Central Coast Road Trip: Eye-Catching Plants

Bauhinia x blakeana caught my eye in Carpenteria

It was road trip time last week.  We thought about Tucson, but after so many long weeks and months of endless heat, a desert landscape did not appeal.  A cool, misty climate sounded better, and I wanted to see this rich guy's famous castle near Cambria:
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The idea of shivering a little, of wearing a jacket after 18 months of not needing one--ahh!  
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We headed north.
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A Phylica pubescens in Carpenteria.  Wow!
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And a monsterous 'Hercules'.  Will mine grow to be so grand?  I hope.
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A quick stop to see the Monarch grove.  
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Thousands winter here for several months, in a small grove of non-native Eucalyptus.  We saw a few hundred early arrivals.
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Time to move on.
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The drought is apparent here.  Lake Cachuma's spillway is dry.  
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Quintissential California in October, Oaks in a sea of golden grass.
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Deer grass by the Starbucks in Atascadero.
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Down the block this blue conifer in the Denny's parking lot.
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Tree mutilation on the way out of town.
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There, coastal fog licking the hills.
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On California Highway 46, you get a brief glimpse of Moro Bay to the south. 
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And so down to the Pacific.
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The Monterey Cypress along the beaches attain fantastical shapes over time.
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A few miles inland, the golden version is pampered and fat.
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Succulent plants have become very popular around Cambria, and they looked happy in a cool-summer climate that has lacked rainfall for the past three years.  This Aeonium nobile was Agave-sized;  I put my hotel key card on one of the leaves to show how big it was. 
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A flawless Euphorbia myrsinites at a motel on Moonstone Beach.  E. myrsinites is a noxious weed in some parts of the world. 
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And Aloe dorothea, red for lack of water.  Residents are not allowed to water outdoors any more.  
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Fennel, Foeniculum vulgare, invasive here but most all of it we saw was dead from the drought.  
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This Hebe appeared to be getting water from somewhere;  it was glorious.  
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Dew, and frost-colored leaves.  Sweet.  
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Dew, and fog.  Ahhh.  
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An inexplicably happy Leptospermum in Cambria.
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Drought or no drought, many trees had this mossy stuff draped all through them.  
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The rich guy's castle was amazing.  Beloved took these photos.  I was too busy gawking. 
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Plants in both hands, pleased expression.  I can relate.
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We went on the sunset tour.  It was quite dramatic.
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Nothing like a road trip in October.  
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  1. Fabulous sceneries and photos to match! And that Aloe 'Hercules, wow!

    1. The Hercules was huge. I think the trunk was a meter wide. California still has so many beauties despite how much we complain about it...

  2. Wonderful, glad you got away and felt the chill, so to speak.

    1. It was fun to go--I wish I was a better traveler. Maybe some day.

  3. It was bittersweet to accompany you on your trip up north - the scenery is still beautiful but the signs of this persistent drought are sad. My husband and I used to make that trip once a year, going as far north as Carmel and Monterey, but it has been years now since we've done so. Your photos are beautiful - I especially like the one of the pelicans flying in formation over the ocean.

    1. We forget there are still some relatively underpopulated and beautiful parts of California. It was good to see them again. It's not all endless houses--yet. Thanks, glad you liked the pelicans. They were so cool skimming along the waves.

  4. Looks like you had a great trip, wonderful shots. That castle looks fabulous too, thanks for sharing.

  5. So so sad and whiny that I did not take a road trip in October this year --I almost always do, and I love visiting the Central Coast . Lovely photos Hoov. !

    1. Sad, because Napa is so ugly? I feel for you. ;^)

  6. So beautiful. I haven't been down that way in a while. Yes, California is beautiful in spite of the hordes of people.

    Love that Hercules.

  7. I'm kinda hoping my Hercules doesn't get quite that grand -- but I do hope my phyllica grows up like that one!

    1. Cherish your Phyllica! Like Calothamnus, only more, much more.

      I believe the Hercules is only about 12 years old, so keep hoping.

  8. A lovely road trip, and beautifully documented. I adore that shot of the oaks on the grassy, rolling hills. That IS California, to me. The cormorant and pelican shots are wonderful. And thanks for the tip about the sunset tour of "that rich guy's castle" - I've been planning to do that tour on our next visit and now I know how to time it.

    1. That is California to me also, the dark green huddles on shaggy gold slopes.

      Do not miss the Grow Nursery in beautiful downtown Cambria. I need to blog about it. Good plants, great prices!

  9. That photo of the oaks and dry grass looks like it was taken right down the road from my house! All that is missing are a few Spanish bulls...

    1. Funny you say that, because we did see a few beautiful bulls in pastures here and there. One a Texas Longhorn!

  10. On these kind of road trips it always amazes me that California can be so densely populated and still have these wide open spaces. What? You're not much of a traveler? Well, me neither, so I doubly appreciate your sacrifice to bring us this travelogue.

    1. California is pretty big. Sadly it feels more and more crowded. No, not much of a traveler. I like to stay home and play in the dirt.

  11. I had to look up Camrbia on a map - sure enough, I passed through on college break with my parents in the 80's, when I also gawked at the rich guy's house! Stunning plants, more cheerful than the previous post. I wonder who is the tree butcher - those who keep them out of powerlines, or those who insist on planting trees under lines without regard to mature size?

    October trips are perfect with the light and things going dry out our way, I need to take another soon.

    1. Your road-trip posts are really good, so I also think you need to take another soon. There was a whole line of those power-line butchered trees, most of them Quercus agrifolia. What can one do but sigh?

  12. I do hope the Euphorbia myrsinites I've planted approaches weed-like status. I enjoyed your trip.


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