Monday, October 26, 2009

California Dreaming

We’ve just returned from two fabulous weeks in California ….amazing. Our vacation was full of sunshine (except the freak storm during our time in Oakland and San Francisco) and astonishing plants. I am now scheming to see how we can someday make the move south, I was in heaven!

The day before we left (October 9th) our forecasts were calling for a freaky early freeze here in Portland. Lows in the low 30’s and briefly even rumored as bad as the high 20’s. Thankfully it didn’t materialize, but I left town having prepared for the worst. The reality of over-wintering tender agaves and aloes helped to mitigate my natural tendency to go crazy buying plants on the trip. But no worries, I did come back with a few.

The cities we visited: Oakland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Fillmore, Pasadena, Burbank, Chatsworth, Los Angeles, Venice, Santa Monica, and Sacramento. Whew!

The plant focused places on our itinerary: Flora Grubb Gardens, San Francisco Botanical Gardens, Berkeley Botanical Gardens, Cactus Jungle, San Marcos Growers, Lotusland, California Cactus Center, Huntington Gardens and Big Red Sun. Sound exhausting? My brother in law in Fillmore, CA, jokingly asked when PBS would be showing the Ken Burns documentary on our trip. I thought his remark was a humorous take on how epic the itinerary seemed to others. I must thank my husband who was completely engaged in the gardens, and patient with me and my picture taking.

My eyes are tired; we saw so many incredible things. Rather than risk boring you all to tears with agave picture after agave picture for days on end I am going to split up my hundreds of photos and post once or maybe twice a week about the trip until I am finished. Hopefully then I will be able to keep it all fresh and keep your attention and interest.

The picture at top is the courtyard of our hotel in Oakland, our first hotel stop in California. Look at that tree fern! Amazing. The picture below was taken near our hotel; I thought it was an interesting illustration of how different the folks in California seem to think about agaves; they are common, nothing special. An Agave attenuata in a plastic bucket just growing along a restaurant sidewalk, not babied, just fending for itself. Imagine!
It was getting dark by the time I spotted this one, thus the camera flash making odd shadows.
These are its roots and sprouts; this plant is determined to grow!
There were so many more agaves ahead in our travels…I can’t wait to share them all with you!


  1. Ah you were in my neck of the woods for a bit :O) Not too far from Oakland. Can't wait to see all your pictures.

  2. I am glad that you had a good time. But, selfishly, I am more glad that you're back!

  3. Going south myself for a long weekend in ten days. I can't wait for my California fix. It'll be short but sweet.
    I'm glad you had time to take lots of pictures. I'll look forward to seeing every one!

  4. Those odd shadows are terrific in my book. I let a couple of days go by without checking you out, and look what happened...a feast for the eyes, for sure.

  5. And I can't wait to see them, and to hear all about everything. I'll be building my future travel itinerary from your upcoming posts, so don't hold back. ;-)

  6. That does sounf like an epic journey! Can't wait to hear aout your trip

  7. Step aside, Mr. Burns! I look forward to your chronicles, DG. Hope all was well at home [referring to an earlier correspondence]. The tree fern is to die for. And that poor Agave in a bucket. Were you tempted to take [rescue] it? Just a little itty bit? :)

  8. That night they predicted the big freeze, I rushed around repotting and relocating the tender stuff. It only got down to 38. I moved everything back out a few days later, waiting for the next threatened freeze.
    I could see California agreeing with you. The sun, the climate that makes growing the plants you love a much less complicated affair. I love the Portland climate, but tree ferns are a plant that make me want to relocate. Can't wait to see all your pictures. Welcome home.

  9. MTJulie, lucky you! You've probably already visited most of the Bay Area places I went. I am jealous of your climate.

    D+N, you aren't planning any vacations anytime soon, are you?

    Jane, I am jealous, where are you headed? Have a wonderful time! I'll be checking in with you after the 101st agave picture I post to see if you are still interested.

    ricki, I hope I can live up to that billing.

    For you Pam, no holding back...I promise.

    Nicole, we didn't see as many blooms as you did at the SF Botanical Garden (wrong time of the year)...but enjoyed it just the same.

    Grace, all was fine at home, thank you for asking. Actually compared to others that we saw later that agave looked positively loved. There were so many that I wanted to proclaim "rescued" and tear out of peoples (or more often businesses) plantings. My husband kept reminding me that was called "stealing". He can be such a spoil sport.

    Megan, I took a few things back outside, but after being inside for 2 weeks I figured most of them had made the adjustment and why thrust them back out into the cold. Andrew was unfamiliar with how grand tree ferns can be, he was in love with the huge ones at Golden Gate Park. If I keep reminding him of them maybe my plan (to move) just might work!

  10. Wow, that is one impressive tree fern! I know someone who has struggled to keep his going in Palo Alto, maybe due to clay soil?? Who knows. Anyway, site still matters, obviously, even in that climate. Funny agave sighting! I know, I still have hundreds of photos from my SF trip this past summer that I still need to sift through and post some of. Maybe you'll beat me to it and save me the trouble! :) Glad you had a great trip, and I admit I am exhausted just looking at that itinerary. You are an energetic marvel!


Thank you for taking the time to comment. Comment moderation is on (because you know: spam), I will approve and post your comment as soon as possible!