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Garden Descriptions  

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Hawaiian Hilltop

Anyone walking by this lovely home will immediately notice the attractively landscaped front yard.  They may also realize that instead of the typical hedge or fence to keep out animals and discourage foot traffic, the owner has installed a ribbon of lava rock filled with colorful succulents, bromeliads, and other plants.  But the treat for tour guests is being invited behind the double wooden doors to the jaw-dropping Hawaiian botanical garden sanctuary.  Inside the gates lies an outdoor room filled with orchids, ferns, cactus, bromeliads, succulents, flowering vines, and unusual palms, plumeria, and Chinese banana trees.  An imported teakwood wall, a koi pond, a fish aquarium, and numerous rare plants and exotic statuary are just some of the other elements in this artful courtyard masterpiece.

This is a garden full of surprises.  There is a jasmine draping the outdoor fireplace, a petrified vine supporting air plants and orchids, and a brain-shaped succulent serving as the center piece of the outdoor dining table.  Wooden monkeys stretch out their arms to welcome the visitor; a Polynesian style stone god hides in the shrubbery facing the street.

Along with all the beauty the owner has achieved a more than 30% water savings from an innovative irrigation system.  Water from rain gutters and buried spaghetti tube dribbler piping is recovered from three cisterns. Inconspicuous drains in the front yard direct the water to the cisterns through 3 inch pipes and plants easily find the water sources.  What appear to be thirsty plants on the south side of the property are actually surviving completely on this recycled water.

The landscaping has been a joint effort of landscaper Dave Ericson and the owner.  For years Dave has worked closely with this creative homeowner to help him realize his evolving vision.  The result is an almost endless series of exciting vignettes which will surely stimulate ideas for your own garden.


Horticultural Fantasy

Expect surprises in this Certified Earth Friendly garden; this strikingly modern home has been enhanced by a garden filled with a wide variety of plants from countries of the Southern Hemisphere.  Viewed from the street, one sees plants gradually becoming more familiar to San Diego gardeners, such as Grevillea, Westringia and Vitex, charm those viewing the home from the sidewalk.  Entering the garden provides an eye-catching tour of what the Southern Hemisphere has to offer, including Hakea, Euphorbias, and Adenanthos.

The “artist’s eye” of the owner, who once made and sold handcrafted jewelry, is evident in the carefully constructed palette that unifies the diverse plant collection.  The color scheme of rusty reds, oranges, and of course green is echoed in the plants, pots, and even in the bright orange wall of the upper deck.  

The pleasure the owners take in this garden is evident in its unique features.  In particular, a custom staircase leading to the deck is under planted with succulents; the steps lift up and out allowing the plants to be watered.  On a trip to the Chelsea Garden Show the owners saw something similar featuring water plants; they returned home inspired, and created this succulent version, more suited to the San Diego climate.   Similarly, a striking bridge, now lushly covered with Dutchman’s pipe, was built by the current owners to create an inviting second floor entrance.   It also serves as a vantage point from which to view the diverse plant selection in the garden below.


Entertainer's Delight

Visitors approach this East Del Mar home, nestled in a woods of eucalyptus and pines, up a winding drive that was once bordered by lawn.  The lawn is no more; faced with the challenge of reducing water usage by 35%, the owner is transitioning to a drought-tolerant landscape.

At the top of the drive, a large, level space, formerly filled with grass and other thirsty plants, is now home to a colorful field of poppies in spring.   A group of Grevilleas bring soft color and feathery texture.  Turning the corner brings you to a circular planter filled with a graceful Coral tree.  The front of the home is decorated with pots of shade loving plants.  In the rear, the owners entertain diner guests on a patio by a pool nestled beneath a giant Bird of Paradise.  From there, guests used to look out on yet more lawn, but now they can enjoy a view of a variety of orange-toned succulents surrounded by carefully selected matching boulders and set off by spikey Rush and colorful pottery.   

Pause to enjoy the view over a forest of many shades of green stretching to the west, then continue meandering through a well-planted side yard to find the next secluded dining and seating area surrounded by numerous pots of blooming flowers.  Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, and manzanita are some of the mature trees you will see on your visit.  Hardscape contributes to the beauty of the setting; vine-covered pergolas create texture and depth, and sun sail has been cleverly mounted to provide shade for the poolside patio.  

Nature's Garden

Tour-goers will delight in this Carmel Valley home, with a garden originally conceived by Chris Drayer, designer of many of the gardens at Rancho La Puerta, and installed by Steve Jacobs of Nature Design.  The Landscape Contractors Association recognized its beauty and significance by awarding it their Landscape Beautification Award.  One of the owners is a Master Gardener; over the years she has steadily enhanced and improved the property.  Today it is a certified Earth Friendly wonderland of diverse and drought-tolerant shrubs and trees.

The property showcases 18 trees in 9 varieties, 27 different shrubs, and a wide selection of flowering vines.  The cleverly designed rear garden creates an illusion of space, with two separate covered seating areas, one located at the front end and one at the rear of the garden.  A staggered path takes the eye from one planting area to the next, each with its own unique character. 

A stroll along the paths from front to back reveals a gurgling granite fountain, a collectors’ mix of succulents, a raised vegetable bed,  and fluttering yellow and gold butterflies attracted by plantings of Cassia and milkweed. Tucked around a corner of the house is a secluded meditation garden with a statue of Budda perched on a rescued tree stump.  In front a rose-covered arbor flanked by Leucadendron ‘jester’ welcomes visitors, while two olive trees are positioned to stretch across the drive.



Palm Paradise

Visitors will marvel as they enter this secluded garden sanctuary down a long, curving, driveway lined with palms and hibiscus.  Once inside, the street and the city vanish from view and San Diego seems far, far, away. At the end of the drive, a stunning gate and bamboo fence welcome guests to a palm-shaded patio, with a fishpond, stream, and infinity pool. 

The previous inhabitant of this 1.1 acre property, which the owners purchased in 2012, was a palm and bamboo specialist and a longtime member of the International Palm Society.  Designer Steve Anthony re-landscaped the entire area for the current owners, moving the bamboo to the edges of the yard and planting many of the then boxed palms, some of which are rare species, in strategic locations around the patio and adjacent property.

The result is a breath-taking wonderland of palms, bamboo, Mediterranean plants and multiple fruit trees.  Meandering down tree-lined paths reveals surprising elements such as a coop with clucking, egg laying chickens; a secluded meditation garden surrounded by bamboo; a small, private patio with waterfall; raised vegetable beds, rare plants from Madagascar and novel guavas.  Orange, pomegranate, and grapefruit trees provide shade and beauty.  Much to the owners delight, the state of the art irrigation system allows the seemingly lush landscape to flourish with relatively little water.

The garden also includes a number of Cycad species including six large Encephalartos from South Africa.   



Simply Succulent

The owner of this meticulously-maintained succulent garden has created a jewel-box studded with succulents.  The front garden beckons visitors down a path lined with mounds of agaves, jade, aloes, barrel cactus, and variegated elephant foot, ending at the foot of a large palm.  A small inner court yard features tillandsias, schleffera, bromeliads and statuary.  In the rear garden a charming fountain is surrounded by copper colored jade, while a bed of more succulents, in a stunning variety of colors, surrounds a dry creek and carefully placed mounds of river rock.  The garden has an almost mosaic effect, reminding the viewer, in its structure and size, of a Japanese landscape.  In 2014, it won an award from the Union Tribune for its drought tolerant landscaping.

In addition to its lovely plantings, visitors will be able to view the owner’s grey water system.  To provide water for some thirstier hillside plantings, the owner is reusing water from her washing machine.  Piping has been installed to send water from the washing machine, located in the garage, to a drip system on the hillside.




Spanish Villa

This large Spanish-style property, built in 1928, has several separate garden areas behind its walls.  Entering from the street, the visitor passes a tile-lined swimming pool flanked by a wall hand painted with large, colorful peacocks.  Here grass has been replaced by artificial turf, and the Pacific Ocean sparkles between the tree branches lining the yard. 

The garden beyond includes a trompe d’oeil painted tile Spanish style fountain and a stucco wall decorated with subtle paintings of palm fronds; paintings of cheetahs were recently added in honor of the owners trip to Africa.  A charming flagstone patio with hanging flower pots creates a shady spot for visitors and family alike, who can enjoy the beauty of a lush red passion-flower vine climbing over the roof. 

Other features include a guest house, expansive grass area, rose garden, and a side yard where the owner grows vegetables in raised beds.  The front of house has large and small succulent planting areas, some designed by the late Bill Teague.


Texture and Tapestry

This Laura Eubanks-designed garden provides a stunning example of how living art can be created through landscape design. The front yard is covered with drifts and mounds of jewel-box succulent tapestries.  Ribbons of decorative rocks and pebbles in various colors and textures serve as topdressing, replacing what had been a standard suburban grass lawn with a study in color contrast.  Occasional placements of hand selected boulders and colorful clay pots add interest.   Plants in a wide variety of colors and textures invite the garden's guests to study and savor combinations of intricate plant shapes. 

The water wise garden, installed in August, 2015, already looks mature and ready to be enjoyed.  The new plants are compatible with our climate, requiring a fraction of the water and care the previous landscape required.  Vegetables are grown in raised beds in the side yard.   

The back landscape has a reduced grass area, additional succulent tapestries, and rear deck shaded by a mature Podocarpus tree. The backyard's colorful borders now combine existing plantings, such as pittosporum and black-eyed Susan, with newly-installed, more drought tolerant species like a hedge of Pedalanthus.  Truly this is an eye-opening example of how we can rethink our San Diego landscapes.




Torrey Pines View

Perched on a hill overlooking the ocean, this is a garden with eight different themes. A collection of pots largely made by local artists and containing specimen succulents are displayed on the home's large front ocean view balcony.  Around the back tour goers will find a rock wall planted with a tapestry of succulents.  From there, you can follow the path to an English garden of pastel flowers, then to a beautiful collection of rosebushes, a memory garden planted to honor past cat friends, an Asian-inspired garden guarded by a giant Chinese warrior, and a fragrant garden with jasmines and gardenias. 

Check out the two-dozen varieties of cycads, and be sure to stop and feel the cardboard cycad.  It feels – like cardboard!  Melaleuca, such as Melaleuca densa, Melaleuca incana prostrata, and Melaleuca diosmifolia, is one of the homeowners favorite plants; you are certain to find some varieties that are new to you. Other special plantings include an orange candle bush, numerous bromeliads and proteas, and several native oaks.  Torrey pines frame the view from the garden over Torrey Pines Reserve and out to the sea.    

The owner has lived on this property for many years.  With the help of landscape consultant Howard Vieweg, the garden has grown and it continually evolves and matures under their direction.  

Our Mission To inspire and educate the people of San Diego County to grow and enjoy plants, and to create beautiful, environmentally responsible gardens and landscapes.

Our Vision To champion regionally appropriate horticulture in San Diego County.


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