One mile from the Pacific ocean...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Encinitas, CA. -- The feather duster palm, Rhopalostylis sapida, has the southernmost range of any

New Zealand native.

palm, meandering to the South Island of New Zealand.  It's swollen and distinctive crown shaft bulges beneath upright stiff fronds. It is a prize here at the San Diego Botanic Garden.

On 37 beautifully kept acres, the garden is in full bloom this spring. Coral trees and a daisy tree, kangaroo paws and Matilija poppies, bottlebrush trees and California poppies blend their brilliant colors with palms, cycads, succulents and bamboo. For a visiting Floridian, it is a new world of shapes and shades, of desert and original maritime chaparral, as well as succulents, iris and roses arranged in tapestries of great charm.

Puya alpestris, Chilean bromeliad.

Some plants that caught my eye: a delicate, elegant pine-leaf bottlebrush, Callistemon pinifolius, from New South Wales; jewel-toned flowers of a Chilean bromeliad, Puya alpestris, that shine in teal and turquoise while flashing orange stamens; yellow bearded iris against blue-gray agaves and yellow roses; vegetable gardens planted in surprising containers (sugar cane sprouting from a giant sugar bowl and all the ingredients for salsa growing in an oversized salsa bowl), and hummingbirds aplenty.

Topographically the garden rises and falls over a hilly landscape. Great emphasis is placed on capturing the imagination of children with a tree house, an alphabet garden, interactive play areas where dinosaur eggs can be found and seeds planted. Succulents are displayed with great imagination, and pair well with cycads and roses.

Succulents create the dress
and hat of this lady.

Donated to San Diego County by Ruth Larabee in 1957, the garden’s original name was Quail Botanical Gardens. Gil Voss, beginning in 1974, renovated the garden. Voss started the herbarium, plant records and mapped the garden. He co-founded the American Bamboo Society before retiring from the botanic garden in 1989.

The SDBG has an annual chocolate festival, gala, endangered species celebration, bromeliad show, and a lady bug day. An emphasis throughout the plantings is water conservation. There also is a demonstration of landscaping for fire prevention.




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