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SJKRAIGYTAQ: AKA Botanic Where Is It
updated: Apr 02, 2011, 10:00 AM

By Billy Goodnick

Ed's got WWII (Wednesday Where Is It?), his weekly schtick, posting brain-baffling photos for readers to locate and identify. And as the month draws to a close, we congratulate the two-time winner of the 2011 March Edness: Holazola did it again, with Penelope805 and Camster receiving honorable mention. [Esoteric Factoid: My wife, Lin, took first place in 2007, and I finished a close second!]

I thought it would be fun to have my own contest, stealing the format that Ed uses. So I'm posting obscure photos from a botanical perspective, then having y'all try to guess where the photo was taken. ‘Cept Ed has mastered the bits, bytes and blops of web programming needed to pull this seemingly simple formatting together, and I don't know squat. What to do?

So instead, behold my simplified, slightly less challenging version, SJKRAIGYTAQ (Sunday Just Keep Reading And I'll Give You The Answers Quiz). The tricky thing is that all the answers are at the end, printed upside down, just like in a kid's puzzle book. You'll have your choice of hanging upside down from a trapeze and reading the answer, or flipping your monitor upside down.

:: :: :: :: ::

This delightful fountain is in the historic heart of downtown Santa Barbara, a parcel-throw away from the main post office. These conjoined pachydermian triplets reign over an oval-shaped fountain stocked with koi carp, and graced with beautiful plants, resting under a cool canopy of tipuana trees. In this picture we see light blue fan flowers (Scaevola ‘Mauve Clusters') and dainty white bacopa (Sutera cordifolia) spilling from the elephants' backs, and sprigs of Limelight Licorice Plant (Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight') framing the right side.

I was leading a tour of this garden a few years ago and someone in the group assured me that this exact tree was planted by Captain Cook to keep his men from succumbing to scurvy. Other than them being 90% wrong, it was a great story. True, the good captain is credited with brewing a vitamin-C-rich drink from the leaves of the New Zealand tea tree (Leptospermum laevigatum), saving many members of his crew in the mid-1700s. But he also had a full charge on his iPhone's GPS app, and was on course thousand of miles away in the South Pacific when he made his medical discovery.

Not far from Captain Cook's Tea Emporium and Navigation Supply is this horticulturally erotic tableau. Legend holds that Hannibal was crossing the Alps, strayed off course (no doubt from the effects of scurvy), and dropped a bag of Fig Newtons near a date palm. By chance, a lone fig seed (Ficus carica) sprouted at the base of a jelly palm (Butia capitata) and love carried the day. The two plants have forged a co-dependent relationship, spending their days and nights in a steadfast embrace, caring not what others say about inter-genus intertwinings.

Nature be damned! Expedience is King! I'll give you a hint - if you chase the yellow Burger Bus around Goleta on the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of the month, you won't be far from the alley where this atrocity spoils an otherwise artful arrangement of power poles, insulators and wires. This green monster is the same Indian laurel fig (Ficus retusa nitida) that busts sidewalks along outer State Street and creates major upheavals along Milpas. But rather than facing reality and cutting the sucker down once and for all, some chump with a chugging chainsaw decides it's cool to sculpt a 3-D PacMan.

You might remember the story I did last year about The Tale of Two Landscapes - the juxtaposition of one of the f'ugliest pruning disasters in town and the tastefully sublime frontage next door. In that February 2010 post I called the shop "the Blockbuster for lonely guys; the Toys R' Us for consenting adults. I stood paralyzed in the driveway that separates two botanical worlds: Looking east, a garden worthy of Hannibal Lecter, and to the west, Lao Tsu." Perhaps you've visited wearing a fake beard and hoodie?

Speaking of sublime, this lovingly shaped conifer adorns the bank of a meditative pond in the foothills of Montecito. Nearby, cacti climb skyward, stone "grotesques" patiently await the start of the show, and sacred flowers rise from the muck. I'm so at home here, having begun my early garden career after being smitten by Japanese gardens and bonsai trees.

This saucy cylinder of succulents greets hungry shoppers along one of Santa Barbara's tonier shopping streets. In fact some visitors don't even know their still in Santa Barbara. Nearby, sea bass sizzles, cilantro seduces, and zarzuela does something that starts with a Z.

Somewhere in plain sight on the Westside, a California native grass (Leymus ‘Canyon Prince'), blue-eye grass (Sisyrinchium bellum) and black sage (Salvia mellifera) surround the mysterious entrance of a long-abandoned mine shaft. It's a special place where The Wind In The Willows meets The Borrowers, and giant Adirondack chairs invite busy shoppers to chill out and relax.

I'm not condoning defacing trees, but if you're gonna do it, you might as well have some fun. I walk past this one every day while following Biff the Wonder Spaniel's "debris trail" as we make our rounds. The tree trunk is that of southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), but this one grows far from the Mason-Dixon line and a block west of State Street.

So there you have it, the maiden voyage of my SJKRAIGYTAQ endeavor and, hopefully, a source of fun and smartifulness for everyone.

As promised, here are the answers. If you're driving your car while reading this on your smart phone and operating your Joe Foreman Automotive Deep Fat Donut-maker, please do not attempt the hanging-from-a-trapeze reading method previously described in this article.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 160468 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-02 10:32 AM

Thanks Billy for an interesting article and also helping inprove alertness and relieve mental stress of Santa Barbarians.

"Head stands are good for circulation problems, but their main benefits are to the brain and the spine. The increased blood flow to the head improves alertness, improves the quality of sleep and relieves mental stress. It is also said to help with headaches, eye problems, bad memory and fatigue, and even to promote hair growth." ChaCha


 MTNDRIVER agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-02 10:34 AM

I had four of them, not too bad.


 CATMOM agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-02 11:01 AM

I had no idea where any of them were but loved all the photos -- thanks!


 BECKY agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-02 11:18 AM

What a wonderful reminder to see the everyday treasures (& nightmares) all around us. Great pics.


 COMMENT 160538P agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-02 02:56 PM


But I hope they never cut down the Ficus on Milpas ---and leave the street completely open to sun baking. I like the trees, the shade and the nesting areas they provide and don't at all mind the occasional sidewalk bumps. However, a more artful pruning than lollypop style would be welcome and a different timing than nesting season.


 COMMENT 160546 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-02 03:42 PM

I recognized LotusLand right away, but the others were mysteries to me . . . until I did some upside down reading, of course. Thanks for sharing!


 COMMENT 160621 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-03 09:02 AM

Five out of nine, I think the coffee is kicking in. Thanks, Billy, nice way to start a lazy Sunday afternoon.


 COMMENT 160677 agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-03 12:24 PM

zero zip nada, though I made some silent guesses. Thanks for the tour, Billy.

Since we're on the subject of plants, my garden group (we're not a Garden Club, by any means) is traveling down next Sat to tour Casa Del Hererro . Any suggestions for not-to-miss horticultrual drive-bys? The wisteria by the Mission?

We're heading to Carp after lunch to hit Seaside Gdns and Ocean View, and Island Seed & Feed. Any other newer, cool nurseries?



 EDSUP agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-03 05:06 PM

What a delightful bit of serendipity! Thoroughly enjoyed your trip about town!


 BILLY GOODNICK agree helpful negative off topic

2011-04-04 08:56 AM

Seed Lady: Sounds like a pretty full schedule. The only thing I'd add would be a stop at Porch. I haven't been there, but rumor has it that Jeffrey Gordon Smith is installing a version of the garden he created for the SF Flower & Garden Show when Porch moves to their new home along Santa Claus Lane. You'll be right across from it when you visit Seaside. Not sure they've moved in yet, though. If I had more time to arrange it, I could give you a tour of a few of my projects.


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