Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Taft Garden, Part 1

When it comes to life-altering experiences (of the positive kind) have a theory that there are two kinds of people. One group finds these experiences are enriched through sharing them, talking about them with as many people as possible. The second group feels the experience is diminished a little every time you speak of it. What was once magical and otherworldly becomes commonplace when you try to tell others about it.

I think I belong to the second group.

Oh sure I am more than happy to share my garden related experiences here. Usually, by doing so, they become even better. I lived them, and then I lived them again by editing the photos and writing about it and sharing it with you. But on December 24th, 2015, I experienced an extraordinary garden and there is no way I can adequately share it through words and photos, trying to do so just comes up short – it looks like just another garden visit. Of course that won't stop me from trying! I just wish I could take you all there, so you could experience the remote location, the smells, the sounds, the awe of amazing specimens around you, everywhere you look.

Long intro, getting longer.

It was Christmas eve and as I mentioned in this post I'd kind of given up on the idea I'd be able to visit the Taft Garden. I'd read about Denise's visit on her blog (she touches a bit on the history of the garden, if you're curious). I'd spoken with Jo at Australian Native Plants about it. But this is a private garden with a complicated history, few get to visit and I hadn't exactly planned ahead. However a little Christmas magic was in the air and I received a call with directions and still had time enough to visit before we took off to meet family in another city.

The drive to the garden was beautiful but a little concerning – as in I was pretty sure I was going to get lost. I ended up missing a turn and coming to the end of the road, which was someone's front yard. There were so many Agaves I thought for a minute I must be at the garden, I mean no homeowner would plant that many Agaves? No I don't have any photos, I hightailed it out of there as fast as I could, visiting this garden is somewhat of a hush hush affair and I didn't want to disturb the neighbors.

There was one other car in the parking area when I arrived, I passed them leaving as I was entering. It was official – I was alone in paradise. This added to the experience immensely.

What had I done to end up in this magical place on Christmas Eve? It was a gift indeed.

I wandered on a crazy path of my own making, bouncing back and forth from interesting plant to interesting plant.

And unlike at The Huntington there was nothing coming between me and the plants. Sure there were paths in some places but in others they just disappeared. There was nothing saying "stay over there" so I didn't. I got up close and personal...

The air was quiet, so very quiet. Except that it wasn't. There was no human noise, but nature was loud all around me. Honestly I have no idea what it was that I was hearing (besides the birds), had I let it my imagination run I'd have been sure there were lions and tigers and bears following me around the garden.

So I've covered the isolation, the sounds...but the smells! So many scents all mingling together under the warm California sun! Oh and of course, the plants. Oh the plants...

There were a few labels here and there but mostly not. I was okay with that, it felt like the right way to experience this garden, to just wander and absorb the beauty.

I do know this is an Aloe dichotoma...

So beautiful...

Looking dead mostly, but still extraordinary.

Agh! Banksia Men! Those mouths...

Banksia baxteri, I believe.

And Banksia serrata...

I had no idea about the trunk, I felt a bit of repulsion.

Adenanthos sericeus, tree sized!

Please come back tomorrow for Part 2, where I discover I was not alone...
All material © 2009-2016 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.

31 comments:

  1. A bit of suspense going on there but I can just imagine the extraordinary atmosphere of place, wow!

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  2. Some of those plants are creepy!

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    1. More than just the Banksia men?

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  3. Spectacular and magical, indeed! What a garden! Those Banksia men are pretty scary; glad you had done a post on them previously, but even if you hadn't and I was caught unawares, they are intrinsically anthropomorphic.

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  4. Extraordinary in every way--including how you came to be there. I've been wanting to visit this garden forever.

    I can't wait for part 2.

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  5. You do a pretty darned good job of conveying the mystery and the magic,,,must have been the highlight of that particular holiday season.

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    1. Thanks Ricki, and it was, for sure.

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  6. For a delectable moment, your experience was ours. A beautiful word picture. Can't wait to read part two!

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    1. Thanks Peter, your comment makes me happy.

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  7. Wow! How did I not know about this place?! I somehow even missed Denise's 2014 post on the garden too.

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    1. Hopefully it's on your list now?

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  8. Yep, that's awesome! The Protea is jaw dropping. I'll likely never get there, so thanks for sharing your visit.

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    1. Ah come on...I nice road trip, you could do it!

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  9. So glad you made it. We should get T-shirts made for our select little group of people who have visited the Taft!

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    1. I love that idea! Thank you so much for blazing the path.

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  10. So amazing that I read the other posts as well. Looking forward to Pt. 2.

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  11. wow, what an alien planet!

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  12. It kind of reminds me of my visit to UC Santa Cruz Arboretum a few years ago-there was hardly anyone there and it was very rustic as well. But the Proteas and Banksias etc etc. Just wow. I would love to see this garden but I don't have much hope.

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    1. Ah come on ks, if it worked out for me I bet it can for you.

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  13. AnonymousJune 03, 2016

    How lucky are you, and sharing your experience with us. I have always found tree aloe out of this world weird and beautiful. It is to bad they aren’t hardy enough for outdoor landscapes in the PNW.
    John(Aberdeen)

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    1. Indeed, out of this world weird and beautiful! Now imagine being surrounded by them!

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  14. Wowswers. Very good of you to share, Loree. I'm intrigued...have to learn more about this special place.

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    1. Click on the link to Denise's post!

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  15. I love your photographs...what kind of Banksia is the mouth thing? Ug.
    What kind of camera do you use, if I may ask? I'm looking for a new "bridge" camera and I like the way your shots look, very clear and sharp.
    thanks!


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    1. You know I guess I don't really know. I kind of assumed multiple Banksia made that type of cone.

      My camera is a Sony Cybershot, I think it's a good one.

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