Visit to Rancho Los Alamitos

denisez10(SoCal)April 9, 2008

Excuse the poor photo quality, but I hope you get a flavor of this amazing place. These ranchos are scattered throughout the urban areas of So. Cal., and the main visitors seem to be school children on field trips. I've been to this rancho only twice before, just have become aware of it in the past few years, and it's about 15 mins from my house, tucked in near the State University. Except for checking in with the docents in the office, I've basically wandered these grounds by myself every time I go. There's a definite time-machine quality to this place. And it's completely free. And, Kathy, they have some reissued Bauer pottery in the gift shop.

It all started because of this Moreton Bay Fig tree, a patriarch of a tree. I saw a historical photo of it while working at a law firm recently, which got me excited about seeing it again and possibly getting a good photo of it, so I asked Mitch to come along and take a photo of it for me. You can see his camera near the base of the tree:

While Mitch set up the photo --

-- I wandered off into the rose garden:

-- where I was stunned to find a wall of climbing roses in bloom of the golden tea/noisette tribe. I had to confirm my suspicions on rose provenance, so I raced off back to the docents in the office to inquire about names, which no one knew, books were consulted, I was embarrassed to cause such commotion in an otherwise tranquil afternoon, close to closing time, but a woman was produced who pronounced (in a British accent) the rose garden had been restored by Clair Martin of the Huntington Rose Garden in 1996, and the two golden roses were indeed tea/noisettes Reve d'Or and Climbing Lady Hillingdon, the latter which I've long wanted to grow. The red in the middle is Talisman, no longer available:

There are many quiet places to sit and contemplate the lush greenery, such as these spots:

Here's a closeup of Solana maxima, the cup-of-gold vine, which was espaliered against one of the low buildings in a little courtyard, just starting to bloom. This vine gets huge. Pretty sure this guy is bat pollinated:

What's so enchanting about this place is the curators have resisted the impulse to jazz it up with fancy hardscape but have left it in its original simplicity. There were signs of alterations, with a new deck being built, and an old clay tennis court straight out of The Great Gatsby was being dismantled. Workers were busy building something in its place, I know not what, but it was right next to a small succulent/cactus garden, with a rather massive specimen agave:

and this huge tree-like euphorbia:

We purposely arrived late to catch the photographic "magic" hour, so closing time was swiftly upon us, and there was no chance to explore main house or the working part of the rancho, the corrals and barns with farm animals and the magnificent white horse, the breed of which Chelone would know, just a massive draft beast of some sort. And then it was a short drive out of the rancho back into the city, a quick look out the window to see it swallowed up by housing developments, as tho it was just a dream.

Here is a link that might be useful: more Rancho info

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Stunning photos Denise. What an area you live in. I'm not usually up this late, and that was just the soothing trip I needed. Thank you for sharing!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2008 at 11:54PM
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Jerri_OKC(z7 Ok)

Oh my, this is just beautiful! Thank you for posting these photos. And we get a 'bum' shot! We haven't had one in a while. LOL


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:01AM
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The agave photo is spectacular! The shadows cast on itself really make it interesting....I want to frame it and look at it everyday!

I think I am learning that the reason I don't like roses is because they belong in CA :)

What a magical Spring trip. Thank you!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:19AM
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gardenbug(Canada zone 5)

Proof that GaHdens need not be about blooms only, but require bark, texture, color...
Lovely start to my day!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:29AM
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woodyoak zone 5 Canada(5b)

What a pleasure to see this morning!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:44AM
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deanneart(z5Southern NH)

Wow, wow, wow! Thanks so much Denise for posting these marvelous pic of a beautiful spot. Wonderful! I love them all but especially that fig tree and massive agave.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:55AM
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chloehoover(z6b VA)

Boy, Denise -- what eye candy treat. I second 'bug's comments....

This would make me excited to move to California (assuming I could find some dirt to rent/buy to play in) --

Thanks for taking the time and thinking of us challenged for spring folks.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 8:55AM
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Awesome! You are very lucky to have such a beautiful garden so close to home. Thanks for sharing, it was a great way to start the day.


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 9:54AM
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Trying to find the words .....

That someone I "know" was actually in a place that looks like that is amazing to me! "Only in the movies" for this New Englander :-) Fantastic!!


    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 12:06PM
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so nice to have you all along!

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 2:51PM
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Marian_2(Z6 ARKozarks)

Denise, I love this tour. Thank you. Sorry I am late getting to it. It has been a strange day here.
That tree-like Euphorbia is something else! So is the fig tree.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 7:56PM
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Denise, The sculpture effect of the fig tree is so neat. I can't wait to see Mitch's take on it. I am going to explore your link to learn more about the rancho. I'm with Saucy, CA must be the place to grow roses. They just don't look like that here. Norma

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 8:56PM
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Ah Denise , what a slice of 'home' for me ! I have never been to or even heard of this garden ! Is it near UCLB ? When I was a San Diegan back in the olden days we enjoyed the Moreton Bay Figs in Balboa Park, and I'm sure you've seen that gigando speciman in Santa Barbara , just off 101.
And I absolutely have wanted Lady Hillingdon for quite some time, and hope she will be duly installed in the PNW if I ever get there !

Thanks for posting these totally FF pics...

Kathy in Napa

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 9:12PM
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Yes, Kathy's it's practically on site at Long Beach State. I've grown the non-climbing Lady Hill but never the climber, which I'd definitely make room for.

Norma, get a load of what this photographer has done with the tree:

Here is a link that might be useful: more tree photos

    Bookmark   April 10, 2008 at 10:03PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

I also see 'movie set' in some of your photos Really I want to sit down in those wicker chairs and breathe in some fragrant tropical plant floating in the air. Thanks so much for sharing your photos. :-)


    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 7:25AM
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How big is the Agave? (how many "hands", lol)

The MBFT is terrific. In my area, trees with that sort of sculptural aspect are few and far between. Usually, they are weeping Beeches. Your photos reminded me of "The Little Prince" and the Baobab.

I love that there are plants that are bat pollinated (sorry Saucy). One of the the things I most love is watching for bats in the twilight skies. This is about the right time to begin the watch.

Roses. I'm too lazy to deal with them. They're pest attractants here... fungus, insects, all manner of blight... I have a New Dawn that is too hardy and too appealing to nasty little worms. The jury is still out, but they sure are pretty.

What amazes me more than anything, Denise, is how different the whole "feeling" is from New England. And how much I loved your tour. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2008 at 5:57PM
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One of Mitch's images, with the screened-in porch of the main house to the right:

    Bookmark   April 12, 2008 at 5:00PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Denise I didn't realize that 'Mitch' took these tree photos, until I read someone mention it on the main Idyll thread. What a talented photographer he is! I did follow the link and looked at the other shots of the trees and they were all very interesting. You must be very proud of him! :-)

    Bookmark   April 14, 2008 at 4:29PM
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PM, he just took the last photo, the one right above your post. I've always found pride to be the easy part in raising kids ;)

Here's one he took a couple nights ago of a local garage band:

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 12:13PM
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Mitch is The Bomb

    Bookmark   April 15, 2008 at 10:50PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

Another great shot Denise. I hope Mitch is getting paid for his work. They are very good!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2008 at 7:14AM
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I've been missing out! I couldn't have guessed what was on this thread.

Nick and I both agree that we'd like to visit!

Mitch's pix are really great and I want to see more of what he took!

What's the name of the band?


    Bookmark   April 18, 2008 at 9:47PM
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