I'm spending a few days on the so-called "English Riviera" with my older daughter and her family, who live in Paignton. Given the current cold snap in the UK, a more apt moniker would be South Coast Siberia.
Nothing daunted, on Sunday we all wrapped up and enjoyed a day out at Paignton Zoo.
There were so few visitors that the animals were bored and came up to have a good look at US. Even the local wildlife - like the little fluffed up robin at the top. So wonderful to see a "REAL" robin, the British Christmas card bird. (As opposed to what is also called a robin in the US.)
My soon-to-be-six-year-old granddaughter shared a picture she had drawn with a monkey who seemed quite taken with her masterpiece.
And my grandson, three in April, got his wish to get up close but not too personal with a "nine-oh-saur!" AKA saltwater crocodile:
As we wandered about, I noticed some California natives. Here's a snap of a healthy Garrya elliptica, silk tassel bush:
Many of our California natives are happy garden plants in the mild south west region of the UK.
I also saw a shrub with ceanothus like leaves but didn't quite recognize it. The zoo is also a botanical garden, and has a database of its plants. Here are all the species of Ceanothus you can see there:
Ceanothus ( Californian Lilac )
Ceanothus dentatus ( Sandscrub Californian lilac )
Ceanothus impressus ( )
Ceanothus impressus 'Puget Blue' ( Californian lilac )
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus ( Californian lilac )
Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Skylark' ( Californian lilac )
Ceanothus Xveitchianus ( Californian lilac )
I've never heard of that last one and while it is listed on calflora.org, there are no pictures of it - not anywhere on the internet! I wish I had taken one! Maybe it is rare and endangered? My daughter says she'll see if she can get a photo for me.
I found this statement on the zoo's Botanical Gardens page:
The staff at Paignton Zoo Botanical Gardens have signed up to Plants for the Planet, supporting the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.I did visit and signed up. I discovered that the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation is an initiative of BGCI, Botanic Gardens Conservation International, a group that is new to me.
To pledge your support visit http://www.plantsfortheplanet.com/ and sign up today!
It seems that botanical gardens these days have a mission to save plants from extinction, just like zoological gardens now focus on preventing animal extinction, rather than providing entertainments such as the chimpanzee's tea party, a regular event at London Zoo in the days of my youth.
(CNPS also has a Rare Plant Program with a similar mission.)
Paignton zoo also promotes wildlife gardening, for biodiversity. Near this dead tree with its impressive fungus:
I was happy to see this sign:
In typical British fashion, the deadwood is classified into three types: standing, fallen, and deadwood on live trees.
British signs are wonderfully formal, in general. Here's a couple from the zoo's restaurant:
I also saw this box - similar to what we would use for native bees, but there was no sign so I'm not sure who was being invited to take up tenancy here:
And I got to have a cheese and onion pasty (pronounced paahsty) for lunch - a taste of home that whisked me back to college days.
Yes, a great day at the zoo was had by all. And tomorrow I begin the long trek home. I am looking forward to checking in on all my seedlings. Oh - and seeing my family too, of course!