A Visit To Niguel Botanical Preserve Part 1

Above:  Fremontodendron (California)
Can you name the five Mediterranean regions of the world?  Coastal California, the Southwestern Cape area of South Africa, Coastal Western Australia, Coastal Chile, and...uh...erm...oh yeah, the area around the Mediterranean Sea.
Banksia heliantha (Australia):
Two thousand(!) species of plants from these five regions are the focus of the eighteen-acre Niguel Botanical Preserve in Laguna Niguel, California, which we visited on Sunday. 
Aloidendrons and Aloes (South Africa):
The Preserve is part of a larger public park also home to baseball and football (soccer) fields, a children's play area, a public pool, and other community facilities.
Quercus suber (Southwest Europe, Northwest Africa)
The park is located in a canyon along side a major road running roughly east-west.  The road links Interstate 5 to the Pacific Coast Highway that runs along the beach.  The "recreation" (non-plant-people) portions of the park are the flat areas below hilly ground while the Preserve portion (the interesting part) of the park is located on the south facing slopes of the canyon, the parts most sunny and fast draining and therefore perfect for Mediterranean plants.  The park is only a few miles from the Pacific, but on the other side of a substantial ridge which somewhat reduces ocean fog and moisture.
Multiple trails run through the Preserve.  
 The most common trees in the Preserve include Eucalyptus globulous, various Palms,  California native oaks, and multiple species of California and Mediterranean pines.  There are also Italian Cypress,  Brachychitons (Australia), Aloidendrons (South Africa) and the non-Mediterranean trees Lagerstroemia (China) and Jacaranda (Argentina). 
Pink flowering Brachychiton discolor.  Callistemon vilimnalis behind left, with Eucs and Q. agrifolia in the background.  A home on the other side of the canyon is visible at middle far right:
 A young-ish Quercus agrifolia.  This species can live six hundred years.  This tree may be about fifty. 
 The colors of a California October:
 At the base of the Preserve is an amphitheater for summer concerts.  This is an application for which turf grass is appropriate.  The entire park was recently converted to use recycled, non-potable water for irrigation.  For turf, non-potable irrigation is placed underneath the grass;  from the perfect condition of the turf it appears to cover a perfectly arranged system of drip lines.  Sprinklers are never so even in their application.
 Rather than a wading pool, for small children there is an attraction called a "sprayground".  It must have been packed with children last weekend when temperatures were in the upper 90's.
 It looked like a lot of fun.  I would think more than a few adults would have been in there, too.  Splash-loving Natasha would have gone nuts, but the facility does not allow dogs.  Too bad. 
  Nice gates!  Laser-cut steel welded on to conventional wrought iron. 
 Around the sprayground, a somewhat formally planted collection of Australian plants, including Lomandra, Westringia, and a groundcover Myoporum.
  A trail leading up to the Preserve at the west end of the park near the sprayground is planted on either side with Lagerstroemias.  Unfortunately the trees were not getting sufficient water to hold much foliage.  Lagerstroemias have low-water requirements once they are thoroughly established, but these trees were too young to be thoroughly established. 
 Each tree had a plaque at its base to honor a local person.  Rather a sweet idea in this age that has shifted from civic pride to every-American-for-himself.
 Closer to the center of the park are other trails leading uphill, with shaded benches.  All very nicely done. 
First-rate design details, like the drains, and a stone mosaic...

 We began our ascent into the Preserve at a different entrance, a bit further north of the bears, into a forest of Jacaranda, Sycamore, and Oak. 
Oaks, Aloes, Proteas and Palms...in the next post.  There's a lot to see.


  1. Wow! Love the details and the plants. Looking forward to seeing more. You are lucky to live in proximity to so many great gardens.

    1. I was going to put it all in one post, but it would have been too long. There are some great gardens, but there is also a lot of traffic...

  2. What a fantastic spot! Thank you for the introduction. I have never heard of it but would love to explore it on a future trip.

    1. It's about 5 minutes off I-5. I was dumbfounded such a place was there--I never heard of it before--not a lot of publicity, because it's pretty much all volunteer.

  3. This preserve is new to me. I scanned the preserve's gallery photos - it's definitely worth a visit.

    1. It's new to me too. They had a couple of volunteers at the UC Research Station open house was how I found out about it.

  4. Another great garden. Looking forward to part 2.

    1. Never enough great gardens! Part 2 Wednesday. :)

  5. Like the others, this a new name to me. Thanks for being our tour guide!

    1. It was a nice surprise to find this so close. Glad you found it of interest.

  6. Such an amazing Botanical Preserve, a diverse variety of shrubs and trees, so many lovely shades of green and Nature's colours. Just the kind of place I would love to visit.
    Thanks dear Hoover, looking forward to Part 2 on Wednesday.
    xoxoxo. ♡

    1. Thank you! Happy you enjoyed the post, Dianne.

  7. Love those bears -- particularly the lounging, paws-up one.

    The shade screens are marvelous in their way, also.

    What a find!


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