I worked in the Newport Beach area of Orange County for several years more than a decade ago and still visit the area periodically, most often to visit Roger's Gardens
, one of my favorite garden centers, but also to visit friends. However, I've never had an opportunity to take a good peek at gardens in Newport Beach so, when blogger friend Denise of A Growing Obsession
alerted Hoover Boo of A Piece of Eden
and me to a tour sponsored by the Southern California chapter of the Mediterranean Garden Society
, I jumped at the chance to join in. Our tour took us to six different venues, ending with a talk at Roger's Gardens.
For those of you unfamiliar with California's real estate market I should mention that, even in an state known for ridiculously expensive home prices, Newport Beach is pricey. The closer to the ocean, the higher the price and, generally speaking, the smaller the lot size. We probably shouldn't have been surprised that many of the garden spaces we visited were tiny. Our first stop was a perfect example of the use of a garden as a room. As a space to entertain, it was wonderful but the space to garden was scanty.
|There was lots of seating space for gathering and dining. A grilling station and bar area was off to the right of the dining table and there was another table and chairs around the other corner of the house.|
|These raised beds were the only true garden space. My former garden in Redondo Beach was similar in overall size but, other than a wooden bench, it offered no seating. I planted nearly every inch, leaving just a narrow path to move between beds.|
Our next stop was the Environmental Nature Center
, a five-acre parcel dedicated to providing the community, especially children, with exposure to nature. I'd never heard of it, much less paid a visit. After a long, hot summer following an unusually dry winter, the outside area looked tired but there were still spots of color.
|This Isomeris arborea (aka bladderpod) and the noID aster were found in the butterfly enclosure|
|There were a number of tables like this under the trees, great for picnicking and educational activities|
|The indoor nature displays were wonderful. This one featured a coyote and a skunk (stuffed of course).|
Our third stop was another private garden, only a bit larger than the first.
|Although this area is at the front of the property, the picket fence separating it from the street made it feel private. The focal point is a large but shallow fountain, which included ceramic koi fish.|
|A nice Tillandsia wreath decorated one wall|
|The back of the house featured a clear view of the beach and seating to allow one to check out the view|
|Like the emerald green grass lining the beach in the prior photo, the grass between the paving stones here is artificial. It may be the one and only example of fake grass I've seen that I've liked. It not only looked good enough that I had to touch it to verify it wasn't real but its use in shady narrow spaces like this between paving stones was perfect.|
Our next stop was Sherman Gardens
, a public garden I've visited several times
, most recently this past June. It's only 2 acres but, unlike the first gardens we visited, it's packed with interesting plants.
|This is the view from the back entrance, showing the fountain planted with seasonal annuals including Celosia 'Intenz'|
|After the subdued spaces we'd visited that morning, all this color was a sheer joy. The plants in front are a Gomphrena mix.|
|If I remember correctly, this area is referred to as the Mediterranean Garden, featuring plants suitable to California's coastal area. The lath (shade) house behind it is what inspired construction of my own lath house.|
|We had to have a quick look inside the tropical conservatory of course|
|We had lunch on the patio off the Cactus and Succulent Garden. The Furcraea foetida 'Mediopicta' in the photo on the left is blooming! It's a huge plant and monocarpic so I'm wondering what they're going to do with that area when it's gone.|
|A gorgeous noID passionflower growing on a humongous vine (left) and a noID Medinilla (right)|
|And here's the garden's famous otter, dutifully attending to his pond, which is currently sporting blooming waterlilies |
After lunch at Sherman Gardens, we headed for a nearby private garden. Not far from Pacific Coast Highway, it was also on a small lot.
|I photographed the main area of the garden from the upper deck|
|This speaks of the challenge of gardening in tight spaces. There were roses and tomatoes in half-barrel containers next to the street too.|
The last private garden was by far the largest. It was broken up into 3 distinct areas.
|The front garden outside the walls was the best example of a Mediterranean garden we saw that day in my view|
|Other than green, there wasn't much color in this street-side space, however. Part of that was due to the the fact that it's late summer (not the time I'd ever want to schedule a tour of my own garden!). There were large Echiums, which would have bloomed earlier in the year but I think there was an opportunity here for more silver foliage, or variegated succulents - or flowering Grevilleas!|
|Beyond the walls surrounding the garden,we stepped down past terraced beds and a pool to approach the front of the house|
|There was a fountain with waterlilies near the front entry|
|and comfortable seating areas on both sides of the doorway|
|The back garden is a very formal area featuring box hedges. This photo was taken from the upper deck of the house, more clearly revealing the ocean in the distance. The view was great but, once again, I couldn't help wishing that there was some color in those back garden beds.|
One of the tour participants at this last stop was kind enough to let me photograph her earrings, decorated with real succulents.
We returned to the Newport Beach Civic Center to pick up our cars. If I'd arrived on time when the tour started, I'd have had an opportunity to explore the Center's expansive succulent garden but I didn't have time for that either upon arrival or prior to our departure for Roger's Gardens. As it took me awhile to find a parking spot in the garden center's jammed lots, I didn't have time to take photos there either. I enjoyed Ron Vanderhoff's
talk entitled "The Other Side of the Fence" about what natural environments can teach us when designing our own garden spaces, although I had to duck out a little early there and still had no time for photos.
Garden tours are often a mixed bag but there's always an opportunity to learn something and I enjoyed spending time with Denise and Hoover Boo. (You can find Denise's post on the tour here
.) I don't expect I'll ever be a gardener who sacrifices the collection of interesting plants for entertaining space but I can nonetheless appreciate why others want to use the restricted space available to them for that purpose. To each his/her own!
For those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, enjoy the last day of summer and the first day of fall! For those of you in the Southern Hemisphere, happy spring!
All material © 2012-2018 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party