Friday, November 18, 2022

Taft Garden Fridays; a look at the Agaves and Aloes

After visiting New York and starting to write about the gardens I saw there it occurred to me that I must be coming up on the one year anniversary of my visit to the Taft Garden in Ojai, California. A quick look at the photos I took that day confirmed it, I was there on November 18th! Time to share some photos...

This visit was my second to the garden, the first took place on Christmas Eve, 2015. That visit was magical, one of my very best garden visit memories ever—I wrote about it here.
My 2021 visit was lovely, but nothing like the first. Back then the garden was something of a secret, you had to know someone in order to visit. The directions were a little less than straightforward, it was an adventure! Now there's a website and an online reservation system.

Of course that progress means the garden has stepped towards being more of an institution, which is good for its longevity. It just means it doesn't feel quite as private when you visit.

Okay, that's enough of my rambling. I've broken my visit into two parts, this, the first, is all about the agaves, aloes and such. The second part—going up on Friday Dec 2nd—explores the South African and Australian plants. 

This pile of "to be planted" aloe cuttings were very near the entrance. Did someone just swing by and drop them off?

The garden's location in the hills around Ojai is gorgeous, picture postcard seclusion.

The tall aloes were just about ready to explode into full bloom

Ha, yes, the short ones too.

This table was interesting, I can only assume it was left from a guided tour or something like a Natural History Walk.

I loved looking at what they had collected.

Including bones...

I am not naming names here because there were very few labels that I could find and I do not know aloes. 

Hopefully you can just appreciate the beauty and form.

This I know! Cussonia spicata, the cabbage tree.

Oh, and I know this one too. It used to be Aloe plicatilis but is currently called Kumara plicatilis, the fan-aloe.

Now a look at their desert garden, which has expanded significantly in the 6 years between my visits. So many barrels!

At first I thought that bottom barrel cactus at the front was sort of shaped like a tagine, or like it was melting. Now I see there's a baby perched on top.

They're endlessly fascinating to me.

Even the fruits of this opuntia are covered with scores of brown glochids.

Agave shawii is such a stunning agave.

I wish it were hardy in my Zone 8.

More plants waiting to be planted. Maybe these were all part of a rescue effort? A nearby garden that was being dug up?

Free senecio!

The light and the rocks had this Agave parryi looking like a reptile.

Now I've walked on to the older desert garden area.

I think the tall plants with the trunk are Furcraea macdougalii.

I may have gone a little over-board with the number of photos I uploaded, but I wanted to share all the beauty!

There's even beauty in the less-than-pristine.

On their way in? Or on their way out?

Doesn't that opuntia just look like it's happy to be there? So animated...

The final image from today's post. I consulted my go-to agave expert Gerhard, he says the plant in front is an Agave 'Blue Glow' that's just a little greener than most.

All material © 2009-2022 by Loree L Bohl for danger garden. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited and just plain rude.


  1. It's a marvelous garden and more personal in its feel than the Huntington.
    You've been there twice and I've yet to get there at all. The friend I usually travel with up that way seems put off by the entrance fee (even though we've been to Lotusland, which is far pricier) and the drive, which has a reputation of being sketchy. Maybe I'll put it on my Christmas list to "encourage" my husband to accompany me ;)

    1. Oh Kris, you really do need to check it out. The drive was sketchy on my first visit (which I kinda loved) but not anymore, they've got the directions all smoothed out. Seems like a lovely outing for you and your husband!

  2. I'm going to go again next spring -last time I went in April (must have been 2019-pre-Covid) and I was the only one there. I usually go down there in April to avoid fire season. Plus Hwy 101 between the turnoff to Monterey and SB is one of my favorite drives of all time.

    1. My photos don't show the other people visiting that day, but there were several. Loud talkers, the kind who needed to share there "knowledge" with everyone within earshot.

  3. I'm glad you got around to posting about this garden, its a beautiful place.
    The mass planting of Agave parryi is amazing. The 'collectibles' on the table are fun... it give me the urge to sit down and create something.
    Why can't everyone grow cabbage tree? sigh.
    I don't suppose the pile of aloe cuttings by the entrance were meant as parting gifts...

    1. I had a cabbage tree that struggled along in a container for awhile, I finally put it out of it's misery.

  4. True, nothing compares to the first-time visit to the Taft. I'll always think of it as this desperado garden hiding in the valley. Wonderful photos!

    1. Have you been back Denise? Your visit was the first I'd heard of it.

  5. This is one of those situations where I would be just itching to help out and clean up the plants sitting on top of the soil. Cut off the dead leaves, clean out the rot, etc. Meanwhile, neglecting my own garden at home... Somehow, it seems easier to see what to do in other people's gardens than in my own.

    1. Ha, ya, I suppose I too had that instinct for a moment!

  6. A gorgeous garden. It's kind of bittersweet that it's been 'discovered' but at the same time funding is always an issue for big gardens like this. Love the little A parryii in the rocks. Hard to see plants just tossed on the soil with their roots exposed. Just reinforces their tough image.

    1. And tough they are, who knows how long they'd already been there? And how much longer they had to go...

  7. Lucky you getting to visit for a second time, Loree. Looks like an amazing place and with an interesting history too. Sad that it can't be enjoyed by the general public as it was previously, but by keeping such low numbers of visitors I guess the special feeling of the place is preserved. Imagine gardening with a view of those amazing hills!

    1. Actually the general public is more likely to visit now, before it was sort of a secret. Gardening there would be magic! (unless there was a fire...)

  8. I loved this post. Lots of changes since my last visit, too, esp. in the desert garden. Can't wait to go back, hopefully soon.

    1. You're lucky to be relatively close! (ish)


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