Sunday, March 29, 2015

Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria, CA

Since our recent trip to Southern California was a family vacation, I only visited two nurseries and only bought one plant (a kangaroo paw hybrid called ‘Red Cross’). I know, it’s a shocker, but there simply wasn’t time (or room in the car) for more.

The first nursery I checked out was Seaside Gardens in Carpinteria, a small beach town just south of Santa Barbara where we spent the first night of our trip. It had been recommended to me by several folks whose opinion I value highly so my expectations were fairly high. I was not disappointed.

What makes Seaside Gardens so special is its 3-acre demonstration garden. It’s subdivided into eleven “vignettes” created by local landscape designers. Each one showcases a different type of garden ranging from Asian, Australian and South African to Californian, Mediterranean, Grassland and Cottage. Needless to say the Succulent Garden, designed by Mary Pat Moloney and Donna and Bill Baker, was my favorite.

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Succulent Garden

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Seaside Gardens is located just north of Carpinteria in an area that’s home to a number of different plant growers, most of them wholesale

To get to the demonstration garden I walked through the succulents section of the nursery.

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It was well stocked but I didn’t see anything I had to have. As I’m running out of planting space in my garden, I’m getting ever more selective about what I buy.

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Since I had very little time, I quickly walked through the Cottage Garden…

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…and the California Native Garden…

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…to the Succulent Garden.

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It’s not huge, maybe 1/3 acre, but there was so much to see, I spent more time here than I had originally planned. Take look, and you’ll understand why.

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Flowering aeonium

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Sempervivum tapestry

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Aloe vanbalenii and Senecio serpens

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Aloidendron ‘Hercules’ (left) and desert willow (Chilopsis linearis ‘Purple Splendor’)

If my ‘Hercules’ ever gets close to that size, there’ll be traffic accidents in our quiet neighborhood as people slam on their brakes driving by.

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Aloidendron ‘Hercules’

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Aloidendron ‘Hercules’

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Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)

The sight of a large ponytail palm still makes my heart beat faster.

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Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)

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Aloes galore

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Aeonium urbicum

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Western Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea preissii)

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Agave gypsophila

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Dasylirion quadrangulatum

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Agave attenuata ‘Boutin Blue’, unlabeled aloes

Visually, the South African Garden was an extension of the Succulent Garden although its has a geographic focus, rather than a purely aesthetic one. The plantings here are grouped by region and include not only aloes but proteas, restios and perennials.

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LEFT: Aloidendron barberae  RIGHT: Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)

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Aloidendron barberae (syn. Aloe bainesii)

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Aloidendron barberae and coral aloe (Aloe striata)

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Senecio serpens and Aloe striata

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South African daisies

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Unlabeled South African heather and daisies

One of the current “it” plants in California is silver carpet (Dymondia margaretea), a low-growing groundcover from South Africa I first blogged about four years ago. Every time you open a Sunset Magazine, you’ll see it in at least two or three garden designs. I spotted it virtually everywhere we went on this trip. And Seaside Gardens had it growing in dense mats in the South African and Succulent Garden.

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Dymondia margaretae

Dymondia margaretea is in such demand right now, that it’s virtually impossible to find larger quantities of it in Northern California. It’s an outstanding lawn substitute—both low-water using and heat tolerant—and we will jump on the band wagon this fall when we will replace our backyard lawn with it.

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Dymondia margaretae

Knowing my family was waiting for me at the motel, I rushed through the sale area. I could have spent a lot more time here.

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Sale area

The flowering Proteaceae near the parking lot were like a beacon.

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Grevilleas

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Grevillea ‘Superb’

I simply can’t get enough of flowering grevilleas and leucospermums!

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Leucospermums

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The light orange selection on the left is called ‘Veldfire’, I can’t remember the other one

One of my daughters wants to go to college in Santa Barbara so I may be be spending a lot more time in the area in the years to come.

Related posts

2015 Spring break trip to San Diego

12 comments:

  1. I'm glad you had an opportunity to drop in at Seaside and that you enjoyed it. It's one of my favorite nurseries and I try to get there at least 2x a year, even though its about a 3-hour drive for me. I didn't take much time in the demonstration gardens on my last visit as there was a busload of Red Hat ladies wandering through and it was impossible to take any decent photos...

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    1. It looked like I was the only customer when I got there (right after they opened at 9am). The demonstration garden was very peaceful in spite of the freeway so close by.

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  2. Ah what a place to visit! Another that I hope we'll take in sometime in the future. I'm glad you took the time for yourself, no matter how brief.

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    1. I'm glad, too. And Heather is very understanding when it comes to that.

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  3. Short and sweet visit but still there were so many notable things to see. Saw your updates on facebook and your vacation looks so fun!

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    1. I just wish Southern California were a little closer. Santa Barbara is almost 400 miles from here, San Diego another 200+ beyond that. And then there's the L.A. area traffic to contend with, never fun.

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  4. Nice share Gerhard. Lucky u get to visit these cool nurseries.

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  5. When I first visited everything in that demo garden was ankle-high, except perhaps a few of the palms, which were shoulder-high at most. It has grown so much and looks so fabulous now in such a relatively short time. I'm glad you got to see it.

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    1. It must be the mild climate (and regular watering). A demonstration garden is a big expense for a nursery, but it makes it a destination, not just a business.

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  6. (Just checked on Google Maps -- Seaside Gardens is a mere two and a half hours away...) Thanks for the great report and gorgeous photos!

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    1. 2 1/2 hrs with no traffic, that is, right? If you left your place at 6am on a weekend you might make it by the time they open at 9am.

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