO STAY IN IT"), and loved how Heather had pulled together her "playspaces" into such a beautiful compostion. (One day I was verbally trying to describe Heather's garden to a friend who is a psychologist, and lacking any pictures to show her at the time, told her that Heather had the most "self-actualized" garden that I had ever seen- the skill of the landscape architect only served to showcase the love of plants, and personal treasures she had added, making the whole more than the sum of the parts, with it's levels and compostions both big and small to discover.

    Although I have been there to support Heather for some of her bigger gardening events, and I adore both her and celebrating her birthday, somehow,sadly,I missed being able to go to this one.

    Just wanted to say thank you for posting the pictures- there was one that especially put a big smile on my face: the "A garden is a friend you can visit anytime" plaque was a birthday gift from a few years back from me to Heather!
    So I was glad to see it was being enjoyed in the garden, because I haven't been able to see
    either Heather or my other friend,her garden, for a while and I miss them!!! Janna

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Thank you for taking the time to leave me a note - I really appreciate hearing from you and welcome any ideas you may have for future posts, too. Happy Cooking!

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