Thursday, April 17, 2008

Taft Gardens

(click on pictures to enlarge so you can really see them)

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to be able to visit the Taft Gardens in Ojai. The Organic Garden and Herb Society had planned a field trip with the help of one of their past speakers, Mike Tardif of Plant Picasso. He is friends with the owner, John Taft so was able to let us into the grounds.
I had heard about Taft Gardens several months ago from someone who had been there in the past. She sang it's praises so highly I wanted to go so I checked on the Internet for information about it. I was very sad to read that the gardens had been closed to the public. When I got the email telling about the field trip I was So Excited!!!
Well, now that I have been there I will have to tell you it was way better than I even thought it would be. Tuesday was one of those very special days. The weather was perfect, the company was great and the garden was out of this world.

I don't know a lot of the names of these flowers but I will put the up here for the enjoyment of all.

Large patches of these were breathtaking.

When John Taft started these gardens he put in two different types of plants. One from South Africa and one from Australia . There are also California natives. We were told it has one of the largest collections of proteas from South Africa.

This gives a feeling of how peaceful the area is.

The Organic Garden and Herb Society.
Our host and guide, Mike is in the front kneeling down. He had a wealth of information and willingly shared it with us.

This is one of the pavilion facilities that are in the garden. When Mr. Taft started the gardens they went under the name "International Center for Earth Concerns". Mr.Taft said that, for a time, many groups used the land for educational purposes, including Boy Scouts, school groups and organizations such as the Sierra Club. "It was extremely popular with teachers," said Taft. "Over 15,000 kids came from all over the county."
The colors were beautiful.

Art work on the outside of one of the buildings.

If anyone wants to know what I want for Xmas look no further!! What's not to love about this chair!!! I'm sure I could find room for it at Plymouth Gardens!Outside stage area. A little music, a play, some poetry or even that old standby a Wedding! Oh yes, this is nice.

Along a lot of the paths were these dry stone walls.

On the outside of the garden is all the beauty of Southern California hills. That is a Red Tail Hawk flying high.
Statues everywhere, adding grace and charm.

Of course I loved the etched Cranes in the door.

Cactus Garden.

Lizard carved from a large rock. (That could be another Xmas gift!!)

Groomed paths between the flower beds.

John Taft giving us a history of the gardens. I was surprised that most of the plants were started from seed brought over from Africa or Australia. I think he said they did most of the planting starting in 1982. Just over 20 years and it seems like it was there forever. He took time out of his busy schedule to make us comfortable and knowledgeable. You could tell how much he loved the area. He called it "John's Folly" but I don't think it is a folly at all.
He had to close the place because of problems with the neighbors. They didn't want all the people coming up into the area. It didn't help that they had to come across the neighbor's land to get to the gardens!! There were court hearings and so many problems that he had to shut down the gardens. Sometimes it just gets to be too much to deal with.
Leave it to the Garden Club to find the Veggie Garden and get Mr. Taft's kind permission to pick some of the veggies there. Huge cabbages, snap peas, several different kinds lettuce and onions.
Herb Garden

Makes you want to walk forever!!

A little pond with lots of tadpoles.

A perfect day!!


Sandra said...

thanks for sharing Ronda,

love and light,sandra

Michael Berry said...

It is truly a beautiful and peaceful area. We're going to be renting a house there for the summer. It's called the Rivercliff Cottage and we'll stay there a weekend in February. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures.

Michael Berry
"We all see and experience the world, not as it is, but as we are."