Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Venice Garden Tour, Derby Day & Pow WOW!

What a delightful, deluxe weekend!

This past Saturday was The Venice Garden and Home Tour to benefit the Las Doradas Children's Center who do great work with low-income, at-risk kids right here in Venice. The day was sheer perfection for such an outing, as the sun was shining bright in a cloudless sky, with just a hint of breeze to keep you refreshed. It's an annual tradition for my gang of gals to put on bright frocks and look at all the beauty the gardens of our town contain. This day almost always begins in the Queen's Box (like at the Ascot Races) of my friend Jenny's place. As it is also Kentucky Derby Day each year, you'll usually find us enjoying champagne to start the day in a celebratory fashion.

With bubbles still dissipating on our tongues, we all grabbed our bikes and headed off to the Children's Center to get our wristbands. (The one slight blemish to our stellar day - the ladies working the check-in table - and the phones prior to the event - really need to brush up on their social graces ... utterly charmless. Oh, and no water bottle gift bags this year - stinge.) Biking is the way to go on this day (and every day, of course. NO MORE OIL! ... but I digress ...), as homes are spread out around the neighborhood, and you want to just zoom about freely.

There is so much to see and talk about that you should really go yourselves next year, but I'll give you a glimpse into it all. One main observation I had was that the color palette was pretty drab and modernist for the most part, which make the colorful gardens LEAP to my mind now as the highlights.

A lot of the gravel and bamboo yards got kinda old to look at after a while, for me, anyway. Whatever you like, the day was IDEAL to contemplate your own garden daydreams.

The gardens that actually GREW something in them, be it flowers or produce, were by far my favorites. The yellow and red chards were so bright they looked fake ...

... and were so tempting they made Lari curl up next to them, Vamp style.

The little googly eyed cartoon vegetable markers at one of our favorites were darling, and so were the welcoming owners.

There were even cool little chickens living at one place, and the white one with a punk hair-do was clearly the star of that backyard.

One house had a couple girls on the steps saying, "Don't miss the 19th Century Opium Den", which we did not miss.

That same house had a back house with a balcony that recalled the Garden District of New Orleans. Beautiful, and transporting. My dear friend Mike's house was on the Tour this year, which elated me as I've always bragged about his backyard, "Bali". We took a little break next to his Hot Tub (Time Machine).

I had a bounty offered for whomever found me the best Hibiscus to wear in my hair, and Lari won herself a pie with a giant red one. (And a bonus ala mode for the yellow one!).

After doing one chunk of the walking map, it was time to take our customary lunch/Derby/Mint Julep break at Hal's. It felt a bit lame to be inside on such a stunner of a day, but the "Most exciting two minutes in Sports" was enjoyed by all ... but especially by us and the Bobby Brown party (No, not The World's Greatest Wino, Bobby Brown. The Singer one.). He looks healthy and great, by the way. What a turnaround. Cool, funny, nice guy, as were his lady friend and baby. (Whitney might be the troublemaker after all). Our horses didn't win, but who cares, we did - just by having such a glorious day already. And all for a great cause!

After the race, we dashed around to try to see as much as we could before the Tour homes closed.

There's never enough time to see it all - especially the way Hal's pours the Juleps.

A quick zip home to change into warmer togs and climb back onto the bikes to head down to Dockweiler Beach for a Birthday/Bon Voyage Pow Wow for my pal, Nathan. We arrived just in time to catch a shimmering golden sunset, enjoyed around the bonfire as our friends played music ... and applied war paint.

As we waited for the Green Flash (nope), I looked around and once again realized what in life is most important - Friends. Music. Good Food. Fun. Nature. Beauty. Love. Yeah, Man.

The sun set, and the indigo evening turned chilly, but as we pedaled back to Venice, we were entirely warm ... from the inside out.


*Photos by Jennifer Everhart, Paulgronner.com, Lari Lang and Me.


  1. Tour me some more, Carol. I can feel the pedels under my souls... and see those drab contemporary gardens in my mind...even if this year I missed the Tour... for the walk, at the Labyrinth. Nice view. Thank you.

  2. great article carol. Thank you for the insight. Shala, Venice