Mendocino--Coast Botanical Garden

At the end of May, we took a trip to Mendocino, where we visited the Coast Botanical Garden. It is always a treat, in part because the plantings are lovely, and in part because there are such a variety of environments. At the front, there is a perennial garden, then cactus and succulents, trees and shrubs, water garden, woodland garden, and if you keep on walking, you enter wild land that eventually leads to a tall grassy bluff over the ocean. Below there are rocks and waves. Above, native bunch grasses and wildflowers. One year there was a sea otter in the rocks below us. This year, no such luck, but I got this shot of the California native seathrift (Armeria maritima) at the very edge of the bluff.

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I knew that this species was from near the ocean, from the "maritima" in the specific epithet, but I had never pictured exactly what that could mean-right over the water as it is.

It was also fun to see all the native succulents, the Duddleyas, that grew down the rocky slopes to the water, but not possible to climb down and photograph them.

In the perennial plantings of the garden, there are both native and non-native plants. And of the natives, both species and cultivated varieties of wild species. This wonderful California poppy variety is called 'Champagne and Roses'.

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And right in the front, in the window boxes of the cafe, there was this wonderful planting of bidens. Both cultivars have larger flowers than the species, and the rusty-orange one has purple leaves. I wanted it, but the nursery manager said she was not only out of it, but so were all of her suppliers! Darn!

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 I was so busy taking photos that I forgot to ask the name of the cultivar, but I am hoping to find it again. Any reader happen to know what it is called?

Next post I will show some photos of plants in the town of Mendocino and the coastal trail around the city. The town is full of common and rare flowers and surrounded by a skirt of wild flowers.


Undersea Garden at Quail Botanical Gardens

When I was last at my Dad's, in San Diego County, we went to Quail Botanical Gardens in Encinitas ( I have been there many times, to see their wonderful collection of plants, including a large planting of tropical and subtropical fruits. However, this time, I was hoping to see their new "undersea garden." I read about it in Pacific Horticulture Magazine, a few issues back. Most of the plants in this (actually drought tolerant) garden are succulents, but it looks like it is made up of corals, sea anemones and the like. Sure enough, I found it, over by the area where they hold children's events and day camps, and next to their administration building. It was as wonderful as I thought it would be, so I took some photos to share. (There was a similar garden in the San Francisco Landscape and Garden Show last March. It included a sculpted octopus.)

(I know that purists will be horrified to see these drought-tolerant, dryland plants pretending to be underwater creatures. I remember well Wolfgang, the owner of Red Desert, before he retired, admonishing us not to put shells in the pots with cactus and succulents. He thought it just wasn't right. Sorry Wolfgang. I like it.)

July_august_07_189_copyThis seahorse, which is 5 or 6 feet tall, is located next to the administration building, where the painted wall adds to the illusion. It is a giant example of the idea of inserting succulents in wreaths and other decorations. Many succulents have shallow roots, so can survive this way for some time, though clearly if they began to grow and multiply, the piece would have to be redone.


An oversized casting of a nautilus shell next to some otherwise rather ordinary small-leaved succulents gives this area its air of of oceanic authenticity.


The tillandsia looks to me like a sea anemone growing at the edge of a sea cave. This bromeliad is an epiphyte (an air plant) so it can just sit there on the rock.


This is my favorite shot. What is the plant on the right that looks so much like a coral? I think it is a euphorbia. I don't plan to look it up though, just enjoy the effect. Though this garden is in San Diego County, many of the plants could survive nicely in Bay Area gardens, so if you like the look, shop around in the succulents and bromeliad sections of a nursery and see what you can put together.