Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Although I just got back from a week in New York and Indianapolis, two days later I had a one day conference in San Diego.  We took the opportunity to stick around a little and explore some of the sights, and on the way home, stopped in to check out some California history by visiting the Mission in San Juan Capistrano.
The Mission is undergoing some construction - they are building a new entrance area (you can see the fenced off area to the top right above), but the gardens were in full flower.

I love this variation of Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha) - with its white accents.  We have a large Mexican sage, but it's not looking as  lush as this.  I think we need to transplant it to a sunnier area - I notice that these were in full sun (ours is in the shade before noon).  I might have to get one of these strains as well - ours is plain purple.  I love the touch of white.

We enjoyed strolling through the grounds, listening to the audio tour.  The buildings are in various states of conservation, restoration or a total rebuild.  We enjoyed looking at the artifacts and listening to the stories.  The audio tour was really great.

So many beautiful vistas!  The mission has two courtyards, the one in the first photo in this post, and the larger, more formal one shown in the left.  The gardens here are more reserved, and planned.  The ones in the first courtyard felt more exuberant and spontaneous.

Loved these beautiful lily pads with their striped pattern!  There were large koi in this central fountain.

While we were enjoying the garden, we were surprised to hear the bells ringing. Each bell has a strap that is pulled by the bell-ringer, playing a specific pattern of notes for each occasion.

The Missions had a working ranch along with crops.  This is the brand that the San Juan Capistrano cattle were marked with.  There was a chart that showed the brand for each mission.  This is a small station so that kids can take a rubbing of the brand for a souvenir.

There were a number of different themes for the gardens - I really enjoyed wandering through.  These are some cacti and agaves from the desert section.

The most stunning specimen was this amaranthus - or "love lies bleeding" -- it has vibrant red stalk and stems, and the cascading soft plumes...it was really striking!  I wouldn't mind having one of these in a pot!

It was such a lovely trip, and nice to get to know some of our adopted home's history!

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