Last Sunday 25th July I published a post on our visit to the Banning Residence. We finished our tour mid-afternoon. The day of this visit was June 17th and a special day for my husband and I since we were married on this day in San Francisco in 1967 - this was our 43rd anniversary. Our daughter told us that close by was a beautiful garden she had meant to visit. Coincidentally that day a special program was taking place indoor at the garden, meaning that it would stay open until 8:00 pm instead of the usual 5:00 pm. It was a lovely day, sunny and dry so going to scenic Palos Verdes and walking about in a beautiful garden sounded just the thing to celebrate our anniversary. The luxurious Donald Trump National Golf Course is located nearby.
We drove back to the Pacific Coast Highway and less than twenty minutes later we were parking the car ready to visit the South Coast Botanic Garden. The garden is located atop the bluffs of the Palos Verdes Peninsula of Los Angeles (about 10 miles south of Los Angeles airport.) They call it the “Jewel of the Peninsula.” It did not start that way however. It was a dump. From the early 1900s it was used as an open mine then sold in 1956 to the County of Los Angeles. They in turn used it as a sanitary landfill.
In 1961 a citizen’s group petitioned to have 87 acres (35 ha) of the site landscaped as “The South Coast Botanic Garden.” The land was reclaimed and landscaped over 3.5 million tons of refuse. In 1961 the LA County of Arboreta and Botanic Gardens planted 40,000 donated plants. The garden now has over 200,000 plants and 2,000 species from around the world.
This continuing experiment in land reclamation has drawn horticulturists from all over the world, including Prince Charles of England, to study the feasibility of a similar project. The success of the reclamation effort is apparent in the peaceful, shady groves and areas of spectacular color.” It is truly a magical place.
The garden members had a meeting starting a 5:00 pm but we were told that we could stay in the garden until closing time, at 8:00 pm. Of course there was no one else walking about in the garden but us. We started with the Japanese Garden then the Fuchsia Garden. Behind these was a vegetable garden but we did not go there.
No little children were with us but we still went through the Secret Tunnel leading to the Children’s Garden where we saw the 3 Bears’ House, a yellow brick road and Goldilocks’ cottage.
Going away from Goldilocks’ Cottage I could not help stopping to take pictures of colorful flowers.
Everywhere I turned there were more flowers.
I walked over a small bridge and admired flowers bordering the little stream
then I arrived at an open area with a lacy gazebo. This should be a good setting for weddings, receptions and parties I think. Well this was our anniversary and the guests were all the birds and other critters in the garden.
There was another gazebo which I could see in the distance.
I went closer to the wooden gazebo and photographed some golden yellow roses growing close to it.
I went back and could see my daughter at a distance, sitting on the grass. What was she doing?
I approached silently and then I saw it. It was hiding being the sign for a Dwarf Callistemom bush from Australia.
It was a cute little bunny. I wish my two little grand children, our other daughter's sons, could have been here to watch it with us.
But there were more flowers and plants to see, some with name plates and some without. I took pictures anyway.
I had not seen a purple jacaranda tree like at the Banning Residence yet but a large tree with bright red flowers was on a little mount ahead. Its name was Cockspur Coral Tree, from Brazil.
A light shift in the wind brought a faint smell of lavender – de la lavande? Il y a de la lavande ici? (is there lavender here?) I was brought up with lavender. My grandfather would say that to keep me happy and quiet he would bring me to the lavender fields near our home in Provence. I was a wee girl but I remember their tiny pale purple blossoms and loved their sweet fragrance. There are several species of lavender, actually 39 of them and they have different fragrances. I remember buying lavender lotion after visiting Buckingham Palace - it was “grown in the Royal Estate Sandringham, Norfolk.” It had a slight different fragrance from the lavender from Provence. So now I followed the scent …and saw a little field of lavender swaying in the breeze with no one around.
All this lavender around me –
this was worth the trip even if there had not been any other plants.
Cueillette de la lavande, near Grasse, Provence (lavender gathering) vintage postcardFirst I walked by a fountain and then another one. I would have liked to sit on one of the benches but there was so much more to walk about and explore.
Along the way I saw more flowers
then I saw it – the rose garden! It was quite large. The brochure says that it contains hybrid teas, floribundas, grandifloras, old-fashioned and miniatures roses. Over 300 varieties. For a rose lover – this was heaven. My husband and daughter had long gone ahead so I was all alone in this garden. I certainly rejoiced to be alone and took my time with these beauties. I took many photographs (at least 450 that day) but cannot show them all to you as this post would be even longer… Here is the rose garden below.
Below is just a sample of some of the lovely roses around me.
Then more roses.
Alas I had to go. For a few more minutes I sat on the bench you can see below just admiring the colorful rose oasis. As I started to go away I noticed a plant with bright purple flowers on terminal spikes. I touched it and it felt like velvet. Its name is Mexican Bush Sage or Velvet Sage (Salvia leucantha.) Here are some pictures of it below.
I needed to rejoin my husband and daughter – but where were they? I started walking into a path, stopping to photograph flowers as I went by. As I shot a lacy red flower I felt as if someone was watching me.
I looked up and saw a horse on the other side of the fence - he was watching me!
I turned around to find a different path and saw a green sign indicating the “Palm Garden.” So I took it – maybe they were looking at palm trees.
Top palm tree on right is called Queen Palm (Syagruss romanzoffiana) the bottom left is called Ponytail Palm (Beaucarnia decurvata)As I approached I could hear ducks. Turning around the bend I saw tall grass then further on a lake and seated in front of the lake were my husband and daughter, watching a paddling of ducks.
No one around. I crossed the road and went on another path indicating “the lake.”
We said goodbye to the ducks
and started down a trail.
We arrived at a creek where bales of turtles were happily swimming close to the shore.
It was getting late so we decided to walk on back. They went ahead towards the Banyan Forest while I took a picture of another little rabbit.
Then I followed them through the banyan grove. Going under those huge banyan trees was like walking into an enchanted forest.
I kept taking pictures while they went ahead. I was fascinated by the roots. The aerial roots grow into thick woody trunks. Their designs look like giant woodsy octopuses.
I needed to catch up with them. But walking back out of the grove more flowers were coming into view.
It was getting close to 8:00 pm so even though there was so much more to see I reluctantly went back towards the exit, shooting flowers until the last minute. It had been a wonderful day.
It is hard to believe that this garden was once a landfill. People working together certainly changed it into an amazing and wondrous treasure for all to enjoy. In the mid-70s a remake of the “Crying Indian” public service ad was filmed at the South Coast Botanic Garden where Cody, the Indian star, was riding a horse in the garden instead of the canoe in the original advertisement.
"Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." - Rachel Carson, American 1907-1964, Nature writer