Far Out Flora

Agaves Gone Wild!

March 15, 2013 by Megan Speckmann | 4 Comments

Matti in a sea of succulents

On the way back to Wisconsin last Spring we hit up Santa Barbara after our central coast stop. We checked out San Marcos Growers in a cool electric golf cart. Since we hadn’t been to Lotusland yet, it was quite possibly one of the coolest plant excursions we’d ever been on. The place is huge and full of really cool plants. Please note that the nursery is wholesale only and not open to the public, but they have one of the finest websites around for succulent and rare plant information. Here’s a taste of their crazy Agave selection:

 

We need one of these. After getting stabbed by our big, kind of crappy Agave americanas all the time, I think we’ll be going with shrimpier agaves in the future. I couldn’t even look at these pictures before I knew we were moving back. It was too sad.

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Coastal Roadside Detour

May 28, 2011 by Matti | 13 Comments

 

No highheals please.

No highheals please (on the beach?)

OMGosh, it’s Memorial Day Weekend.  We’re staycationing this holiday, but really getting the itch to do a little road trip soon.  Until then, we need to wet our appetite with a rewinding to some roadside fun from our last romp down south.

Giant Rodeo Hat - Salinas, California

Giant Rodeo Hat - Salinas, California

Just about two hours after leaving San Francisco, we saw the Salinas CA town sign.  It felt like we just got on the road, but decided to make that unexpected right hand turn completely out of our way. We heard about the biggest cowboy hats…how giant can they be?  Well, larger than a breadbox and smaller than a Mini Bus.

Bubble Gum Alley, San Luis Obispo

Bubble Gum Alley, San Luis Obispo

Bubble Gum Alley is disgustingly sweet.  When you get on the main drag in SLO, you really have the jerk your head fast to see it.  Fortunately, we were traveling on a holiday (and over winter break for the college), so plenty of parking.  Yes, gum is stuck to the walls floor to about as high as a 10 foot latter will allow.  Curious Places has some great pics on the place.

Hendry's Dog Beach

Stacked stones - Hendry's Dog Beach, aka Arroyo Burro Beach, Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara was our first pit stop in our adventure.  We’ve already blogged the pants off of Santa Barbara such as our <3 for Dudleyas.  We found this great dog friendly beach called Hendry’s Dog Beach.  Plenty of sand and waves for you and your dog to burn off a little energy.  It’s out there a ways, and worth it.  Bytemaps goes into location and details.

Shark on Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara

Shark on Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara

Ah, the Stearns Wharf is okay…kinda of what you expect where main drag meets ocean.

Flowering Aloe Spikes.

Flowering Aloe Spikes.

But there were Aloe Blooms all over the place.  Yeah, don’t try to find them this weekend…they should be all spent by now.

Harrison Ford's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Harrison Ford's Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Next stop, Hollywood.  If you like cheesy head down to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and be a good tourist.  I screamed every couple feet, “Megan Look!  (insert famous celebrity star’s name here)!”

Bob Hope's hands and footprints at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Bob Hope's hands and footprints at the Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Check out our Flickr to see who Megan and Matti picked to stand in their shoes.

All wigs.

All wigs.

So many wigs, so little time.

Runyon Canyon Dog Park in the Hollywood Hills.

Runyon Canyon Dog Park in the Hollywood Hills.

Another great Dog Friendly find, Runyon Canyon Dog Park.  Located in the Hollywood Hills, you can see the whole enchilada here, Hollywood sign (not on same hill), the backyards of the famous, & Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean.  I can’t say for certain, but think I saw a celeb in big dark sunglasses on our hike.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier

Nothing like hanging out on Santa Monica Pier at sunset, picturesque.  Save enough time to get on the Ferris Wheel.  We didn’t and missed the ride.  Oops, something to look forward to next time.  Speaking of Santa Monica, Plant Propaganda has experience gardening there…it looks heavenly.

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

On the backside of our trip, we had to check out Hearst Castle.  Pre-2010, I had Zero % interest seeing this place.  Long story short, spent New Year Day 2010 in dog friendly Cayucos, CA…just 30 mins from the Castle.

We are this close..may as well see it right?  Holy Crap, it was awesome.  Now we visit anytime we are in the area…rain or shine.  Yeah, it was a moody that day at the castle…still great time was had by all.

So where were going?  We want to do a mini road trip in June, and a longer one in Aug (good time to get away from SF fog).  Any suggestions?

– Far Out Flora

Prickly Parts

January 14, 2011 by Megan | 4 Comments

Shaw's Agave - Agave shawii

Shaw's Agave - Agave shawii

It was as gorgeous morning when we cruised through the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  As you know we popped over to the Dudleya section first, but check out the color on this Shaw’s Agave (Agave shawii).  BTW, Rancho Reubidoux has some excellent pics on the A. shawii flower spike.

Santa Barbara Botanical Garden (overview)

Santa Barbara Botanical Garden (overview)

The garden is divided up in many regions and here’s an overview of their spiky succulent Desert Section.  Lots of old growth plants live amongst these sandstone boulders.

Coastal Prickly-pear - Opuntia littoralis

Coastal Prickly-pear - Opuntia littoralis

Native to Southern California, this Coastal Prickly-pear (Opuntia littoralis) grows to about 3 feet tall, but can keep expanding far wider in dense clumps.

Agave parryi ?

Agave parryi ?

No ID tag found on this guy, but think it may be the Mescal Agave aka Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi).

Giant Coreopsis - Coreopsis gigantea

Giant Coreopsis - Coreopsis gigantea

This succulent has made our short list of our must have plants.  Another native to CA, Giant Coreopsis (Coreopsis gigantea) gets yellow daisy-like flowers and a thick fleshy trunk.

Agave species

Agave species

Here’s something we haven’t thought of before.  This Agave was planted on its side.  Sorta like you just took the plant and chucked it in the garden.  Well, it seems to be thriving.  I wonder how it would look when it gets super big.

Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens

As we kept exploring the 5 miles of paths, we left the succulents and now headed over to check out some of those sweet perennials.

– Far Out Flora

Hugemongous Moreton Bay Fig

January 11, 2011 by Megan | 12 Comments

Moreton Bay Fig Tree - Ficus macrophylla

Moreton Bay Fig Tree - Ficus macrophylla

Near the Amtrak station in Santa Barbara, there’s one of the biggest Moreton Bay Fig trees in the country.  This monstrous fig spans just under 200 feet wide.  Wow, that like 4 Greyhound buses parked end to end.  Look above.  You see that little black thing on the far right?

Southern Pacific Train by Amtrak, Santa Barbara

Southern Pacific Train by Amtrak

It’s the old SP 142, a retired Southern Pacific train car.  Looks like the tree was last measured in 2010.  Not a record breaker, but still an awesome sight.

We accidentally stumbled upon this Moreton Bay Fig (Ficus macrophylla) while looking for place to rest our bones after looking at plants all day.  It’s located on the corner of Chapala St and West Montecito St… a block down from a great brew pub coincidental called the Brewhouse.

Detail of the foliage.

Detail of the foliage.

Ahh, great foliage on this tree.  Green on top, and a bronze pubescence on the underside of these stiff leathery leaves.

Trunk in detail.

Buttress roots at the trunk.

I learned an odd tidbit about Ficus macrophylla.  It’s considered a banyan fig, that is, their seeds can lodge themselves into the canopy of a host tree.  It germinates high above the ground and can live as an epiphyte.  During this stage, the fig sends down roots to the ground often wrapping these feelers around its host.  Eventually the fig takes root becoming freestanding, and I guess at this point…technically becomes a tree.

Megan with the Fig

Megan with the Fig

Those buttress roots above dwarf Megan.  So, what’s the story behind this gem?  The worn plaque next to the tree states it best:

This Moreton Bay Fig Tree (Ficus macrophylla) was planted in 1877 on land then owned by the Southern Pacific Transportation Company.  The tree was officially designated as a historic landmark in 1970 and the property was deeded to the City of Santa Barbara in 1976.  The tree is believed to be the largest of its kind in the United States.  Measured in November 1991, the branch spread was 167 feet with a total height of 76 feet.  The trunk diameter above the buttress roots is 12.5 feet.

For your own safety and for the health and preservation of the tree, please enjoy the tree from the area beyond the surface roots and do not climb on or carve into the roots or branches.

Located between State Street and Montecito Street.

Located just off State Street on the corner of Chapala and West Montecito.

Cool little find.  Don’t you love when you’re on a road trip and come across something completely unexpected?

– Far Out Flora

January 8, 2011
by Matti
7 Comments

Dudleyas Dudleyas Dudleyas

…the succulent so nice we had to say it thrice.  Hey, we made it to Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  They focus mainly on California natives and have an impressive collection…including a ton o Dudleyas (aka Live-forevers).  Their 78 acre garden … Continue reading