Time. Driving past this place...I wondered. Hoarder house? Hardly, we discovered.
A garden buddy and I stopped and parked to have a look. It was a big surprise--a glance when driving by is nothing like walking and looking and looking...
It was a marvel of mostly California native plants.
An urbanite (recycled concrete) driveway...
A peek at the back garden looked even more intriguing. As we admired the array of Ceanothus, native Salvias, Agaves, cacti, a family member emerged and we chatted. He kindly invited us to have a look at the back garden, too.
We walked past Salvia apiana...
Manzanita, Parkinsonia, Calliandra californica, Agave shawii...
The back garden was just as amazing. The home has been in the family for 60 years. It's not a plant-shoppers garden. It's a slow, casual collection built at a leisurely pace over decades. Plants allowed to just grow, and grow...
...and grow. A dragon fruit plant growing all the way up a huge, healthy pine.
A special spot for loved plants.
Passionvine to feed butterflies
Appearances are deceiving. The front garden was purposefully wild, not neglected. It was refuge for songbirds. The house was carefully maintained. Someone was there cleaning pine needles off the roof.
Move that 500 lb Cereus a little to the left, please!
The garden was perfumed with Stephanotis
After our visit to the back garden, we returned to the front.
Places to sit under the Parkinsonias. An urbanite wall sprouting succulents
A chair welded together from pieces of scrap metal, decades ago.
There were weeds here and there. It didn't matter. This garden is a place for relaxation, not for obsession, nor for compulsive purchasing. There is no rushing in this garden.
Even the Agaves are in no hurry to bloom.
You can't know what is there, sometimes, if you rush.
Patience. The next lawnless gem of a garden is one I've been watching for years. It has slowly become perfect. Plants have been moved. Trees have been planted only to be replaced. The lawn is long gone. The house as we discovered, is one hundred and one years old. It started existence in a sea of orange groves. Now it's a corner lot at the intersection of two somewhat busy residential streets.
We parked around the corner and approached from the south side. A a group of Agonis trees, fairly new. They've been pruned and shaped to a strong, healthy structure. Rosemary and Ceanothus nearby.
Past the Agonis, a corner of the house comes into view. Crassula ovata, agaves, a new Bougainvillea for the trellis. Marvlous old Craftsman house.
A group of Cypress for the corner
Past the Cypress, two more Agonis, and a view of the river-rock porch. At the base of the river-rock, foxtail ferns (Asparagus denisflorus 'Myers').
Simple, elegant. Uncrowded.
My garden-buddy was brave enough to knock on the door and meet the owner/gardener, who did the entire garden singlehandedly over many years, moving, changing, refining. The only help was with the trees, too large for one person to move. Well done!
Style. The last garden was right around the corner from the second. Not a homeowner's personal achievement, this one was likely done by a professional, but--it's striking, and certainly xeric.
A new garden installed around an existing olive tree.
Remember dry stream beds? It was a standard feature of lawnless gardens for a while. Sometimes they are actually necessary for drainage. Sometimes it seemed they were a way of reducing the need for expensive plants by filling in some space with stone. Not used as often these days.
Love the red door, and the olive tree. The reason for the scraggly grass? It might be that UC Verde buffalo grass stuff. Is it necessary? It looks okay. A remnant homage to lawn once there.
The plants looked happy and healthy.
The small squares of concrete seem proportionally too small, and random. Big concrete rectangles (echoing the windows in the front door), non-meandering, a better idea?
Pretty well done. It lacks the personal magic of the first two, and what a difference in terms of the cultural shift of "home". Time: a family garden that becomes a history of decades. Patience: a garden that is carefully and lovingly crafted and recrafted over years. Style: a landscape that is purchased and installed based on good taste, current style, and money. What has become of our everyday California lives, from the 1950's to now?