Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Esprit de Courtyard: La Jolla Secret Garden Tour, Part Two

Behold — our favorite garden on the tour. How did this home spread its vines in our hearts?

We love this place — one of six stops on the La Jolla Secret Garden Tour; read Part One here — because it’s a living example of how you can add green to a compact space in a way that thrills and surprises at every turn. There are garden stories within stories in this place. And the overarching narrative captures you from the sidewalk, where pollarded (“within an inch of [their] life,” a tour goer noted) trees direct you toward the whitewashed gate.

Beyond the gate, the roses nudge you inside.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

This cagey creature is a pollarded American sycamore (we think?). Pollarding is a pruning technique that restricts trees and shrubs to a certain height and can also regulate the amount of shade a plant creates.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Above the gate, a gem-toned block of bougainvillea.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Roses of various heights shepherded us toward the front door.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

The golden tips of a firesticks (Euphorbia tirucalli, far right) adds a warm welcome. Native to semi-arid tropical regions across Africa, this euphorbia brings heat to its hedged surroundings.

This home is five minutes away from our house. Walk a few dozen steps through the interior — maybe take a peek at the art collection, the sculpture, photos, the midcentury modern mobile — and suddenly you’re in an open-air Moroccan-inspired courtyard. Each corner woos you. There’s the bed where stemmy leopard plants reach out and pop against the gray pavers and vines on white. Cordyline proves itself as the plant for lovers of metallic. A fat Canary Islands dragon tree gets a daybed and an ocean view. Lanterns and a plaster angel add a human touch without competing.

You get a bird’s eye view of it all when you mount the stairs to “the turret.” More lovely outdoor decor, plus a succulent ground cover and a huge century agave on an incline.

High, low, practically hidden — so many great vignettes. Join us as we jump in!

—TH

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

One moment you think you’re in a Renaissance-inspired space…

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

…and the next, you’re in the West. This span of agaves harmonizes with the other drought-tolerant plants on the property.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

The bronze cordylines towering on the left are another drought-tolerant selection, this time in the courtyard. The color looks wonderful against the metallic lighting. On the right, the smooth fronds of a giant bird of paradise (Strelitzia nicolai) reach for the roof.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

We love this bed. When you walk outside from the house, this burst of green leopard plant (Farfugium japonicum) jumps right out at you. It’s extra exciting against these slate pavers and cornered by a viney facade.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

We would eat dinner out here EVERY NIGHT.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Moroccan lantern and cordyline plant

Brilliant touch: a bronze Moroccan-style lantern against a bronze cordyline plant. Both popping against the azure sky.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

More bougainvillea. This time, it’s growing around the outdoor fireplace and accompanied by more green leopard plants and wispy-tipped papyrus.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

A study in blue and orange next to the outdoor staircase leading to a higher terrace…

Hillside landscaping with blue chalksticks succulent

The 42-step stairway leads to the turret, built when the hillside was excavated in 2005 to build a 650-square-foot wine cellar. That succulent ground cover you see is blue chalksticks, a type of Senecio.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

This daybed has one of the best views in the house, with eyes on the courtyard and the ocean, and some jumbo flora around it.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

A century agave relishes the western exposure.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Under the spell of the Canary Islands dragon tree (Dracaena draco).

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Cool tones.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Another favorite drought-tolerant beauty: lantana. It comes in just about every color you can imagine, is a marathon bloomer, won’t wilt in the heat, and creeps like nobody’s business. (So note: it can be invasive.)

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

We ran into Barbara Raub of the SD Horticultural Society! Another friendly face from when we hosted last year.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

The aeonium is almost overtaken.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

Agapanthus

Agapanthus, sempervivum and sedum by the pool.

Secret Garden Tour of La Jolla, May 2015 - Garden Number 2 - The Horticult Photo Tour

 

  • barbara

    Amazing photography as always!! This was our favorite garden too! And now i know what those crazy luscious ;leopard plants are 🙂 It was wonderful to see you both again. love your blog!

    • It was wonderful to see you too, Barbara! Hope to see you at a meeting sometime this summer 😉

  • emily

    stunning! I love all the layers of texture and color. those leopard plants are so cool…i lived in san diego for 10 years and i can’t remember seeing a lot of these around. fantastic tour!

    • Exciting, right?! We rarely see leopard plants out and about — the first time we spotted them (while knowing what they were) was at Balboa Park. This clever garden might only be the second time for us. Glad you enjoyed it!