Wednesday, March 29, 2023

A long-delayed nursery trip (part 1)

A friend and I'd planned to visit our favorite nurseries in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties back in February.  We rescheduled several times when one atmospheric river after another interfered with our plans.  Last Saturday we finally got our chance to get on the road.  We only made it to two of our three usual stops this time (with a nice lunch break in between).  Our first stop was Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria.  I'll cover it in this post.

The attraction of Seaside is two-fold.  Not only does it have a great range of plants, many of which I've never found in the Los Angeles and Orange Counties garden centers I visit more often, but it also has a series of wonderful display gardens.  (You can view the map here.)

I spent more time in the display gardens than I spent in the nursery on this visit.  I'll share my tour, area by area.

Cottage Garden

Glare was an issue when taking photos all day but we enjoyed blue skies and sunshine.  It started out on the cool side but warmed up considerably during the course of the afternoon.  The Cottage Garden was mostly green but there were splashes of color here and there.

Clockwise from the upper left: what I think was a Dianella, a mass of Leucanthemum vulgare, Phlomis fruticosa just coming into bloom, Rosa banksiae 'Alba Plena' (including a closeup), and the Salvia collection just starting to produce buds

California Native Garden

A little wild but always a joy to see California poppies

Clockwise from the upper left: Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' with poppies, more poppies, Plantago lanceolata (not actually native to California but naturalized all over the US), and Heuchera maxima.  The Ceanothus were in bloom too but I didn't get a good photo.


Most of the grasses had been cut back

The area included a bench made from a tree and a few noID flowering shrubs

A gigantic mass of Echium candicans sits along one edge of the Grasslands area

Succulent Garden

One of my favorite views of the Succulent Garden

A mound of Aeonium behaving as it does in my garden when left to its own devices (left) and Portulacaria afra, aka elephant bush (right)

Clockwise from the left: noID Agaves in bloom, A. vilmoriniana, and noID Mangave

Most Aloes were done blooming with the Aloe ferox on the left being a notable exception

Xanthorrhoea preissii, aka Western Australian grass tree (left) and Cyphostemma juttae, aka wild grape, just breaking dormancy (right)

South African Garden

The first thing I noticed upon entering the South African Garden were the Leucospermums.  The red-orange one is 'Sunrise'.  The yellow one may be 'High Gold'.

Leucadendron 'Jester' on the left and 2 shots of L. 'Ebony' on the right

There was one fresh pink bloom on Protea 'Pick Ice' but even the dried blooms were attractive

The blooms of Dombeya wallichii (left) had also dried but remained in place.  Polygala fruticosa is shown with fresh blooms on the right.

Chondropetalum, aka Cape rush.  It looks bigger than the dwarf C. tectorum.

A restio, possibly Rhodocoma capensis.  I've mixed feelings about this plant but its stems were looking very flashy in the sun.

Central-South American Garden

Clockwise from the upper left: variegated Agave americana, a noID Dyckia, 2 other noID bromeliads, Alstroemeria 'Indian Summer', and Fuchsia arborescens, aka tree fuchsia

Australian Garden

With time running out, I didn't give the Australian Garden its due.  Clockwise from the left: noID Acacias, noID shrub, and Prostanthera ovalifolia in bloom

Asian Garden

I always liked the fresh red foliage of Photina x fraseri but I'd never seen the plant in bloom.  I love it!

Of course I didn't ignore the nursery.

Views of the plants for sale in various areas

Some of the plants that drew my attention included, clockwise from the upper left: Asplenium antiquum 'Hurricane' (fern), Callistemon viminalis 'Red Alert', Leucadendron laxum, and Phormium 'Duet' and 'Sundowner'.

I brought home a Leucadendron laxum and three other plants from Seaside.  I'll show these and my purchases from our second stop, Terra Sol Garden Center, in my next post.  For now, here's a glance at the trunk of my car when I got home.

We had a great day but it took me over 2 hours just to get home from my friend's house in the San Fernando Valley.  LA freeways can be a nightmare.

All material © 2012-2023 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


  1. What fun! Looks like you had a great time, except for the traffic. Nice array of plants brought home, yay!

    There was a tornado right near Seaside in the last storm, damaged some "manufactured housing" as it is called. Looks like Seaside didn't get hit.

    1. Yes, we were worried about the impact of that tornado and the possibility of mudslides in the area - we were entangled on the freeway following the La Conchita landslide many years ago. My friend called ahead to Seaside to ensure an all-clear. The shopping was fun even if the drive wasn't.

  2. Yay! Plant shopping cures (almost) everything. Lovely to see Seaside Gardens in the early spring.

    1. It really is one of the best garden centers around here.

  3. I'm not sure I've ever been to a nursery with such impressive display gardens. No wonder you spent more time wandering than shopping.

    1. At least some of those display gardens were created by expert landscapers. In my opinion Seaside's succulent garden is vastly superior to that of my local botanic garden.

  4. What a fantastic display garden! And it looks as if you got a lot of great plants... Feeling a teensy bit envious - it's been a long time since my last nursery romp. I need a day like that!

    1. It is a refreshing and energizing way to spend a day, Anna!

  5. This feels more like a botanical garden than a nursery, very impressive.
    I found the Western Australian grass tree gorgeous and unique, and that massive Echium candicans in full bloom: Holly Toledo!

    1. I loved that grass tree too, Chavli. It looked particularly stunning on this visit. As to the Echiums, it's more like an Echium forest in that area. I asked if they had a variegated Echium 'Star of Madiera' in their nursery to replace the one I have (currently on its last legs) but, sadly, they did not. The non-variegated form like that at Seaside self-seeds all over my area - I've got a couple sitting along our property line, luckily not the size of those at Seaside!

  6. What fabulous display gardens, worth the awful drive I'm sure. I look forward to your next stop :)

    1. In contrast Terra Sol is MUCH smaller and lacks the display gardens but it has an appeal all its own, tz. And somehow I frequently manage to spend more there.

  7. Multiple thoughts here.
    1. I can't believe you have Phlomis fruticosa already in bloom there. I am guessing ours won't bloom until mid-June.
    2. Even though it's not native, I love Plantago lanceolata. The way those little anthers rotate around the central floral stalk always reminds me of something from outer space. The rings around Saturn, if Saturn was a sausage.
    3. Love that succulent garden. That's what I would want to grow, probably mixed with the South African and Australian gardens, if I were a few zones south of here.
    4. Lucky you to begin gardening now! I was going to start gardening this week, during spring break, but it was cold, windy, and rainy. Decided to stay mostly indoors instead.

    1. I'm not sure I could handle a garden in a climate as tough as yours, Jerry. My own Phlomis is lagging those at Seaside, although I got my first bloom today. I like the Plantigo as well but I need to look at how readily it spreads before I consider sowing any seeds. Seaside's succulent garden is better than the one at my local botanic garden.

  8. Nice haul, Kris! Those display gardens surely were impressive. Nothing in our area comes even close! Eliza

    1. California does offer advantages, especially in years with rain!


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