Field Trip: Monterey Bay, Moss Landing and the 2014 Succulent Extravaganza

Echeveria Extravaganza 3These are just a few of of the astonishingly beautiful plants I saw this weekend while attending the 4th annual Succulent Extravaganza at Succulent Gardens in Castroville. With many reservoirs in California at precariously low levels and no end in sight to the drought, this year’s theme – “The Landscape is Changing” – couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Echeveria Extravaganza 1

While I thoroughly enjoyed all fourteen creative display gardens installed especially for the event, my favorite was “Echeveria Extravaganza” designed by Julia Bell of Bell & Flourish Design, in collaboration with Ross Landscape Construction. I’m not a “riot of color” kind of gal, but I couldn’t get enough of these fabulously artistic texture and color combinations! Scroll down to see more of this dazzling garden.

Echeveria Extravaganza 2

Echeveria Extravaganza 4 Echeveria Extravaganza 5 Echeveria Extravaganza 6These drought tolerant technicolor beauties add loads of color and visual interest to an otherwise barren rocky slope and bring a sense of energetic excitement to the scene.

But what if your heart desires something a bit more quiet, something a little more serene and subdued? Check out the simple yet effective use of Echeveria shown below.

Echeveria cascadeDon’t these “hens & chicks” resemble a trickle of water cascading down the face of this rock retaining wall? Also notice how the color of the plants highlights the lichen growing on the stones. The overall effect is calm, soothing and simply beautiful!

I love them both!

Congratulations to all of the horticulturalists, designers and speakers who made the 2014 Succulent Extravaganza such a success and thank you to Robin Stockwell, founder of Succulent Gardens, for not only hosting the event but for making over 400 varieties of properly labeled succulents available to the public in sizes ranging from economically priced 2″ containers all the up to reasonably priced 5 gallon pots. Thank you Robin for all you’ve done to promote the use of drought tolerant plants throughout the state of California and best wishes as you begin the next phase of your career.

Succulent Gardens – The Growing Grounds plant nursery is open to the public Monday – Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm. The nursery is located at 2133 Elkhorn Road in Castroville, California – not far from Moss Landing and Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve. When you visit, wear comfortable shoes and bring along a hat, water and cash (NO credit cards accepted, cash and checks only!). When you’re finished shopping, you’ll no doubt be hungry; I recommend Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant, located at the Moss Landing harbor (tables have great views of the sea otters, pelicans and kayakers) and Phil’s Fish Market (known for their spicy Cioppino, one bowl easily serves two hungry adults), located on the island of Moss Landing (always crowded, but the line moves fast).

p.s. Long time readers might recall that Robin Stockwell designed the fabulous “living globe” at the 2013 San Francisco Flower and Garden Show.


from the weekend …

Gazos Creek SB looking south with poppiesAfter a busy week spent preparing for our big move, we rewarded ourselves on Sunday with a trip to the coast. The beautiful Bean Hollow State Beach coastal trail beckoned, ablaze with blooming native wildflowers. Thank goodness for the recent rain showers!

pink wildflower 2 - Bean Hollow State Beach Coastal TrailBush Lupine - Bean Hollow State Beach

Yellow Bush Lupines - PescaderoDouglas Iris + invasive iceplants at Bean Hollow SB

Harbor Seals - Bean Hollow State Beach 2All along our walk, we saw large groups of Pacific harbor seals hauled out and resting on the rocks, including several newborn pups with their mothers. While on land, harbor seals are very wary of people. If startled or approached too closely, they’ll rush into the water (tragically, this is how young pups become separated from their mothers). Visitors should always keep a safe distance (300 feet), move slowly and talk in hushed tones. Remember to carry binoculars for a close-up view.

Harbor Seals along Bean Hollow Coastal TrailSwanton orgainic strawberries 1A trip to the coast just isn’t complete without a visit to Swanton Berry Farm (just north of Davenport, California) where we picked delicious organically grown strawberries and feasted on their homemade Tayberry shortcake – the perfect ending to the perfect day!