This Way to the Orchid Trail

Orchid Trail, American Riviera MediaOrchids are an exotic and fascinating species, with a lavishly colorful array of flowers in bloom in Santa Barbara County. Along with being the home of the renowned Santa Barbara International Orchid Show (scheduled to be back in-person for the 76th annual festivities on March 11-13, 2022), the region between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean has seeded an industry that produces more orchids than any other part of the country. This stretch of the American Riviera is known as the Santa Barbara County Orchid Trail, and there is no better way to traverse the region and discover it for yourself.

Cal-Orchid Inc. Orchid Trail, American Riviera Media

James and Lauris Rose have owned this boutique nursery since 1987, and its diverse inventory reflects their keen eye for the unusual. “We have an insatiable desire to improve on what people generally see in the marketplace,” says Lauris. Known for their unique line of Epidendrum hybrids, particularly the Reed-Stem Epidendrum hybrids, Cal-Orchid’s breeding program focuses on “taking something that’s average and making it very special is a passion for us.” she says.

1251 Orchid Drive, Santa Barbara, 805/967-1312, www.calorchid.com

Gallup & Stribling Orchids

A premier supplier of orchids to the world for more than 60 years, Gallup & Stribling’s home farm occupies close to 50 acres in Carpinteria. Now owned by the Van Wingerden family, who emigrated from Holland to the Central Coast in the 1960s to bring generations of farming knowledge to the area’s cut flower industry, Owner Case Van Wingerden says they have diversified their holdings over the years to include orchids and cannabis, as well as a variety of fresh produce that is available for sale on-site. “Gallup is probably the last commercial Cymbidium orchid grower left in the county.” he says. They also offer a wide selection of Phalaenopsis (the biggest selling orchid in the country) as well as Galilea Orchids and Lady Slippers.

3450 Via Real, Carpinteria, 805/684-1998, www.gallup-stribling.com

Orchid Trail, American Riviera MediaWesterlay Orchids

A third-generation family business with Dutch roots, Westerlay Orchids specializes in Phalaenopsis in tons of beautiful colors, says Paige Harmon, who manages the retail shop of this 21-acre operation. As restrictions on gathering begin to lift, keep an eye out for announcements of in-person flower arranging and orchid care classes. Growing approximately three million orchids a year, Westerlay puts an emphasis on giving back to the community as well as on sustainable practices. Using innovative, environmentally-friendly technologies and systems have earned it an MPS “A” rating for best practices to minimize its impact on the planet.

3504 Calle Real, Carpinteria, 805/684-5411, www.westerlayorchids.com

Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

The newest grower on the trail, Ambriz Kingdom of Plants’ Owner Joe Ambriz mostly focused on the crowds at the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show and some wholesaling to local nurseries until the pandemic hit last year. Now open to the public, his greenhouses focus on Lalias Anceps and Cattleyas and generally temperature tolerant orchids, i.e. “ones we can grow outdoors here in our climate.” As a self-avowed “lover of the entire kingdom of plants,” in addition to a collection of rare and unusual orchids, Ambriz also has rare and unusual cactus succulents and South African plants for sale.

4998 Foothill Road, Carpinteria, 805/570-5792, www.facebook.com/ambrizkingdomofplants/

This story originally appeared in American Riviera Media.American Riviera Media, Fall 2021

sbmidmod Brings Mid-Centry Style to Santa Barbara

Owner of sbmidmod, Tracey Strobel. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Owner of sbmidmod, Tracey Strobel. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

An appealing array of home furnishings and artful objects—featuring the mid-century modern motifs of clean lines, bright colors, organic and geometric shapes, bold patterns, mixed textures, and contrasting materials—are on display at sbmidmod, a new addition to the Funk Zone. Located on Anacapa Street next to the popular Mony’s Mexican restaurant, this eclectic retail space showcases the timeless appeal of the design style.

A self-described research geek with a degree in ancient history, owner Tracey Strobel has spent almost two decades collecting, studying, restoring, and selling mid-century pieces. She got started hunting down furnishings for her own home. “Then it became a situation where I had one or two too many pieces and I thought I could maybe sell them … and it
snowballed into a business rather rapidly after that … and 18 years later, ta-da,” she laughed.

A Richard Schulman print of actor Anthony Hopkins, sits in the corner of sbmidmod. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

A Richard Schulman print of actor Anthony Hopkins, sits in the corner of sbmidmod. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Strobel began selling in the early days of eBay. “I’ve done the grunt work,” she said. “I worked estate sales, I’ve had spaces in antique malls—including a current space at the Antique Center Mall—and I’ve been incredibly grateful for those experiences because you
learn a lot from the people around you. One of the things I love the most about this job is that you’re constantly learning.”

She finds her inventory everywhere, from online searches to estate sales to tips from her network of antique dealers. As to what excites her about the mid-century modern aesthetic, Strobel said, “I love the minimal lines. I love the simplicity, and honestly, I view all of these pieces as functional art. It’s a lamp, yes, it gives you light, but it’s beautiful to look at and it inspires an emotional reaction for me. I can’t explain it better than that.”

Kitty corner, a tribute to cats in art form, at sbmidmod in the Funk Zone. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

Kitty corner, a tribute to cats in art form, at sbmidmod in the Funk Zone. Photo by Erick Madrid for the Santa Barbara Independent.

The research geek that she is, Strobel added, “There is also the component of knowing who the designers are and having the opportunity to research and learn about someone new.” The other appeal of the era is the craftsmanship. “It’s so well-made,” she said. “When you take care of these pieces, they will last for generations. It’s also important to me—though it’s pretty simple and rather obvious—that antiquing and buying vintage/used furniture helps the planet.”

As to the risk of opening up a new retail space during the uncertain days of a pandemic, Strobel said it was really a matter of stumbling onto a building that spoke to her. She was out on a bike ride in February when she spotted the “For Lease” sign in the window of a gutted building. “All I could see was the brick and the studs,” she said. She quickly made an appointment for a walk through. “It just landed with me,” she said.

Strobel signed a lease two weeks later. The timing was good. “I was really ready to have a
place where people could come in and shop, but also where I could research and do my work,” she said. “This is essentially my office that people can come and shop in.”

“It’s definitely an obsession,” she laughed. “You’ve got to have a passion for this in order to make it last a long time. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work.”

Santa Barbara Independent, June 24, 2021.Originally published in the June 24, 2021 issue of the Santa Barbara Independent. To see the story as it originally appeared in print click here.

Home and Garden: Special Issue

HAPPY HOMES & GLORIOUS GARDENS

Architects, Antiquers, Nursery Pros, Chefs, and More Celebrate Indoors & Out in 2021

From private homes with public impact to public gardens offering private inspiration, our annual Home & Garden special issue for2021 celebrates the many design and decorating options for residential life in Santa Barbara. We hope you find something that works in your living situation, whether that’s a small tree to plant on your patio or a complete remodel of your mansion.

Here is the whole package of stories:

Sheltifying Santa Barbara

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas

Public Gardens for Private Inspiration

Seasons Star in Lush Life Cookbook

Bringing Brass Ring to Home Decor

Indian Pink Pillow Power

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper

Tips From a Veteran Vintage Shopper, photo by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Unlike many of today’s cheaply manufactured products, antiques were built to last a lifetime. These high-quality items can be a chic, unique, and eco-conscious way to furnish your home. But you need to know what to look for.

Antiques dealer Anne Luther founded Raggedy Anneteques at age 14, selling her wares at flea markets and swap meets. She shared some tips during a recent walk through the Antique Center Mall on Hollister Avenue, where her collections are on display (she also has space at the Summerland Antique Collective).

DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER: “Don’t think because you see a rack of
Hawaiian shirts when you walk in that there won’t be anything in the store for you,” said
Luther. “Multi-dealer collectives often have a mix of dealers with a range of items to offer. Shopping at these kinds of places saves you time and helps you develop your own style.
Dealers will sometimes have to buy an entire estate or box at auction to get the items they really want. So make sure to look closely. That Asian art dealer may also have a small
box of English china in the corner. You never know.” This is also a good way to find bargains, she said.

LOOK CLOSELY: You may be surprised by what you spot. “Make sure to look both up and down when you’re in an antique collective,” she said. “Real estate is expensive, and dealers take advantage of every inch of space, hanging things from the ceiling and tucking them under tables.”

TOUCH THINGS: “You’re not in a museum,” said Luther. “Feel an item and its weight. The heavier the piece of furniture — specifically chairs — the more likely that it’s a period piece from the 18th century.” Her pro tip: If you reach your hand underneath the front of a chair,
you can feel the raw wood. If it’s smooth, it’s been machine-cut, and the chair was made after 1860. If it’s rough, then it’s hand-cut, and the piece is likely much older. For china, pottery, and glassware, she advised, “Check for chips and cracks with your fingers as well as your eyes. Run your finger over all of the edges.”

DISCRIMINATE, BUT DON’T HOARD: “It takes three of something to make a collection,”
said Luther. If you have tabletop items, like lion figurines for example, “when you display them at home, you want to put them on a tray to give them a little more presence and interest. And you don’t want to buy every single lion you ever see: This is how hoarders get started. Be discriminating, buy the best quality you can afford, signed pieces or pieces
manufactured by well-known names. Keep refining your collection, replacing inferior pieces with better quality ones.”

Antique Center Mall, 4434 Hollister Ave., (805) 967-5700, antiquecentermall.com; Summerland Antique Collective, 2192 Ortega Hill Rd., Summerland, (805) 565-3189, summerlandantiquecollective.com

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants

Exploring the Ambriz Kingdom of Plants, photos by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

There’s no signage outside his unassuming digs, but an urban rainforest’s worth of living treasures is tucked into Joe Ambriz’s Carpinteria greenhouses. Everything from orchids (he specializes in Laelia anceps and Cattleya) to air plants, as well as a tempting variety of succulents, flowering cacti, and caudiciforms lines the aisles of Ambriz Kingdom of
Plants, many of which have been raised from seed by the man himself.

“I have a love that spreads across the whole plant world,” says Ambriz, showing off a tableful of exotic pot arrangements, some of which he’s been cultivating for almost a decade. “I try to do as much as I can from seed because a lot of the oddball, rare stuff isn’t easy to find in abundance, so by seed I’m able to create a whole bunch of rare plants.”

Ambriz got his start with orchids — a friend gifted him with a cymbidium, and when it died a year later, he was determined to learn how to keep it alive. That sent him into a deep dive into the world of horticulture: first as a hobbyist — at the time he was working as the percussion director for Santa Barbara High, his alma mater — and then working for 7 Day Nursery, with a small area for cultivation at Island View Nursery. When that property sold,
his current spot became available, and he leaped at the opportunity for a kingdom of his own about five years ago.

Until the pandemic hit, Ambriz made the bulk of his sales exhibiting at orchid shows, including the Santa Barbara International Orchid Show, which was shut down for the past
two years. Since then, he’s pivoted his efforts toward retail sales, and that loss is a gain for local plant lovers. While there are certainly plenty of colorful orchids on hand, the oddball assortment of agaves, aloes, bromeliads, tillandsia, and multitudes more are all equally
exciting.

4998 Foothill Rd., Carpinteria, open by appointment, (805) 570-5792

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas

Confined to Quarters, Not to Canvas, photos by Erick Madrid. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

When the pandemic stuck Maryvonne LaParlière in her new Solvang home last spring, the white walls and unfinished surfaces didn’t stand a chance against the artist’s love of color. The French-born, École des Beaux-Arts–educated artist has specialized in decorative art for decades but focused primarily on commissions—like the three vibrant murals that grace the walls of Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital—and work for sale in galleries.

“When COVID arrived, it was not even like fight or flight, because we didn’t know what to fight exactly and we couldn’t fly anywhere,” said LaParlière, who closed her gallery in Amherst, Virginia, with the shutdown. “I had to figure out what to do.”

She looked around the house and spotted two nightstands in the bedroom that “were good quality but kind of blah.” So she painted them to match the botanical design on her
bedspread. Then it was on to faux painting a frieze of tiles in trompe l’oeil style, inspired by antique Spanish/Portuguese ceramic tiles.

Staying with Mediterranean-inspired vernacular, she hand-painted her patio and did an entire outdoor barbecue area. “I decided to do the wall near my iron gate and a little
barbecue sink, which I did painted in blue and white in the azulejos Portuguese style,” says the artist, whose work can be found in the collections of celebrities such as Priscilla Presley, Larry Hagman, Fannie Flagg, Julia Roberts, and Susan Sarandon, as well as the Orient Express Hotels chain, University of Virginia, and Alliance Française of Washington, D.C. In 2010, after a solo exhibition at the French Embassy, she was even decorated by the French Ambassador as a Knight in the Order of the Palms in recognition of her talent and for bringing French culture to so many in America.

Painting her way through the pandemic kept LaParlière’s spirits high, as did living in such a beautiful place. She transformed the steps leading up to her house into a colorful entryway, painting images of the nearby mission and gathering inspiration from all the local flora and fauna; “boring furniture” pieces like chests, trunks, and tables were transformed
into colorful works of art; and borders around her windows became showcases for more
hand-painted tilework.

Now that things are starting to open up, she is eager to work with new clients, as well as in her own home—if she can find an empty surface. Said LaParlière, “I will never stop.”

See laparliere.com.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Indian Pink Pillow Power

Indian Pink Pillow Power, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

A passion for exotic textiles and a yearning for travel—fed by her time as a flight attendant for American Airlines—propelled Montecito-based Tamara Cajuste into the world of home decor. Indian Pink Pillows, which Tamara and her husband, JP Cajuste, founded in 2007, specializes in vibrant, one-of-a-kind pillows and bolsters that incorporate vintage textiles from around the world.

“I think of pillows as the jewelry of the house, and they are such a great way to accessorize and accent your home,” said Tamara. “They tie everything together: They can tie a rug together with a painting or the rest of your furniture.”

These decorative pillows are also a simple way to switch up your decor. “You can change with the seasons with pillows—do a heavier fabric and tones in winter and then a fresh, lighter summer color,” said Tamara, who designs from textiles across Asia and Africa, while JP handles sales and operations. “There are so many different ways to use pillows to do an update.”

Indian Pink Pillows has a pop-up shop at Folly (3823 Santa Claus Ln., Carpinteria), and its pillows are also available at Rooms & Gardens (924 State St.). See indianpinkpillows.com.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Bringing Brass Ring to Home Decor

Bringing the Brass Ring to Home Decor, Urban-Equestrian photos by Amy Barnard. Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

A new line of luxury accessories by designer Joel Chauran melds his years as a professional horse trainer with his longtime career as a home furnishings product developer for brands such as Pottery Barn, Pier 1, TargetNeiman Marcus, and Williams Sonoma.

In addition to horse-inspired bags, jewelry, and accessories, Urban-Equestrian’s line of feather pillows embraces the sturdy yet elegant materials of contemporary riders. Coronado suede, Coronado cowhide, and Adagio cowhide leather pillows are
available in a variety of colors, shapes, and styles, all of which are designed to work
together with an emphasis on both style and comfort.

“I like to layer pillows together,” said Chauran, working from his studio in the hills near the Santa Barbara Bowl. “Refreshing your pillows and even rearranging the ones that you have really is a quick fix to give new life to an old room. I’m always thinking about how I could put this one together with that one; I always have different combinations in my head when I’m designing.

Though he designs all sorts of items, textiles are particularly dear to his heart. “I’m just drawn to all of the different techniques that you can do with fabric to customize things, and so it becomes this playground of different embroideries and different stitches and different folding and ruching and whatnot,” said Chauran. “I just can’t seem to get enough of it.”

Urban-Equestrian pillows are available at Lily in Montecito (lilyinmontecito.com), Cercana in Ojai (cercanaojai.com), and online at urban-equestrian.com, where 2 percent of online sales are donated to Love This Horse Equine Rescue.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Seasons Star in Lush Life Cookbook

 

Seasons Star in Lush Life Cookbook, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

Valerie Rice brings a seasonal symphony of gardening, cooking, and entertaining to Lush Life, a glossy new cookbook from the author of eatdrinkgarden.com. “We’re so lucky that you can grow year-round gardens here,” said Rice, who populated her first book with 150 seasonal recipes, including cocktails, entertaining tips, wine pairing advice from renowned expert Rajat Parr, and gorgeous photography by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls.

“It’s kind of a handbook for life here in Santa Barbara,” said Rice, who believes the key to deliciousness all starts in the garden. “When you grow in season, it not only tastes better and works better but also is great for palate fatigue.” She suggests starting “with a sunny spot in your garden and make sure you have great soil” and then mixing compost and organic potting soil together and calendaring at least two days a week to work in the dirt. Keep the garden where you can see it from the kitchen. “Grow something that you really
love to eat so you’re excited to go out there and harvest it,” she said. “And grow what is
appropriate for the season.”

With this in mind, each section of Lush Life starts with tips on what to eat for that season and what to plant for the next season. “What grows together goes together,” advised Rice, “so whether you’re pulling it from your garden or walking around the Tuesday Farmers’ Market, a lot of the stuff that’s offered is just delicious together.”

Golden Beets & Blood Oranges with Citrus Vinaigrette, from Lush Life by Valerie Rice. Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls.

Golden Beets & Blood Oranges with Citrus Vinaigrette, from Lush Life by Valerie Rice. Photo by Gemma and Andrew Ingalls.

Here is a streamlined version of her spring recipe for Golden Beets & Blood Oranges
with Citrus Vinaigrette.

CITRUS VINAIGRETTE: In a mason jar, shake ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons
white balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons fresh blood orange juice, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, and ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper.

SALAD: Boil 6 to 8 medium golden beets and cool. Slice 6 blood oranges into ½-inch-thick slices, and place in a bowl with any reserved juices from the cutting board. Toss the beets with 2 cups of lightly packed watercress or mâche, arrange in a shallow bowl or platter, and tuck in the orange slices. Taste for seasoning and add more dressing, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle with mint.

See eatdrinkgarden.com.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.

Public Gardens for Private Inspiration

Public Gardens for Private Inspiration, originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021.

NATIVE PLANTS AND WATER WISDOM
If you’re looking for ways to be water savvy at home, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden’s Water Wise Home Garden section (sbbg.org) is the place to go. This small-scale, realistic setting shows off easy-growing, beautiful California native trees, shrubs, and plants that are drought-tolerant wildlife habitats. An excellent selection of natives is available for purchase at the on-site Nursery, which helps to support the work of this valuable nonprofit.
1212 Mission Canyon Rd.

CHUMASH INSPIRATION
The Chumash Point Ethnobotanical Preserve on Santa Barbara City College’s East Campus (sbcc.edu/environmentalhorticulture) is a practical lab for the school’s
environmental horticulture students, as well as a great resource for locals to get a
peek at a garden that emphasizes native plants that have medicinal, nutritional, and
spiritual importance to the Chumash. 721 Cliff Dr.

COMING UP ROSES
If you’re looking to create your own rose garden, the A.C. Postel Memorial Rose
Garden across from the Santa Barbara Mission is a wonderful source of inspiration.
More than 1,500 rose plants in every possible hue are usually in bloom between April
and November, making these carefully tended flowerbeds a favorite spot for a stroll.
420 Plaza Rubio

SUPERB SUCCULENTS
The 37 acres of horticultural wonders at Lotusland (lotusland.org) showcase a number of rare species and exotic specimens, including an impressive array of drought-friendly plants in the succulent garden. A sweeping collection of cacti is also on display in another themed area, along with the oft-photographed euphorbia, cactus, and succulent plantings
in front of Ganna Walska’s iconic pink residence, designed with the help of respected landscape architect Lockwood de Forest. Reservations required. Call (805) 969-9990.

ORNAMENTAL EXCELLENCE
Considered a true masterpiece of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, Casa del Herrero’s grounds (casadelherrero.com) were designed in an eclectic mix of Moorish style and Country Place Era by noted landscape architects Ralph Stevens, Lockwood de Forest, and Francis T. Underhill. Included on the National Register of Historic Places, this estate features intricate pebbled pavings and a long watercourse that leads to colorfully tiled fountains, with charming spaces for flower beds, arcades, rose gardens, and a number of orchards. 1387 E. Valley Rd. Reservations required. Call (805) 565-5653.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on May 20, 2021. To see the story as it originally appeared, click here.