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Rainy Day Revel

December 13, 2009

Undulating, glistening agave

Rainy days can be dark, dreary and depressing, but they don’t have to be. I think if you get out in the weather, and move around, they can be really fun. So, I suggested to Paul that after lunch we should go to the UCR botanic gardens. I loved how the Rancho looked this morning in the rain — how the gravel, boulders and all the plants seemed to be energized by all the moisture — so I thought for sure that the cactus and succulent gardens at the university would be equally gorgeous. And I was right. Heading into the gardens, toward the desert plant area, I was met by the gigantic agave above, its massive, writhing leaves shiny with the still-falling rain. I always thought this fantastic plant looked like something from an underwater adventure movie and today the rain was making it seem more so: stupendous! I couldn’t wait to see more …

Natural water colors

It’s tempting to think that a rainy day would somehow flatten color, but today it seems to have had the opposite effect. Although it was raining the entire time I took these photographs the combination of falling water, and light from behind the rain clouds, is actually heightening the intensity of the plants’ hues. Greens are greener, reds pop, and lime, yellow and blue-green shades, are even richer than normally. These drought tolerant specimens seem to be relishing their winter shower!

A touching display

Also enhanced by today’s water/light conditions are the varied textures of all the succulents and cacti on display. Everything seems to be in high-relief. A stately aloe tree’s beard of dead leaves gives it wise-man gravitas. The red spines of a ferocactus look attractively lethal and a yucca’s perfectly spherical display of exploding leaves reminds me of a fiber optic sculpture.

Abstract expressiveness

Not everything is popping with color, and some plants take on the look of abstract artworks. Silhouetted desert succulents look like advancing aliens, top, or a symphony of barbed wire, at bottom. In the center, the foliage of an amazing boojum tree looks like a tufted fabric sculpture, one created by an OCD-afflicted artiste with a need to stick twigs into an upright bolster.

Aloes always amaze

I unashamedly admit my love for aloes and there’s lots to love at the botanic gardens. Top to bottom: a trio of enormous aloe ferox thrust vigorously outward on a hillside; lordly aloe trees peer imperiously over this viewer’s head; clumps of shell-pink smaller aloes looks like star fish in mid-party; prehistoric lookalikes split off and practice their moves.

Paul enjoys the rain

While I was enjoying all of this, Paul was wandering in other parts of the botanic gardens. There’re so many interesting paths to follow and it can be quite a hike depending on which direction you take. He had gone in an opposite direction and up to the geodesic dome lath house. When we met up on his way down I asked him to stand next to the giant agave to give you an idea of just how huge this plant is — it’s really a monster! We both enjoyed experiencing the botanic gardens on this rainy day: I loved seeing all my favorite plants and Paul enjoyed the paths and more leafy, tree-lined areas. Leaving the gardens we both felt fortunate to live so near to such beauty. If you’ve never been, the gardens are a must-see … and if you become a friend of the garden, as I’ve mentioned here before, you’ll get to shop at their yearly plant sales before non-members. Join!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Richard permalink
    December 20, 2009 6:44 am

    Hi there, it is me Richard, from the train 🙂 Finally got around to visiting your site. Cool stuff, I like your outdoor art. Ironically, I have been visiting the botanical gardens at UCR as well. Nice place.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      December 21, 2009 4:05 pm

      Richard, thanks for having a look and for commenting … If i miss you on the train, have a happy holiday!

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