Friday, February 26, 2021

Early Spring Blooms at South Coast Botanic Garden

Yesterday, I paid my first visit to South Coast Botanic Garden after an absence of four months.  They've been advertising a "superbloom" event but it's not a superbloom in the conventional sense of the term, which describes a broad-scale wildflower display in desert areas following an unusually wet rainy season.  Our rainy season has been anything but wet this year and this particular bloom fest focused not on wildflowers but on flowering bulbs planted en masse last fall to provide visitors a welcome jolt of color as spring approaches.

The unusual bed arrangement shown here featuring tulips was designed to mirror the shape of the metal sculpture in the background on the left, which is known as Soller 1

Tulip beds viewed from the other direction

The red tulips are the most prominent

but the mix contains flowers in shades of purplish-pink, pink, and orange





While I couldn't miss the tulips upon entering the garden, I wandered a bit before I found the daffodils (Narcissi).

This was my first view of them, visible in the distance

These two beds consisted mainly of daffodils with a few tulips mixed in

The lawn adjacent to the garden's amphitheater also offered a mix of flowering bulbs but I failed to get a closeup photo of the area

 Other flowers could be found in spots throughout the garden.  I photographed only a few.

Top row: Arctotis, Bryophyllum fedtschenkoi, and Crocosmia
Second row: Eschscholzia (California poppy), Osteospermum, and Salvia lutea
bottom row: noID Salvia, Strelizia nicolai, and noID flowering succulent

There were a variety of trees in flower too, including Erythrina caffra (coral tree), Handroanthus heptaphyllus (pink trumpet tree), and Magnolia x Randy

The garden is in the process of constructing a new event space that will feature a butterfly pavilion, scheduled to open in April, so a large area was cordoned off.


I had time to visit only the front half of the garden on this occasion.  Weather and circumstances permitting, I hope to wander further afield on my next visit.

Best wishes for a colorful weekend.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

18 comments:

  1. Ha, it is disorienting for me to see Crocosmia blooming in February...
    I've seen up close an Erythrina in full bloom: it's a magnificent sight to behold.

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    1. I don't have many Crocosmias but mine bloom much later. The early blooms seem to be a standard at SCBG, however.

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  2. Hmmm. I see what you meant by last night's description.

    Best wishes for a good weekend, Kris!

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    1. Interestingly, I didn't see any Freesia, Sparaxis, or other bulb blooms better adapted to our climate than tulips.

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  3. Great to see those tulips in their prime, such glorious colours! Wish the blooms lasted longer but whilst there, their display is wonderful

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    1. I planted some species tulips here last year but I've pretty much given up on the larger-flowered varieties as they don't do well here. A mail order vendor sent me 10 tulip bulbs by accident in November (in lieu of the more climate-appropriate bulbs I'd actually ordered. I stuck them in the fridge for 3 months to provide the chill they wouldn't receive naturally here and only just planted them. Even when the bulbs produce buds, those often get knocked out by our Santa Ana winds before they bloom but maybe I'll be lucky.

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  4. Looking lovely in the spring sunshine, thanks for sharing the color at SCBG, Kris. I have fond memories of our visit there two years ago about this same time. I was so happy that I actually got to experience a real desert Super Bloom on that visit, an experience I shall never forget.

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    1. The wildflower superblooms are truly spectacular and I'm glad you got an opportunity to see it. I've only seen one in person myself as it's a schlep to drive out to the desert, especially when hundreds if not thousands of people have the same idea, but I hope to see another such event in the future someday. It's not going to be this year, though! Our rain total is truly pitiful and the chance of a March/April miracle appears unlikely.

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  5. Thank you for the virtual tour of SCBG.
    I have experienced multiple wildflower Superblooms in my lifetime, the most recent was March 2017 which required trips to Point Mugu State Park as well as Anza Borrego. It was extremely memorable.
    There are so many beautiful tulips but I do not grow them because I don’t believe any naturalize in Southern California. I have only been willing to plant them once in my landscape. Just focusing on narcissi alone, we have so many choices that will naturalize. This year, I am trying other narcissi divisions that may only return for a few years, but who doesn’t love the big cupped narcissi? You are right! There are so many other choices to use including freesias that I can never have enough of and sparaxis: anemones, fritillarias, grape hyacinths, Dutch irises, ixias, lycoris, nerines, scilla, tigridia, watsonias etc. Perhaps SCBG will include summer blooming bulbs.
    It is less than a month when I will be out an about and will check out SCBG etc.! Have a great weekend, Kris.

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    1. I planted species tulips the year before last. They bloomed last year but the jury's still out as to whether I'll see blooms this year; however, I've detected some of their foliage. As I recall, SCBG previously had lots of Watsonia (bulbs that seem surprisingly hard to find these days), Freesias and Scilla peruviana but I think they were in the section of the Volunteer Garden that was leveled for the new display. Freesias originate from the Cape area of South Africa so they'd be a good fit for SCBG's Mediterranean Garden, which is currently looking a little colorless. The same probably could be said for some of the other bulbs you named.

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  6. How lovely to be able to visit and see so much colour. Predominantly white here but looking at warm temps this week. Just itching to get into the garden and do some cleanup. Look forward to your next visit.

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    1. I'll definitely check the garden out again when the butterfly exhibit opens. I'm still on the fence about returning as a volunteer.

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  7. Superbloom eh? I am still shaking my head. That Salvia lutea though, thanks for the reminder that I want to track that plant down.

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    1. The Salvia is also called africana-lutea but, as I recall, Diana of Elephant's Eye (South Africa) told me that the proper name is now Salvia lutea. Although SCBG's specimens are in full bloom, my own has yet to produce any flowers this year.

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  8. Oh what fun it is to get out and see some color. Thanks for bringing us along.

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  9. That Crocosmia might be Chasmanthe?

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    1. That makes a LOT of sense, Diana, as Crocosmia doesn't normally bloom this early in the year. Thanks for the ID!

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