Out Of Africa; Appreciating Botanical Treasures

AlbrightSouza African Plants in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Leucospermum in bloom at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, South Africa. Photo by Joy Albright-Souza.

I fulfilled a long-time dream and traveled to South Africa last year. It was truly amazing and I’m sure I’ll be thinking about the things I saw and sharing the lessons I learned for quite some time. The mountain framed splendor of Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the roadside beauty of the coastal garden route, the car-rattling splendor of the high rocky passes and the spring color of the Little Karoo are just a few of the places that made an impression.

AlbrightSouza Kirstenbosch Views of Cape

Statuesque Restio plants above Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by Joy Albright-Souza.

However, there’s no need to travel for nine time zones and more than 20 hours on a plane, to experience some of the botanical wonders that I enjoyed while visiting that part of the world. Our own west coast treasure, the UCSC Arboretum and Botanical Garden, in Santa Cruz, delivers beautiful specimens of many of the same plants for a fraction of the travel time.

AlbrightSouza Leucodendron UCSC 1122

Colorful Leucadendron at the UCSC Botanical Garden, Santa Cruz, CA. Photo by Joy Albright-Souza.

Founding Director Ray Collett, who passed away just recently, was a leader in recognizing the usefulness and beauty of South African plants for our own Western gardens, in part, because of the similar climate and growing conditions, especially in the coastal regions. Some of the South African specimens at UCSC have been happily growing there since the founding days of the 1960’s and are similar in size and maturity to many of the plants I enjoyed while visiting their place of origin, in the Southern Cape.

In addition to Santa Cruz, the San Francisco Botanical Garden  also has a wonderful collection of South African plants that is well worth a visit.

AlbrightSouza South Africa Section SF Botanical Garden 3881

Sculptural South African Aloes at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Photo by Joy Albright-Souza.

So whether you take a short trip or a long one — you have the opportunity to enjoy these amazing plants and appreciate a “local” treasure.

Note; I will be giving a talk at the 2012 Garden Faire, courtesy of the Ecological Landscaping Association, at 12:30pm, Saturday June 23rd entitled;  Joy Albright-Souza;  “Insights on Gardening With South African Plants”. For more information go to www.thegardenfaire.org

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Categories: Places to See

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