Wednesday, November 21, 2018

November spin through the South Coast Botanic Garden

A Monday morning meeting brought me back to the South Coast Botanic Garden, approximately 5 miles from my home, this week.  As it'd been a month since I'd walked the garden and the docents had a tour scheduled for 110  middle school students the following week, another docent and I decided to take trek through the garden to pick out the highlights in preparation for that event.

I was most interested in checking out the vertical garden, which was under construction at the time of my last visit.

Here's what the vertical garden wall looked like when I visited in mid-October.  According to the garden's winter newsletter, the wall was constructed to hide the tram shelter and equipment on the west side of the garden.

The space, now dubbed the "Living Wall Lounge," was being embellished with an expanse of decomposed granite when we checked it out on Monday.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get up close enough to the wall to identify all the plant materials.

I'd originally assumed that it was being constructed entirely of succulents but that's clearly not the case.  In addition to lots of Aeonium, Crassula and Portulacaria, there are a number of fern species, what appeared to be rubber plants (Ficus elastica), and other plants I couldn't identify from a distance.

The wall was constructed of 2 layers of felt mounted on the garden's equipment storage containers.  Plants were inserted into slits in the felt and then stapled in place.  No soil was used.  The vertical garden will be sustained using a hydroponic watering system.


Even before we reached the vertical garden, my attention was grabbed by what I quickly realized was a tree dahlia.  I'm sure this plant has been growing in the garden for a long time but it was the first time I'd noticed it.

This Dahlia imperialis with the flowers far above our heads was in the Volunteer Garden

I subsequently found more in the Lower Meadow.  The flowers were bee magnets.


Although my docent friend and I walked from one end of the 87-acre garden to the other, almost all my photos are of areas located in the front area of the garden, where most of the color is concentrated at the moment.  As usual, there was a lot going on in the Volunteer Garden and the adjacent areas, which includes the Vegetable Garden, the Lower Meadow area, and the Discovery Garden.

This is a panoramic view of a portion of the Volunteer Garden.  The new vertical garden is just barely visible in the background.  I should note that the garden avoids trimming the fronds of the tall palms as these provide shelter for birds and other critters.

An Abutilon was blooming here, as well as many other areas of the garden.  This was one of the smaller specimens.

The area sports the largest Brugmansia I've ever seen

Justicia aurea were also in bloom in spots throughout the garden

This Salvia elegans is in full bloom in the Vegetable Garden

This is one of at least two tree marigolds (Tithonia diversifolia) in the garden.  The plants were cut down nearly to the ground not very long ago and have already regained their tree-size stature.  I'm seriously considering planting one of these from seed in my own garden - after my annual sunflowers failed this year, this looks like a better bet.

This cup-and-saucer plant (Holmskiodia sanguinea) is another I've never noticed until now

Senna (formerly classified as Cassia) shrubs were in full bloom last month.  Most are fading now but this one  in the Lower Meadow was an exception.  The foliage and flowers look a lot like my own Senna bicapsularis but this one was pruned into a neat (if huge) mound.  Senna is a host plant for sulphur butterflies, which I saw flitting about throughout the garden.

This large gold-flowered shrub looked familiar but I couldn't identify it by name


That last shrub wasn't the only plant I couldn't identify on our rounds.  I was also perplexed by one of the flowering shrubs in the tropical greenhouse.

We couldn't spot a label for this lovely specimen.  Could it be some species of Rhododendron?


This is the only photo I took beyond the front area.  It provided one of the few spots of fall color I saw.

When I took this photo, I assumed this vine in the Garden of the Senses was a grapevine.  Now I'm less sure but, if it isn't a grape, I'm not sure what it is.


That's it for my spin through my "neighborhood" botanic garden this November.  As I headed to the front entrance, I couldn't help pausing to peruse the plants for sale outside the gift shop.  As usual, I fell prey but at least I just brought home one plant this time.

This is Haemanthus albiflos, a shade plant native to South Africa


The docent-led tour for 110 students was subsequently cancelled but at least I got a healthy walk out of our exploratory trek, as well as some photos and a plant.

Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to all of you in the US!


All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party 


22 comments:

  1. Thank you for following up with photos of the wall! In your previous post, it looked so interesting, even half finished, but now it is spectacular! I'll look forward to a future post with plant IDs (no pressure).

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    1. No problem! As long as I remain a docent, I expect I'll be visiting the garden at least once a month (although tours have been few and far apart since June).

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  2. Cut and come again, permaculture style, appeals to me MUCH more than planting annuals.

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    1. The resilience of that tree marigold is what appeals to me, Diana. It grew fast even after being pruned to about a foot in height. And it's already flowering again too!

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  3. And I tried to grow that tree dahlia in a stock tank! Thanks for the report.

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    1. Those tree dahlias are huge. They sprawl quite a bit too. On the flip side, the bees loved them.

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  4. It looks like November is a good time to visit this garden ! That green wall is sure well done; it will be interesting to see how it fares in high summer.

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    1. Most of the green walls I've seen haven't held up in the long term so I'll be interested to see how this one is maintained. Some of those plants (e.g. the asparagus fern) can get big too.

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  5. What a stunning place! I'll have to remember to visit it next time I'm out that way. The vertical garden is a feast for the eyes!

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    1. The garden is more than 50 years old, Beth, but it had humble beginnings and, in many ways, it's still in the process of coming into it's own. It was once the site of an open pit mine and then a dump/landfill before it was acquired as a botanic garden. It's history poses challenges, such as the fact that the material on which it's built is still settling; decomposing materials release methane gas that has to be redirected; and the soil is exceptionally warm in some spots due to the ongoing process of garbage decaying.

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  6. Beautiful spaces, that green wall is a work of art... but no soil?

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    1. I was surprised by the soil-less approach too, Loree, but that's what the garden's newsletter says. I'm not sufficiently well-acquainted with hydroponic gardening to understand how that works, especially when the plants used have such different requirements.

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  7. Happy Thanksgiving, Kris. Hope you get a closeup look at that vertical wall soon.

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    1. Happy Thanksgiving, Alison! My guess is that the garden's going to limit close-up access to the wall until the DG hardens up a bit but last night's rain should help that.

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  8. Wow wow wow. What a wall. That's amazing! And the Brugmansia and Salvia elegans. What a ray of sunshine on this (thankfully) rainy day in Portladn. Thanks for the tour, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Kris.

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    1. I'm glad we both got some rain this Thanksgiving, Tamara, although I suspect Portland is well ahead of us in the precipitation department. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday!

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  9. Kris, Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!
    Thank you for your visit and for your robust capture of your time in the Garden. :-)
    I'm new to the team, and look forward to meeting you.
    We actually have a sign for the Living Wall which identifies the plants used. I'm unable to attach the pdf here, yet am happy to share it with you, as we are still in the process of installing it. Let me know if you'd like me to send it via email.
    Yes, we are saddened by the school visit cancellation. I was told that the school lost its bus funding, yet hopes to reschedule in the future.
    Thanks again, and take good care!
    Yumiko

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    1. Thank you for your message, Yumiko! I'd love a list of the plants if that's not a hassle for you. (My email address should be on the docent contact list but let me know if that's not readily accessible.) Actually, as the wall would be a nice talking point for future tours, I was going to ask if it'd be possible to provide the docents a brief presentation on its construction at one of our monthly meetings. I suspect that some of our student visitors, at least the older ones, might find the hydroponic system of particular interest.

      Best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!

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  10. A tree dahlia, tree marigold and tree violets. Things sure grow big in your area. That wall is amazing. Interesting how the plants are growing without soil. Happy Thanksgiving to you too.

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    1. Well, California is the #1 food producer in the US, followed by Iowa, Texas, Nebraska and Illinois (a fact that surprised even me when I looked it up). The state also produces 99% of certain foods consumed in the US, like almonds, walnuts, dates, raisins, peaches and artichokes. As to the bush violets, Lisa, I think I should send you seeds when it comes time to collect them. That plant is native to Africa but you might find they like your part of the US too ;)

      Enjoy the holiday!

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  11. The wall is so eye-catching, a great design. I had no idea Dahlias got that big - spectacular, and the Tithonia looks like a keeper, too. I don't grow the orange annual variety here because the foliage gets so ratty. I wonder if the yellow one doesn't have that problem?
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Kris. I hope Pipig gets a bit of turkey. ;)

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    1. I've toyed with the idea of planting that tree dahlia several times (Annie's mail order nursery carries it) but I'd been led to understand that it should be protected from wind, which is a virtual impossibility in my garden. I've noticed that the botanic garden habitually cuts back the tree marigold hard each year so I expect that keeps it from getting too ratty but, as it's native to Mexico and Central america, I'm not sure it could cope with your winter cold, Eliza.

      Pipig will be very pleased to know you're looking after her needs! We're having Cornish game hen this year instead of turkey but I think she'll enjoy that too.

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