Got guests visiting the Central Coast for the first time this holiday season? If they hail from the land of the ice and snow, are you hoping for 80-degree days just so you can get your smirk on? I can only imagine what it's like for visitors who just spent their upstate Michigan morning flame-throwing through the glacier blocking their driveway, and a few hours later, being greeted by sky-scraping palm trees, luxuriant birds of paradise, and exotic succulents dotting the landscape.
Santa Barbara is a tourist-oriented town, and as you'd expect, lots of hotels and inns cultivate that Santa Barbara look: whitewashed stucco walls and red tile roofs, wrought iron grills and polychromatic Moorish tile patterns. Sadly though, very few hotels have carried that look into their landscaping. I see lots of sickly rose bushes poked here and there, clots of misshapen junipers abound, and for that little splash of color, a pot with decades-old geraniums wheezing their last hurrah. But very few seem to embrace our rich plant palette and used it to enhance the ambiance of their grounds. I can't think of a better way to make a long-lasting impression on their guests.
I've thought about writing about hotel gardens ever since the Lemon Tree Inn (treeinns.com) reinvented themselves a few years back. They enlisted the adventurous landscape design talents of Eric Nagelmann, the creative force behind Ganna Walska Lotusland's extraordinary cactus garden. Eric has a great eye for dramatic, high contrast design and an encyclopedic knowledge of some out-of-left-field plants we generally don't see in commercial landscapes.
See the botanical fun some Santa Barbara lodgings are having at Edhat.com...