Let's Go! California Moments

 My mini-vacation finally happened. It was postponed, of course, a few times due to Covid but now fully vaccinated, I visited my (also fully vaccinated) dearest friend who lives in San Jose, California. I cannot believe how much I needed this break after being at home for a year and a half. So, back home and back to work, I'm exhausted but grateful. While there, the main horticulture attraction for me was the UCSC Botanic Gardens, which I will post about next time. It's the same gardens I visited on a winter trip a couple of years ago. For now, I'm offering up a quick snapshot of a few plant-related moments I thought I'd share of a place I once called home, Santa Cruz and the Bay Area.

First up is San Jose. Mary's mother lives across the street from the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, but before we hit that we stopped at this local succulent seller. If you are ever at the Rose Garden in San Jose, do stop by one street over on Naglee Street.

Oh boy, did he ever have succulents.

If I lived there . . .

His prices were great, too.

I can't recall exact prices but they were in the $5 range if memory serves me.

Great variety! 

A few Mother's Day treats.

Larger specimens as well. Thank you, Succulent Man of San Jose!

Of course, we wandered through the Rose Garden but to be honest, it was so sunny that photos just don't do it justice. Here are just a couple - this is Rosa 'Walking on Sunshine'

The largest Rosa 'Cecil Brunner' I have ever seen. It seems to be eight plants total, but check out that canopy!

One last beauty, Rosa 'State of Grace'.

On to Santa Cruz where we primarily stayed. The echiums were everywhere and quite happy.

These are in Rio Del Mar.

At the beach house Mary's sister Anne planted up a sweet succulent garden that is appreciated by all passers-by and is still looking wonderful. I blogged about it a few years ago, you can visit that post here.

The next Santa Cruz adventure was the Pogonip, a 640-acre park north of the city. We went for a good hike in this multi-use gorgeous wild area with this as a destination - the former lime kilns used to make plaster for San Francisco's Victorian homes in the 19th century. 

In addition to deep forest, there are open areas with sweeping views of Monterey Bay, just out of shot here.

Above the lime kilns was the former quarry where now, it's become a sort of sacred place of rocks. 

You suddenly stumble upon this open area with literally thousands of rocks stacked by people as memorials, wishes, prayers, altars. It's touching and overwhelming at the same time. Quiet, too. People leave notes and wishes on pieces of paper between the rocks, some leave painted or decorated rocks, photos of loved ones lost and messages. It's a labyrinth-like collection of prayers in the most unexpected place.

No photos do it justice nor can capture the vast number of stacks of rocks. Just go if you ever have the chance.

The last bit of cornucopia for this trip is the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, also in San Jose, not far from the Rose Garden. It is now open with scheduled entry times for small groups. We made our reservation and had a splendid visit. There are lush gardens on the grounds but truth be told are neglected, likely due to Covid and the lack of funds for upkeep. Nonetheless, it's still charming and a must-see if you like history and areas of the gardens are just fine.

This planter, although a little sad and dry is still a great idea and one worth sharing. I'm sure it looked beautiful in years past fully planted. Its shape and elevation make it striking.

A final couple of non-plant related but cool shots from within the museum.

A golden ibis and a couple mummified falcons. The Rosicrucian is "Home to the largest collection of Egyptian artifacts on exhibit in western North America" - and well worth the visit. 

There it is, a quick tour of my recent travels with more to come once I'm caught up on sleep and garden chores at home. I tell you, leaving the garden in peak growing season is challenging - but this trip was worth it. Now off to do some catch up weeding and watering.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you! Happy gardening!


  1. So glad you were able to get away. A great opportunity to rest and relax. Those lime kilns reminded me of lost Aztec cities in the depths of the jungle. Coo but a bit creepy. The rose garden arbour is spectacular. Imagine what it would be like in full bloom.

    1. Thanks, luv2garden. It was great to get away. The lime kilns are like that, good analogy and yes, they are a bit creepy in a cool way.

  2. Next time we're near Santa Cruz we'll be checking out Pogonip -- thank you! Glad you caught up with your friend again for some fun adventures.

    1. Oh, you'll be glad you did! I'd never heard of it and I used to live there! Enjoy and post about it if you do go! I'd love to read your take.

  3. Congratulations on your vaccination and on your first big trip! I really need to get to Santa Cruz, a city I've never visited even though I'm a native Californian and my niece and her wife now live there. Pogonip's rock memorials are quite compelling.

    1. Thank you Kris! Say, I've been meaning to ask about your Ceanothus 'Marie Simon'- did it bounce back?

      Yes, go to Santa Cruz, it's a great town. I bet you'd enjoy it!

  4. Congratulations on the get-away, and thanks for showing some really interesting places. Never heard of Pogonip or the Rosicrucian museum, though I've been to the SJ rose garden. The "grove" of stone memorials sounds fascinating.

    1. You bet, Hoover Boo! It was a fun adventure for sure and the Pogonip was a highlight.

  5. Wasn’t it your last post where we fretted that your blog wouldn’t show up in email anymore? Well, it did! That’s a relief.
    A different slant from your usual posts; I enjoyed this. I lived in San Jose for a while, and it’s the only place other than Georgia that I would ever want to call home. But I haven’t been to Oregon yet!

    1. Hi Jules, it turns out that email change will happen in June/July according to Blogger, so it will run out soon.

      Glad you enjoyed something a bit different! San Jose - where did you live? What part of town? I love the Bay Area, but Oregon is home and something tells me you might love it here! ;)

  6. What fun, I am so happy for you. I cannot wait to travel again! In the meantime, yay for the Succulent Man of San Jose... what beautiful plants. Ditto for those echium, wowsa!

    1. Thank you Danger! Yay for the Succulent Man indeed! :) I hope you get to travel soon my friend.


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