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Posted by on Aug 18, 2011 | 16 comments

A Magic Garden and a Hidden Castle in Catalina Island

Guess what?  A lot of you guys loved last week’s post about the city of Avalon located in Catalina Island.  So, this week, I have decided to post once more about this idyllic place. Hopefully, you guys are not getting bored.  But let’s face it.  Who can get bored of this amazing place?

After discovering the charms of Avalon, we still had tons of time before returning to our big boat.  In a map showcasing Avalon
attractions, we noticed a botanical garden that was about a mile and a half away.  You know, we weren’t in a rush. We
were on vacation mode.  We decided to take the walk (slowly).

The beauty of the island continued to appear in front of our eyes.  There were vast open, green spaces flanked by
mountains.  The color of flowers caught our gazes at every moment.  Who wouldn’t want to walk around this yellow tree?


Yellow tree seen while walking to the botanical gardens


Or be surprised by the sounds made by this little fella?  We heard like somebody was knocking on a door  (I am going crazy).  We looked around until we found him on top of a palm tree.



The journey was great but I think, in this case, the destination was better.  This botanical garden is unique in the world because it features plants endemic to Catalina and the other Channel Islands.  You can circle the entire globe and you are not going to find them anywhere.  That is why I baptized it the “magical garden”.  Plus, it feels like the names of the endemic plants are the names of some dwarfs living in there.  Manzanita (little apple in Spanish).  Catherine’s Lace.  Bedstraw. Live-Forever. It is the perfect place to name the characters of a great new saga.

Botanical Garden Pathway


In addition, the garden features cacti, succulents and trees from around the world.  And here we go again with the interesting
names and aspects.

Meet elephant foot palm or tree.

Elephant foot tree


There were multiple dragon trees (first time I saw them).

Dragon Tree


We saw huge flowers showing interesting color combinations.

Flower closeup


Plus, there were vibrant flowers shaped like spades guarding the garden from enemies. Oh, and so much more!! I felt like in an Alice in Wonderland scene.

Plant variety at botanical garden


But that was not it.  There was a hidden castle at the end of the garden!!!

Wrigley Memorial


It had a tower covered with precious island stones.

Wrigley Memorial Tower


Well, let me tell you the truth.  There is not castle in the botanical garden (but I am allowed to dream, right?).  The photos are showing the Spanish style memorial structure built to honor William Wrigley Jr.  William was a Chicago chewing gum magnate who promoted the development of Catalina Island as a retreat.  After his death, the memorial was constructed.  It is made out of concrete but crushed island stones were incorporated.  The blue flagstone used in the terrace and ramps was quarried from
Little Harbor (a small town on the west coast of the island).  The use of local materials was emphasized, just as Wrigley would have wanted it.  Wrigley’s wife, Ada, started to work on the garden in 1935.

View from the stairs of the memorial


Now, let me tell you the memorial is absolutely beautiful.  The best part is that the views from the top are incredible (like we
needed more beauty that day, sarcastic, I know).

For example, check out the next photo.  You can see mainland California in there.  How I know?  Take a close look at where the sea
and the sky meet.  You are going to see snowy mountains.

Sea view from the memorial


So, you don’t believe me?  Maybe the next photo will convince you.  That week a big snow storm covered the mountains with powder.  It was so ironic to see the snow from our little “tropical” island.

Mainland California mountains seen from Catalina Island


We also discovered we walked thru a canyon to get to the garden (Avalon Canyon).  The garden is located at the end of the

Avalon Canyon seen from Wrigley Memorial


Oh, Catalina, Catalina.  You have me thinking about you every day.  This is a good reminder of how many great things are close to home.  An island escape, a charming town, a canyon, friendly creatures and endemic plants.  What else can you ask for?

Inside the memorial


Have you been surprised by a place close to where you live?  Let me know in the comments section below.

Window to the World


  1. Catalina is an awesome place to visit and so close to LA! Loved the picture of the woodpecker and those very unusual trees. It is incredible that you can be on the island and see the snow covered mountains in the distance. Where else can you get that?
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Night Train to ParisMy Profile

    • My husband thought I was joking when I told him I was seeing the snowy mountains. He then took a closer look and realized it was true. Then, he tried and tried until he got a good shot of them. Like you said, where else can we find that?
      Ruth recently posted..A Magic Garden and a Hidden Castle in Catalina IslandMy Profile

  2. Great photos! I’m sure I’ll miss the snowy mountains in the background when I go tomorrow, but I will look out for your secret garden for sure. (I bet I’m the only one who gets the “Catalina, Catalina” reference to the song on the commercials too. LOL)
    Michael Figueiredo recently posted..The World of Coca-ColaMy Profile

    • This a side of LA that not so many people see or even know it exists. It shows how varied are the offerings in the area. I agree the plants in the garden are very interesting. Never thought of finding them in the island.
      Ruth recently posted..A Magic Garden and a Hidden Castle in Catalina IslandMy Profile

  3. I have yet to visit California, but I have been told so many times that landscapes and climate are very similar to the Canary Islands, and looking at your photos I understand why! Some of them, had I not known where they were taken, I would have been wondering where on the islands they were.

    I was also interested in your flower pictures. Take a look at this one – do you think it’s the same plant?
    It looks like it to me. These are tajinastes which flower for a fairly brief time in June on Tenerife. It’s widely believed that they grow nowhere else on earth, but I read that seeds or cuttings had been taken to California to see if they would grow there under cultivation – so I guess these are they! Unless you’ve ever seen them grow in the wild over there? They are very impressive when they are in full flower, and bees love them. The honey made by bees which have pollinated the tajinaste is delicious!
    Linda recently posted..Musings on a Movie, a Book, Travel and Being JudgmentalMy Profile

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