Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Feeling blue?

Not feeling blue because of the view, that's for sure. How beautiful is this?

Today we're headed back to Santa Barbara and April's Bromeliad Summit. One of the gardens we visited on the final day of the event was a 10-acre Montecito estate. I've posted random photos of this garden here and there, but avoided a full on garden feature. Why? Because I'm conflicted. Conflicted by the excess in the face of so much need. The large home in the center of this Montecito estate garden sits empty unless its out-of-town owners happen to be visiting. I can't shake the feeling of waste. But then again, who am I to judge? I know nothing about the owners and their lives.

Looking at my huge backlog of photos I was drawn to what I think of as "the blue garden" just a small part of the overall. What the heck, I'll share them. After all the owners were kind enough to share their garden with us.

Looking back down towards where I was standing when I took the first photo, above...

Oddly now I can't remember if we were able to go inside the greenhouses or not.

Blue, so much blue...

Blue continued in the senecio...

And the agaves...

Shall we sit for a spell? Or explore some more? Right, let's explore...

Agave salmiana in the foreground, Agave franzosinii behind it.

Are these Agave americana? It's clear the plants on the other side of the drive (this is not the drive to the main house, just a service drive) are A. franzosinii, but these appear to be different. I believe the ones on the far left are Agave 'Blue Flame'.

Maybe a guest house or perhaps a caretaker lives here?

Looking down the drive...

And back across at the greenhouses.

The patterns on Agave franzosinii are so remarkable. I remember the first time I saw them in a print magazine and was convinced someone had marked them up for graphic effect.

Nope, that's all Mother Nature.

Looking towards the main house in the distance.

Now we're approaching the pool from a different angle, just because we can.

Symmetry can be fun.

And huge agaves are always fun. Well unless you're my in-laws and then you hire someone to take them out with a backhoe.

Citrus! Toto, we're not in Portland that's for sure.

Just a couple more agave shots...

You know, I wouldn't mind having a driveway just like this...maybe paved, but that's the only change.

Weather Diary, Sept 9: Hi 71, Low 60/ Precip .17

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


  1. I agree with you on the decadence. On the bright side, they are providing jobs in horticulture.

    1. Something that is good to remember, see below for a comment from someone who worked on the garden.

  2. I wouldn't mind living on the estate as a care taker of all that decadence. A stunning garden. I kind of fell in love with blue senecio when you posted about in the past, possibly a picture from this very garden. I started noticing it in nurseries being sold with other succulents and house plants. I wouldn't feel right growing it indoors now that I know what it would look like in an outdoor garden.

    1. It is really easy to plant out in the spring and then take cuttings and over winter indoors. I did that for years until I just got bored with it.

  3. Well, with an estate that size, multiple people are probably there regularly to tend the premises and the plants in those greenhouses so there are people there to enjoy it, even if they don't have the luxury of pulling a cold drink out of the fridge. Actually, it sounds like a dream job to me, hanging out by my lonesome communing with plants 2 or more days a week.

    1. Five of them in fact, see the comment below. Who knows, maybe they have their own fridge too?

  4. I had the pleasure of working on this garden with the team that designed it and built it from the ground up. This garden has employed numerous craftsmen and women through it's 10+ year development, many of those through the worst parts of the recession when there was not a lot of work to be found. Even in Santa Barbara. There is a full time team of gardeners (5+) to maintain it and numerous others who provide added support. I see teh owners as patrons of horticulture and design, who allow us to continue to express our visions through their projects and with their funds. Without them we as landscape architects and designers would not be able to do what we do at the highest levels. This garden is no different than Lotusland which is right down the street, and which was one of the main inspirations for it's creation. The fact that tours of this garden are even offered to a select few express the desire for it to be experienced and appreciated, whereas there are so many gardens that are locked up and tucked away never to be seen. I myself feel lucky to have had a chance to experience it intimately and see it grow and change over many years. I'm glad you had the chance to experience it too.

    1. Thank you for commenting, I appreciate the details you shared. "Patrons of horticulture" is a wonderful phrase, and as a lover of plants and gardens I understand it is valuable for places like this to exist. You make a great point about it being open for the occasional tour vs. locked up and never shared, I was lucky to have enjoyed a beautiful day there. Thank you for the work you did on the garden, what an adventure it must have been.

  5. As long as people maintaining these gardens can afford to live within a reasonable commute because the garden owners who are frighteningly wealthy are committed to supporting the minions and paying a living wage (which in SB has to be 50k and above) I am on board. But I love gardens and will indulge in some hypocrisy -the gardeners make 15 bucks an hour but I want to visit the garden and will try to ignore the financial disparity between the owners and the workers. I am thankful that we are invited to visit these gardens and hope that the wealth is shared among the creators and the maintainers.

    1. Good point Kathy. Hopefully this is the case.

  6. It is a beautiful garden and they are using appropriate plants rather than trying to grow grass. But I know what you mean about the disparity. Though I admit I have an over the top garden myself, just smaller and I live there full time. I am aware that I am very lucky.

  7. Another point: the wildlife have it as habitat when the humans are not in residence. That is a big thing, when so much of coastal Southern California is paved over and crammed with invasive hominids.

    Beautiful garden.

  8. I like it all, but that shady sitting area under the lush arbor...mmmm!


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