Carmel – A City Overflowing With Flowers

– Posted in: Garden Design

When friends heard that I was visiting Carmel for the first time, they couldn’t say enough about what a lovely, artistic town it is. What they forgot to tell me is that it is a city overflowing with flowers.

Gardens in Carmel, CA.

The Church of The Wayfarer Garden in Carmel, CA.

As I wandered the streets ~ in front of and next to shops, as focal points in walkways, and just about everywhere else ~ flowers and colorful plants abound. They’re used in containers, raised beds, window boxes, and draping on walls.

Flowers in Carmel, CA.

Front of store overflowing with flowers in Carmel, CA.

It didn’t take long to see that most of the plantings are done in a hodge podge style – a variety of plants thrown together -with no focus on repetition, effective companion planting, and use of color.  But you know what? It works. The main and side streets of Carmel are a symphony of color.

An unexpected treat happened when I walked out of my hotel early one morning and noticed an interesting garden across the street. I peered over the edge of it, took a deep breath and let out a sigh. I had stumbled upon a gem.

church garden filled with flowers

Church of The Wayfarer Garden

The layout of the serpentine pathways, each flowing into the other, suggests what ‘lays beyond’  The pathways, along with outstanding plantings, inspire visitors to slow down, observe, and take in the beauty that surrounds them.

In the photo above, hydrangea, yucca, aenomium, and boxwood are well laid out with a running fountain strategically placed in the garden bed.

Church of The Wayfarer Garden

Church of The Wayfarer Garden

From this angle, the hydrangeas in the background with the stately vertical spires of acanthus mollis, agapanthus, and ground covers are pleasing to the eye.

Overflowing Flower Garden Design

The Church of the Wayfarer Garden

After taking some photos of  pathways, I noticed a man adding water to a fountain. I went over to ask him about the history of the garden. It was only then that I realized I was on the grounds of the a church – The Church of  The Wayfarer.

Flowers in The City

Church  of The Wayfarer Garden

He told me that the original garden was designed in the 1930s with several of the plants in the garden today planted back then. After a conversation about the maintenance, plant varieties, etc., he invited me to the Sunday morning service.  He said that it was a special service – there was going to be blessings of the animals in the Wayfarer Gardens.

As a dog lover, I couldn’t resist. The service was lovely – paying homage to St. Francis of Assisi – a saint whose love of nature was profound. At least a dozen dogs sat with their owners on the pews – and besides a few barks here and there – were well behaved.

Below are some photos of the dogs waiting to be blessed and being blessed in the garden.

Flowers In The City

Dogs Waiting To Be Blessed


Blessing Dogs In Garden

Pastor Norm Mowery Blessing Dogs

Carmel – a city overflowing with flowers – has been a delightful 2 day respite for me before heading onward to a retreat near by. It has given me a chance, after flying 9000 miles cross the Atlantic, to relax, re-connect with nature, and appreciate a city whose focus on community, the arts, nature, and gardening makes it a unique place to visit.


Fran Sorin

Fran is the author of the highly-acclaimed book, Digging Deep: Unearthing Your Creative Roots Through Gardening, which Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends as "a profound and inspiring book."  

A graduate of the University of Chicago with Honors in Psychology, she is also a gardening and creativity expert, coach, inspirational speaker, CBS radio news gardening correspondent, and Huffington Post Contributor.

Learn more about Fran and get free resources that will help you improve your life at

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Fran Sorin
26 Comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Kelly October 1, 2013, 3:10 pm

Beautiful pictures,Thanks for sharing. I love to explore new places. We are going to Monterey this weekend. May have to make our way to Carmel 🙂

Diane October 1, 2013, 4:19 pm


Amy October 1, 2013, 8:05 pm

I feel silly asking this but exactly where is Carmel? Thank you for sharing. I enjoy seeing new places and especially gardens. What a wonderful trip you must have had.

Thank you again!

Vidya Sury October 2, 2013, 1:19 am

I want to move to Carmel! Looks like joy is in the air permanently there, Fran! 😀

Joy October 2, 2013, 7:04 am

That is one of my favorite gardens in Carmel! Dd you happen to go down the alley to the Kincaide gallery? Also, next time you visit, I highly recommend a Carmel Walks tour. Enjoy your retreat and stay on the central coast.

Lily October 2, 2013, 9:14 am

If this was near me I would visit all of the time with my pup. What a lovely place for them to enjoy as well, so many great smells!

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 2:49 pm

Vidya- I think you would love it – physically beautiful and a tight, robust commmunity 🙂

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 2:50 pm

Hi Amy –

It’s Carmel, California -about 2 hours outside of San Francisco.:)

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 2:51 pm

Lily –
If you’re a dog lover, you couldn’t find a city that loves their pups more than any other place I’ve visited. 🙂

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 2:53 pm


I did go to the Kincaide Gallery but it is on the major street now – not down an alley. Thanks for the info. on the walking tour- next time around I’ll make sure to do it. 🙂 Fran

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 2:54 pm

Glad you enjoyed Diane…

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 2:55 pm

Kelly –

If you’re in Monterey – which is 8 miles from Carmel – then running over to even walk the main street is worth it. Have a wonderful weekend 🙂 Fran

Elle October 2, 2013, 5:18 pm

I love Carmel Fran and I’m so grateful for the reminder of the amazing city of flowers that it is. I remember when I first visited it, I was reminded of England, where just about everyone grows flowers in their gardens.

Super pics.

Candy Suter October 2, 2013, 8:58 pm

Wow I will need to go visit that place!

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 9:36 pm

Hi Elle-
Isn’t that the truth? England is the most beautiful and abundant when it comes to flowers. xxoo

Fran Sorin October 2, 2013, 9:36 pm

Candy- it’s worth the trip !

Cathy Taughinbaugh October 5, 2013, 7:31 pm

Love these pictures, Fran, especially the hydrangeas in The Wayfarer Garden. Carmel is one of my favorite places in the world and I always do come home inspired to plant more flowers. Thanks for sharing your visit and hope that you had a good retreat.

Jeannine October 6, 2013, 9:59 am

Might be worth a trip up north (from San Diego)!

Betsy/Zen Mama October 6, 2013, 9:58 pm

I love Carmel! And I remember how much they love dogs there. Apparently Doris Day is credited with starting that. Thanks for reviving my great memories of time spent there.

lYDIA PLUNK March 31, 2015, 10:32 am


Fran Sorin April 1, 2015, 4:07 am

Thanks for your comment Avery.

Fran Sorin April 1, 2015, 2:52 pm

Hi Lydia- Yep, you are right on target. I have paraphrased what your describing as ‘soulful gardens’. Thanks for your comment. Fran

juliana katuku June 27, 2015, 3:52 am

very nice looking flowers… they are so beautiful… i have liked the scaping
am very overwhelmed by this beautiful pictures… posts more of such.

juliana katuku June 29, 2015, 8:43 am

am interested by the flowers and dogs photos… so beautiful and am happy to have a view on this.

Fran Sorin July 7, 2015, 11:17 pm

Juliana- Am glad you enjoyed! Fran

Joe September 6, 2015, 12:32 pm

Beautiful pictures, and beautiful flowers. I love it!

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