Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Spring Snapshots at South Coast Botanic Garden

Last week I toured South Coast Botanic Garden's SOAR exhibit, the garden's new butterfly pavilion.  Afterward, I took time for a quick spin through the front portion of the 87-acre garden to see what's new now that spring has sprung.  Here are the highlights I captured in photos.

The Japanese Garden looked fresh and green, with spots of color proved by Acer palmatum and the Wisteria

In the area adjoining the Japanese garden, I found this massive Dyckia frigida in bloom

Flowers were blooming all over.  Top row: Alstroemeria, Rosa 'Walking on Sunshine', and Clivia
Middle row: Geranium maderense, Helianthus annuus, and Iris germanica
Bottom row: Assorted flowers bordering the lower meadow and Strelitzia reginae

Seating area between the Volunteer Garden and the Volunteer Garden, featuring blooming Nemesia and Salvia

The Living Wall, comprised of succulents and other plants, is behind the seating area shown in the prior photo.  It's been well-maintained since its installation a few years ago.

The Desert Garden had been cleaned up since the last time I visited.  The Agave xylonacantha (saw leaf agave) is blooming.

In retrospect I'm not sure whether this pony-tail palm (Beaucarnea recurvata) was just beginning to bloom or just finishing

Opuntias are front and center here

This is Pseudobombax ellipticum aka the shaving brush tree

This cluster of tropical plants sits across from the Desert Garden near the garden's amphitheater.  It had an impressive sense of depth (see the bird of paradise in the center) but I don't think my photo fully captures it.

The Mediterranean Garden was looking fantastic with masses of bright yellow Phlomis fruticosa (aka Jerusalem sage) in bloom along with a light scattering of California poppies

I swear the Salvia leucantha (aka Mexican bush sage) bordering the upper meadow area is always in bloom


There were a variety of trees in different areas of the garden that grabbed my attention.  Here are a few:

Have you ever seen a Callistemon (red bottlebrush) this large?

The Chionanthus retusus (aka Chinese fringe tree) in the lower meadow are just starting to bloom

The identity of this tree perplexed me but a friend helped me with the identification.  It's Erythrina caffra 'South Coast' .  I was fairly sure it was related to the red coral trees that abound elsewhere in the garden but the colors of this tree's flowers are unusual.  

I spotted three redbuds (presumably Cercis occidentalis), all of which appeared to have been recently planted bordering the Rose Garden

I liked the juxtaposition of the pink trumpet tree (Handroanthus impetinosus) with the nearly succulents.  The building behind the tree is the tropical greenhouse.

The yellow trumpet trees (Handroanthus chrysotricha) were shining beacons

This view of the promenade features the pink and yellow trumpet trees, as well as a red-flowered coral tree.  Just out of view, the silk floss trees (Ceiba speciosa, formerly classified as Chorisia) just outside the frame have finished flowered and are now blanketing everything underneath them with the silky fuzz that gave the trees their common name.

It's a mess but an interesting one


The promenade between the palm circle at the front of the garden and the rose garden has recently been renovated and now features a variety of succulents and other drought tolerant plants.

There's a huge Senegal date palm (Phoenix reclinata) above the collection of succulents and Osteospermums planted beneath and nearby.  You can see the date palm in the distance in the earlier photo of the promenade.  Wild parrots visit the garden regularly and I'm guessing the date palm is the major draw.

More palms, succulents (including Agaves, Mangaves, and Aloes) along with what I think are Phormiums were added on either side of the promenade.  It looks a little bare at the moment.


One of the garden's recent newsletters had advertised their plant stand.  It was disappointing but then, even if they've brought back the volunteers that do propagation, I expect it'll be awhile before there's a good supply of plants to offer for sale.  In the past, there were annual spring plant sales I always attended, along with periodic fall sales.  Last year's spring and fall sales were canceled and thus far there's been no mention of another.

After seeing the spare offerings shown on SCBG's plant stand, I was really envious of the spring plant sale held by the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas (with reservations)


All in all, it was a good day at South Coast Botanic Garden, even if I was disappointed by the plant stand.  Yesterday, my first major outing since my vaccination, was even better.  I met three fully immunized friends; toured another botanic garden in Orange County (post to come on that); checked out my favorite OC garden center; and enjoyed lunch at an outdoor restaurant.  Then, to cap the day off, as we finished lunch, we were alerted to a verdict in the George Floyd case.  I'd hoped for a conviction but was gripped by the fear that justice wouldn't be served but it was!  I was in tears all the way home as I listened to interviews with members of the impressive legal team that prosecuted the case and members of George Floyd's family.  It was undoubtedly a bittersweet moment for the family who lost a loved one but they clearly appreciate the decision's importance to the country, as do I.


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





18 comments:

  1. You must have had a great experience. Beautiful garden, great pictures.

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    1. It's been nice to get out and about a bit more lately, Susie.

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  2. Everything about this is beautiful and encouraging. The seating area is lovely. :)

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    1. They've done a lot to clean the garden up since I was last there in February and of course Spring itself has had a significant impact on the garden's appearance to;)

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  3. The garden looks glorious with all those unusual (to me) flowering trees. The Callistemon is incredible. I am trying it from seed but as it will always have to live in a pot I'm expecting a more dwarf size. Such a nice way to spend the day. I bet it was well worth the wait.

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    1. I hope your Callistemon does well, Elaine. I have three Callistemon in my own garden. One is rapidly reaching tree-like proportions but it's nowhere near the size of the one at SCBG. The other two are relatively small and rather slow-growing.

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  4. What a lovely outing! Wish I could have gone with you. I have never, ever seen a Callistemon of such massive proportions. Almost hard to wrap my head around...

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    1. Well, the garden is about 60 years old so that Callistemon may be of similar vintage, Anna.

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  5. South Coast is looking good! And a great deal of thanks is due the hard-working volunteers...;)

    Yesterday's news was definitely a step in the right direction. So glad you had a fun outing. Last night was my first indoor restaurant meal since I don't know when. Calif. has the lowest number of cases in the continental U.S. -- woohoo!

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    1. Congratulations, Denise! Yes, I saw that California stands behind only Hawaii in terms of COVID case management in the US. Hopefully, we'll hold our own here and the rest of the states - and the world - will catch up.

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  6. The well manicured sitting area will be even more enticing once what I assume is a lavender hedge be in full bloom. The "living wall" is out of this world gorgeous, and the Callistemon is the biggest I've ever seen too: it looks like erupting lava. I recognized the Erythrina tree but I've only seen it with the flame-red blooms before: that peachy-coral seems unusual.

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    1. The hedge around that seating area is actually rosemary as I recall and, when it's in bloom, there may be lots of bees, which may put off some visitors although I find bees mind their own business as long as one doesn't get into theirs ;) The red coral trees are relatively common here but SCBG is the only place I've seen the peachy-flowered one. San Marcos Growers actually says they collected their seed at SCBG, although I note that they're not currently selling the trees.

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  7. I think these are the best ever photos you've shared of this garden. I want to stand under that impressive callistemon tree! Too bad about the plant stand... kind of reminds me of the tables at our local nurseries right now. People are on a plant buying frenzy this spring!

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    1. If you stood under that Callistemon, Loree, you'd be pulling red strings out of your hear for a week! I just heard that the propagation area is being razed, which I assume sidelines the propagation team indefinitely, if not forever. If that's true, it's very sad. I agree that it's also a lost opportunity as the plant sales always drew a crowd.

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  8. The place looks pretty good. Enjoyed your excellent photos. Sad about the plant propagation--a BG plant sale is a good public service.

    The Callistemon is eye-popping huge! I was just brushing a bunch of red thingies out of my hair from deadheading mine this morning. There's a trail of them around the house, too. Plants are still covered despite my trimming.

    Congrats on getting out and about! Must have been a great day.

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    1. I grew up surrounded by red Callistemons in a neighborhood where it seemed every other house had one and all the that red debris put me off the plant for decades. I now have 3 Callistemons - but none of them have red flowers ;)

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  9. Lovely post, Kris. The garden is looking great with so much flowering, esp. trees.
    Your outings sound almost 'normal!' Getting out with friends is good for the soul, isn't it?

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    1. We had a great time on Tuesday, from start to finish, Eliza! It was definitely a pick-me-up.

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