Monday, May 6, 2019

Visiting the garden of John Bleck, part one

Today we head back to Santa Barbara and another garden we visited during the Bromeliad Summit. This was the one "normal" garden on our itinerary; normal meaning it was on a standard-ish residential lot, rather than an estate.

The plants within the garden were anything but normal however. They were the crème de la crème, lots of choice things (many of which I won't be able to give you an exact name on). This beauty may be Leucospermum conocarpodendron.

On the right, above the blue agave (A. parryi?); the cone says cycad, the leaves say, well, I don't know what they say. Palm? Palm and cycad mashup?

Agave 'Kissho Kan'

This collection is on the other side of the driveway (the side you can't see in the intro photo). We were headed towards the back garden but paused to appreciate these beauties.

I asked John the name of this one, and he told me. Sadly I can't remember.

The way this loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) has been pruned makes me want to really go after mine (put that on my "to do" list).

Sadly I won't be able to get away with a large cycad planted at the base of my loquat.

Oh! Pachystegia insignis, I've got one of these. Mine looks rather sad after last winter.

We're in the back garden now and wow. Just wow. Aeonium tabuliforme tucked into the rock wall like it's no big deal. Because of course in Santa Barbara it really is no big deal.

Sonchus palmensis

The blooming black aeonium and dark dyckia (I think that's what the red flower spikes belong to) are pretty fabulous, but check out the large mound of Deuterocohnia brevifolia behind them.

There were flowers!

Perfect little Agave victoriae-reginae.

Wowsa! A much larger, but even more perfect, Agave victoriae-reginae.

It looked like you could pick it up and toss it like a ball.

I didn't try.

The lot ended with a steep hillside...

Blooming puya, I think.

The blooms were quite colorful.

Standing at the base of the hillside and looking back at the house.

I spotted a mashup of bromelaids under a tree. I must say they looked rather unloved.

Walking closer to the house and looking back at the hillside, and another house looming above.

I'd seen a few other people climb to the top of the hillside, along that fence on the left. I decided to give it a try. (did I mention I 'm a klutz and wasn't wearing appropriate footwear?)

To my right as I started my climb.

There were several hidden plant vignettes along the climb.

The view from the top. I made it up, and back down, without incident!

Back on the garden level I resumed agave appreciation. Agave bracteosa 'Monterrey Frost'

I have no idea what this cutie is. There's definitely some victoriae-reginae in there.

I should know, the shape is so familiar. Love the variegation.

Agave attenuata, maybe 'Kara's Stripes'.

Crassula rupestris subsp. marnieriana (I believe).

OMG!!! Aloe erinacea

So beautiful.

Oh hey! Seeing lizards in a garden is good luck...or so I believe.

I had a little more time before we left, so I walked back around to front garden and to the opposite side of the house from the driveway. I was rewarded with this beauty.

There was a great little garden along the side of the house.

The main plant died and a baby grew from the side?

The echium blooms were being loved up real well by the bees.

Come back tomorrow and we'll look at the lath structures in the center of the back garden and an AMAZING tillandsia collection.

Weather Diary, May 5: Hi 76, Low 51/ Precip 0

All material © 2009-2019 by Loree Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. That's a magical vignette with the cactus turning purple from the top down, yellow flowers leaning in from a neighboring clump, and the "lesser" Queen Victoria agave.

    1. Agreed, that photo was my desktop background for awhile.

  2. Wow - this is amazing. In addition to that phenomenal victoriae-reginae that Kissho Kan is also gorgeous. Makes me happy my much smaller one from Cistus is still soldiering on. Looking forward to the lath structure pics.

  3. What a fine garden full of plant delights.

  4. That Aloe erinacea is amazing! I didn't know I needed one until I saw your photo. If seeing lizards is lucky, you DO need to visit my garden sometime when when the sun is out and the temperature is reasonably warm. Even now, not yet peak lizard season, I can't walk 2 feet without one darting across my path.

    P.S. The purple-flowered plant in photo #6 is Limonium perezii.

    1. Thank you for the plant ID and I so want to visit your garden Kris, anytime of the year!

  5. AnonymousMay 06, 2019

    I'm charmed by the idea of an ordinary house engulfed by extraordinary plantings.

  6. wow, what great gems scattered around this garden--that Aloe erinacea is to die for.Your I-don't-remember plant is Limonium perezii,sea lavender aka perennial statice , a fixture in Socal.

    1. Which is probably why I was the only one fascinated by it. Everyone else was like "oh, that old thing..."

  7. I too like the way the loquat is pruned. I'm sure you'll find a proper skirt for it, even if it's not a cycad. Agave victoria regina is absolute perfection!
    It is rather joyous to binge-read your posts after being abroad and off line for a month. It is somewhat of a blur to me now, to be honest, but the Aloe in Wonderland series and the St. Francis Ranch stood out: they are extraordinary places.

    1. The whole experience felt rather like a binge, and a blur!

  8. Emily LisborgMay 07, 2019

    The A. erinacea is incredible! I hope I dream about this plant.

    1. The photos didn't really show how large it is...such a cool plant!

  9. The garden of a true plant hoarder/lover. Can you imagine being able to simply grow so many of those plants in the ground like it was no big deal? Yowsa!

  10. Seeing these gardens from your trip makes me want to move to CA... they can grow such cool plants!


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