Friday, December 9, 2022

A walk interrupted by diversions and roadblocks

I visited South Coast Botanic Garden this week, my sixth visit this year.  My motivation was to check out their gift kiosk for something I had in mind for a friend but of course, knowing they had a few major activities in the works,  I had to check out the garden as well.  I'll introduce those later but I'll start with the images that grabbed my attention as I made my rounds.

Even though they're just beginning to bloom, the Aloe vanbalenii and the hybrid variety behind them looked great

This display of fall color on the walkway bordering the rose garden stopped me in my tracks.  I'm not positive but I think these are crape myrtles (Lagerstroemia sp.).

I appreciated the new plantings in the beds on either side of the entrance courtyard too.  I should have taken a closer look at the trees in the top photo.  Could that be Podocarpus 'Icee Blue'?

No post on SCBG is complete without a de rigueur photo of the Living Wall.  At first it bugged me that the cafe tables had been moved right in front of the wall but I decided that arrangement gave people a better opportunity to appreciate the wall while eating and talking.

There were fewer flowers but there are always some.  Clockwise from the upper left: Aloe 'David Verity' (I think), noID Brugmansia, Dalia imperialis (aka tree dahlia), Justicia aurea, noID Senna, Tecomaria capensis, and Tithonia diversifolia (aka Mexican sunflower tree).

There were 3 of these holiday trees constructed of potted Cyclamen.  I wanted to like them but I couldn't warm up to them.  Maybe they'd have been more appealing if they were surrounded by colorful foliage and flowers at their base.


The garden opened a Lego exhibit, Nature Pop, on November 5th.  I loved the previous Lego exhibit in 2016 but, while I admired the artistry that went into the new exhibit, I couldn't get excited about it.  However, to be fair, I only viewed only a handful of the 40 sculptures.

Note the complexity involved in incorporating a polar bear cub on its mother's back (photo top, right).  This exhibit runs through January 24th.


My attention was diverted by the activity involved in readying the Astra Lumina light show for its opening on December 8th.  SCBG is hosting the event but more information is available here from the parties responsible for logistics.

Map showing the different staging areas associated with the exhibit, which is scheduled to run through January 15th

I think these photos captured most of the sites on the map, other than the Celestial Trail and probably the Starburst Rays.  If I guessed correctly, clockwise from the upper left, the sites shown follow the map from the photo station through the Archway (with the 2 exceptions I noted).

These are closeups of the Starlight Lanterns, located in the Garden for the Senses


As I walked through the garden I ran into several areas that were closed to the public.  I was aware that SCBG has begun work on its new children's garden but, as familiar as I am with the garden due to my prior stint as a volunteer, I was temporarily disoriented about where I was and how to navigate the garden areas that were still open.

Access to the Banyan Grove (perhaps my favorite area in the garden) was partially blocked but it and the blue sphere sculpture (second row, right) told me where I was.  The lavender field and the desert willow trees that stood along the tram road appear to be gone.

I'd already surmised that the enclosed area is the staging ground for the new children's garden but I didn't see any official notice of this until I found this relatively small sign adjacent to the bridge in the existing children's garden.  More signage around the fenced area would be helpful but with the light show and other events kicking off perhaps someone felt it would be confusing,

The upper meadow and parts of the rose garden were also closed


I checked the gift kiosk for the gift I was looking for but didn't find what I wanted.  Regrettably, the garden shut down its propagation area early in the pandemic and apparently has no plans to reopen it, which I think is a pity on several counts.

At least I got my steps in on the day of my visit.  I recorded over 16,000 steps that day, the most since I started tracking them - and I didn't even cover half the botanic garden on this visit.  


We're looking forward to a wet weekend.  Hopefully, Mother Nature isn't planning to pull the rug out from under us once again this time.  Whatever your weather, I hope you enjoy a pleasant weekend.

All material © 2012-2022 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


  1. I'm sure you're right about the Crape Myrtle ID Kris.. the bark is always a give away and I think I can see the tell-tale colors in your photo. The fall color was spectacular on them (and just about everything else) this year, no doubt due to the persistant cold we've had. It's nice that the garden has been able to secure funding to make some expansions.

    1. Thanks for the input on the crape myrtle ID, Kathy. I was impressed at just how colorful the trees' foliage was, adding another point in favor of installing a crape myrtle in my own garden. I expect we don't get the fall/winter chill you do but the last few weeks have seemed especially cold here!

  2. So beautiful! That living wall is very interesting. When I first saw it, I thought it was a hedge adorned with other plants.

    1. The Living Wall has been there some years now. It receives regular upkeep and continues to be one of the most photogenic backdrops in the garden. In the pre-pandemic years when I gave tours, I always offered visitors an opportunity to take photos there.

  3. There are some interesting looking things in the gift kiosk! I don't like the cyclamen "tree" either, but then I'm a bit of a humbug when it comes to that sort of thing when you can see more plastic than plant...

    1. I kicked myself for my failure to check the price on the Aechmea blanchetiana at the gift kiosk, Loree, although their prices aren't the bargains they once were by any stretch - I've found better deals at local garden centers. Given the elimination of their propagation unit, their plants are coming from outside vendors. The only good-sized succulents I saw were leftovers from their spring plant sale.

  4. I can see why those scenes captured your attention. Wow, so luscious! The rose garden with the colorful foliage is stunning. And the living wall is fabulous. It reminds me of the living walls at the Toronto Botanical Gardens.

    1. The Living Wall was designed and is maintained by a firm specializing in such things. Who knows - it and the Toronto construction may be products of the same organization.

  5. Sort of a frustrating place--some good (healthy plants), some not so good. Also wonderful to have a BG a relatively short drive away, but certainly not the best one in the region.

    That does look like 'Icee Blue' Podocarpus.

    I've learned (or at least my impression is) that there are Aechmea blanchetinas and there are Aechmea blanchetianas. Look for a named selection instead of the species--they are much prettier. Mine is the plainer species and not as satisfying.

    In OC, solid commitment to a BG in the new "Great Park", the former Marine base, has finally been accomplished after a decade or more of mismanagement and greed. Hopefully I'll live long enough to see it. At the rate they are going it may take 40 or 50 years to actually be constructed.

    Rain! Yes, yes, yes!!

    1. I do appreciate having a botanic garden so close at hand. The limited transparency concerning new developments bugs me, mainly because I think it's a poor business decision but then it's not my business to run ;) Great news about "Great Park"! Thanks for the input on Aechmea blanchetiana/blanchetina.

    2. Whoops, sorry. misspelling. should be blanchetiana in both cases. My error. Just saying selections of the species I've seen much prettier than the species. Rain! Rain!

    3. Thanks for the clarification. No rain here yet but Weather Underground claims our chances are 99% overnight :)


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