Monday, June 16, 2014

Conservatory Gardens at Castaic Lake

After my visit to the Santa Clarita Community Gardens, I headed over to the other side of Central Park to see the Conservatory Gardens and Learning Center at The Castaic Lake Water Agency. I have visited numerous xeriscape display gardens in Colorado's Front Range communities and was curious to see what this small, desert community had to offer.
this view greats you from the entry plaza; a classic California vista
Though not a true botanical garden — very few plants had identification labels — there is educational signage and welcoming pathways that lead you through both formal and informal gardens.

The emphasis is on water conservation, and the plantings are most heavily geared towards trees and shrubs. Native plants mingle with introduced favorites such as palms, cypress and especially, roses.
The palm trees, above, mark a cross-axis that follows a rill and then terminates with a grouping of cypress and a fountain, currently not running due to the drought.
The presence of water here would have been welcome on the hot day I visited, but I get it and applaud it; a good example being set for consumers during a prolonged drought.
A more informal path leading through fields of sage and gaura, 
A mass planting of Gaura with no explanation...?
up through terraces of roses and daylilies,
I was interested to see these retaining walls; adobe or rammed earth? Sadly, starting to deteriorate.
and finally back to the water agency offices and entry plaza.

It's a beautiful site for a garden and an asset to the community (as I was arriving, a school bus full of children who had been on a tour was just departing), but it looks like a victim of not only the drought, but a bad economy as well. More plant identification labels, some fresh designs with herbacious plants for infill, and more attention to general maintenance (pruning! fresh mulch!) would bring this garden up to its true potential.

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