Friday, June 1, 2018

Visit to Sherman Gardens

I visited Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar late last June and decided May was a good time for another visit.  The property is very small by comparison to most botanic gardens, just over 2 acres in size, but it's packed with horticultural wonders.  I've enjoyed every visit and can't explain why I don't drop in more often, especially as it's within spitting distance of my other favorite Orange County haunt, Roger's Gardens.  (You can find an interactive map of Sherman Gardens here.)

My friend and I both had our cameras out the moment we stepped past the entrance booth.

Despite 2 people hovering over her, this butterfly continued about her business

Leaving the butterfly to her pursuits, we advanced into the Sun Garden.  It's planted in what I'd describe as a loose parterre style.

The glass sculpture was here during my prior visit but the lupines were new and nicely mirrored the glass

Sherman Garden's mascot, the otter holding a hose at the pond's edge, was still in place.  An employee in the gift shop told me that he's stood in the garden since 1970.

This view of the Sun Garden looks back in the direction of the gift shop and shows off not just the lupines but also the dinosaur kale used to reinforce the parterre structure

My friend and I took different routes from that point but we soon ran into one another in the Tropical Conservatory.  It's always warm in there but it seemed particularly hot and humid on this occasion.  The air was so damp I could feel rain-like droplets and my camera lens fogged up repeatedly but I captured a few decent shots.

The koi were active in the pond but the turtles were not

They were hanging out together in a sunny spot

I loved the mix of foliage here

and here

The pink flowered plant here is Medinilla magnifica.  I occasionally see it for sale locally and I've been tempted despite its price tag but I suspect it needs more humidity than I can give it.

There were several orchids in bloom, including a chocolate-scented Oncidium

Back in the outside air, I noticed that, like last year, the Central Garden was filled with dahlias, all looking terrific.

This year's dahlia display featured fewer varieties but I liked the effect 

These varieties in shades of magenta, orange and pink were repeated throughout the beds

An exhibit of sand sculptures will be on display from June 1st through September but a temporary display had been created at the center of the dahlia beds to commemorate a wedding to be held later in the day

There were a few beds planted with a mix of bromeliads and succulents, one of which caught my attention with the addition of brightly orange flowers.

This display had me thinking that scattering some blooming plants among the Aeonium arboreum planted on my front slope might liven things up a bit.  I think the orange flowers are Arctotis.

As always, I was drawn to the garden's lath house, one of several lath structures.  Sherman Garden's lath house spawned the idea for my own much smaller version.  This was my first visit since my husband competed my shade structure and the visit offered an opportunity to examine the plants Sherman Gardens keeps under cover.  After all, my lath house, while small, is nowhere near full!

In addition to ferns, Sherman's lath house included lots of Iresine, begonias, bromeliads, and even some Alstroemeria.  The pelican sculpture appeared to have been made from driftwood and Spanish moss.

This staghorn fern also drew my eye.  Instead of detracting from the display, the skeletonized leaves on top made it all the more interesting.

This display, prominently featuring Brunfelsia, sat under a tree surrounded by a partial lath structure

This long, narrow lath structure is called the Fern Grotto.  In addition to ferns, there were lots of cycads.

Of course, we couldn't leave Sherman Gardens without touring the Succulent Garden.  Not much has changed there since my last visit but it's always impressive.

This shows just how big a Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' can grow!  I mistreated mine, moving it from spot to spot, until it finally fell prey to an insect infestation.  Next time I invest in one, I'll find a permanent spot for it before I plant it.

This is Epiphyllum hybrid 'Giant Falls'

Another sand sculpture was under construction in the Succulent Garden

I bought a small Epiphyllum 'Queen of the Night' from the gift shop and my friend and I headed off to lunch.  The Epiphyllum now hangs in my lath house.

Best wishes for a great weekend!

All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party


  1. They do a nice job on 2 acres. The orange arctotis looks great with the succulents and I can envision similar in your garden. The succulent bed has nice color contrast, too.
    Have a great weekend, Kris. Can you believe it is June already?

    1. Your spring was shortened by winter's tenacious hold but it feels as though we're moving in hyper-drive to me too. "May Gray" wasn't followed by "June Gloom" either but hopefully our morning marine layer will reappear will reappear.

  2. Kris, what a wonderful place to visit! I'm impressed by the Lupines, I love them but they need more cold that they can get here.I guess Corona del Mar has chilly winters unless these lupines are a warm climate variety I don't know. Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. While there are lupines native to Southern California, they aren't the ones that Sherman Gardens was showing off in their Sun Garden. I suspect these plants were raised somewhere with cooler winter temperatures and sent to Corona Del Mar in bud, MDN.

  3. Oh I was so disappointed that my brief foray into Orange County in March landed on the wrong day/time for a visit here.The Dino kale with the Lupines is just sublime-among many other things ! Your foliage mix photo after the turtle pic is just to die for.

    1. You'd have enjoyed Sherman Gardens I think, Kathy. It packs a lot of punch into a small space. You need to pay another visit!

  4. They seem to have a lot of LARGE plants and great selections. I can see why you are drawn back to this place. Those turtles are amazing. If they were in the wild you couldn't get near them because they would dive into the water when you got close. Fun to see them piled up there in the sun.

    1. These turtles must have learned that they're safe in the conservatory. They didn't budge!

  5. What a fun day that must have been! I appreciated the quick look at the Succulent Garden. Medinilla has started appearing here in nurseries as an expensive houseplant/annual. The Lupines brought to mind all the recent coverage I've seen of the Chelsea Flower Show.

    1. I didn't know that lupines were hot in horticultural circles until I saw some of the coverage of the Chelsea show. I love those fancy hybrids but they don't do well in my garden - they need too much water.

  6. What a super visit. The succulent garden is particularly nice and lots of blooming agaves. All that winter rain, maybe. I can't believe I never went there when I lived in Irvine in the 80s. Went to Roger's a lot. It certainly looks to be worth a visit next time!!! I love that orange flower but suspect we are too humid here. Same for the aeonium that I was tempted to buy this spring. It is not doing well.

    1. Our rain totals this past winter were actually abnormally low but the prior year's totals were substantial so perhaps the garden is still showing the positive results of the net. I suspect Sherman Gardens irrigates the succulent area too, although I don't know that for certain. In any case, you should definitely plan a visit if your travels take you near to Corona del Mar - it's only about a mile from Roger's!

  7. Very beautiful place. Love gardens, they make me happy. I just have a small garden on my balcony but it gives me lots of happiness. :) Amazing photos. :)

    1. Gardens make me happy too, Agnieszka, no matter what their size!


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