Sunday, August 1, 2010

A walkabout through the South Coast Botanic Garden, California

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.

Donald Trump National Golf Course, Palos Verdes

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.

Note: please click on the collages to open them, then click on each picture to enlarge it.

There are plants from as far away as Australia and South Africa. They join the Coast Redwoods, Ginkgos and over 100 trees and shrubs of rare mature specimen. The garden features a Japanese Garden, English Rose Garden, Mediterranean Garden, Conifer Garden, Cactus Garden, Palm Garden, Fuchsia Garden, Herb Garden, Garden of the Senses, a Children’s Garden, a Water-Wise Garden, Conifer Collection, Palms Collection, a Banyan Forest and more.

Click to enlarge individual photos too

A small manmade lake and a stream are visited by a variety of birds such as geese, ducks, coots and herons plus 200 species of birds sighted annually. The garden brochure says: “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 postcard

There was a gathering of crows close to me. I believe a gathering of crows is called a “murder of crows.” They were not looking combative though, just noisily having a meeting in the shade. I reluctantly walked away and went towards the steps I could see on the far side.

First 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

and more

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)

No one around. I crossed the road and went on another path indicating “the lake.”

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.

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


Lonicera said...

What a lovely way to celebrate your anniversary. Lovely pictures. As a keen photographer one of my top five photographic ambitions (up there with New Zealand, Machu Picchu, Hawaii breakers and Namaqualand in the spring) has always been the lavender fields in Provence. It may have been done to death, but not by me! The poppies of Provence too...
Lovely post.

DJan said...

Every single one of your posts is an adventure in beauty. But this one, with all the different avenues of adventure, surpasses them all. I especially loved the roses, all the flowers, the roots. And to consider that this was a landfill and now... thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving me this gift today. I am filled with peace and contentment.

Anonymous said...

Hello Vagabond-I am posting in anonymous mode, but this is alwaysinthebackrow. The comment problem for me is still there.
I have been to the Trump Golf Course. A good friend lives in Palos Verdes Estates. But I have never seen this garden. It is absolutely spectatcular, and to think it has been built on a landfill makes it so amazing. I loved the children's garden. What a wonderful wonderland for them (and adults! Thank you for another wonderful tour of a beautiful place.

Pondside said...

A belated Happy Anniversary to you!
What a beautiful garden this is. I like the idea of something so beautiful developed from something so ugly. In Victoria we have the Butchart Gardens, once a gravel pit, now a most beautiful place.

Rosaria Williams said...

A beautiful walk in a lovely garden. I've enjoyed it tremendously.

Vicki Lane said...

Such a lovely post! One beautiful thing after another! I would love to see the fields of lavender -- one of my favorite scents.

A belated wish for many more happy anniversaries!

Zuzana said...

This post could easily make for a wonderful small book, completed with beautiful text and stunning imagery. What an ambitious work; those collages are gorgeous.;) I love lavender, there is no other flower like it, to me it has always appears as a wonderful mix of herb and flower.
Have a lovely week,

Ginnie said...

I was so caught up in your post as it went along, Vagabonde, I had forgotten till you mentioned it again that this is all on top of a landfill! That still blows my mind. Who would have thought it possible. Having met you, I can just see you with your camera, walking from one place to another, constantly taking pictures. I hope you keep doing this for us the rest of your life because you sure are an inspiration! Thank you.

Kay Dennison said...


sablonneuse said...

What an enchanting place and what a huge undertaking to create such a garden from scratch.
It makes me ashamed to see what little I've achieved in my garden :(

It's strange that Norfolk (where I come from) is famous for lavender since it is quite far north compared to Provence. I'd never thought about it having different perfumes before.

Fennie said...

A happy anniversary, Vagabonde. And what was your daughter doing? The gardens do look so beautiful and you reminded us of the season with the postcard of Provence and the lavender gatherers. Now I am a great lover of Provencal Rosé wine, which I tell my guests is grown in between the rows of lavender so that the vine roots and the lavender roots can mingle and that is why the wine will provide your soul with the gentle sleep it needs for tomorrow. It's not true of course but it's a good story and makes the wine taste better.

Darlene said...

I feel like I have walked along those lovely paths with you. You have a way with your photographs and words that paint a living picture.

Congratulations on your anniversary. May you celebrate many more in such a lovely fashion.

Ruth said...

A gift for your anniversary, I can tell how much you appreciated it. And the lavender would have been the best for me too. I love it, and I use Tom's of Maine body wash of that scent.

A heaven of flowers. Thank you for sharing, and congratulations to you and your husband for 43 years!

Anonymous said...

43rd anniversary? That's awesome!

Botanical gardens never cease to amaze me, and they are photographers' heaven.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh My God...This Is A GORGEOUS Post! And once again, you have taken me to a place very near by to me that I have never seen or b een to in all the years I have lived here.....WONDERFUL pictures, as always.
I have two Queen Palms in my Garden and three King Palms, too.....
I was hoping you would get to the CACTUS Garden----That is what my whole garden is below my house and on the street side, too.
That succulant that looks like a brain of sorts---all knobby leaves--Is one of my very favorites!
Thanks so much...This lifted my spirits and so did your very caring comment about my Kitty.

Elaine said...

This was a delightful tour of a wonderful garden. Your photos are lovely and your collages are very well done. It is so nice to see a reclaimed landfill turned into such a beautfiful place.

Angela said...

We have lavender in our garden!
And roses, too, I most love my yellow roses.
Merci beaucoup pour ces photos, Vagabonde, vielen Dank!

Elisa said...

Merci pour ton petit mot!
Aujourd´hui je me dédie à mon blog en espagnol ( car il participe d´un concours sympa sur
Donc, il faut faire connaître le blog et voter les autres.
Bisous et à bientôt

Don said...

What beautiful place! It sounds like you had a great time wandering around. Thanks for the visit.

claude said...

Oh my goodness !
Quel post merveilleux !
Très belle reconversion pour ce dépotoir. C'est un jardin extraordinaire. Vous en avez pris plein la vue et ton APN aussi.
Les lapins ont la belle vie dans ce jardin.
Merci de nous faire partager cette visite.
Je repasserai faire un autre tour de ce beau jardin.
Bises !

Reader Wil said...

Mes félicitations de votre anniversaire de mariage, chère Vagabode! Vous avez eu une bonne et belle journée! Les photos sont très intéressantes.
Merci de votre visite! Oui, une culture est déterminée par l'éducation des parents et par les traditions du pays où on habite, mais je crois que les differences entre les gens en géneral ne sont pas si grandes. Nous avons tous besoin des aliments,des vêtements et des maisons.

Linda said...

Happy Belated Anniversary Wishes!

When he moved to California, I teased my son about geranium hedges. Plants are in their Eden there.

In an interview, Michael Caine compared his gardens in Great Britain to those California. He asked a California horticulturist when he should plant the items he had just purchased and the man replied..."when you get home". That amazed him. As it does me. Eternal spring. What a garden.

tasteofbeirut said...

Quel jardin magnifique! J'aurais été comme toi; j'aurais fondu d'émotion a la vue de ces lavandes! Le lapin est touchant aussi; quel joie de passer un moment dans cet endroit enchanteur!

French-Kissed said...

While Palos Verdes and Long Beach are not quite in my backyard, I am certainly happy that you have brought this wonderful garden and the home in your prior post to my attention. A good reason to head south from Santa Barbara. Thanks for your comment on FK--I did take a look at your post on the fig jam...a personal favorite of mine and while I don't have a tree a friend just bought a ranch in Carpinteria that has several fig trees about to come in so I will be helping her and referring to your recipe!


Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

What a lovely garden. I couldn't have resisted Goldilock's cottage either. Great shots of the bunny too. You must have felt right at home with the French lavender. Thanks for taking us along with you. Fascinating and gorgeous as all your trips are.

Happy belated anniversary.

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** MERCI Vagabonde pour ta visite sur mon nouveau blog c'est sympa !!!

Ce post est réellement MAGNIFIQUE ! BRAVO ! J'admire tes belles photos avec plaisir ! :o)

Bon vote et GROS BISOUS à toi ! :o) ***

Shammickite said...

I'll probably never get to visit the South Coast Botanic Garden in person, so I have really enjoyed walking through it with you in this delightful blog post. Like you, I would have been left far behind by my companions as I would be stopping to admire the flowers and trees and take many pictures too! What a lovely place. And I love the scent and colour of lavender.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...


Your posts read like a cross between a travel guide and a personal story -- love them! I have not been to the South Coast Botanic Garden but you could write (and snap) the PR for them. I cannot believe that this was formerly a dump!

Merci beaucoup et joyeux anniversaire!

maría cecilia said...

Dear Vagabonde, thank you so much for this wonderful ride along with you!!! And very happy 43th anniversary, wow!!! congrats!!
many hugs,
maria cecilia

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Hello Vagabonde ! :o) En ce vendredi matin je te souhaite une agréable fin de semaine ! :o) GROS BISOUS à toi ! :o) ***

Anonymous said...

Since you mentioned it, I went back and reposted three or four stories so you could read them again.

Your reclaimed landfill story is almost identical to one in Victoria, BC that I had visited.

Karin B (Looking for Ballast) said...

From top to bottom, this is the most gorgeous post! I feel like I have been on a little vacation in this post -- it was almost like being there.

It is very hard to believe the place was once a landfill! Kudos to all who have had a hand in the reclamation of this place. It just goes to show how much can be done to have a change in a place, eh?

A very happy anniversary to you, Vagabonde. Thank you for sharing your anniversary journey with us all.

Vagabonde said...

Nancy – Je viens d’écrire un commentaire sur ton ancient blog, et au cas où tu ne le vois pas, je le recopie ici:
“Avant de retourner pour lire ton nouveau blog, je voudrais te dire, Nancy, que Sénégalissime a été une joie. Ton blog était comme un rayon de soleil, surtout parcequ’il était animé par toi. Ton dynamisme, ta gentillesse et tes belles photos ont fait de ton blog un endroit ou on passait des moments magiques que nous garderons dans nos souvenirs. Et maintenant, nouvel acte de la pièce qui se passera à …. Paris! Je suis toujours à la queue, mais je viens quand même!”

Maintenant je vais voir ton nouveau blog et je l’inscrit sur le mien, son nom “Flâneries en photographie.”

""°o.O Nancy O.o°"" said...

*** Coucou Vagabonde ! :o) C'est vrai que quand on vit à l'étranger on apprécie d'autant plus les charmes de la France et en particulier de la capitale française. Une bonne baguette bien croustillante et presque encore chaude c'est un délice ! :o) le bon fromage et le bon vin aussi ! :o)
Entendre parler français... ma fille qui vit au Pérou depuis 1 an n'entends que très rarement français, parfois quand on se téléphone elle cherche ses mots en français ! ;o) elle ne parle que l'espagnol depuis 1 an ... inutile de te dire qu'elle le parle très couramment maintenant ! :o) (ma fille revient en France le 25 août prochain ! QUELLE GRANDE JOIE POUR NOUS tu imagines ! :o) :o) :o)
Merci pour ton gentil message chez moi Vagabonde. Je t'embrasse très très fort ! à bientôt !!!!! :o) ***

Friko said...

To judge by your enthusiasm you will surely visit this wonderful place again some time in the future.
A veritable paradise!

I love the tree roots, they are made for the imagination, to dream up shapes and characters to fill them with stories.

Kenza said...

Bonjour Vagabonde,
Merci pour ce magnifique billet comme toi seule sait rédiger, fleuri, plein de surprises et de personnages (aux longues oreilles), discrets habituellement...

Merci également pour tes visites et tes gentils commentaires qui me ravissent et auxquels je ne réponds qu'aujourd'hui: j'ai honte!!
Je sais que tu ne m'en tiendras pas rigueur; je suis débordée avec cette aventure dans laquelle m'entraine ma fille et réponds à mes amis avec beaucoup de retard...

Je parts la semaine prochaine pour une dizaine de jours à Londres, quelques jours de vacances bien mérités avant la rentrée scolaire et la sortie du livre prévue le 25 août!

Je t'embrasse et te souhaite un très beau week-end.


Vagabonde said...

Lonicera, DJan, alwaysinthebackrow, Pondside, Lakeviewer, Vicki Lane, Zuzana, Ginnie, Kay Dennison, Sablonneuse, Fennie, Darlene, Ruth, Zhu, Lady of the Hills, Elaine, Angela, Don, Linda, French-Kissed, My Carolina Kitchen, Shammickite, Genie, Maria Cecilia, Abraham Lincoln, Karin – I read all your comments with pleasure. I am glad you enjoyed this post.

Vagabonde said...

Friko - Thanks Friko for taking the time to read this. I hope you are OK.

Vagabonde said...

Elisa, Claude, Taste of Beirut,Reader Wil, Nancy – J’ai lu vos commentaires avec plaisir. C’est toujours très sympa de voir vos commentaires en français. Merci.

Vagabonde said...

Kenza – Felicitations à ta fille, c’est vraiment quelque chose d’avoir un livre en librairie à 16 ans! Bonne vacances à Londres, une ville que j’aime beaucoup.

Marguerite said...

What a truly magnificent post and garden! Your photos are gorgeous and I think that you should publish a book about all of your wonderful trips. It's hard to believe that this ground was once a landfill. Merci beaucoup for sharing this delightful tour, cher! May you and your hubby have many more such anniversaries! Cheers!

Jeanie said...

What an astounding post -- your photographs are simply magnificent. Each time I thought I saw a favorite, I'd continue on and find another!

I confess, though, two segments really got to me -- the bunnies (I am a bunny fan and count how many I see each year - this year, 10) and the lavender -- my favorite. I can't even begin to imagine how marvelous that fragrance was! I hope you are putting all these photos in a book somewhere -- they deserve the printed page!

lorilaire said...

Quelle magnifique parc pour une journée exceptionnelle à tous les deux !
Bizz Lori

Mike Martin said...

Greetings. I love your blog, esp pictures. I am a writer and would like your permission to use the Grand Bank, NF photo for the cover of my first book. It is a mystery set in Grand Bank. I do not expect it to be a best-seller or anything but I could offer you a small honorarium if you want.
What do you think?

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