December at Rancho

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Many people have told me how that they plan to get out to Rancho – one of these days. I realize how hard it is to drive around southern California, especially during the holiday season, but I hope these pictures will entice some of you to make the trip.

I took the pictures on December 5th, a cool, cloudy, winter day. The early pictures were taken in the Communities, the least managed and maintained portion of the Garden. The ones toward the end are taken on the Mesa in the Cultivar Garden, Container Garden, and the riparian area.

In a sense the Garden is least spectacular in the fall and winter. Winter, though, has beautiful views of the mountains upon a backdrop of cloudy skies. December and January feature flowering manzanitas (Arctostaphylos). The California lilacs (Ceanothus) come into bloom in January, February and March. And then, of course, the place is a riot of colors from March through April. As the heat increases in April, May and June, the desert plants become the star players. Berries, summer composites (daisy-like plants), California fuchsia (Epilobium), desert lilac (Chilopsis) and coast buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) brighten up the hot days of summer.

So enjoy the tour!

Refugio manzanita (Arctostaphylos refugioensis) is one of the early blooming manzanitas.

Scalebroom (Lepidospartum squamatum ) flowers and fruits among fruiting buckeye (Aesculus californica).

A view of the desert area of the Communities with subdued purplish,-gray color beavertail cactus (Opuntia basilaris) in the foreground.

Looking north toward the mountains, paperflower (Psilostrophe cooperi) blooms in the foreground.


Joshua trees (Yucca brevifolia) stands above and behind desert scrub of fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens) and desert almond, (Prunus fasciculata).

Box elder (Acer negundo) in bright yellow autumn colors.

Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) shows its holiday colors among the white branches of a dormant buckeye (Aesculus californica).

Cliff goldenbush (Ericameria cuneata), usually found growing in tight clumps from rocky cliffs in the San Gabriels, has enjoyed being pampered in its unusual home in the Container Garden.

Showy penestemon (Penstemon spectabilis) seems to bloom nearly all year, though these early flowers are a harbinger of the massive display that can be seen each spring in the Communities.

Centennial coyote brush (Baccharis ‘Centennial’) is one of the few coyote brush cultivars to bloom prolifically. Grown for its evergreen foliage, most cultivars are male, and have a limited floral display. To the right are some California fuchsias (Epilobium) that have been blooming in the Cultivar garden for about six months now.

Willow (Salix sp.) with yellow autumn foliage in the riparian area of the Mesa.

Cannot get enough of the spectacular Roger’s Red Grape (Vitis ‘Roger’s Red). Here it drapes over a gazebo in the Cultivar Garden.

Enjoy the beauty around you. Happy holidays to all!

4 thoughts on “December at Rancho

  1. Barbara, lovely photos as always. Happy holidays to you, also! And, do sign me up for the Rancho tour, ha! Moving it up on my list. (Dare I admit to under thirty minutes there last spring, which obviously did not do it justice.)

  2. Great photos! I just wish you weren't so far away. I had briefly hoped to take Country Mouse for a 2-day trip, but she is really busy at work. Well, maybe we'll get to Tilden…

  3. lostlandscape (James)

    It looks and feels like December in Southern California to me–it even seems like you&#39;ve photographed the coll temperatures. Happy holidays to you too, Barbara!<br /><br />James

  4. Anytime you want a tour of Rancho, just contact the education dept. and tell them you want to set one up with me as the tour guide. I&#39;d love to show you around!<br /><br />Happy Holidays to all of you too.

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