Friday, February 24, 2012

Motel Landscaping with a Santa Barbara Vibe

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 ( 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

1 comment:

Jean said...

Billy, let Lemon Tree Inn know to add some pictures of the garden highlights your blog mentions to their website. Since I do live in Michigan I would love to have seen at little more on their website to tempt me to stay there to enjoy their landscaping when I visit relatives in Santa Barbara.

And I recommend to blog readers to ck out the edhat link. Edhat is such a joyful newsy snippet of Santa Barbara life that encourages me to follow the local chatter of my relatives' neighborhoods. It is like my Prairie Home Companion--a friendly playful instructive daily newslettter that makes Santa Barbara feel like home when I come to visit. Note: edhat has also other local nearby area newsletters too.