Southern United States, Central and South America
This bromeliad is one of the "air plants" that simply hang from trees, shrubs or even manmade structures. It takes all its water and nutrient requirements directly from the air with the help of specialized hairs called trichomes. The leaves are very thin and thread-like and tiny flowers may be observed in summer (a hand lens can help).
Spanish moss grows naturally where temperatures are mild to warm and humidity is high. Frequent misting is required to grow it in naturally arid environments.
The silvery gray foliage can festoon trees in a garden setting. It has historically been used as a stuffing in cushions and pillows.
Throughout the bromeliad gardens.
Northeast India and Northwest Burma
This species rhododendron has small leaves and will become a rounded shrub 4 to 6 feet in diameter.
A native to elevations of about 2000 feet in the Himalayas, this species can withstand moderate frosts. It can be grown in full sun where summers are cool making it suitable for coastal southern California. Soil should be acidic and rich in organic matter.
Relatively large flowers in clusters make this species a standout. The pink buds open to blush white.
In the Japanese Garden
Weeping willow trees grow rapidly to as high as 50 feet. The pendant branches form a fountain fo greenery with leaves touching or nearly touching the ground enclosing a canopy nearly as wide as it is high.
Full sun and regular moisture; it favors wet sites at the edge of natural waterways.
This tree has been widely cultivated for thousands of years for its graceful shape. It can be a focal point in the appropriately large and moist site. The bright green leaves emerge in early spring.
In the Japanese garden at the edge of the pond.
Semi-woody perennial, honey bush grows during the wet winter months, blooming in very early spring. During the dry summer months, its stems can be cut down to re-sprout when rains return.
Full sun, moderate irrigation will keep it looking more tidy.
Honey bush has striking deep, blood red flowers on a terminal flower stalk that is held above the gray-green foliage. Leaves are divided into many large leaflets and each leaflet is strikingly toothed along the edge. Attractive to sunbirds in South Africa, our native hummingbirds and other nectar-loving animals find it attractive.
In the display insectary garden known affectionately as the butterfly garden.
A woody shrub up to 3 feet in height that can spread 10 feet or more in width. Very drought tolerant, it makes a soft-looking mound of light green, fine-leaved foliage.
Full sun, no supplemental water once established.
The narrow leaves are deceptively soft-looking. In actuality, they have sharp tips that can cause dermatitis. Wear long sleeves and gloves when working with this plant. In spring, it is clothed with clusters of small white flowers.
In the Australian garden around the visitor parking lot.
This aloe grows to 15 feet or more with a single rosette of grayish green leaves at the top. The rosettes usually tilt toward the direction of greatest sun exposure. The large, unbranched inflorescences have deep pink buds that mature to greenish white flowers with reddish brown stamens. As they open in succession from the bottom to the top, the entire bloom is tri-colored.
Aloe speciosa is very easy to grow. It requires full sun and good drainage. Water only to get plants established. It is hardy to 25 – 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Aloes are very drought tolerant and provide color in the garden during their winter blooming season. This species is one of the latest to bloom and extends the season into March.
There are several plants in the aloe garden and along the main drive near the Sycamore Canyon Road gate.
Zantedeschia aethiopica ‘Green Goddess’
Calla lilies are evergreen in moist sites in the Santa Barbara area, although they can return from their drought-dormant tubers quite successfully once fall rains have begun. Their large leaves, 1 ½ to 2-foot blades atop 3-foot stems are arrowhead shaped. They begin blooming in very early spring with tall stalks rising above the leaves. The cultivar ‘Green Goddess’ has a funnel-shaped spathe surrounding the familiar yellow spadix that shades from pure white in the center to an elongated tip striped with emerald green.
Calla lilies naturally grow in bogs, so constant moisture is required to keep them year round. Bright shade or filtered light promotes vigorous growth and good flower production. They may even be planted in shallow water in ponds.
This cultivar is larger than the regular calla lilies and provides a lush, tropical look to the shade or water garden.
There are a number of plants in the fern garden.
Eastern Cape area of South Africa
A bulb with strap-shaped leaves. The foliage may be evergreen in cool climates, but is more likely to have a summer dormant period. The bulbs are frost-tender, and can be grown as potted plants in cold-winter areas. After a few years, the main bulb makes offsets which can be divided or left in the ground to spread.
Veltheimia bulbs should be planted in autumn in moist, well-drained soil. They grow best in partial to full shade with regular water during growing season, less after flowering.
Forest Lily has a rosette of attractive glossy green leaves with wavy edges. In late winter to early spring, one foot tall stems bear clusters of tubular pink flowers. Each flower head will last up to a month, then will be followed by inflated green seed capsules containing small green seeds. The seeds can be harvested once the capsules dry out and the seeds turn black.
There are many plantings of Forest Lily throughout the Fern Garden.
Hardenbergia violacea 'Happy Wanderer'
H. violacea is native to Australia. 'Happy Wanderer' is a cultivar selected for fast growth, with purple flowers.
A fast-growing vine, climbing on twining stems to 15 feet.
Light shade to full sun, drought tolerant once established but grows best in well-drained soil.
Lilac Vine blooms from late winter through early spring with dense, cascading clusters of small pinkish purple flowers. It makes a good screen for fences, or for an impressive winter flower display on a trellis.
Hardenbergia screens the fence and frame each side of the visitor entrance gate.