visiting crestridge

For today’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day I’m doing something a little different. My garden looks a lot like it has in recent posts, so I thought I’d take you along on a tour last weekend of Crestridge Ecological Preserve, in San Diego County, a little over half an hour from the coast. The flowers were out in force.

One of the interesting narratives of this place is how a landscape responds to being burned. This preserve and many of the homes around it burned intensely in the big 2003 Cedar Fire. A lot of the homes nearby with their new tile roofs and crisp, new stucco look like they’ve been rebuilt out of the ashes.

Same goes for the plants. The Engelmann oaks that help define the character of the preserve burned. But many are bouncing back. Really, if it weren’t for the burned snags it’d be hard to guess that this area was cinders seven and a half years ago.

The Preserve features a small visitor kiosk designed by James T. Hubbell, the county’s best known proponent of organic architecture. Wood post-and-beam construction with straw-bale infill makes up the walls of the one-room space. Floors are a mix of flagstone and tile mosaics. Very groovy.

Around the kiosk is a native plant garden funded by a grant by the local CNPS chapter. Unlike the landscape around it, this garden receives some irrigation to keep it looking more garden-like. But today the garden extended seamless into the surrounding landscape.

The floral highlight of the trip is the the preserve’s stand of the rare Lakeside ceanothus, Ceanothus cyaneus. It’s vivid, dark color and big floral heads make it what must be one of the most spectacular of the ceanothus species. It’s not particularly garden tolerant, but given perfect drainage and no water once established, it might hang around for a few years and stop traffic passing by your garden.

On this trip we saw this lilac, as well as late-blooming examples of the much more common but less spectacular Ramona lilac, Ceanothus tomentosus, and some intergrades that look like they’re the love children of these two species.

Below is a little gallery of the visit. Hover on any image for a label of the plant. Click to see the entire image.

Check out what’s happening in gardens around the world in the other Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts hosted by Carol, of May Dreams Gardens. As always, thanks, Carol!

13 thoughts on “visiting crestridge”

  1. Beautiful pictures! I can see why the architect is well known. Also, it’s amazing how different the Eriophyllum confertiflorum looks from its close relative in my garden, Eriophyllum lanatum.

  2. That’s a heck of lot of bloom photos. I really like the building. Groovy is exactly the right word for it. I hadn’t thought about, but that kind of architecture is for people like myself who appreciates things being groovy.

  3. Amazing how burned-over places can return so well and so quickly. Cean­othus is one of those lovely plants that I can only see in photos as it does not thrive here. Thank you for the photos.

  4. What a beautiful place. I always enjoy a virtual wander around your garden, but I’m glad you took us to the nature reserve instead this month. The ceanothus is spectacular, and I love the way the more “gardened” bits fade gracefully into the wild surroundings. I’ve really enjoyed looking at all the photos, too many to comment on! Thanks for the tour.

  5. That ceanothus is stunning; its color is just right for its surroundings. I heart straw bale buildings and this one is groovy but also carefully detailed and refined. Thanks for the lovely photos.

  6. The American Horticultural Society headquarters here have built a meadow. Every three or so years the AHS ‘burns it to the ground’ to preserve it as a meadow with wildflowers and grasses. Otherwise, the hardwood tree saplings would mature and the meadow would revert to forest. Burning preserves it.

  7. Wonderful ramble through surroundings so different from ours (Pacif NW). Thanks!
    A trip through Yellowstone soon after a big burn demonstrated to us how beneficial it is for the wildflowers…never had seen anything quite like it.
    LOVE the organic kiosk.

  8. James, What beautiful flowers. I don’t believe I have ever seen Ceanothus before; it’s spectacular. Nice to see the landscape bouncing back after the fire; it’s a good reminder to us that many ecosystems are fire-adapted.

  9. I love the tawny blonde grass of California’s dry season. Very special “bloom day” post–enjoyed it a lot–thanks!

  10. Great photos, James! Our chaparral habitats are amazingly resilient in the wake of a devastating wildfire. The Cedar Fire was a monstrosity and doesn’t even seem that long ago (how time flies), but the plethora of wildflowers in the aftermath is truly amazing! Is that Heartleaf Penstemon (Keckiella cordifolia) I see in the mix?

  11. Just now finished this post – amazing what one sees in the chapparal when we get out of our cars for a couple of hours! Great diversity in species and visual interest.

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