Cruising to the finish line…

We’ve had a late lunch on the run and are climbing high into the hills as we wind our way toward the last three stops on our 2017 adventure on the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour. Many years of garden road trips have taught us to start with the stop farthest from home, doing the longest driving BEFORE the gardens open. The obvious bonus is that when we are dog tired at the end of the day it is a faster trip home to put our feet up!


This multi-level garden sits on about an acre and a half on a north facing hill. The homeowners have been gardening this plot for over 30 years and have developed distinct areas to meet their specific needs and desires.

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You can see from this glimpse of the front steps that these gardeners have encountered and met many challenges on this very steeply sloped lot.

The enclosed garden we reach at the top of these steps is filled with succulents, roses and perennials. It is a very mature garden as witnessed by a very tall Brugmansia or angel’s trumpet. The palette is muted and the garden seems to meld with the hill at points. The plant on the right is labeled ‘European swamp iris’. The foliage and form is more like the Dietes genus in which we find the so-called Moraea iris but I can’t find anything in that group either that has this type of flower. This is where botanical names can really be of benefit–if I would like to add this to my garden I need to know what it really is if I am to have any chance of finding it!

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A steep set of homeowner built stairs leads up to a yet another level. Conifers and evergreens give this area lovely dappled shade and add to the sense of the garden rising to the clouds.

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This Queen Anne style gazebo was built to taken advantage of the view of the foothills. Also on this level is a small greenhouse where the homeowners propagate cuttings of native plants destined for Peters Canyon Regional Park.

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A second waterfall drops into a large pond which offers refuge and sustenance for local wildlife.

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A grouping of recreated Old West buildings serves as a fun play space for the grandchildren.  There is nothing manicured about any of these garden spaces but it is obvious that this garden is loved and has been developed as a restful haven for its owners and their family and friends.


The expansive nature of this garden is not readily apparent from our first glimpses. A spot at the end of a cul-de-sac results in multiple, private garden spaces on three sides of the large home.


Leaning heavily on tropicals and blooming shrubbery to fill its massive beds, this garden feels very ‘green’, cool and restful. This beautiful stonework is carried through both the front and back gardens acting as a tie that binds the various garden spaces together.


The homeowners graciously invited garden visitors to approach the open front doors and feel the ambiance of the garden as it is seen from the main living areas. Soothing sounds of water greeted us at the front porch.


One of several mature carob trees, Ceratonia siliqua, stands in place as a sentinel at the side gate. This architectural tree reinforces the tropical feel and provides a bit of softening of the long block wall.


This great potting area was secluded enough to make a mess when you need to and had  running water, too!


This is the first of many entertaining areas. The symmetry of the pergola and long center water feature is classic. The beautiful stonework is flanked by deep beds of Agapanthus just starting to send up budded stalks. So sad not to see this in full bloom. This area would stand alone as a lovely back garden!


A wide stone path winds into the main part of the back garden. On the right there is a diminutive privacy garden visible from the master bath.



This bright white Bougainvillea will eventually cover the wall, further softening the stucco.


The flagstone path opens out into the expansive lawn area central to the back garden. The perimeter has been landscaped using large scale shrubs and trees, offering a true sense of enclosure and privacy. A very tall shade structure shelters a dining area removed from the home’s main patio space.


Tall palms define the patio area attached to the home. Ample seating and a full outdoor kitchen complete this entertaining space.


A flagstone path mirroring that on the other side of the grassy space carries us along the side of the home toward the street. A manicured golf practice area is set up, ready for its next duffer! A bench from Taos, New Mexico, offers a spot to sit under the shade of a coral flowered bougainvillea and watch the play.

Although very large, these gardeners have reduced needed maintenance by selecting carefree plant material known to thrive in the mild Orange County weather. This is truly an entertainer’s garden with numerous places to relax, eat and play.


These gardeners recently removed a more conventional front garden and replanted the space with California friendly plants and a petite dry riverbed.



A climbing rose, ‘Polka’, secretes a cosy front courtyard from street view.

A narrow side path leads to a small back patio from which the gardeners can enjoy their garden. The steep slope beyond their fence expands the feels of this compact garden space exponentially.



This garden boasts a riot of color. The path you can catch a glimpse of is a reflexology path and meant to be walked barefoot. I fell in love with this beautiful lavender poppy!



The exuberance of this garden was charming and the space was a great example of gardeners just making their gardens feel good to them as they happily dig in the dirt!

So ends another year for the Mary Lou Heard Memorial Garden Tour. I have many happy memories of finding an interesting new plant or just the right bit of garden art–going to Heard’s Country Gardens was an eagerly anticipated event in the 1990s for me and my gardening girls. The nursery is gone but Mary Lou is in our hearts forever.

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