This mission is the most authentically restored of all. It is a National Historic Landmark, and its basilica is still an active Catholic church.
But this is not the main reason why we come here every year (click here to see my last year's post). The mission grounds are spectacular...
...with a profusion of blooms set against old stonework, and a variety of plants rarely seen in one place.
There are many drought-tolerant plants in the gardens but their placement and use of texture and colors creates a feeling of lushness, not often associated with desert landscaping.
Every year I seem to notice plants I have not seen before.
Did I mention there are lots of roses in the garden? Most of them are old roses (such as the one below), more appropriate for an old mission than modern hybrid teas.
I like this statue of St. Francis because of the gentleness that's so apparent in his sad face.
The statue below is of Junipero Serra, a Franciscan friar who founded Alta California's missions. He is buried in the basilica here.
Every time I stroll the mission grounds I am surprised at the apparent lack of color coordination in the garden plantings. I wonder if the first mission settlers were more concerned with cheerfulness and ease of care than with careful orchestrations of color.
I am already looking forward to strolling in the mission's garden next year and wonder what beauties will wait for me then.