Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Sherman Gardens (part 2): Focusing on the plants

Last Friday, I published a post on a recent visit to Sherman Gardens, a small botanic garden in Corona del Mar.  That post focused on the Sculptura Botanica exhibit, created by landscaper and ceramic sculptor, Dustin Gimbel.  This post is focused on the plants I photographed during the visit but didn't include in the first post.

One of my favorite areas of Sherman Gardens is the Tropical Conservatory.  I'd be ecstatic to have something of this kind in my own garden but, in addition to the fact that there isn't room for it, maintaining a temperature controlled space like this with a pond would require more time and money than I can imagine.  So I just enjoy Sherman's conservatory on every visit.

The koi were very active in the pond

Usually, the turtles are already sunning themselves on the flat rocks of the pond but this fellow showed up late and without his companions

This wonderful chenille plant (Acalypha hispida) hangs above the pond

My best guess is that this is Heliconia psittacorum (aka parrot Heliconia)

I loved this, which I think is Heliconia rostrata (aka lobster claw Heliconia)

There are always orchids in this area

as well as a collection of bromeliads

In addition to the bromeliads inside the conservatory, there's a nice display of bromeliads outside its door.

Those I plant in the ground in my own garden never look this good

The flamingo covered in Tillandsias is a regular feature

I also love Sherman's lath-covered shade structure.  In fact, it was the inspiration for my own much smaller lath house, which my husband built for me in December 2017 as a Christmas present.  Mine doesn't hold nearly as much but, like mine, Sherman's is big on begonias.

I didn't even attempt to identify all these plants on this visit

I was charmed by this display, which I think consists entirely of Peperomia of various kinds.  I collected specimens in this genus as indoor plants when I was a kid and I've found myself gravitating to them again in recent years.

Like the Bromeliad Garden, the shade area has wood bird sculpture too, this one of a pelican

From the shade structure, we passed through the Sun Garden and a small courtyard area just inside the garden's north entrance before venturing into the Succulent Garden, another of my favorite areas.

I featured the beds and sculptures in the Sun Garden in my prior post but didn't include photos of the robust passionflower vine.  In addition to flowers, the vines had plenty of developing fruit.

This courtyard contained a wide variety of shade plants too, including the pretty Streptocarpus (aka cape primrose) shown on the right

This vignette in the Succulent Garden, featuring a fan aloe (Kumara plicatilis), bromeliads, and an Agave ovatifolia, is perfect

I fixated on the tree-size Euphorbia here.  After a couple of trips down the rabbit hole that is the internet, I'm still not clear if this is Euphorbia lactea or E. ingens or something else altogether.

This display had me wanting to go to the local stone yard to pick up boulders to redo one of my front garden succulent beds

As we exited the Succulent Garden and turned in the direction of the Central Garden (addressed in my prior post), we checked out the Palm Collection and, beyond that, the Perennial Garden.

I think that's a banana tree on the left and a traveler palm (Ravenala madagascariensis) on the right

Dahlias and other flowers dotted the Perennial Garden

This massive Dyckia in the Mediterranean Garden was impressive

Before leaving, we toured the Fern Grotto adjacent to the south entrance and parking lot.

Tall palm trees (shown in my prior post) soar above the Fern Grotto with cycads and smaller palms planted below them

Ferns and Farfugium filled the area under the shade cover

I have mixed feeling about bonsai plants but I loved this dwarf Ginkgo backed by Farfugium

The plant on the left is a spear lily (Doryanthes palmeri), which I've yet to see in bloom

The only flowering plant I saw in the Fern Grotto was this Medinilla magnifica

We're expecting Santa Ana winds (aka devil winds) here today.  They'll drive temperatures back up again, probably for the balance of the week.  Fingers are crossed they don't intensify the fires here  - or create new ones.  Our garden has already been dusted with ash once this week.

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


  1. Great photos--enjoyed them all.

    The SG lath house is fabulous. When I was a kiddie one of the neighbor's entire back yard was a lath house full of plants. Coolest childhood backyard memory ever. Would love to have a lath house, and a Tropical Conservatory, too. Gardens are for dreaming, right?

    No wind here yet--hoping it is a weak, weak event. We don't need more heat.

    1. We got some wind late this afternoon into early evening but it hasn't been bad, and we never got as hot as predicted. It sounds as though Northern and Central California are having a more difficult time, however.

  2. If I ever get out that way again, I'm going to have to visit Sherman! They have a marvelous collection. Seeing the Peperomias brought me right back to the 70s. ;) My favorites are the Heliconias, the succulent/cacti garden and the begonias were pretty nice, too. I wish I could grow them, I think my water is too hard and our winter temps inside too cool, particularly at night when it gets down to 60. I seem to have best luck with S.African natives as houseplants. Could be worse, right? ;)
    Hope the Santa Anas are kind to you. I remember them whipping up when I was there once. So much dust!

    1. Sherman Gardens is definitely worth a visit, Eliza - they've got a lot packed into a relatively small space. You might enjoy visiting the garden at the Newport Beach Civic Center and Roger's Gardens, both of which are within a mile or so of Sherman Gardens at the same time.

  3. Keeping California and all the other states beset by fire in my thoughts and prayers. Thank you for this trip through a beautiful garden.

    1. Wildfires have become an annual plague, Barbara, a byproduct of climate change. And they're not something you ever get used to, or forget. My in-laws lost their home in Malibu to the Old Topanga Fire in 1993.

  4. Wow! These seems to be a paradise for the gardeners .It would be my pleasure if you share it on my link up party related to Gardening here at

  5. Loved seeing all the plants and different ways of displaying them. That Chenille plant is so unusual. I haven't seen one of these look so good before.I am with you about that rock garden. It is a great way to display those plants. They really pop with those big rocks. I would want one of those rock gardens if I could grow those big agaves etc.

    1. I wasn't impressed when I first saw a chenille plant, Lisa, but I really appreciate this one at Sherman Gardens. It fits in a tropical conservatory.

  6. Beautiful photos Kris, the best coverage of this garden that I remember seeing!

    1. Thanks Loree, although I thought I covered the garden more thoroughly in prior posts.

  7. A thoroughly enjoyable post - and timely since I've been wanting to revisit it!

    1. Thanks Gerhard. The good news is that, whenever this pandemic ends, Sherman Gardens will still be there to visit.

  8. What a wonderful visit! It’s difficult to choose a favourite part, and both the tropical and succulent areas are fascinating to look at. I never used to be a fan of succulents, but the ones depicted in your post are so interesting and beautifully displayed. No one would ever be able to tell that Ca has been suffering such terrible temperatures.
    Btw, the comment icon on your post on Wordpress seems to have been somehow turned of. Thought you might like to know.

    1. My visit to Sherman Gardens preceded that miserable heatwave by several days, Jane, but Corona del Mar is a beach town that benefits from sea breezes in a way my own area does. I suspect their top temperatures were well below ours. My friends in a nearby beach town experienced temperatures 15+ degrees cooler (in Farenheit terms) than we did but then most of them don't have air conditioning so they were still unhappy!

      As to the Wordpress icon, I've no idea how that works. As I operate on Google's Blogger platform, Wordpress may not be able to access my icon. As long as Wordpress posts my comments, I'm satisfied.

  9. The rock garden vignette is my favorite in the this post, although I admit I don't grow a single cactus or agave in my own garden. In photo 12, features mostly begonias, but what jumped out at me was the stunner fuchsia bloom. And finally, where can one get a wood pelican sculpture? LOVE it.

    1. I think the wood pelican and wood flamingo (covered in Tillandsias) must have been created by the same artist. They've been there forever (like the otter that usually "waters" the outdoor pond with a hose). I've never seen those wood sculptures for sale anywhere - if I had, I'd have snapped one up too!


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