A Visit To The Coastkeeper's Garden

Recently I visited the Coastkeeper's Garden in Orange County, which is attached to Santiago Canyon College, a public community college in Orange.  Access to the parking lot for the garden was somewhat difficult to find.  The website directions are unclear, and the Google Map didn't show it.  We blundered around and found it, a small entrance to a gravel drive indicated by a small sign.  The place to access it is here it is on Google Earth View (not on the regular map, for some reason), indicated by the red arrow:
The image above also shows the garden's paths there along Jamboree Road.   Admission is free and parking is free.  The garden is open Wednesday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm.

Coastkeepers is a non-profit that focuses on clean water and water management;  the garden intends to encourage climate-appropriate plantings and prevent urban runoff that pollutes the ocean and groundwater.

The professionally designed garden was opened a few years ago.  I never got around to visiting when it opened, but it was probably better to wait because the plants have had time to grow.  Some of the trees are large enough to provide a little shade--given a few years, when they are more mature, the ambiance they provide will be pleasing.  
Oaks and Sycamores to be eventually glorious, unless the Polyphagus shothole borer gets them.  Myoporum parvifolium from Australia is the groundcover in the foreground, looking thirsty due to our scanty winter rains:  
 We happened to visit on a deliciously gloomy day, making our stroll very comfortable.  The garden is not open on very hot, windy, or rainy days. 

The garden contains many California, Mexican, South African, and Mediterranean plants, tending to the shrubby rather than architectural (Agaves!).
More of these, except make them ovatifolia
Cercis occidentalis, Salvias, Echiums, Melianthus
 Echium cadicans
 There was a lot of Echium cadidans.
 Salvia leucantha
Pedilanthus and Acacia
 This is the existing landscape across the road from the garden.  It will soon be covered with hundreds of houses.  This area was quite rural--cattle country--until the development explosion of the 1960's-70's.  Development has been slowly approaching ever since. 
Much of the Los Angeles basin (which includes most of Orange County) was grassland and Coastal Sage Scrub, with pockets of oaks and other trees in areas favorable to them.

Gopher and raptor heaven:
 The Garden may eventually fall victim to College expansion, though it is small enough, and being located adjacent to a major road, it may be spared as a buffer to traffic noise.  
 Tarantula Hawk on Rush Milkweed, Asclepias subulata:
 Local natives Salvia apiana and Salvia clevelandii with South American red Bougainvillea and African orange Euphorbia tirucalli in the background.  Salvia microphylla 'Hot Lips' in the foreground:

 The garden is being maintained fairly well.  On a quiet weekday we had the place to ourselves except for a groundskeeper working near the entrance and a lone dog walker. 
 Orange and lavender-blue, pale greens and tawny browns.  Very California.
 Lots of Penstemons, which I've had no luck with.  Hesperaloe has appeared in a big way lately.  It was so plentiful in Austin and I see it more and more everywhere here the past year or so. 

 There's the 'Desert Museum'.
 There are a few native oaks, too.   Senecio mandraliscae, Salvia greggi and Callistemon 'Little John' in the foreground
 A few Agaves--this blue monster had room to be a monster.  Rosemary in the foreground, not yet old enough to be all woody and full of brown dried out patches. 
Muhlenbergia rigens and Sambucus mexicana, local natives.

Adding a few Aloidendron (for example), as one area at the Huntington has, would punctuate the mass of Muhlenbergia with a touch of drama.
One could see some changes since the origin--by photos found on line this was a water fountain, which would have been great for attracting birds.  Perhaps maintenance was a problem,  raccoons were a problem, or they got complaints about having a water fountain during the drought.  We have discovered the bird-attracting qualities of a fountain at home, so I'm pro-water here.

Looks nice, but supporting local bird life is not a waste of water:
Something died and left that dark-foliaged Leptospermum all alone.  What was it?  
 Ditto for this Eremophila 'Grey Horizon', which I recognized because I have it in the Proteana section of the garden at home.  A tough, beautiful plant so far.  From Australia.
There was some areas of hardscape to give homeowners ideas for getting rid of their damn lawns already and being more climate appropriate--patio spaces and low walls.  A formal area with a pergola, focusing the eye on a citrus tree.

 Got to have a Citrus.  This is Orange County, after all. 
 Surprisingly nice place to wander for an hour or so.  We enjoyed our visit. 


  1. All very pretty... Thanks for sharing it! Here's to hoping it doesn't lose out to the development!

    1. A college needs a garden--it is a great place for students, faculty, and staff to de-stress and chillax.

  2. Wow, what a jewel! Your comments about the advancing incursion of development made me think about Pierce College in Woodland Hills. When I was a kid that was a working farm but it's shrunken to a shadow of its former self, although it still has a small garden with a pond and drought resistant plants. The only surprise in the planting scheme in the Coastkeeper's Garden was the use of oleander - despite its drought tolerance, I thought most landscapers were avoiding its use due to the leaf scorch problem.

    1. In my neighborhood some badly damaged Oleanders have sprung back and are healthy and vigorous again. What's with that?!?!? I thought the disease was fatal?!?!!?

      I was surprised to see them also at Coast Keepers. Perhaps the drought reduced the sharpshooter population? Yes, surprise.

      Southern California has become so very crowded. This has not made it better. :^(

    2. Shrubs with long-established root systems can mount surprising near-total comebacks, I'm learning.
      (What are 'sharpshooters' in this context?)

    3. The Sharpshooter insect, which is a type of leafhopper, is a carrier/vector of many plant diseases. The Oleander leaf scorch is one of the diseases.

      See: http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7492.html

  3. I enjoyed your photos. This is a lovely garden; I like the color and foliage combinations. The former fountain is very eye-catching. If they can't keep a fountain, at least they could have a bird bath!

    1. Yes, at least a bird bath...

      Happy you liked the photos!

  4. Good morning Hoover Boo,
    Great that you have so many gardens around you that you can visit. I love how this garden
    is created. So natural.
    Have a wonderful day.

    1. We have a few. I don't get to as many as I should, because the automobile traffic here is so bad. It was a nice visit. :) Happy Gardening, Marijke!

  5. I’m glad your persistence to find this garden paid off. As for the water feature, we just spent a week in Arizona and New Mexico, I am convinced every garden needs a touch of water. The birds, bees and insects (not to mention the larger wildlife) can’t just go turn on a faucet when they’re thirsty.

    1. It made a big difference in my garden, for sure. Attracting birds that eat mosquitoes and other pests is surely a wise use of a modest amount of water.

      Of course in your area you have water many months of the year, the kind from the sky, whether you want it or not!

  6. Very interesting. That fountain base looks interesting. Too bad it isn't working. It is pretty all planted up too.

    1. The fountain was nicely planted. I wondered if the plants were originally intended or not. The website of the garden shows a water fountain, so that is how it began.

  7. A lovely garden and I agree with your comments about having more sculptural plant interest and inclusion of water for wildlife.

    1. There are a number of local shopping centers with these fountains for kids to play in, and so I wonder if they were having problems with kids assuming this was just another fountain to play in (like the Huntington had problems with all the kids assuming the entry garden rill was just another fountain to play in). Or people complaining about using 5 gallons of water "because there's a drought!".

      They had a small I would call it cactus ghetto, rather than sprinkling Agaves and Aloes throughout the shrubbiness. I like the latter method.

  8. Interesting and beautiful garden. Shame they didn't keep the water flowing through the urn but the substitute looks interesting too.

    1. Absolutely, the succulents were well done. I can understand why they did what they did, though.

  9. Was there water somewhere in the garden for the birds? And the bees?

    1. Some parts of the garden are irrigated so there is water at times, and there were birds about, so they must be getting water from somewhere else nearby. There is a nearby park with a small lake; always lots of ducks there.


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