In the summertime, when the weather is hot…tour the Presidio gardens!

by Stephanie Byrd

I’ve been interning at SBTHP for about two months now. I mostly work on interpretive projects with Anne Petersen over in the Presidio Research Center, but twice a week I get out of the office and make my rounds watering the gardens at El Cuartel and the Presidio Northeast corner.

I don’t have the greenest of thumbs, and somehow I get mud all the way up to my knees, but the sunshine and the progress in the gardens is enough to make a little mud not such a big deal.

Located in the Northeast corner, this corn will be taller than I am next week! Photo by Stephanie Byrd.

The biggest surprise this summer has been the corn in the Northeast corner. Two months ago, the stalks weren’t even stalks; now, they’re as tall as most of the schoolchildren that come to visit the Presidio!

The artichokes have also been a wonderful learning experience. I thoroughly enjoy spinach and artichoke dip, but I had no idea what the actual plant in the ground looked like. Just the other day, one of the many flourishing artichokes blossomed. Unfortunately, that means no dip for me because once the flower blossoms, the artichoke is no longer edible, but it sure is a sight to behold.

The artichokes are in bloom, but careful, you can only eat the one on the right! Catch these beautiful blossoms in the northeast corner. Photo by Stephanie Byrd.

Regrettably, the winter crop of white Sonoran wheat had already been harvested by the time I arrived, but the remnants sure tell the story of how productive these gardens actually are. The structure of the future chicken coop is also in the wheat garden, so hopefully when our new poultry residents arrive they’ll have a lush wheat landscape to watch over.

Be on the lookout for figs at El Cuartel, they’re just starting to show up, but they’re going to get big fast! The early bird gets the worm, but the observant visitor gets the best figs!

The heritage Rose of Castile, visible from Canon Perdido at the northeast corner, is even prettier up close and personal, but watch out for thorns! Photo by Stephanie Byrd.

The heritage Rose of Castile is a favorite stop along the newly offered Neighborhood Walking Tour, which takes place weekends at 2pm. Visitors have been taken aback by the rose’s beauty and local history.

The July edition of “What’s Blooming” is available now in the Visitor’s Center; take one with your self-guided Presidio tour booklet and enjoy the gardens this summer!

Stephanie Byrd is a graduate student at USC pursuing a Master’s in Planning, with an emphasis in Historic Preservation. She is the 2012 Jim and Sue Higman Intern at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, and on the weekends she’s a vivacious Presidio neighborhood tour guide in need of tour takers!

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