On Angel’s Wings

Angel’s Wings Cactus aka Bunny Ears Cactus

On Wednesday, I drove down to the South Coast Botanic Garden on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. The garden admission price for seniors was only $6.00, and I wanted to go somewhere where I could take a nice walk and sit down to read a book.

There is an interesting story behind the garden. At one time the land around there was under the ocean, and a layer of diatomaceous earth formed. This mineral substance is used for filtration and for insulating or strengthening building materials. Consequently, in 1929, the Dicamite Company began strip-mining the diatomaceous earth, followed by the Great Lakes Carbon Company. By 1956, the mining activity came to an end; and the site was sold to the County of Los Angeles, which used it as a sanitary landfill.

Those days fortunately are over. It was decided to turn the property into a botanical garden, which it is today. There is a road around the property which makes for a nice mile plus walk, and there are numerous trails that cut through the center. There used to be a lake, but I suspect it was allowed to sink or evaporate during the recent California drought.

California Poppies (Our State Flower)

Nowadays there ever more interesting plants on display, from the monstrous Moreton Bay Fig Trees to California Poppies—not to mention Angel’s Wing Cacti. I like the idea of properties being returned to nature, even if it is under manicured circumstances. That’s what happened on Vancouver Island in Canada, when a disused quarry outside of Victoria became the world famous Butchart Gardens. The South Coast Botanic garden isn’t quite there yet, but I have high hopes.


Butchart Gardens on a Rainy Day

This Used To Be a Quarry

Everyone knows that gardens always look their best under bright sunlight. There is, however, one garden that looks great even on a rainy day. I am referring to Butchart Gardens, near Victoria, British Columbia. There is something about the plants there that shine in all weathers. When in Los Angeles, I love to hang out at Descanso Gardens, Huntington Gardens, the Los Angeles Arboretum, and the South Coast Botanical Gardens—but none of them hold a candle to Butchart Gardens.

The only garden in North America that I could conceive of as competing with Butchart is in Nova Scotia at Annapolis Royal: The Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens. Perhaps it has something to do with both gardens being more in the temperate climatic zone. In Los Angeles, at certain times of the year, even the most beautiful plants can look a little dusty and bedraggled.

Sign at the Garden Entrance

I have visited both gardens twice, and I love both of them. But then, I wouldn’t be at all surprised that there are other great botanical gardens of whose existence I am not aware. As much as I have traveled, I have seen only little bits here and there. Martine and I went to Annapolis Royal to see the citadel, not even knowing of the garden’s existence. The citadel is nice, but the gardens are spectacular.