Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Magnificent Skies and the Beautiful Washington Oaks Gardens

Friday March 11, 2016                                                                   Most Recent Posts:
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Do I Call it Theft or My Carelessness?
Flagler Beach, Florida                                                                   Never Make Predictions – A Double Header



I knew it was going to be amazing the moment I stepped outside.






These are the before sunrise skies.



Everything turns golden as the ball slides up into the clouds.









Not long before the gold is fading and the ball has turned white hot.  Predicted high for today is 77.  Sounds perfect!



Everyone has gathered round for the event.



Gulls of all sizes.




After breakfast, we bike up to the Market but not along A1A, too many motorcycles.  We bike one street over through the neighborhoods.  One thing I love about Florida is their ice cream sherbert house colors.  We never see anything like that in the mid west or New England.




The Farmers’ Market here has a lot more than just produce.  Need some Easter Decorations?  They’ve got you covered.




Olives?                                                                                                         Fresh Baked Goods?



Looks like Grandma may be getting a big bag of popcorn to share.


Better get your Plant City Strawberries quickly, they are clearly going fast.



You can get your scissors or knife sharpened.


And of course there are loads and loads of fresh vegetables.


You can also buy salmon that is wild caught and not farm fed with GMO food pellets.  Sounds excellent as far as it goes.  Still, it seems to me that this would have to be flown in from the Pacific NW which hardly makes it sustainable.  But that’s just my opinion.    Local seafood would be my choice.


Now here is a woman after my own heart.  No grandchildren in sight and she’s eating the popcorn herself.  In all fairness, she could be snacking while she waits for them.




We bike back, put away our delicious purchases and have some lunch before heading up the road to Washington Oaks State Park.




After lunch we are going 15 miles north on Route A1A to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.  This is the first time we’ve driven through Flagler Beach since we arrived on Saturday.  We are surrounded by bikers in front of us and bikers behind us.





When we finally make it up to the main intersection in Flagler Beach we sit long enough that I can get a picture of some of the numerous kites that have been up in the air here since the start of Bike Week.




Highway A1A follows the Atlantic for a long way through and north and south of Flagler Beach.  It’s wonderful not to have homes or businesses or high rose hotels blocking the view of the water.




In 1936, the land known today as Washington Oaks Gardens State Park was bought and given to Louise Powis Clark by her husband Mr. Owen D. Young as a wedding gift.  Mrs Young designed the house and the gardens for this their winter retirement home. 

Louise Powis Clark was creative and independent.  At a time when there were very few businesswomen operating on their own, she ran a successful lingerie company.  While living in the Phillipines, she organized a cottage industry among the native women, designing and marketing their fine hand embroidery.  The company had offices in the Phillipines, New York, and Paris and made Louise a millionaire by 19. 

Mr. Young helped found the RCA Corporation and became Chairman of the Board of the General Electric Co. in 1922. Mrs. Young donated the property to the state of Florida in 1964 following the death of Mr. Young.

There is a lot to see here,  the modest home, now the Information Center, the formal gardens, two short trails and the cocquina beach across the highway.





The original entrance to the ???? acre estate was through these cocquina stone gates. The main road of the estate was formerly A1A until it was moved at ??? Young’s request.   I’d say he had friends in high places.



We take the lane up to the home which overlooks the Matanzas River.







We follow the lane on past the house and out along the river before returning to see what’s in the information center.





The trail winds up to an overlook which is marred by the trash carelessly left by others.  I volunteer to go down and pick it all up and throw it away.  Such a lovely place should not have litter.









Love the entry door



This is the most interesting information center.  It has period furniture facing a period TV which is running an information film.  So you can sit on a comfy sofa and chair to watch if you wish.




The beautiful fireplace is made of cocquina.



Love the period TV showing the film.  Wish there had been a volume control though.  It was just a bit too low.



Other information is on boards in the ajoining room which is entiredly glassed in.



Beautiful views out every window.



We read the information boards and listen to some handset voices explaining the history of this place before the Youngs occupancy.  Then we sit for a bit to see the film before going out to the gardens.




We then walk around the landscaped grounds.








We wonder along the paths and come to what appears to be a wedding set up under the huge central Live Oak Tree known as the Washington Oak.   It is said to be over 300 years old.







It will clearly be a very small wedding with only 10 chairs.  Looks like just the immediate family.  What a pretty spot.



We continue on our walk.  There aren’t a lot of things in bloom yet this year but those that are blooming are lovely.










We wander the paths around to the gazebo.



All around it are lovely pictures framed by its openings.




The bride comes down the path in front of the gazebo escorted by her father.  I zip out after they walk by and get this picture as  the groom waits to receive her.  It’s a really lovely day for this late afternoon wedding under the spreading arms of this venerable old tree.  I hope they can return on their anniversary for many years to celebrate a happy life together.




We want to have time to go across the road to the ocean front of the property to see the cocquina stones so it’s time to leave.  On our way out we pass the greenhouse and see that there is a plant sale scheduled so you can buy your own plantings grown here at Washington Oaks Gardens.







Under another beautiful live oak could well be the wedding reception in this pavillion.




We could walk over to the beach from here but fear the park may close before we get back.  So we drive the short distance.  This is the beach that Betty Steflik, whom I talked about in a previous blog, was instrumental in saving.   I can certainly see why.







It appears that these stones may have been all along the coastline in this area and that this is the only remaining major untouched grouping of them.






Many thanks to both Betty and to Louise for providing such lovely places for us and many others to visit.


  1. ha ha. . .it's the same woman with the popcorn in both pics. . .she took off her jacket and wrapped it around her waist. . .stuck the popcorn in her red bag. . .love it!

  2. I do love the old Winter homes of the rich that are now preserved as State Parks. Very nice of the families to share them for everyone's benefit.

  3. I was wondering whose house you were walking into!! What a very different Information Center! I love the sofa and period TV...so cool! Lovely site for a wedding:) I had no idea there were rocks like that on the coast of Florida!! These are so neat...love them!! Great find:) That is a wonderful photo of you and David...a keeper:)

  4. Yes, a truly amazing day. Except for all the motorcycle traffic. So nice to get fresh produce, and popcorn too. If I owned beautiful land, and I'd only own land that was, I'd donate it into public lands. Does that even happen any more? Such a lovely place, inside and outside. That TV movie is a hoot. Excellent selfie. You two are so cute.

  5. I am so envious when I see your sunrise photos. Beautiful! All of the photos today are interesting and lovely.

    The strawberries at the market look great. Ours are available at the Market, but they aren't quite as tasty as they will be in a week or so.

  6. I do love the fact that so much of northern Florida coastline is still visible from the highway!! Washington Oaks Garden is a hidden gem...always a great visit and never many folks around:o)) Hope the rains hold off for the market on Saturday....

  7. What a lovely place for a wedding. I never saw that beach while we were in that area. Those rocks are interesting and I'm glad they were saved. I remember some rocky coast down in the Jupiter area where they had blowing rocks.

    I don't remember if you were there or not but Maclay Gardens in Tallahassee is lovely in April. I envy you the beach sunrises.

  8. What a lovely park and home! Definitely a place we would enjoy visiting. And the beach is gorgeous -- very different from what I think of as Florida's beaches. Wonderful photo of you two. :-)

  9. What a wonderful day, from the beautiful sunrise to the lovely park...with a beautiful place for a wedding. Sounds like a perfect day, sure would love some of those strawberries, fresh local ones are hard to come by in the desert.

  10. A beautiful place to visit. And an ideal place for a wedding. I think the intimacy of it- just a few guests- probably reflects well on the mindset of the bride and groom. Not one of those bridezilla weddings with hundreds of guests and endless stress.

  11. What a great place for a wedding! Lovely flowers, I can just smell them now. Nice sunrises you get there on the ocean..

  12. That was very gracious of you to clean up someone else's mess - especially in flip-flops on a slope, with a toe in healing! Thought it was a nice touch to have a Visitor Center or Interpretive center unmanned,, put attended by a vintage "boob tube" from the 50s General Electric console model TV, rigged up to show three films about the early actions of the state to create a park system and take advantage of the CCC program to get much of the work done - especially notable at Highlands Hammock State Park. Too bad the sound conrtol was not hooked up to turn it up a bit louder. Of course the owner of this house was head a GE for a while, so at least the TVs in his day did have working volume controls.

  13. I love that picture of you both...that really is a good one :) That is a beautiful place for a wedding indeed on a beautiful day. Neat old TV. Lovely landscaping...and that tree...what history it must have seen!

  14. Bikers, brides and beaches. You sure pack a lot of variety into one day! :c)

  15. What a place, and did not realize there are those rocks on Florida beach. Somebody has been very creative when building/designing the Visitor Center. I'd love to visit that place one day and enjoy the gardens as well.

  16. A gorgeous sunrise like that is bound to be a good sign for the rest of the day ... and looks like that held true in your case. Nice photo of you guys.

  17. Amazing skies to start a lovely day. Lucky popcorn lady :-) Your Earth flag is looking sweet! Thank you for picking up the trash, we've seen very little in NM and AZ (could have all blown to Texas). The retro TV is adorable, great place to watch a film. Those majestic oaks are fabulous, what a pretty place (nice wedding gift!)

  18. Wish I was rich enough to buy an amazing piece of land just so I could donate it like they did!


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