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Montezuma’s Revenge

Home to a local artist, sculpture and musician whose band was called Montezuma’s Revenge, this one-and-a-half-acre property is full of surprises, most designed and built by the owner himself. Starting at the lower entrance, off Sierra Vista Avenue, walk across a lawn, flanked by a flight of stairs and a garden cupola, to a vineyard featuring local mission grapes. The vineyard is flanked by one-of-a-kind avocado trees the homeowner found himself as a seedling as a young boy at his neighbor’s farm. Walking up the flower-covered hill you will find a circular seating area and citrus trees. From here, walk across to a natural pond that is home to the now clearly visible cupola and the top of the stairway. The path now leads to a large lawn flanked by annual flower beds with a view to downtown San Diego and Mexico. Behind you, formal stairs and balustrades lead to an outdoor dining area complete with kitchen, pizza oven and reflecting pool. Walkways lead to the front courtyard where a five-hundred-year-old oak tree greets, its arms winding their way over lamp posts rescued from the original Naval Training Center.


Mid-Century Modern 

This beautifully restored mid-century modern home is perched on a hill above El Cajon. From the street, the visitor can appreciate a front yard studded with spectacular succulents including mature agaves, barrel cactus, yuccas and a dragon tree (Dracaena draco). Behind the house, decomposed granite paths lead up and around to a patio in which tall euphorbia stand at attention, casting sculptural shadows on the wall. A magnificent silk floss tree shades the adjacent pool area, where swimmers and sunbathers can enjoy the view of El Cajon Valley. Below the pool, a lush landscape of low-water plants illustrates how welcoming a drought tolerant gardening can be.


Small Space/Big Garden

Although this 2000 square foot house sits on a small city lot, it is home to a plant-filled garden. In front, a dry creek bed lined with varied colored stone runs along the side of the driveway and tillandsias decorating the entryway offer a clue to the owners’ love of plants. However, the rear garden is the real surprise. In place of the flat grass-filled rectangle one expects, a terraced yard, attractively landscaped with succulents, South African, and Australian plants, welcomes the visitor. Crepe myrtle and melaleuca provide welcome shade. Succulent-filled birdbaths and other garden art stud the beds, and potted plants camouflage the fences, which are hung with a wide assortment of decorative objects. Do not miss the votive candle holder that has become a succulent display.


Feast for the Eyes 

This home, built in the 1980’s, once greeted the visitor with a swath of grass. No more. Instead, the first thing one sees from the street is a charming, mounded landscape of salvia, grevillea, desert willow, agave, strawberry tree (Arbutus marina) and crepe myrtle, and, beyond it, a small flagstone patio. Visitors will continue down the side of the house, past a rose arbor and the owners’ birdhouse collection, to a garden brimming with plants of all shapes and sizes and enlivened with garden art. Some planting areas are devoted to succulents and others have a more naturalized garden look. Pots cleverly mask the fence line and a green garden shed provides a pop of color. On your way out of the garden, be sure to take a look at the planter to the side of the driveway; the owner has recreated a small version of the dry creek bed used in an exhibit in the Water Conservation Garden, and here, to mask the end of a water pipe.


Voyage of Discovery 

This 1.3-acre property has so many gardens to explore; you could easily spend an hour here. Walking up the drive, the first thing you notice is the fairy garden, which began with gnomes purchased for the owner by her children. From the drive, you turn into the Mayan garden where a collection of Mayan “artifacts,” including stones stenciled by the owner, rest above a shaded stream. Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia), Giant Bird of Paradise and other tropical plants help to create the rainforest effect. Your next stop will be the Woodsy garden where totem poles stand guard. Then on to the Prehistoric garden with cave paintings and a “prehistoric” boneyard. More gardens, including a Mexican garden, a Mediterranean garden, a Madagascar garden and a succulent garden await you on this exciting trip!


Spanish Serenity

Enter this beautiful Spanish-style home through a French parterre garden with boxwood hedges and iceberg roses set amid an eclectic collection of other plants. The private courtyard is framed by a stucco wall and wooden pergola. Its focal point is a centrally set fountain. In the rear, a terrace sprawls across the back of the house, providing room for outdoor living with a tiered fountain framing a view extending to the ocean. Many of the exotic plants here were given to the original owner, Dr. Hill, by his neighbor, a horticulturist who helped build the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the garden features fifty-year-old plants like felt bush, (Kalanchoe beharensis), a massive silk floss tree, and deodar cedar. Bougainvillea, dwarf jacaranda, and pride of Madera line the walls of the garden. On the far side of the house stands the original pony house, which the owners have converted to a covered al fresco dining room with a daybed and French doors overlooking the garden.



A Paradise of Pots

On approach, this cul-de-sac property immediately and magically transports the visitor to Hawaii. Pots of tropical plants, including mature hibiscus, asparagus fern and orchid cacti (Epiphyllum) fill the front patio. Plants are everywhere, including on a multi-tiered fountain the owner found in Ensenada. The rear is similarly full of tropical plants, some in pots and others planted in less traditional containers such as birdcages, wheelbarrows and even boots! The only in-ground plants are the towering three dozen palms that provide shade for their smaller relatives. The owner has planted 70 hibiscus, 10 different plumeria, and multiple varieties of ginger, jasmine and bougainvillea. He moves the plants from front to rear in order to create a continuous display of blooms in this miraculous garden.



Food Forest Sanctuary 

This lovely La Mesa garden is a wonderful example of one of the newest garden trends, foodscaping. Foodscaping, or edible landscaping, is a sustainable landscape practice that combines beauty and utility by creating a landscape that includes vegetables, fruits, and herbs, along with ornamentals. In this instance, ornamental trees, shrubs, and vines flourish in a “food forest” that provides fruits, veggies and herbs along with habitat for monarch butterflies, flowering perennials, water features and a quiet patio where the owner meditates daily with accompanied by a statue of Quan Yin, the Buddhist goddess of mercy.  A newly created arroyo, a potted collection of cymbidium orchids, and a pond fed by a waterfall are just some of the other charming features you will find in this soothing landscape.


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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