Do you like to visit California?


I do.  I spent the first 20 years of my life in the Golden State before getting married and moving to Arizona.


Since then, California was a frequent destination for visits with my parents, siblings and their families.  


But, now since my family all has moved to Arizona, visits were infrequent.  


That is, until my daughter was stationed at a Navy Base in CA.  We have just finished up a trip visiting with my daughter and our 3-month old grandson.


It’s times like these, that we live only 7 1/2 hours away.

During our visit, we stopped by one of our favorite little beach towns, Carpinteria, which is located about 90 miles north of Los Angeles.

Fuchsia dependens

While there, we stopped by our favorite cupcake store, Crush Cakes, and then took a stroll through Carpinteria Landscape Nursery, which is always filled with a great variety of plants.

Fuchsia dependens

As I walked into the entrance, a bright-red flowering plant caught my eye.  Fuchsia dependens is a great choice for the California climate.

Hydrangea

A group of hydrangea made me lament again that fact that they cannot grow in the desert climate.  But, that doesn’t stop me lusting after them.

Foxglove (Digitalis)
Whenever I see foxglove, I imagine myself standing in an English garden. I’ve even seen them offered for sale at our local big box store in AZ, but they would die soon after planting in the desert climate.


A wire container was filled with purple trailing lantana and coreopsis, which I thought was a great example of cool and warm color contrast.

Whenever I find myself near a plant nursery or nice-looking garden, my family knows that I whatever we are planning on doing, will be delayed for a few minutes while I take time to look around.

Because of that, I try my best to hurry as I did this day.  But, when I had finished, I couldn’t find them.  It turns out that they had found their way to the attached hardware store next to the nursery.

Mt. Lemon Marigold (Tagetes lemmonii)

This shrubby perennial grows great in the Southwest, drought tolerant garden.  Mt. Lemon marigold produces sunny, yellow flowers and looks great, but its foliage does have a strong fragrance when it is touched.  I don’t care for the fragrance, so I would be sure to plant it in the background where the fragrance won’t be an issue.


I wish that I could say that Eric was enjoying all of the plants as much as I was, but he slept through the entire visit.

Verbena lanai series

I’m always on the lookout for new plant colors and varieties.  Here was a verbena, which was labeled ‘Verbena lanai series’.  I liked its unique purple/white flowers.


This particular nursery has a variety of garden art items.  This bunny is the only one you would want to see in your garden.


I loved this flower pot with the drought tolerant kangaroo paw plant growing inside.


News of the severe drought in California is everywhere you go.  People are tearing out their lawns and forgoing flowering annuals in favor of succulents.  Many drought tolerant plants were featured throughout the nursery.  I loved the colorful variety of succulents.


What more is there to say?  I would love to have a ‘head planter’ planted with a kalanchoe.

Our trip was short, but fun-filled.  We will return again this summer to spend more time visiting and exploring.
Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a horticulturist, certified arborist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."

5 replies
  1. Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow
    Butterfly 8)(8 Bungalow says:

    Great visit. That's nice you are starting the grandchild early with gardening! The Carpinteria/Ventura area is so pretty. I miss hydrangeas too. I don't even buy them in pots to display on a table, because they don't last five minutes here. The majority of my life has been lived between California and Arizona, though I've lived other places for short spans. I get that longing for the weather and the beaches.

    Reply
  2. Lawrence Simmons
    Lawrence Simmons says:

    Off topic… a Willow Acacia made its home in my yard. It looks like a bush right now, but is developing some thick branches. What is the proper way to trim it so that it starts to look like a tree? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  3. Lawrence Simmons
    Lawrence Simmons says:

    Sorry for the off-topic question. A Willow Acacia popped up in my yard a few months ago, and now it is looking like a large bush. What is the proper time and method to prune it so that it starts looking like a tree. It is beginning to develop some thick branches. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  4. arizonaplantlady@gmail.com
    arizonaplantlady@gmail.com says:

    Hello Lawrence,

    Identify one branch that you want to be the main trunk of the tree. Then prune away the other, smaller branches- don't allow any other other branches to grow from the base of the tree. Focus your attention on the main branch/trunk and allow new growth to occur along that trunk. Thereafter, gradually remove the the lower growth along the trunk, raising the canopy of the tree about 2 ft. a year.

    I hope this helps!

    Noelle 'az plant lady'

    Reply

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