Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens with Sonja

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-1

Last week I tagged along with Payam for a work thing and since it happened to be in my friend Sonja’s neighborhood, I decided to visit my old 7days buddy. It’s been a few since we last hung out, sadly. But you know what makes me happy? She didn’t even mention that I haven’t visited in forever and she took me on a walk with her boys to Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Gardens! I LOVE that she thinks nature trails when I come to visit. That’s the kind of friend I want to be.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-10

It was a beautiful spring day, squeezed in between weeks of dreary rainy days so we felt like we won the lottery with the weather. It was so nice! Look at that snow! I’ve been scrolling past post after post of snowmageddon images on Instagram feeling major FOMO so getting a glimpse of snow like this is gleeful. Wee! Snow! If only I owned a cabin and we could pile the dogs in the truck and head up for a day of it. Not gonna happen though. I am on budget-watch 2019 and no trips to the snow are included. Sad face.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-2

But that’s okay because we have things we can do for free like visit nature trails and look at native plants and art installations…

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-6

This particular installation was so perfect for the gardens. If I was a sculptor making stainless steel origami statues I would definitely want them placed strategically around these gardens. It was wonderful. Walk into a clearing, there stand some iron origami horses. Look sideways into a dark patch of evergreens, there’s a tower of origami cranes. 

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-3

Paper airplanes, floating boats, standing bison, iron eagles… it was very imaginative and fun. Hats off to the artists.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-9

Of course there were animals to watch too.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-4

We brought our very own wild animals with us. Just kidding.

Sonja’s boys are not wild animals but they are boys and therefore very different than girls, which is what I’m used to. No chatting about ASMR or singing Ariana Grande songs or whining about who gets to sit in the front on the way back but definitely lots of climbing, stick stealing and rock-throwing… At one point we were by a pond and her boys were throwing big boulders into the pond. Sploosh went the boulders one after another until a woman nearby who was eating her lunch chided them to stop. They stopped and threw little pebbles into the pond instead.

Then later they were sliding down a stone wall next to a staircase and someone piped up that they sure hoped they didn’t get hurt which passive-aggressively meant: please stop doing that. Sonja very kindly informed the woman that the boys were fine and she was keeping an eye on them. I had to admire her parenting because if boys can’t play in a botanic garden full of nature, where can they play? I suppose the commenter preferred they sat quietly on a bench sketching or something but if anyone knows boys, they know that is just silly.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-8

I supremely enjoyed myself even without any quiet sketching. I could have easily wiled away an hour or two sketching my favorite plants but it was fun to see the park through new eyes. Not just flora and fauna but fun jungle gyms and rock launchers, stinging nettles, noisy palm fronds and which stick would make the best walking stick.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-7

I suppose this post is going to be pretty boring to most. Except the 2 percent who love native California plants like I do. Hey there 2 percent! Let’s be friends! Happy, sunny black-eyed Susans, curling spindly reddish manzanita…these are a few of my favorite things!

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-5

Don’t hold back on the spikes dudes!

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-11

Before I close up this post I should also mention that they have lovely facilities if anyone wanted to throw a gala event or a wedding. How pretty, right? There were white paper solar powered lanterns everywhere.  I would love to come back at night and see how they glow.

Rancho-Santa-Ana-Botanical-Gardens-Walk-12

Very lastly, on the way to the parking lot actually, we visited the nursery. I wanted to take home a few spikey friends but my drive was long and I didn’t really do my research yet on where I should plant them at home so they stayed there. Next time!

 

A Girls Trip to Huntington Gardens

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-1

A few weeks ago my girlfriends and I sat through a few hours of traffic to go to the Huntington Gardens in San Marino. You know it has to be something pretty great for us Orange Countians to sit through LA traffic for. We HATE traffic with a passion of a thousand suns, especially LA traffic, though San Diego comes in pretty close. You need a pick up from LAX? You better call an uber.

So I guess you could say I love wandering around pretty gardens and taking photos of flowers and plants with a passion of a thousand suns. I also really like my girlfriends.

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-2

One of the girls, Monica, had been talking about the gardens for months. She used to have a membership and take her kids there when they were little. A membership is very smart because for one, it’s incredibly reasonable and for two, the gardens are so expansive you could explore for months! It would pay for itself in five visits which would be very easy to do IF YOU DIDN’T LIVE AN HOUR AND A HALF AWAY in traffic.

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-3

We didn’t get memberships but we did make a vow to come back again. Maybe in fall because even on a pretty spring day it did get pretty hot wandering around in the sun all day.

As you can see the cacti gardens were a big hit for me. I love them!! There are so many different varieties. Some I’d never even seen before.

It all reminded me that I really need to step up my gardening game at home. I’ve got loads of plants but I would love more and I seriously need to get on my game of fertilizing regularly. A lot of my plants are pale and listing because they are dying for some vitamins

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-4

After we sweltered thought the cacti we took refuge in the shady bamboo forrest. It rivaled Japan. Really. And I’ve been to bamboo gardens in Japan so I can say that.

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-5

So shady and cool with lots of places to peek through and take photos.

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-6

Then we stumbled upon a watercolor class painting koi fish in a pond! How cool would that be? I’ve got to go back and take a class.

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-7

From there we made our way to the tea house for a surprise!

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-8

Over the hills and through the woods… well sorta. It was more through the woods, down several steps, through the rose gardens…

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-9

The ROSES!  They might be enough of a reason to visit when it’s hot. The smell wafting from hundreds of rose bushes on a warm day was like heaven. I could have stood there for days if I wasn’t so sweaty. I have an aversion to sweat. It makes me want to take a shower.

Huntington-Gardens-in-the-Spring-10

Thankfully, we had reservations at the Rose Garden Tea Room and it was so nice and cool inside. We immediately felt a thousand times more civilized and proper. I strongly recommend making a reservation if you plan to visit. It’s an experience! Scones, profiteroles, baby quiches, tiny dark chocolate mousse tarts, pineapple cupcakes, chicken salad sandwiches with the crusts cut off…you know, the USUAL English tea party service that is so fun and delicious. It’s really the best way to end a lovely day with your girlfriends.

Which reminds me, I need to take MY best girls there!