Sunday Morning before the Rain-Succulent Gardens Nursery

The weather forecast for my weekend in Santa Cruz last month was not ideal, and I spent a great deal of time looking at the sky and consulting the National Weather Service for the timeline of the expected rain. My hotel was in Aptos, a beach town south of Santa Cruz that was only a 15 minute drive from my destination-Succulent Gardens Nursery in Castroville. Heavy rain was predicted for after 1pm, and the nursery opened at 9. My window of opportunity was wide open, and my hope was that there would be blooming Aloes to see.

 And there were !

  This hedge of Aloe plicatilis (now reclassified as Kumara plicatilis) along the exterior of one of the greenhouses is impressive any time but the winter blooms elevate the vista.

 Here is a variegated version, barely noticable in it's partially hidden position.

Because I have abysmal Aloe naming skills , and the display gardens are unlabeled , I'm afraid I have few ID's to share.  I recall promising myself that I would make and effor…

UC Santa Cruz Arboretum--Another Installment

There was more to see than just  Banksias on my December visit to this university arboretum. The Banksias' got their own post by virtue of the sheer number of images I took of them. Many more photos were taken of the plants at large as I strolled this botanically rich garden in almost complete solitude.

 The garden, like many other botanical gardens, is separated in to geographic regions. In particular , the southern hemisphere is well represented- the breadth and depth of the Australian, New Zealand and South African collections is impressive and a specialty here. The arboretum is also a casual affair- there are level concrete walkways, but the plants are arranged very informally and the more mature plantings are bordered by lawns making for easy up close viewing. It's not overtly 'designed' in most areas, instead many of the plants are specimens planted where they can be allowed to achieve full maturity and be viewed from multiple angles.  I was glad to see evidenc…

Gardens Around Town

In spite of our relatively pleasant climate and long growing season there does not seem to be a lively horticultural community here in the Napa Valley- at least not one that trickles down from estate gardens to the average homeowner. Growing produce is certainly popular , and some of the restaurants and winerys have beautiful vegetable gardens that dovetail with the foodie culture that is an inevitable sidecar to the wine industry. Ornamental plants don't always get that much attention.
   The gardens in my own neighborhood are not really gardens; they are very mundane down-sized version of commercial landscapes maintained by mow-blow firms that really know nothing about plants, hired by homeowners who are similarly ignorant, and who assume the 'gardener' they hire is using best practices. I really struggle with not allowing the dumbing down of the suburban landscape to depress me. The constant drone of power equipment almost every day of the week with the need to remove…