After leaving Casitas Springs, my much anticipated next stop was the Taft Garden in Ojai. Not much information on this garden can be found, as it is not open to the general public. For more information (and better pictures) on this incredible garden, check out A Growing Obsession’s post. There was no signage guiding visitors to the garden, and my GPS proved unreliable on this particular journey. Verbal directions given earlier were a bit murky to my plant-addled brain, having just experienced some of the most incredible gems Australia has to offer at Australian Native Plants Nursery. After a couple of wrong turns, I finally ended up in the parking lot of one of the most incredible gardens I have ever been to.
The huts are where visitors are supposed to sign in. Though there were no other visitors to this 265 acre garden during my visit, I noticed many other people had visited the garden earlier in the week. Still, the feeling of being the only person in this massively-proportioned garden was a bit unnerving.
The garden is incredibly well maintained. The sound of a distant chainsaw hummed in the background, providing proof of life in this deserted garden. These Veltheimia bracteata bloomed cheerily away in spite of the dearth of admirers visiting the garden.
One of the plants I most looked forward to seeing during my trip down south was Furcraea macdougalii, and the Taft Garden had a few jaw-dropping specimens.
The aloes had mostly finished blooming by this time, but they hardly need blooms. These tree-like aloes formed a massive grove in the South African area of the garden. All kinds of massive specimens like this trio of Aloe marlothii.
The Leucadendron discolor was going at it full tilt during my visit, however.
The smoldering flowers and bracts seemed to have a light of their own.
At almost any vantage in the garden, the backdrop of mountains loom, adding to the monumental atmosphere of the garden.
It was starting to get pretty toasty, and lack of water had me seeking shelter, but not before I snapped hundreds more photos of the aloes.
Aloe dichotoma and friends.
These massive silvery Cussonia paniculata mark the end of the South African area.
The banksia were my favorite plants that day, and seeing this Banksia repens blooming away in the ground contented me with my purchase of the very same plant earlier in the day.
It was quite breezy the day I visited, and the wind made a plaintive whistling through the grove of casuarina as I wandered underneath. The magnificent boulders like the ones under the acacia were strewn throughout the garden, as though a glacier had placed them. They were much too strategically placed for that though, in my opinion. Maybe some artful rearranging?
Never in my life had I seen so many lust-worthy plants in one place. This garden left me a bit befuddled. The scale was that of a world-class botanical garden, but it felt so devoid of human life, almost post-apocalyptic.