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.
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.
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.
Since I had very little time, I quickly walked through the Cottage Garden…
…and the California Native Garden…
…to the Succulent Garden.
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.
Aloe vanbalenii and Senecio serpens
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.
Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)
The sight of a large ponytail palm still makes my heart beat faster.
Ponytail palms (Beaucarnea recurvata)
Western Australian grass tree (Xanthorrhoea preissii)
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.
LEFT: Aloidendron barberae RIGHT: Dragon tree (Dracaena draco)
Aloidendron barberae (syn. Aloe bainesii)
Aloidendron barberae and coral aloe (Aloe striata)
Senecio serpens and Aloe striata
South African daisies
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.
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.
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.
The flowering Proteaceae near the parking lot were like a beacon.
I simply can’t get enough of flowering grevilleas and leucospermums!
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.