Today we head back to the Bromeliad Summit in Santa Barbara. I previously shared photos of the remarkable opening night reception location (here and here). Today we'll take a look at St. Francis Ranch, the estate that hosted us for Saturday night's dinner.
As we drove in we laughed about the sign, what's that zebra doing with the cattle? (we: me, Gerhard and Jeff Moore, owner of Solana Succulents)
We saw the cattle...
And then we saw the zebras! Wow, I was not expecting that.
After winding our way along a long road dotted with several small houses and outbuildings, we came to the main home and parked. I was expecting lots of scenes like this one...
But we soon discovered we were in for much, much, more...
(and so are you, this is a very photo heavy post...)
I heard several numbers relating to how large the overall estate is (3,000 acres) but never one that told how large the garden itself is. All I know is that when you thought surely there can't be anymore, there still was.
I should have asked Gerhard to stand next to this agave for scale. It was larger than my car, maybe two of my car...
The bloom spike itself was unbelievable, the size of a football player's thigh around and taller than some trees. Mind blown.
Isn't this a lovely carpet?
So many agaves...
So many bloom spikes...
Of course there were plenty of opuntia and blooming aloes too.
And Echium wildpretii about to bloom.
On one side of the garden there would be an occasional break in the intense planting, where spiky plants were spaced out a bit among the green that came from a wet California spring. It was a nice contrast.
I've never seen so many agaves in a private garden. Of course I've never been in a private garden this large.
Aloe marlothii (I think)...
Kalanchoe as ground cover...
Tempting to sit for a spell, but there's still so much to see before the sun goes down.
Every once and awhile I'd look up and see those hills and I would be struck with a sense of wonder over the fact I was here. How did this happen? How fortunate I am to travel and see the things I get to see. I do not take it for granted.
Ridiculous beauty surrounded me.
I should know this agave. I really should.
Agave americana ‘striata’, I believe.
Love these containers, and the agaves and the way they were placed.
This whole garden was wonderfully designed. While I didn't get a chance to talk with her myself I overheard a few conversations with the owner, Alex, and she is quite the plantswoman. This is a very personal garden not a rich person's showpiece.
But you could probably tell that already.
Can you spot the huge mosquito in the pond?
Agave vilmoriniana 'Stained Glass'
Agave 'Kissho Kan'
Agave shawii (I think)
I walked up one side of the garden and then wound my way back down the other side, being sure to take every side path. We're getting back near the house now...
That brick wall encloses a sort of courtyard garden between the main house and a guest house.
Once back at the house the wine and delicious guacamole made focusing on taking photos difficult (since I only have two hands).
I managed just two photos of the courtyard before I decided to find a seat and enjoy a little dinner. Taking photos of paradise is exhausting!
As I ate, an older gentleman joined me and we struck up a conversation. It turns out he knew Ganna Walska, the creator of Lotusland, personally (our group had spent the entire day at Lotusland listening to lectures on all things bromeliad—photos to come). He shared stories of Ganna and corroborated a few I'd read and wondered about. Again, how did I end up here? It was a very special ending to a magical day.
Do you want to see more photos? Gerhard is writing about this garden today too. Since we visited together, we thought it would be fun to see how we each approached the garden, what things we both took photos of, and what stood out to us personally. His post will no doubt include many more plant ID's than mine, click on over to Succulents and More to check it out!
Weather Diary, April 28: Hi 67, Low 38/ Precip 0
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