Let’s head down to SoCal for a picture today. This image of an artist on Venice Beach is one of my more popular photos posted to Flickr. Why is that, do you suppose?
A morro (a Spanish word for pebble) is a rocky outcrop rising from shallow waters — the Sugar Loaf in Rio is one famous example; Morro Rock in Morro Bay on the central California coast is another. The rock reaches an elevation of 576 feet (a little less than half the height of Sugar Loaf). It has been called “the Gibralter of the Pacific.”
Morro Rock is a plug, the hardened lava vent of an extinct volcanic peak. Several other volcanic peaks dot the central California coast between Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo; collectively they are known as the Nine Sisters. Besides Morro Rock these include Black Hill (665 ft), Cabrillo Peak (911 ft), Hollister Peak (1,404 ft), Cerro Romauldo (1,306 ft), Chumash Peak (1,257 ft), Bishop Peak (1,559 ft), Cerro San Luis (1,292 ft), and Islay Hill (775 ft).
The Chumash Indian tribe made their home in this area. Members of this tribe are the only people who can legally climb the rock (a dangerous activity because of loose boulders that often fall); the climbs are part of the Chumash solstice ceremony.
The rock was apparently first sighted by Europeans in 1542, by the explorer Juan Cabrillo.
Hearst Castle offers five tours covering different parts of the buildings and grounds. One of these is the garden tour. The gardens are not spectacular, but they are decent examples of the mediterranean style.
At this time in spring, lantana is a prominent feature.
Sometimes the Lantana is pruned in a clumping pattern.
Azaleas are another flowering plant that is featured.
The estate has a lot of steps and terraces that are used to set off plantings.
Ceramic elements and columns are other architectural features.
And of course the staturary for which Mr. Hearst was so fond.
The outdoor pool at San Simeon epitomizes the site’s southern Spanish Renaissance and gothic style. Construction is primarily of poured concrete, embellished with European antiguities and facsimilies thereof. Despite going top-dollar all the way, the result verges on kitsch. Still, it must have been a kick spalshing around in this hilltop pool.
More photos to come . . .
Mr. Vista is relaxing in Cambria on the Central California Coast — as well as I can considering the frigid weather.
Cambria is best known for the nearby Hearst Castle at San Simeon, and also for its cutesy downtown, but it has some nice natural areas as well. The Fiscalini Ranch preserve is a coastal area of 430 acres that was formerly a cattle ranch and dairy. The ranch was sold in 1993, and housing was planned, but a local group, working with the American Land Conservancy and other organizations, raised the money to preserve the space for public use. The preserve is managed by the Cambria Community Services District, which created number of wheelchair-accesible paths along the bluff overlooking the shore.
Cormorants nest on rocks offshore.
At this time of year the the Cambria Morning Glory (Calystegia subacaulis) blooms in the bluff meadows. Also known as Hill Morning Glory or Fall Bindweed, this low-growing herb is found nowhere but the California coast.
More to come. Stay tuned . . .
Our garden lies in what Sunset calls “one of Northern California’s finest horticultural climates.” We are located in an area of wet mild winters and dry mild summers — a Mediterranean climate zone. It’s region with unique challenges and opportunities. I love gardening here.
All this new stuff goes on top
turn it over, turn it over
wait and water down
from the dark bottom
turn it inside out
let it spread through
Sift down even
Watch it sprout.
A mind like compost.
— Gary Snyder
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