Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A warm, California walk

Early this month I spent a long weekend in Pasadena where we celebrated my mother-in-law's 80th birthday. We had lots of fun and family time and spent hours outside in several family gardens (more about that in another post.) I had hoped there might be time to visit the Huntington Garden, but that didn't work out. However, I did get to take a nice walk close to her home on a warm, sunny afternoon (my favorite kind.)
Above, this tree has amazing spikes on its trunk. Can you believe the soft pretty pink blossoms it has on its canopy, below? What a contrast!

Lots of aloes and agaves grow like weeds there. They just don't know how good they have it!

Hibiscus blooms seemingly year-round.

There was a street nearby called Boulder Something (Way, Street, Drive, I can't quite remember.) It's easy to see how it got its name, though. I loved the grasses nestled next to the big rocks, and prostrate rosemary tumbling over them.

Jade trees grow as big as...trees. And they're lush and full.

I was happy to recognize Agave attenuata. These were beautiful big specimens along a side road.

They were holding their own against ivy. Just look at the size of the trunks.

There was a street of lovely Spanish-style houses near where I was staying. The homes were obviously developed and built at the same time, but each one was different. La Solana was filled with appropriate plantings of mostly drough-tolerant species.

Of course, everyone has a lawn, as well.

A nice big agave (a. scabra or maybe a. americana?) This one had beautiful leaf impressions on it.

A stand of low-growing cactus. This crop was functioning nicely as a groundcover.

This is either Trachycarpus fortunei (Chusan Palm), or Washingtonia filifera (Mexican Fan Palm), but the dead fronds have been cleaned up so I can't tell for sure. I love the way the fresh, green fronds shine in the sun.

A baby trachycarpus or Washingtonia. There were saplings sprouting out of the most inhospitable ground around two mature specimens. I wanted to dig some up and give them a happy home in Oregon!

The size of some opuntia plants in SoCal is staggering.

A beautiful palm and cactus grouping on La Solana.

An olive tree. Can't wait for mine to get that large.

Strelitzia reginae. The Bird of Paradise Flower is perfectly named.
You've probably figured it out by now...the MulchMaid is a not-so-secret wannabe Southern Californian!


  1. Jane, I prefer the PNW but SC does have some awesome flora. I keep thinking I'm going to put a shovel in the trunk of my car for just such "emergencies" as your baby palms. I would have been sooo tempted. Your blooms on the previous post are magical. I love this mild weather. A bit breezy but who's complaining?

  2. You and me both Jane!(SoCal wannabe) I always hear people say they would miss the seasons but I just don't think I would. The one advantage that I saw while we were in Cali was that our banana leaves here in Oregon don't stick around long enough to get tattered. We get fresh new ones every year...where as the ones in Cali are torn up and ugly!

    I saw that same tree at Huntington and can't remember it's name at the moment, when I get to my Huntington post I'll have it. Amazing wasn't it?

    Thanks for the SoCal moment!

  3. I'm with Grace on this one...lived in LA and San Diego for a while and the weather bored me no end. That was before the gardening bug bit, tho, and still it was a wonder to look up and realize that a street was lined with towering, tree-sized Poinsettias in full bloom. Or that the dense, shoulder-high hedge was made up of jade plants. This post was a nice diversion on yet another grey day. Thanks!

  4. Grace - I might even have tried digging the baby palms with my hands if the homeowners hadn't been right there in the driveway!

    Loree - I'd definitely take tattered banana leaves in exchange for the delight of year-round gardening.

    Ricki - I lived in Southern California until I was sixteen. I have to say the weather didn't bore me (of course I was young). I loved the warmth - the traffic, though, even in those days, not so much!

  5. Southern California is a bit of a gardener's version of disneyland. All these amazing novelties at every turn. If I could grow their plants, but still get snow in winter, it would be just about perfect.

  6. Jane, I am tagging you for Honest Scrap. If you are interested, come on over to learn more.

  7. Megan, you've hit hit the nail on the head. It always feels like such a treat to be in that plant wonderland. I wonder if I would get jaded if I could live there?

  8. Riki, I visited your blog but my comment there about Honest Scrap isn't showing. Help me understand more...

  9. Those palms are Washingtonia Robusta actually. As you probably already found, they are weeds in the full sense of the word. They will pop up in every crack where they could send down roots. I have to constantly keep an eye for palm seedlings growing near the base of my house (birds drop tons of seeds in my yard) because if i didn't, I would have many, many palms lifting our foundation.

  10. hi, im doing a lab report for high school and i need to know what the name of the low-growing cactus you have a picture of is. thanks

    please e-mail me back


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