Picture postcards from Laguna Beach

On my recent Southern California trip, my daughters and I spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Laguna Beach, arguably one of the most spectacular beach towns in a state full of scenic coastline. We parked near Heisler Park, very lucky to find a parking spot right where we wanted one, and explored on foot. On a busy day, that's the way to do it.

I'll let my photos speak for themselves, but if you want to know to know more about Laguna Beach, this is a good place to start. If you're into Hollywood history, here is an interesting article about Bette Davis's association with Laguna Beach. And if you have a cool $20 million lying around, you might be able to buy “her” house at 1991 Ocean Way, which is about to hit to hit the market. Funny to think that in spite of the dizzying price tag, the lot (7,392 sqft) is small than ours—definitely no room for much of a garden.

Agave attenuata seems to have naturalized here

This would be a great spot to visit in winter when the equally naturalized Aloe arborescens is in bloom

Agave attenuata with bloomed-out flower stalks

Easy to see why it's called “foxtail agave”

The yellow-flowering shrub with silver leaves is brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), more commonly found in the deserts of California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and northern Mexico

The purple flowers belong to sea lavender (Limonium perezii), a Canary Island native that has naturalized along the Southern California coast

Still life of flowering Drosanthemum with rabbit pellets

It must be so awful to live here and have to put up with this view on a daily basis!

Click on the photo to see a larger version and then look at the banner behind the plane: It's for Moon Valley Nurseries! Have you ever seen aerial advertising for a plant nursery before? I sure haven't! A sign of the times!

This seems to be a preferred spot among the Instagram crowd—rightfully so

Looking toward downtown Laguna Beach

Look at that ice plant (Carpobrotus edulis) hanging down the cliff!

Carpobrotus edulis flower

Pretty much a perfect Southern California postcard!

Agave attenuata isn't the only naturalized agave: Agave americana is everywhere

Agave americana

I wonder which agave species offsets more prolifically?

That's the life!

California residents know this, but people from out of state may not: By law, all beaches in California are public to the high tide line. This is to ensure equal access for everybody. (Law and reality don't always align, but that's a topic for another day.)

Prickly pears, bougainvillea, and brittlebush intertwining with wild abandon

This may not be everyone's favorite color combination...

...but it sure makes for snazzy photos!

Take away yellow and add purple—aaah!

A few unexpected sightings: Agave titanota (left) and Alluaudia procera (the tall stalks with tiny green leaves)

Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis) flanked by Euphorbia ingens 'Variegata', both leaning away from the palm in mirror fashion

Google map showing the location of Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is the kind of town where you wish your parents had bought property decades ago. Now, with a median home price between $2 and $3 million, living there is a pipe dream for anybody but the top 1%.

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  1. I had a friend that lived in the area years ago (a lawyer married to another lawyer) and I've had lunch in Laguna but never visited the beach area. She and her husband sold that home for an impressive profit as their family grew ;) It's impressive to see what can survive in that very sandy soil. My soil isn't quite that sandy but it leans that way; however, I can only wish for temperatures as consistently cool as those in Laguna.

    1. I didn't know Laguna Beach was so much cooler than the Long Beach area!

  2. I love all the colours together. In the coastal light I doubt there is a bad combination. Looks like a lovely place to spend the day. Wondering if the picture with the three palm trees is the place where It's a Mad Mad Mad World with Spencer Tracey was filmed? One of my favourite movies.

    1. No Laguna. More likely either Santa Monica or Santa Barbara. See:

  3. I have never been to Laguna Beach, thanks for the visit!

    1. It's a beautiful drive down the coast on Highway 1 from Corona del Mar where Sherman Library and Gardens are. Highway 1 runs into I-5 at Dana Point/San Juan Capistrano.

  4. Traffic is nightmarish in summer. You got there at the right time!

  5. How did all those plants get there in the first place? I’ve been to a number of CA beaches over the years but never seen plants like this!

    1. That's an excellent question! I wonder if these were originally planted by the city or some community group?

  6. Astonishingly beautiful views! The beach, the plants, the cliffs and blue sky... The colorful blooms mingling with the Prickly pears without fearing their dangerous thorns: awesome.

    1. It sure is a beautiful slice of California, albeit it overloved and hence overrun.


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