Friday, August 23, 2019

August at South Coast Botanic Garden

I attended a docent brown-bag luncheon/discussion session at South Coast Botanic Garden earlier this week.  Afterwards, I made the rounds of a few of my favorite areas and snapped some photos, focusing on two areas I haven't previously featured in blog posts.

The first is the Tropical Greenhouse.  It's not fancy but I almost always haul kids through it when I conduct garden tours, enticing them with the opportunity to see carnivorous plants.  It's warm and humid inside, although I'm not sure the humidity level is high enough to keep the pitcher plants happy as they seem to dry out easily.

This photo was taken from the doorway looking to the back of the greenhouse.  There's a mix of what many people would recognize as houseplants, as well as ferns, bromeliads, orchids, succulents and sub-tropical species.  The purple plant spilling into the central path from the left is Tradescantia pallida (aka purple heart).  The silvery plants hanging from the walls are Tillandsia usneoides (aka Spanish moss).

Clockwise from the upper left, featured plants include: Adenium obsesum (aka desert rose), noID bromeliad, Vriesea, Cordyline 'Miss Andrea', Dracena 'Limelight', and Nepenthes (aka pitcher plant)


The second area is the Banyan Grove, the best place in the garden to visit on a warm day because it's always significantly cooler than the rest of the garden.  It's also a great place to allow kids to run off steam climbing over the massive roots of the Moreton Bay figs (Ficus macrophylla).

Coming down the tram road, you can't miss the Banyan Grove on the left

There are over 20 Moreton Bay fig trees here.  With canopies up to 150 feet wide, they provide dense shade and their fallen leaves blanket the ground, keeping the soil below relatively moist.  In spring, the Clivias planted below the trees are covered in orange flowers.

The tree roots are massive and can extent a foot or more above ground in places.  I've heard kids comment that sitting in the cavities between them feels like a bathtub.

The trees are native to Eastern Australia

Branches continually produce new adventitious roots, which stretch down until they reach the soil to form another leg in the tree's huge root system.  The photo on the left shows a small root stemming from the tree's trunk.  The photo on the right shows a fully-formed root, already firmly connected to the soil below.


On the other side of the road, there's another species of fig the docents fancifully call the Ghost Tree (Ficus petiolaris).

Its yellow bark is natural and it stands out dramatically from the other banyan trees surrounding it


One of the docents has devoted a lot of time and energy to cleaning up the Garden of the Senses so I stopped to check it out too.  This is also a regular stop on school tours because it gives kids an opportunity to touch and smell plants; however, some of the plants had died out and others were so overgrown they swamped everything around them.  Signs no longer matched the plants in many cases. Our industrious docent Kay is working hard to put things right.

She cleaned up one bed of herbs and planted Rudbeckia (coneflowers) to add color and interest (top photo).  She also tidied up plants like the exuberant Aloysia citrodora (lemon verbena, bottom).


I made only a few other quick stops to snap photos before heading home to construction noise.

This Opuntia in the Desert Garden was covered with prickly pears

Floral color in the Volunteer Garden is muted this time of year but, clockwise from the top, I found: Physostegia virginiana (aka obedient plant), Anemone hupehensis japonica, and 2 tree-sized hardy Hibiscus in bloom.  I'm counting the appearance of the Japanese anemones as another sign that fall may be arriving early this year.

Dahlia 'Dark Side of the Sun' is still going strong across the road from the rose garden but what really impressed me here was how well the sweet potato vine (Ipomea batatas) was doing as a groundcover

The Leucadendrons and Aeoniums at the entrance/exit area were also looking good, even in the glare of the mid-day sun


The botanic garden is relatively quiet this time of year and the cooler-than-average summer temperatures make it a great retreat from the chaos of our home remodel, although that's been stalled at several intervals and I'm getting frustrated by that.  While I long for the peace and quiet of a construction-free zone, I also want the other half of our house back before Christmas!

Best wishes for a peaceful weekend.


All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

22 comments:

  1. You must have been driven out by the noise. I can't imagine going to a tropical glasshouse this time of year. I would think you would boil. It does sound interesting tho. The obedient plant by our drive that I have been trying to pull out for years is now blooming. ha. I hope you have a quiet relaxing weekend.

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    1. It was warm in the greenhouse but not blazing hot and there was a fan running. The humidity struck me as on the low end by greenhouse standards - at least my camera lens didn't fog up as it's done in most tropical conservatories. I was surprised by the obedient plant - I don't remember ever seeing the plant in gardens or garden centers locally.

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  2. Nice to see the garden in full summer, so different from 6 months ago. I had a moment of pause when I read the name Dahlia 'Dark Side of the Sun'... wait a minute, I thought, the sun doesn't HAVE a dark side! ;) Huh, maybe I'm too literal?

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    1. I think the dahlia's name was inspired in this case by the combination of its dark foliage and yellow flowers, Eliza. Plant breeders take a lot of liberties when naming cultivars...

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  3. Some stunning plants; how lucky to have this right near by. The Garden is lucky to have you involved at close hand, too.

    The blazing, handsome Leucadendron and Aeonium planting is set off beautifully by the grey-green low plant. Yum!

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    1. I thought the front entrance was looking good too, Nell. Someone's done a great job of cleaning up the weeds there. (The garden has only 4 full-time gardeners to cover 87 acres so the volunteers are really important to maintenance activities.) If I recall correctly, the low-growing gray succulent is Calandrina (Cistanthe) grandiflora, which produces shocking pink blooms on tall stems but that's bloomed out for the season.

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  4. The roots on those fig trees are impressive! I'm not sure what it is, but I find trees with giant exposed roots so fascinating but I've never seen anything quite like that - it's amazing in the photos so I can only imagine how they would appear in person. The sweet potato vine is lovely - does it normally not do well there? I would have thought that it would enjoy your climate.

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    1. I think the sweet potato vine wants more water than my garden usually gets, Margaret. The botanic garden is freer with water than I am.

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  5. Nice resource to have close to home. Hopefully your construction finishes up smoothly and on time. I know how home renovation can drag on for what seems a long time.

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    1. I probably wouldn't be annoyed with the progress of the remodel if workers showed up every (or at least most) weekdays, as I was led to understand they would. We've had a LOT of no-work days.

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  6. Christmas seems like a realistic goal, fingers crossed! And oh that Ghost Tree!!!

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    1. The contractor told my husband, he'd be done by the end of October. Now he's saying mid-November. That would be approximately 5 months from the start date but I'm not feeling at all confident.

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  7. Oh, wow! I must get out to the L.A. area again one of these days. It holds a special place in my heart, after spending a summer there as a young adult. This would be a great place to visit. :) Hope your remodeling goes smoothly--I'm sure you'll be very happy when it's done!

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    1. South Coast Botanic Garden isn't nearly as flashy as the well-endowed Huntington Gardens but it has an interesting and relatively unique history, having previously been the site of a mining operation and subsequently a dump. There aren't many botanic gardens built on top of 3.5 million tons of trash!

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  8. There's more at the SCBG than I realized. Must get back there. All hail to Docent Kay for cleaning up the hands-on garden!

    It does get super frustrating when no work is being done on a project. Sorry to hear you are suffering delays. One thing I will say about my bathroom remodel, they were there every day, 99% of the time all day, sometimes longer than I would have liked.

    Just keep thinking, "This too shall pass..." Courage!

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    1. We selected our contractor in large part because the neighbors said there were workers there all but a couple of days for the full 4 months of their project. Unfortunately, that hasn't been our experience. Ours is admittedly different in scope and perhaps more varied in terms of the components but there have been a lot of no-work days.

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  9. Oh that entrance/exit area looks fabulous Kris and must draw visitors in 😄

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    1. For a botanic garden that's been in business nearly 60 years now, it's still relatively unknown in the larger LA area but the new Foundation staff is working hard at building awareness.

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  10. The Moreton Bay fig tree roots are fascinating. I am sure I would be like one of those kids if I could see them. As for carnivorous plants, my three boys were totally fascinated with them. I have some botanical themed plates, and they used to argue over who got to eat off the Venus fly trap!

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    1. When I mention carnivorous plants, Deb, kids inevitably ask if that means Venus fly traps (if they know what "carnivorous" means). I'm afraid the Nepenthes don't have the same level of appeal!

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  11. In my part of the world, pitcher plants grow in bogs, so I can see why even relatively high humidity wouldn't keep them happy. But, yes, carnivorous plants are a great draw for kids. (I can remember doing a report on them when I was in school.)

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    1. A bog and trumpet pitcher plants (Sarracenia) might appeal to kids more than the vine-like hanging Nepenthes but I don't think the botanic garden has a bog in scope!

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