Some of the fastest-growing grass on the planet shoots skyward from an old rock quarry 15 minutes south of downtown Santa Cruz, Calif. "Most people have no idea what’s back here," says Sandie Lewis, operations manager of the Bamboo Giant Nursery in Aptos. At the 20-acre grove, Lewis and her crew raise and sell 60 varieties of nonnative bamboo. Not in the market for a plant that will grow 50 feet tall? Then just explore. Pick up a free map of the canopied paths that wind through a junglelike landscape furnished with a koi pond, shady gazebo, and Oriental gong. Benches abound, so bring a picnic lunch. 5601 Freedom Blvd., (831) 687-0100.
This article was first published in November 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.