Sunday, March 3, 2013

An Unexpected Burst of Color

It has been sunny and warm recently and we decided to spend Saturday at the beach.

Winter erica in full bloom (all pictures taken at the Santa Cruz Arboretum)

We always stop for lunch on our way, often in a little town called Corralitos which has its own meat market where we can get fresh sandwiches.

Tetratheca "Amethyst Eyes", an Australian native
There is also a rose nursery nearby (Roses of Yesterday) which is an added bonus for one of us :).

Chamelaucium ciliatum, another Australian native and a tea-tree look-alike

As we were munching through our sausages we saw an advertisement for hummingbird tours for kids at the Santa Cruz Arboretum.

Ericas and leucadendrons all together create a subtle play of color and light

 My boys are unfailingly reluctant visitors to gardens and nurseries, so I have never actually managed to visit the arboretum before. I am glad I have finally made it.

I spent all of my time happily walking among the biggest heathers (erica) and proteas I have ever seen.

Standing in the middle of the erica field I felt as if I was inside an impressionist painting

When I think of heaths and heathers I imagine a carpet of knee-high pink and lavender shrubs somewhere on a moist and chilly English moor. It was a revelation to find that some of them are trees:

Many ericas have tubular flowers beloved by hummingbirds:

 Many more heathers are endemic to Africa than to England. The only thing they all seem to have in common is a preference for fast draining acidic soil. There is not a hope I can grow them in my garden, but I know now where I can come and enjoy a sight like this:

And then turn around and see fiery leucadendrons blazing in the sun.

Leucandendron "Safari Sunshine"

A true sensory overload.

The arboretum has an amazing collection of proteas, banksiae, leucadendrons and leucospermums (all relatives in the proteaceae family).

All these plants share the need for fast drainage and acidic soil.

 A roadside tag said there were no concrete paths in the area because calcium leaching out of concrete may reduce soil acidity.

The inside of a leucospermum, a South African native
Many plants in the proteaceae family are cultivated for the cut flower trade and some specimens have truly unusual blooms.

Spent blooms often dry up and remain on the plant

Others strongly reminded me of artichokes :)

I stumbled on the succulent section right at the end, when the boys were tired, hot and begging for ice cream.

A quick glance at the cacti and aloe, and I was done too. I know I will be back...


  1. Adorable tiny flowers!
    rich colours.. cool collection!

    xoxo, Juliana | PJ’ Happies :) | PJ’ Ecoproject

  2. To cudownie, że mogłaś patrzeć na cudowne, kolorowe kwiaty i zrobić wspaniałe zdjęcie, aby nam pokazać. U nas dopiero przebiśniegi zaczynają kwitnąć. Dziękuję za ten radosny post i pozdrawiam.
    It's wonderful that you could look at the wonderful, colorful flowers and make a great photo to show us. We only snowdrops begin to bloom. Thank you for this post and cheerful greetings.

  3. I went last spring for the 1st time , after living in Norcal for 26 years ! I enjoyed it alot and took a frightening amount of photos. I also resolved to return this spring, but alas there are too many things on my agenda. I'll enjoy your photos instead !

  4. Hi Masha, thanks for the tour through the Santa Cruz Arboretum! To see all the different kinds of ericas is very interesting and the proteas are certainly fascinating to look at. Great photos as always! I am glad that you and your family had a fun Saturday!

  5. So much beauty! I can't get over the heather tree.

  6. Once again, I have to end on this post because it will send me to sleep with your incredible images in my memory. I am sure I will have sweet dreams. Thank you, Masha, for sharing your great talent and these beautiful images of the arboretum. What a wonderful place!

  7. Hi Masha
    Well, I'm rather desperate to see color, color and even more colors. We still got snow *iiiek*, that's probably why I really suck in your beautiful photos. Great!
    Have a lovely week.

  8. Gorgeous colors and shapes !!! Thank you, Masha !!!

  9. Wow! So much color! And such unusual blooms. I've always enjoyed seeing photos of heathers, but these are so stunning and unusual. They have surely thought of everything - even that the concrete is not good for the soil ph. I hope you return here again sometime so we can see more!

  10. Wonderful pictures of all these colourful exotic plants. Enjoyed it very much!

  11. Wat is dit prachtig om te zien. Echt genieten. Bedankt en groetjes

  12. In a land famous for Heather, I have to say these which you show us today are quite remarkable. Rather tender for our part of the world.

  13. Absolutely stunning photos. A wonderful feast for my eyes! Thanks so much for sharing.

  14. Masha, great pictures! The colors are awesome, I love much "Amethyst Eyes".
    I tried to grow some heathers in my garden where acidic soil is everywhere. But it was unsuccessful, my Erica and heather died. They bloomed very pretty.

  15. The heather tree is absolutely stunning. The proteas and those of its ilk are true beauties. There is so much eye candy in this arboretum. You have taken great pictures of them all.

  16. Wunderschön deine Fotos, so brilliant, scharf und farbintensiv. Was für eine Fotoausrüstung hast du? Liebe Grüße Annette

  17. Tengo que confesar que soy envidiosa,pues envidio el arte que tienes para la fotografía, envidio un poco ese jardín.......y tu clima pues creo que lloverá lo suficiente,pero en esta tierra de Galicia llueve,llueve y llueven parar hace tres meses,ni siquiera hemos podido terminar de podar,me consuelo pensando en los primeros días de sol,entonces sí nos parece la tierra mas bonita del mundo!!!!!!!!
    Felicidades y gracias por tu hermosa entrada.


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