Holy Guacamole! Did we have a great time in Long Beach!

Eighteen or so of us braved the 405 yesterday morning to visit Rancho Los Cerritos and then Ricardo’s Nursery.   Many of us were so impressed by both that return trips are already being planned.

At the Rancho, docents who had generously boned up on  the parks “rare fruit” ahead of our arrival were able to display the gardens and orchards originally laid out by the groundbreaking SoCal landscape architect Ralph D. Cornell in 1931,  as well as some amazing trees —  including a rambling pomegranate — dating back to the mid 1800s.    Over the past 32 years, the staff horticulturist Marie Barnidge-McIntyre  has been  researching and restoring and maintaining the trees Cornell originally chose.  We got to see such unusual specimens as the Kashlen, Lyon and Puebla avocado trees, a thornless jujube, a huge black locust that was a local landmark for 150 years and California’s original Sweet Orange.  Not to mention the macadamia, loquat, persimmon, dwarf thornless pomegranate and many  many other trees.

Ricardo Ortiz, generously waiting as we straggled in from the Rancho, served us his sorbet made from his amazing Persian mulberries and lectured on both his nursery’s fairly recent swivel to tropical fruit,  lessons he learned in the process and his newfound love of grafting.  We were able to pick fresh Persian mulberries from one of his enormous trees and admire the vanilla orchid in  his greenhouse along with many many other plants in various stages of growth.    Needless to say, a great time was had by all.

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