The priest, the garden club and the deal that created
an exotic landscape in Rancho Dominguez
"It was a Sunday afternoon in 1974 when a black-suited Claretian missionary known as Father Pat walked into the monthly meeting of the Long Beach Cactus Club looking to make a deal.
"Turn the sunny dirt patch next to his home at Dominguez Rancho Adobe into a cactus garden, Father Patrick McPolin said, and you can use the state historic site's carriage house for all of your future meetings."
So begins Laura Randall's story on the unlikely 36-year relationship between a cactus club and a missionary.
The garden makes up just a small corner of the ranch, which is now a historical museum run by heirs of the original owner, Juan Jose Dominguez. The cacti are not labeled, but who needs labels when you've got blooms like these?
The Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, 18127 Alameda St., Rancho Dominguez; (310) 603-0088 or dominguezrancho.org. The grounds are open for free guided tours every Wednesday and Sunday, as well as the first Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each month.
-- Deborah Netburn
Photo credit: Axel Koester / Los Angeles Times