Friday, January 31, 2020

Winter Visit to Sherman Gardens

Early this week, 20+ of my fellow South Coast Botanic Garden docents and I toured Sherman Gardens in Corona Del Mar.  I've been there several times before but it appears this is the first time I've visited during winter.  It's also the first time I was treated to a docent-led tour.

We broke into small groups.  Mine started out in the Succulent Garden.

The huge California pepper tree just inside the Succulent Garden was serving a dual purpose as a wishing tree.  In December, children touring the garden wrote wishes on red paper that were then affixed to the tree.

The last time I visited the huge variegated Furcraea foetida mediopicta that dominated this corner of the Succulent Garden was in bloom.  Like its relative, the Agave, its monocarpic so, when the bloom cycle was complete, it died.  A new Furcraea has been planted there - you can just see it poking over the top of the burgundy bromeliads on the left side of this photo.

The succulent display in this area is highly stylized and absolutely captivating

Rock and colored stone is mixed with succulents to create a garden mosaic of sorts

I've never seen this garden is less than pristine condition


The plants on the other side of the Succulent Garden are arranged in a more natural layout but far more densely planted than you'd see in nature


This fellow is Julius (Caesar), the garden cat, who followed our group for a portion of the tour.  He had no trouble whatsoever maneuvering among spiky plants


We checked the borders on the other side of the Succulent Garden before moving into the Fern Grotto.

This area contained a papaya tree, a banana tree, and a huge Buddha's Hand (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis)

I'm not sure of the identity of the fern in the upper left.  The fern on the upper right was described as a "moose-horn" fern.  The gorgeous fern in the bottom 2 photos is Microsorum musafolium, aka the crocodile fern.


Then we headed back across the garden toward the Tropical Conservatory.

We passed the fountain near the south entrance to the gardens, and another group of fellow docents.  The plants around the fountain are changed out several times a year.

This was the best photo I managed to get of Caryota obtusa, aka the fishtail palm

This border area outside the Tropical Conservatory got a lot of attention, mostly focused of the ruffled silver-gray foliage of the plant in the middle of the photo and the other one to its left rear.  The docent wasn't able to identify it for us but I guessed it was an Echium.  Although I've never grown this one, I'm fairly certain it's Echium wildpretii.  Now that I've seen it in person, I'm going to have to get hold of one for my own garden.

Unfortunately, the Tropical Conservatory was closed during our tour as work was being done there.  We just got a chance to stick our heads in for a quick photo of the Koi pond.

The area around the exterior of the conservatory featured carnivorous plants, bromeliads, and orchids


As we rounded the exterior of the Tropical Conservatory, I was surprised to discover that the Rose Garden was missing!

Apparently, the roses are all moved out during the winter months when they're not at their best.  Pretty ornamentals like Cordyline, bedding plants such as Cyclamen, and even edibles like kale fill the area during the off-season.


The area beyond the Rose Garden is officially called the Sun Garden but I like the think of it as "Sherman's Garden" as the botanic garden's mascot holds court there.

A statue of an otter holding a hose stands at the edge of the pond.  I once asked if he had a name and I was told it was Sherman (of course!).  Silver plants, including the popular Senecio 'Angel Wings', featured heavily in the area on this visit.


As we were concluding our tour I noticed a striking vine dangling from the roof of the gift shop.

I wasn't even sure this vine was real at first.  A woman popped out of the front guest entrance to identify it for me as a flame vine from Brazil.  Apparently, it only blooms during the winter months.  I looked it up when I got home - its Latin name is Pyrostegia venusta.  Isn't it spectacular?

Fabulous plants are everywhere in this garden.  This Begonia was planted in a narrow border next to the gift shop.  I was told its name but I'm afraid I've already forgotten it.

Even small areas in the middle of paths surrounding posts were planted with colorful specimens, in this case Heucheras of various kinds


Sherman Gardens is small, less than 3 acres in size, but as you can see from this post, every square inch contains something interesting.  It's definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in the area of Newport Beach.  The fact that it's also only a mile or so from Roger's Gardens, a wonderful garden center, is an added bonus in my view.

Have a great weekend!


All material © 2012-2020 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

23 comments:

  1. The more I see photos of succulent gardens the more in love with the plants I become despite being able to only grow them in pots. The flame vine is a real eye-catcher. Would you consider growing it?

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    1. I've become very apprehensive about vines as controlling them can be very difficult, Elaine. A nursery chain that operates in nearby Orange County does carry it but they point out it can grow 30-40 feet. Unless I planted it on our roof, I'm not sure where I could put it. I already have a problem managing a Bignonia capreolata planted at the bottom of our slope years before we moved here by a neighbor.

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  2. Oh yes, you definitely have to try growing Echium wildpretii! I'm so surprised it isn't available there. I've always been fascinated by that highly stylized stripey succulent garden at Sherman Gardens. Sounds like you had a great time, thanks for sharing!

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    1. I've never been all that attracted to the Echium wildpretii flower, believe it or not, Alison. But I do really like that foliage so it's going on my Annie's wish list.

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  3. I'm putting this one on my list for my next LA visit. :) I love the Cacti and Succulent beds and groupings of Heuchera, which is one thing I can grow here. They have a nice way of emphasizing color and texture there.

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    1. If you make plans to go to Sherman Gardens, Eliza, let me know and I'll meet you there!

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  4. I have never heard of a crocodile fern. It has crocodile-like bumps. Sweet. That Fishtail palm is a doozey too. I bet you were surprised that the roses were gone. They did pretty up the space. As you say there wasn't a space that wasn't beautiful and full of interesting plants.

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    1. I can't say I've ever seen any place in SoCal actually pull up roses during the off-season, Lisa! It wasn't clear to me whether they store the roses to replant or give them away and plant new specimens. I haven't paid enough attention to their rose collection from year-to-year to know if they use the same specimens or buy new.

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  5. I love this garden. The succulents are wonderful, what fun to be able to design schemes like this with them. Something we can only dream about here in the UK.

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    1. This garden obviously receives intensive support and maintenance but I've enjoyed every visit. I'm only sorry I couldn't share the inside of the Tropical Conservatory this time as it's truly fabulous.

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  6. Oh, I think the succulents are simply amazing. My Echeverias have all burnt in the heat, and many succulents will not cope here in the frost of winter, so although I’d like to grow a lot of them, the ones that will survive here are a very small group indeed. The succulents in your photos look fabulous.

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    1. I can't imagine a summer more miserable than the one you're having in Australia, Jane. I hope things have improved some.

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  7. What an amazing array of plants. I loved the cactus area with all their unique shapes. But I finally saw something I could grow here in Ohio and I loved how they had planted it up. All the different colored Heucheras were delightful when bunched together. I may have to start collecting a larger variety than what I have and place them together.
    Thanks for taking us on tour with you.

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    1. I'm glad you discovered an idea you could use, Cindy! I look forward to seeing photos of your mixed Heuchera. I love Heuchera myself and have planted it on many occasions in my current garden with minimal success. Even the California native variety has struggled here - and it doesn't have the glorious foliage color of the varieties used at Sherman Gardens.

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  8. I do hope to visit this place one day, I've seen many a post about it but this has got to be one of the best. Echium wildpretii, yes! You need a few. That foliage is unmatched. The blooms are fun, but the foliage is the real reason to grow it, at least in my mind.

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    1. Sherman Gardens is a very manageable stop for one of your busy California visits, Loree. Re Echium wildpretii, I checked Annie's site yesterday and found that it's currently available so I may be using the gift card I received at Christmas sooner rather than later!

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  9. That succulent border must require a lot of intensive work - to keep it all looking just so. Such vivid and vibrant colours!

    I covet the crocodile fern ... but ferns are not too happy here. Heuchera carpet is stunning (and again covetable)

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    1. I think the whole garden complex is intensively manicured, Diana. I was intrigued by the crocodile fern too but they aren't happy in my garden either.

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  10. Looks like you had a fun visit. The "rose" garden looks way better like that then I've ever seen it when it was lightly populated with underwhelming hybrid teas. Their Heuchera carpets are glorious--perhaps the so-close-to-the-ocean location is cool enough to keep them happy?

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    1. They change out their plants so frequently, HB, I doubt the Heuchera will have a chance to fail during its brief period on stage.

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  11. What a visual treat! Thanks so much for sharing your photos of this garden. At first glance I thought all those red paper wishes were blooms! But the real color was spectacular enough. Even the more subtle plants, like the crocodile fern, were fascinating.

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    1. I was surprised to find out that those red paper wishes made it through 2 fairly heavy December rainstorms! I'm glad you enjoyed the tour, Deb.

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