TPFNPGT Saturday, part deux…

So I am back to share a couple more of the predominantly native plant gardens I  saw this past weekend on the Theodore Payne Foundation 2017 Native Plant Garden Tour. Having returned home, assembled both my thoughts and photos I won’t quite finish my Saturday  garden visits in today’s post. The last garden I saw on Saturday was the Gottlieb garden in the Laurel Canyon area of Beverly Hills. The Gottlieb native plant garden is one of the most renowned native plant gardens in California and has a great back story in addition to being an amazing garden so I will give it its own post. The Sunday gardens (11) will be broken up into at least 3 posts over the next couple of weeks. Wednesday I am back to Filoli for my April class and I know you will want to see what’s going on up there, too!

STILL IN THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY–The Jacobsen-Bennett garden in Sherman Oaks

The Jacobsen-Bennett home is a neat stucco home sitting on a small corner lot. The front and side gardens, about 3,300 sq. ft, wrap the home and feature both chaparral and woodland plantings.


In the foreground of this large street side bed you can see two of my new favorite plants. At the very front and dead center in the photo is Erigonum grande var. rubescens, or red flowered buckwheat. This very well behaved native makes an 18″ mound about a foot high. In summer the sturdy upright branch tips will be topped with clusters of rosy red flowers. The green spreading mounds behind the red buckwheat is Erigonum fasciculatum ‘Bruce Dickinson’ which also covered the slope in the Klemm garden in my previous post. I saw this California buckwheat and its cousins ‘Theodore Payne’ and ‘Dana Point’ in MANY gardens on this tour and I never saw them woody or overgrown. Reference materials puts their spread at about 4 ft. and their height varying from 12″-36″. ‘Theodore Payne’ is amongst the lowest growing of what I saw–very ground hugging. California buckwheat is a water miser, great for slopes and erosion control and will have whitish pink flowers from late spring to early fall. Did I mention this is the year of the buckwheat? I am absolutely researching the California buckwheat for use in my climate. Below you see the foliage detail for both:

A lovely dry creek bed and native Carex pansa meadow harmonize with the surrounding hillsides.



For me the highlight of this garden was the flow to the side yard–an area that is often neglected on corner lots (including my own!) The creek bed meandered right down the side with naturalized plantings on either side. You can see the use of the red flowered buckwheat again and the great play of color, form and texture.



Above right corner and below, the Abutilon palmeri, or Indian mallow, was spectacular in this garden!



I have become interested in the many species of manzanita. The one above is Arctostaphylos manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’ and there were many others to be seen on this tour. ‘Dr. Hurd’ will grow to about a 15′ tree form sporting mahogany bark and light green leaves. The white winter flowers are an added bonus!


The palette of plant material in this garden was not as extensive as I would see in many other gardens but thoughtful planning and placement often outweighs sheer numbers. I especially loved the contrast of textures and the all the different grays, greens and gray greens represented.

The home had a tiny backyard with both natives and non-natives. I was drawn to a large trellis with a very delicate vine on it, sporting this single tiny flower. The tag read Maurandella antirrhiniflora. Another one for me to research–who could resist a vine whose common name is roving sailor?


WINDING DOWN–the Gerety garden in Sherman Oaks

In contrast to all the previous gardens, this was the first one whose owner told me unabashedly that he had nothing to do with the planning of the garden and even less to do with maintaining it. He did, however, thoughtfully provide his garden caretaker to answer our questions and help with plant identification. We are not all gardeners but everyone can appreciate a beautiful landscape to come home to at night and make that happen using the expertise of others for whom it is a passion.

The feel of the Gerety home is midcentury modern, sleek and simple with clean lines and repeated elements and the garden exuded the same vibe. Also a small home on a small lot, the front garden is only about 2,000 sq. ft. but packs a big visual wallop.


This landscape makes use of a limited number of species used repetitively in masses, allowing your eye to move across the garden and giving the space a calm restful feel. It is beautifully maintained.


I’ve left this shot full-sized to make it easier to pick apart the elements. The large dark green mass beginning in the upper left is Ceanothus griseus horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’, unfortunately not in bloom as some of the other varieties of ceanothus I saw on tour; moving clockwise you see a little knot of California poppies (Eschscholzia california); moving down from the poppies the mid-green mound is Baccharis pilularis ‘Pidgeon Point’commonly called Pidgeon Point dwarf coyote bush; the lavender in the lower right is one of the non-native Spanish varieties and one of the deepest purple lavenders I have ever seen; rounding out the vignette is a mixture of orange, gold and white California poppies.

I saw ‘Pidgeon Point’ coyote bush in many gardens and have added it to my list to try to incorporate into my garden. It is evergreen, has remarkable climate and soil adaptability and, once established, requires only monthly watering at most. It looks to be a great low maintenance bank cover for sun. You can expect a 30″ high mound which will spread to 6 ft. or more. There is also a lower form called ‘Twin Peaks’ with smaller, darker leaves.


There are dozens of species of ceanothus, varying greatly in size, form and growth. Referred to in our state as the California lilac, they are prized for their blue flowers and glossy, dark green leaves. Most are evergreen and many are very frugal water users and particular about drainage. ‘Yankee Point’ ceanothus is one of the taller ground cover types and one that has a more refined look. Even though not in bloom yet in the Gerety garden, I can envision the show the broad masses will put on this summer.



This lovely front garden also boasts a mature cottonwood tree, a gorgeous stand of Echium, both  pre-dating the 2014 garden installation. Additional plants seen in the above photo include Lymus condensatus ‘Canyon Prince’, a native grass commonly called Canyon Prince giant wild rye, Fremontodendron ‘Ken Taylor’ (flannel bush) whose golden flowers are just visible and Verbena lilacina ‘De La Mina’ whose lilac flowers echo the purple tones of the lavender. Not seen in the photos are several of the almost white leafed Conejo buckwheat I featured in the details of the Stonehurst arroyo stone cottage and  new little leafed Palo Verde tree, Cercidium microphyllum, which is not much more than a sprig at this point but will eventually provide the garden with a striking focal point.

My  take away from these two Sherman Oaks gardens–thoughtful design of paths, rocks and planted areas using a variety of plant forms, leaf color and texture in repetitive masses can make a small garden with a big impact. Even though both of these garden spaces had the benefit of design professionals and only one is being maintained by the homeowner, they are both do-able efforts by the interested gardener and offer solid examples of good design.

COMING UP AND NOT TO BE MISSED: The Gottlieb Native Plant Garden–a garden with its own book and website!

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