In a Mediterranean climate like Southern California's, there is no reason why gardens shouldn't look interesting every month of the year, says Robert Abe, co-owner of Seaside Gardens nursery in Carpinteria. To prove it, Abe dedicated nearly 2 acres of land at the nursery to demonstration gardens; he planned the gardens so that no matter when you visit the nursery ― even in the heat of August ― something will be at its best. "In late summer, the giant Egyptian lotus pond in the Asian garden (shown here) is the star attraction," he says. "No one can resist a closer look at those magnificent leaves."
The demonstration area also shows visitors what the plants look like at maturity and provides ideas for plant combinations. "And, of course, we hope you'll fall in love with something you can't leave without," Abe says with a smile. Seaside Gardens is open daily (3700 Via Real, Carpinteria; 805/684-6001).