Monday, April 27, 2015

Mountain expedition!

A week of so back, Jim and I took a trip up to Idyllwild which is a small town located high in the San Jacinto mountains, about an hours drive from Palm Springs. I have to admit I had once before attempted the drive when my sister was here some years ago but the narrow road, hairpin bends and sheer drops gave me the collywobbles,  so we abandoned and came home! This time, with Jim driving, we got there safely, although we did observe a nasty accident where a biker had taken a curve too fast and had left his bike! I can't imagine doing this road in the dark, in winter with ice and snow! The drive itself was beautiful, going from the desert plain, to craggy mountainous flora and then up into the mountain top with green fields, grazing cattle and pine forests. Couldn't resist stopping where safe to capture some of the wild flowers.

The road to Idyllwild
Near the top!

Hesperoyucca whipplei - Our Lord's candle
Echinocereus fendleri - love seeing these growing wild

Sphaeralcea ambigua  - desert mallow

Penstemon eatonii - Firecracker penstemon

Idyllwild is a small community of just under 4000 inhabitants. The town center has its own theater, (called the Rustic Theater and it is!) cinema, art galleries and numerous restaurants and tourist style gift shops. Although a bright sunny day, the temperature was just in the cool 70's compared to the the sweatty 90+ degrees we had left behind in Palm Springs. It is popular particularly in the summer when the desert temperatures soar and many people have second homes here to escape to. We ate at a quaint outdoor restaurant, bit like an English pub,  where they supplied us all with a blanket each in case we were chilly!

Idyllwild and still the mountains soar above!

Courtyard Gallery- another co-op gallery but smaller than ours in Palm Springs
Log cabins and old pick-ups - bit of a time warp!

Wandering around we came across a small garden center where both of us indulged in nostalgia, recognising plants from my UK home and Jim's Michigan garden, none of which would grow down in the desert. One of Jim's favourites was a small flowering lilac. Chatting to the owner, we discovered that just up the road there was a garden, open to the public and filled with a collection of lilacs. The Alpenglow lilac gardens started in 2003 with a gift of 15 plants from Reva Ballreich a local lilac hybridizer. The collection now numbers over 275 cultivars nestled into a mountainside garden. On the day we visited, the sight and smell was memorable. 

Syringa Laurel Lynn - and apologies that I didn't get the names of the others!

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