Monday, October 29, 2012

Strolling through Santa Cruz

We spent a glorious weekend in Santa Cruz, one of my favorite spots on the California coast. This article is a collection of photos I took strolling around, both along the beach and downtown. The “Related posts” section at the end of this post has links to separate articles about the University of California Santa Cruz Arboretum where many proteas were in bloom.

Santa Cruz has an enviable climate. It rarely freezes and summer highs are rarely above 90°F. The mean annual precipitation is 30", which is a good 10" more than where we live. Even so, from what I saw it looked like it hadn’t rained much in a good long while.

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Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk reflected in the San Lorenzo River

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Municipal wharf as seen from East Cliff Drive; notice the carpet of ice plants (Carpobrotus edulis)

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Carpobrotus edulis…

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…also known as “Hottentot fig”

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These aloes along the bluff haven’t seen much rain in a long time

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One of the few remaining clumps of pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana). Years ago this invasive grass was ubiquitous along the bluffs of Central and Northern California but thanks to major eradication efforts it has become a much rarer sight.

The next series of photos were taken along the street blocks that border Twin Lakes State Beach. Real estate here is very expensive, and I was surprised to see that some of the original beach bungalows from the early to mid-20th century have survived, albeit not always in the best of conditions.

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View from Twin Lakes State Beach towards the streets where these photos were taken

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Bonita Lagoon

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Tree yucca (Yucca elephantipes)

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Aloe arborescens

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What would be beach community be without palm trees?

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This small house is dwarfed by all the tropical plants

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Crazy juniper

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Bougainvillea and rosemary

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Angel trumpets (Brugmansia insignis)

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Aloe hybrid and jade plant (Crassula ovata)

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Old jade plant (Crassula ovata)

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Aloe arborescens

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Aeonium decorum ‘Sunburst’ and festival grass (Cordyline ‘Festival Grass’)

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Aeonium decorum ‘Sunburst’ and festival grass (Cordyline ‘Festival Grass’)

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I was very surprised to see this planting. Could this be sugarcane?

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Yucca elephantipes and Dicksonia antartica

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Gnarled old pepper tree

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Gnarled old pepper tree

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Monarch butterfly on verbena

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Clivia miniata

On my way back to Twin Lakes State Beach, I came across this old house badly in need of a paint job. What it did have was a wide variety of succulents. These beds are clearly cared for because I saw small plants that must have been added recently.

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Prickly pear (Opuntia sp.)

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Cleistocactus?

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Aeonium decorum ‘Sunburst’

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Agave americana, prickly pear and dyckia

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A veritable succulent jungle

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Another shot…

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…and yet another

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I think all of these succulent beds receive natural precipitation only. These echeverias certainly didn’t look like they had been watered recently. But as soon as the winter rains come, they’ll perk right up.

We didn’t get to spend much time downtown but I managed to spot a few interesting things nonetheless.

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Santa Cruz definitely likes bamboo…

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…even in public plantings

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I would have loved to peek into this courtyard but it’s part of an apartment building and I wasn’t able to find a way to get inside

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This must have been an impressive banana in its day. Not sure why it’s looking so sad but my guess it lack of water.

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I’ve never seen Euphorbia characias in a public planter before but it looks great

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LEFT: What did they do to this poor tree? Pollarding gone awry?
RIGHT: Giant pendulum sculpture. I’d love a smaller version for our front yard.

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This has nothing to do with plants but I think this fountain at the Felix Kulpa Gallery is cool

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4 comments:

  1. Thanks for taking us along on your walk! Some nice plants out there and with a view like that on Twin Lake State Beach, no wonder property there is expensive.

    Sounds like the weather there is just right for the kind of plants we are in to :)

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    Replies
    1. I think you'd like it in Santa Cruz. Unfortunately, most properties within the city limits are very small so there isn't much room for extensive gardens.

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  2. Scrape and paint the house, or plant more succulents? I think that's an easy choice for almost anybody. :-)

    ReplyDelete