Rancho Los Alamitos Visit, Part 2

My photo host site seems to be working again, and I thank them for their efforts.  I know very well from my software days what they must have been going through to get the problems fixed, and the pressure to get it done. 

Part 1 of the visit here.

The palm allée with the tennis court fence visible at lower left:
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Historic photos of the Rancho show an allée of Phoenix canariensis palms leading up to the home, and most of them are still there.  The palms looked fairly mature in photos from the 1930's;  today some of them look to be dying, while others look okay.  Considering they've been in place nearly 100 years, not bad.  

What is called on the Rancho map the "Oleander Walk" is now a Crepe Myrtle walk.  The Oleanders were described as having reached tree-size and providing a shady canopy for the path below the ranch house.  Either age, or the glassy-winged sharpshooter, have killed off the Oleanders. They were recently replaced with a decent substitute in the Lagerstroemias.  Oleanders are still at risk for death from the sharpshooter-spread disease, though apparently the sharpshooter has declined as a threat since several oleanders in my neighborhood have recovered(!) and are thriving again.
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So we are seeing that some of the historic plants are reaching the end of their lifespan, either from age or from diseases that were not common in the past.  This Russelia equisetiformis by the tennis court seems to be a recent addition:
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The original historic cactus garden contains what appear to be new additions:
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Though there are also many plants obviously ancient, like this towering monstrose Cereus so old it has formed a woody trunk:
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There is a massive hedge of Aloe arborescens once probably in full sun.  Trees have grown and the cactus area is no doubt in more shade now than it originally was.  
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The background of darkness, though, has added to the beauty:
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A magnificent mature Joshua tree (Yucca brevifolia), not usually seen outside the true desert:
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I have vague memories from earliest childhood of our very elderly neighbors, who had, as a young married couple in the 1920's, gone on road trips out to the desert and dug up  plants to bring home and put in their garden.  It was a common thing to do when you lived in Southern California in the 1920's, in the early morning of the auto age.  I wonder if the Rancho's Joshua tree arrived in that manner also. (Today of course it is illegal to plunder plants and animals from the Mojave. )
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Though the Rancho's cactus garden has neither the variety nor breadth of the Huntington's Desert Garden, it has some grand and ancient specimens, and was therefore very satisfying in its own way. 
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The cactus area is to one side of a tennis court.  The tennis court was fascinating for it's old-time fencing, which was a double wood structure with wire fencing sandwiched in between.  Nowadays of course chain-link fence is the norm.   The old fence gave a strong and distinct flavor of the past.  Just outside the tennis court was a pergola for roses, some of them well-past their prime:
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The Rancho represents what I think of as the Orange Crate Label period of California.  Because so much of the historic furnishings of the home and the plantings remain, if one looks carefully and thoughtfully, it clearly evokes what that era must have been like.  
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As a final note, the natural spring that supported the ranch for close to a century was in the end exhausted, turning brackish due to seawater incursion.  They took too much fresh water out, and the sea rushed in.  That too is very, very California. 
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Comments

  1. Love this second installment. The cactus garden is quite wonderful. That Russelia is gorgeous. HOw large does it get there?? They are grown as annuals and offered in hanging baskets here. I'll bet the Crepe Myrtle allee is beautiful in bloom. Shame about the oleanders there. Seems there is always an insect or disease that comes along and ruins things.

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    1. Thanks Deanne! The Russelia gets about 3x3 here I believe.

      To me the Oleander thing we had here is sort of a warning: great plants overplanted eventually become victims because there are so many of them to support a pest population. The balance of nature, right?

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  2. This Rancho is on the California Trip bucket list now. It looks wonderful. Are those big newer Cactus Garden plants Furcrea?

    I'm not seeing a way to access your earlier "Part 1" post that I missed, or any earlier posts, actually. It's probably me...

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    1. Yes Furcrea. I will add a link to part 1 in part 2, if that would help. I think down at the bottom of the page is an "Older Post" place to click, but I could be wrong.

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  3. Now is the time when you make us in the high desert more than jealous...glad it only lasts 10 months. That Joshua Tree is the least healthy-looking of all the plants you show; the monsterous Cereus, agaves, and other succulents are amazing. The Crepe Myrtle allee is not too shabby, either, though I'm not always a fan of standards when multis are beefier...but there, beefy must be the allee's length?

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    1. You know, I was looking at that photo of the Joshua Tree when I was doing the post, thinking, is that grand old thing in decline? Seems to me it looked a LOT healthier in person--I may have just caught it at a bad angle with a lot of the green foliage just not showing due to where I was standing. Now I need to get back there and look at that durn plant again...I don't see Joshua Trees in person often enough.

      I like my Lagerstroemias multi-trunked, too. Lenth of the area was maybe 80'?

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  4. Hello
    I think the "joshua tree" is a Yucca filifera. Yucca filifera's flower inflorescence always hang down and Yucca brevifolia don't.

    Wonderful garden blog.

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    1. Very well could be, Aaron. I don't know the tree Yuccas well. Thanks for the good info!

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