Tassajara and its wildflowers

Tassajara is a Zen monastery in the Los Padres National Forest, inland from Carmel. It's in a deep canyon with a creek and hot springs. In summer, the monks open the monastery for a guest season. Guests can enjoy the wonderful vegetarian food, simple, comfortable accomodations, and the hot springs. There's a Japanese style bath house, separate for men and women, with a big hot plunge, a natural steam room, and an outside warm bath on each side. Tassajara generates its own electricity using solar, micro-hydro, and a diesel generator backup. The electricity is used mainly in the kitchen, office, and dining room. Guest rooms use kerosene lamps, and the paths are also illuminated with lamps like the one above near the beautiful Arbutus \menziesii (madrone).
Some monks (men and women) stay at Tassajara year round, but there are also summer students who come to work during guest season, and follow the schedule of meditation and work. Guests are invited to the meditation, but many prefer to turn over in their bed when the bell rings at 5:30 and listen to the birds and the creek from there.
The grounds have been landscaped with California natives and other drought resistent plants. Here's a sage with a Jizo statue.

Some beautiful Woodwardia fimbrata (giant chain fern) near some of the cottages.

There is also a mature Calycanthus occidentalis (spice bush), a great plant if you have some extra water. Smells like wine barrels.

I was there at the perfect time for wildflowers, and Clarkia unigulata (elegant clarkia) was along the paths in the valley in half shade. I suspect the one along the path was grown from seed, further out along the paths the same clarkia was growing in only one shade of pink.

The first Clarkia amoena (farewell-to-spring) was growing in the sunny spots. This is the species; I'm growing a hybrid in my garden and will have photos of that soon.

While the flowers delighted the eyes and nose -- not everyone loves the sulphur smell of the hot springs, though I've grown quite fond of it -- the creek and the crickets make music. I so enjoyed not listening to cars, TV, or other electronic output.

And small statues and altars in different places diffuse all of Tassajara with a feeling that the focus here is just a little different than on the outside. Here's the work meeting altar to which all monks bow before the tasks for the day are discussed. And of course, there are flowers.

In my next post, I'll have some photos of the surrounding area after the devastating fire that devoured much area around Tassajara last summer. I'm still so grateful that Tassajara was spared and that it's there for me and others to enjoy in the summer and for the monks to do their practice all year.


Nice plantings. It looks like you were there at a great time to enjoy the flowers. A planting of spicebush by a dining area might be nice--a plant that smells of wine barrels to enjoy with a nice cabernet...

(Interesting how different plants get called spice bush. The one around here is Cneoridium dumosum, which is also called berry rue. Ours doesn't smell of wine barrels, though.)
Tatyana said…
Is it near Carmel On The Sea? I've been there many times but hever heard about this place! Sounds very interesting! Thank you!