Some Great California Winter Gardens

bahia(SF Bay Area)January 14, 2002

Best winter gardens in California can still be in full bloom all winter, especially if using other mediterranean climate plants and subtropicals. Most of our natives will bloom abit later.

One of the most beautiful gardens of exotic flora exists in former avocado orchards high in the Ojai Mountains of Southern California. They have major collections of succulents such as Aloes and Agaves, with Protea family species such as Banksias, Grevilleas, Proteas, Leucospermums, Leucodendrons throughout. It is great to be able to see and compare so many different species within each genus, and to know that many will be available for sale nearby (At Jo O'Connell's Australian Native Plant Nursery (805) 649 3362,(also online) in Casitas Springs). She gave our group a tour of the gardens back in 1997, which she helped create along with the owner. The tour on March 1st back in 1997 showed the whole gardens in full bloom, under brilliant blue skies and balmy weather.

The main garden of winter blooming aloes and proteas is laid out in a large meadow full of sandstone boulders. The setting is beautiful, and the garden like nothing else. The garden is open to the public by reservation: Taft Garden, International Center for Earth Concerns (805) 649 3535. (Area code may have changed since 1997).

For those in the SF Bay Area, UC Santa Cruz Arboretum also contains great collections of winter blooming Australian and South African species and panoramic views over the town of Santa Cruz and beaches below. They also have a small nursery selling plants propagated from the gardens. Several wholesale nurseries in Watsonville also carry many selections/introductions of plants from UC Santa Cruz. A great demonstration garden of these plants exists at the retail nursery Sierra Azul. Rosendales, Suncrest and Monterey Bay Nurseries are just some of the other local growers.

Either gardens is worth a visit, full of exotic blooming plants this time of year and plants many won't recognize.

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johnpeter(10b LongBeachCA)

What a sensational post, bahia. I would love to take my wife and kids on a garden walk on Martin Luther King Day, in the Ojai area. I called the Taft Garden number you supplied, but, unfortunately, Mrs. Taft explained that their facility is no longer open to the public.

I see Solvang and nearby Mission Santa Ines. Can you suggest any other possible attractions in that area?

Santa Cruz sounds attractive, but is too far away this time.

Thanks,
John

    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 3:46PM
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bahia(SF Bay Area)

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden above the mission shouldn't be missed. Closer to Long Beach, The Huntington Botanic Gardens or LA County Arboretum are pretty nice this time of year, and the Getty Museum Gardens are also nice. I didn't realize that the Taft Garden was no longer open to garden tours, it is a pity, as the gardens are spectacular. The Botanic Gardens at UCLA and UC Irvine also have good collections of Southern Hemisphere plants.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2002 at 5:50PM
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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is great. I love the way the plantings meld into the native plants of the hills, and the way the modern "hardscaping" blends with the old mission period dam and aqueduct.

The garden at the mission itself is also nice though, like other mission gardens, it is not "authentic."

    Bookmark   January 17, 2002 at 8:32PM
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Bill_zone6(W. Pa)

There was a nursery in the town of Half Moon Bay. Is it still there? They were famous for their reasonably priced hanging baskets. On the right going up and out of town into the hills.

My favorite "garden" would have to be Golden Gate Park with all of it's maturity.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2002 at 10:01PM
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Loretta NJ Z6

In general, I found the gardens to be beautiful in California. The plants are so lush and big, they never have time to reach that size around here unless started in a greenhouse.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2002 at 5:16AM
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Pookiesmom

I live in Sonoma County and think the gardens at Matanzas Creek Winery just outside SantaRosa are not to be missed any time of year. Gary Ratway of Digging Dog Nursery designed them and they feature 4 season interest but winter is especially good for viewing the excellent bones this garden has. The rock walls and terracing are magnificent, the grasses are very graceful, and this week the Hammamelis and Daffodils are beginning to bloom.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2002 at 6:33PM
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Pookiesmom

Hi its me again. IF you are up in the north bAy you should consider stopping at the new Copia Center in Napa. The garden was started in September only but no expense was spared and it is absolutely gorgeous. 80 year old olive trees, fantastic vegetable plots, mature fruit trees, highbush cranberries. artwork, topiaries.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2002 at 6:40PM
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John_D(USDA 8b WA)

Just shows what money can achieve in a hurry.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2002 at 1:44AM
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cathrynb(z9 SF Bay Area)

Greetings:

The UC Berkeley Botanical Gardens are always a good visit. Strongly recommended.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2002 at 10:25AM
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Bluetwo(z8 PDX, OR)

Winter? What winter? Oh yeah, the temperatures are in the high 70's instead of the low 80's...

I just want to throw in the Quail Botanical gardens in Ensinitas (just below Oceanside, 1/2 hour north of San Diego, 1 1/2 hours below L.A.) I was there in February and though I can't remember blooms per se, I was amazed (being from Portland, ORe.) at what was growing!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2002 at 10:32AM
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