Motels: What a difference plants make

I’ve stayed in a lot of motels and hotels over the years. If somebody else picks up the tab, I don’t say no to $$$ places, but in general I opt for a reasonable balance between comfort and price. Typically I know what to do expect and am rarely surprised. But today I was.

We’re en route to San Diego and are spending our first night in the Santa Barbara area. Last time we were in Santa Barbara, in April 2013, we stayed at the Ramada Limited, which had a beautiful garden. This year rates at the Ramada Limited were more than I was willing to pay, so I picked the Best Western Carpinteria Inn in the town of Carpinteria, about 15 minutes south of Santa Barbara. Typically, Best Westerns are mid-priced, mid-level motels: clean, comfortable, but rarely exciting. That’s what we were expecting from the Capinteria Inn. Imagine our surprise when we found a lush oasis! Even the architecture is far beyond what you find at most Best Westerns.


Plants make all the difference, don’t they? I think an investment in landscaping pays big dividends, not only in guest comfort but also in word-of-mouth referrals.

I was pleased to that the lawn you see in some of the photos is artificial turf. A good choice considering the historic drought California is in. (Even in good years, Santa Barbara isn’t blessed with a lot of rain.)


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I love staying at motels and hotels where I can spend an hour exploring and photographing plants. Beats sitting in the room and watching TV!

I think somebody should create an online directory of hospitality establishments that feature attractive landscaping. It would be a great resource for plant lovers like me and you!

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  1. Have fun in SD! A gardener's magnet in Carpenteria is Seaside Gardens, it's right off the highway with an awesome demonstration garden...

    1. I snuck in a whirlwind visit of Seaside Gardens this morning before heading out. It was great. Looking forward to a longer visit next time.

  2. What a pleasant surprise! They do make a huge difference, fantastic planting makes an area instantly take a well cared for look, even luxurious.

  3. Wow, I'm making note of this place so we can stay there the next time we're in the area. I think I'm overdue for a return to Lotusland so this might be just the place for a nights lodging between the family in LA and Montecito.

    1. The room was fairly basic, at least ours (probably the cheapest category since it was facing the parking lot). But the location is great and Carpinteria is a charming town. And Montecito is only a few miles away.

  4. I'm with you, it is so much nicer to stay somewhere with interesting grounds. Like the idea of a gardeners guide to hotels.

    1. Hey, maybe some enterprising person will make it happen (Gardeners' Guide to Hotels).

  5. Impressive indeed! Carpinteria and Santa Barbara seem more sensitive to nature than most cities. Coincidentally, I was in Carpinteria myself this past weekend. As Hoover Boo mentioned, Seaside Garden is a great stop if you have time - the demonstration gardens are extensive and they have a good stock of drought tolerant plants too. (Island View, nearby, is also interesting, although its not as interesting as it once was.) Further off the 101 freeway, between Ventura and Ojai, we also visited Austrailian Native Nursery in Casita Springs. I venture to guess that you'd love the place - you do have to call ahead for an appointment to visit, though, as it's not open on a routine schedule.

    1. Seaside Gardens was wonderful. I had the whole place to myself. I just wish I'd had more time--and room in the car to buy a few things.

      I've always wanted to visit Australian Native Plants Nursery, but it wasn't in the cards this time. We're on a tight schedule, and only 1 out of 4 people (i.e. me) enjoys nursery visits.

  6. Another garden very much worth checking out is at The Sacred Space next door in Summerland. Having tea in their back garden is not to be missed! Plus since it is not a nursery, maybe you can talk the folks you are traveling with into stopping?


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