Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

At least I can’t be accused of rushing things; here I am in September finally posting pictures from our visit to the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden back in May.

We didn’t plan to visit the SBBG, and had I known we would find ourselves with a free day in Santa Barbara I would have schemed another visit to Lotusland (just 5 miles away from the SBBG). However it was Memorial Day and Lotusland does require reservations in advance, and after all there is something to be said for branching out and visiting new places! So we set out for the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden…

The most important thing for you to know is the SBBG has an emphasis on California native plants. As a lover of most everything Californian this sounded like a good thing, however some in my party weren’t so impressed, comparing our outing to a walk we could have taken anywhere. Just warning you…

Agave shawii, beautiful! There were many more of these along the path so don’t worry I’ve got a couple more pictures to share.

There was a nursery right near the gift shop; we took a peek in there before beginning our treck. So many good things...

I really wanted to bring home one of these Nolina parryi, and I should have. Hindsight is so much clearer...

We started out  in the Desert Section: “This section features species that thrive in California’s coastal or interior desert regions, such as California fan palm (Washingtonia filifera), the only palm tree native to the state”... (from their brochure).

I don’t know for sure but I’m guessing these are Agave celsii…

Opuntia oricola, Chaparral Prickly pear. It's kind of amazing how the green pads are growing out of what looks to be dead wood.

I can’t help it, I love these signs telling you what plants have been used for over the years. I still hope to try some Yucca soap or shampoo someday.

Here are the other Agave shawii I promised you…

That Nolina parryi I should have bought, planted out.

Yucca brevifolia, better known as the Joshua Tree.

Epipactis gigantea (Stream Orchid)

Arctostaphylos glauca (Bigberry Manzanita). At the end of the garden there was an entire section devoted to Manzanitas, but I found the most interesting specimens (like this one) dotted throughout the garden.

Look at that bright green new growth! (I believe it's a Sequoia)

Andrew found this adorable little caterpillar…

Now we come to the Dudleya Collection, I had no idea how beautiful these plants are! Why are they called “Live-forever?” because they are extremely long lived plants and with the right care can live to be 100 years old. “Dudleya is a genus of succulent perennials, consisting of about 45 species in southwest North America. Many plants in the Dudleya genus were formerly classified as Echeveria… The genus is named after William Russell Dudley, the first head of the botany department at Stanford University. In horticulture, Dudleya should be planted at an angle. This allows accumulated water to drain from the nestlike center of the plant, thus preventing microbial decay” (source).

Dudleya abramsii, San Luis Obispo Live-forever

Dudleya viscida, Sticky Live-forever

Not a Dudleya but very cool…Coreopsis gigantea

Dudleya albiflora, White-flowered Live-forever

Dudleya cultrata

Aesculus californica (California Buckeye)

And the flowers…

In the Meadow Section…Solidago canadensis ssp. elongata (Canada Goldenrod)

And Eriogonum giganteum (St. Catherine's Lace)

Next we walked over to the Ceanothus Section; however since we were there after they’d finished blooming they weren’t terribly prominent. However the blooming Yuccas were…

Yucca whipplei

A Fremontodendron

Anyone able to identify this ground cover?

Arctostaphylos glauca x 'Canyon Blush' (Canyon Blush Manzanita)

And some late blooming Ceanothus behind the Poppies…

I think Andrew was was practicing his Pinocchio impersonation...

Here’s what it looks like to stare up into a massive group of Yucca flowers…

And the tiny plant producing such a monster…

With that our visit comes to an end, hope you enjoyed it! In my book Santa Barbara is a plant mecca, and I enjoyed visiting the SBBG where it isn't all glitz and glam but rather lots and lots of hardworking native plants.


  1. Lovely gardens. Dudleyas are great plants, unfortunately we can only get a very varieties in the UK and there is almost no literature on them at all.

    1. We don't really even have many available just up the coast in the Pacific Northwest!

  2. Well, whoever said that this was just like a walk you can take anywhere should be flogged. (Oops, sorry, was it Andrew?) I loved this! This was not like any walk I could take up here in the Seattle burbs, that's for sure. I love those big manzanitas. And thanks for that close-up of the Yucca flowers. I could almost smell it!

    Fantastic post!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the walk Alison...and I do have to admit Andrew wasn't all that thrilled with the place.

  3. Impressive plants! It looks like they have a really nice selection of yucca, agave and succulents. I love that last little yucca! It's crazy that little plant can produce such a huge bloom stalk. and the Arctostaphylos glauca x 'Canyon Blush' is amazing!

    1. Actually having just been at the Huntington a couple of days before their selection seemed small, nice, but "well edited"...

  4. Is the groundcover some sort of zauschneria? Love the yucca-nosed husband picture! What cool plants! When are we moving?

    1. When we BOTH win the lottery, because if just one of us won we still couldn't afford it!

  5. I would be thrilled to take that walk...well, I guess I just did.

    1. You did! And I imagine you stayed a might bit cooler than we were that day...

  6. So much succulent goodness. I'm really taken with the Agave shawii, and of course manzanita bark is stunning too. That picture of Andrew is kind of surreal.

    1. Those A. shawii we're pretty darn amazing!

  7. You're not the only with blog backlogs. We too have garden visits in May that we haven't written about yet. The Agave shawii is a stunning plant (and so does virtually everything else you featured!). And interesting to know about the Dudleyas, didn't know until now that they could live that long. There's only a few varieties available here but won't surprised if a few more will trickle in to the nurseries here :)

    1. It is kind of fun though, to relive a vacation by going through the photos...months after you've been there, don't you think?

  8. You have come up with another stunning garden tour. Thanks....
    You are right about the Agave celsii, also goes by the name Agave mitis or Apple Green Agave. Did you know that will take a zone 8b. Hint, hint..
    The Fremontodendron flower is quite amazing and the caterpillar is adorable. What a fun time!

  9. I think I've seen the entire place;) Love all these plants and I love having them around our place. The blooms especially are wonderful.

  10. Yeah you should have bought it! Pic #11 appears to show Nolina parryi subsp wolfii, which is even cooler. On my list of places to visit someday - so much more still to see and (I hope) grow. I enjoyed the pics!

  11. Wow! wonderful visit. love the views and a fantastic collection of succulents. Wouldn't I love to be able to grow those outside. That Agave shawii is a superb plant.

  12. I think your ground cover is some sort of salvia. Was it rooting as it went along, or was it all long sprawled stalks?

    The leaves look wrong for Chuparosa, which would a secondary guess.

  13. Looks like Keckiella cordifolia.


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