Friday, May 12, 2017

Garden Tour: Dustin Gimbel's Laboratory

Last Saturday, I joined two of my favorite local bloggers, Denise of A Growing Obsession and Hoover Boo of Piece of Eden on the Long Beach leg of the Mary Lou Heard Garden Tour, an annual event that features local gardens opened to the public in support of the Mary Lou Heard Foundation.

The official Heard Garden Tour sign posted at each of the participating gardens


You can learn more about Mary Lou, her foundation and the tour here and here.  We visited 3 gardens and had an opportunity to peruse Denise's beautiful garden as well.  I took a zillion photos so I'm breaking my coverage up into 3 parts.

I'm starting with Dustin Gimbel's garden, the first one on the official tour.  Here's how Dustin himself introduced the garden in the tour guide:

My earliest memories are of gardening with my grandparents. Seven years ago, I was able to realize my dream of owning my very own garden and bought a little Craftsman in a funky part of Long Beach. There was nothing but Italian cypresses along the driveway, an old ailing Magnolia, and a dusty dry Bermuda lawn. This has become my personal laboratory and botanical garden which is composed of many garden rooms. Having a broad interest in gardening and wildlife, the landscape is filled with fIowering plants, succulents, paths, boardwalk, water features, sculpture, art, veggie garden, etc. I enjoy various plants, combinations, schemes, and this garden is ever evolving.

This is a photo-heavy post so I'll minimize my commentary.  Denise, who knows Dustin well, told us a bit about how Dustin transformed his front garden by creating planting berms.  It's certainly not anything like the garden that came with the purchase of his home.

Area at the garden's entrance behind a tall hedge facing the street

Several paces further into the heart of the front garden.  Dustin's extensive use of white Orlaya grandiflora had me asking myself why I've never used this plant.

This photo shows a second entry to the front garden, framed by the street-facing hedge

The front garden's color palette is soft and restful.  I loved the mix of hexagonal paving here.

View of the front garden looking back at the house, itself painted in a soft green that integrates it with the landscape

View looking along the axis between the 2 entrances to the front garden

This pond is adjacent to the porch attached to the house

The weeping shrub (Acacia pendula maybe) created an arbor of sorts

I wouldn't presume to venture an inventory of the plants in the front garden but, clockwise from the upper left, here are my best guesses on a few prominent specimens: Acacia cognata 'Cousin Itt', Agave mitis 'Multicolor', Leucospermum (noID on species/cultivar), and Lomandra (noID on species/cultivar)


I'd have been happy with the tour just based on the front garden but there was much, much more.

This is the side pathway to the back garden.  Note all the propagation specimens lining the path. 


As soon as I arrived in the back garden, I was drawn to the fence that serves as a room divider of sorts.  I've seen photos of it before in posts on Denise's blog and I'm in love with this fence.

Windows in the fence frame garden views beyond like paintings


This is the back side of the fence looking back toward the house

A side panel creates a sense of enclosure around a water feature and a nearby dining table


The fence divides two seating areas.

An outdoor dining table with a centerpiece featuring Agave lopantha 'Quadricolor' (complete with cork pieces on the tips, which add a quirky touch)

A more casual seating area in the back.  The vine festooning the wall and spanning the area above the table and chairs is Aristolochia gigantea (aka Dutchman's Pipe).


There are LOTS of interesting details spread throughout the back area.

A squadron of gnomes lined up to protect Achillea 'Moonshine'

Another fence as decorative room divider

More plants in waiting arrayed along a garage roof.  The vine is Tetrastigma voinierianum (which I only know because it had a name tag).

A variety of plants in pots


In addition to being a talented garden designer, Dustin has a sideline designing pots.  One of his designs is currently offered by Potted, a Los Angeles-based garden design store.  Here's a look at some of the pots that caught my notice on the tour:



And, of course, there were more wonderful plants in the back garden that I could possibly highlight but here are a few:

Top row: Ballota (no species ID), noID bromeliad, and California poppies
Middle row: Eucalyptus 'Moon Lagoon' (I think), Euphorbia cotinifolia, and Melianthus major 'Purple Haze'
Bottom row: noID Pittosporum, Tweedia caerulea, and a noID space alien plant


Well, I did warn you this would be a photo-intense post!  Thanks for joining me on the tour.  There are two more posts to come but both will have to wait until next week.  In the meantime, if you haven't seen enough of Dustin's garden, check out Hoover Boo's post at Piece of Eden and Denise's post at A Growing Obsession.


All material © 2012-2017 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

37 comments:

  1. Have also seen Gail's take on this garden beforehand, just wow! Reminds me of some of the gardens we've seen during the 2014 fling.

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    1. The garden made an impact on me too, even though I'd seen it a couple of times in Denise's posts.

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  2. I'm a big fan of Mr. Gimbel's work both in garden design and clay. His garden reflects a talent and a quirky sense of humor that makes me want to meet the gardener.

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    1. I hope you have a chance to do so one day, Peter. He melds beautiful plants with unexpected artistic touches that take his garden to a whole different level.

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  3. Is there a bee hive to go with the hexagon theme?

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    1. I didn't see one but I did notice some tubes that might have been intended as homes for solitary bees, Diana.

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    2. Yes there is! Behind a fence and off limits, understandably.

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  4. Kris, I especially appreciate the way your photos clarify some of the layout of Dustin Gimbel's jam-packed, jaw-dropping garden. With vignettes of such quality at every turn, it's not easy to step back to frame the whole space, especially while a tour is on. Thanks very much.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the on-line tour, Nell. Dustin's garden was by far the most crowded one we encountered that day so getting unobstructed views was definitely a challenge!

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  5. It is quite clear that Dustin is a very artistic person and has made an incredible garden in a very short period of time. His is the kind of garden I love to visit-chock full of original ideas. And yes, I love that fence too. I had to look twice to make sure it wasn't a mirror I was looking at. The garden does seem very spacious and quite private with all his garden rooms. Thanks for inviting us along on the tour and thanks for the link to the other tours.

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    1. I remember wondering whether mirrors were involved when I initially saw that fence in one of Denise's posts, Jenny. It takes thought and planning to place those windows - and the plants - to get the right impact.

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  6. Very cool garden - thanks for sharing it. Some folks are just so creative!

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    1. Yes, I wish I had half that level of creativity in approaching my own garden - and the talent to execute them as well.

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  7. I follow Dustin on Instagram, and he's so creative! I love his cool clay containers, especially the robot ones. I wish I could get my hands on one. I really like that gravel area with the rectangular stepping stones set into it. That fence with the windows is cool too.

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    1. I just checked Potted's on-line store and discovered that they're offering 2 other designs by Dustin in addition to the Point Pots - "marbelized trunks" and "the Saturn series" so you may find that the robot pots show up there one day too, Alison.

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  8. Beautiful! And I find it amazing how all three of you can visit the same garden and have such beautiful but different pictures. So much inspiration, thank you for sharing.

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    1. I'm glad we were able to distinguish our posts to make viewing all worthwhile, Renee.

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  9. Wonderful garden! The plants, the pots, the fence, it's all so cool. Enjoying the tour.

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    1. It was a particularly fun tour, Shirley. I really did take a ridiculous number of photos.

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  10. Thanks for sharing this garden, it looks amazing! Love the silver foliage area of the front garden.

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    1. The muted color scheme in the front garden if really effective, Christina. I can only wish I were capable of such restraint.

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  11. You did so well explaining the layout. I'm hopeless at that stuff. Most excellent post. Also grateful for no identification on that dumpy person in the raincoat.

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    1. That lovely person in the raincoat was so kind to demonstrate the scale of that arbor!

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  12. "jam-packed, jaw-dropping"...Nell said it best. Thank you so much for all of these photos. Almost as god as being there myself. Almost.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the tour, Loree!

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  13. Having heard the name and seen some of his work enough times, I'm really glad to see his garden. Thanks for the tour! I love the calm silver and green palette of the front garden, and that fence with windows is fantastic.

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    1. I really do love that fence, Evan. I wish I could think of where I could use something similar in my own garden.

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  14. what a garden! I have no words - except wow! thanks SO much for the tour, looking forward to the next two gardens ...

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    1. It's incredible how many wonderful touches Dustin worked into that space, Sue. I'm backed up on my posts - there's so much going on in the spring!

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  15. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour of this quirky, wonderful garden, chock full of personality! First question I had was how does he get the stones to stack on top of each other; are they held together by an inner wire or something? Maybe my favorite plant was the space alien at the very end! I am looking forward to your posts on the other gardens!

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    1. My vague recollection of Denise's prior mention of these stacked "stones" on her blog (A Growing Obsession) is that they're actually concrete, in which case they were probably attached to one another while wet. I could be wrong, however. I didn't ask anyone about them on the day of our tour.

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    2. I do believe there's rebar threaded through, from what I recall.

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  16. So many nice things have been said already but I won't repeat them. Aside from the fantastic plants, the feature I liked the best were those wooden panels. What great way to create separate spaces and achieve a sense of surprise and wonder. This is one garden I hope to see myself some day.

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    1. I hope you get the opportunity to see it for yourself as well, Gerhard. I've no doubt you'd enjoy the visit as much as I did.

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  17. So wonderful to see the garden through this post, Kris. The rainy winter brought out an incredible display from the orlaya, which were all volunteers from previous springs. I usually get a few orlaya to pop up again, but not this year. I bet we can beg for seeds though...

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    1. I now think of Orlaya in a whole new way, Denise. Thanks again for acting as our tour guide!

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