Road Trip to Santa Barbara

  My habit is to go down to Santa Barbara annually but these strange past two years put the skids on most travel, business or leisure . I do have to say that in the absence of my  fairly robust travel schedule my garden is unusually well taken care of. Not that it was neglected pre-Covid , but the combination of working from home and not going anywhere allowed for a significant improvement in  maintenance protocols. And inevitably while immersed in the weeding and trimming the renovation schemes started percolating. Many plants were moved or removed. And when plants are removed, you know what that means..I have to buy more ! Lifting of pandemic restrictions and 3 vaccines under my belt I decided it was time to revive the annual south coast road trip. A nursery crawl was an important part of the itinerary.

  I made my usual rounds -Lotusland, Seaside Gardens ,Terra Sol and an overnight at Back Bay Inn  in Baywood/Los Osos on the way home. This was my first trip with my new camera -of course photo conditions were awful. My Lotusland reservation was for the 1:30 time slot on a low 90's afternoon. I always book the 9:30 am slot which was unfortunately filled. Nevertheless it was great to be there so I didn't get hung up on the photography -sometimes it's just good to be in the moment. 

 I went to Seaside Gardens in Carpenteria in the morning before my Lotusland appointment. The light was so bad I went back the next day. Shopping was also involved. 

 I've taken many photos in this garden so I tried to get some different viewpoints this time around.

Rhopalostylis sapida -Shaving Brush Palm. Pulled back view in the next photo down to fully appreciate the reference.

 They grow 'em big down in these parts.

Pretty sure the right side Agave is A. vilmoriniana . I would love to have this one but there is just no room. I managed to make space for A. ovatifolia so the big footprint Agave choice has been made.

Who doesn't love a nice grouping of Leucadendrons ?

Which Leucospermum this is I don't know. The tagging is not consistent in this garden, but much of it is very mature so who knows, there could be labels lurking in the nether regions.

Bad Palm ID skills are still with me.

Wider view of Shaving Brush Palms -a name I now know. It's unlikely I will ever remember the genus Rhopalostylis.

 The requisite Protea shot.

 At Lotusland I kept to the shadier areas due to the heat of mid-afternoon. This was my first time back since the completion of the restored Japanese Garden , and the absolutely worst time of day to explore it. I plan to go back next spring and hope for better weather and an earlier appointment. I would love to get more images of Madame Ganna Walskas collection of stone lanterns in situ. In this post you can see them lined up out of harms way during the Japanese Garden construction.


View of the pond.

In the Blue Garden.

It was nice and shady in the Bromeliad grove, but the sun that came through the canopy was strong and created bright, contrasty light.


I lingered in the fern garden-it was relatively cool and there were lots of Begonias in bloom. The clusters of tree ferns pull you in to a sort of jungly sense of mystery. The paths are winding and narrow with the plants leaning is as much as can be dared in a public garden.

Lets close with some steroidal Staghorn Ferns.

   That's the limit of the photo-journalism (such as it is) from the Santa Barbara road trip for 2022.



  1. Considering how contrasty the light was, I think you ended up with some magnificent photos!

    What did you buy?

    1. Thanks, it was a challenge ! I bought a Begonia and a couple of Rhipsalis at Lotusland and Grevillea 'Pink Frost' and Leucadendron 'More Silver' at Seaside and a bunch of random succulents.

  2. You got great shots at Seaside Gardens. You're much more thoughtful than I am when choosing the vantage points from which to make your shots. I usually loiter so long in the sale area, I have to hustle through the demonstration gardens, resulting in quick point and click shots without much regard for framing my views. As to Lotusland, it's been way too long since I've been there...

    1. I always go directly to the display garden when I arrive at Seaside. Shopping happens after photos !

  3. It's always a good day to visit Santa Barbara, or look at someone's photos. I still have Seaside Gardens pics to edit and share from my Nov trip! As for large agaves I think you made the right choice. Agave vilmoriniana is so brittle! You look at it wrong and a leaf breaks...

    1. I spent some time pondering which big Agave I would get after space was cleared (concrete removal was involved) but really, who can argue with ovatifolia? Such a splendid plant !

  4. I think the Leucospermum is 'Scarlet Ribbon'--one might be able to discern the "ribbons" in your photo. Despite the harsh light, good photos.

    The palms at Lotusland look a little tired and thirsty to me, compared to what we saw when visiting quite a few years ago. :( Ovatifolia was the right choice--the vilmoriniana gets truly ginormous--my neighbor's when it flowered had to have been 12' across.

    1. It was hot that day so maybe the palms were indeed tired and thirsty. Now that many have warned against vilmoriniana I will be saved from making that mistake.

  5. For the joys of a road trip! Glad you have managed to do one again after such a long time. So many fabulous plants and sumptuous photos there. We hear so many great things about Santa Barbara, quite high up on our list.

    1. Next road trip is either the redwoods or Portland ! We'll see how the weather goes. If you decide to come out to Santa Barbra just make sure you do it in spring so you miss fire season !


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