Some Great California Winter Gardens
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.