Back to Niguel Botanic Reserve To See The South African Lookout

 Above, the South African Lookout 
We returned to the Niguel Botanic Reserve, wanting to see the South African Lookout we'd missed on the first visit.  Studying the map of the place, we noted there were also a few other things to see that we'd missed--Wollemi pines, for example.
Maps are handy!  Beloved navigated.
We walked up to the Lookout. 
Below us was the area of the park designed for the non-plant-nerd:  sport fields, pool, and the like.
 Alas, we discovered the South African Lookout is a planned future expansion.  There were two Aloes and a Euphorbia ignens, a couple of Eucalyptus, and...
 ...a trash barrel.  Oh, well.  It would be a great space for South African plants someday.  I neglected to mention that this Reserve is almost all a volunteer effort.  They've done heroic work so far, with little resources.  With a much stronger and growing interest in climate-appropriate plants, the future of this place is promising.  
 We walked on to see a few places we'd also missed on our last visit.  That gorgeous Brahea armata by the palm stairway looked even better from a different angle:
 Toyon berries are ripening.
 We found an Acacia pendula.  I got one of these as an Annie's Annual seedling, dithered on where to plant it, and it died in one of our Santa Ana wind events.  My bad--beautiful small tree.

  Ah, I thought there would be a 'Peaches and Cream' Grevillea somewhere here!  We found a big healthy one.
 Guessing by the chlorotic foliage, this nearby Grevillea must be 'Superb'.  Didn't notice the grass growing in it when I took the photo--the grass might have been carefully removed by someone if I had.
 'Peaches and Cream':
 Then, then, then...I realized what was growing downhill of 'Peaches and Cream'.  Gasp!
 Yes, it's what you think it is. 
 In the most ridiculously luxuriant glorious good health!  A whole lot of them!  Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'.  Looking stupendous.  A plant I have killed too many times.  How did they do this?  
 WHAT.  DID.  I.  DO.  WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!
 It can be grown here, it can, it can.  It looked like a part- rather than a full-sun location--is that the trick? 
There were three Wollemi pines there also, two still alive, not looking nearly as happy as the 'Cousin Itt's. 
 Two Wollemis here, if you can pull your eyes from the 'Cousin's.  Wollemi (according to the linked article) in their one endemic location in Australia, grow in a low-pH (4.5) soil--difficult to achieve in Southern California. 
 Oh, good grief.  How did they get those Itt's looking so fabulous?  I must know!
 The plants were happily swallowing up their ID sign.  Darn it!
We had to move on before I started screaming.  
Ah, the comforting distraction of a Banksia:
Cassia? Senna?  Senna bicapsularis (Thanks, alert reader Jane!)
 It is Salvia leucantha's big moment of beauty all over Southern California.  I never tire of it.  This version has the purple/violet flower--ours at home is the purple/white combo.  There's now a white/pink variation available, but the saturated color of this type is my favorite:
 Another Banksia, B. integrifolia, perhaps? 

 Looking healthy and growing well with 'Canyon Prince' Leymus condensatus and aforementioned Salvia leucantha:
We also visited the small and neglected rose garden,  a "childrens garden" in the same condition, and peeked through a fence at the greenhouse propagation area.  
 The roses were struggling, except of course the ever-amazing 'Iceberg':

New growth emerging on a California native Rhamnus.  Autumn into winter and spring is their time to grow:
 A beautiful selection of Zauschneria Epilobium californica, 'Route 66'.  I had the ordinary species--this one looks much better:
Hummingbird party time!
 We saw this next also in the Huntington Australian garden--I disremember the name: Eremophila polyclada:
 Casuarina equisetifolia ssp. equisetifolia.  Pine-like East Asian and Australian genus with interesting cones.  This species is classified as invasive in Florida and South Africa.  (What isn't invasive in Florida?)
Back near the parking lot, as we left, the very common (for good reason) Callistemnon 'Little John'. 
  I left pondering those gorgeous 'Cousin Itt's.  How?  How?  How?  How did they do Itt? 


  1. Senna bicapsularis
    Eremophila polyclada
    0.06 since 1:38 am, she wrote gleefully
    How 'bout you?

    1. Thanks so much for the IDs! I think we've gotten over 0.10!!!!!!!! Wheeee!!!!!!! Had the windows open so we could hear the wonderful music of the sky-water coming down. :)

  2. OMG...Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt'! That's just a great bit of gorgeousness. The Banksia are pretty fab too.

    1. And very unexpected! Even more unexpected, we're getting a bit of rain!

  3. Well, even if the South African Lookout was disappointing, the rest of the garden wasn't. I think 'Cousin Itt' does want a bit of shade. The 3 shrubs I planted under the Agonis flexuosa in my back garden (southeast exposure) are also huge. They also seemed to grow faster than any of the others I've planted elsewhere.

  4. What a fantastic place! I love the Senna.

  5. Cal Poly SLO's Leaning Pine Arboretum has a planting of 'Cousin It's which are in high, partial shade and doing quite well, too. Their underlying soil is heavy adobe, so installers must have amended it. Tom Eltzroth was the supervising faculty member overseeing the garden at the time of planting. He's retired, still lives in SLO and might be of help with planting conditions. He was my advisor when I started at Poly--my first quarter in college, his first quarter teaching. Nice man, very pleasant and would be pleased to talk plants. Here's a bit about the garden and Tom:

  6. I must visit. What a great discovery this place is.

    Cousin Itt, what can I say. I had no idea it could look like this. Please share with us the secret of how to get results like these if you ever find out.

    1. I knew Itt could look gorgeous, but figured it would only look that great in SF or the PNW. Might have to go back and feel around their soil and see what it was like, and figure out how much sun they get in that spot. It was for sure not full sun.

  7. Now you know...Itt can be yours. Aren't blogs grand?

    1. Yes they are--as are all the wonderful gardeners we meet who make them so. :)


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