Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Oh to hit the open road… I’m all too pleased to have been able to escape my daily life and have a much needed vacation. While most of my friends have been buying tickets to psychedelic music fests, I took a different direction and headed south to see some beaches and botanicals. It’s been a hard season to make this trip a reality but it’s all worth the effort now. With a full time job, a garden and a greenhouse my life has become entirely too routine, it was time for something a little different. One thing is for sure, I tossed my plans into the wind and took to the road with as little solid plans as possible.

To make things a bit more fail safe I got my car tuned up and bought a new set of performance tires. Might I comment that the west coast of the USA has some of the most amazing highways I’ve ever seen in my life. I started my trip at Port Angeles, Washington and traveled the 101 all the way to Los Angeles, California. As I pulled into Vancouver today my odometer read 5400km (3355miles) round trip, and what a trip it was.  Being raised in a northern climate I really enjoyed visiting California and seeing all the plants that we prize up here growing in ditches down there. Bougainvillea, aloes, castor beans, agaves and echiums seemed to grow without any effort whatsoever, to the point people barely seemed to notice them. The heat cooked you from the inside out and air conditioned Star Bucks seemed to have a permanent residence of cool seeking coffee drinkers.

The highlight and main destination of my journey was the Huntington Library and Botanical Garden, in which I spent two separate afternoons lost in the rolling fields of cacti. I dare you to find a more impressive display of exotic plants, a place in which words or photographs would do it little justice. Let me just say if you have an interest in cacti & succulents you’ve got to add this one to your bucket list, it’s a thing of true beauty.

Today I feel a bit more human, a lot more relaxed and most certainly better traveled. I didnt get to see everything I wanted to see, but I did see a lot. Truth be told I might have skipped a couple things on purpose as to give me another excuse to head down there in the future. The trip isn’t quite finished yet, but it’s definetly on the tail end. In the coming month I hope to do posts on much of my travels, I have no shortage of photos to work with.

Until then, thanks for stopping by.


The Oregon Coast.


The misty point of Cape Blanco, Oregon. Why did I venture out to this obscure west coast park you ask? Well we all know sedum spathulifolium ‘Cape Blanco’, I had to know if the place was covered in it. I know, I know, plant geek.


About midway through the Oregon coast the echiums began to appear and they didn’t stop all the way through LA. Up here they’re an obscurity, down there they’re everywhere. A tad jealous I might add.


The Californian redwoods are impressive to say the least. Sequoia sempervirens are the biggest plants on planet earth, and this one is just a baby next to some.


You can drive through the redwood forest in Leggett, California.


Getting better acquainted with a very large palm tree at the UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley


One very large aloe polyphylla, Berkeley


While driving down the coast of Southern California we had to look twice to make sure we weren’t going crazy. These Zebras are the remains of  what was once one of the world’s largest private zoos. The Zebras of Hearst Castle.

6 Responses to Beaches, Botanicals & Burning Rubber

  • Hoovb says:

    No place like the Desert garden at the Huntington, but it must have been brutal hot. Sounds like you had a wonderful road trip!

  • I’m happy to hear you had such a great trip to my home state. I know exactly what you mean about “exotic” plants being common in some places–I had the same experience in Tucson, AZ where people were no doubt thinking I was nuts oohing and aahing over cacti and agaves they barely paid attention to anymore.

    The next time you’re in the Bay Area, let’s get together!

  • Sandra Lankford says:

    That looks like it was an exciting trip. I love all the plants and the Oregon water picture is breath taking. Thanks for sharing

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Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.
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